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    New Age: Old Ideas for Modern Times
    by Rev. Shelly Strauss

    New Age is often misunderstood to mean that the teachings of this faith are new. In fact, the teachings of the New Age movement are ancient and the name refers to the ushering in of a new age in the spiritual development of humanity. Defining New Age is both metaphorically and literally like defining Love: each person will define it differently based on their individual experiences and needs. But just as with the definition of Love there are certain "common denominators", so too are there common denominators of those who follow the New Age faith.

    There is but one God/dess. One Creator. How one refers to that Creator is a matter of personal choice. Those who follow New Age teachings believe that all faiths worship the same Creator but use different names and methods to do so. All paths lead to the same place (reunification with the Creator), just like all paths leading up a mountain eventually reach the same point: the highest spot on the mountain. Those following New Age paths do not see their path as the "only" path or see their path as "better" than any other-- it is simply a different path. It is their personal path and the one that is the perfect one for them at this time in their life. One of the strong points of New Age faith is that it is a continually growing and evolving faith. Just as a child's understanding of where babies come from grows as the child matures, so too does the understanding of one following a New Age path grow as they mature spiritually.

    New Agers believe that all of creation is one with the Creator. While it may appear that we are separate from the Creator, such appearance is illusionary. Like many thoughts of a single mind, human souls are the thoughts of the Creator. This appearance of duality is a necessity since one cannot know what one is without having a point of reference. For example, how would you know you are short if you are the only person on the face of the earth? Just like the thoughts we have seek to clarify our reality, to resolve issues in our lives, so too are the thoughts of the Creator seeking to clarify the Creator's reality. There is a very distinct difference between knowledge and understanding. For example, I might know all the answers to the questions in my math book because they are written in the back of the book. But until I go through the class and experience the learning, I do not understand how that knowledge came about. We humans are the Creator experiencing the learning and gaining understanding of just who S/He is. When we humans incarnate in this physical body, we choose to "forget" that we are one with the Creator since in order to truly experience the absense of Love (ie, fear), we must on some level believe we can fail. After all, how difficult is it to face one's fear of heights if one knows full well that one cannot die if one fell?

    The essence of the Creator, the motivation behind every action that the Creator takes, every word uttered, every thought that crosses the Divine Mind, is Love. We have seen this message taught time after time by the great teachers of recorded history and we have seen the law of Love expressed in many ways in virtually every faith, regardless of its origin. This law is known under many names: the law of karma, the law of cause and effect, the law of three and the Golden Rule to name a few. All essentially say the same thing: As you sow, so shall you reap. The major point that is often missed by many is that this law depends only on the individual's actions. The Golden Rule, for instance, does not say "Treat others as you want to be treated only if they treat you nice first" or "only if you like them." When Jesus the Christ was asked what the greatest commandment was, he answered, "Love God with all your being and Love your neighbor as you Love God." Man's "goal" in this lifetime is to learn to act as the Creator acts: with Love as the motivation for every thought, word and deed. And indeed, when one thinks about it for very long, one sees the wisdom in this goal: if we are all one with the Creator, we are also all one with each other and when we cause someone else pain, we are only hurting ourselves.

    Because the motivation of the Creator is Love, S/He has provided us with many tools for learning and growth. Among these tools are crystals (as energy conduits), tarot, runes, I Ching, channeling, astrology, palmistry, numerology, pendulums, clairvoyance, clairaudience...the list is virtually endless. The Creator is always ready to help us if we but ask-- for until we ask, the Creator cannot violate our free will by interfering where assistance is not asked for. Asking is often done through meditation, positive affirmations, manifestation or prayers (although in truth, there are all different names for the same process-- the acceptance of the fact that the Creator meets your every need and knows your need before you ask.) Most who follow a New Age path also believe in reincarnation: that the soul takes on a physical body many times in order to experience everything there is to experience. Another relatively common belief among New Agers is that time does not really exist. That the only moment we have is the eternal now and that all possibilities exist always. The closest analogy I've been able to come up with is to be in a room in which all the walls are lined with television sets from floor to ceiling. And each set is showing the same show starting just one second after another so that if our minds were capable of processing the information, we could see the entire show in just one second.

    New Age and paganism are often lumped together by more traditional faiths as being "occult", which has become synonymous with "dark" or "evil". And to be sure, there are many similarities between paganism and New Age, although paganism tends to involve more ritual and magick than the New Age paths. Yet neither is innately "dark" or "evil" (although there are those who can misapply it, just as there are those who have misapplied Christianity or any other faith) and both tend to focus on and seek to enhance the positive, uplifting aspects of our humanity.

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