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New age, spirituality and consumerism

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This essay addresses the questions in regard to why there is a need to speak of spirituality rather than religious belief. It is believed that a new form of community is breathing life into what we term as ‘new agers’. The society is more consumer-based than ever before as it ushered the new age; the millennium. Spirituality is not only a new form of socialisation but also a new means thought control Carette & King (2006). It discusses the notion of workshop based learning in an undercover attempt to capitalise on spirituality by a means of providing exclusive knowledge for a wide audience of people who can be labelled ‘light workers’. Religion will be discussed as a step towards discussing spirituality. As people feel more at ease with speaking in terms of being spiritual, rather than being religious. Religion has become outdated and the traditional church institutions have lost many of their members because of varied reasons. These churches have elderly congregations, declining numbers and shrinking budgets. Rees Jones et al (n.d). The churches are left with the task of providing traditional ritual services of baptisms, marriages and funerals. As church services are dwindling they are using selling and advertising strategies to try to recuperate some of the lost members and recruit new members. The principal characteristics of religion in modern society are its individualism, the decline in the authority of traditional institutions. Rees Jones et al (n.d). Churches governed how you thought, felt and behaved. People in this new age have begun to ‘awaken’ and draw away from such conditions. People are wanting a spiritual lifestyle. They can pick and choose what they want and how they wish to gain such spiritual knowledge and how they can apply that knowledge to their everyday lives.   To do this they look to other resources for knowledge. This new spiritual consumer looks to find enlightenment through many other sources such as online and media information. They do this to try and find a suitable spiritual belief that matches their own outlook on life. Utilitarian consumers fit religion into their own life’s, rather than attempting to change them in order to conform to the divine ordinance. Keat. R.(1993). Consumers are therefore buying products from corporate businesses such as Waterstones and online internet stores. It is lead to believe they are being deceived into thinking that this is what is best for them. People are always looking for a quick fix which is not always the answer.  However, what is really happening is the same thought control that led them to leave in the beginning from the traditional religions with all its control and burdens. Spirituality is a modern day re-branding of an outdated religion and since humans have a basic need for security and a sense of certainty about how the world is constructed, it is often easier to accept the picture of the world given to us rather than to question it. Carrette & King (2006). Building a new spiritual age is a means to hijack the purer term of making this millennium age a ‘real’ better place to live in. The ability to think for yourself has been hidden, as people who are searching to become more spiritual, and have entered the new age way of thinking. Some believe this knowledge can be purchased.  Marketing ‘the spiritual’ allows companies and their consumers lip service to the ‘exotic’ rich and historically significant religions of the world, at the same time as distancing themselves from any engagement with the world views and forms of life that they represent. The companies are setting up stock, selling the goods and their hearts are far from interested in really helping people to change and grow more spiritual and as long as they have their own pockets lined with riches. Spirituality is more closely associated with middle-classed singles that have been thoroughly influenced by western consumer values. Rees Jones (n.d) there are more women who are striving to become a better person through a wide range well-being products. So there is no wonder why there is a market for spirituality because middle class individuals will have the money to pay for such commodities as well as being attracted to such products that promote well being and self-awareness in their life. There is now a department for catering on the emotional, spiritual and mental states of affairs as well as beauty. They want to find more meaning in their lives. They can afford to look after their selves not just on a physical level but also on a mental and emotional level too, making sure that they treat themselves to being a whole person and lifestyle make over.  This is the new age milieu in which people acquire and absorb a variety of beliefs and practices which they combine into their own pockets of culture and lifestyle preferences. Hunt.(2005).This can be found especially in the virtual world of the internet. There is no longer a need for people to congregate with others and instead they can use the pick and mix method, through browsing the internet, young and old people alike can explore religious beliefs and practices very different from their own without ever leaving the comfort and safety of their homes. Warburg (2005).  In the spiritual marketplace, many researchers have expressed their views upon the new beliefs about many spiritual products but another department that has opened its doors to the spiritual realm of marketing is the workshops that are selling through online corporate and personal websites. At a cultural level, the shift in interest from the ‘traditional’ religion to private spirituality has overwhelmingly been presented to us as consumer-orientated.Carette & King, (2006) so religion has changed from being controlled by the church and state to a role reversal, where people become in control through the power of consumerism. The mind-body-spirit books characterise the life-style or practice advocated by the authors as good, real, true and /or associated with light and being awake. Lee (2007) In respect to Virtue and Cooper, it is evident that in contrast to other well known spiritual self-help authors. They assert themselves on top of their league by ‘channelling’ such information from higher entities that are from other spiritual dimensions, whilst other authors have relied upon the re-branding religious philosophies and therapies such as Reiki, Yoga, Taoism to name just a few. This can also be seen where merchandise such as books for an example, are being used to promote further possible social changes.  Authors such as Doreen Virtue and Diana Cooper who will be presented as examples in this case, write about becoming a Lightworker. In Doreen Virtue’s book ‘The Light Workers Way’ (2005). She defines that you are a light worker if you are any of the following: A feeling that you are called to heal, you want to resolve the world’s social and environment problems, believe that spiritual methods can heal any situation, have had mystical experiences such as a psychic premonition, have endured hard life experiences, you want to heal your own life, you feel compelled to write, teach, or counsel about your own experiences, know that you are here for a higher purpose, even if you are unsure what it is or how to fulfil it. Does that mean everyone can be one? If that is the case then the author of this book is telling you that you need to buy her books because she is in the know. She goes on to describe how she began to find her own life purpose and her own light worker awakening and provides ways of beginning to discover and experience who we really are. Diana Cooper her English counterpart has published related books on how light workers can use their light to help the planet and human kind to evolve to a higher realm of existence. She has gained such knowledge from channelling her own spirit guide named Kumeka. She states that few people once knew such knowledge, although it is now available to millions of light workers eager to assist in the task of moving this planet into the light. Puttick (2005). confirms this move as new age by saying at the end of the day, the decisive condition for new age identity is the wish for a golden age, a time of equality, balance, opportunity and freedom. In order to gain such knowledge which is now available as they both state to millions of light workers, which technically means that it is you and everyone else in the new age society, that you can gain such information through either school. By gaining their own ‘exclusive’ certificate that then enables you to pass this information to help others and charge your own rates for the same course which you took with them. The Diana Cooper School of Angels and Ascension has the vision to empower people. Her website states, “We now have over a hundred teachers spreading the light in accordance with the principles of ascending to the Aquarian age.  For the right to own this exclusive teaching certificate for an angel-teaching course. You pay £750 for 9 days, worth sixty hours of study. Her American counterpart Doreen Virtue on the other hand will guide you through the steps of giving angel readings and conducting an Angel Therapy Session. The privileged few who wish to gain such a status are asked to pay $1500. This at the end will give you ‘Angel Therapy Practitioner’ certificate and the privilege to place this status on your own website. Her course is normally provided in various locations each year. This year her website states that it will be in Hawaii. She also adds that she HIGHLY recommends that you arrive in Hawaii at least 2-3 days prior to the start of class, to give your mind time to adjust to relaxation. In order for you to have found such courses and workshops, you would have had to either been recommended to read their books, or you would have had to locate their websites or had been referred to them. Mind, body and spirit products and books are big business within the metaphysical market. Carrette & King.(2006). This example alone provides enough evidence to argue that spirituality has become a consumer based religion. If this is correct it leads to millions people being easily labelled a light worker which Cooper mentions in her books. Which simply implies that everyday people if they read such a book, can accept one or more of the statements and find that they are a light worker. The profits that these people are making as even to an alternative education defined within a new up and coming social community. looking for something to belong too in the changing society. They are a light worker and can acclaim their title by buying more of their books and psychologically think that the best next thing that they can do is to become the teacher, so that they can go on and teach others. Therefore everyone will want to buy the book, the course and the workshop and then set up their own business making the same expensive charges to other non-the wiser consumers, who are ‘awakening’ on their road to discovery of this ‘light working’ society.

Besides the fact that light workers may well be separate individuals who truly wish to generally help make the world a better place. There are more organisations that assist this concept such as various online communities examples are: Church of Light Workers and an online Light Worker Community has been successfully been established. It is clearly noticeable that society is speaking in terms of spirituality as a new age concept, in order to evolve from the traditional churches and give new consumers a new faith with an added price tag. Consumerism is a reason why people speak of religion in terms of Spirituality.

 This essay does not relate to the personal feelings of the author. It is rather based upon a Spirituality, Rituals and Superstition Module I completed as part of my B.A(Hons)EducationStudies with HealingArts. I would like to consider it out on the world wide web for added recent research relating to spirituality and the new age. As there seems to be a lack of real research relating to this subject. All Copyrite belongs to Amanda Connors which is my private write'rs name on the web. Feel free to RT. All rights reserved.2012.

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