New Age: What Went Wrong
Not as many people are into New Age now as there were in 1990s; and the main reason has been a large evangelizing campaign by the Christian Right. Their claim has been that New Age movement was about contacting demons, and that it was a work of Satan. I do not believe this to be the case; there was however a major problem with the New Age, and it is a problem I spoke of since mid-90s.
The problem is the idea that everyone makes their reality, that everything that happens in people's lives is a result of what's in their consciousness, and that no person can help or injure another. I stated that this idea is ethically wrong, only to be met with people claiming that my refusal to accept this idea was a result of me not wanting to take responsibility for my life. Instead I have much better reasons to reject this attitude, and perhaps the greatest reason is knowledge of history.
According to this belief, the Jews who got burned in gas ovens during the Second World War had it coming because of negativity in their consciousness. Well there are just as many complaint-prone Jews now as there were in 1930s and 1940s, and they do not wind up in gas chambers. For that matter, the Argentinians and the Russians are just as complaint-prone as are the Jews, and neither place has seen millions of people getting executed in recent decades.
There are some ideas that are mainly wrong or part-right; and then there are some ideas that are just plain evil. If everything in your life is a result of what's in your consciousness, then if the next person kills you or rapes you, it is you doing it rather than him. Much can be said for strenthening one's mind or practicing mental discipline; but nothing can be said for an attitude that blames the person for the crimes that the next person chooses to commit against him. And likewise nothing can be said for an attitude that claims that nobody can either help or injure the next person. People do both all the time.
Have we seen the end of the New Age? Probably not; but if it were to come back it would require a better premise. The reality of the world is a function of multiple factors, and the same is the case with any given person in the world. When a serious and dedicated practicioner of New Age winds up dead because of medical malpractice, the problem is not with her and it is not with what's in her consciousness. The problem is with the scoundrel who gives her wrong medicine knowing of its effects. And the solution is not blaming the victim but prosecuting the villain.
The idea that everything that happens to people is their doing is a green light for all kinds of villainy. If I want to hurt you, I can do so with impunity, knowing that the world will see it as your fault rather than mine. This is not enlightenment, and this is not higher consciousness. This is villainy. And villainy does not deserve to hide under the banner of consciousness or spirituality.
Consciousness exploration, psychological insight, and practices such as yoga and zen, are for the most part beneficial pursuits. These practices do not belong to a decade and should continue to take place all around the world, including in Western countries. But the idea that everyone makes their reality, that everything that happens to people as a result of what's in their consciousness, and that nobody can help or injure the next person, is both wrong and evil. People impinge on one another all the time, and people both help and hurt one another all the time.
And just that one person has done away with violent tendencies or negative thinking in himself, does not mean that the next person will do the same or respect one's efforts toward that effect or cease their own destructive tendencies.
The positive things that have come out of New Age deserve to endure; but this belief has to go. Only then can the beauty and goodness that the better minds in New Age have been striving for be actualized. And only then can actual enlightenment be realized in humankind.