Saturday, February 5, 2011

Paradise Unbound

Subtltle: "relational spirituality and other heresies in new age transpersonalism" by G.A. Lahood.
I was made aware of this extended essay (short book) at the P2P foundation. Subsequently I found the entire essay at this link. The abstract follows:

"I write this paper with the aim of teasing out from the New Age religion and religious transpersonal psychology a more 'relational spirituality‘. New Age-transpersonalism leans toward a restrictive non-relational spirituality because of its historical affirmation of individualism and transcendence. Relational spirituality (which is central to the emerging participatory-paradigm) swims against strong and popular currents in New Age-transpersonal thinking, belief, and practice which tend to see spirituality as an individual, personal, 'inner‘ pursuit (often) into Eastern/Oriental non-dualism (e.g. Ramana Maharshi etc) as promulgated in popular quasi-Christian, Western, New Age thinking (e.g. A Course in Miracles or Eckhart Tolle, and in transpersonal psychology (e.g. Ken Wilber or Stanislav Grof), whatever the merits of Advaita Vedanta (and I assume there are merits) it is not 'relational spirituality‘ not in the way that I understand the practice.

"I will show first how cosmological hybridization (a process in which paradises are bound together) is a process much alive in American religious culture beginning with a Romanticized-Christianized version of the Buddha. I will demonstrate how this religious Creolization gathers speed after the Second World War and peaks in the psychedelic era during the Vietnam War and the civil unrest in America between 1963 and 1974. A complex spiritual revolution took place in America in which 'transcendence‘ became a central orientation. This revolution, while successful in stopping the war, sets the scene for the emergence of non-relational transpersonal psychology ('centered in the cosmos beyond human needs‘ ala Maslow) in which Americanized non-dualism gains ascendency. Recent critiques have suggested that popular transpersonalism traps the spirit in a subtle Cartesian prison, a structure that can breed a self-serving, 'Self-as-everything‘, form of spiritual narcissism. Given that some are calling the New Age the religion of global capitalism, a more relational spirituality may be a much needed salve for New Age- transpersonalism‘s self-centeredness and a world in Creolization."

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