New Age Psychology – Introduction
New Age psychology is closely tied to the belief that we can hasten the progress of evolution by achieving a higher consciousness, which is the central goal of the New Age movement. Psychology provides the means to achieve this goal. Ken Carey puts it this way, “Everyone anywhere who tunes into the Higher Self becomes part of the transformation. Their lives then become orchestrated from other realms.”1
The psychological branch of New Age that emphasizes higher consciousness is sometimes referred to as “fourth force” psychology. According to John White, “Fourth force psychology covers a wide range of human affairs. All of them, however, are aimed at man’s ultimate development—not simply a return from unhealthiness to normality—as individuals and as a species.”2
“Ultimate development” represents the only truly healthy mindset in the New Age movement. Marilyn Ferguson explains ultimate development this way: “Well-being cannot be infused intravenously or ladled in by prescription. It comes from a matrix: the body mind. It reflects psychological and somatic harmony.”3
Our measure of consciousness affects our body and soul, and only a constant state of higher consciousness ensures our mental and physical well-being. Psychology, therefore, plays an important role in the Cosmic Humanist worldview for two reasons: it can hasten the realization of a collective God-consciousness and it works to ensure perfect health for each of us.
New Age Psychology – Mind over Matter
New Age psychology sees health problems as mindset problems since our mindset is responsible for our health. People suffering through painful sickness or disease are doing so because they have not yet achieved higher consciousness. Shakti Gawain says, “Every time you don’t trust yourself and don’t follow your inner truth, you decrease your aliveness and your body will reflect this with a loss of vitality, numbness, pain, and eventually, physical disease.”4
Vera Alder explains how failure to follow our inner truth or connect with our “God within” may even be responsible for criminal tendencies. She says, “A criminal or an idler will be recognized as a sick individual offering a splendid chance for wise help. Instead of being incarcerated with fellow unfortunates in the awful atmosphere of a prison, the future ‘criminal’ will be in much demand.”5 Criminals who connect with their higher consciousness are also able to lead healthy lives spiritually, physically, and ethically.
Ferguson explains the effect of achieving higher consciousness on our all-around health: “Health and disease don’t just happen to us. They are active processes issuing from inner harmony or disharmony, profoundly affected by our states of consciousness, our ability or inability to flow with experience.”6
Shirley MacLaine explains that enlightened people who maintain higher consciousness can help others solve their problems, magnifying the importance of higher consciousness: “Somewhere way underneath me were the answers to everything that caused anxiety and confusion in the world.”7
New Age Psychology – Achieving Higher Consciousness
Meditation, sometimes with crystals or mantras, is often the method New Age psychology (fourth force psychology) employs to induce higher consciousness. A writer in Life Times magazine states emphatically, “My message to everyone now is to learn to meditate. It was through meditation that many other blessings came about.”8 Higher consciousness is one of the blessings derived from meditation, as is the ability to channel spirits. Kathleen Vande Kieft says, “Almost without exception, those who channel effectively meditate regularly. The process of channeling itself is an extension of the state of meditation...the best way to prepare, then, for channeling is by meditation”9
Channeling refers to the Cosmic Humanist belief that spirits will sometimes speak to and through a gifted person who is engaged in meditation. Elena, a spirit allegedly channeled by John Randolph Price, describes beings like herself as “angels of light—whether from earth or other worlds. They search, select and guide those men and women who may be suitable subjects.”10
All Cosmic Humanists embrace meditation as an important tool for attaining higher consciousness, although not all consider channeling essential. New Age psychologists suggest that practices such as channeling, astrology, firewalking, Ouija boards, and aura readings are a means to enhance the state of higher consciousness achieved through meditation.
New Age psychology is based on communing with the God within. This is a fundamental difference between New Age and Christian meditation. New Age meditation focuses on the God within, while Christian meditation focuses on the God without. Christians focus on God—who is Maker, Sustainer, Provider, Redeemer, Lord, and Judge—and on His objective, external revelation of truth to us in the Bible.
The children’s book What Is God?, which teaches Cosmic Humanist meditation to children, clearly illustrates the difference between Christian and New Age meditation. The book says, “And if you really want to pray to God, you can just close your eyes anywhere, and think about that feeling of God, that makes you part of everything and everybody. If you can feel that feeling of God, and everybody else can feel that feeling of God, then we can all become friends together, and we can really understand, ‘What is God?’ So, if you really want to feel God, you can close your eyes now, and listen to your breath go slowly in and out, and think how you are connected to everything, even if you are not touching everything.”11
New Age Psychology – Conclusion
New Age psychology provides the jargon and the tools for Cosmic Humanism’s relentless pursuit of higher consciousness. Before utopia or the New Age can be achieved, many more people will have to evolve past their present pain into an awareness of their godhood. Psychology’s goal is to direct this effort.
New Age psychology provides tools to help people achieve higher consciousness, but each person chooses those applications that seem most appropriate—firewalking, séance, hypnosis, etc. Meditation, however, is required of everyone. The value of the tools is measured by the amount of pain they cure. Higher consciousness implies wellness and thus anything leading to higher consciousness will necessarily reduce physical, spiritual, and mental pain.
According to Marianne Williamson, even life-threatening disease is just a sign of an unhealthy psyche. She says, “Healing results from a transformed perception of our relationship to illness, one in which we respond to the problem with love instead of fear.”12
If we find the right tools, Cosmic Humanists believe, we can cure the cancer by curing the mind. The tool Williamson recommends is visualization—that is, imagining events happening in the future and then willing these events to come true. Williamson suggests, “Imagine the AIDS virus as Darth Vader, and then unzip his suit to allow an angel to emerge. See the cancer cell or AIDS virus in all its wounded horror, and then see a golden light, or angel, or Jesus, enveloping the cell and transforming it from darkness into light.”13
Cosmic Humanists believe that if we choose the right psychological tools, we can save ourselves. If we are God enough, our redemption is in our own hands.