EXPERIENTIAL SPIRITUALITY AND CONTEMPORARY GNOSIS (2 of 3)
by Diane Brandon
The above may represent somewhat of an oversimplification, but we may be hard-pressed to find a New Ager or someone into metaphysics who wasn’t basically pursuing some facet of spirituality, consciousness, or energy (a basic building block of reality and that which may be affected by consciousness and spirituality).
And this emphasis on spirituality and consciousness reflects an acknowledgment that we are, in essence, spiritual beings – and beings of pure energy, as consciousness is a form of energy – even though we are “in the body.” As Wayne Dyer says, “We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Or, as Deepak Chopra says, our bodies are contained within our consciousness, not our consciousness contained within our bodies.
Many people have attempted to compare traditional religion and metaphysics, often pitting one against the other, as if the two of them were mutually exclusive or antithetical. Interestingly, however, religion based on theism is, by definition, a part of metaphysics, as any concept of a deity in traditional Western religion is outside the purview of our three-dimensional reality.
Which leads us to another interesting hallmark of contemporary metaphysics and the “New Age:” the spirituality is experiential.
And some of the causative factors involved with this experiencing of spirituality are somewhat understandable.
Many have theorized that the current interest in spirituality and metaphysics may in part be viewed as a reaction against the Age of Reason and the perceived pursuant overemphasis on the strictly material and empirical – that there is a longing for the transcendently spiritual, instead of feeling bogged down in a strict immersion in the physical. I. e., after a couple of centuries of emphasis on the empirically provable and concrete, there is a longing
for the spiritual as an antidote.
Just as the Age of Reason spawned a golden age for science and intellect, Western religions became more oriented toward beliefs and religious practices that grew out of and drew upon the left brain – i. e., in religious beliefs and practices, we stayed in our heads.
At the same time, Western religions have traditionally encouraged adherents to cede control to the church and its authority, rather than encouraging believers to take individual responsibility for their own spirituality. This approach worked for centuries until the advent of more public education and the resultant higher education of the populace. Education leads to empowerment.
Small wonder, then, that New Agers and those into metaphysics want to experience their spirituality, so that they may feel it, rather than simply think it, and that they want to have some control over their practice or manifestation of it, rather than strictly going through an external intermediary. This shift to a feeling of control over one’s expression of spirituality also reflects the trend towards personal responsibility, as well as personal empowerment.