More notes from Boomeritis …
The core of New Age spirituality is the belief – “You create your own reality”. The New Age movement is attempting to get in touch with an all-pervading spiritual and creative source, but the idea often gets filtered through boomeritis and comes out slightly loopy: part good cognitive psychology, part emotional narcissism and prerational magic, and part what seems to be a rather complete misunderstanding of mystical traditions.
Perversion of mystical stance: According to cognitive psychology, people’s belief systems help to determine their experiences. To change your beliefs is to help change your response to life. True. Although I cannot choose my sensations, I can choose how to think about them, and by consistently altering my beliefs and reframing my experience, I can change the very nature of my outlook on life. There are limits to what my beliefs can accomplish, however. But boomeritis recognizes no such limits. “Thoughts influence reality” becomes “thoughts create reality”, therefore my egoic thoughts govern all of reality. This is a narcissistic perversion of the mystical view.
Mystical stance: The world’s great post-turquoise spiritual traditions maintain that the deepest part of your awareness is one with Spirit, and that this divine oneness can be realized with enlightenment – satori, moksha, cosmic consciousness, unio mystica, etc. This is the truth that many New-Agers are attempting to embrace, but the Self that is one with Spirit has little to do with you; it is, in fact, transcendence of your ego that allows this Spirit to shine forth. That Self is the absolute opposite of Boomeritis.
The typical New Age notion is that you want good things to happen to you, so think good thoughts; and that you create your own reality, those thoughts will come true. The mystical notion, on the other hand, is that your deepest Self transcends both good and bad, so by accepting absolutely everything that happens to you – by equally embracing both good and bad with equanimity – you can transcend the ego altogether. The idea is not to have one thing that is good smash into another thing called my ego, but to gently rise above both.
Which I am I listening to? I need to be very careful when I start claiming that I create my own reality because which “I” am I actually listening to: my ego or my Self? the ego in me or the Spirit in me? For the Spirit that is me is not concerned with just me. The Spirit that is in me is likewise in all beings great and small and that Spirit does indeed create the entire universe; it creates its own reality… But when I start claiming to create my own reality and that reality is about nothing but getting a new car, a new job, more money, fame, health instead of disease, happiness instead of sadness, joy instead of pain, light instead of dark, then perhaps I might start to question just which “I” is getting a hearing, because I am no longer being one with everything… I am only being one with a small slice of the universe governed by my small desires and wants. That is not Spirit, that is the ego, plain and simple.
In Boomeritis, God can be captured by merely thinking. All you have to do is think you are one with the Goddess, the Web of Life, etc. Boomeritis wants to think that it is Divine and Sacred, not as a prelude to practice, but as a magical substitute for it. And an absolutely massive industry has grown up to produce this word magic for Boomers; to produce, that is, reasons for Boomers to think that their egos are Divine.
Boomeritis on Physics: Since you can’t predict anything about the small particles until you measure them, then they don’t exist until you measure them. Therefore it is the very act of measurement that brings the particles into existence, and that means you are responsible for their existence. Since all things are made of these particles, then you create all reality. Your big fat ego creates the universe.
Dana Zohar: Spokesperson for Boomeritis physics: The idea of a “quantum society” stems from a conviction that a whole new paradigm is emerging from our description of quantum reality and that this paradigm can be extended to change radically our perception of ourselves and the social world we want to live in. A wider appreciation of quantum reality can give us the conceptual foundations we need to bring about a positive revolution in society.” In other words, subvert the old paradigm, transgress the old society, usher in the world-shaking revolution. Boomer ego saves the world.
Paradigm: The term comes from Thomas Kuhn and was misunderstood through the lens of Boomeritis. Since “paradigms” govern science, and since paradigms are allegedly not anchored in actual facts and evidence – but instead “create” them – then you needn’t be tied to the authority of science in any fundamental way. Science is arbitrary (it is not the result of actual evidence but of imposed power structures), relative (it reveals nothing that is universal in reality, but simply relative to the scientific imposition of power), socially constructed (it is not a map corresponding to any actual reality, but a construction based on social conventions), interpretive (it does not reveal anything fundamental about reality but is simply one of many interpretations of the world text), power-laden (science is not grounded in facts, it simply dominates people, usually for Eurocentric and androcentric reasons), and nonprogressive (since science proceeds by ruptures or breaks, so there can be no cumulative progress in any of the sciences). Kuhn argued vehemently against most of these views. But the misunderstanding took hold in Boomeritis: we can abandon the straightjacket of science and evidence by merely thinking up a new paradigm – sixties narcissism.
The new paradigm is something like systems theory which has been around in serious fashion for at least half a century, and has been used by many sciences for most of that time, including various schools of sociology, psychology, biology, ecology, and cultural anthropology. Nevertheless, Boomer writers all seem to agree on these points: there is definitely a new paradigm emerging, and this paradigm might very well serve as the catalyst of an unprecedented world transformation, which will be led by those who have the new paradigm: deep ecology, transit astrology, the quantum self, the quantum society, holistic health, postmodern poststructuralism, ecofeminism, quantum psychotherapy, neo-Jungian psychology, channeling, pre-modern indigenous tribal consciousness, crystal healing, rebirthing, ecopsychology, holotropic breathwork, aura cleansing, psychic network, revisioning transpersonal psychology….
Kuhn used the word paradigm to denote both the established and admired solutions that serve as models of how to practice the science, and also for the local social structure that keeps those standards in place by teaching, rewards, and the like. The word was catapulted into prominence and now seems a standard item in the vocabulary of everyone who writes about science – except Kuhn himself who claims it is a dead metaphor.