Aemilius wrote:Do we need to use the label "New Age" in this context? We don't need to take it for granted that labeling a person "new age" means that he is worse than the "tradition" or "old age" ? -Or how do you call it, the non-new age thing ?
Let me give you an example. My girlfriend is really into sufi whirling and never misses a chance to practice when "teachers" come here or when she goes to Athens. Now I always ask her what is the teachers lineage? Who did they learn the techniques from? Is the teacher a Muslim? etc... Now my girlfriend gets pissed off at me and can not understand why I asked these questions until one day (spooky music kicks in to set up next scene)...
A teacher shows up here in Mytilene (my grilfriend normally practices with a (suspicious, for me) group in Athens), Greek guy, claims he's from Istanbul. So off goes my girlfrined to the lesson and comes back a few hours later and I start to grill her again. She tells me that the guy said that whirling is not an Islamic practice (like Medieval Islamic Mysticism just took a dive out the window). Okay, maybe it is a pre-Islamic technique that was later incorporated into Mevelevi (and other schools) of Mystical Islam. The question that arises for me is: Why it has not been reported as a technique outside of Islam?
But wait a second, if the guy teaches it outside of Islam then what of the Dhikr (rememberance of Allah) which is an integral part of the ritual? Oh, that goes out the window too. Okay so what about Sama (listening) then? I mean the technique was apparently invented by Rumi when he "heard" the dhikr "la ilaha ilallah" in the sound of goldsmiths beating out metal and started to dance in time to their rhythm. Oh, that goes as well? And the symbolism of the outfits and movements:
In the symbolism of the Sema ritual, the semazen's camel's hair hat (sikke) represents the tombstone of the ego; his wide, white skirt represents the ego's shroud. By removing his black cloak, he is spiritually reborn to the truth. At the beginning of the Sema, by holding his arms crosswise, the semazen appears to represent the number one, thus testifying to God's unity. While whirling, his arms are open: his right arm is directed to the sky, ready to receive God's beneficence; his left hand, upon which his eyes are fastened, is turned toward the earth. The semazen conveys God's spiritual gift to those who are witnessing the Sema. Revolving from right to left around the heart, the semazen embraces all humanity with love. The human being has been created with love in order to love. Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi says, "All loves are a bridge to Divine love. Yet, those who have not had a taste of it do not know!"
And then to cap it all off the guy taught them to spin clockwise instead of anticlockwise!!!
Well, we finally found out where he learnt to whirl: Osho!!!
Now, can you please tell me why the New Age is a crock of shit?
Buddha Gautama certainly was New Age in His days, because he rejected the Vedas, was outside Brahmin caste, rejected the caste system altogether, accepted even outcastes in his teaching & community, he rejected the hidden or secret teaching (which was traditional in brahmanism), rejected the principle of hereditary rule in Sangha and advocated democracy. In the sravakayana sutras he even rejected the principle of lineageholders!
Indeed, He was worse than New Age, he was New Age combined with Anarchism, anti-brahmanism, atheism, democracy etc...
Buddha was a spiritual revolutionary, he overturned the whole Brahmanic system. His theory of anatman and dependent origination was not an attempt to bring together dipartate elements of various systems in order to appease the ego (like the New Age), but an attempt to exit the cycle of Samsara.
So, for me, New Age = same Old Self serving bullshit. Does the description of Traditional Sufism I gave above fit into the genre of New Age? What do you reckon? Oh, before I forget, in many Islamic countries Buddhism survived by incorporating into and being protected by Sufis. And just to be clear, Sufis, historically, have been persecuted by their more orthodox Islamic brothers of both the Shiite and Sunni branches.