The Storming Bohemian Punks The Muse: 2021 Edition #23 – ‘Going New Age?’
I suppose I am not alone, as we all begin to move on from our year of COVID isolation, in assessing my life style and thinking deeply about what it is I want going forward.
Like many others, this reassessment has prompted me to take classes and workshops of various sorts. I have for example, obtained the services of an “art mentor” to help me with my painting process, and I’ve been deeply engaged in writing classes as well — both of which involve financial investments which I hope will pay off in increased income from my creative work, not to mention the personal satisfaction that comes with creative growth.
I have also enrolled in classes for spiritual development, which seem to be of great value.
One of these classes is called “Mental Equivalence.” The purpose of this class, as I understand it, is to help me develop my capacity to envision in my mind’s eye the changes I wish to see in and around my life as a means to moving in desired directions. This visualization process has been around for a while, and it is well known to practitioners of “new thought.” Back in the ’70s, it reached a vast public through the bestselling book “Creative Visualization” by Shakti Gawain, and , nowadays, it reaches a wide public through concepts such as “The Secret” and “The Law of Attraction.”
It is not, I should note, universally admired. Some of my friends respond with undisguised dismay at my forays into “positive thinking,” a philosophy which they see as a tool of fascists to keep people ignorant of their own exploitation and trick them into blaming themselves for their illnesses, their poverty, and their oppression by bad players in the game of economics. This view of the matter is articulated very persuasively by the brilliant political and economic journalist Barbara Ehrenreich, especially in her 2009 book, “Bright-Sided,” subtitled “How the relentless promotion of positive thinking has undermined America.”
With the likes of Joel Osteen and other New Age/evangelical players in the big buck sweepstakes that is the “human potential” movement raking in the millions while presenting an oversimplified and politically naïve version of the philosophical and theological underpinnings of “New Thought” it is easy to understand their distress.
Nevertheless, I continue to be drawn to this tradition, whose more responsible adherents have included the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ernest Holmes, Matthew Fox and, arguably, historic predecessors Schopenhauer, Spinoza, even Erwin Schroedinger.
So how do these reflections play out in my class on “Mental Equivalence?” In one exercise, our instructor invited the students to examine our lives in terms of various categories such as career, family, finances, health, spirituality, and so on. Then we were to consider what we would like more of in each of of these areas. Lastly, were were assigned to select one category, examine the items we want more of, pick one and describe how that area of life might look a year from now when we had achieved more of our desire.
Looking through all my categories, the one that most attracted me is “Other.” The “more of” items I seek clearly have applicability in every life category. They include fun, growth, travel, friendship/companions, ecstasy, and adventure.
And of them all, “ecstasy” is certainly the most important. If I got more of that, in what ways would I experience “ecstasy” a year from now?
This is what I wrote:
There would be no line of demarcation between my “work life” and my “non-work life.” For me, work is everything and there is only one job: to express the perfection of the Spirit that is in me. This is what alchemists called “the Great Work” and it is all there is, as far as I can see.
So in a year from now:
My office is everywhere and my coworkers are everybody. I want to live in Heaven and my living space will look as it looks and it will be heaven because of the way I will learn to look at it. What type of people are my co-workers? Perfect people, like me. What do I want to do for fun/balance? Nothing. Fun and balance will be my natural state, effortlessly. Are there any new hobbies I want to explore or old ones I would like to start up again? Whatever presents itself will be fine with me. Do I want to travel? Why? I am everywhere. But, in a more mundane way, yes, I would like to travel, wherever Spirit leads me.
In a nutshell:
I don’t want anything that I do not already have. I just want to be ever more fully aware of that good which I already experience. Because with that good fully felt and expressed, disappointment is impossible. What more could I ask of life?
It may be I’ve gone over the deep end.
But if that’s the case, all I can say is: “Jump on in! The water’s fine!”