Tag Archives: wisdom

What New Age?

As I related in my most recent post entitled CHOICE, I have no aversion to controversy, so I see little reason to waste your valuable Time today with preface or needless prevarication.  Though it might make those who consider themselves to be at the cutting edge of the New Age Movement uncomfortable, I have come to an inescapable conclusion: the New Age is no longer new and no longer relevant.  (Feel free to draw and quarter the messenger if you must, but this will in no way alter the veracity of his message.)  What began as a heartfelt and determined desire to cast off the manacles of institutionalized religion and reclaim a mystical connection to Divinity (and humanity’s corresponding Divine Nature) has over Time metamorphosed into a confused mishmash of conflicting and efficaciously questionable practices often characterized by cults of personality.  Given some of the things many practitioners of New Age spirituality often are willing to believe or do or pay outrageous sums of money for, is it any wonder that mainstream conformist society tends to consider such practitioners to be, at best, humorously misguided eccentrics or, at the worst, dangerously delusional psychotics?

Defending the “no longer new” aspect of my statement is done quite easily and in short order.  Though there was never a fountainhead, several names consistently come to mind when considering the emergence of the Aquarian New Age Movement.  Bailey, Blavatsky, Cayce, Crowley, and Fillmore were Occidentals who paved the way for the introduction to the West of many Eastern teachers and mystics, with but two examples being Paramahansa Yogananda and D.T. Suzuki.  The people mentioned above lived and worked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  No matter how you look at it, there ain’t a thing new about an Age that has been extant for (give or take) well over 100 years.  ‘Nuff said.

As for the admittedly provocative “no longer relevant” comment, I base my position on a dispassionate assessment of an observable lack of results.  For every person that achieves a genuine awakening or personal healing experience within some branch of the New Age paradigm, there are hundreds, even thousands, who do not.  As a result some give up, others return to more orthodox religion or medicine, while many continue to graze at the spiritual buffet in an effort to find even a morsel that will satisfy their hunger.  It can be argued that the fault lies with less than dedicated students, not the teacher or the discipline.  While this position has situational merit the question should be “what degree of practical and consistent efficacy does a given teaching and approach possess?”  All around I see people who have spent hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars on workshops and various otherworldly accoutrement for the stated goal of improving their lives, yet nothing (other than being lighter in the pocketbook) has changed.  They are just as bereft/ill/miserable now as they were the day their search began.  This is the crux of my contention.

I will now speak the unspeakable:  It is not without good reason that the New Age movement has long carried the stench of snake oil.  For every method or teacher capable of delivering what is promised there are innumerable incompetents and outright frauds that can’t.  New Age franchises tend to attract the intrigued and the gullible, and it is those who are the most easily hornswoggled.  The innocent, the desperate, and the lazy are usually the most susceptible to the charms of the quack or the crook.  Though the charlatans have done much to damage the integrity of a movement that began with such noble intentions, the blame for its persistent dubious credibility can be spread evenly between the mountebanks and the dilettantes who enable them.

My goal here is not criticism for its own sake and I will not presume to tell anyone what qualifies as a fraudulent discipline; that is for you to decide.  (I will, however, submit that it is never a bad idea to keep the phrase caveat emptor in mind.)  Neither am I challenging the purveyors of any method to prove to little-ol’-me that their approach is effective.  My challenge is to you, the genuine seeker, to not be blinded by the feel-good nonsense that is so readily available in the spiritual marketplace.  Any practice that demands nothing of a seeker beyond great quantities of cash and (sometimes) adoration of the teacher is, in the view of this heretical mystic, suspect.

Pumped up power-of-positive-thinking drones that, though thinking positively, take no ACTION to change their state are deserving of the limited results their feeble efforts bring.  And you can have all the psychic readings and chakra cleansings that money can buy but, if you don’t make changes to the way you live your life as a result of the knowledge you gained from those readings and capitalize on the benefits of those purifications, you are wasting your money and your Time.  Nothing will ever replace the Time-honored and provable approach of sound theoretical knowledge combined with diligent and persistent work.

Instead of continuing to call an esoteric or mystical approach to spirituality by the outdated and meaningless handle New Age, maybe it would be better to call it Objective Mysticism or Practical Spirituality.  Unless, that is, the objective and/or the practical is not what you seek.  Unless, that is, the status quo is good enough for you.

©Billy Red Horse

Choice

“Far more than our abilities, it is our choices that show what we truly are.”
– Albus Dumbledore

To be called a heretic is an experience I have long savored and over the years I have had many opportunities to indulge my perverse enjoyment of being thus maligned.  No matter what spiritual discipline I have learned and taught, there has always been someone close by to wag a finger in my general direction and tell me just how wrong I am, how I am corrupting the teachings. It must be said that, when the textbook definition of the word heretic is considered, I truly am one!  A heretic is a person who holds controversial opinions, especially ones that publicly challenge officially accepted dogma.  That’s me all over!  It should therefore come as no surprise that I identify strongly with the Greek root of the word heretic.  That root is hairetikos, which means “able to choose.”

In the final analysis, everything comes down to choice.  The great motivational speakers all state that the quantity and severity of challenges we experience in our lives is of little importance.  How we choose to perceive and respond to those challenges is what matters.  Where others might choose to be victims of circumstance, it is the Spiritual Warrior who responds with life affirming choices (and actions) rather than reacting as though everything is beyond her control.  It is the simple choice between being at the cause or at the effect.

Most every choice we make is a point of departure that will lead to an inevitable destination.  The demand upon us to make choices is as incessant as it is unavoidable.  To quote a line from lyricist Neil Peart, “[Even] if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.”  To claim the power inherent in conscious choice is to simultaneously shoulder the burden of responsibility for the consequences of those choices.  It is this burden of responsibility that so frightens the average person and the reason so many prefer to let others make their choices for them.

We do not live alone in this world and no matter how considered one might be with regards to choices made, it is certain that those choices can and will be effected by the choices of others, those we know and those we don’t.  Is it not fair to ask that those who, as associates, friends, and coworkers, have the greatest access to (and, therefore, influence upon) us be at least as concerned with making conscious choices as are we?  This should give a person all the more reason to be selective about the company one keeps.

It may seem that in trying to consider the myriad of possible outcomes each choice could bring one could be easily overwhelmed, even to the point of mental and/or physical apoplexy.  This doesn’t have to be the case.  Gentle persistence is generally the best course when learning a new skill.  Learning how to make wise choices is no different.  Be aware of your choices and don’t be afraid to follow your instincts.

All humans are possessed of a dual nature that is equally adept at expressing the utmost love or manifesting lurid villainy.  What separates the killing fields from Elysian Fields is choice.  Whether we determine to Love or to Fear, to act or react, create or destroy is a function of how we use Energy.  It is our choices that send us down the infernal path and it is our choices that can redeem and Awaken us.

The meaning of Life is really quite simple:  Life is about choice.  Nothing has more influence on our lives and our happiness than the choices we make.  We are here because we choose to be.  Our life has the meaning we choose to give it.  Whether we live in the awareness of our elemental nature as a part of the world we inhabit and our spiritual nature as the offspring of Creation, or as victims of circumstance who are out of balance and out of control can only be decided by the individual.  Creation gives us sovereignty.  It is we alone who abdicate that sovereignty.  The Choice is ours.

There is so much darkness in the world, so very much pain that it often overshadows the Joy.  This does not have to be.  We are not condemned to the mire.  Beauty is but a choice away.

©Billy Red Horse

Tend Your Garden

There is but one Element that constitutes the entirety of all existence in the Manifest Universe, and that Element is Energy.  Energy is everything and everything is Energy.  Even with a never-ending supply of this omnipresent stuff of Creation to be had, there are those that still somehow manage to dilute it, to weaken its situational efficacy, to squander both opportunity and promise.

Consider a certain aspiring gardener.  Our novice wishes to be the warden of a small but thriving garden box of miniature roses  He prepares the box with the finest soil appropriate for what it is he wishes to grow and then fixes within its confines several of the most healthy bare root bushes he can find.  The box is then set in a place of prominence where the Sun will fall on it in just the right amount.  Pure water and plant food are added as needed and then Nature is trusted to work Her magic.

For the first week or two, the incipient roses are tended daily.  Any invading weeds are winnowed and, being a forward-thinking and conscientious chap, our gardener lavishes all this attention from a place of Love.

Then something happens.  After a few weeks, the daily tending becomes every other day, then every three days.  The more Time that passes, the less attention the box of roses receives.

Finally, one day the gardener is taken aback by the sad state his once thriving box of roses has achieved.  “Why has this happened?” he asks.  “What can I do to remedy this situation?”  After careful consideration, he settles on a plan.

Rather than redouble his efforts to nurture the now neglected roses by tending more diligently to this first box, he acquires a new box and populates it with . . . tomato plants.

Again, Time passes.  Tomato plants follow roses, then bonsai trees follow tomatoes; and so the proceedings go, box after box, on and on, one after another after another.

And what of those like our gardener?  Are they lazy?  Hardly!  Their inattentiveness cannot be ascribed correctly to laziness; the very fact that so much effort is, Time and Time again, expended in creation of an ever-lengthening chain of enterprise is irrefutable evidence to the contrary.  Lethargy is not the culprit; a lack of focus, the absence of diligence, and a dearth of patience is.

So many are like a butterfly flitting from one flower to the next, chasing thoughts or undertakings or dreams, constantly in motion but seldom given to abiding long enough for an agreeable denouement to be experienced.  Sometimes, the thought process is “this didn’t work right away so I’ll try something else” or “this sort of worked, but I think I’ll try something else” or “this worked really well but it could have worked even better, so I think I’ll go try something else.”  Distraction and boredom are the enemies of focus and follow-through.  Knowing when (or if) something should be dispensed with is one thing; effectively aborting a still-viable potential is something else entirely.

To see a thought through takes Time.  It takes more Time still for complex things or endeavors to bloom in their fullness and to grow into the totality of their Beauty.  It is nothing short of foolish to give something less attention than it requires only to then express subsequent frustration or bewilderment that this something is now found wanting.

Tend your garden.  Nurture.  Persevere.  Acknowledge.  Respect.  Focus.  Repeat.  Then plant something new.

©Billy Red Horse