Manual The Power of the Sacred Name: Indian Spirituality Inspired by Mantras (Perennial Philosophy)

Free download. Book file PDF easily for everyone and every device. You can download and read online The Power of the Sacred Name: Indian Spirituality Inspired by Mantras (Perennial Philosophy) file PDF Book only if you are registered here. And also you can download or read online all Book PDF file that related with The Power of the Sacred Name: Indian Spirituality Inspired by Mantras (Perennial Philosophy) book. Happy reading The Power of the Sacred Name: Indian Spirituality Inspired by Mantras (Perennial Philosophy) Bookeveryone. Download file Free Book PDF The Power of the Sacred Name: Indian Spirituality Inspired by Mantras (Perennial Philosophy) at Complete PDF Library. This Book have some digital formats such us :paperbook, ebook, kindle, epub, fb2 and another formats. Here is The CompletePDF Book Library. It's free to register here to get Book file PDF The Power of the Sacred Name: Indian Spirituality Inspired by Mantras (Perennial Philosophy) Pocket Guide.

William Chittick. Frithjof Schuon. Henry Corbin. Jean Bies. Related places Bosnia. Stolac, Bosnia. Middle East.

We Turn to India

How do series work? Series: Perennial Philosophy Series by cover 1—7 of 35 next show all. The Essential Ananda K. Coomaraswamy by Ananda K. Figures of Speech or Figures of Thought? Ali Lakhani. The impact of this transmission has been far more profound than is generally realized. It has dramatically altered our understanding of ourselves and our place in the universe, changing the way we think about religion and the way contemporary Americans engage the spiritual impulse. I can confidently state that everyone reading this article has been influenced by Eastern spirituality.

The adaptation sometimes obscures the origin of the concepts, but that does not stop them from seeping into the fabric of the culture. The assimilation began in the early 19th century, when books about Asian religion found their way to receptive Americans like Ralph Waldo Emerson, who devoured that literature as he constructed the transcendental philosophy that would, to a large extent, shape the mind of America. Overall, the Eastern impact on the Transcendentalists—including the iconic poetry of Walt Whitman—was immense.

Directly through books and indirectly through Emerson, Eastern teachings played a vital role in the origin and development of the New Thought movement, beginning in the late 19th century with Madame Blavatsky Theosophy and Mary Baker Eddy Christian Science. Later, those ingredients would season Religious Science, through its founder, Ernest Holmes.

Vivekananda introduced to the West a modern, rational, pragmatic interpretation of the core Hindu philosophy of Vedanta. He spent less than four years in America, and he died at age 39, but his legacy of ideas and institutions endures. In the middle of the 20th century, the swamis at the Vedanta Societies he created mentored some of the most influential thinkers of the modern era.

Paramahansa Yogananda eventually made L. Still selling well 67 years after its publication, that seminal text introduced more Americans to Indian spiritual teachings than any other book by far. Three points bring this into focus:.

A Christian reflection on the "New Age" | qogerojafydu.tk

The Western universe is seen as a divided one based on monotheism, transcendence, alterity and separateness. A fundamental dualism is detected in such divisions as those between real and ideal, relative and absolute, finite and infinite, human and divine, sacred and profane, past and present, all redolent of Hegel's "unhappy consciousness". This is portrayed as something tragic. The response from New Age is unity through fusion: it claims to reconcile soul and body, female and male, spirit and matter, human and divine, earth and cosmos, transcendent and immanent, religion and science, differences between religions, Yin and Yang.

There is, thus, no more alterity; what is left in human terms is transpersonality. The New Age world is unproblematic: there is nothing left to achieve. But the metaphysical question of the one and the many remains unanswered, perhaps even unasked, in that there is a great deal of regret at the effects of disunity and division, but the response is a description of how things would appear in another vision.

References to extra-European influences are sometimes merely a "pseudo-Orientalisation" of Western culture. Furthermore, it is hardly a genuine dialogue; in a context where Graeco-Roman and Judaeo-Christian influences are suspect, oriental influences are used precisely because they are alternatives to Western culture. Traditional science and medicine are felt to be inferior to holistic approaches, as are patriarchal and particular structures in politics and religion.

All of these will be obstacles to the coming of the Age of Aquarius; once again, it is clear that what is implied when people opt for New Age alternatives is a complete break with the tradition that formed them. Is this as mature and liberated as it is often thought or presumed to be? New Age echoes society's deep, ineradicable yearning for an integral religious culture, and for something more generic and enlightened than what politicians generally offer, but it is not clear whether the benefits of a vision based on the ever-expanding self are for individuals or for societies.

The ideas have to do with the workplace as a 'learning environment', 'bringing life back to work', 'humanizing work', 'fulfilling the manager', 'people come first' or 'unlocking potential'. Presented by New Age trainers, they are likely to appeal to those businesspeople who have already been involved with more secular humanistic trainings and who want to take things further: at one and the same time for the sake of personal growth, happiness and enthusiasm, as well as for commercial productivity".

Apart from the question of motivation, all of these phenomena need to be judged by their fruits, and the question to ask is whether they promote self or solidarity, not only with whales, trees or like-minded people, but with the whole of creation - including the whole of humanity. The most pernicious consequences of any philosophy of egoism which is embraced by institutions or by large numbers of people are identified by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as a set of "strategies to reduce the number of those who will eat at humanity's table".

Christianity always seeks to measure human endeavours by their openness to the Creator and to all other creatures, a respect based firmly on love. Whatever questions and criticisms it may attract, New Age is an attempt by people who experience the world as harsh and heartless to bring warmth to that world. As a reaction to modernity, it operates more often than not on the level of feelings, instincts and emotions. Anxiety about an apocalyptic future of economic instability, political uncertainty and climatic change plays a large part in causing people to look for an alternative, resolutely optimistic relationship to the cosmos.

There is a search for wholeness and happiness, often on an explicitly spiritual level. But it is significant that New Age has enjoyed enormous success in an era which can be characterised by the almost universal exaltation of diversity. Western culture has taken a step beyond tolerance - in the sense of grudging acceptance or putting up with the idiosyncrasies of a person or a minority group - to a conscious erosion of respect for normality.

Normality is presented as a morally loaded concept, linked necessarily with absolute norms. For a growing number of people, absolute beliefs or norms indicate nothing but an inability to tolerate other people's views and convictions. In this atmosphere alternative life-styles and theories have really taken off: it is not only acceptable but positively good to be diverse. It is essential to bear in mind that people are involved with New Age in very different ways and on many levels.

In most cases it is not really a question of "belonging" to a group or movement; nor is there much conscious awareness of the principles on which New Age is built. It seems that, for the most part, people are attracted to particular therapies or practices, without going into their background, and others are simply occasional consumers of products which are labelled " New Age ". People who use aromatherapy or listen to " New Age " music, for example, are usually interested in the effect they have on their health or well-being; it is only a minority who go further into the subject, and try to understand its theoretical or "mystical" significance.

This fits perfectly into the patterns of consumption in societies where amusement and leisure play such an important part. The "movement" has adapted well to the laws of the market, and it is partly because it is such an attractive economic proposition that New Age has become so widespread.

New Age has been seen, in some cultures at least, as the label for a product created by the application of marketing principles to a religious phenomenon. Like many other things in contemporary economics, New Age is a global phenomenon held together and fed with information by the mass media. It is arguable that this global community was created by means of the mass media, and it is quite clear that popular literature and mass communications ensure that the common notions held by "believers" and sympathisers spread almost everywhere very rapidly.

However, there is no way of proving that such a rapid spread of ideas is either by chance or by design, since this is a very loose form of "community". Like the cybercommunities created by the Internet, it is a domain where relationships between people can be either very impersonal or interpersonal in only a very selective sense.

New Age has become immensely popular as a loose set of beliefs, therapies and practices, which are often selected and combined at will, irrespective of the incompatibilities and inconsistencies this may imply. But this is obviously to be expected in a world- view self-consciously based on "right-brain" intuitive thinking. And that is precisely why it is important to discover and recognise the fundamental characteristics of New Age ideas. What is offered is often described as simply "spiritual", rather than belonging to any religion, but there are much closer links to particular Eastern religions than many "consumers" realise.

This is obviously important in "prayer"-groups to which people choose to belong, but it is also a real question for management in a growing number of companies, whose employees are required to practise meditation and adopt mind-expanding techniques as part of their life at work. It is worth saying a brief word about concerted promotion of New Age as an ideology, but this is a very complex issue. Some groups have reacted to New Age with sweeping accusations about conspiracies, but the answer would generally be that we are witnessing a spontaneous cultural change whose course is fairly determined by influences beyond human control.

However, it is enough to point out that New Age shares with a number of internationally influential groups the goal of superseding or transcending particular religions in order to create space for a universal religion which could unite humanity. Closely related to this is a very concerted effort on the part of many institutions to invent a Global Ethic, an ethical framework which would reflect the global nature of contemporary culture, economics and politics.

Further, the politicisation of ecological questions certainly colours the whole question of the Gaia hypothesis or worship of mother earth. New Age as spirituality. New Age is often referred to by those who promote it as a "new spirituality". It seems ironic to call it "new" when so many of its ideas have been taken from ancient religions and cultures.

But what really is new is that New Age is a conscious search for an alternative to Western culture and its Judaeo-Christian religious roots. People discover their profound connectedness with the sacred universal force or energy which is the nucleus of all life. When they have made this discovery, men and women can set out on a path to perfection, which will enable them to sort out their personal lives and their relationship to the world, and to take their place in the universal process of becoming and in the New Genesis of a world in constant evolution. The result is a cosmic mysticism 51 based on people's awareness of a universe burgeoning with dynamic energies.

Thus cosmic energy, vibration, light, God, love - even the supreme Self - all refer to one and the same reality, the primal source present in every being. This spirituality consists of two distinct elements, one metaphysical, the other psychological. The metaphysical component comes from New Age's esoteric and theosophical roots, and is basically a new form of gnosis. Access to the divine is by knowledge of hidden mysteries, in each individual's search for "the real behind what is only apparent, the origin beyond time, the transcendent beyond what is merely fleeting, the primordial tradition behind merely ephemeral tradition, the other behind the self, the cosmic divinity beyond the incarnate individual".

Esoteric spirituality "is an investigation of Being beyond the separateness of beings, a sort of nostalgia for lost unity". It is evident when the children of Aquarius search for the Transcendent Unity of religions. They tend to pick out of the historical religions only the esoteric nucleus, whose guardians they claim to be. They somehow deny history and will not accept that spirituality can be rooted in time or in any institution.

Jesus of Nazareth is not God, but one of the many historical manifestations of the cosmic and universal Christ". The psychological component of this kind of spirituality comes from the encounter between esoteric culture and psychology cf. New Age thus becomes an experience of personal psycho- spiritual transformation, seen as analogous to religious experience.

For some people this transformation takes the form of a deep mystical experience, after a personal crisis or a lengthy spiritual search. For others it comes from the use of meditation or some sort of therapy, or from paranormal experiences which alter states of consciousness and provide insight into the unity of reality. Several authors see New Age spirituality as a kind of spiritual narcissism or pseudo-mysticism. It is interesting to note that this criticism was put forward even by an important exponent of New Age, David Spangler, who, in his later works, distanced himself from the more esoteric aspects of this current of thought.

He wrote that, in the more popular forms of New Age, "individuals and groups are living out their own fantasies of adventure and power, usually of an occult or millenarian form The principal characteristic of this level is attachment to a private world of ego-fulfilment and a consequent though not always apparent withdrawal from the world. On this level, the New Age has become populated with strange and exotic beings, masters, adepts, extraterrestrials; it is a place of psychic powers and occult mysteries, of conspiracies and hidden teachings".

In a later work, David Spangler lists what he sees as the negative elements or "shadows" of the New Age: "alienation from the past in the name of the future; attachment to novelty for its own sake The positive aspects he stresses are the function of New Age as an image of change and as an incarnation of the sacred, a movement in which most people are "very serious seekers after truth", working in the interest of life and inner growth. The commercial aspect of many products and therapies which bear the New Age label is brought out by David Toolan, an American Jesuit who spent several years in the New Age milieu.

He observes that new-agers have discovered the inner life and are fascinated by the prospect of being responsible for the world, but that they are also easily overcome by a tendency to individualism and to viewing everything as an object of consumption. In this sense, while it is not Christian, New Age spirituality is not Buddhist either, inasmuch as it does not involve self-denial. The dream of mystical union seems to lead, in practice, to a merely virtual union, which, in the end, leaves people more alone and unsatisfied.

The Cosmic Christ. In the early days of Christianity, believers in Jesus Christ were forced to face up to the gnostic religions. They did not ignore them, but took the challenge positively and applied the terms used of cosmic deities to Christ himself. The clearest example of this is in the famous hymn to Christ in Saint Paul's letter to the Christians at Colossae:. Before anything was created, he existed, and he holds all things in unity. Now the Church is his body, he is its head. As he is the Beginning, he was first to be born from the dead, so that he should be first in every way; because God wanted all perfection to be found in him and all things to be reconciled through him and for him, everything in heaven and everything on earth, when he made peace by his death on the cross" Col 1: For these early Christians, there was no new cosmic age to come; what they were celebrating with this hymn was the Fulfilment of all things which had begun in Christ.

Eternity entered into time: what 'fulfilment' could be greater than this? What other 'fulfilment' would be possible? For Christians, the real cosmic Christ is the one who is present actively in the various members of his body, which is the Church. They do not look to impersonal cosmic powers, but to the loving care of a personal God; for them cosmic bio-centrism has to be transposed into a set of social relationships in the Church ; and they are not locked into a cyclical pattern of cosmic events, but focus on the historical Jesus, in particular on his crucifixion and resurrection.

We find in the Letter to the Colossians and in the New Testament a doctrine of God different from that implicit in New Age thought: the Christian conception of God is one of a Trinity of Persons who has created the human race out of a desire to share the communion of Trinitarian life with creaturely persons. Properly understood, this means that authentic spirituality is not so much our search for God but God 's search for us. Another, completely different, view of the cosmic significance of Christ has become current in New Age circles.

The divine pattern of connectivity was made flesh and set up its tent among us John The Cosmic Christ The Cosmic Christ is local and historical, indeed intimate to human history. The Cosmic Christ might be living next door or even inside one's deepest and truest self". For New Age the Cosmic Christ is seen as a pattern which can be repeated in many people, places and times; it is the bearer of an enormous paradigm shift; it is ultimately a potential within us. According to Christian belief, Jesus Christ is not a pattern, but a divine person whose human-divine figure reveals the mystery of the Father's love for every person throughout history Jn ; he lives in us because he shares his life with us, but it is neither imposed nor automatic.

All men and women are invited to share his life, to live "in Christ". Christian mysticism and New Age mysticism. For Christians, the spiritual life is a relationship with God which gradually through his grace becomes deeper, and in the process also sheds light on our relationship with our fellow men and women, and with the universe. Spirituality in New Age terms means experiencing states of consciousness dominated by a sense of harmony and fusion with the Whole. So "mysticism" refers not to meeting the transcendent God in the fullness of love, but to the experience engendered by turning in on oneself, an exhilarating sense of being at one with the universe, a sense of letting one's individuality sink into the great ocean of Being.

This fundamental distinction is evident at all levels of comparison between Christian mysticism and New Age mysticism. The New Age way of purification is based on awareness of unease or alienation, which is to be overcome by immersion into the Whole. In order to be converted, a person needs to make use of techniques which lead to the experience of illumination.

This transforms a person's consciousness and opens him or her to contact with the divinity, which is understood as the deepest essence of reality. The techniques and methods offered in this immanentist religious system, which has no concept of God as person, proceed 'from below'. Although they involve a descent into the depths of one's own heart or soul, they constitute an essentially human enterprise on the part of a person who seeks to rise towards divinity by his or her own efforts.

It is often an "ascent" on the level of consciousness to what is understood to be a liberating awareness of "the god within". Not everyone has access to these techniques, whose benefits are restricted to a privileged spiritual 'aristocracy'. The essential element in Christian faith, however, is God's descent towards his creatures, particularly towards the humblest, those who are weakest and least gifted according to the values of the "world".

There are spiritual techniques which it is useful to learn, but God is able to by-pass them or do without them. A Christian's "method of getting closer to God is not based on any technique in the strict sense of the word. That would contradict the spirit of childhood called for by the Gospel. The heart of genuine Christian mysticism is not technique: it is always a gift of God; and the one who benefits from it knows himself to be unworthy". For Christians, conversion is turning back to the Father, through the Son, in docility to the power of the Holy Spirit.

The more people progress in their relationship with God - which is always and in every way a free gift - the more acute is the need to be converted from sin, spiritual myopia and self-infatuation, all of which obstruct a trusting self-abandonment to God and openness to other men and women. All meditation techniques need to be purged of presumption and pretentiousness. Christian prayer is not an exercise in self-contemplation, stillness and self-emptying, but a dialogue of love, one which "implies an attitude of conversion, a flight from 'self' to the 'You' of God".

Here is a key point of contrast between New Age and Christianity. So much New Age literature is shot through with the conviction that there is no divine being "out there", or in any real way distinct from the rest of reality. From Jung's time onwards there has been a stream of people professing belief in "the god within". Our problem, in a New Age perspective, is our inability to recognise our own divinity, an inability which can be overcome with the help of guidance and the use of a whole variety of techniques for unlocking our hidden divine potential.

The fundamental idea is that 'God' is deep within ourselves.

You are here

We are gods, and we discover the unlimited power within us by peeling off layers of inauthenticity. We are said by some to be living in "an age in which our understanding of God has to be interiorised: from the Almighty God out there to God the dynamic, creative power within the very centre of all being: God as Spirit". Here theosis, the Christian understanding of divinisation, comes about not through our own efforts alone, but with the assistance of God's grace working in and through us.

It inevitably involves an initial awareness of incompleteness and even sinfulness, in no way an exaltation of the self. Furthermore, it unfolds as an introduction into the life of the Trinity, a perfect case of distinction at the heart of unity; it is synergy rather than fusion. This all comes about as the result of a personal encounter, an offer of a new kind of life. Life in Christ is not something so personal and private that it is restricted to the realm of consciousness.

Nor is it merely a new level of awareness. It involves being transformed in our soul and in our body by participation in the sacramental life of the Church. It is difficult to separate the individual elements of New Age religiosity - innocent though they may appear - from the overarching framework which permeates the whole thought-world on the New Age movement.

The gnostic nature of this movement calls us to judge it in its entirety. From the point of view of Christian faith, it is not possible to isolate some elements of New Age religiosity as acceptable to Christians, while rejecting others. Since the New Age movement makes much of a communication with nature, of cosmic knowledge of a universal good - thereby negating the revealed contents of Christian faith - it cannot be viewed as positive or innocuous.

In a cultural environment, marked by religious relativism, it is necessary to signal a warning against the attempt to place New Age religiosity on the same level as Christian faith, making the difference between faith and belief seem relative, thus creating greater confusion for the unwary. In this regard, it is useful to remember the exhortation of St. Paul "to instruct certain people not to teach false doctrine or to concern themselves with myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the plan of God that is to be received by faith" 1 Tim Some practices are incorrectly labeled as New Age simply as a marketing strategy to make them sell better, but are not truly associated with its worldview.

This only adds to the confusion. It is therefore necessary to accurately identify those elements which belong to the New Age movement, and which cannot be accepted by those who are faithful to Christ and his Church. The following questions may be the easiest key to evaluating some of the central elements of New Age thought and practice from a Christian standpoint.

Some of these questions applied to people and ideas not explicitly labelled New Age would reveal further unnamed or unacknowledged links with the whole New Age atmosphere. The New Age concept of God is rather diffuse, whereas the Christian concept is a very clear one. The New Age god is an impersonal energy, really a particular extension or component of the cosmos; god in this sense is the life-force or soul of the world. Divinity is to be found in every being, in a gradation "from the lowest crystal of the mineral world up to and beyond the Galactic God himself, about Whom we can say nothing at all.

This is not a man but a Great Consciousness". God is no longer to be sought beyond the world, but deep within myself. This is very different from the Christian understanding of God as the maker of heaven and earth and the source of all personal life. God is in himself personal, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who created the universe in order to share the communion of his life with creaturely persons. By revealing himself God wishes to make them capable of responding to him, and of knowing him, and of loving him far beyond their own natural capacity". Jesus Christ is often presented in New Age literature as one among many wise men, or initiates, or avatars, whereas in Christian tradition He is the Son of God.

Here are some common points in New Age approaches:. Other revelations about Jesus, made available by entities, spirit guides and ascended masters, or even through the Akasha Chronicles, are basic for New Age christology;. In the Christian Tradition Jesus Christ is the Jesus of Nazareth about which the gospels speak, the son of Mary and the only Son of God, true man and true God, the full revelation of divine truth, unique Saviour of the world: "for our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died and was buried.

On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father". Rebirth, biofeedback, sensory isolation, holotropic breathing, hypnosis, mantras, fasting, sleep deprivation and transcendental meditation are attempts to control these states and to experience them continuously". When the object of the exercise is that we should re-invent our selves, there is a real question of who "I" am.

Isolated individual personalities would be pathological in terms of New Age in particular transpersonal psychology. But "the real danger is the holistic paradigm. New Age is thinking based on totalitarian unity and that is why it is a danger The Christian approach grows out of the Scriptural teachings about human nature; men and women are created in God's image and likeness Gen 1. The human person is a mystery fully revealed only in Jesus Christ cf. GS 22 ,and in fact becomes authentically human properly in his relationship with Christ through the gift of the Spirit.

The key is to discover by what or by whom we believe we are saved. Do we save ourselves by our own actions, as is often the case in New Age explanations, or are we saved by God's love? Key words are self-fulfilment and self-realisation , self-redemption. New Age is essentially Pelagian in its understanding of about human nature.

For Christians, salvation depends on a participation in the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, and on a direct personal relationship with God rather than on any technique. The human situation, affected as it is by original sin and by personal sin, can only be rectified by God's action: sin is an offense against God, and only God can reconcile us to himself. In the divine plan of salvation, human beings have been saved by Jesus Christ who, as God and man, is the one mediator of redemption. In Christianity salvation is not an experience of self, a meditative and intuitive dwelling within oneself, but much more the forgiveness of sin, being lifted out of profound ambivalences in oneself and the calming of nature by the gift of communion with a loving God.

The way to salvation is not found simply in a self-induced transformation of consciousness, but in a liberation from sin and its consequences which then leads us to struggle against sin in ourselves and in the society around us. It necessarily moves us toward loving solidarity with our neighbour in need. New Age truth is about good vibrations, cosmic correspondences, harmony and ecstasy, in general pleasant experiences. It is a matter of finding one's own truth in accordance with the feel- good factor.

Evaluating religion and ethical questions is obviously relative to one's own feelings and experiences.


  • All 50 States - From a Deer Hunters POV;
  • Works (35).
  • My Wishlist.
  • Shadows of Absolution.
  • We Band of Brothers.
  • Cartoon Animator (Virtual Apprentice).

His followers are asked to open their whole lives to him and to his values, in other words to an objective set of requirements which are part of an objective reality ultimately knowable by all. The tendency to confuse psychology and spirituality makes it hard not to insist that many of the meditation techniques now used are not prayer. They are often a good preparation for prayer, but no more, even if they lead to a more pleasant state of mind or bodily comfort. The experiences involved are genuinely intense, but to remain at this level is to remain alone, not yet in the presence of the other.

The achievement of silence can confront us with emptiness, rather than the silence of contemplating the beloved. It is also true that techniques for going deeper into one's own soul are ultimately an appeal to one's own ability to reach the divine, or even to become divine: if they forget God's search for the human heart they are still not Christian prayer. Even when it is seen as a link with the Universal Energy, "such an easy 'relationship' with God, where God's function is seen as supplying all our needs, shows the selfishness at the heart of this New Age ".

New Age practices are not really prayer, in that they are generally a question of introspection or fusion with cosmic energy, as opposed to the double orientation of Christian prayer, which involves introspection but is essentially also a meeting with God. Far from being a merely human effort, Christian mysticism is essentially a dialogue which "implies an attitude of conversion, a flight from 'self' to the 'you' of God".

In New Age there is no real concept of sin, but rather one of imperfect knowledge; what is needed is enlightenment, which can be reached through particular psycho-physical techniques. Those who take part in New Age activities will not be told what to believe, what to do or what not to do, but: "There are a thousand ways of exploring inner reality.

Go where your intelligence and intuition lead you. Trust yourself". The most serious problem perceived in New Age thinking is alienation from the whole cosmos, rather than personal failure or sin. The remedy is to become more and more immersed in the whole of being. In some New Age writings and practices, it is clear that one life is not enough, so there have to be reincarnations to allow people to realise their full potential. In the Christian perspective "only the light of divine Revelation clarifies the reality of sin and particularly of the sin committed at mankind's origins.

Without the knowledge Revelation gives of God we cannot recognize sin clearly and are tempted to explain it as merely a development flaw, a psychological weakness, a mistake, or the necessary consequence of an inadequate social structure, etc. Only in the knowledge of God's plan for man can we grasp that sin is an abuse of freedom that God gives to created persons so that they are capable of loving him and loving one another". It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity Sin is thus 'love of oneself even to contempt of God'".

Some New Age writers view suffering as self-imposed, or as bad karma, or at least as a failure to harness one's own resources. Others concentrate on methods of achieving success and wealth e. In New Age, reincarnation is often seen as a necessary element in spiritual growth, a stage in progressive spiritual evolution which began before we were born and will continue after we die.

In our present lives the experience of the death of other people provokes a healthy crisis. Both cosmic unity and reincarnation are irreconcilable with the Christian belief that a human person is a distinct being, who lives one life, for which he or she is fully responsible: this understanding of the person puts into question both responsibility and freedom. Christians know that "in the cross of Christ not only is the redemption accomplished through suffering, but also human suffering itself has been redeemed.

Christ - without any fault of his own - took on himself 'the total evil of sin'. The experience of this evil determined the incomparable extent of Christ's suffering, which became the price of the redemption The Redeemer suffered in place of man and for man. Every man has his own share in the redemption, Each one is also called to share in that suffering through which the redemption was accomplished.

He is called to share in that suffering through which all human suffering has also been redeemed. In bringing about the redemption through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the redemption. Thus each man in his suffering can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ". Much in New Age is unashamedly self-promotion, but some leading figures in the movement claim that it is unfair to judge the whole movement by a minority of selfish, irrational and narcissistic people, or to allow oneself to be dazzled by some of their more bizarre practices, which are a block to seeing in New Age a genuine spiritual search and spirituality.

Where there is true love, there has to be a different other person. A genuine Christian searches for unity in the capacity and freedom of the other to say "yes" or "no" to the gift of love. Union is seen in Christianity as communion, unity as community. The New Age which is dawning will be peopled by perfect, androgynous beings who are totally in command of the cosmic laws of nature. In this scenario, Christianity has to be eliminated and give way to a global religion and a new world order. Christians are in a constant state of vigilance, ready for the last days when Christ will come again; their New Age began years ago, with Christ, who is none other than "Jesus of Nazareth; he is the Word of God made man for the salvation of all".

His Holy Spirit is present and active in the hearts of individuals, in "society and history, peoples, cultures and religions". In fact, "the Spirit of the Father, bestowed abundantly by the Son, is the animator of all". On the one hand, it is clear that many New Age practices seem to those involved in them not to raise doctrinal questions; but, at the same time, it is undeniable that these practices themselves communicate, even if only indirectly, a mentality which can influence thinking and inspire a very particular vision of reality.

Certainly New Age creates its own atmosphere, and it can be hard to distinguish between things which are innocuous and those which really need to be questioned. However, it is well to be aware that the doctrine of the Christ spread in New Age circles is inspired by the theosophical teachings of Helena Blavatsky, Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophy and Alice Bailey's "Arcane School". Their contemporary followers are not only promoting their ideas now, but also working with New Agers to develop a completely new understanding of reality, a doctrine known by some observers as "New Age truth".