Where did the NAM get started? And When?
First, let it be known most of the material in this article has been taken from Paul McGuire’s Supernatural Faith in the New Age (Whitaker House).
Most New Agers would be surprised to learn that the mother of the NAM is Hinduism. To comprehend the NAM one must have an understanding of (Mother) Hinduism.
This religion goes back about 4,000 years and can be traced to a people known as the Aryans. Hindus advance through four stages of spiritual growth: a) student, b) head of the family, c) spiritual pilgrim, and d) rejection of the things of this world. The concept that man could attain an awareness and knowledge on par with God (called brahmanatmari) became prevalent. The life we experience (called maya, or illusion) is merely something to be passed through on the way to brahmanatman. Reaching this lofty spiritual plateau is attaining one’s nirvana. One may have to pass through many reincarnations (punarjanman) to attain his nirvana.
Hindus look to the writings of their Bhagavad Gita, a book based on two mythical characters, Krishna and Arjuna, for inspiration and direction. Unlike the Christian faith hinduism has no historical events on which to base its faith.
The NAM also has roots in Buddhism, a religion started by a Hindu, Siddhartha Gautama, a discontented Hindu who wore a robe and shaved his head. In his own quest to find God, he sat under a tree where he contemplated, among other things, his navel. This meditation helped Guatama reach his nirvana in only forty days, and he became known as “Buddha” which means the enlightened one.
Like the Hindu, the Buddha seeks nirvana and must pass through reincarnation cycles to attain it. He is given eight techniques, The Noble Eight-fold Path, to help in his pursuit.
Hindu and Buddhist mysticism began taking root in North America in the fifties and sixties, and eventually became known as the New Age Movement. Changes in family structure, the assassination of an American president, unrest on campuses, the Vietnam War, the realization that science and materialism did not and could not satisfy, corruption in government – all these left a spiritual gap. And North America was experimenting to fill that gap – experimenting in drugs, in the sexual revolution, in rock music, in humanism.
On the other side of the globe was a highly structured evangelistic organization prepared and eager to fill the spiritual gap on this side of the globe. Westerners lack fulfillment and purpose and direction? Well we would be most happy to help out. And so help came from gurus and mystics, the Hindu and Buddhist evangelists who have always had an ambition to conquer the world.
The Beatles went East. Bob Dillon went East. Psychologists and politicians and writers went East. And gurus and mystics and channelers came West, to teach, to demonstrate, to convince.
They came with deception, telling just enough and no more. They said their religion was not a religion. They called science what was in fact shamanism. They convinced many North Americans they did not have to alter their values, knowing the opposite was true.
When Maharishi Mahesh Yogi realized North Americans have the peculiar custom of outlawing religion in the schools, and that the West was religion hardened, he quickly changed his terminology, erasing from his teachings such words as spiritual and religious and replacing them with scientific jargon (i.e. God became the vacuum state). People were told that TM is not a religion (which it is), not a philosophy (which it is), not yoga (which it is), is not mind control (which it is), and does not require one to change his beliefs (which it does). Had Eastern mysticism come to North America packaged as the religion it is, it would never have found root. But changing the package gave unwarranted acceptance. There are schools that reject every religion, except one, the one that changed its label.
The smiling gurus manipulated Westerners’ minds while disclaiming to do so. They did not speak of the dangers involved, of horrifying experiences, of meeting gruesome non-human entities that would not go away, of resultant permanent emotional scars, suicides and insanity.
It came so quickly. Suddenly a new mentality, the Eastern perspective so destructive to its own nations, was to be felt in every aspect of North American life. Soon there were psychiatrists telling patients they were just working out their karma on their way to nirvana. Soon there were entertainers seen kneeling before their guru with a wispy expression on their face. Soon millions of North Americans were seeking an altered consciousness and joking about their past lives. Soon sorcery became scientific, and shamanism became technology.