Bergstrand (2004) has reworked his twenty-year-old book: "An Illusion and Its Evolution – About the View of Religion in Psychoanalytic Theory" and perceives that there are certain things he as a Christian no longer needs to argue for:
Religion is no longer a slow dying. It is a living reality that must be taken into account. You can't understand world politics if you don't understand religious contexts. In countries where all religion has previously been persecuted based on political doctrines, religion has been shown to belong to the survivors, when the old power was overthrown (Bergstrand, 2004, p. 10).
The author further writes that the immigration to Sweden of people from other cultures poses us with these questions in a clearer way and that the "apocalyptic battle" that was previously intended to stand between communism and capitalism is now perceived by many to be a showdown between Islam and Christianity.
Wikström (1998) believes that the Christian communities in the West now constitute a "cognitive minority" (p. 41). Kärfve (1998) writes, speaking of his colleagues' interest in things like postmodernism, that "while the social sciences have turned their attention to airier and 'finer' cultural levels, a significant part of the Swedish people have changed their religion" (p. 17).
Hammer (2004) comments on an IKEA catalogue where customers are encouraged to decorate in a certain way so that "the energy will flow freely". A color is recommended for its healing qualities. The author writes that "what only a decade ago had been perceived as a moderately controversial and exotic interest is today almost part of the Swedish average culture" (p. 16).
Change over time.
Hanegraff (1996, referencing in Sutcliffe & Gilhus, 2013) has proposed a breakdown into a new age "Stricto," that is, the original, rebellious and reformatory new age, which over time has turned into a more individualistic new age "Lato" with a greater focus on individual self-realization. Hammer (2004) writes that at the beginning of the movement there was more talk of how humanity was facing a "spiritual and social revolution" (p. 23), while the focus today is more on the individual's personal or spiritual advancement. Other researchers question whether the term "new age" is even relevant anymore. Chryssides (2007) summarises these objections:
The hippies are passé, and so are their ideology. They were politically left-wing, rejecting the capitalist system and becoming society's "drop-outs" in the belief that by so doing they could bring about a new social utopia. Few hippies are still around, and the New Age, far from being in opposition to the capitalist system, has become a multi-million dollar industry (Chryssides, 2007, p. 12).
Granqvist and Hagekull (2001) define what they perceive as central to the "new age", such as:
"[an] emphasis on in 'intuition' (rather then rationality or intellect), holism (as opposed to reductionism), religious syncretism (as opposed to exclusivism and 'dogmatism'), immanence (rather then transcendence), and epistemological subjectivism and relativism (as opposed to objectivism and, again, 'dogmatism')" (p. 530).
Reincarnation and karma are central ideas in many branches of the new spirituality. Although the concepts are taken over from Eastern religion, however, their meaning deviates from the original meanings. The performances have been reshaped in Western form.
The reincarnation idea exists both in Hinduism and in Buddhism. It was brought to the West partly via Theosophy and partly through the French faction of spiritism (Ahlbäck, 1998; Hammer, yy). To the new age, the idea came mainly through Theosophy, Hammer points out (2004). Hammer (1998) writes that the reincarnation doctrine embraced by the New Age is a relatively modern creation. It appears in the West in the late 18th century after which it has been modified and developed further:
"One of the components of Theosophy is an alternative history, a broad panorama of races and sub-races that replace each other over the course of millions of years" (Hammer, 2000, p.22)
New Age followers also traveled the world themselves and returned with new ideas, as well as the U.S. being visited by so-called gurus who brought thoughts and practices that influenced the movement (yy).
The crisis-stricken man
Wikström (1998) writes that a religious unity culture has been replaced by a pluralistic one. We have lost simple science optimism. If you cannot influence your actual situation, you can at least try to influence your astral, spiritual situation and future. Rapid social changes, relocations, uncertainty. Breakups from given values and structures. The crisis-stricken man's "inability to look the bitter reality in the face… a kind of regression to the child's magical thinking, and control" Wikström 1998
The authors caution against believing that the underlying factors for different types of spirituality are the same. This does not seem to be the case, but even the other way around. (Far&gran, 2007) (Comp vs corr, for example)
The claim "there is no coincidence" leads the New Age to seek magical connections between much in his everyday life. New age followers not only share certain beliefs, they seem to share a special cognitive trait and personality orientation that makes them urged to seek meaningful connections between seemingly distant and unrelated things and events" (Farias&granqvist; i Kemp, 2007)
Farias and Granqvist (2007) see a connection between the special cognitive traits of the NA supporter, and the fact that many people change groups and activities without getting stuck or bonding with a close network, as in traditional religious contexts (Farias &granqvist, 2007).
The ideas at the center were both reincarnation, karma and partly the idea that each human being, separately, develops towards perfection. The goal was to be able to get a clearer picture of the thought system itself as "a psychological tension field".
Reincarnation makes an eternal scene or game plan available to the individual, karma is the "engine" that ensures that all the thoughts and actions of the individual will return to himself and contribute to her growth and the advancement and goal is "enlightenment", absolute perfection. These three assumptions form the core of much of modern spirituality.