New Age Fundamentalist?

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Speculum
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New Age Fundamentalist?

Postby Speculum » March 31st, 2005, 4:46 pm

In the “Christ In You” thread, reference was made to the labels “New Age” and “Fundamentalist”.

As regular visitors to TZF are probably aware, I’m not fond of labels, and in fact, when I do use them, I try to remember to footnote them in some way so that others will know what I mean by them. (I suppose that practice explains why TZF’s definitions page continues to grow from one to several pages, and perhaps why many visitors, including one philosophy/religion professor at a major state university, tell us it’s one of their favorite features on the site.)

When using labels as seekers, we need to be mindful that labels are names. The names and labels we use in our life – of ourself, our spouse, our children, our boss, of local and national politicians, of religious and spiritual figures, and of groups, organizations, nations, and so on – carry a lot of baggage along with them, some pleasant, some discomfiting, and all of that baggage is the product of thoughts in our brain, thoughts created by our own experience with those names and labels and with the “forms” they point to. And each individual’s experience with all of those names and labels is different, even if slightly, from the experience of others. Therefore, where a particular name or label might generate a positive response within me, the same name or label might generate a negative response in you, even perhaps unconsciously. And if I don’t take that possibility into account when using that name or label in a conversation with you, I risk inadvertently sabotaging our ability to communicate.

Okay, back to the labels “New Age” and “Fundamentalist”. Although of course I understand their meaning in the context in which those words were used in the earlier post, I must confess I do not really know what they mean. My perspective on the Universe, what we might call here my “seeker’s self”, while it dawns fresh and new to me almost daily, and always from within, from the inner to the outer, is not new. I have discovered traces of it, even the core of it, in teachings and literature and other material dating back thousands of years – in sources related to Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, and so on, as well as in a variety of other stuff. That indisputable fact is one of the outer evidences that convinces me there truly is only one Teaching, one Teacher, one God, and it is all That. Predictably, the hardest part to seeing that resides in distilling out of our brain all the stuff we have inherited and adopted (and, paradoxically, immaturely rejected) from parents, siblings, friends, teachers, neighbors, scout leaders, priests, drill instructors, talk-show hosts, politicians, and so on ad nearly infinitum. It can be done, but there is nothing easy or quick about it. Anyway, what I am, is not new (except, as I say, to me, every day).

But it is fundamental, at least in the dictionary sense of the word: essential, basic, underlying. I can say with absolute certainty that without it, I am not. I don’t see how much more fundamental one can get than that.

Perhaps that makes me an old age – or do I mean, old and aging – fundamentalist?

I wonder how others here understand those terms, as regards their own spiritual path. That is, personally, not in the sense they are used on the current political scene.

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NewMoonDaughter
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Postby NewMoonDaughter » April 2nd, 2005, 6:08 am

You mean New Age or Fundamentalist?

A lot of thoughts come in regard to how I define these terms, but right off the bat, I realize that I think of Fundamentalist as something very staid, rigid, inflexible, while I think of New Age as what is in a constant state of flux.

What is meant by "New Age" seems to change year to year. What it means to me now is very different than what it meant to me 20 years ago when I first heard the term. Nowadays it seems to mean that I shouldn't get particularly attached to any one thing, that I should stay open to all possibilities, that the divine processes might unfold in ways that I hadn't thought possible. IOW I let go of trying to specifically define what New Age means because it is very likely to change, and there seemed no point in trying to box the Infinite into something finite.

New Age also seems to be a catchall phrase for whatever manifestation or expression doesn't fit into another existing category. New Age seems to say that nothing is excluded, so it seems to speak of the old and also the new, merging ancient with new emerging information and realizations. And it encompasses and accommodates those who blend several aspects of different religions to form something individually suitable.

And New Age seems to mean "HOLISTIC" i.e. "wholly" and "Holy," encompassing body, mind, spirit, health, earth, how all things are connected, ONE, whether seen or unseen.

At first I thought you meant New Age Fundamentalist, as in all one phrase. And I guess that's possible too, but I can't quite fathom it at the present moment. :?

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Bhakti
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Postby Bhakti » April 2nd, 2005, 1:37 pm

I like yours and the dictionary's definition of fundamental, Stefan; and I like your description of new age, NewMoonDaughter. For myself, I don't use the words, at least to speak with others, because it seems to me that both words have taken on a sociopolitical context in US culture for the most part. Some words also represent "fads," which describe something that has "caught on" as cool or not so cool in a culture. New Age seems to be a fad word that we use for what NewMoonDaughter talks about. Fundamentalism seems to be a fad word used for ultraconservative or to the far right.

When it comes to spirituality, I try not to use any labels because, as you say, Stefan, none fits and they all fit—which is a parallax to me—throughout time and space. Blessings, Bhakti

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anna
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Postby anna » April 2nd, 2005, 6:00 pm

Hey, how about this? A "new age fundamentalist" is a believer of a credo that is New Age, but is bound by that credo and its application, to the extent that she can not, or will not embrace or believe other credos, however reasonable they may be, nor will she entertain the idea of alternative credos being equally valid to her own, whatever the religion. Isn't that what a fundamentalist is? Someone who believes and lives by the fundamental tenets of the teaching, without recourse to self-interpretation, alternatives, or any interpretation other than the interpretation that the originator of the credo made? So that, fundamentalist simply indicates a basic acceptance of a set of instructions, issued by another, without recourse to discrimination or appropriateness to the individual who believes it. Thus, there are plenty New Age Fundamentalists around. Indeed, there are plenty fundamentalists throughout the world, not just limited to religious fundamentals -- I can think of political fundamentalists, some of which are my friends! :lol: Fundamental implies reduction and the only recourse to the basic terminology or rules of a system, whatever that system may be, no? It is literal. It does not allow for interpretation (or, IDEALLY does not! - though it is ALWAYS interpreted by someone), individual application, exceptions, or extenuating circumstances, Indeed, it does not allow circumstances to enter its deliberations or applications of the rules whatsoever.

The only fault in this description is that it is based on "fundamental and literal" terminology, and terminology, in and of itself, changes and evolves over time, so that, even the fundamentalist is not so fundamental, as she is "relatively fundamental" depending upon her place and time and therefore her language when she exercises her beliefs.

<Sigh.....!> Is there NOTHING in language that is fundamentally FACT?! :x
I think not! :lol:

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NewMoonDaughter
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Postby NewMoonDaughter » April 5th, 2005, 4:03 am

Now that you mention it, Anna, I do think I've actually run into some New Age Fundamentalists. Wow. What you wrote actually sounds very familiar. Maybe I was trying to forget so I wouldn't/couldn't remember them... selective memory. :o

I guess no matter what, someone can make any endeavor into a rigid concept. And I still believe it's true that what is "New Age" continues to evolve, and that might explain why some of those New Age "evangelists" look so sheepish on subsequent encounters years later. It doesn't take long for everything to turn upside down in the New Age community. Staying flexible still seems the best way to stay in the Flow.

All good points, Anna. :)
But when I read, "...even the fundamentalist is not so fundamental, as she is "relatively fundamental..." I think my head got tied into a "fundamental" knot. :roll: ;)

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Speculum
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Postby Speculum » April 11th, 2005, 7:18 pm

Earlier in the "Christ In You" discussion, w4tvq suggested that the difference between his perspective and mine (and perhaps others’ here) is the difference between Fundamentalism and New Age, which in turn led to the interesting (and fun) consideration in this thread of those two terms.

Now, re-considering this idea, I don’t think it is a matter of New Age vs. Fundamentalism, but rather of “mysticism” vs. whatever the opposite of mysticism is (traditional? normal?).

The dictionary definition of mysticism talks about direct union with God. For me, the word “direct” in that definition means “immediate”, as in no intermediary. I define mysticism with the line that appears throughout The Zoo Fence: “there is no God but God, and God is all there is”. That statement describes reality as I perceive it.

For me, mysticism is not a belief and it is not a religion. And it is certainly not a choice (as in, “I think I’ll be a mystic”). It is a state of being that, speaking again solely for myself, one day I realized defined me. That is, it has been my state of being as far back as I can remember; but one day I recognized it as being “a state”.

Of course, I suppose I had read about mysticism in school, but I certainly never thought of its applying to me until I consciously became a seeker, and began thinking about those kinds of things in a less academic, more practical manner. Then, reading about mysticism, I came to realize, “hey, that’s me ... and it’s always been me”.

For me, being a mystic means acknowledging that the concept “God is all there is” means that everyone and everything and everywhere is Divine, and there cannot be any exceptions to that idea. It doesn’t mean that I perceive everyone and everything as upbeat or pleasant or desirable; but it does mean that I realize (if sometimes grudgingly) that whatever it is, and whatever I might think about it, it is all God-ly (actually, God being that), precisely because there is nothing else it can be.

On TZF, I explain the idea that “God is all there is” by exploring the logic that if God is Infinite, there cannot possibly exist anything that God is not. (For more about that idea, please see TZF’s The Simple Way.) But it isn’t really about logic, because the mystical perception I am talking about is not considered; it is not the result of thoughtfully comparing one way of perception with another, and choosing the most logical; it simply is what it is.

Anyway, I think the difference between my perspective and w4tvq’s perspective as expressed in the “Christ In Me” thread lies somewhere here.

I hasten to add that there is nothing special about mysticism, and myticism is not better than any other perspective. It simply is a way of being.

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windabove
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Postby windabove » April 12th, 2005, 3:18 pm

I concur with Speculum that a cleaner cut is had with
“mysticism” vs. whatever the opposite of mysticism is
I equate the mystical with non-duality, the non-mystical with duality, or materialism. Even so I tend to avoid the word mysticism. Mysticism can also refer to belief and speculation. Speculum is using mysticism in the direct experience denotation, but the term is problematic because of connotations. I find I don’t have to qualify myself nearly as much if I use mystical, if possible. In fact, most terms that end in –ism tend toward dual meanings, whereas terms that end in –ality tend to connote only quality, and so are less prone to finite conceptions.

But back to Speculum’s point of discernment. He hits it right on, God is All in All or “there is no God but God, and God is all there is”. Statements like these are essentially denied on some level by human belief, any belief(s), new age, fundamental, orthodox, secular, you name it. It matters not what the category or how cherished. This ‘essential denial’ is rarely overt, usually quite subtle and covert. Test it.
.+*+*+*+*.LOVE.love.lOve.LoVe.*+*+*+**+.. ^^

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anna
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Postby anna » April 12th, 2005, 6:05 pm

Non dual versus dual. Well put. If one approaches any perspective with these two yardsticks, you can easily categorize any perspective accordingly. Lest we suggest that one is "better" than the other; there is a place for both non-dual and dual, and each heart approaches the universe according to her own lights. Each perspective, however, generates different results and experiences - indeed, the non-dual, if actually "experienced" or "lived", truly no longer generates experiences of any kind other than peace or a kind of detached awareness. It is this circumstance, I believe, that prevents most from ever entering the non-dual consideration. It is frightening, and unknown, what it is to exist in a non-dual universe, and a creature, designed and programmed to be dual is very loathe to venture into a "foreign" universe such as a non-dual one suggests.

In the final analysis, only those who are weary of dual living take up the road toward non-duality. And of those, very few ever truly get very far up the road, because the cards are all stacked against one's progress on that road. We carry with us the mechanism called the devil by some, and the ego by others, both of which obstruct the dissolution that is required to perceive non-duality.


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