Ii. Ideological residency and practice
- Interviews 2009-2010
- I. Background and relationships
- Ii. Ideological residency and practice
- Iii. Destiny and life laws
- Iv. God or a larger, orderly body
- v. Health, ill health and care
- we. Faith and knowledge
- Vii. Visions and goals of the future
- Summary i-vii
"There are sentences that are bigger than you can imagine. Like the ant doesn't know… The ant in Stureby does not know that Bandhagen exists."
What the interviewees tell us about how they practice their spirituality and how it affects their life and everyday life.
Important authors or founders of various thought systems mentioned by the interviewees are Madame Blavatsky, Alice Bailey, Laurency, Rudolf Steiner, Martinus, Paul Brunton and Aurobindo. These enjoy great respect as fully or partially "enlightened", that is, that they have been able to base their teachings or teachings on insights that have come to them in a persevering way. The ancient philosopher Pythagoras is mentioned with respect: "Pythagoras was then a person who had reached beyond the limits of the human. There are very few people like that in history." Several of these writers or thinkers have also laid the foundations for various movements, such as Theosophy, Hylozoic, and Anthroposophy. A couple of movements are mentioned without a particular foreground figure being given, namely the Rose Cross and AMORC.
Other individuals mentioned include Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, hicks couple, Sanya Roman, Anna Bornstein, James Van Praagh, Benny Rosenqvist, astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Jane Roberts, Sture Johansson, Brian Weiss, etc. These are active today as writers, teachers or mediums in this new or adjacent field. A special category of teachers are those souls who convey their knowledge through a human being, a so-called "channel", here on earth. Examples of such souls are Ambres, Set, and Orin.
Among the contemporary fiction writers are Marianne Fredriksson and Paulo Coelho. From world literature, August Strindberg and Fyodor Dostoevsky are highlighted. The latter is mentioned by a couple of the respondents as an important and harrowing acquaintance, especially for the questions he asks about how there can be a god when the world looks the way it does. Carl Gustav Jung is highlighted by several respondents, as someone whose psychological insights or image of man is close to the new spirituality. The author of psychosynthesis, Roberto Assagioli, is also mentioned. Di Leva is a musician who in his lyrics often touches on thoughts that exist within the new age.
Different for a
The spiritual outlook on life is nourished by reading, or attending courses and lectures. Aquarius Bookstore in central Stockholm, which specializes in literature in this area, is mentioned by several as an important place, where it is possible to buy literature and get new inspiration. Another store in Stockholm is called Harmonikällan, where one of the respondents received good advice. A couple of the interviewees state that they belong to organizations that arrange regular meetings. A respondent goes a couple of times a year to retreat. These retreats can be both Christian and more newly minted. Moving between these different worlds is not perceived as a problem by the respondent.
A couple of different journals are mentioned in the interviews: The Seeker and the Year of Light. Both are now closed. The Internet and YouTube, for example, today offer information and new impulses. One interviewee describes the people she met sporadically at recent lectures as "very questioning people often, by themselves and by different things, so they are hungry as a rule, the ones I have met". About taking an interest in any of these spiritual writers, the same interviewee says:
It's no stranger than Sartre, for example. or some who are very interested in Sartre, or Elsa Beskow, or anyone, meet and talk about a writer or philosopher, and he has complicated issues that are very fun to discuss with others who think along the same lines.
Although the informants have their main sympathies with a particular direction of thought or writers, they have often taken an interest in others in the past. Many of the respondents stress that they still read different authors. "So you hear like… That I mix… I'll do whatever I want, because I'm not bound by any guru here or any Buddhist direction there. I do what I want to do." It is possible to find inspiration even in, for example, the Bible, or in different denominations, but it is important to be free at the same time:
And then we have to live in the here and now, we're here, we're not… This was over 2,000 years ago, so… no. But at the same time, it's the same thing… I say, there's always something good in the Bible, and there's always something good in most contexts, communities, or whatever it is. And that's it, a little… I've picked a little bit of each, I think, as I think.
One of the interviewees has gone through several phases. For a while, she was involved in Buddhism. She says she kept the best bits from this and other things:
I've kept the best bits. As a Buddhism, I became very involved in around '98. This is not a new direction, but there are many… It's kind of become a bit new anyway, with this with celebrities and a lot of stuff… The Dalai Lama and all that. And then I found Set huh, and it turned everything upside down. I thought, wow, this is one of my favorites. I have other favorites too. But he's always been around.
The same interviewee believes that the author Eckhart Tolle, with her cross-border message, is someone who attracts many who are like herself:
And you could say he's one of those enlightened almost, he's so smart, he comes up with so much… He has helped a lot of people with… So he has a kind of spiritual philosophy that goes beyond all religious boundaries and everything… So he gets a lot of people like me who are like me. That they're free, they don't want to get caught up in anything. But they want to understand more as well as who they are, how to improve themselves, how to grow spiritually and so on, and so on.
Taking an interest in newness can be stressful. Partly because the doctrine encompasses enormous perspectives, in both time and space, and partly because the law of reincarnation and karma puts the individual's actions and own responsibility in focus in a new way. An interviewee emphasizes how working with oneself from a new worldview is something other than turning to the Church with one's concerns. Newness does not offer any forgiveness of sins in the traditional sense. It is not enough to "drink some wine at Communion":
You may dare to think that… Don't just play with it. without thinking that I might be reborn, and that the stupid things I have done now, I may have to learn from… It is not a worldview to rest in, but it is a worldview to work with.
One of the respondents has studied a special branch of the new spirituality for many years but still does not want to say that he fully mastered it:
I haven't found any evidence… This is something that refutes the theses of hylozoics, one might say. But I'm still… So the hylozoic system is huge, extensive and intricate… thus complex. And I still do not master the whole system, after studying it for twenty years.
The new worldview is demanding, as it requires the individual to actively take responsibility for his development: "You don't just get it for free when you die as well". Here, the Christian expression godliness is the beginning of wisdom can fit, according to the interviewee:
Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. It's such a classic Christian thing. So if I may reinterpret it a little according to my interpretations, I really believe that if there is something in the existential questions, then they are so really huge that the first reaction… It's healthy if you're scared.
However, this is an argument that he lies low with in circles that are very much into the new age and the like, he says.
Interviewees are not interested in trying to force their thoughts on others. This more restrained attitude contrasts with how the traditional religions have used to try to win followers, with crusades and demands for repentance. The interviewees share a conviction that people, when they are ripe for this, will want to acquire this knowledge themselves. The new spirituality certainly offers answers to the big questions, but these are not something that can be convinced of people prematurely. Tolerance for other perceptions is central and people should be free to believe what they want.
The ideal way of being is indicated in several cases with reference to christianity's "golden rule", that you should treat others as you wish to be treated. Having a pacifist attitude is natural. Progress and change should not be achieved through agitation or revolution: "It is better to be for peace than against war" One respondent describes how she tries to see something good in everyone, even if these have hurt her in some way:
If I live like Jesus, I'll have a good life. But if I don't really fix it, then life will be a little messy… If you can't be loving and compassionate at all times, there will be a little giggles on the thread a little bit everywhere. You get a little out of here, it's a bit of a difficult situation.
Understanding oneself and interacting with others is very complex, one of the interviewees points out:
It's like a thicket in the psyche itself, what… Is this my opinion, or is it the opinion of the pack? What… When am I in contact with… Yes, with… Who I am… Or is there, there are… There are so many questions like that. But this ambivalent thing that happens in almost all communications, all attitudes, all personal representation, it interests me terribly much.
Some individuals may experience difficulties or enjoy freedoms that we do not think they deserve. We are here on earth for a variety of reasons. Each person follows an individual plan that is adapted precisely to him or her. Understanding this can make us more cautious about judging others:
Yes, no, but that you should not compare yourself to others, that there are those who are much richer, and much happier, and much bigger houses, and much finer cars, and so on, that they… Everyone has their burdens, I'm sure. Everyone has different reasons why they are here too. So that, yes… You can't judge, or you shouldn't do that, at all.
The interviewees strive to contribute to a more peaceful and humane world with their thoughts and actions. It is desirable to try to "live in the present" and not to mourn what has been. Here, the new-age view of life can be very helpful, as this explains how there is an underlying meaning to everything that happens and that everything will be fine in the end.
Like my grandmother, she always said something that I thought was good, I still think it's good… Do something good for someone every day, something, it doesn't have to be anything big. Make sure to laugh every day. Pray every day. The three things she said. And I think it's good, and that's a little bit how I live.
One of the interviewees reflects on a difficult relationship with a close relative:
If I were like Jesus, for example, and so safe and so stable and like this, then it wouldn't touch me. It's something I still have to work on, and learn how to handle things like that, and still feel good.
Speaking of media reporting on environmental issues, one respondent says:
And now I don't want to join those who say there are no problems at all, because I don't think so. But I think about all the environmental alarms that have come, and then I think about how much has gone pretty well anyway, i.e. people have learned to be environmentally friendly, and so on. So I think… I am an optimist.
There may also be times when you need to stand up for yourself and act in a more determined way. It can be about ending a love relationship that is no longer perceived as rewarding or simply demanding to get a better room in a hotel.
One of the interviewees objects to an overly optimistic approach:
I'm not as optimistic as… From a very optimistic perspective… But from the more concrete lesser perspective then I'm not as optimistic as a new ageist is… that it's like we're just going to embrace each other, and it's lovely, and the future is just lovely and so, I don't share that, unfortunately.
Although the new-age thoughts explain that everything happens with a purpose and that there is no reason to be upset, this is not always easy to live up to, or even something to strive for:
I don't think I'm coming to terms with difficult experiences for this. I do not come to terms with the fact that there were concentration camps, I do not come to terms with the fact that when I have had close relatives who have died of cancer, for example. It's not something I come to terms with, and think it's going to be okay, because it was so and so. But I think it was absolutely terrible.
Self-care, meditation, etc.
Several of the interviewees tell us that they meditate regularly and how this practice is important to them. There are different forms of meditation. One of the respondents mentions "light body meditation" which involves the individual taking care of aspects of their interior via guided exercises:
I started with some ordinary simple relaxation CD, with Uneståhl, guided meditations that I also tried. Then I've tried ordinary meditation on stillness, just sitting quietly trying to calm your mind and not thinking and stuff like that. And then yes, I have… What comes next? And then there was this light-body course.
Meditating in a group can enhance the effect. One of the respondents previously visited the Swedish-Tibetan School and Cultural Association: "They had, they no longer have, but they had meditations where you sat in a group, and it's very cool to do that. It will be a much stronger experience." Prayer is mentioned as a way to get in a better balance. You don't have to be religious in the traditional sense to use it. "HoloSync" is the name of a method of personal development that involves the individual listening in headphones to audio files with a specially composed content. Listening to these audio files in a certain order causes new neural pathways to form:
Yes, you get very quickly and deep in this method, with HoloSync. It's very cool. And then it works so that there is a stress on the brain so that it… How much this is true, I don't know, but according to those who have developed it like that, the brain is forced to build new ones, what to say, nerve pathways or neural pathways simply.
The power of thought
It is possible to use the laws and principles of karma in a conscious way to create the life the individual desires. This is based on how the individual himself creates both lack and abundance in his life depending on his inner state: "That oneself creates one's own deficiency. And that you can create your own abundance, through an inner orientation, in some way."
The phenomenon is mentioned in the Bible, as "he who has he shall receive, and he who has not shall also get rid of what he does not have". It is also possible to attract or attract people or, for example, material things on a mental path and regardless of distance. This is an application of the newness that is currently popular and which is referred to as "Law of Attraction", or in Swedish "attraction law". Another phenomenon in the same genre is "The Secret", or "The Secret" as it is called in Swedish. One respondent tells us that in addition to the literature that describes the highest principles of existence, she also feels the need to read books that are more hands-on. While the previous books are described as "maps", the latter are more like "manuals".
Now I read a lot… How can you sort of set up your thinking… All thoughts are about chemistry, about how to mix, that you can get the wrong effects, whether you mix the wrong actions or the wrong thinking. So from what I get, it's precisely with the power of thought itself, and it's very hot in the new age.
How to deal with one's thoughts and desires is likened to a kind of "chemistry". This is something that can be practiced and improved at:
How to set up your thoughts and that… that all thoughts are about chemistry, about how to mix, that you can get the wrong effects, if you mix the wrong actions or the wrong thinking… To get away from certain given thought patterns, that pull you down, to try to be active, and that you CAN learn to think in other ways. And that you can kind of try to tune in to thoughts that feel more pleasant than sinking into these bad ones.
Affirmations are phrases with a positive, supportive message that the person repeats aloud to themselves.This is an effective method of bringing about changes, for example, in one's self-image and self-esteem. Such affirmations are personally designed and focus on things that the person needs to get better at: "It's like a mantra, I tell myself this… I'll tell you once. Then it may happen that if I feel like it, I say it more often. But usually it's once, in the morning." Such focusing thoughts can also be portrayed in a more concrete way, by the person making a collage of images depicting things they wish to realize, such as material wealth. The interviewee says that she has written down certain wishes and selected suitable pictures that she arranged on the door of her refrigerator:
Some Chinese sign for happiness, and tarot cards then that means happiness, and then I have pictures of me and my kids, that we hold each other and are happy, and then I have friends and joy, and then I have some of these brides and grooms, because I'm going to get married too, I've thought, sometime again… So it's such a vision. This is how I want it to be in the future. Those are my goals as well.
Animal Rights and Vegetarianism
Having a vegetarian diet is something obvious to respondents. This is not primarily for health reasons, but for humanistic, pacifist reasons. The respondent did not want to "contribute to manslaughter." From a perspective, animals are on an equal footing with humans and it is therefore wrong to kill them and use them as food:
We actually grow animals. Is that okay? … We grow cows, we grow lambs, we grow fish. And then we'll kill them. What if there were someone like this who started growing people and then eats up?
Man easily overestimates his importance, with the result that he thinks he has the right to behave badly towards animals:
But there is greatness in all people, and in all beings, including animals. It's also something that I think… Animals have, indeed, more soul and reason than you think. Man's greatness is not so great.
We need to learn to take all creation into account. To succeed in this is something desirable: "But it is plants and animals, and even matter thus… Minerals and everything. If you look at it as part of God and treat it accordingly, we really get a very good person."
In a plant there is some degree of near-dormant consciousness. But there are still… yes man… There have been experiments where you can measure that the plant perceives things and so on. And animals, we know that, they have quite highly developed… to varying degrees of course, depending on the species of animals. But mammals, for example, can have very well-developed emotions, and even some intelligence and so on.
Vegetarians today are seen as pioneers. Sticking to a vegetarian diet also helps to purify the individual in a spiritual sense. This goes hand in hand with not using drugs. Coffee is an exception:
Coffee is okay, but some people might question it. But my intellectual work /laughter/ requires coffee. And then it's good too, so there's a bit of a borderline case, you could say. But I mean coffee is also a form of drug, in a way, it's such a stimulant. yes.
One respondent says that she has sent a letter to the church in the place where she lives and expressed comments that the priests should reassess their view of "sin". According to the respondent, the doctrine of man's sinfulness is a misunderstanding. An interviewee writes his own texts, with spiritually embossed reflections and thoughts, and tries to get them published.
Motives for setting up
Several of the interviewees state as the reason why they chose to participate in this study that they think it would be good if these thoughts became more well known, especially in higher education:
Yes, I felt hit and my spontaneous thought it is that it is good if such issues get highlighted in academia as well, the more the better, that is my opinion… I see it as a very rigid world, and if thoughts like this get worn in there as well, I think that's a positive thing… If you want to suppress your ego, it's dangerous to sit and talk like I've done. But I have taken as an excuse that I want to take every straw to bring such thoughts into the academic world.
One of the respondents has suffered from a long-term depression that she has been helped with in the traditional care. However, she wants these spiritual thoughts to have more influence there:
I have a lot of experience in traditional healthcare. I want to get the spiritual part there much, much more. If I'm helpful, I'd love to help bring it in somehow. Because what I'm saying might be able to wake up some little seed in someone's house. So it can spin on. I guess that's what I was thinking.
Participating in the study is perceived as a way to make these thoughts a little more familiar:
No, but in this case, it's about you expressing a genuine interest, you're investigating this area, and then I think… Then I would like to contribute to that. I would like to spread information and knowledge about this, which is something that is missing and that is in demand very little. So it's commendable that you actually want to know.
One of the interviewees sees signs that a breakthrough for the new perspectives may be underway and that her participation may be valuable:
So I think there's a lot going on now at the grassroots level that's not visible. But it should be visible there, if someone happens to write about it later, in turn. Sometimes they can do that about essays, so it's good that it shows. Because there's a lot going on.
What it should be called
None of the respondents like the term "new age". It's a name associated with a lot of bad things. The new age has become "a label on everything." One respondent said that the concept of new age had been damaged and that she would rather talk about "spiritual development". One respondent thinks that the new age sounds "a bit superficial" and associates with health fairs, with tarot cards and where money should be made and people who claim to see things that are impossible to verify: "[New age] doesn't feel serious enough, I think. I'm exploring what life is all about." The new age is "pretty badly run… torn… One after another." "I think that's the wrong expression… Because the new age has been now for almost a hundred years."
One of the interviewees associates the New Age with modern superstition, which can still fill a need: "Cripple and superstition… Modern superstition. Which I think is a deplorable phenomenon, and which unfortunately destroys the reputation of serious reflections, and serious truth-seeking. But it also fills a need, so that's right."
Also, the term "newness" is perceived as problematic: "New" in relation to what? Here the concept clashes with the notion that this spirituality actually has roots far back in human history. "Newness is a concept that I personally would never put my name under. Because it's associated with so much weirdness and superstition that, well, that's very foreign to me."
The division into esoterics and exoterics is mentioned, and the new spirituality is described as a hitherto hidden doctrine, an esoteric, which only in our time has been made public. One respondent describes the direction he is interested in as "very old thought, and which we also see as quite a lot as it is as well as a bit the core of the different world religions even then". The fact that this knowledge has hitherto been hidden is explained by the fact that humanity has not yet been ripe for it. Support for this view can be found in the Bible: "Yes, traditionally, in different directions, one has also separated those who have been ready for the inner esoteric doctrine. While the public may not have been. Paul, for example, tells us that he distinguishes between giving milk and giving meat." One of the respondents has understood that booksellers have begun to categorize literature in this area as "esoterism". The esoteric teachings, though different on the surface, are consistent:
And to a superficial observer, they may seem contradictory and completely different. But if you look deeper than that, that they have arisen in different times, in different cultures, different contexts, they are basically… That's how they express… They describe the same reality. But they do it in different ways, they have different symbs… It's often symbolic language, a lot of it. And if you interpret the symbols correctly, you will see that there will be a unified worldview that emerges, that unites these different esoteric traditions. And that's all from Greece, here in the West then… And yes, there have also been… Christianity also has an esoteric tradition. The Gnostics, who were opposed by the Church, of course. And in Islam, there is a Sufi tradition that is esoteric. In India there are… India has a very strong esoteric tradition. Buddhism is esoteric and its origins. And even in ancient China, there have been esoteric teachers and traditions.
"It's a bit important to define what the new age is, it's very broad. I mean, there's this kind of crystal healing and fragrance therapy and finding the shaman inside of you and things like I might not… I'm not interested in that particular part." What an interviewee wants to call themselves: "Seeker, freethinker… Strindberg did, he called himself a freethinker, that's pretty nice. I would say seekers and freethinkers. And I don't like to go into groups, and belong to certain groups like that." The prefix "options", as in alternative spirituality, is also problematic. In the call there had been "alternative answers" and one of the respondents jokes about this: "Alternative answers… How are the ordinary answers?" One respondent calls himself spiritual in short: "I say I am spiritual… I use spiritual. What that means, I don't know."
What interest in the new spirituality has given
A deeper sense of life, a certainty that life is bigger and more complex than it may seem on the surface: "That there are sentences that are greater than one can understand. Like the ant doesn't know… The ant in Stureby does not know that Bandhagen exists as well." People can solve their problems on their own. Through study and self-reflection, it is possible to get to the bottom of many of your problems. Gaining knowledge of how experiences from past lives affect, both theoretically and practically, is effective.
The idea of reincarnation allows many gloomy emotions to be thwarted or completely overcome. A new-age view of life means that we do not have to fear death, or mourn those who have passed away in the same way as if they were gone forever. Especially not as the newness explains that life on the "other side" is very pleasant and there is also the opportunity to get in touch with friends and relatives who have gone over there. One respondent tells of taking care of his father when he fell ill with cancer. She says it was very difficult, but that her spiritual perspective made the situation easier to endure:
So I was with him. He stayed with me lately, and there were nurses like this coming home and taking care of him, because mom couldn't cope. So he stayed with me before the last fortnight, when he went in. And then he died because he had liver cancer. But it was… It was hard because it was my dad, but at the same time it was a… I'm very grateful for that, because I could see in him this… It was like a light from the other side that was shining more and more through the water.
Another interviewee has made similar experiences at a close relative's deathbed:
Because when he was there fighting, it probably took 24 hours that he had a really hard time then. And then when he died… So I looked at him, it was just a shell. I didn't go over and put him on like this, no, he wasn't there. He was gone. So the soul had disappeared, and there lay an empty shell, completely uninteresting. I got that feeling. And the others stood there and patted him, but I, but no, he wasn't there. I'm trying to talk to him in a different way now.
Respondents talk about how they have become from the stress and anxiety that previously plagued them. Worries about the private economy have also disappeared, as it is possible to have confidence that everything will work out in the end. Someone tells about how today she feels braver, more stable and safe in herself, dares to challenge life and go new ways, such as leaving a destructive or stagnant love relationship when needed. One of the respondents objected to so many young people today being diagnosed with burnout. They can then go to therapy for many years. An interviewee herself has been in a similar situation, but says that it was by realizing how a turning point had to come from her own strength that she managed to improve her well-being. The fact that she herself went ashore with this without hiring a therapist meant that this feeling of being able to cope with problems on her own became strong.
One of the interviewees tells how, at a young age, she ended up in a severe life crisis. After a long night, when her thoughts just spun in her, she had a beautiful vision. She wrote a poem based on this vision. Then it turned around. She says that later in life she has been able to feel depressed at times, but never again like that time. One interviewee says that through her studies she has gained a greater understanding of why love relationships are so difficult, why men and women are the way they are. Another interviewee expresses that she has matured as a human being, which has had positive effects on her relationships with others, including her children. One of the respondents tells how he got out of a severe life crisis on his own. The first phase was to really get to the bottom of who he was, to be able to see his dark sides. Then, with the help of the thoughts of reincarnation and karma, he was able to reorient himself. These two basic ideas together constitute a unit with great explanatory power and logic, according to the respondent, the "key" that makes it actually possible to answer the big questions about existence, why fate portrays itself as it does, etc. Together they explain the nature and meaning of suffering. One of the respondents who came into contact with these thoughts in adulthood tells us:
That's 15 years since I have… This development has… Yes, it's been a long time… I look at people differently. I have no anxiety whatsoever, I feel very little stressed. In the past, I had a lot of worries about my finances, but I don't have that anymore. I've kind of learned that it's going to be okay and so be it.
One respondent says that her worldview changed dramatically when she began to bring back memories of past lives. The conviction that we live only one life has disappeared: "Plaster awakens. Actually, I'm surprised I'm no more dazed than I am. I'm dazed. It's such a big change, you just kind of… what. I thought this was it, and science and stuff like that." When asked what interest in the new spirituality has brought, one respondent replies:
Yes, the desire to live on… If I end my life voluntarily now by jumping from the Katarina elevator, or eating all the sleeping pills I have, and so on, I'll still come to the same situation next life, and the next and next, until I've learned it's wrong… You're on the wrong path. So that what I'm postponing today is coming tomorrow anyway. It's just as well to try to find life' s true… the real substance, what makes life worth living.