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The Characteristic Features of the New Age Movement Essay

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Updated: Apr 18th, 2019

The period of the 1970s-1980s in the USA is characterized by the awakening of the great interest to the spiritual practices which can lead to the individual’s spiritual growth as a result of the strong connection with God and cosmic energy. The New Age movement in the USA begins to develop in the 1970s with references to the expanding Eastern practices and works by David Spangler as the ideologist of the New Age.

However, it is impossible to speak about Spangler as the founder of the movement because the New Age cannot be discussed as the church or organization, and the notion includes a variety of the associated movements developing during different periods of time.

The number of the movement’s adherents in the USA and over the world is unknown, there is no founder, but there are a lot of leaders who organize rather different movements combined under the label of the New Age.

Although there is no clear definition of the New Age movement typical for the USA, it is necessary to focus on the variety of the movement’s characteristic features the analysis of which allows speaking about the definite unity of the movement because of the adherents’ following the same principles.

The flexibility in defining the New Age influences the possibilities to discuss the movement as the complex organization. One of the ways to define the New Age movement is the concentration on its features and principles which help determine the followers of the movement and separate it from the other popular spiritual practices.

The New Age is not only the multi-branch movement based on the definite religious and spiritual practices, but it is also a way of living (Hemeyer, 2010).

Thus, the movement also includes “a preference for clothing made from natural fibers such as cotton and wool over synthetics, natural cosmetics and household products, organic food and growing food at home, and limitation of participation in America’s consumer-based culture” as well as the orientation to the developing and meditative practices (Corbett & Hemeyer, 1997, p. 297).

From this point, the New Age movement is the belief system which combines the principles of Christianity with different Eastern religious practices as the way to become aware of oneself, to develop personality and spirituality, and to achieve the complete unity with God (Hemeyer, 2010). It is important to pay attention to the fact that “there is vast diversity within the New Age movement.

Beliefs and, especially, practices range from the serious and thoughtful to the frivolous and mercenary” (Corbett & Hemeyer, 1997, p. 297). That is why, many persons who follow definite practices shared by adherents of the movement can consider themselves as belonging to the movement because the ideals of this belief system are extremely publicized (Corbett & Hemeyer, 1997).

The main dogmas or principles supported by the followers of the New Age movement are based on the idea of the personal and spiritual growth. The adherents of the movement seek for the global unity and harmony in their relations with spiritual forces and nature, orient to the individual experiences, needs, and interests (Pike, 2004).

From this perspective, the followers of the movement share a specific approach to the medical treatment accentuating the idea of an individual care and therapy (Hemeyer, 2010). Moreover, pursuing the idea of the self-improvement and connecting with the cosmic energy to build their own reality, many adherents go in for yoga and become vegetarians.

It is important to note that the modern marketing system supports the public’s interest in the New Age movement, and there are many books and magazines for the followers, special shops, and restaurants. It is claimed that the ideals of the movement are also reflected in the New Age music (Hemeyer, 2010).

Thus, this spiritual movement with a lot of branches and teachings such as Transcendentalism, Astrology, or Theosophy can contribute to the needs of the USA population because everyone can find something attractive in this movement. The tendencies typical for the 20th-21st centuries to focus on diversity and self-development are reflected in this system of beliefs and practices.

The basic idea of the New Age movement is that a man is equal to God, and he is the part of the global unity that is why a man can build his own world, and the supporters of this thinking respect the individual vision of the other people in relation to their own reality, spirituality, and self-development.

As a result, the New Age movement is also associated with a lot of self-help movements which are characteristic for the American reality (Hemeyer, 2010).

If several decades ago the New Age movement was based on a range of esoteric practices according to which the metaphysical and psychedelic ideas were accentuated, today the followers of the movement use the definite practices such as yoga, meditation, and relaxation in order to improve their life, make it easier and more comfortable.

The main approach is the everyday connection with the cosmic energy which is available for everyone. Thus, nowadays the New Age movement is developed to meet people’s everyday needs to overcome the stress of the world progress while orienting to the traditional Eastern practices.

Adapting the definite religious principles which are typical for different world religions to the needs of the people, the New Age movement becomes one of the most influential spiritual systems because of the great impact on the media and consumerism. It is possible to observe the principles of the New Age movement in many other small or significant movements because of their applicability.

Thus, many vegetarians choose healthy and chemical-free food in the specialized shops according to the ideas of the New Age wave (Hemeyer, 2010). A lot of persons share the idea about the negative and positive energy, global unity, and self-development without understanding the role of the New Age practices and beliefs in their life.

It is necessary to focus on the fact that many Christians are even not aware of the fact that they follow dogmas and principles typical rather for the New Age movement than for the traditional Christianity.

That is why, it is possible to speak about the significant popularity of the movement among the independent persons who intend to improve their life and personality, to develop their spirituality, and to achieve the definite harmony with focusing on the world’s balance and peace.

The absence of the strict organization is also one of the advantages to impose the ideals and norms of the New Age thinking on a lot of Americans who want some positive changes in their life.

References

Corbett, J. M., & Hemeyer, J. C. (1997). Religion in America. USA: Prentice Hall.

Hemeyer, J. C. (2010). Religion in America. USA: Prentice Hall.

Pike, S. (2004). New Age and Neopagan religions in America. USA: Columbia University Press.

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