New Age Pantheism, one of the three major worldviews, may by its name lead some to believe that it is a new worldview. However, the historical evidence indicates a connection between New Age Pantheism and some of the world’s most ancient religions. Many of the concepts of the New Age Movement have become very popular in postmodern culture. In many ways postmodernism is a manifestation of the acceptance of New Age concepts in the western world. No doubt many people hold New Age views and are not aware of the origin of this worldview.
Nimrod is best known for founding the city of Babel, which at that time became the capital of his kingdom. Nimrod’s empire soon grew into a complex of cities surrounding Babylon (Morris 1976, 253). Nimrod is historically regarded as the liberator who set men free from the laws of God. Nimrod created his own religion in which freedom from God’s judgement could be obtained through the actions of man (Daniel vol. 3, 98 – 99). The center of Nimrod’s religion was the great tower built at Babel. Most historians agree that this tower was toped with a temple, perhaps to Marduck, on of the Babylonian gods (Morris 1976, 270). Nimrod also became known as Zoraster, founder of Zorastrianism. During the reign of Darius the Great, a pagan prophet also took the name Zoraster and reestablished Zorastrianism. Zorastrianism receives it’s name from the Chaldee word zero, which means “the seed”. An alternative spelling of Zoraster is Zeroashta, or “the promised seed of the woman” (Daniel vol. III, 104).
The name Zoraster is of course a reference to redeemer promised in Genesis 3:15.
The traditions of early Zorastrianism came down to us in hymns known as Gathas. Zorastrianism was practiced among a group of people known as the Aryans. Zorastrianism was a form of nature worship honoring a series of gods. The series of gods was presided over by higher gods. The most important of these was Mithras (Hopfe 239).
Besides representing a deity’s name, Zero is also a number represented by a circle. In ancient religions, circles were used to illustrate what were known as the three planes of life. Zorastrianism had gods dwelling the realm of heaven, the spirits dwelt in plane of celestial creatures, and man and the animals dwelt on the plane of terrestrial creatures. Circles containing eleven degrees of creation represented the planes. A zero was used for the first degree in each plane, and became the god of that plane (Daniel vol. III, 104). In this way Zorastrianism connected the entire universe to their gods. In many ancient cultures and occult groups “zero” was represented by the serpent eating it’s own tail
Around the second millennium B.C. the Aryans migrated into India. When the Aryans’ Zorastrianism combined with the religions already existing in India classical Hinduism was born. Recent archeological work indicates the presence of an advanced civilization in India before the arrival of the Aryans, however very little is known about their religion (Hopfe 81).
The religious aspects of the first centuries of India’s Aryan age are derived form the Vedas, or “Books of Knowledge.” Rig Veda, the oldest and most important of these books, contains over one thousand poems written as prayers to Aryan gods (Wolpert 25). Since the Aryan gods appear to be personifications of forces in nature, their religion appears to be based on the concepts of animism. Animism teaches that all of nature is alive with a host of spirits or gods (Hopfe 83, 7). The natural development of animism is pantheism. Pantheism is an acknowledgement of the animistic divinity present in every thing in the universe. Pantheism sees the power, the creativity, the awe and mystery required of a supreme god in the whole of the universe (Tseng).
Pantheism is the ancient worldview that believes that a god-force controls all aspects of the universe. The universe is almost considered to be the same thing as the god-force. All parts of the universe are regarded as a part of the god-force (Lewis 30). The god-force is the divine energy responsible for creating and maintaining the universe (MacLaine 205).
Hinduism embraced a pantheistic worldview in its doctrine of Brahman. Hinduism teaches that there is only one reality, and that reality is impersonal god-force called Brahman. Everything else in the universe is an expression of Brahman. Things that are not Brahman are not real. Hindus consider it a false knowledge (maya) that our separation and life apart from Brahman is real. All things are considered to souls (atman) that are part of the great universal soul, Brahman. According to Hindu teaching man condemns himself when he denies his true connection with Brahman (Hopfe 88 – 89).
Hinduism developed the view that life or existence flow in a continuous cycle called samsara. The process of moving through samsara is believed to be governed by the law of karma or consequences of action. Men who do not recognize their connection with Brahman become enslaved by their actions to be reborn (Renou 43). Samsara means, “to wander across”. Hinduism teaches that when a body dies, the life force or soul wanders across to another time and body. Today this idea is also known as “reincarnation.” The goal of Hinduism is to break free of the cycle of birth, life, and death and be free from the burden of life. The Hindus refer to the process of breaking free from life as moksha, and they teach that it is achieved when one becomes unified with Brahman (Hopfe 90). In this way, the purpose of reincarnation id the purification of the soul or spirit of all things. Under the law of karma the soul must work out its own purification, until it is finally reunited in harmony with Brahman (MacLaine 52). The ideas of reincarnation are closely tied to the Hindu vision of the universe.
The three planes of existence proposed by Zorastrianism are manifested in Brahmanism, a forerunner of Hinduism, as heaven, earth, and hell. Reincarnation is a spiritual form of evolution governed by Kali, the godess of “becoming” or evolution (Daniel vol. III, 33, 104). As a soul is born, the individual is stationed somewhere on one of these three planes. A soul either advances or regresses in degrees during the process of death and rebirth. The evolution of the soul is governed by the karma obtained during life (Daniel vol. I, 751). At the end of the cycle of reincarnation a soul is said to achieve unification or oneness with Brahman.
Hindus achieve liberation from the rebirth, life, and death cycle the four types of Yoga, or union with Brahman. The most popular of the Hindu paths to unification with Brahman is Bakti Yoga, or the way of devotion. The devotee expresses his love toward Brahman by devotion to a guru, who embodies the grace of Brahman. Bakti yoga often involves the reciting of a god name or mantra (Larson 78). While repeating the mantra, the devotee should meditate upon its meaning. The mantra may be seen as representing the universe (or the manifestation of Brahman) in sound. A rhythmical, or almost musical, mantra is considered best (Crowley 20). Karma Yoga achieves union with Brahman through acts of service. The actions may include ceremonies, pilgrimages, or even just performing good works (Larson 78). A typical Hindu regiment of service might include prayer three times a day accompanied by sacrifices to the gods, gurus, and ancestors (Renou 33).
Jnana Yoga brings unity with Brahman by obtaining knowledge of the Hindu sacred scriptures. The knowledge obtained by the seeker from sadhus or gurus will show the devotee how his atman is a manifestation of Brahmin (Larson 78). The guru or spiritual master guides the devotee through various degrees of initiation. Each degree of initiation makes more knowledge of the symbolism of ceremonies known to the devotee. In the process the devotee becomes aware of his spiritual relationship with Brahman (Renou 35). Between 599 and 527 B.C. Mahavira became disillusioned with standard Hinduism. He began to teach that one must learn more of Hindu scriptures and torment his body. After twelve years he claimed to have achieved moksha, and became known to his followers as a Jina, or conqueror of the forces of life. His teachings became known as Jainism (Hopfe 124).
The highest way of becoming one with Brahman is Raja Yoga or the way of contemplation. Raja Yoga includes meditation methods known as the “Royal Road”. Through Raja Yoga the devotee learns to discipline his body and soul to achieve total union with Brahman (Larson 78), also known as enlightenment or illumination.
Siddhartha lived from around 560 – 480 B.C. Siddhartha began looking for answers to life in various Hindu books of philosophy. Eventually Siddhartha sought out anything unpleasant that he thought might help purify his soul. One day while meditating, Siddhartha had a vision about the endless cycle of reincarnation. The vision led him to understand that man endures this cycle because of tanha or desire. Desire is what causes karma and binds people to be reincarnated. Thus he became enlightened or united with Brahman when he stopped desiring enlightenment. After his enlightenment he became known as Buddha, or the enlightened one. Unlike orthodox Hindus, Buddha taught that everyone could become enlightened. His teachings became known as Buddhism (Hopfe 138). The goal of enlightenment is that the open their mind on the path to illumination and enlightenment. Eastern religions have always recognized how meditation leads to enlightenment.
The Buddha sits in the meditative Lotus position, imitating the shape of a pyramid. Yet his mind (will) is still separated from his body. The apex of the mind and will is the pineal gland, or third eye. Even with meditation, the pineal gland remains closed.
Since ancient times, it has been well known to the initiated that mind-altering drugs are required for enlightenment and illumination. Knowing is achieved through the use of mind-altering drugs. When the drugs are used the third eye is opened and the initiate becomes illuminated. Illumination occurs in an altered state of consciousness (Daniel vol. II, 49).
Buddha was at first regarded as a ruler and a great man. Eventually, he was worshipped as the Exalted One. A number of Buddhist conferences and councils developed the Dhamma/Dhrama (teachings and doctrines) of Buddha into a large body of texts. Missionary work of the fifth and sixth centuries A.D. spread Buddhism throughout much of Asia (Gard 20 – 23).
Buddha understood life as it was taught in Hinduism. Buddha rejected the authority of the Vedas and opposed the Brahmin system of animal sacrifice. Buddha emphasized people finding their own way of enlightenment rather that pleasing the gods. Buddha rejected the idea of a soul existing. Buddhism teaches that people live as a manifestation of the combination of the physical body, feelings, understanding, will, and consciousness. The Buddhist seeks release from the cycle of reincarnation. This release is called Nirvana an extinguishing of the desire that binds us to the cycle of reincarnation (Hopfe 142).
Nirvana And The Ying-Yang
Nirvana carries with it the idea of balance. Things in Nirvana are said to be in a state of nonexistence, but this is not nonexistence, as we understand it in the West. The Taoist philosophy teaches that the entire universe is made up of positives and negatives. The positives and negatives are represented in tow essences known as Ying and Yang. Yang is regarded as the masculine force and represents the good, light, and life. Ying is regarded as the female force and represents evil, darkness, and death (Larson 98).
The Ying-Yang symbolizes the union of the male and female gods of Hinduism to form all things. When Satan fell, he saw himself as having both a good and evil nature. Like the Ying-Yang, Satan is depicted as both male and female, in the universal symbol of Satan the Baphomet (Daniel vol. II, 60 and 36).
The Hindu creation account recorded in Manu Smrti details how Brahman formed a golden egg that was split in two to form heaven and earth (Renou 123). Hinduism not only see man as passing through a continuous process of birth, death, and rebirth, but the whole universe. Ultimately all things must become one again.
The Buddhist teach that Nirvana is achieved through the Eightfold Way: a right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right connection. For the Buddhist the Eightfold Way is the code by which they live (Hopfe 163).
Eastern Thought Moves West
The Gnostics taught that salvation was obtained through personal experience and becoming one with the divine (Baigent 364). In the thirteenth century, texts promoting Hermetic traditions began to circulate in Europe. During the crusades esoteric knowledge from the Middle East migrated to Europe. The combination of these influences led the wide spread search of deeper hidden meaning of life and the universe (Howard 4 and 49). The Portuguese explorer Vasco was among the first Europeans to explore India. Vasco was soon followed by a host of Dutch, English, and French Ships. English involvement in the sub-continent of India was solidified with the chartering of the British East India Company on December 31, 1600 (Wolpert 135 and 142). Prominent figures in England, such as Francis Bacon became students Hermetic, Cabalistic (Hebrew Mysticism), Gnostic, and neo-Platonist philosophies (Howard 74).
When the British East India Company introduced the Hindu doctrine of Reincarnation to England toward the end of the seventeenth century, John Lock encouraged the Royal Society to study the subject. This lead Lock to develop a theory of evolution two centuries before Darwin. Among the supporters of Lock’s theory of evolution were a number of Charles Darwin’s prominent ancestors (Daniel vol. III, 33 - 34).
Birth of the New Age Movement
The result was the development of a unique English version of mysticism. The Crusades contributed the occult traditions of the Middle East as the early foundations of English Mysticism. That was blended with the German Illuminism of the late eighteenth century. The final ingredient was occult theology of Hinduism, brought over from India in the 16th Century by the British East India Company (Oxley). All of this happened at a time when England, and the world for that matter, were undergoing great social and economic changes. The rationalism of the Enlightenment no longer appeared to be a valid explanation of the world. English Victorians were ready and willing to accept even the most bizarre occult explanations of daily life. The mystics appeared to provide a way to escape the drudgeries of every-day working class Victorian life (Roach).
A group called Quatuor Coronati was founded in 1884 in London to research the origins of mystical thought in England (McLeod). Quatuor Coronati made three significant discoveries. First, they discovered the importance of Lucifer worship in various forms among ancient pagan religions. Secondly, they discovered that going back as far as the Babylonian religion sex and drugs were used in ceremonies and to control people. Finally they discovered that human sacrifice had been used for population control (Daniel vol. I, 411).
Helene Blavatsky, a Russian medium, studied occult mysteries while she traveled in India and Tibet. While in the Far East, she had been taught by members of group called Argentum Astrum. Blavatsky returned to Europe with the goal of combining European occultism with Hemeticism, Hinduism, and Tantric yoga. The result of her work was that she founded the Theosophical Society in New York in 1875 (Howard 106). Two years later Blavatsky moved to London and began to publish her Theosophical magazine called Lucifer the Light-bringer (Daniel vol. I, 412). Blavatsky saw Satan or Lucifer as… “in us, it is our Mind – our temptor and redeemer intelligent liberator and saviour from pure animalism” (Regardie 34).
In the summer of 1889 Unionists, Marxists, and Spiritists each held their conventions in Paris France. Attending the Unionist convention was Annie Besant. Mrs. Besant suggested that the three groups should unite efforts. The result was the spiritist movement that soon spread throughout Europe (Daniel vol. I, 412). The efforts begun in 1889 to form a unified New World religion were realized at the World Parliament of Religion held in 1893. Among those attending this conference was Annie Besant, who had converted to Theosophy in 1874. The Parliament produced an ecumenical blending of Hinduism, occultism, and other religions, that is now known as the New Age Movement. Upon Blavatsky’s death, Besant went on to succeed head as head of the Theosophical Society (Howard 108 - 109).
The Lucis Trust
Another follower of Blavatsky’s was Alice Bailey. In 1922 Bailey, a self-proclaimed witch, founded the Lucifer Publishing Company of New York. Later the name was changed to Lucis Trust to conceal its origin. Lucis is the Latin form of Lucifer. A number of prominent leaders and corporations belong to the Lucis Trust. The Lucis Trust continues to be one of the major sources for publishing New Age books and generally promoting the New Age Movement (Daniel vol. I., 438 and 439).
The New Age Today
The New Age Movement appeals to many people because of its apparent flexibility. The New Age Movement doesn’t require the total abandonment of one’s present worldview. Embracing New Age teachings can simply expand the consciousness one already has. New Age enlightenment is simply recognizing the unrecognized dimensions of reality (MacLaine 74). Through the work of groups such as the Lucis Trust the ideas of the New Age were gradually introduced to the Western World. Hollywood promoted the New Age through books and films such as George Lucas’ epic adventure Star Wars. In both the book and film versions “the force” plays an important role. The force is said to surround us and direct our actions (Lucas 68). Luke Skywalker is taught to trust wholly in the force (Lucas 102). In the Star Wars universe the force is regarded as a pantheistic god-force.
People generally like to think that everything in their world has a common originating cause and purpose. The Old Age primarily operated under the humanistic worldview. New Age enlightenment is seen as the purifying agent of the Old Age. The New Age movement rises to dominance on the shoulders of all other belief systems and pulls its converts from every conceivable religious background. New Agers take the terms that are in familiar use in other worldviews and give them new meanings. The New Age worldview is built upon the premises that reality only exists in this world and that man is evolving to become god. The broad appeal of the New Age Movement has allowed it to present a serious challenge to the Humanists (Martin 306 – 307). Pantheism seeks to find the origin and purpose of all things within the things themselves. “God is all; all is God” (Thiessen 34). In this regard, like humanism, pantheism enthrones man as the highest authority in the universe.
The New Age movement proposes that mankind will eventually evolve to some level of perfection and harmony based solely on their own actions. For the New Age movement the key is recognition of man’s divine nature. All of this stands in an unreconcilable contrast to Christian Theism. Christianity redeems man through the blood of Christ and brings perfection for mankind only after death (Martin 311). A full examination of Christian Theism will show that it boldly invalidates both the Mechanistic Humanist and New Age Pantheist worldviews. Once one has become familiar with worldviews, one can go through a rather simple process of selecting the most suitable worldview for use in every-day life.