“New Age” Movement: Old Fallacies

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Have you heard of the Law of Attraction?

I have only taken two Philosophy courses in my life (years ago), but apparently love to talk about it. Philosophy is a comprehensive system of ideas about human nature and the nature of the reality we live in. It is the guide of living. We all live according to our own belief systems, which dictate our daily decisions in life. Since this is so important I wanted to talk about the recently flourishing philosophy referred to as the New Age Movement. I was introduced to this philosophy through a book titled “The Secret.” Many acquaintances had been reading it and attributed their good fortune to the teachings of this book. Naturally, I wanted in on “The Secret” to success and abundances. After little convincing, I immediately set out to purchase and study this “all-knowing” resource. The book and its teachings revolve around one thing: The law of attraction. The law of attraction states that whatever happens in someone’s life, they attract to themselves through their thoughts. The thoughts you are thinking are a real force. Positive and negative thoughts are indicative of what occurs in your life because you are attracting it through your mind. Here is an excerpt from the book that summarizes its teachings: “The law of attraction is a law of nature and is as impartial as the law of gravity. Nothing can come into your experience unless you summon it through persistent thoughts. It is impossible to feel bad and at the same time have good thoughts. The law of attraction grants your every command. The steps include ask, believe, and receive.” Essentially, you ask the “universe” for what you want, believe you are receiving it, and then actually receive it into your life. I believe that positive thoughts are pertinent to your success. It is very important to try to pursue each day with a positive attitude. With that being said, I completely disagree with this ideology and want to expose it for the deceptive path it leads people down.

This sugarcoated philosophy is actually a poisonous ideology that is robbing humanity of true happiness and fulfillment. It does so by wrapping the philosophies of Individualism, Hedonism, and Minimalism into one shiny marketing package. This came to my attention while reading a Matthew Kelly book. So what are these philosophies and why are they toxic?

Individualism. Individualism is based on the all-consuming concern for thy self. It is the moral, political, and social outlook that stresses the importance of individual self-reliance and liberty. It opposes external interference with individual’s choices, essentially focusing only on internal conscious as the only moral rule. There is no objective authority or standard it is bound to. The governing thought in this philosophy is “What’s in it for me?” This is clearly a toxic viewpoint and is detrimental to society. As Matthew Kelly said “It promotes a false perception of freedom, popularizing that freedom means the opportunity to do whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you want, without the interference of any other person or party.” The repercussions of this belief system are greed, selfishness, and exploitation. “The Secret” promotes individualism by convincing people they are God. It deceives people into believing that they do not have to be held accountable for their actions because they single handedly create into existence whatever they want.

Hedonism. Hedonism is belief that pleasure is the most important pursuit of mankind, and the only thing that is good for an individual. The precept for this belief is “if it feels good, do it!” This outlook produces laziness, lust, and gluttony. This doctrine skyrockets individuals to their own demise by enslavement to addictions. They subject their selves to the control of their pleasures, leading them to the isolation of persistent consumption. This eventually equates to loneliness and despair. “The Secret” facilitates this through the elevating of selfish desires and wants above any other factor. Its whole doctrine is about receiving whatever you want and that you are entitled to it.

Minimalism. Minimalism is believing in the minimum exertion of effort and reaping the maximum reward. This results in “What’s the least I can do?” It is the ultimate promoter of mediocrity, laziness, and the thief of excellence. “The Secret” suppresses hard work, diligence, education, or any action of bettering oneself. It encourages individuals to think it into existence, which is really mocking the sanctity of prayer. It fabricates prayer with an atheistic point of view in which you meditate or ask the “universe.”

This belief is unhealthy especially because it promotes the suppression of emotions. It teaches that people need to to hide their negative emotions. It reinforces that if something bad happens in ones life, they thought it into existence (events they have absolutely no control over). Psychologically and emotionally this new age movement is not letting people truly heal from wounds. It is telling them to sweep under the rug all negative emotions, instead of allowing one to grieve if need be. I love the notion of positivity, but it is absolutely absurd to tell people to suppress sadness if they feel it. By suppressing sadness you are suppressing positive emotions, as well. Overall, the fact that “The Secret” tells you to ask the universe for something, but you harness the power to will it into or out of existence yourself is a contradiction in itself.

“Our culture places a very high premium on self-expression, but is relatively disinterested in producing “selves” that are worth expressing.”

 -Matthew Kelly

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