Also, "New Age ... is less an implementation of Indian thoughts than a renewal of Western esoteric ideas".
19th century Theosophy was in many ways a reaction against Christianity, which therefore incorporated whatever they thought could oppose it: evolution, Eastern religions (albeit mixed together / selected / dimly understood), the curious notion that Jesus lived circa 100 BC, even a little "Satanic" symbolism. It was a time when the people who today might be interested in yoga, Buddhism, liberal Christianity, neo-paganism, or channeling were then part of the same group, due to lack of other options. It is no coincidence that the first Western Theravada monk was also a lover of Aleister Crowley.
The nature of the New Age movement is debated, and of course the activities within it (to the extent that we can agree on its boundaries) are very diverse. Besides themes inherited from Theosophy, I also see a lot of New Thought emphases ("you create your own reality"), and a lot more of a commercial orientation. It's less a movement to join than a market. Some of it is still a reaction against Christianity, in the sense that everything in it is "alternative" to it in some way, but on the other hand Jesus is emphasized in a way that he never was under Theosophy (and incidentally far more than Buddha, or any other spiritual figure for that matter). Either he was a space alien, or he studied yoga in India, or he can be trance-channeled, etc. New Thought / positive thinking started as a way to interpret the New Testament. Science is still incorporated, after a fashion, but what passes for "science" is often something that actual scientists would laugh at. For example, quantum physics is mined for arguments against materialism.From the Tzu Chi website (quoted above):
One day in 1966, while Dharma Master Cheng Yen was visiting a patient at a small local clinic, she saw a pool of blood on the floor. Dharma Master Cheng Yen was told that the blood was from an indigenous woman suffering from labor complications. Her family had carried her from their mountain village. They had been walking for eight hours, but when they arrived at the hospital, they did not have the NT$8,000 (then US$200) required fee. They could only carry her back untreated. Hearing this, Dharma Master Cheng Yen was overwhelmed with sorrow. She thought to herself: as an impoverished monastic barely supporting herself, what could she do to help these poor people?
This is a lie told by Cheng Yen, the Tzu Chi founder. The doctor in the story (she eventually slipped and named him) heard of it and sued her.
If you can look past the "Mother Teresa" image (*), you'll see that Tzu Chi is basically a cult. Cheng Yen encourages her followers to see her as the embodiment of the bodhisattva Guanyin, and people literally kowtow to her (which is otherwise not normally done in Chinese culture). I've heard of doctors being fired for refusing to do this. All the charity stuff is just to make the organization look good. Look at it this way: right now, Taiwan has too many hospitals and universities, but Tzu Chi is building more. Why? Because they want to transform the world into a Pure Land--which effectively means, replace secular schools and hospitals with ones which they control.
(*) Of course, Mother Teresa was also something of a media creation. Sainthood I cannot judge, but as a hospital administrator, she was basically incompetent.smcj:
That story comes from a Russian journalist named Nicolas Notovitch who visited a monastery in "Himis" (Where's that, Ladhak maybe?) in 1887.
Yes, Ladakh. Hemis Monastery is just south of Leh. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemis_Monastery