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The New Age: Change in Focus

"A true spiritual faith should be founded on a spiritual principle that would apply and be available to every person, in every culture, in every time of history. Everyone has the same spiritual access to God — or the Great Spirit, or the Goddess — regardless of education or background. It is a personal spiritual access from within the individual directly to the Supreme Being."

New Age of Aquarius

The New Age: Change in Focus

"The"New Age"really began in the"Age of Aquarius"In the mid-1960s. It was a wonderful opening up of America. Worthwhile social movements gained momentum in many areas: seeking peace instead of war; the women's movement for personal freedom; civil rights for minorities; environmental protection; opening up government process to all the people; psychological self-analysis; and spiritual awakening.

All of these movements have benefited America and its citizens. And many people have sincerely searched for and found a spiritual awakening. This aspect of true spiritual growth is continuing, and has great potential. However, over the past 30 years in the general culture, there has been a major shift in the focus of the movement, as a new generation has come along. The shift among some is away from the movement's initial fundamental principles founded in moral and spiritual enlightenment, and toward a"drive-through"mentality more interested in self-gratification, also called self-fulfillment.

This modern trend has come to be known as the"New Age."We have all seen the statements of people who claim to be seeking spiritual awakening, and who state boldly that they believe God's purpose is for them to prosper and be happy. In other words, do whatever you want to fulfill your material and emotional desires, and call it a religion. Many people substitute superficial forms and fantasy for a genuine spiritual search. They get a"telephone-Tarot"reading in the morning, listen to some mind-numbing synthetic music during lunch, contemplating the plastic pyramid on their desk, and worry about aliens who beam"guilt viruses"At Earth — while seeking satisfaction in all their worldly activities.

Then there are those who wallow in despair, seeking escape in delusion. The suicide episode in San Diego in March, 1997, is the ultimate expression of this escapism in the name of enlightenment. But it has nothing to do with spiritual growth or enlightenment. It is a running away from the personal responsibility we all have to deal with one's whole self, in this world. It is another form of self-gratification. Condemn the world and humanity as too corrupt to deal with, and seek escape with"Aliens"Who will take one to a fantasy fulfillment.

Enlightenment versus Gratification

There is a big difference between an honest spiritual inquiry and a self-justification for whatever one wants. Self-indulgence was never a religion. Spiritual awakening — enlightenment, religion — are chiefly concerned with the relationship between your soul and the Supreme Being — not your job status or your next romance. In fact, real religion would release the person from the all-consuming need for more and more gratification in all things.

If one wishes to seek spiritual enlightenment, then one should seriously study the writings in history that have proven to be the sources of wisdom in this area. The wholesale rejection of organized religions in favor of creating one's own self-indulgent religion is not a valid spiritual search.

But looking beyond the dogma and creeds in order to see the underlying spiritual message of each religion is a valid technique. For each religion of the world began as a revelation or spiritual enlightenment to the founders of that faith. It was only their later followers who built the dogma and institutions that caused separation and antagonism between religions and cultures.

We have a unique opportunity at this time in history to focus on the profound and meaningful messages of the world's religions, and to bring about a new unity of spirit. Telecommunications is bringing the world's people together for many purposes, material and spiritual. It is a time of sharing and learning from one another — and hopefully, of growing together spiritually more than at any other time in history. To accomplish that, we must acknowledge that the spiritual visions and principles of each culture have an inherent validity.

The Spiritual Principle

A true spiritual faith should be founded on a spiritual principle that would apply and be available to every person, in every culture, in every time of history. Everyone has the same spiritual access to God — or the Great Spirit, or the Goddess — regardless of education or background. It is a personal spiritual access from within the individual directly to the Supreme Being.

This is the concept of the human soul and its relationship to the Supreme Spirit. All religions have this core relationship. It is explained in different terms in each culture, and the means of expressing this core relationship through ritual is different for each culture. But if one studies the culture and its historical context, one can see through the differences in terminology and ritual: then one can see the core truth. This is the spiritual principle that applies to everyone, everywhere.

It should be apparent that spiritual enlightenment deals with the eternal. A person's worldly ambitions, emotional and physical needs, deal with the transient and passing. Consequently, the spiritual principle is eternal, as is one's soul.

The Spiritual Writings of History

Each religion has its higher spiritual passages in its sacred writings. The unity of spiritual vision expressed in these enlightened writings is true religion. It is not self-indulgent. It is not self-sacrificing. It is an honest acceptance of one's own true spiritual nature. And this acceptance leads to freedom from all the grief, fear, bitterness, loneliness, guilt, and endless need that infect every aspect of human life. This spiritual freedom then allows the person to function in the world with compassion and peace."

Stephen E. Schlarb, The New Age: Change in Focus




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