What do We Mean When We Say New Age?

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The other day, a colleague at work asked me what I meant when I identified as New Age. So, like, you don't believe in church? she asked. I love church, I responded, but I love all places of worship, just like I have an appreciation for all religions. 

She got me thinking...what exactly do I mean when I call myself New Age?

The best way to explain the New Age spiritual movement is to compare it to the punk movement of the 60s, insofar as it encompassed more than just the music: It was about the attitude, the ideology, and often, people who identified with the movement dressed similarly, shared similar views, and chose to live their life a particular way.

The New Age movement is similar. There are different practices, modalities, and even differences in specifics of beliefs, however, there is a core ideology, I believe, that all people who identify as New Age believe. So, here are the top 5 core principles of the New Age community:

1)We create our reality with our thoughts.

Most people are familiar with the law of attraction, made popular by the movie The Secret. New Age folk take this even further, believing that we create everything we experience, as our external reality is a mirror of our internal reality.

2)There is more to life than what we can see (or what empirical data suggests).

In contrast to the philosophy of David Hume (founder of empiricism), New Agers believe that we possess more faculties than we are currently aware of (such as intuition, clairvoyance, etc.), and there are dimensions, beings, and forces that we cannot see with our eyes.

3)We can commune with God directly.

We don't need to go to a place of worship to receive guidance, but rather, we can receive messages from the divine through meditation, prayer, or other spiritual practices.

4)We are extensions of the divine.

Not only can we commune with the divine (God), we are extensions of God, and as such, we have the ability to imagine something and create it.

5)It doesn't matter what you call God...you can say the Universe, the Dao, or even Theodore (if you like).

There are many names for this creative, loving force we call "God"...the name is irrelevant. Most New Agers like the term "the universe."