"WE'RE GOING TO EVOLVE INTO, LIKE, JESUS. WHEN WE'RE ON TARGET, WE'RE LIKE HIM."
Interviews with 11 new age/new age supporters
At the same time as interest in traditional religion has waned in the Western world, there has been a growth of a holistic, individualistic and progressively optimistic spirituality, so-called new age or new age. Cognitive psychology and attachment theoretic research has shown that adherents of this spirituality at the group level have peculiar profile that possibly correlates with mental illness. The purpose of this study was to investigate the extent to which this group recognized the so-called existential conditions, which, based on psychoanalytic theory and experience, can be seen as a prerequisite for mental well-being. Interviews with 11 supporters were conducted in 2009/2010. Data showed that the informants largely rejected these conditions or limitations, which can be interpreted in the same direction as previous research results. In addition to a possible individual disposition, an influence based on the thought system itself is proposed to be a not insignificant factor in these results. What can be the basis for individual differences is discussed.
Viewed like this from a spot on earth where the churches are empty (Center for Contemporary Analysis, 2009, February; Frisk & Åkerbäck, 2013, p. 31) and at the end of a university education that was largely about understanding something about the human interior and how he sees his life, but where the subject of religion has largely not been touched upon, one could be tempted to believe that the latter has really played out its role. Sigmund Freud (1927/2008, p. 371) almost a hundred years ago predicted would happen.
But that's just not true. On the one hand, a majority of the world's population is still believers and via migration to Sweden and our local area, it is reasonable to assume that religious or spiritual imaginations will continue to play a role in consultation and therapy situations. On the one hand, the process of secularization that has been going on in our part of the world seems to have been replaced by something that is not more rational (Freud, 1927/2008, p. 367ff) than was here before. Independent measurements show that the Swede has a multitude of notions about existence, of a hinsides reality and of metaphysical connections and phenomena, which science cannot prove. The results are similar in other Western countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom. The acceptance or interest in things such as reincarnation, notice, telepathy, communication with deceased relatives, etc., is great (Boström, 2008, July 16; Centre for Contemporary Analysis, 2009, Feb).
All in all, such notions are usually attributed to what is called the "new age" and to certain parts of the so-called "newness". This study will focus on this type of spirituality.
A reading of tevetab loans for a week at the end of November-December 2014 (29/11-5/12) indicates that there are at least six different reality series with alleged experts on spirits and supernatural phenomena that are public help in solving various problems: Medium in the name of the law, Rescue mediums, The Unknown, Ghost Hunters, and The House of Evil Spirits (all on Channel 7, included in TV4). To this will be added the autumn's major investment in the genre: "A night at the castle". The latter is an original series in eight episodes, where famous Swedes get to spend a night at Bogesund Castle outside Vaxholm in the company of "the nordic region's foremost and most respected medium Lena Ranehag". On TV4's website (TV4, u.å.) it goes on to read that "Lena will be the link between the stars and the spirit world, the stars will get a glimpse of their future, face the past and experience the spirit world".
Svt 2 shows this week an episode of "From Sweden to Heaven", which on the channel's website (SvT Play, u.å.) is presented as a "[s]Vensk lifeview series", with the host Anna Lindman. This week's episode is described as follows:
Anna goes to Karlstad and meets Anna-Lena, who calls herself a medium and says she can find missing things, talk to the dead and see who comes around the corner. Anna-Lena was born in Lapland and was told when she was a child that she had special gifts, but anyone can learn, she says, and takes Anna out to practice.
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). A reporter from Dagens Nyheter describes in the report "Spiritual smorgasbord or cultural Prozac – the new times are here" (Utterström, 2014, April 13) how surprised he is to find representatives from Korskyrkan at a Body and Soul Mass in Solnahallen, surrounded by a variety of activities and services of a New Age character. "Do you want to get well? We pray for back and joint problems, headaches, allergies, vision or hearing problems, pains or injuries in the body, etc.," the church banner reads. The reporter thinks back to his upbringing in a free church home: "Those who meditated with crystals or engaged in reiki healing were lost souls. Even psychologist Lars-Eric Uneståhl, who helped elite athletes with mental training, was considered suspicious and possibly in connection with evil powers" (p. 15).
The Church of Sweden has also been impressed by these new trends. In Engelbrektskyrkan in Stockholm, services were arranged for a period with "Oneness blessing", also called "deeksha" (Oneness University, u.å.). The church's newspaper was present during the premiere and reported on unusually many and active visitors, as well as about a relatively low average age:
Last Wednesday, about four hundred people made their way through rain and wind to Engelbrektskyrkan in Stockholm to attend Europe's first oneness blessing service. It was undoubtedly an unusual evening, it is not common for the church to be full on a weekday evening. It is also not common for so many people to actively participate in the fair, nor that the average age of visitors is between 35 and 40 years (Hägglund, 2009, 12 November).
The Christian-oriented website Bibel Fokus (Jareteg, 2010, October 29) comments on the event: "The Church of Sweden offers the occult 'spirit baptism' in Mass!"
There are also counter-forces. In the autumn of 2009, the Humanists association conducted a high-profile campaign with newspaper advertisements and advertisements in the public space under the slogan "God probably does not exist". This campaign lives on on a website of the same name (Humanisterna, u.å.). The Association of Science and Popular Education awards the prize "The Deceiver of the Year" to a person or organization that the association perceives spreads pseudoscience (Science and Popular Education, u.s.). The prize for 2014 was awarded to "Nyhetsmorgon" on TV4, on the grounds that the programme has, among other things, allowed viewers to take part in
exaggerated claims about the benefits of yoga, see one feature with a dream therapist who also interpreted viewers' dreams, as well as another with a 'herbal therapist' on how to make their own herbal pharmacy. Mediums, ghosts and spirits have been discussed on several occasions and a so-called animal communicator has been allowed to describe his activities without being met with critical questions (Science and Popular Education, u.å.b).
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 meant to be between communism and capitalism is now perceived by many as 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).
Several studies over the past two decades have been able to prove widespread acceptance of the "supernatural". Phenomena that the informants have had to consider are, for example, telepathy, astrology and reincarnation. The results are similar for several Western countries. For example, the reincarnation idea is supported by an average of one in four people asked.
Healthy (2007b, p. 113) refers to the European part of the World Value Survey of 2000, which showed that 24.4% believed in reincarnation. 44.2% believed in telepathy and 19.1% said they stuck with a lucky charm. This study has been conducted several times before. The issue of reincarnation received the support of 17.4% in the Swedish part of the 1982 survey, in 1990 of 19.8%, while in 1999 22.3% believed in reincarnation.
The newspaper Dagen (Boström, 2008, 16 July) in collaboration with Liselotte Frisk, professor of religious studies at dalarna University, conducted a survey in 2008 of, among other things, support for new-age beliefs among the public. Of the 923 people surveyed, 32.8% said they agreed in whole or in part to the question: "I think man is reborn (reincarnation)".
The Centre for Contemporary Analysis (2009, February) in collaboration with Demoscope conducted the survey "Faith and Spirituality in Sweden" during the autumn-winter 2008-2009 survey with 2,797 Swedes aged 15-89 years: When asked if respondents believed in "Reincarnation (rebirth)," 20% answered in some degree in the affirmative. Including those who answered "Neither", this group, which to some extent believed or at least did not reject the idea of reincarnation, constituted 38%. Younger people and people up to retirement age were more in favor of the idea of reincarnation than older people. In the 65-89 year group, 12% believed in reincarnation. The reincarnation idea was more popular with women. About 30% of them and 10% of men embraced the issue to some degree. Women generally believed in typical "new age phenomena" (telepathy, paranormal phenomena, astrology, etc.) on average 10-15% more than men.
Ipsos MORI (2012) commissioned by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Research and Science (UK) conducted in-person interviews with 1,136 people who identified themselves as Christian in a previous survey. When asked if they believed in "Reincarnation", 8% answered "Completely" and 19% "To some extent".
Harris Interactive (2013, December) conducted an online survey of 2,250 people living in the United States in November 2013. This survey gave the following results: 24% of respondents answered yes to the question: "Reincarnation – that you were once another person". Support for "Astrology" was 29%; "Ghosts": 42% and "Miracles": 72%. In this survey, support for reincarnation was about the same in all age groups up to the "68+" group, where support was about ten percentage points lower. Furthermore, it was noted that support for reincarnation has increased by an average of 3% since the 2005 measurement.
Support for reincarnation is possibly the most notable in a Christian cultural circle. Several of the other notions and phenomena addressed in these investigations probably overlap with popular superstition, which should have been able to coexist with the long-dominant religion, while the idea that we will be reborn in a new physical body is a comparatively exotic notion.
How to understand what has happened?
Émile Durkheim already spoke prophetically of a future society so heterogeneous that the only thing that ultimately unites citizens is the fact that everyone perceives themselves and everyone else as autonomous individuals. According to Hammer (2004), Durkheim stated that religious practitioners will "set up the principle of being true to oneself as the core of religion." 313). Houtman and Aupers (2007) argue that religiosity has changed in character:
What we are witnessing today is not so much a disappearance of religion, but rather a relocation of the sacred. Gradually losing its transcendent character, the sacred becomes more and more conceived of as immanent and residing in the deeper layers of the self (Houtman &Aupers, 2007, p. 315).
Farias and Lalljee (2005) have formulated the term "holististic individualism" for some findings in their research. They argue that something like this also characterizes many who are not specifically interested in the new spirituality:
The construct of holistic individualism has been identified in relation to the New Age but it is plausible to find it applied elsewhere. An obvious example is the growing interest in spirituality within modern societies, a concept that overlaps in many ways with New Age ideas in the way it emphasizes non-ordinary experiences at the individual level and distances itself from communal forms of religion. It may be the case that holistic individualism is a social-cultural phenomenon of which the New Age is merely a precursor" (Farias &lalljee, 2005, p. 288).
Kärfve (1998) writes that "The New Age interprets something essential in late modern society and will consequently stay as long as this persists" (p. 28). Frisk (2000) refers to the American religious scholar James R. Lewis and J. Gordon Melton, who expressed that they see the new age as "an integral part of a new, truly pluralistic 'mainstream'" (p.
Already defining what religion is poses a difficult task for researchers. Hammer (2004) argues that this is in principle not possible, but suggests that "religions move with a set of symbols, stories, beliefs, and behaviors that ultimately refer to a persevering reality." 19). Spiro (1966, referenced in Rizzuto, 1979, p. Religion is "an institution consisting of culturally patterned interactions with culturally postulated superhuman beings." Bauman (1997) argues that "'Religion' belongs to a family of curious and often embarrassing concepts which one perfectly understands until one wants to define them" (s. 165). According to Carl Gustav Jung, writes Jones (1991), religion was
The traditional shepherd of the process of indiviuation. Its symbols and rituals resonate to those repressed but significant aspects of the unconscious, both individual and collective. Religion had served in the past to keep men and women open to their depths (Jones, 1991, p. 5).
In their study on popular religion in Dalarna, Frisk and Åkerbäck (2013) choose to define religion as a philosophy of life based on certain existential and super-empiric assumptions, namely "ideological elements that deal with the meaning of life, what happens after death or notions beyond an empirical basis such as notions of energy dimensions in the body or the existence of extrahuman beings" (p. 18).
In the English-speaking world, "spirituality" is used for a category that is superior religion. Does english "spirituality" have the same connotations that "spirituality" has in our language? Possibly not. To say "I am spiritual, but not religious" is perhaps somewhat more obliging than when, for example, the American says "I'm spiritual, but not religious". Chryssides (2007): "Finally, spirituality is about finding meaning in one's life: receiving guidance for life, obtaining answers to qustions about why we are here, what the purpose of life is, and what may happen after we die" (s. 14).
Then there is the great area of "neo-religion" (Frisk, 1998), which can be said to be a subdivision of spirituality/spirituality, but on the same level as religion. In religious research, however, such modern spirituality has so far been treated rigidly and seen as inferior or atypical compared to the major world religions (Sutcliffe & Gilhus, 2013, p. 2). Frisk (1998) has proposed two subcategories of neo-religion: "New Age" and "New Age". Representatives of the first category are often organized around a specific doctrine and clearer leadership (the author cites the Scientology movement and Hare Krishna as examples), while spirituality in the second category is more often disorganized or semi-organized and with a greater freedom for the individual to define his or her faith and how it should be practiced.
The first peer-reviewed article in the English language area that specifically addressed and used the term "new age" came in 1984 (Sebald, referenced in Sutcliffe & Gilhus, 2013, p. 6). Frisk (2000) has been researching new-age movements since the mid-1980s and was also behind the first study specifically on the new age in Sweden in the mid-1990s. She points out that such research done in the US is not automatically valid for Swedish conditions.
The question of where, when and how the new age arose is answered in different ways in literature. This probably has to do with what different writers choose to emphasize. Hammer (2004, p. 43) highlights that the religious or spiritual influences to the "new age" and the like can be traced back to the romanticism that was a counter-movement to the Enlightenment. Mesmerism, romantic pantheism, transcendentalism, spiritism, occultism, are phenomena from that epoch that have come in various ways to contribute to this modern spirituality. The New Age and the Occult, according to Hammer, have been "a kind of third track next to the Church and secular society." 76). Sjödin (2002) also highlights the connection to romanticism and describes the New Age as "[a] revival of early 19th-century Romanticism" (p. 75). Other researchers (Kärfve, 1998, p. 19) argues that the New Age even captured or manages ideas that go back to Gnosticism, a spiritual doctrine that was alive at the time of the rise of Christianity.
Frisk (2007a) places the emergence of the new age to the late 1960s and early 1970s. Different currents then flowed together with the utopian and socially critical youth movement that had arisen on the American West Coast, with hippie culture, the struggle for black rights, the resistance to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, a questioning of the ideals that existed for family formation, etc. Rothstein (1997, p. 23) shares the view that although the New Age and the like had some of their roots further back in history, it was on the American West Coast that the phenomenon took shape and grew strong. Wikström (1998) also highlights that it was in California in the 1960s that the cradle of the modern New Age movement stood. He writes that the New Age was a counterculture to Western consumerism and the movement also came to include a clear homogenization attitude (p. 28), according to which various phenomena were possible to bring together. Prominent figures in the New Age, for example, could be equated with the Biblical Christ, as these were perceived as imbued with the same spirit.
The era was portrayed in Milos Forman's 1979 film Hair. The title of the song "Age of Aquarius" that initiated the film, for example, was referring to the astrological notion that humanity is on the threshold of the age of Aquarius. Ferguson (1982, referenced in Wikström, 2008, p. 33) believes that two thousand years of war and darkness are over and that an equally long period of peace and love awaits.
Contributions to the doctrine itself have come from different quarters. The term "new age" was originally coined by the English author and neotheosophy Alice A. Bailey in the 1930s (Sutcliffe & Gilhus, 2013). It is Precisely Theosophy and its foreground figure Helena P. Blavatsky is listed by several authors (Rotstein, 1997; Hammer, 2004) as a significant influence for the New Age. Theosophy contributed, among other things, with the idea of reincarnation and also the idea that man's fate is shaped by how he lived in previous lives, so-called "karma". These were ideas that Theosophy, in turn, had taken over from Eastern philosophy but left its own mark on.
Hammer (1998) writes of the former that "[v]year's reincarnation belief is a distinct product of the modern: optimistic, individualistic, trend-sensitive, and formulated in a language that fits hand in glove in a world of science and rationality." 53). What characterizes this Western reincarnationstanke is, among other things, that development is based on constant progression. The very term "new age" reflects this optimism of progress. Hammer writes (2000) that the whole world "from our individual souls to planetary systems is undergoing constant evolution" (p. In this there is also a natural connection to Darwin, something that is most often lacking in the usual religions and creation stories. However, according to Theosophy and the New Age, unlike the doctrine of evolution, the development is "targeted" (Hammer, 2000, p. 23). On the fact that this conception now seems to have received so much acceptance among the common man, Hammer writes (2004): "In only forty years, reincarnation has gone from being a view spread among the members of some Theosophical and occult circles to becoming one of the most widely encompassed religious beliefs of our time" (p. 203).
About the latter concept, karma, and its importance today in the culture from which it was drawn, the same author writes:
There are a number of religious models of explanation that will explain why one is doing well and the other badly. Modern popular Hinduism usually invokes violations of taboo rules, evil spirits, witchcraft, obsession, or planetary influences. Karma remains as a theoretical concept, but is rarely used when explaining people's lot in life in practice (Hammer, 2004, p. 110).
Contributions were also drawn from various psychological school formations, including humanistic psychology, which in the United States at the time itself was a kind of counter-movement to behaviorism and psychoanalysis. Hammer (2004) writes that influences also came from the American New Thought/Human Potential movement and he highlights a kinship between the New Age and a specific North American, individualistic thinking, more precisely the notion that "it is a person's thoughts and will that make him who he is: if you decide and invest wholeheartedly, one can realize one's dreams" (p. Influences also came from the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung. Jones (1991) highlights what he sees as a similarity between Jungian theory and the New Age:
Jungian theory, like its creator, is profoundly introverted and individualistic – each person his or her own church, synagogue, or ashram. One has no need of others; everyone has within the self the collective wisdom of the human race (Jones, 1991, p. 5).
Unlike secular worldviews, the view of the New Age is "that even difficult experiences serve a purpose, that they have meaning in the light of one's spiritual development" (Hammer, 2004, p. 17). Furthermore, there is a strong trend
radically de-dramatize evil and suffering. Since it is often explained that we ourselves create the world we live in, we ourselves bear the ultimate responsibility for the suffering that can befall us. Basically, however, there is nothing that is unambiguously evil: the problems we face are rather challenges, opportunities for the human soul to absorb important experiences (Hammer, 2004, p. 143).
Kärfve (1998) writes that according to the New Age, "all life is a manifestation of the highest consciousness, and the purpose of all existence is to bring love, wisdom, and enlightenment to its completion." 18). Over time, the individual will achieve emotional and cognitive perfection. Those who have already reached this advanced stage are described as "advanced spiritual beings who are now free from the cycle of reincarnation and who continue to guide humans on Earth from their celestial abodes" (Chryssides, 2007, p. 6). These individuals are what Kärfve (1998, referring to Max Weber) refers to as "religious virtuosos — people who have escaped the light and [live] in its radiance" (p. 21).
This notion of the individual's potential, that there are "amazing dormant forces within the human being" (Hammer, 2004, p. 55), was something that Theosophy and American positive thinking shared. In addition, Blavatsky claimed that "[d]an enlightened man… could read directly in the Akashak chronicle, a kind of universe's own memory bank, where all the events in the entire history of the cosmos were stored. Within man's reach lay nothing less than omniscience" (Hammer, 2004, p. 55).
Heelas (1996, p. 2) has characterized the new age as "Self-spirituality". The image of God is immanent, rather than transcendent (Hammer, 2004, p. 22). "The New Self-Deification" sums up Kärvfe (1998, p. 17) the phenomenon. The question of whether God is personal or impersonal is not easy to determine. Sanner (1998) reflects on the fact that so much within the new spirituality is described in terms of love and comes to the conclusion that within this spirituality God and love are in some sense the same thing: "In the doctrine proclaimed within the New Age, love is regarded as something divine — well, perhaps one can even say that the god one worships within the New Age is love" (p. 116).
Supporters of the New Age often also have high thoughts about what this movement can bring to the world. Hammer (2004) writes of the self-image of new age followers: "One belongs to a spearhead in society, a group of people with higher knowledge, greater insight, who have progressed further in their spiritual development" (p. 333). Vitz (1977) writes on the same theme:
The proponents of New Age spirituality commonly present their position as a radically new worldview. In particular, they reject old cultural paradigms based upon science, secular philosophy, and traditional religion; these are all seen to have 'failed'… The proponents of New Age believe that they have been empowered to initiate a 'millennium of light that will redeem society from its obvious present ills ( Vitz, 1977, Kindle location 2010).
Organization and supporters.
According to Hammer (2004), there are two groups attracted to the new spirituality, namely young people and women of middle age, and what unites them is their "intense search for meaning, their own identity and an independent inner voice" (p. 28). Young people are confronted with the realization that experts can contradict each other. Then there is room to think for yourself. Another driving force is to define one's own from parents and the adult world. For many women in middle age, they have long been subordinated to the needs of others:
Only in the middle of life began a process of emancipation, which could involve both a greater trust in one's own inner voice but also a lot of pain … Their desire to replace external authority with an inner compass is matched by the new age environment's emphasis on intuition and subjectivity (Hammer, 2004, p. 29).
Frisk (2000) proposes, with reference to the sociologist of religion Meredith B. McGuire, that it is possible to "see institutionalized religiosity as male-dominated, and the 'modern religiosity' as a kind of female protest" (p. 62). Frisk has interviewed many supporters and has, based on what they have told about their employment, also concluded that the New Age is a kind of popular religion (p. 60).
Change over time.
Rothstein (1997) also describes the New Age as "a modern form of popular religiosity, a religious level that exists among ordinary people in parallel with the official religion of society." 22). However, he highlights research from the US that suggests that the new age there would be in decline. The New Age, according to Rothstein, had its heyday in the 1980s and since then such things as course centers and booksellers specializing in such literature have declined in number. He believes that there is a lot of evidence that the new age will become increasingly organized in the future. The real interested will join special movements.
This was written almost twenty years ago, based on experiences from another part of the world and the question is whether the forecast also applies to Sweden. Frisk (2007a) paints a partly different picture. According to her, a lot has happened in the early 2000s. As recently as the 1990s, many believed that movements like the Church of Scientology and Hare Krishna would continue to grow, but they haven't. On the other hand, disorganized neo-religion, such as the New Age, has gained increasing acceptance among the public.
Perhaps the new age and the like, although itself an expression of this, have increasingly come to be affected by the tendency that Wikström (1998) believes has affected many other institutions in society, namely that fidelity to idea-based organizations has decreased (p. 42f). This can also be understood from the increased individualization that several researchers write about. Wikström (1998) believes that there has been a general shift towards the "inner psychological experience world" (p. 7) and that a focus on internal transformation is something that belongs to the late 20th century. It is about the idealization of "the individual man's 'spiritual ability' to influence his destiny and the romanticization of man's inherent goodness. Evil, sickness, and suffering are rather a delusion" (p. 8). In this case, this could be consistent with the research data that showed that the positive reincarnation idea could have had such a large impact on the population. Hanegraff (1996, referencing in Sutcliffe & Gilhus, 2013, intro) 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) sees the same change, how in the beginning of the movement there was more talk about 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).
Hammer (2004) argues that the number of interested affects the status of a phenomenon. As long as there are only a few hundred sympathizers, it is an eccentric phenomenon. As soon as a few tens of thousands join, it's an interest group or subculture. When many millions accept the mindset, it becomes part of a general collective behavior. In the US and Sweden, Hammer argues that the new age has reached such a third stage (p. 95).
Smorgasbord or not?
An often used metaphor to describe the new age is that this would be like a smorgasbord: "The new age movement's offering can be likened to a spiritual smorgasbord from which, for example, meditation and spiritualism are plucked, or perhaps some crystals and alternative forms of treatment" (Wikström, 1998, cover). Vitz (1977) writes about the New Age in relation to the United States where the movement arose: "New Agers will include bits and pieces of all the major religions – as well as a good many other things… This smorgasbord of religion seems to be peculiarly American and supported by the social, ethnic, and religious pluralism of American society" (Vitz, 1977, Kindle location 2025).
The New Age may be syncathistic, that is, it has drawn influences from many different directions, but is it a phenomenon that is formless or impossible to define? Hammer (2004) asks whether the New Age is merely a label for a kind of "anarchy of opinion" (p. 16) Or if there is something connecting the different parts? The author thinks about this based on the impressions of a so-called new age bookstore, which he thinks to confusion is reminiscent of similar book boxes he has seen in other cities and countries. "Despite the initial impression of chaos, it seems to be a well-structured diversity," he wrote. 16).
To investigate the degree of homogeneity in the New Age, Granqvist and Hagekull (2001) developed the New Age Orientation Scale (NAOS) which contained a number of claims about different notions (e.g., "I think that we are now approaching an entirely new age, that will radically change our view of science, spiritual knowledge, or the true nature of man"; "The whole cosmos is an unbroken, living whole, that the modern man has lost contact with", "One's world around is mainly a mirror image of one's inner world, so that outher processes above all reflect one's inner processes"), as well as more concrete, practical phenomena or practices (e.g. "With the assistance of a 'medium', it is possible to get in touch with dead people or with life on other planets", "There are some objects or places that have a special spiritual meaning, for instance by being surrounded by a certain type of energy", "I am convinces that through transference and/or the ability to move things by mere thinking work actually") that the researchers perceived was on this "smorgasbord".
Some statements also addressed the specific performances that are the focus of the present study: "People live more than one life, so that when they die they will be reborn after some time in another body (reincarnation)", "I believe that a person's deeds are stored in his and her 'karma'", and "Spirituality to me above is all about realizing my true nature or becoming one with cosmos"
The study (Granqvist & Hagekull, 2001) included 193 respondents: first, high school students from the higher classes, both young people from different Christian youth organizations, and partly people recruited from places in Stockholm with activities of a new age nature. The responses were then treated statistically using factor analysis that produced a one-dimensional result. If the respondent supported one of the claims, it was likely that he or she also agreed with the others.
Granqvist and Hagekull (2001) were able to show that among the supporters of the New Age there was a great consensus on the claims that the researchers had allowed them to take a position on. A common theology, if you will. Did the supporters share something more besides certain interests and a collection of ideas about how life worked?
In the same study (Granqvist &. Hagekull, 2001), the above questionnaire was combined with a survey based on attachment theory. The researchers wanted to see if people who were positive about the New Age also excelled in so-called attachment patterns. The hypothesis was that the test subjects would exhibit a higher degree of so-called "uncertain attachment", indicating that the individual experienced the early, close relationships in life as unsafe and which she then carried with her in the form of so-called Internal Working Models (IWM's). The results of this part of the study also gave it a positive result. People who scored high on the NAOS scale also distinguished themselves for such an "unsafe" attachment pattern. When comparing (Granqvist, Ivarsson, Broberg &. Hagekull, 2007), it has been shown that people with a traditional religious belief rather exhibit a "safe" connection. So at the group level, there are things that unite new interested people even on a deeper level. In the latter survey, the results showed, among other things, that those with high scores on NAOS were judged to have had a significantly less loving upbringing, with more of things like rejection and role reversals than those who received low scores.
The group of new entrants has also been examined with various cognitive and personality tests. For example, the researchers have investigated such things as tendency to magical thinking, thin-walledness, and "congitive loseness" (Farias, Claridge & Lalljee, 2005). Here, too, people with a recent interest have shown a common and divergent profile compared to the control groups (often traditionally religious and non-religious). All of these variables are in one way or another about an elevated sensitivity or associative/perceptual mobility.
In a survey by Farias and Lalljee (2006, referenced in Farias &granqvist, 2007, p. 126) the test participants were asked to comment on some stories of everyday events based on the question: "How would you interpret this situation?" For example, the stories could describe a meeting with a person who felt very familiar. Instead of suggesting that it was someone the test subject might have encountered in the store some day, or even that "God wanted us to meet," people with a new orientation often explained situations like this using paranormal or supernatural arguments: "Our souls have probably met before," or "We have the same energies that make us feel drawn to each other.".
In an experiment by Farias et al. (2005) the test subjects were allowed to sit in front of a computer screen in a dimly lit room. On the screen, 100 dots were projected, which shifted at high speed at random for ten minutes. The instruction was that motifs would be interspersed with random images and that the test subjects would tell when something came to be recognized. Newly oriented saw significantly more motifs (e.g. animal motifs, dancing people, angels, etc.) than the other groups. People with a traditional religious orientation saw no more than average.
Farias and Granqvist (2007, p. 128) writes that the conviction that "there is no coincidence" causes people with a new interest to experience magical connections between many in their everyday lives. These individuals are thus not only united by certain thoughts or relationship patterns, but they also seem to share a deeper orientation that allows them to seek meaningful connections between seemingly distant and unrelated things and events. The authors argue that their psychological profile is also behind the fact that many people change groups and activities often without forging close ties, unlike, for example, people with a common religious belief who more often find themselves right in a congregation.
In another study (Farias &. Lalljee, 2005), it was concluded that individuals with a new-age orientation are characterized by what the researchers chose to call "holistic individualism". This represents a combination of two tendencies that otherwise do not usually occur in the same person, namely an individualistic orientation, which is about self-realization and striving towards one's own goals, rather than as part of a group, while expressing "universalist" ideals of solidarity, equality, not wanting to compete, but even wanting to go up into a larger "whole". In addition, the new test subjects had a peculiar way of describing themselves. When asked "Who am I?" they gave abstract answers. Individuals with a collectivist orientation usually, asked to describe themselves, do this with judgments that in a concrete way relate to their social reality (e.g., "I am a daughter" or "I am a baker"), while those with a more individualistic orientation use comparatively more abstract judgments about themselves (e.g., "I am cheerful). The newly interested described themselves with expressions such as "I am a bridge", "I am united" or "I am an illusion".
The new spirituality differs from traditional religion also in that it often lacks a personal God with whom the individual can have a relationship, as well as seeking comfort and understanding in when needed (Granqvist, 2014). This is especially interesting from a connection perspective. People with a "secure" connection take over their parents' religion to a greater extent and they then pass on their good experiences in the image of God. Although these individuals choose a different religion than their parents, they tend to find a loving God there. People who embrace a new worldview, with an impersonal or absent deity, are also assumed to be affected by their earliest experiences. Granqvist (2014) emphasizes how God is used as a symbolic attachment object by those with a secure connection in a way that is deeper than just being a conscious notion. In subliminal experiments, it has been possible to show that these individuals have access to a "safe harbor" within them that they automatically seek support from in, for example, a stressful situation.
Why is anyone interested in the new age?
Farias and Granqvist (2007) suggest that a combination of biology (cognitive style and personality traits) together with early relationship experiences may explain why many people seek newness. A person with a disposition for magical thinking, or who has experienced insecurity in his early relationships, does not have to seek out such a worldview, but the probability is greater. The authors write that the studies carried out so far have
uniformly and strongly supported the compensation hypothesis. Individuals who, according to self-reports or independent judges, have experienced parental insensitivity while growing up are particulary inclined to endorse the New Age" (Farias &Granqvist, 2007, p. 141).
The new worldview and culture simply exhibit certain characteristic features that can probably feel familiar to those who have been subjected to, for example, neglect or abuse during the formative childhood years. However, due to the lack of longitudinal studies, it cannot be excluded that it is the very interest in the new-age thoughts and activities that shape the followers, they add.
Do the supporters feel worse?
The fact that people who are interested in newness at group level stand out for certain tendencies that in the normal population can be linked to an increased suffering is well established. Whether this means that the new people are feeling worse than average is debated. Some researchers (Farias, Underwood &claridge, 2013; Peters, Day, McKenna & Orbach, 1999) opposes such an interpretation. They point out that, for example, schizotypia constitutes a continuum that runs from pathology to normality. In addition, the support of like-minded people can mitigate the effects of a certain fragility and even turn it into an asset. Granqvist (2004; 2014) emphasizes to a greater extent, partly based on his attachment theoretic research, that the group may have an increased suffering. Granqvist (2004) writes that supporters of the New Age are at risk of living with "an underdiagnosed suffering" and that it is important to increase knowledge about this area:
Against this background, it is important that traditional therapy can also attract clients with more recent life orientation. Otherwise, there is a significant risk that they will continue to nibble expensive placebo pills from the alternative medicine cabinet and remain in a state of underdiagnosed suffering (Granqvist, 2004, p. 18).
Farias et al. (2013) they also stress that therapists and others may need to update themselves on the expression of the new spirituality, but rather seem to see this as urgent so that the professionals do not act prejudicedly and unnecessarily pathologize people who report unusual experiences and ideas.
Bäärnhielm, Scarpinati, Rossi and Pattyi (2007) have written about limitations with the diagnostic manual DSM, about how people from another cultural sphere are at risk of being misjudged, which may also have relevance to this area:
There is criticism of the DSM-IV system. A critical point of view is that it makes no sense to use a Western diagnostic system outside the West or for refugees and minority groups. Kleinman (1977) has coined the term "category fallacy" which refers to the problem of using psychiatric diagnoses for symptoms outside the cultural sphere in which diagnoses were created (Bäärnhielm, Scarpinati, Rossi &. Pattyi, 2007, p. 16).
For Sigmund Freud, religion was more or less unambiguously a bad solution. People's religiosity, he explained, as a regression back to a time in life that had been simpler. By projecting an almighty father into space, life became more bearable and the believer was able to reswerving some of his own responsibility and relieving his existential anguish. Religion was to him (Freud, 1927/2008) "a treasure of conceptions born of the need to make human helplessness bearable, based on material of memories of childhood helplessness, one's own and that of mankind." 362). He saw the abandonment of religion as an "upbringing to reality" (1927/2008, p. 390). Jones (1991) writes:
Freud assumed that atheism was normative and religion was but a vestige of the childhood of humankind". … "Healt would require renouncing the wondrous but unattainable wishes of childhood for the realistic but prosaic satisfaction of adulthood. Thus illusions of comfort, protection, and compensation should be put aside and responsibilities shouldered (Jones, 1991, p. 1f).
Freud (1927/2008) writes:
Certainly, man will then find himself in a difficult situation; she is compelled to acknowledge all her helplessness, her insignificance in the world's vortex, as she is no longer the center of creation, no longer subject to the tender ministry of benevolent providence. She will find herself in the same situation as the child who left the father's house, where it was so warm and pleasant. But infantilism is there to be overcome, isn't it? Man cannot forever remain a child, he must finally venture out into the "hostile life" (Freud, 1927/2008, p. 390).
After Freud, there have been psychoanalysts who have been more conciliatory to religion. Some have even been open about their own faith. Winnicott (1971) talks about the child's "middle ground" where inner and outer reality can meet, and he writes that this important sphere "is maintained throughout life in the intense experience associated with art and religion, an imaginative way of life and creative scientific work" (p. 37).
There is not much written about newness from a psychoanalytic or psychodynamic perspective. I have a couple of authors who also have a Christian frame of reference. Wikström (Geels & Wikström, 2006; 1998) and Faber (1996). Both are relatively critical of the phenomenon. The latter in particular. Faber (1996) writes:
I regard New Age thinking as essentially regressive or infantile in nature. It is absorbed, I contend, in matters of symbiotic merger, omnipotence, narcissistic inflation, and in magical thinking and wishing generally. New Age thinking makes war on reality; it denigrates reason; it denies and distorts what I consider to be the existential facts of our human experience; it seeks to restore the past, specifically, the before-separation-world, in an idealized, wish-fulfilling form that has little or no connection to the adult estate (Faber, 1996, p. 15).
Some psychoanalytic concepts.
According to psychoanalysis, the little child is uploaded by his parents or guardians and, in happiest cases, gets a pleasant and privileged start in life: "His Majesty the Baby", Freud (1914/2003, p. 92) this existence. This, together with its limited resources in many respects, means that the child will not have to face the grim realities for a period of time, but will be allowed to be in a state of "infantile omnipotence". However, at some point during his journey towards adulthood, the individual needs to abandon, tone down or at least supplement these infantile and in relation to her real capacity unrealistic fantasies or desires. The rest of the world expects this if nothing else. In psychoanalysis, a favorable solution to this conflict of interest is seen as the very gateway to a balanced and healthy adulthood. Sophocles's (1986/2000) drama "King Oedipus", about a man who unknowingly kills his father, spouses his mother and makes her with children, has had to lend his name to this according to the psychoanalysis developmental psychology cardinal task (Freud 1996b, p. 306ff). On their way to adulthood, the individual then undergoes different stages on the way to an increased complexity in the psyche.
Werbart (2000) has described this challenge in a number of points, which can be seen as a summary of the predicaments of human life. He writes that we are "irretrievably doomed to live as separate 'in-dividuals', dependent on each other, divided into two sexes and several generations, vulnerable and mortal" (s. 37).
"Objects" in psychoanalysis mean mental representations of important people in the individual's childhood, who live on as more or less unconscious sources of power within them. Inner objects are in some kind of equivalent to the Internal Working Models (IWM) of attachment theory. This with objects has a central place also among those psychoanalysts who have tried to describe a more benign religiosity. A basic idea is then that the individual's image of God becomes an alloy of religious beliefs and early relationship experiences. Rizzuto (1979) writes: "We create our own gods from the apparently simple warp and woof of our everyday life" (p. 5).
The mental operations or coping strategies called defense mechanisms have a buffer function for us. According to psychoanalytic theory, they serve to keep unpleasant impulses or insights away from consciousness and to protect us from anxiety. Defense mechanisms are often divided hierarchically, from primary/lower to secondary/higher, depending on how much restrictions and/or distortions they entail for self-image and perception and also on the periods in life when they are natural and unavoidable. This division ties in with different sections of the personality axis, and to different times in our lives.
A special group of defense mechanisms is usually called "manic". These are considered intended to protect the individual from imentant depressiveness. Winnicott (1993) cites idealization and devaluation, projection, cancellation, turn toward self, and compartementalization as examples of such mental surgeries, and writes:
It is precisely when we use the manic defense that we are least likely to feel that we are defending ourselves against depression. At such times, we are more likely to feel elated, happy, active, eager, joking, omniscient, "full of life." At the same time, we are less interested than usual in serious things and in the horror of hatred, destruction and killing (Winnicott, 1993, p.197).
Psychoanalysis speaks of "regression" in several respects. What is common is that the individual then falls back on a type of experience or a way of relating to the environment and the duties or conditions of life that, with respect to the individual's chronological age, actually belong to a passed stage of development. Often the word has a negative connotation, but regression also has an entirely natural place in our lives, for example in love, play and creation, for example. It is also normal to regress in very stressful situations, face stresses that the individual does not know how to handle or that also exceeds what most people can cope with, such as natural disasters, severe accidents, captivity, threats to one's survival, etc. The resilience of the individual is individual. Everyone has a breaking point, but it can differ where and perhaps even in what areas this point is located. Just as most people tend to function worse under great pressure, so it is equally true to say that even those with permanently impaired mental health can function much better in a protective and supportive environment. Our normal state can be said to be how we manage to function under the pressures of an average environment: work, love, dealing with conflicts with neighbors, etc. The PDM Task Force (2006) describes this as "a person's center of psychological gravity" (p. 23). But there is also the more or less pathological trace in this process. Balint (1968, referenced in Winnicott, 1971, p. 94) has coined the terms "benign" and "malignant regression" respectively.
Psychoanalysis is a conflict theory. This has implications for how to understand, for example, this phenomenon. Faced with situations that we cannot handle, we tend to regress into simpler, more familiar (perhaps even energy-saving) strategies. Normally, we eventually return to our normal level of function, our personal "center of psychological gravity". This is the "pressing" aspect of regression. But there is also an "alluring" aspect of regression. Both varieties are found in a benign and a malignant variant.
The path to the individual acquiring "an inner world" of the kind that is also accompanied by a reasonably realistic perception of and participation in the outside world goes through many steps. The inner world, and abilities conquered in the past, will remain as sources of power and possible places for "regression" . Adulthood would be a poorer place – and the term "adult" might not even be adequate – unless the individual also had access to the other sides of himself.
Are people religious in different ways?
James W. Fowler (Bergstrand, 1990) has, based on interviews with mainly Christian believers, developed the Faith Development Theory, which describes 7 different types of religiosity or spirituality. These types follow each other in a kind of maturation process, which has some connection to the age of the individual, although Fowler himself does not want to call them levels.
To find authors who, from some kind of psychoanalytic frame of reference, have thought about individual differences within the newer spirituality, one probably needs to go to the Jungian or humanistic psychology, or perhaps even to transpersonal psychology or psychosynthesis. However, this would fall outside the scope of this study to investigate and try to account for more closely.
The study is partly inspired by the findings made in, for example, cognitive psychology and attachment theoretic research, which has shown that followers of the new spirituality at the group level not only share imagination but also certain personality traits that may be associated with an elevated and possibly even an underdiagnosed suffering (Granqvist, 2004). This study will examine the new spirituality from a psychoanalytic perspective. It could be close at hand to then try to find possible connections between, for example, childhood and upbringing experiences and the new interest. However, the focus of this study will be on the "here and now".
Researching the new age and the like is difficult. Where and with what criteria should respondents be recruited, if it is the thought system that should be in focus. On the one hand, it is possible to choose a functional perspective, that is, to seek people who practice what are perceived as "new-age" activities, such as meditation, yoga or healing, and hope that these then also include the special worldview that the researcher associates with such activities. However, this is far from always the case. Frisk och Åkerbäck (2013) has made a division into consumers and producers and stressed that the former do not always share the latter's worldview. I'm not sure they have one either, of course. Granqvist and Hagekull (2001) recruited people from typical New Age businesses and then tested them with their NAOS scale and were thus able to thin them out with a certain worldview.
There may also be a difference in conviction. Geels and Wikström (2006) propose a division into customers, searchers and core troops (p. 390f), the latter of which more closely embrace certain notions such as a well-thought-out worldview. Perhaps it can be likened to these individuals having a high degree of "staining" of the special system of thought? Månsus (1997) describes it in a similar way, but as a pyramid in three levels.
Another approach could be to select certain beliefs that are assumed to be central to the kind of world of thought that is of interest. In this study, the survey participants were recruited on the basis of the criterion that they would include the basic ideas of reincarnation, karma and the idea of the individual's gradual progression towards perfection. Persons who agree to this description are assumed to belong to both the "new age" and certain parts of the "new age".
What's it going to be called?
A variety of names are used to designate or differentiate between interested parties in this area. Wikström (1998) writes that the term "new age" is often perceived as burdensome by those who are labeled so. Sutcliffe (referenced in Chryssides, 2007) has expressed: "'New Age' is a construct – that is to say, a term created by outsiders to bring together artificially a number of disparate ideas that may not be linked by their exponents". Chryssides (2007, p. 13) makes a parallel to "Hinduism" which was a 19th-century Western concept for bringing together a variety of very different spiritual phenomena that focused on different deities, etc. The author also takes "feminism" as an example, which underneath sorts many different views and perceptions. She writes that such designations can be useful after all. Healthy (2007b, p. 119) proposes to start from scratch and, with statistical means, research the appropriate divisions of what today fit under the New Age and the like.
Originally, it was thought that the kind of spirituality that the study focuses on in the text would be called "new age/newness". By including the "new age", parts of "new age" could be excluded that may not include the basic ideas above (reincarnation, karma and the gradual perfection of the individual) and by including "newness", hopefully the experience-focused or atheoretic expressions of the "new age" could hopefully be removed. In this way, the two concepts were supposed to work mutually exclusively. (This design is included in the title of the thesis and was also used in the call to try to attract suitable respondents to the study. See Appendix 1.) During the writing work, however, it became apparent that this designation would affect readability too much. Henceforth, therefore, "newness", "new spirituality", etc., will be used and the reader will be encouraged to translate this for his inner self to "new age/newness" (or more specifically "new age∩newness", with the mathematical symbol of "intersection" between the words, that is, what is meant is the area where the two types of spirituality overlap).
Perhaps it is possible to argue that the two words are still losing a great deal of usefulness or precision. Supporters themselves do not want to be associated with the "new age" and the term is now mostly used by researchers or in daily speech and then with a derogatory meaning, society itself also seems to be becoming increasingly "new age-igt" and "the new-age movements" are about to die out (Frisk, 2007a). However, the concept of "neo-religion" (Frisk, 1998) as an umbrella term for many of the things that fall outside the established forms of religion feels well-found.
Purpose and hypothesis.
The purpose of this study is to understand how the interviewees reason about life based on their particular worldview, in order to obtain a clearer picture of the world of thought itself and how this may affect the individual's well-being and functional capacity.
The hypothesis has two parts. Firstly, that the new world of thought constitutes a "psychological tension field" which pressures/entices the individual to function at a developmentally lower level than would otherwise be normal for him, which may account for some of the results that previous research has come up with. Firstly, that different individuals will be able to fend off this "tension field" in different ways and to varying degrees.
What do respondents express that can help understand how the world of thought, and engagement with it, affect his or her well-being?
What do respondents express that can help to understand if and if so how it is possible to relate in different ways to this world of thought in terms of how this contributes to his or her well-being?
What motivates this study.
The disorganized newness is relatively little researched from a psychoanalytic perspective. On destructive sects, charismatic leadership, mind control, peer pressure, etc. probably more has been done. Those who have written about the subject of newness from a psychoanalytic understanding framework are preferably people with a Christian outlook on life. Perhaps because of the authors' own religious preferences, however, petitions may lack any of the "dynamics" in relation to their subject. Newness tends to be regarded as harmful, inferior, or at least deplorable, in comparison to traditional religion.
Previous research (Granqvist, 2004) indicates that within this group there is an increased and/or undiagnosed suffering, as well as a reluctance to seek help, which is why a greater understanding of the area may have value from a public health perspective. "Knowledge in healthcare and social services about sect problems is generally quite poor and there are still many prejudices circulating," Järvå writes (2014, April 12) in an opinion piece. Although this study, as I said, does not focus on destructive sects, or sects at all, there may be touchpoints.
Some of the ideas have received great public acceptance, which makes it important to acquire knowledge of this worldview (Farias et al., 2013). Wikström (1998), with reference to Olav Hammer, writes that this is a kind of popular spirituality that is currently in a no man's land. How, for example, should the difference between being a little generally curious about such thoughts and phenomena, and having these as an integral part of one's worldview, of course?
Not much of the teaching on the psychology program has concerned the subject of religion and spirituality.
It feels justified that I say something about my background, so that the reader can keep this in mind especially when reading the discussion part, but also to understand something about the motive behind wanting to do this study. I myself have a spiritual interest that is not so far from what the essay is about. I'm not a Christian. Apart from the fact that I am confirmed and that my grandmother was free church, I have no special ties to Christianity. When I include Christian reasoning or quotations by Christian writers, who may seem apart in an academic essay on the subject of psychology, it is only because I think this adds something essential as reference material, alongside what psychology, religious studies and my informants have to say.
By telling you about my personal interest, I also want anyone with such sympathies, who will read the essay, to understand that this study has been done with some heart as well, although it can probably be perceived as excessively problematizing. It is an academic product, but not exclusively this. My need to understand goes deeper than that.
The informants were recruited in late autumn 2009. It's a comfort choice. On the one hand, this is done via a grant at Vattumannen's bookstore in Stockholm, which sells literature with such idea content that the study focuses on, and partly through calls for new-age discussion forums on the internet. The choice of the latter places is based on the author's prior knowledge, reading of literature (Arlebrand, 1992; Hammer, 2004) and internet searches.
Inclusion criteria are that the informants should be in adulthood, have a view of life that includes reincarnation and karma, and a conviction that the individual is gradually evolving towards perfection. Furthermore, it is desirable to have informants with slightly different worldviews. The informants will also have the opportunity to meet in the Stockholm area for a personal interview.
A short reconciliation is held by phone and in some cases by email with those who register an interest to see if these meet the inclusion criteria. For example, it is perceived as urgent to weed out people who may have a spiritual interest who lean more towards Satanism, wicca, paganism, etc., who may also have seen, for example, the call for Aquarius, but for whom the basic beliefs above are not normally central or even covered.
One person is excluded because he is too young and is perceived as too "seeking", another is excluded because he has a kind of Buddhist view of reincarnation, which does not involve individual rebirth. A couple of people get no as these are personally familiar to the essay author. A person is excluded when they live in another part of the country and it is deemed too difficult to get a personal meeting during the time when the interviews are to be conducted. A couple of requests towards the end of the recruitment phase are declined as it is assessed that these variants of newness are already sufficiently represented.
Eleven people are recruited, 7 women and 4 men. The youngest are in their thirties, while the oldest are a little over sixty. Two are retired, three are students at college, three work with alternative treatments and the like, one person works in the private sector, one works in public administration. An unorthodox way of presenting the age of the participants has to do with the fact that these sometimes represent small subgroups. The choice has been between presenting demographic data as age, or feeling relatively free to cite what was said in the interviews. The latter was later seen as weighing more heavily.
Seven of the interviews are conducted at the essay author's reception, two in the informants' home, one at the informant's workplace after the end of the working day, and one in a booked group room at a library. In all cases, the interviews can be conducted in calm conditions, without any other person present. Each interview takes about 90 minutes. There is no compensation. If the interview takes place at the author's reception, I offer coffee.
At the beginning of each interview, a brief presentation of the purpose and background of the interview is given. The informant learns that the study takes place within the framework of a psychology degree work at Stockholm University, under supervision and that the interviewer has a duty of confidentiality. Furthermore, an assurance is given that all material will be covered by confidentiality, that participation is voluntary, and that the informant may decline to answer questions and at any time have the right to cancel. The interviews are semi-structured, based on a template with certain areas to be included and proposals for in-depth themes. The conversations are recorded on a good quality dictaphone, which stores the interviews as digital files.
Due to the nature of the interview subject, that the interviewees are asked to open up about something both personal and potentially sensitive, in addition to a researcher in the subject of psychology who can be suspected of being skeptical of things like religiosity, extra emphasis is placed on creating a good atmosphere. If the respondent wonders about the interviewer's own entrance to the subject, I offer to say something small about this after the interview if the respondent would so wish. Overall, I endeavour to have a problematizing and non-knowing attitude in relation to the topics under consideration.
The audio files play in the Audacity 1.2.6 program. (freeware) and is literally transcribed in Word. The conversations are transcribed in their entirety with the informant's answers and my questions as a running text. Each interview results in a text document of about thirty A4 pages. The interviews are analyzed with thematic qualitative analysis (Hayes, Kvale). The transcribed interviews are coded in the ATLAS.ti programme, which is specially developed for qualitative research. An initial review of the interview material results in about 110 codes and 8 themes. At a later stage, three of these themes will be brought together into two new ones. The study was conducted with a mixture of inductive and deductive approach.
The quotes are reproduced verbatim, with small words and expressions. The spoken language character has been retained. Strongly emphasized words are written in capital letters. Longer pauses are marked with three dots. In some cases, for the sake of readability, things like punctuation have changed compared to the original transcription. Retakes, drawings, etc., which are included in the transcriptions have in some cases been changed in the essay. In the quotes, three dots mark either a pause or text omitted. Text within brackets are my lines, and have in rare cases been included to make the context understandable. Some characteristic expressions have sometimes been lent to the current text, as these have been perceived to be able to give color to and contribute to the presentation. These words or expressions are then placed in quotation marks. In these cases, the source has normally been omitted, for reasons of readability. In most cases, the expression precedes a quote where the source is specified.
In a few cases, it is obvious that the person used an incorrect, e.g. similar, word and for the sake of readability, the incorrect word has then been replaced in the quote without the change being marked. The same has rarely been done when a word, usually a binder word, has apparently been omitted by the respondent and it has been perceived that this too much affects readability. In most cases, however, this has been left without action. In some places when the respondent, for example, laughs or sighs loudly, this has been indicated. In the quotations and sometimes in the running text, sometimes some characteristic data has sometimes been changed or anonymized for the informant. Names of people and locations have been neutralized or replaced. Personal information, such as the relationship in which the informant is with the person mentioned, has in some cases been changed without this being marked in the text.
Due to the nature of the subject and the pregnant descriptions, it has been perceived that the representation benefits from having more quotations than is customary in such a text. It has simply felt difficult to summarize the sayings without too much being lost.
In some cases, the informants come from relatively small subgroups in Stockholm. Certain concepts and reasoning can be assumed to be easily recognizable to those who have the same frame of reference as the informant. Therefore, it has been particularly important to protect the identity of informants both in how the quotes are presented, as well as in the essay text.
The subject can be sensitive, as it is a view of life that is often ridiculed. The fact that I, as an interviewer, represent academic psychology can be assumed to be another inhibitory factor. It has therefore felt extra necessary to try to create a trusting relationship.
Showing respect for the individual's religious beliefs must also apply in such a study. To some extent, this is a balancing act because the ambition is to make assessments partly based on respondents' perceptions of religious or spiritual questions, to pit them against each other and to have normative perceptions of the answers given afterwards.
"I had thought at some point, what is the meaning of life, I know, but I gave it up, because I kind of found nothing."
What the interviewees tell us about their background and upbringing. What the interviewees tell us about the path to the spiritual commitment they have today. What interviewees tell us about their relationships then and now.
Two people grew up in Christian homes. One of the respondents participated in church activities, it was natural when she was a child and teenager. Eventually, she moved on. The other respondent grew up in a family where one parent was strictly religious:
I wasn't allowed to take books home from school that were loan books. It was simply the Bible. And to read… When you got to the age of 10 or 12… It was the photo journal that was interesting, and I was not allowed to read it. My dad was totally torn apart, so I couldn't read it. So that when I was fourteen at the time I decided to change the whole thing, because I felt like I was crowded, my views were completely different (p7).
For others, the spiritual perspective has been completely absent growing up: "I didn't grow up in a home that has anything to do with anything to do… God or Buddha or anything, there has been no spirituality whatsoever" (p9). Someone describes their parents as very open, also to supernatural phenomena and odd mindsets:
So it was very easy for me, huh. They never forced anything on me. I remember them asking me when I was 12, or 11 or something, well, what do you think happens after death? No, nothing, I said. Black. Well, they just said. And then I heard them sitting in there talking about their stuff… My mom had a UFO friend where she worked. And there was a whole bunch of people who actually saw a mothership then over city hall, and that I heard about then when she came home and like this… Nothing more about it (p10).
Several of the informants tell of difficult growing up experiences: "There is no escaping childhood, and my childhood was very unhappy. For some kind of banal reason. My parents were very immature, unhappy people" (p1). For one respondent, growing up was characterized by one parent's addiction
Time of searching.
One of the respondents started to ponder early. He believes that this was influenced by the turmoil in the world, the Cold War with atomic bomb threats and the like:
So I started to ponder a lot, in such a very inarticulate way when I was in my teens, I just started to wonder above all about the big life issues like death and yes what really happens to man… Death above all else. At the time, I didn't think at all in spiritual or religious terms or anything like that, at the time, I didn't have those frame of reference at all. But you still want some kind of answer to what it's all about, is there any point, you know. We also had quite… This was in the early eighties when, or in the mid-eighties, then it was pretty much this cold war scenario, with atomic bombs and stuff like that. This affected me a lot. It is a very horrible discovery when you are so young to discover, partly that humanity is not really healthy, and partly that life is actually finite (p2).
Several describe feeling lost and frustrated in life and feeling bad: "I think I was heavenly… Confused in this life, at first. At the beginning of this life… It was so full of other shit. I was so excited about everything all the time" (p8).
For me, it's always been this… The earth, so,, I'm frustrated, I'm depressed… Shit life" (p9). "Yes, in the past my outlook on life was very black, simply. I was chronically depressed, I think, all these years, and very, well… Concerned and worried and so on" (p1). One respondent tells me that she thought about the question of the meaning of life earlier in life but then gave up: "I had probably thought at some point, what is the meaning of life, I know, but I gave it up, because I kind of found nothing (p3).
Several interviewees have taken an interest in other types of spirituality or religions before they got the interest they have today. One of the respondents was interested in Buddhism for a period of time. When a Buddhist lama visited Sweden, she allowed herself to be initiated by him. This llama was quite angry and complained a lot about his co-workers, which the respondent thought was strange. However, the initiation itself made a profound impression on her. She really felt seen by this llama and was also given a new name that felt well-found and suited her well. She is not involved in Buddhism. One of the respondents tells about a time in life that he describes as an intensive crisis search phase:
The materialistic life had entered the end of the world. The materialistic worldview… He had gone into a dead end. I had to reconsider and get in touch with something deeper in life. I think I was pretty bad out there (p6).
Eventually it became easier and everyday life returned, for better or for worse. Everyday life can be described as a "fog":
Unfortunately, this intensity subsides, I was in a life crisis there, and then… Of course, you may get a slightly distorted worldview, but you see other crystal clear things, when the fog eases for a while. Then when you go into the everyday grind, the fog falls into place again, and you fall asleep in front of the TV… And so on. The daily grind goes on again, and then it fogs again, the intensity decreases (p6).
Crises and turning points.
One respondent who had been educated and had worked in healthcare for a long time got tired at one point and retrained to something completely different: "I got tired of it. I got tired of taking care of others. So, yes, I wanted to do something else" (p1). One interviewee got to a point during his studies when he needed to make a choice: "I felt like I had come to a limit… I felt like I had to make a choice between these two sides that I had in myself… partly the social, rather superficial person, and a profound figure who did not quite come into his own in any way" (p2). One of the respondents tells how she struggled with her "demons" when she was in her twenties. She also began to think about how she could take her own life. Finally, there was a turning point:
And when you start having thoughts like that, you don't want to live anymore, because you feel so bad about yourself… And I understood that it was serious, because I got more and more thoughts like this… I wonder how you could find ways to get rid of yourself, you know. And that's not good. And I understood so much. This isn't good. So I… I know it was a night I… I couldn't sleep all night, because I got like that, you know… You know as you are, when your mind just buzzes. I think that was the crisis. And then I got a vision in the morning there, which was very beautiful, and I wrote a poem. And then it just turned around. Not so bad, but that it turned around so that it went about… so it kind of starts to go slowly downhill again, instead of it just being uphill, uphill, uphill. Then came the turning point (p10).
This was a significant turning point in the respondent's life. Shortly thereafter, her spiritual interest began. She says that Christian had opened up to this: "And then when I… That's after that I found set. And then it was just like then I was kind of open to it" (p10).
For some, interest in the new spirituality has awakened at a ripe old age, when they have been between thirty and forty, while others have had interest with them since early in life. Several of the respondents have difficulty specifying a specific starting point for their engagement. Some believe that this interest, in one form or another, has been present already in childhood. A creative teacher in middle school, with his philosophical riddles, sowed a seed in one of the interviewees. For one of the respondents, the interest came through an older relative who shared their new-age thoughts when the respondent was in their late teens, which took on a crucial importance. A respondent tells about how in his teens he made in-depth contact with his brother and that they then began to explore the spiritual field together.
A priest had opened the church premises for things like "liberating breathing", which was of great importance to one of the interviewees during a difficult period. This priest was perceived as "fuzzy" by the interviewee, but he instilled confidence. The interviewee found it exciting and because of this meeting she considered a time to train as a priest herself. A newspaper interview with the artist Tomas DiLeva made a strong impression on one of the interviewees and became the starting point for her new applicants. One of the respondents, who grew up in a Christian family, points out that the interest started with an affecting insight, rather than with a senseful conviction:
What has led me forward is not just understanding, it's like… It was like an impactful insight, you might say. Yes, really, it was a money that fell down and suddenly, so… Or it's not as dramatic at all as it sounds now when I tell you, but suddenly you know one thing that you haven't known before, and I don't know how I know it, but I KNOW it. And it's like an insight that comes, and I've had that many times, but never in the Church (p1).
One of the respondents had experienced the language of a writer he encountered by an event that was so compelling:
There was something in the language. That's how inscruable… It wasn't self-assertive, it was just like it was a mathematical equation in some way. It was up and down, but it was still pretty hot and so on. It was like opening the door. Finding the key… Come in here va (p5).
A séance with a spiritual medium indicates one of the interviewees as his starting point. She had previously been in contact with such performances through a close relative, but then mostly thought it seemed strange. During this séance, however, the information given became so convincing that it could no longer be argued against. She describes it as having a radically different view of life from that moment on:
It started with a séance. I'd been to a séance before, and there was no… They hadn't spoken to me, and it wasn't that I felt it was true or anything. I have an aunt who is super-media. She talks about talking to the dead, and there's a dead thing going around in the house, banging on doors, and I've thought she's been completely coco… I sat down and said to myself, but I hear, it's all right. So that's where it started. And when I left… Then it was like… Yes, but it was… So it was like… It was a whole new life. A whole new life (p9).
However, she suspects that this must have been on standby since childhood, in one way or another, just that she can't remember it. An interviewee had long practiced meditation, but was not particularly interested in reincarnation and the like. However, what she perceived as sudden memories of her past lives caught her by surprise one day and made her start to think in new ways:
I'm a pretty good one, what can I say… Doubting person, or. I meditated and was very much for emptiness and stuff like that, but reincarnation and stuff like that, I was so passively positive about that. I thought, well, there is, but whatever. But then things started to happen… And it's pretty new to me, maybe it will be, but it's more of a personal journey right now (p8).
One of the respondents went for a period to an alternative therapist for help with their physical health. The therapist had indicated that he also had psychic abilities and on the last visit the interviewee took courage and asked if she could say anything about the respondent's previous life. This opened up new perspectives and was of great importance to the respondent. A deep depression as a young adult turned with a vision, which became the beginning of a new search for one of the respondents. For one of the interviewees, the interest developed more gradually, through the fact that he joined a Christian congregation during a life crisis. He describes it as not having any spiritual ambitions that were behind him joining that congregation. Eventually, however, this world felt too crowded. The answers that were given satisfactorily no longer. He then tried to move on to new age/newness:
Christianity I knew what it was, they took care of me, I felt safe there. Then it was… I can't fit in there, that's where it led. That I have to have a broader frame of thought, but I was still very afraid to kind of venture out into this new-age swamp (p6).
Solitude and community.
Although several express that they feel odd and are afraid of being regarded as "kufar" if the surroundings learned how they view life, many also seem satisfied with this relative seclusion:
Yes, I am very, like today, I am very dependent on my loneliness. To build up. But then I'm a social person anyway. So that I choose to be alone, and I choose to be with people then. But my need to be alone is great, so I don't live with anyone. Because I'm aware that that relationship would never work… I have such a different view of things, which are very… And I'm aware of that… is odd. And those people are not next door, but you have to look for them somewhere else. So that I have chosen this to be alone, but then choose friends and acquaintances (p7).
The desire to engage with a typical group, congregation or sect, seems to be generally weak. It is possible to experience community by visiting, for example, a church from time to time. Some people say she is dependent on her loneliness. Belonging to a group, or "worship" a particular leader, is not necessary for her. Like-minded people can be met at lectures and courses, for example. It is weak individuals who are attracted by being part of a group. If the individual does not have this need, the community in a spiritual group can rather be perceived as an isolation. Being able to visit different groups gives a different kind of freedom: "But at the same time I say this, it's good to get insight into different because then you become a little freer anyway as well. You don't want to be a member or worship someone. No, it doesn't suit me, no" (p7).
Several interviewees express that they can feel alone with their new interest, for example at their work: "They only work with computers, and they are very data-fixated. But there may be people who are a little deep there as well, but you have to kind of give it a little bit… I don't know what it's going to be like, but…" (p3). There may be a few people that respondents feel on wavelength with: "There are not so many people you can talk about this kind of thing with. I have a sister who is on the same track, so we can share this, and then I have a couple of friends, but a lot of people can't talk to about this kind of thing."
Many people feel empty today for lack of such a larger context as, for example, the new spirituality offers, according to an interviewee. Speaking of something that has recently been read about in the newspaper, that many with roots in other countries want to be grounded in their home country when they die, one of the interviewees says: "Yes they want to belong to something, because they yes feel empty within themselves" (p7). New perspectives can also change the individual's old circle of acquaintances. It's sometimes hard to share the new interests and insights you've gained:
My friends have been replaced a lot. I don't have much contact with… I have virtually no contact with them who don't… It will be impossible for me to sit and be questioned. It doesn't work for me, I feel very limited. I'd rather be with friends who have an understanding, and also have that interest. Because that's where I develop in those relationships, I don't do that in the other relationships anymore, then it's finished (p9).
These are thoughts that other people may even find unpleasant:
But other people think it's really silly and horrible, kind of like they don't like to go roller coaster. But I don't know… No, but I… I've probably been doing it a lot of life, I don't know (p10).
Several of the respondents also talk about a fear of being considered strange:
I think almost all the people you talk about… You don't say that, but everyone I've known almost, as I've come close to life, has had a lot of experiences like this that you call occult… Everything from true dreams to telepathy, or unexplained things just happening… A lot of things when someone dies and… I've been through a lot, but also others, I know a lot of people, even though you kind of don't talk about it… I don't do that either when I meet someone, because you're afraid you'll be seen as this flumpelle (p4).
The fact that the participants were promised anonymity has sometimes been crucial to wanting to participate in an interview:
And it's also part of the fact that you promise anonymity. It may also be of importance, because this may not be something I want to go public with. Maybe I don't want to come to a workplace and look for a job in my professional category… And be recognized as that person who has those weird perceptions. Because I know these are strange perceptions. And I don't want to… I know there are a lot of prejudices and… Because of ignorance… Because you're not familiar with this… Because there is very little information about this, it is something very strange (p11).
One respondent says that her family and relatives think she's "crazy," but that they mean it in an appreciative way:
Yes, but they think I'm… They say, you're a little crazy [Who says it] My siblings say, and my children and… No, but F, my daughter, she told me… You're a little crazy. But you're not going to say that. Yes, but I think it's good. But folks, I shake them up a little bit, too, when I talk like this. But you can't talk anyway, but you have to weigh the words a little who you're talking to (p3).
One respondent said that many people have experiences of the occult, telepathy, UFOs and the like, but that they are not happy to talk about this for fear of being seen as strange:
There's a lot of interest, but it's not something people sign up with. When they come to work, they don't talk about it. Rarely, for others. Because UFO is great. It's like this, you know there's this… Are you a fucking UFO or… It has become a word (p10).
One of the respondents tells me that her adult son usually says that he does not want to hear about the respondent's interest: "My youngest son always says this, yes I don't have time to be in your world, I get to take it some other time in life /laugh/" (p7)
Love relationships and separations.
One of the respondents lives with a partner who shares his outlook on life, which he values. He says it would have been difficult to have a relationship with someone with whom he could not share this interest:
I'm lucky enough to live together. Lucky, I've chosen… or… I live with a woman who shares my interests. Yes, and I find it very hard to imagine what it would be like otherwise, if we didn't share it. I don't think it would have… not gone (p11).
Another of the interviewees is separating from his wife and is doubtful whether he will enter into a new relationship. He says that each individual has both male and female within him and that there are certain opportunities to "polarize with their inner being" although this cannot yet satisfy all needs:
Considering what I'm talking about too… that the ultimate would be if you were safe in yourself and satisfied with yourself, and could polarize with your inner self, so that you were also a whole that perhaps did not have such a great need to find… Someone outside, or what to say… Maybe that would be an ideal, in its own way. But I find it hard to see that I could fulfill it. You also want to share things with someone else, you want to do things together (p2).
Another man said he had been married several times.
We live in the zone of unhappy marriages. I'm trying to live up to that /laughs.' As the human horizon is widening now, there are more things today that are able to interest us than just that concern for the offspring and yes the bread for the day and so on, which was the glue of previous generations, so to speak (p5).
Several of the respondents talk about how, when they got to a point when they felt that they needed to be free to realize themselves or have room for their interests for spirituality and/or personal development, they took the initiative to break up from their marriages or love relationships. For one respondent, this happened shortly after she started meditating:
Yes, then I divorced my husband, because he… It wasn't such a happy relationship, was it? After that, I have the freedom to develop. [Me: How long ago have you been?] Yes, it's been 12 years, something like that. [Me: It was almost the same as you…?] Yes, well somehow it's connected, because when I started meditating in one, what am I going to say, regularly, it was… A few months later, I realized I had to get divorced. So it had a very strong connection in some way. To see the truth in life somehow. [Me: Was it like it helped you… To see more clearly, right?] Yes, exactly. It helped me look clearer, and it helped me to get courage somehow and take the plunge. So, yes… I have continued to meditate all these years. It meant a lot (p1).
Another respondent describes several separations in which her spiritual commitment played a role:
Because I felt I had to move on to this, because this is still my passion. And my then husband wasn't on that wavelength like, so I felt… We're still friends, we never became enemies, it was more of one of those… You slide away from each other… I felt I had to evolve. And if you're in a relationship where there's always compromise and stuff like that… And he was kind of disturbed by my interests more and more, and it wasn't good and so was (p10).
Becoming a parent is described as a big challenge. The personal difficulties the individual may have then come in a different light. One respondent describes that it was only when she became a parent that she realized how difficult she herself had had it when she was a child:
Then I had my first child. I was 27 at the time. And it caused me a great feeling that I would expose her to the same thing that I was subjected to. It was only then that I realized how hard it was when I was a child. I became a pretty anxious mother to her. Then I had two more children and then it went better for some reason, I don't know why (p1).
Another woman had her first child in her forties and tells me that she then "called" on her child: "Well, yes, but if you want to come, you are welcome now, I can do this now" (p8). A man describes the creation of his children as "a miracle" (p5). One man says he's not interested in becoming a parent. One woman tells us that she has an intuitive feeling of having lived many times before and that she has experienced being a parent:
Unfortunately, I don't remember… Maybe it's good that you don't remember your past lives. But I have an intuitive feeling that I've lived many times, and things like that, and I don't worry about things like not having children, and things like that a lot of women think are a disaster. Because I feel… I've probably been through that a lot of times, I might as well avoid this time, and do other things instead. I see it bigger (p10).
One woman says she has received a lot of support and a lot of wise advice from her children over the years:
As far as I know, young people today… They've been through more than I did then. And there I have felt the support of my children, if I have had maybe problems with some relationship, or colleague, or something like that, I don't really know how to deal with it, then I can ask them, and then they have such very simple answers. I've been able to do that since they were pretty small.'
Reunions from past lives
People with whom we have close relationships are often ones we have known in one or more past lives. This can be described as the individual being part of a kind of "extended family" whose members are followed for life after life. In fact, it is relatively rare that we meet a person for the first time. A love relationship can thus be continued, just as conflicts can be sorted out in the long run. Over time, the individual gains a considerable experientienty material:
Since the law of sowing and harvesting means that what I do to a person, I need to harvest it again, so to speak. So it's necessarily the case that you… that it fulfils a function to incarnates simultaneously and together again, to acknowledge these harvest balances when that occurs (p11).
"But I think you travel, or you live, different lives… I'm pretty sure… and that you are with the same people, but in different constellations" (p9). Seeing each other works much like a radio transmitter and a receiver. In this way, we are drawn back to special places, groups and specific individuals with whom we have a connection. In a previous life, we may have agreed to be re-entered in the next life to, for example, start a family: "But my husband was also… We also had several previous existences together. So we had decided then that we would live together and have these four children then" (p1). The fact that individuals are returned to a new life may thus be due to unresolved conflicts or that they have something to repay to the other person. Although there are difficult relationship problems that will be resolved in this way, the deepest part of it has to do with love that people meet again:
So you let yourself be born, it's an act of love, and you do it because, in this case, because I had something to atone for my father in another life… And that's how it's been. It was my father who was important. My mom and I didn't have much together before (p1).
Role changes between lives.
What relationship people have with each other can vary between lives. The interviewees talk about many different experiences of this. (The interviewee's current position to the person mentioned is set in brackets.)
My father was a little boy at the time (daughter):
It's a little drastic story, or incredible history, but we lived like some kind of nomads in some desert landscape, and there you depended on being able to navigate for the stars to find watering holes and oases and stuff like that, and I was then, then, a MAN, one of those who could navigate, so to speak, so I was pretty high up in the range there, and yes led this nomadic tribe between the watering holes. Then my father was a little boy, and at some point when you broke up from some campground and moved on, this boy disappeared, or somehow got behind. And then it was me who would kind of try to find him then and take him with him, he would die of course, because he would not be able to fend for himself in the desert. And so, I went out, on my way back to see if I could find him, and yes I found him, but he was very taken, and he had drunk his own urine, and he was, well, in very bad condition simply, so I mercy-murdered him, killed him, so that he wouldn't make it then. And yes, and then I went back to the tribe and told them this, and then I was expelled from the tribe, and always had to go last. And so to atone for this, I let myself be born to my father then (p1).
Daughter has been the interviewee's sister (Mother):
Little is it enough that you are born as if in a group, and you follow each other and support each other as well as, as this Indian said, among other things, that I had been a sister with my daughter at the time. Maybe that's the case (p3).
Dad was a son and partner (Daughter): "I never had anything as incestuous with him, you could think that then. We've been like this partner and so on. Or that he was my son and so on" (p8). One woman tells me that she had a lot of anxiety before and after giving birth to her first child, if she would be able to take care of the child. However, after realizing that this daughter had actually been her own mother in a previous life, a capable woman with special gifts, the interviewee felt more secure in her mother's role:
Maybe I see her as a little more strong now. She's a little kid. Small children are fragile, like. But I think this intuition that I had, that, oh, she's a strong soul, it's okay, it's probably true. I have a little more meat on my legs. She's learning like… everything. She's interested in stuff. The material world. [Me: But it doesn't come between you, in any way, that you're thinking… That's my mom, no, that' s it. do it. Let's see. No, the only time I felt this way, wow, it's when she does this little massage on my back like this. God, what a healer she is. I know this (p8).
It's a life where I have a mother who is very… I don't know if she's enlightened, but she's very free or positive. It's so strong and I think everything is fine and so on. She's been my mom twice, this person. And both of these lives, this phenomenon recurs. So is my daughter. So what happened to me during pregnancy, that I thought it was going to be okay, I don't need to read any books, of course I can give birth, huh? That's what comes back from when she was my mom (p8).
My daughter was a little sister (Mother):
And I've lived with N in some fancy neighborhood in Paris, and she's been my little sister. And she liked being in my care, so she chose to come here as my daughter /laugh/ (p9).
A "twin soul" or "best friend" is a person that the individual meets time and time again over long periods of time, perhaps forever. These relationships are distinguished by strong intensity and a sense of togetherness, although it is not always frictionless. When it is pleasant, it can be described as a "come-home love" (p9). So-called co-dependency can be explained in this way, namely that it is an individual to whom the person is particularly closely linked. John Lennon and Yoko Ono are an example of this type of relationship. "But then it's hard with such a twin soul relationship, so you say, it's hard. So you are… If it's hard enough with a normal relationship. But what if you have patterns from thirty lives together, how much pattern… The dark side becomes so dark with the twin soul, and the light side becomes so bright" (p8). A platonic, never-realized love relationship remotely with anyone can also have this basis. The people know each other, but the circumstances mean that they cannot be together in this life. However, there is a strong sense of belonging. The times you are not incarnated at the same time as this person you are particularly close to, the other may act as a guardian angel or otherwise be in telepathic contact. "I have a best friend here, and he or she, is here in mortality and so I'm not there all the time, but every other time it's usually the case that you're there at the same time…" (p7).
This kind of relationship affects everyday life, but can be difficult to communicate about or gain understanding of. One respondent had greeted another parent at kindergarten, who asked, "How are you?" and replied: "Yes, it's a bit hard this telepathic contact with my twin soul. He's not feeling well" (p8). The other had replied, "Yes, I know what it's like", and they could have laughed at this together.
One of the respondents met a person who gave her significant advice: "Then it was like this relationship just… So. That's why I met him, I understood that. Because when he said these words, something happened. So that I met him just for him to say it, I realized that" (p3). Another respondent had recently met a stranger who had made a strong impression. The meeting felt decisive and fateful. Perhaps this person was not a real person either, but a message that took the form of a human being:
And it's a bit like this thing with that, yes, but there may be metaphors as well. Maybe things come to you because you need to wake things up, to work with. So maybe he doesn't really… Maybe he doesn't exist… Maybe he just came there for me, so that I could bring something to my consciousness (p9).
"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. And there are very few such people in history" (p11). 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" (p4). 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 (p4).
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 be" (p10). 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 (p7).
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 '95. 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 (p10).
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 (p10).
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 (p6).
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, having studied it for twenty years (p11).
The new worldview is demanding, as it requires that the individual himself actively takes responsibility for his development: "You don't just get it for free when you die as well" (p6). 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 it's that you're scared (p6).
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" (p9). 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 bit at loggerheads, it's going to be a bit of a difficult situation (p3).
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 (p4).
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 (p1).
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 (p7).
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 (p3).
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 (p1).
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 (p2).
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. I think it was terrible (p4).
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? Yes, then there was this light-body course then (p1).
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" (p1). 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 (p1).
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, somehow" (p1).
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" (p4). 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" (p4).
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 (p4).
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 (p4).
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 will be once, in the morning then" (p3). 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 (p3).
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 later (p3).
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. The greatness of man is not so great (p1).
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 get a very nice person really" (p5).
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 (p11).
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. (p2).
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 standing 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 (p6).
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. That's what I thought (p9).
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 (p11).
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. There is a lot going on (p10).
What it should becalled.
None of the respondents like the term "new age". It's a name associated with a lot of bad things. Nowadays, the new age has "become a label on EVERYTHING" (p10). One respondent believes that the concept of new age has been damaged and that she, for her part, would rather talk about "spiritual development" (p1). 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" (p3). The new age is "pretty badly run… torn… one chair after another" (p5). "I think that's the wrong expression… Because it's been for almost a hundred years now" (p7).
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." (p11).
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. For it is associated with so much weirdness and superstition as, well, that is very foreign to me" (p11).
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 essence of the various world religions even then" (p2). 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" (p2). One of the respondents has understood that booksellers have begun to categorize literature in this area as "esoterism" (p5). 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 (p11).
"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 piece" (p4). 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" (p4). 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. I don't know what that means" (p9).
What the 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 like" (p4). 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 kind of shone through va (p10).
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 try to talk to him in a different way now (p3).
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 learned that it's going to be okay and so be (p1).
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" (p8). 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 (p5).
"If there's going to be some fucking justice in the universe, it's got to be like karma. And if karma is to work, there must be reincarnation as well."
What the interviewees say about how life works and why life turns out the way it is.
Death is not the end. We live forever. The reincarnation idea is about people coming back to the physical world time and time again. This idea is known from Hinduism, for example. Unlike some other models of rebirth, the new doctrine of reincarnation is a very "positive" one, which guarantees the individual uninterrupted development. This doctrine is perceived as more sophisticated or consistently compared to other variants. Man has once been an animal, but it is not possible for him to now be reborn in an animal body: "No, there are the Buddhists, and especially the Hindus, they incarnat a little anyway. You become an ant or a blade of grass or a tree or whatever the hell" (p5). "You are human all the time, because like animals you have been another time, it is passed" (p3). "This theory of hope… You can be anything, at any time." "No, in Buddhism and Hinduism, that you… If you don't do it right, you're reborn, you get backing up like… maybe reborn as a fly or something" (p4).
There is a difference between soul migration and reincarnation:
As I've learned, then you went back and forth, between all sorts of things, could become an ant in one, and an elephant in the next, and a little like that… Yes, but, and then there's more soul migration. The reincarnation idea where I have been in contact with that one wants to see more this progression (p6).
The individual is reborn in a new human body and will then bring with him all the qualities and talents that he had in her previous life. She has all previous experiences to spare and the new life will be colored by the past. How long passes between incarnations, respondents have different bids for, from a few years to several hundred years. Likewise, whether it is the case that the individual switches gender between lives, retains the same sex, or if this may vary. The idea of reincarnation is also consistent with a general conviction that everything is connected and indestructible:
We can't just die, we can only change shape. And that all life is connected. There is a unit… Yes, let's say this. If we think of a hologram, that is, that everything is kind of related to everything else. You know, if you break a hologram, you can look in a little bit… You have all the information in the whole picture. That's how I see (p10).
Perhaps the individual is reborn in another culture or in another country. The determining factors are what level of sophistication the individual has achieved in his previous lives, what he has left to learn, and what environment or fate can best satisfy this.
The new spirituality describes a spirit evolution against perfection. However, we do not have the same experiences at the same time. Some have progressed further, while others have not yet come so far in their development. This means that there is a natural hierarchy between people. This relationship can be described as having "younger" and "older" souls, respectively. A child born may, spiritually speaking, be older than his parents. One interviewee describes how she could very clearly have imagined that this would be the case with one of her grandchildren: "It is an old soul and very special" (p7). Cultures and ethnic groups are also at different levels in this spiritual evolution. A people involved in many wars, or a society with a lower degree of rule of law or equality, is not as far away as those who are more peaceful.
A common objection to the reincarnation idea is that it seems so unlikely that one could get back into a new body. Against this it is possible to set experiences of the miracles of ordinary life:
On the other hand, we have seen the creation of a human being. Now I have three (switch to two?) children of my own, who are adults now, but only the human life itself is so fucking strange. Why couldn't we be born again? Once is strange enough, right? (p5).
Change gender, or same sex.
One respondent refers to what the "esoteric teachings" or "traditions" say in the question: "And it is sometimes said that as a personality you are born really as much as a man and as much as a woman. And not necessarily so that you are born every other life like one or the other" (p2). "And then whether you're a man or a woman, it's not like that, it doesn't have to be that way for every incarnation, but it could be that it jumps or, well, one time you're a woman, the other time you're a man." Male and female are described as "archetytypic principles" (p2):
That man is nevertheless a unit in itself and that actually the division of male and female in the aspects we have today is that it is the result of a case, a division of the original state. But that there is still some kind of cosmic principles that are male and female on another level and that there may somehow remain. But that you should be human, i.e. as we are biologically male and female for example, I see that it is only a temporary… a result of an imperfect condition, so to speak. For the perfect, more is this classic myth that you are androgynous… Sorry, let's see here… hermaphrodit, that is, that you are a man-woman (p2).
One of the interviewees refers to two channeled spirits, who have slightly different views on this. While Ambres believes that the individual has series of life as either male or female, Set claims that everything goes on at the same time:
Ambres says this. Wait, wait. He said you stick to… For example, if you choose to become a man… You become a woman until you turn around and become a woman. Then there are the different commandments… Then there's The Set, which says, "No, but it's different, so… In fact, we all live lives at the same time. Why should we have to think linearly at all? If you're thinking… Just a picture like this… in the middle, and you have different rooms. different as well as rooms around like this, which the soul enters, are different lives (p10).
There are laws in areas where we don't normally think there are laws. We are familiar with the physical and biological laws, but not such laws that guarantee overall fairness and the like. Society has a legal system for such things, but similar laws also exist in life in general. Everything that people do has consequences. Sometimes it's just so complex that we don't understand or see these connections. The Law of Karma is referred to in the Bible as "the law of sowing and harvesting" However, other statements about reincarnation have been edited out of the Bible, making it difficult to understand what is actually meant. There are people who seemingly sow and sow, without getting anything back, or reap much misery without seeing any reason for this. Karma is needed to explain this.
The Church's view of God's grace is rejected: "Well it is more poetic, and much simpler. It's not that hard" (p5). It is only when we have learned that the consequences of a wrong course of action and refrain from repeating what we may experience something reminiscent of the "forgiveness of sins": "It is the only grace that exists at all when we have come so far that through development we can no longer do the same act that triggered that karma. Then we're protected. That is the real grace" (p5).
At the same time, the law of karma is mechanical in some sense. It is a law of nature, while being adapted to needs. However, if we make mistakes, the consequences of our actions can be very painful. Here the law of karma can be likened to an "Old Testament" law:
So it comes to a certain extent, and unfortunately it is then, so to speak, the law of karma that comes in… It's this Old Testament law that comes in. If you go too far down that direction, then there will be a judgment… and it is to prevent it from going … yes it is kind of like a parent that when a child does TOO much then he must finally like say to, or she, as well as say to the sharp (p2).
"Karma then, that is, the law of cause and effect. If we don't have it, you can't understand anything." We cannot fail to experience and thus develop. "We cannot help but evolve as we exist. After all, we make experiences every day, of different kinds, and this accumulates in different ways in us" (p5). "What you sow it, you reap. If you don't do it in this life, what's the name of it, it will be in the next life" (p7).
The Law of Karma is not just about what the individual does or does not do. In equal measure, the thoughts are destiny-making. What you think and feel does not stop on the inside, but will have an effect on the outside world. This also entails a great responsibility: "All the thoughts you think, all the words you say and all the actions you do, ALL that is energy that kind of moves around the universe. And very much negative thoughts and evil thoughts, just like evil acts, they do harm" (p1). The individual seeks out situations and relationships where she can work on what she needs to work on:
If I just think freely… So it may be that you know that you have a certain problem, and that you want to break that pattern or problem, so you put yourself in a situation where you know you can solve it… If you know that you are at a disadvantage with a person, for example, well then you go in and find out why I end up at a disadvantage. Maybe it's about self-worth. You need to start loving yourself. And once you've done that, you don't see those men or women anymore, because it's finished, it's over, it's passed. You don't have to learn anymore (p9).
And then synchronicity… Very important… Because that's when you get feedback. When you have a good day, when there's a lot of synchronicity… A lot of coincidences like this… Wow, I just met the right people… It clicked there… Then you will get feedback that you are on the right path. But then when things go a long way, you get feedback, no but now you're a little lost as well, and now you have to try to focus. Because there's a lot going on in life, and it's not always so good every day va (p10).
One of the interviewees tells of a reincarnation memory, where a man subjected her to severe abuse. In this life, she has seen this person again and it has been a complicated relationship. However, she would object that she would have been a victim at the time: "And then I meet this guy in this life, and it was HE like. I wonder it went wrong and he didn't put me through it. We exposed each other" (p8). Several interviewees refer to the Christian notion of Jesus' vicarious suffering on the cross. This is referred to as "the greatest error of Christianity" (p5). It is based on an image of God as primitive and avenging, according to one respondent, and where the understanding of things like karma and reincarnation is lacking:
Is God so fucking primitive, he has to be appeased… God as a primitive and avenging being. If there's going to be some fucking justice in the universe, it's got to be like karma. And if karma is to work, there must be reincarnation as well (p5).
The view that someone can be a victim, while someone else is a perpetrator, is misleading. We all suffer from a lack of experience that links us together:
This view that we have in society, that there is a perpetrator and a victim, it is also wrong. Both suffer equally. And it is very provocative, that is, in it, because here there is because in this society everyone wants scapegoats and everyone wants to feel sorry for the victim and so on. And it would be very difficult to say to a rape victim, for example, but I am convinced that it is so (p1).
One of the interviewees describes this principle very strongly, but adds that this can be perceived as well harsh: "That you suffer because you do not have the tools that make you NOT suffer. And that sounds very harsh." (p4). "Yes, you might think it's cruel that you hit yourself when you fall" (p5). "From my point of view, if I may express myself so presumptuously, there are… There is no malice in the fact that this happens… Seemingly bad or bad things. But there is a reason why evil happens" (p11).
Gross misressuries, and their more powerful repercussions, will also give the individual a forced development: "If I do something really stupid then I force my development, because the consequences will be so very strong" (p5).
We plan our own incarnation.
The individual plans or at least approves for himself how life will be, what experiences he or she will be allowed to do. On the eve of a new incarnation, the individual fully understands what life will be like. This is likened to her then, with an adult's perspective, making a plan:
And before you get into… Yes, or before you allow yourself to be born, or anywhere, you have made a plan what will happen, what to learn. Mortality is a learning place simply for all people. And then you've made some kind of plan… Who to live with, and yes" (p1). This requires an advanced planning: "The parents, and siblings, and one's children. And when you start thinking about it, it gets incredibly complicated. If you start thinking. That it is so for all people, and how can it be connected (p1).
Sometimes you can choose between having a harder or easier life, but the individual may still choose a life with greater difficulties. Possibly to try to fix "a pattern" that characterized previous incarnations:
That is the big goal of getting as far as possible. If you don't get all the way in this life, you can continue in the next life. Well, it could be that you… If I just think freely… so it may be that you know that you have a certain problem, and that you want to break that pattern or problem, so you put yourself in a situation where you know you can solve it (p9).
So it is not only that each person gets to experience exactly what he or she needs to experience, but we choose it ourselves:
As many people say, life is hard. But you really choose it yourself. There's black and white, and there are possibilities, really, just that you can't see it right now because you're staring blindly at the problem… As many people say, yes, I've lived in poverty and misery, and I find the wrong partner all the time, and economics and all this. But you choose, and you also control this. So you have an opportunity before you come, to end up with a family that suits you right now (p7).
We also have opportunities there to steer to get to another place, even if we say this, that we, well now I am tired of being the poor constantly. Now maybe I want to come to some family where there's plenty of money, and that I get to study, and so on. But I'm not sure it'll be that part anyway, because when you sit there and see through, there's always some team or how to put it, someone else talking about, that this and this is how you lived last life, and you have to keep testing yourself, to get better, or gain more knowledge or whatever it may be (p7).
In this way, innate handicaps and limitations also get an explanation:
A lot of people say that you kind of decide for yourself. Now I'm going to do a lap with someone, something you're going to work on… And like, for example, those who are born and are wheelchair users, for example, that they have then kind of decided, that now I will take that match, because then they come through the next life as completely new people… It's a tough game (P3).
One respondent says of the similarities he finds in himself and his parents: "But it's not their qualities I've inherited… It's my own… But then it fits very well into their common set, psychic gene set, or whatever to call it" (p5).
As a parent, it is also possible to think that the children have chosen oneself as a parent. They have fully understled their weaknesses and strengths.
Before and after life.
At the beginning of pregnancy, the soul can make sporadic visits inside the mother's body: "She came to the conclusion that the soul was kind of in and turned a little sometimes the first six months, but since I think it was from the seventh month, then like the soul stayed there then, in the baby then, because then it started to be time then" (p3) After we die we need to be confronted with what has gone well and bad during life. One respondent perceives that her father, who recently passed away, had a difficult time in the transition:
So it takes a while before you've kind of gotten through life up there, then when you've got up there. So, more messy lives, or… you've done it like, the longer it takes to go through this and sum up, and understand, and learn, what went wrong and so on. So he had a pretty hard time for a while, as far as I could understand (p3).
Life as a school.
In the interview material there are many metaphors for life. This can be likened to "a school" or "a test site". Life is a "path of experience", "an educational process", "a great theatre" and "a sandbox".
I see this whole world as a kind of school, a great theater. And if no one really dies, but if everyone is eternal, unique, identity perspectives, from different parts of the universe, and your body dies, but you go on /somewhere else, then like death will not be as serious and great. I can't see it like I once did when I was young. Death is black and you are gone. I can't see that now (p10).
Everything we experience is directed at us personally. We can learn from all our experiences. Even things that affect people around us are at the same time intricately intertwined with our own destiny and are part of what is meant for us to experience. One of the respondents reflects that she has had many friends and relatives who have died:
I've thought many times, why do I have so many people dying? Because there's always someone dying. At least one, two, three a year. So that even if it's not really tight friends, but still, it touches. So that… Of course I've thought about it many times, but then I say this, yes, but it's because I have to be tried, to see things, and be able to work on it (p7).
Over the course of many incarnations, the individual will have time to acquire complete experience material. This can be likened to "a cake" that eventually needs to be eaten. Faced with a new incarnation, the individual can decide on a certain "piece of cake", and then have this particular amount of experience completed:
As she told me, it's like a cake, you could say… And then maybe in a life you decide, now I take that cake, and then learn, about jealousy or something like this then. And then, like when you've learned the first lap, it's in another life, you pick up a little more, and get a bigger and bigger part of the cake. But then you have a lot of cake pieces left, so you have quite a lot of lives to get through then, before you have learned everything (p3).
Things we don't manage to solve in this life accompany us to the next, much like it is in school when you get to backtrack on something. One of the informants reflects on one of his parents:
I think, what to learn. You're going to somehow get rid of these patterns. So I'm sure he went into this life with some kind of contract, that now I'm going to do better. He did better, and he didn't. He succeeded and failed, as is certain in every life. You get to backtrack as well as on some things (p8).
The slow pace of development also provides the opportunity to practice an artistic talent, for example. Johann Amadeus Mozart is mentioned by a couple of respondents as an example of someone whose great musical talent can be explained by the fact that he has been doing this for many lives. His increasing musical ability has since been brought to his next life as "a kind of psychic DNA, or spiritual DNA" (p5). "Genius is not something that you just plupp is born with, but it is something that you have practiced for a long time. Mozart just wasn't born that way" (p6).
The meaning of suffering.
The difficult experience is necessary for our development. The painful experiences are needed to provide contrasts. One interviewee describes the suffering as: "the uncomfortably good, because it is as necessary as light, light and darkness are just as necessary" (p5)
That we act wrongly, that is, in a way that causes others and ourselves pain, is due to ignorance or incomprehension and deeply due to a lack of experience. Difficulties in life can be likened to pain in the body. They are "a wake-up call", a reminder that we need to change something. For example, one of the interviewees describes his ex-partner as "his big sledgehammer". In the end, she managed to get out of this violent relationship and can today see it in an explanatory light. After all, it was these experiences that made her take hold of her life:
This thing that I went through then, with N as he is called then, he who was a little aggressive, it made me step a giant piece as a human being, which I would never have done otherwise if I had lived in my first relationship and gone there in the villa in S, with my children and my old man and everything was fine, We had a boat and… yes… Then nothing happened. It wasn't until I met him that it was… And then things started to happen. So I've seen what it can do. So I'm convinced there's no other way to develop (p3).
Suffering is the engine of our development: "That's all we learn. If life flows and everything goes well then you don't have to think about anything" (p3). In the long run, their own experiences provide an ability to experience with others who have difficulty in the same field:
You are limited there how much pain you can experience and see in another person, depending on whether you can appeal it to your own experiences. And the more experience of suffering you have, the more ability to detect suffering in other people you also get, and then it also makes you not want to cause suffering. Before you have it, you suffer without realizing that you are doing it. You don't have that suffering yourself and you don't realize you're doing it to the other. But if I have that suffering in me, it wakes up… It hurts me if I have anything else. Instead, you want to do good to someone else (p4).
"Yes, I think the universe is burging, the universe is learning the whole… Kind of like a fractal, like a tree, it kind of… We can be seen as a… When we look out into the world, we really look back at ourselves and ourselves. The universe looks back at itself through us."
What the interviewee says about a larger, orderly body in existence
Under this theme, descriptions of the divine are collected. For the sake of readability, "god" and "he" are sometimes used in the running text, but without considering whether such greatness actually exists or how it is disposed of. In cases where this seems to fit best, "God" is written with a large initial letter.
Name for God.
Such a larger coordinating body in existence is called, for example, "Universe", "Power of God", "A strong energy of God", "Pure Love", "A loving force", "The Great System of Life", "Something", "Cosmos", "A Higher Consciousness", "An Energy", "Universe" and "Light".
Personal or impersonal.
The idea of whether God is personal or impersonal is not clear. Although this higher instance is analogous to the universe itself, it records what is happening: "The universe that kind of knows exactly what is going on", it "learns" (p10)."The universe looks back at itself through us" (p10). One interviewee believes that this "life system" can make choices:
I see man as a small world where this person sitting here is really only a small part, admittedly a very important part, but still a small part, in an even larger system. And it's like the big life system that chooses, and it chooses… How specific it chooses it I don't know (p2).
One interviewee said she struggled with the question of God's nature:
I've always had a hard time with God. I've put it aside. My brain is too small, I can't understand it. That's what I thought, huh? But I can't imagine there would be an old man up there, and I think so… It's one of those outdated… I don't think there are many who… Maybe that's what I think now, but… So I kind of laid… I've stayed open… I am still keeping the question open. There is no personal God. You don't really need God. If all things are one, and all parts of the universe know what all other parts are doing (p10).
After some consideration, a respondent has concluded that it is not a personal god: "Maybe no one really knows then, unless there is a god. But then I wonder what's there, because there's something like that."
Yes, no, no. It's an energy and a consciousness, I would say. Nothing personal… no. I think… If you want to make God personal, you limit God. So that God is impersonal," says one of the interviewees, but adds: "That there is something much bigger beyond me, I feel very strong all the time (p4).
When asked about the existence of God, one of the interviewees says that if someone can invent a technology that demonstrates that there is a god, or with the help of equations can lead this in evidence, then first she would be convinced:
If someone convinces me that there's a personal god sitting up there, with… yes, but okay. But no one has. Because anyone who says they've talked to… I've talked to God. Well, what does he look like then? No one has met God, yet they say they are talking to him. I can't believe it, can I? But if someone can develop a technology, prove to me with equations like, then I might find it much easier to believe it va (p10).
One interviewee believes that this difficulty in defining God is shared by many today:
I think… This is what everyone says these days. I don't believe in God, but I believe in a higher consciousness. And that's the way it is, then… Yes, in that form… I left the Church of Sweden a few years ago, so I'm not… I don't believe in God in that sense. I do, yes (p4).
A more personal description reads:
Yes, both. No, it is not personal in the sense that I kind of talk to my god, this Augustine thing, that it is really an appeal and dialogue, so I have not. But of course… My image of God, however, is that it knows everyone by name, yet somehow, and yet provides every opportunity for… It has some kind of personal appeal, even if… Yes, all people are somehow counted, or thus, there is a consciousness of you as a person, it is not anonymous in the way, that it is just a kind of blind goodness, but it is a goodness that also feels, or a light that also feels… Where every ray of sunshine is somehow on its way to YOU in some way (p2).
I have a… Not the god we worship in the Church, or, no, not that kind of thing. I don't believe in God, or Jesus, as any person like that. I don't have that faith. Without me, I think this… God is within you, within each. And then, this one… The message is love for all, it is my faith. And then we are all little gods, more or less (p7).
A respondent likens God to a supervisor or teacher: "If you now say that you finish and become an angel then, for example, I think it is like the angel's boss in some way, who constantly teaches everyone around you about love" (p3). The same respondent continues: "But it's just a force so that somehow… They say you have God in you. He's everywhere, so maybe he's not there, but there's some power everywhere."
Height above all dualities.
On God, no gender pronouns fit: "He is everywhere, so maybe there is no one, but there is some power everywhere…" (p3). "But I can't imagine there would be an old man up there" (p10). God is also not evil or good: "So there is no good and evil, there is no such duality, for God is everything, even evil, so to speak. So only we see evil as evil, for that contradiction is not in God" (p1).
The interviewees agree that this larger body, whether personal or impersonal, has a vast extent. Life itself can be said to be this God. Everything is part of this system, everything and everyone is part of the same deity's body. The universe is a single living being, where physical reality constitutes the physical side of God. A respondent refers to how this has been described in the Bible:
The tree that grows over here is like nothing but God. It's not that there's a tree, and somewhere else there's God, and if he wants to, he can snatch it away. It's part of his being. And this is really… There are also such thoughts in Christianity. Paul is… For it is in God that we live and are… (p6).
We meet God, among other things, through our fellow human beings, who are part aspects of this all-encompassing deity: "But if everything is God, you live in a constant correspondence with god. When we meet a fellow human being… It's a divided point of God." (p5). "Our individualized self is only part of God's self. So we are part of God's self" (p5).
It is possible to feel a deep affinity with all creation, as everything in existence is connected to visible or invisible bonds. This brings with it a sense of purpose and community:
Yes, it has to do with everything then being connected, if you are then into this with thoughts and feelings and all that stuff, so as the whole world is connected, even… I mean, there are different waves of life, with man, with the animal kingdom, with the plant kingdom, and with the mineral, and they are kind of more connected than you might think (p2).
No one is ever separated from God. No one needs to feel alone. It is also natural to share, even your possessions. The belief has an ethical meaning:
I don't feel alone, so alone. I don't feel separated from… I feel like I'm part of… So life becomes more meaningful, the more meaningful it makes more sense to SHARE, for example. Because everything I do, I do to myself because I'm connected to everything. I'm not separated. It's not like that. Oh, MY stuff, like, like, like that (p10).
God's relationship with us.
God doesn't favor anyone, but he doesn't shoot anyone. God doesn't care if the individual believes in him or not. God does not make a difference between people.
It shines light on you, whether you know it. All people have some kind of… a personal ray of light that comes to them, without them even knowing it, they may not be religious at all, may not be interested in any spiritual perspective, but they still get the help they need (p2).
Although it is a god described in predominantly impersonal terms, it is still not a god that can be doubted. It is possible to experience a comfort and a security in relation to this higher instance.
God is just. He works through the laws of nature, which for the respondents also includes the idea of reincarnation and the law of karma. Therefore, it can be argued that God is someone who helps us along the way, forward to the goal of becoming more humane. That he contributes to our suffering along the way, he does this out of love. He would not let anyone suffer for what someone else has done. He will also not allow us humans to blow ourselves and the planet in the air, for example, according to one respondent: "He has no gain from us all disappearing, what will he do. He has no one to coach later."
God is described in several places in contrast to the Church's image of God and the image of the newness of God is then emphasized as superior. The Christian conception of God diminishes him, for example by attributing this human-like qualities:
For example, I remember one occasion, I was at an outdoor church on a nice summer day, and then it was a… Yes, it was a judgment prose even, and in his sermon, for example, he said this: God will be SAD if people do this or that. Ooh! I felt like there was a bad level to that. That's not how God works. If you dare to have an opinion on how God works, he will not be sad. So yes, I thought it was a really low water mark (p1).
God has no way of destroying and changing the fate of the individual. But from a different perspective, it is still possible to see everything as a collaboration or communication with God, where even the painful experiences are part of a re-creation of man. This is something God participates in out of love:
He helps us, and there is nothing to develop on other than suffering. And the sooner we learn that love and humanity apply, and peace, he will show us the way. And since we can't learn if we don't suffer, this is going to continue. So it's out of love (p3).
We are like cells in God's body, and just as we ourselves are not aware of every cell in our body, God is not aware of us either:
Without God, if we say so, it has nothing to do with us really /laugh/… In the way that… I mean, we have nothing to do with the individual cell in our body. It's not that the cell kind of prays, but the end… The cell lives in symbiosis with us. It gets what it needs. It's like a system that it's part of. Similarly, we are part of these larger systems without God, if we say so, being aware of where… We know these cells exist. But I don't know. I don't know anything about these cells. I don't know how they look, or where they sit, or anything. I just know they exist somehow. Approximately the same relationship we then have to the corresponding higher being that we are part of as cells and constituents then (p11).
God helps us, but the time perspective is different. There is no immediate relief or relief from the difficulty on offer. Even if the individual experiences a lifelong suffering, however, this is only a fraction of his entire development:
You could say that God, if you want to, you can say that… Can't you come in and help… But I do. It's just that… We're thinking… If you think from a one-life perspective, 80 years is a long time. If you think from an eternity perspective, it's very short, VERY short really (p6).
How respondents communicate with God.
The individual can feel guided. These are people who are invisible to the individual but who can help her in different ways. Their answers or advice are heard as "voices" or "words", but not in a way that seems morbid. The existence of God is possible in parallel with other communication:
I believe in God, but I'm still like… wow. I'm experiencing stuff that's… For example, lots of guidance. When I say that, what do I mean by that? That I can ask for things. Ahh, I haven't had time to have coffee in the morning. It would be nice to be invited for coffee like this. Every place I come to… You can have some coffee over there. That's it. But also that I can ask so-called guides then… I feel like there are people with me. Who answers. They don't answer… I don't hear voices and all that. They respond in some way to my head. There will be words. And how do I know that? I don't know, but it's somehow words that come faster than I can think /snaps with my fingers/. Or come before the thought, perhaps (p8).
One of the respondents explains how such guidance is a central part of her everyday life:
I feel completely guided… I ask for help all the time… I ask for help every day, with different, what my problem is, what I need help with, so I ask for it. Then it comes to me, in the form of a meeting with a person who tells me something, like… Ahh, okay, thanks, now I moved on (p9).
She also uses this type of communication in her work as a healer. Since she is unsure of exactly how it works, she turns to many different instances at the same time with her prayers:
But as when I stand and give healing, then in the face of healing, I ask Jesus Christ, God, and all my guardian angels and guides for help, for I have not really… I don't know what it is. I know there's something higher that helps me and guides me, but I don't really know what it is (p9).
One way to determine whether a guide is correct is to wait until you receive the same message from three different directions:
You can be guided in a lot of other, amazing ways. People say things to you. Or that you have to get it done in many different ways before you get it. Three different people have to say the same thing to one, at different times, to understand that… yes but okay, now it's the third person who says it to me, now maybe I should start listening to this guidance (p9).
When asked if it is a god that we can pray to, an interviewee responds by referring to the Bible. The Sermon on the Mount says that God already knows what a man will ask for. God already knows what we need. This makes prayer something secondary, according to the interviewee. Prayer can be used as a form of self-care:
Yes, prayer has one, not only outwardly seen like that, but it also has a healing… for the soul, our OWN soul, and prayer as such in ALL contexts do you good, for each… Since many people don't think… I am not religious enough to pray, but in my case I pray not to be a better person or anything, but I pray for it to heal MY soul (p7).
The theocidé problem.
The question of how there can be a god when there is so much misery in the world, the so-called theodicé problem, that question is misresolved, according to an informant:
They are talking about God, they are talking about like a supreme being who has all… Total power over man and everything in the world and so on. How can he be all-powerful and at the same time good? He must either be not good or not all-powerful. While… From my point of view, if I may express myself so presumptuously, there are… There is no malice in the fact that this happens… Seemingly bad or bad things. But there is a reason why evil happens (p11).
Even the most unpleasant events get their explanation in this way, although it is important to think about who you share these analyses with:
A standing problem, for example, is these extermination camps during the Third Kingdom, World War II. Jews, gypsies and homosexuals were persecuted and gassed to death and so on. If there is justice in the world, I don't think that would happen. This is the theodicé problem. But if reincarnation is reality, then one can imagine that there is a reasonable explanation. But it is very sensitive. I never talk about it with other people who aren't into these thoughts. Because then most people rage out in anger… So I think you should avoid that. But as an explanation of the theodice problem, it is good enough. I can't find anyone better (p5).
Christians tend to submit to God and expect them to be able to come and sort out their problems. They are also too focused on how they are doing in this one life, and are unable to see that this is just a small piece of a much larger panorama. Moreover, they do not understand that the individual himself is responsible for his fate:
If you look at this life as the only thing, it's so important. Oh, I'm having such a hard time… And yes… You don't see the big picture… First of all, I've been guilty of these difficulties, and secondly, I'm going to have to solve this somehow. Don't be some kind of infantile idiot who falls to his knees and prays that God will come and fix everything (p11).
With the new spirituality, the image of God changes, what he can and cannot do, and thus also the expectations the individual may have about someone who will fix problems and make things right:
But the whole new age, I think, then you have to reevaluate this, if-there-is-a-god-who-sees-me-the-idea. It's a little weird. God should go in and fix the problems in the world. And it is an image of God that still makes a distinction between, here is the world and somewhere else there is God, and then he can go in and tinker there, if he wants, or he does not (p6).
One of the respondents believes that the state of the world shows that there must be a competing force in existence: "But I believe in more than just God, if you say so, i.e. I am not like monotheist in the sense that it is a god and so it is humanity, or so" (p2).
The world is created by a kind of higher power, or powers, but it was not meant, so to speak, as it now looks, it was not intended as… The original as divine creation… If so, it would have been all good, and really a kind of perfection really… Thus, an imperfect world must reflect an imperfect creator, whether one has that it is a creator, or vice versa (p2).
Although God may seem somewhat abstract, there are, however, several invisible individuals with whom the individual can have a personal relationship and who are described as having more active, caring qualities. Examples of this are angels, guardian angels, "guides", or spiritual guides, who can in a more direct and appropriate way put themselves in contact with a human being and help and support him. Rather, it is with such individuals that we may experience a personal contact:
No, I think, and know and feel, that there are like other helpers… You're taken care of, that's man. And have help, and can receive support and guidance, if you can open up to it then… So yes, there is a lot of comfort and security in it to get, which like… He is not a personal god (p1).
One of the interviewees describes that she got a new picture of such angels, compared to how she thought of them when she was growing up:
For a very long time I had a picture of heaven that, like, well, there were some dusty angels. You know those old-fashioned angels, with big wings and hoods, and they knew nothing about this life, and they were just old-fashioned and yes… But that has changed completely (p1).
Here, even former relatives or friends, who have died and are now in the spiritual dimension between two incarnations, can also take on the task of guiding or assisting us. One interviewee points out how it is former relatives who act as helpers from the spiritual side: "But I recognize them from some lives. yes, so I think I know… That was probably that father in that life. It feels that way. But maybe there are angels too" (p8).
When the individual is to leave the spiritual world and incarnat again in a physical body, he is assisted by sympathetic and highly developed individuals who are on the other side. These are likened to "heavenly advice." Sometimes these individuals may need to motivate or persuade the person to incarnat. One of the informants refers to such testimony she heard:
So now it's time for you to go down again. No, I can't, I don't want to… Because it wasn't fun. But you have to, you still have this to learn and so on, so they had to get down anyway, even though they didn't think it was so fun then (p3).
There are also perfect souls who no longer need to incarnat in the physical world for their development, but who have an interest in, for example, teaching us who remain here. These can sometimes communicate through so-called "channels", as mentioned above. Some animals, such as dolphins, can be far developed and serve as a "guide" for humans. One of the interviewees has come into contact with this:
You could say a different kind of therapy as I've been. I've been to a channel like this since that we talked about before. A woman who, yes, she can see past lives, and she has various guides then, including a dolphin. And yes, it's great (p1).
Our planet is seen as a living organism, which has parent-like qualities:
A lot of people say they think it's 2012, or, it's going to go wrong, and doom and all this… I don't believe that. I think our Mother Earth has the resources to cope with… Even how we pigs down into the environment, destroy and… I think there's something that makes it heal (p10).
There is life on planets other than ours. Individuals from these worlds visit earth. They have progressed further in the development is us and have a more advanced technology. Their involvement increased after World War II, when a country used atomic bombs for the first time in warfare. Authorities in different countries are aware of these visits, but have so far chosen to cover this up for citizens. These extraterrestrial visitors show us great care, for example, preventing various disasters from happening or mitigating their effects. However, visitors' patience may be limited:
They don't want to babysit us, but we still need some help. I think they've quarantined us, because we're so aggressive here. They say that too. I believe that, it actually makes sense. Because we're aggressive, we're fighting and we're on the huh (p10).
The divine in man.
God's consciousness can be likened to the sum of these higher spiritual aspects of our higher spiritual. Man also has "a higher self" or "a higher self" who, while incarnated in the physical world, is on a spiritual level. It is found "in the higher layers somewhere, and is a light being just like Jesus or any other of these great ones" (p1). This relationship is described in a song lyrics by the artist Tomas DiLeva:
I think God is something very big that you can never understand. So you just have to give up. You just have to accept it, you can't understand it. But at the same time, Tomas DiLeva is right when he… I don't know if you've ever listened to him. He wrote a song called Everyone is Jesus (p1).
We all have "an atomic spark" that survives death (p11). This spark has an eternal existence and incarnates over and over again.
"I mean hospitals? It's supposed to be called a freshhouse. Fuck you and learn how to stay healthy. Don't go and learn how to get somewhere when you get sick."
What the interviewees generally say about illness, health, self-care, etc. What the interviewees think about the care that society provides. What the interviewees say about how health care should ideally work.
Physical health care.
Somatic care is viewed with some skepticism. One interviewee tells how she tried to get her friends and acquaintances not to be vaccinated. Traditional care is too much focused on curing, rather than prevention. One of the respondents has previously worked in healthcare and says:
The health care system as it works, I'm very disappointed that it's as conservative as it was when I worked in it… Hierarchical and very focused on diseases and as well as somatics. So very little on prevention, and on a holistic and on health and so on (p1).
Today's health care is too focused on fixing or repairing when the individual has already become ill, while it should work more preventively:
And that's where there's a shortage in today's society, with stress and… There is nothing preventative. There's… I mean hospitals. It's supposed to be called a freshhouse. Fuck you and learn how to stay healthy. Don't go and learn how to get somewhere when you get sick (p9).
The National Board of Health and Welfare is too strict and opposes alternative perspectives being able to have an influence in healthcare, according to one respondent. At the same time, there is something good about them doing this, according to the same person, because otherwise it could have many unwanted consequences.
Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychology.
Today, psychologists work "too narrowly" (p3). Today's psychology is mechanistic: "Pavlov's dogs." Some can be achieved with desensitization and the like, to put out desired behaviors and the like, or cure phobias, but psychologists should aim higher than just "dog psychologists". Psychologists and therapists need to be more open to the existential dimension, not so much being "inside these mental corridors and tramping" (p5). An existential understanding should form the very basis for how they respond and try to help their clients.
Psychotropic drugs are not the future. Instead, the individual needs to get to the bottom of their problems and not be passive in the role of being a victim of circumstances. Psychiatry must be able to offer "a rational solution to the mystery of life", it is not enough with "valium or snack therapy" (p5). In therapy, it is common to just "dwell and dwell" and be asked how you had it in your childhood, without any real change happening. After that, the client moves on in life and it looks just like before. Instead, one should take a holistic approach and possibly give concrete advice, which can be followed up on the next visit, according to another interviewee.
People are at risk of being caught between psychiatry and the Church, both of which lack real knowledge of the truly existential perspectives and, at worst, only send clients between them. Therapy that helps people get in touch with experiences they've had in past lives can be useful. Newness, with its karma and reincarnation thinking, has "tremendous explanatory potential" (p6) and conventional psychology should acquire these perspectives. Focusing on the current life is often not enough to understand why a person is having a hard time. In these cases, you need to be able to take in the larger perspective. Without this, the wrong conclusions can easily be reached.
A respondent who for many years suffered from severe depression, without doctors being able to help her, finally had to come to a psychotherapist within the county council, who helped her. The interviewee says that she often tried to raise the spiritual perspective with her therapist, but that he had averted this and emphasized that they would instead talk about what was more close. This is what the interviewee understands today:
I was frustrated because I didn't think she understood anything /laughs/. But she was like that… It doesn't matter if I understand it or not because it's not. That's not what we're going to talk about. And I think that was good for me. Then I really got to be there, and be in me, and I would solve my personal problems, not to be in it. So it was great right then. But then I was done too /laugh/. And then I don't know, if… Too many times I could sit and think that she might be spiritual, but that she held it back so that I wouldn't go into it too much, but that I would be in it. So either she was shitty and completely the wrong therapist, or she was just the right therapist and damn skilled. So I'm hoping for the last laugh/ (p9).
The respondent says that although she still wishes that the "spiritual part" will have a greater place in healthcare, she has after all enjoyed the care and help she has received.
An interest in this kind of spirituality may be associated with certain risks. These risks are partly the same as respondents indicate for traditional religiosity, such as stagnation and narrowness, but the newer spirituality is also associated with specific dangers.
It is important that psychological maturity precedes spiritual development, one of the interviewees points out. Otherwise, there may be an imbalance. The individual must not run ahead of himself, it can be risky. In particular, this applies to exercises aimed at activating the so-called "kundalini energy". The inconvenience of this particular energy, in turn, is linked to what are called "chakras". Problems with kundalini energy can manifest themselves as a burning sensation in the head, in the "crown chakra" of the person, if it hurts. The interviewee tells about a stay at a course farm where a man has become very ill due to such exercises. However, through a woman who could provide healing, he was helped:
It is on such course yards where it is with such spiritual development, and medium development, and hello and mock, then there are those who… I was in such a school… And then there was a guy who, he got really bad. He got so fucking sick. He had… I don't know how much you're familiar with the kundalini energy and so… It's a great energy when it's in its right places. But at his worst, the kundalini energy was… It should be in the spine… It was completely loose in his body. And that energy is so powerful that it can burn apart from within. His crown chakra was wide open. Because we had worked a lot this week, with spiritual development, some personal development, and no grounding. And that is what is so important that you earth, soil, soils, soils (p9).
In most cases, however, there is a natural barrier, according to the interviewee, which means that most people cannot actually activate or access such spiritual forces until the psychological preparatory work is done properly. They "tear themselves blue" (p9) with various exercises, but without succeeding in making any spiritual progress. In severe cases, there may be so-called "spiritual emergency". The symptoms of this are similar to psychosis, but are not the same thing. One of the interviewees has a close relative who has been wrongly diagnosed with psychosis, when in fact it was such a spiritual emergency:
My fatigue is that there is a lot of unresolved from when I was a kid. And my mother had psychoses, and hello and taunts. Which turned out not to be psychosis, but it was spiritual emergency. She opened up too fast, and then there was a lot of Jesus, and hello and taunts, so that yes… I have an understanding of it (p9).
Suddenly bringing up memories of past lives can also put the individual at risk of losing their footing. One of the respondents tells how she herself questioned her sanity, thought that she might have become psychotic, when she first started to get such feelings or pictures. But since she was otherwise fine, she came to the conclusion that there must be something else behind it. There are in the data stories about having an elevated sensitivity that can be troublesome. This may make it necessary to be extra careful about the situations in which the individual puts himself in. This is described as the person experiencing that a certain place may have "low energies", which can make it difficult for the person to function optimally there.
There is also a connection to the spiritual development of the individual. It is an ideal to be "open" and to try to develop such receptivity, but this also makes the person extra sensitive to influences. An openness to influences from the spirit world is not automatically a good thing. It is important that the person's channel is clean.
Sometimes the individual may feel bad because of their "twin soul", in such a way that the person captures the mental state of the twin soul:
But that's also the way it is. Which I didn't understand at first… That's one of those telepathic things. I thought, okay, he's a little disturbed. I kind of get resonances like this, or whatever the hell it's called, huh, it sounds a little like this… He relieves himself a little bit of my burden. But, no, it's not just that, it's… Yes, yes. you know each other. It's also… I read a little later, and I knew this existed. With that person, if there is… Even if you haven't met it, I think, I don't know… But especially if you've met it, or live with it, you have a yes telepathic contact. That you can, if you sharpen up, some people can read each other's thoughts and so on. But you get the same symptoms and so on, pain… anxiety for example (p8).
Symptoms with roots in past lives.
Trauma and difficult experiences in past lives can cause symptoms and problems in current life. In the data there are many testimonies of problems arising from previous incarnations. One interviewee says that she had previously used to feel severe discomfort when she would receive a syringe or when medical staff needed to put a needle in order for her to get a drip. During a session with a medium, the interviewee obtained pictures of how in a previous life she had been subjected to various medical experiments. From that day on, the respondent's discomfort in this area decreased.
One respondent tells me that she grew up during a period when it was fashionable with polo jumpers. However, she was tormented by wearing such garments, as it felt like she was choking. These problems worsened more and more. She knew then that there must be something else behind it. Under hypnosis, the respondent had to relive how she had been beheaded in a previous life, in France. After this treatment, the problems disappeared.
One of the interviewees says that she had long had trouble talking, that she used to stand up and therefore often chose to keep quiet. During a visit to a medium, she asked him for advice. The medium then told me that the respondent's problems were related to the fact that in a previous life she was taken into care in a monastery and there was forbidden to speak. The medium prepared a jar of herbs that she put on the respondent's neck. The respondent had then become very sad and began to breathe heavy. Today, she understands that it was something that has kept up with previous life, but that dropped because of this treatment and that meant that she now has less trouble speaking.
One respondent tells us that her desire to do things that feel meaningful was explained through a conversation with a medium, which had explained to the respondent that in a previous life she had fallen as a soldier:
In a previous life you were a soldier and when you were lying there in the trench, you realized that this is completely pointless to lie here. And then you got shot at the very same moment, and that feeling you've had with you ever since. So I understand that you don't want to do meaningless things (p3).
Many common phobias can have a similar basis: "There are people who, for example, do not like water, you do not like heights, and things like this, then it may be that you died like that. Drowning or falling down" (p3). One interviewee says that the back pain she suffered from was explained by experiencing the original trauma of a previous life. In that life, she had been hit by a drone. This recollection allowed this trauma to dissolve, something that would have been difficult to achieve in other ways, according to the interviewee.
Another respondent says that as a child she learned to swim like any other child. In her teens, however, during a camping holiday, it's like she lost this ability and she sinks. This is something incomprehensible to her. After that, many years pass, but in the end the respondent decides to seek help from a hypnotist. He can then tell that the interviewee drowned in a previous life when she was just in her teens. After this consultation, she no longer has any trouble remembering how to swim.
Even if the individual only imagines that it is a past life that she experiences, but that she thus manages to get rid of some problem, there is something good about it, according to one respondent: "Reincarnation therapy that some people can benefit from as well, that you might… Either you just think you're reliving a past life, with some trauma from there as well, that can dissolve some knot" (p6).
The extent to which it is experiences in childhood or in this life that have characterized us, different commandments are given. That the individual would have brought with him his experiences from previous existences is more likely:
And then I find it much more reasonable to imagine that I had them from earlier, than that they turned into somewhere in some giant trauma there that I… Okay, even if I didn't get the answer, I kind of got an explanation hypothesis, on why I've become like me… Why it went the way it went. I had practiced a lot of junk through the lives (p6).
Childhood experiences are rarely enough to explain the problems the client has. Some pieces of the puzzle may stem from this life, but not all. The therapist can turn and twist things as much as possible, but there will still be bits missing. It is wrong to attribute such great explanatory value to childhood. To understand why a certain person suffers from psychosis or schizophrenia, for example, many different levels need to be considered. The fact that the individual grew up with disturbed parents is apparently not enough, since some children get sick, while others do not, although they have seemingly had a similar upbringing. Nor are theories that some people are born with a greater fragility enough. Why are some people born with more fraily? Today's psychology cannot explain this, one respondent points out.
Well, it is then claimed that one's behavior has an impact on life, and that what happened in childhood has an impact on how one becomes and how one is shaped. It's just that the one-life hypothesis cuts, and then you basically lose the explanatory value, I think… Childhood becomes too narrow (p6).
The interview responses also show that what we experience will be a mixture of things we have with us from past lives and things that belong only to this life: "No, then you probably have luggage with you too, besides… But I think it's very strong when you grow up" (p10). It can be difficult to know what is the background to experiencing an event as we experience it or why we feel the way we do. However, there are some opportunities to investigate the reasons for this. One of the informants, who also has experience of having attended psychotherapy, says:
If it's that I get angry at things. But find out… But what am I getting angry about? Why am I getting angry? Is it something from when I was a kid? Or what is it. And there you can also go in from previous lives and see, what is it that affects (p9).
The future of health care and terminology.
The interviewees talk about experiences of many different treatments, both psychological and bodily. Some of them are established, such as psychotherapy and hypnosis, while others are more unusual or alternative. Regression therapy/reincarnation therapy, relaxation exercises, guided fantasies, rose massage, light body therapy, HoloSync, etc.
Several of the respondents have experience of receiving so-called healing, and/or working on such things themselves. One of the respondents receives treatment with something called "plejadhealing", where the therapist combines this technique with both setting the client's horoscope and giving home exercises:
But then, once you've found this problem, with the help of this healing, you can go in and remove that programming… For example, there may be programming that you are worthless, because you have heard it from your parents all your life. Then you remove that programming, and then you go in and, well, whatever it needs to be done… If you need to repair cell memories, or… But what she also does is she combines it with CBT (p9).
A kind of help that occurs in many places in the data material is visits to and/or treatments of people with medial abilities. For example, such people may provide information about the clients' past lives. This is different from so-called regression therapy where it is the client himself who experiences and possibly sees images from previous incarnations. The medium can convey contacts with dead relatives and friends, as well as provide information about living people about whom they should reasonably know nothing. A medium may have a "helper" who is on the spiritual side, possibly elsewhere on earth, whose insights the medium can gain. The person who acts as a medium may sometimes need to appropriate the message to the client. It is important that the client has the conditions to understand and will not be harmed by what the medium tells us. One of the respondents had participated in a course, where the leaders did not pay enough attention to the students having to "ground themselves": "Because we had worked a lot during this week, with spiritual development, little personal development, and no grounding. And that is what is so important that you earth, earth, soil, earths" (p9). A respondent tells about healing with Christian overtones, and she has translated certain words into something that suits her conceptual world better:
But this kind of healing in the name of Christ, you go in… If it's a mute, for example, you go in and say… Then take away that spirit. And then that person starts talking again. And this is kind of there. If you believe it, you can do it. Yes. And for me, so that I translate into my language, it becomes energies. Or blockages and energies then (p9).
One interviewee went through hypnosis for a period in order to remember past lives: "Because that's interesting. Because I think most people would need it to lighten these LOCKS that depend on man" (p7).
There is also so-called transpersonal psychology, which one of the interviewees highlights as promising and in greater harmony with the spiritual perspectives. It is not enough to just talk about the unconscious in man, one must then connect it to something greater. Carl Gustav Jung is considered an ideal:
But on the other hand… Perhaps the difference between this classic psychology is that you… Jung knew there was something else, he was a bit like this. But others only talk about the unconscious… But then from there, connect it to something bigger… That when you are in direct contact with your true desires, then you also have a god contact… Do your will, not mine (p4).
In the future, healing will be something people do to themselves, instead of going to a special healer for this. One interviewee believes that it is a parallel to how the development has been for the centers that organize meditation and yoga classes:
But perhaps it is the same as this yoga and meditation storm came across Sweden. Then everyone would go to classes, meditate and yoga. But now no one goes to these courses anymore, because you do it at home instead. And maybe it will be the same with healing, that people understand that everyone has that ability. You can do it yourself (p9).
Vidarkliniken, run by the anthroposophists, is mentioned as an example of a healthcare facility with a laudable and interesting philosophy.
"I'm not a believer, you can't say. But what am I?"
What the interviewees say about how they view science and the church. What the interviewees say about knowledge and belief. What the interviewees say about alternative paths to knowledge or certainty.
Science and academia.
The older scientific paradigm is atheistic and materialistic. This is limited and needs to be expanded, rather than replaced, with the perspectives that the new spirituality represents.
Am I the result of brain activities as science claims? For me, it's… I cannot accept that explanation. There is no basis for that explanation. There are no activities in the brain that create the self. I see it the other way around, as if the self… Through the self, it is expressed… The self expresses itself through the activities of the brain (p11).
Being a scientist does not have to be contrary to having a spiritual interest. And conversely, atheism is, in fact, a dogma. Isaac Newton, for example, was open to the occult and deeply religious, while he was a scientist. In his day, the individual risked being burned at the stake if he did not believe in God, whereas today it is the other way around, metaphorically speaking, a respondent points out.
One of the interviewees says that Western philosophy has little to offer and that it even resists the search for the answers to the really important questions: "Western philosophy it always wants to pull down. They don't want to know the big questions. Prove that they are meaningless or uninteresting, or misconceptions or something like that. This has been done since the enlightenment" (p6). At the same time, the new spirituality would also have something to gain from a meeting and cooperation:
Many in the New Age perhaps for some good reason reject the academic world as a rather dead institution. They are doing their extremely advanced but lifeless teachings that say nothing about life, and have nothing to give man in any deeper sense, but just keep up with their hard-nosed theories. But I still think that's the way we have to go. I don't want a saber. Someone like this who says that no, we shouldn't engage in critical thinking, just fly out. Without it, it has to enter… That's where, in fact, I still believe that academia is God's tool to clear thoughts of garbage. And it will take time. But it has to get in there. And it has to get out of there. It's hard for me to accept those who want to reject the academic. We must dare to put it to trial, and be prepared for it (p6).
Respondents' interest in physics, astronomy, etc.
Most respondents also get into aspects of the conventional natural sciences that interest them, such as physics and astronomy. Steven Hawkins is mentioned with appreciation, as is Albert Einstein. Einstein said he was a believer:
I just finished reading Stephen Hawkins this summer. He has written one or two popular science books where he talks about the universe, and about black holes, and the stars and everything, in a very exciting way. And what goes again where it goes again even in this spiritual reasoning, somehow. Einstein believed in God and the Creator and so on. Yes, it's very interesting actually. A lot of what people have denied… Or a lot, now it sounds like I know and know everything, but… There's a possibility, I think, that… Or at least there will be evidence of, or investigated, in some way (p1).
References to the greatness of space often appear in the interviewees' description of their spiritual interest and the understanding this has given them:
If you start thinking about our smallness, it's so breathtaking if you think about the universe and how pitiful… If the universe is 7.5 billion years old, and we live for 75 years, so it's like nothing, it's just so laughable, it's not even a drop in the ocean like (p1).
One of the interviewees recently saw a picture of the Crabb Nebula on the internet. Reminders of the size of the universe make things like spiritual levels of evolution and forms of existence feel less unlikely:
I rolled out that picture and looked at it. That's only a fraction of the universe. Which is so incredibly large and complex… So I thought, what the hell is all this for something. Here we are, thinking and… It must be much more than we can imagine at all. Then there must also be development levels that are both lower than ours and higher than where (p5).
This connection between the broad perspective of the new spirituality and astronomy can also be staggering in a painful way:
It depends on how seriously you take your worldview. Reincarnation and Karma. If you really want to take it seriously, it turns the cosmos upside down. And that's a pretty heavy part, to work with mentally. What kind of world do I live in, including galaxies and stars, and like (p6).
Many words and concepts that appear in the interview responses have a rational or scientific connotation: laws, principles (as in "the slaying principle"), working hypothesis, frequencies, geometry, scales, systems, energies, light, perspective, atoms, hindsight, logic, synchronicity, talent cores, fractals, holograms, dimensions, chemistry ("chemistry of thoughts"), resonances, such as the chemistry of the mind. That we see loved ones life after life works as with "radio transmitters and receivers". One respondent says, speaking of a phenomenon that science so far neglects, that "one must never despise empiricism" (p6). Talents and qualities bring ourselves into the new life. Such things can be seen as our own "spiritual DNA": "It's something you take with you. So it's… What to call it… a kind of psychic DNA, or spiritual DNA, how you want to call it" (p5). Past-life memories that are perceived to explain problems in this life can also be "metaphors" (p9). The answers and explanations that come with the new spirituality can be used as a working hypothesis:
There are too many things that just can't be ignored, I think. You can take it as a working hypothesis, if you now work according to scientific research methods, you can have it as a working hypothesis. It can explain a lot of what otherwise cannot be explained (p5).
However, such a spiritual working hypothesis can be difficult to abandon when anomalous data become known, admits one of the respondents: "Any deviation from the first working hypothesis one takes on board is very difficult to manage" (p6).
Religion and the Church.
Religion is also an outdated paradigm. Christianity has had a mission to fulfill, at a time when people had no ability to absorb more advanced answers to the big questions. However, new discoveries, such as in quantum physics, have made old explanations insufficient and the questions are pushing for other answers. The Church and its representatives find it difficult to answer certain rescues people come up with or to explain certain phenomena. They like to argue that God's ways are inexhaustible, which is not correct from a new perspective.
All in all, the criticism is against the Church's teaching that this doctrine is simplistic. Christianity is too narrow and narrow. To begin to take an interest in the new worldview can be likened to "coming out of the box" (p10). Throughout history, religion has been the basis of many wars, dictatorships and other kinds of systems that oppressed people, which shows that religion is also a potentially very dangerous phenomenon.
An initially pure impulse may have been distorted over the years:
When such a spiritual impulse comes when it eventually becomes a world religion, it is a person who presents his doctrine to disciples or followers in a fairly pure way… and then eventually it becomes in history, so to speak, it becomes a little watered down (p2).
The church's rituals are described as outdated: "In general, I find this formalized, all these rituals. It feels very mossy and old-fashioned to me" (p1). "For me, the church has been very marked by guilt and… that boring sin, very much so" (p1). Priests may be too preoccupied with what they want to say and insensitive to how visitors to the Church perceive it: "Skip this with sin and forgiveness and garbage, and so actually talk about life and love, and where to go and what to think about" (p3).
One of the respondents describes how her image of Jesus has changed:
Yes, I've never had a relationship with Jesus, because I've thought he… No it was too painful, and too much sin and guilt, somehow, associated with it… But then… And then I felt so strongly that he was actually there nearby, he WAS there with me, somehow. And then I just felt so liberated by it (p1).
One of the respondents describes herself as very religious, but says she has never felt at home in church. She grew up in a Christian family and, growing up, was very involved in church activities. But eventually she got tired of the intrigues and, for example, the resistance that existed against female priests. She described this as "insanely petty." The Church of Sweden's narrow view of homosexuality prompted another of the interviewees to request an exit from there. This approach was perceived as such a major error of thought that the interviewee no longer wanted to be a part of this or contribute his tax money. The fact that the Church of Sweden has now reassessed the view of homosexuality and allows same-sex marriage sees the same respondent as a development in the right direction.
Several of the respondents highlight things they appreciate about the church, such as music and stillness. The church room itself is described as an oasis, beautiful and peaceful. In a church, you can also experience community. The Church as an institution still has an important role to play in society. An example of this is how it can bring people together after a major accident or disaster. The Church is a great forum, an institution that people need, after all. However, priests need to update themselves and gain an understanding of the new perspectives. There are also good priests, who, for example, begin to question the doctrine of sin. The church can function as an oasis, for example when there has been a disaster:
If there's an accident, a disaster, you go to church. Somehow it gives the people security, somehow, and it's quiet, and it's nice, and it's beautiful, and peaceful. And I think we need that oasis somewhere. But of course there will not be a priest who stands and grinds like (p3).
The church has also changed over time. It has had to give up its absolute claim that the Bible should be the word of God. This is to "be part of the intellectual game" (p6). To live in a country as secular as Sweden is seen as a positive thing.
The Bible has been distorted throughout history. Above all, it is the Catholic Church that is responsible for this. The Church has edited what is to be included in Jesus' teaching. The reason for this has been that they wanted to safeguard their own power, to reserve the right to issue indulgences, etc. Another motive has been to maintain a patriarchal order.There are other gospels, even one written by a woman, who have been suppressed. An important, alternative gospel is the Gospel of Thomas, which was found back in the 1940s, but then hidden away by the Catholic Church for forty years. What is so inconvenient about this particular gospel is that it says nothing about sin. In the Gospel of Thomas, the focus is instead on love. Sin is something that the men of the Church have found to keep the people at bay:
It's really true that there are other gospels that tell us other things. Thomas, there is, and then there's some woman, too, who's written in other ways. But the Catholic Church has yes wanted to keep this patriarchal as well as the view, where the women were invisible and yes full of sin /laughter/ (p1).
And it wasn't until the 80's that this was published, so for forty years the Church kept these hidden, because they didn't want it to come out [I: Why not then] No it overturns the power of the Church [I: How] Yes… The Bible is written many times by the Church. Yes… There is no sin… for instance. The church lives pretty well on it. Now is the time for the church to move on. The churches are empty. Why are they? Because they have nothing to give (p3).
One respondent believes that what is in the Bible may have been corrected or adapted right from the start: "Yes, and it has had its function. What would Jesus have done for the people of that time? They did not have our concepts as we have today like that, so religion has been corrected to those who have embraced it" (p5).
But the Bible is or may even have been a source of inspiration for respondents. Many of them say that they have read it for some time, especially the New Testament. One of the respondents was influenced during his confirmation, primarily by the Gospels. However, he already felt that these were treated superficially in the teaching. The Bible feels dead, says another interviewee, it does not speak to her at all.
Jesus, et al.
The portal figures of the major world leagues, Buddha, Moses, and jesus in particular, are spoken of in many places and with respect: "Yes, someone understage what this is all about" (p3). At the same time, Jesus was an ordinary person, in parallel with performing miracles, one of the respondents points out. This is presented convincingly in a book by the author Marianne Fredriksson:
Marianne Fredriksson has written an exciting book about Mary Magdalene. It's worth reading. Jesus was an ordinary man. He had a family and he was… He did all this amazing, too, but… So the Church, and yes the Catholic Church above all, has chosen what should be in the Bible, and decent to it after its, yes… (p1).
The image of Jesus has several facets:
He doesn't judge anyone. He cares, even if they are miserable and thieves and bandits, so he doesn't judge, but actually engages with everyone. Then he bangs his fist on the table. What was that… The multitudes in the temple, or what was it… Wasn't it the case that… A trading place, or something like that. Then he was. So that he reacts and acts as well, when people do not do what they should do (p3).
The interviewees show a great interest in theological issues. Christianity is often attacked with arguments of reason, such as the interpretation of Christ's death on the cross, or the notion of sin or guilt. There are many expressions from the Bible in the interview answers: To treat others the way you want to be treated; The law of sowing and harvesting; To turn the other cheek; It is in him that we move and are to, and: Whoever has him shall receive, and he who has not shall also get rid of what he does not have. Speaking of the personal relationship of God, an interviewee refers to "this Augustine thing", and in an argument about esoterics and exoterics, it is mentioned that Paul should have made a distinction between "giving milk and giving meat" (p2).
One of the respondents highlights the Christian expression "Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom", in which he believes there is a lot. He stresses, however, that this is an odd view for someone who has an interest in newness: "Yes, this fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, I lie low on that when I am in new-age circles. That's what the New Age wants. First, it belongs to the old, the old age" (p6).
A new paradigm.
This spirituality that the interviewees embrace represents a new paradigm for how reality can be understood. This paradigm will eventually have greater and greater influence and eventually relieve the prevailing religious, scientific and, for example, psychological paradigms. The new worldview offers explanations of things that the older paradigms are uncomprehending about, need to resort to more far-fetched hypotheses to explain, or on which they claim there is not even an explanation. The newness has great explanatory potential: "You see everything in a big process and you see a pretty clear map of how it works" (p4). However, not many people are yet ready to embrace this new paradigm.
The transition to the new paradigm will take place on the day when science discovers and recognizes the existence of "higher laws of matter", that is, the spiritual aspect of existence, this which makes telepathy, etc., possible. Two hundred years ago, microorganisms were seen as "metaphysics", today this has become "mainstream". Normal science is about to make a similar discovery again (p11). Science is not entirely wrong, it is more about what context its findings and observations are put into. Here the new spirituality can be helpful, a step along the way, to be able to see things in a new light. One of the respondents likens the new spirituality to a crutch, for the time being:
If materialism is not true, what is it like the rest, then it is there beyond… I don't think we need to abandon any of the scientific… Facts… But only the context in which we put them, we need to expand. And then the question is just like, well, okay, what's the bigger context, and that's like the QUESTION. And these answers that you can find in the new age, they are good because they help us… Well maybe it could be like this, well maybe I can stick to this for a while like, waiting for something better, or like… They give us some support along the way, a crutch (p6).
How the conventional psychology views an individual's development is in principle true. However, this needs to include past lives to understand the full background. Newness is also not contrary to the conventional theory of evolution. This is also true in principle. What escapes the usual theory of evolution, however, is that it is the same individuals who are born time and time again, who make experiences and develop. Not only the individual develops, but the whole of humanity. Yes, in fact, all life, even the plants, will develop and eventually become humans. One of the respondents believes that it is possible to see "evolution itself as god's work… What's going on is a re-creation… from animals to humans" (p6).
The thoughts that exist within the new spirituality, about a collective unconscious, etc., may one day be supported even by mainstream science:
But today… if you then do as some new ageists make them interpret, for example, quantum physics or such things, or Jung for the part, in… So there are a lot of opportunities to get things like this in, like consciousness maybe being collective, for example, or there is a subconscious collective and such things. So I think that science will hopefully then maybe one day be able to study things like this in a more non-materialistic way, or that goes a little away from the classic as well as the perspective, that you are just a biological device (p2).
The older paradigms live on partly because we have become accustomed to looking at the world in a certain way:
Because we always have these glasses, and that's our… All our… Beliefs, huh… There is no good Swedish word. But that's what Set says… These beliefs are what shape that we create, and then we shape reality in that form. So we don't really see what's here. Because really, this is just energy, everything, but we… You know how the brain interprets… And then there are all our learned… Our whole culture, culture, everything. These are the glasses we wear (p10).
There are researchers with a new understanding who will be able to make important contributions to the current science, e.g. to physics. One of the respondents mentions a researcher with his own laboratory in the US who will possibly succeed in formulating the "unit theory" that has eluded physicists for so long:
And there are those who believe that, well, he's right, as he can be the Einstein of the 21st century. Because he has continued… Einstein wasn't quite ready. They haven't gotten together. Einstein did not believe in quantum physics. Because it doesn't fit with relativity. And yet it is the same world. Our little world is made of this big one. All our atoms are in everything va (p10).
Humanity needs to get back to the "absolute truths," according to one respondent:
Basically, I don't think we'll get out of that. We have to dare to look for absolute truths, in order to have something to go on. All views are equally good said in postmodernism. Yes, except for the view that all approaches are equally good, because it is better. And you don't get out of those knots until you dare to think of absolute truths (p6).
The major world religions have the same core, they all come from a kind of "degeneration" that existed at an early stage. People who become "enlightened" get an insight into this core and what they write and say is therefore very consistent, even if they formulate it in different ways. The new worldview is a representative of this original religion. In the future, all people will embrace this view of life. "For some people would say that but you compare world religions that cannot be compared at all. There is nothing in common between Buddha and Christ, and I mean that it still does" (p2). However, starting to search for the absolute truths can be dangerous, or at least their application may be. Yet that's where humanity needs to go:
And have you once dared to base ours on the fact that okay we are looking for something absolute, but we do not feel it… There is also a certain relaxation as well as in the soul. You can get out of this relative… Relative knowledge is a bit comfortable, but also always a little… Yes, but what is really true. If you dare to rest in ignorance of the absolute, you still have some kind of… Okay, I don't know what's absolutely true, but something has to be… There are things we don't know, you should be able to live with that (p6).
With postmodernism, the big ideas, the total ideologies, have perished. This is a hallmark of the time we are living in right now. One respondent points out that he takes a positive view of things like liberalism and pluralism, but that he nevertheless hopes and believes in a renaissance for a more cohesive idea of life. These absolute truths are, in fact, simple:
I think some of these truths are very simple. I think they exist today, but we find it hard to verbalize them. I think there's something in that that that it's better to forgive than to retaliate. We can't really… It has to be put into context, and do a lot of it, but some simple things I think we have… It's on the tracks, already there.I don't think it's just something remotely mysterious. And I think a lot of it is part of general human knowledge in some way, but we find it very difficult to give it good words (p6).
The new spiritual image of reality is very positive. This is described as "an unreserved positive perspective" (p6).
Faith and knowledge.
Traditional religiosity or belief differs from newness in several ways. Faith is associated with the person not questioning, not thinking for himself, but only accepting what authorities say, as opposed to interested in the new spirituality who need logical reasoning to accept a claim. The new spirituality is understandable in terms of reason. Instead of accepting only certain dogmas, it is possible to examine for yourself what new writers and teachers claim to be true.
What can make someone a believer is a lack of security: "You are insecure in yourself, and then you seek safety in the outside world. A lot of people want fixed rules like this Bible, the Koran, or whatever you want… They need it. But I think it's because the internal structure isn't that strong" (p10).
Although religion teaches certain supernatural things, the believer is often content with these and regards other things, such as some that newness encompasses, as strange or improbable. This is because it does not say it in the Bible and cannot be "squeezed into this old" (p10). Examples of things christians are inclined not to believe in are "out-of-body" experiences. However, being so faithful to a limited system of thought can come at a price for the believer, who runs the risk of becoming a divided person. The future may bring some new discoveries that the believer will then find difficult to integrate into his belief system. The hardest part will be for the most fanatical who even deny evolution and, for example, believe that dinosaurs wandered around here on Earth a few thousand years ago.
We say you're a Christian, for example, and then it says there and there and there in the Bible that you can't… or that doesn't exist, or it's dangerous and so on, then you'll start denying what you've experienced. And then you get like a divided person, it won't be a whole person, because then you have to be true to your old system. But you've experienced something that goes outside the box yourself, and you can't squeeze that into this old one. And if you are not prepared to give up your old structures, so to speak, but want to sit within that framework, then it is you free, because it should be all people free as well. But at the same time, how can you grow, like men… in the soul then. Because then you will deny the experience you might have va (p10).
There are people with profound insights into life that they have not gained from studying, but through a kind of prophetic self-vision. These people can speak with great authority on existential and metaphysical issues. They are not like the priests, who only reproduce what is in the Bible or what they themselves believe and think. Those who, through their own experience, have gained an insight into the greatest perspectives know that it is a certain way. When you feel confident that a teacher or writer has such in-depth insight, then you can indist that it's probably true what that person says or writes. This can then become a conviction which, although not based on one's own experience, is nevertheless distinct from religious beliefs:
You are religious and go to church and pray to God, and this whole choir, and you are in the choir and yes everything they do in the church. You live in your little world, and you believe in God, you believe in Jesus, you believe in what is in the Bible. But believe me, you just think… Martinus, for example, he knows. So there's a difference. But I also think I know then, because I trust what Martinus writes. And everything I have read and everything I have done and everything I have experienced, the more suggest that Martinus is right than one has in church, with sin and such. I think I know, I don't think so (p3).
Since this is a conviction that can be confirmed, you cannot doubt the new worldview either. Through the study of new literature, it is possible to get an experience of coherence, that the sayings actually fit together. This is lacking in Christian theology, which is perceived to have many "loose ends". The new worldview is perceived as more solid. However, some new doctrines may be more coherent than others.
It also has to do with the fact that it is about FAITH, which is based on… based on an assumption with very loose grounds. And in my case, when it comes to hylozoics, it's a conviction that… A conviction based on… Assumptions based on conviction. To me, this makes perfect sense. It fits into my worldview, it fits into the science education and education that I have. And there is really nothing contrary to this belief, while the Christian faith it hangs on incredibly loose threads. It is contrary to all sense and reason, and science and everything, and then it is not so strange if you doubt there. While here… I mean, as I said, somewhere initially, it would turn out that something is contrary to these theses, well then I'm prepared to reconsider it of course (p11).
Own experiences of the supernatural also allow the individual to claim that he or she knows, no matter what others may think or think about this. However, it is understandable that others may doubt or be skeptical of what the individual claims is true on self-perceived grounds, but this need not affect one's own convictions:
For I have an understanding of people who do not believe in the spiritual and do not believe in spirit beings, or life before or after, as well as so… That you can talk to the dead and the spirits and so… It's frustrating for me, who knows it is (p9).
An interviewee describes a third position, in relation to the new ideas, which is neither faith nor knowledge:
I don't have faith like this and this, and I believe in this at all costs. So I really have nothing to doubt… If I was wrong, I was right. I'm not in a situation like that, I look at it and there is, but it's not something like that. I believe in this, if I was right, I was wrong. Without it… No, there is no such thing. On the other hand, I can feel… If you… I don't have a relationship with it or what to say (p4).
The search can also be something that the individual has more or less been forced to do, via, for example, a life crisis: "I am not a natural seeker, but it was forced by circumstances. And as I said, as those circumstances go off, I have to constantly push myself to keep the search alive" (p6). It is possible to make a distinction between being a finder and being a seeker and possibly there are degrees between them:
Although I would say that I am a seeker more than a finder. I don't have a… I don't want to say that I have a fixed outlook on life that I think is true. And before you can land in some kind of… I haven't landed, I'm not looking to land. But you might still be able to find some kind of attitude in life so… It's not that stable (p6).
One of the respondents is interested in so-called conspiracy theories, but she points out that not all of them are to her liking. She distinguishes between those who seem sensible and others who aren't: "And then you can always have the skeptic radar on, because I've always had that… So you can weed out all the shit like…" (p10). One of the interviewees describes herself as skeptical and questioning and that this is an asset, for example, in the interaction with the thoughts and experiences that belong to her spiritual beliefs:
I'm so skeptical. But I also think it's good to be. And I also think I am because I also have a feeling that I'm going to get quite far in this life. I've done it now, but I'm going to go even further as I work on it. And I will. It is also good to be skeptical. And be able to question (p9).
One of the respondents emphasizes that he needs his freedom of thought: "I think that has little to do with my orientation. I want my freedom of thought, I want it, wherever it comes." (p6). The fact that it would be possible to channel sometimes encounters criticism. An interviewee who is interested in one of these "channels" doesn't care so much about how it really is: "Then there are theories that it's only her subconscious that haunts, and then that it's really channeling. You can believe what you want about it, but it's interesting to read, it's really interesting what you want" (p10).
Alternative paths to knowledge or certainty.
The interviewees mention several alternative routes to knowledge. For example, it is possible for a man, if the conditions are right, to gain deep insights into existence in a prophetic way. This path to direct knowledge, without going through studies, research, or experiments is likened, as mentioned earlier, to that person being "enlightened." Such a special comprehension is also called "intuition". The knowledge obtained in this way is of a high, pure, and complete character, and these individuals are self-written teachers in the spiritual field because they can see and understand things that ordinary people cannot see or understand. These individuals experience the "outcome of existence" (p6).
The conditions required to be "enlightened" have to do with certain experiences that that person has made in previous lives. It is a development issue. It is ultimately the development of everyone to experience this state. People like Jesus and Buddha were both such "enlightened" persons. The difference between this type of understanding and when you are referred to speculating or researching is like comparing the human comprehension with that of the animal, or as instead of just being able to weigh and measure the characteristics of a book, actually being able to read in it:
You can kind of analyze the paper, and count the letters, and weigh how much it weighs, and how long and big and all that stuff. Let me know a lot about this book, but nothing about what it's about. And like this intuition then, it's like the ability to read the language of existence. And then we ourselves will be able to experience as well as the eternal truths, so to speak (p6).
The respondents give many examples of how they themselves have been able to get the correctness of the new worldview confirmed to them. For example, it is possible to test in one's everyday life the principles that the new spirituality describes. In this way, in some cases, a personal certainty is obtained that outweighs the usual opinion or what science means is possible or true. For example, if the individual focuses his thought on something that he wishes to obtain or achieve and this is then realized, it confirms that there are invisible ways to influence the world. With the help of a so-called "medium", it is possible to contact a relative who has died. One of the respondents has himself taken a course to develop such media ability and through this training received confirmation that the spirit world is real:
And then I trained with one of my fellow students from time to time… It's a man and I think he's wearing white pants, and so… I don't know what I said, if I said pantyhose or what I said, and I also thought that now I'm out on slippery ice, because one is so unsure of you… But right, she started crying. Then it's her dad, she's sure it's her dad (p3).
It is possible to be enriched in an invisible way by another person's progress. One of the respondents describes how she captured what her mother went through in another place:
And I also feel that all the work she does, it generates positive for me. It was like a weekend so… It was like the divide or the moon… I just felt like, damn it, something huge has let me in. Just like you can feel if you've been on a good fucking course, or at a great healing session, when it's really let things go. Then you can feel this… Really this difference. Oh, damn, that's cool. I felt that. What the hell have I done for something? I haven't done anything, no. I haven't even meditated, what's it like… What's that? And then the same day, or the next day, I talked to my mom. And then she tells me that she's done the fucking thing on fredan, and let go of a giant thing. I just, well, okay. This is the first time I've really had it so proven that this is the case. The job she does it generates for me too (p9).
Several respondents testify about how they can live in situations, and feel compassion for people who experience something difficult, even though the respondents themselves have demonstrably not been close to experiencing something similar in this life. This is seen as confirmation that we have experience from past existences. A woman describes it this way:
Or like watching documentaries about things on TV. Sometimes you can feel… Oh, I'm really getting started on this. It could be something you've experienced yourself, right? Or that you think, yes, I know that. Like when you visit a city you've already seen, you think. Or that. But also that, yes, that… How the men are doing in the war, you know that. It's obvious what it feels like to be in the trenches. I know what it's like to be a man and be in jail and get fucking bullied for being weak, like. I know all about this (p8).
It is also possible to communicate with animals and to know how they feel and how they feel about different situations. An interviewee has consulted an "animal communicator" to find out why her dog was so anxious. The communicator had then talked to the dog and was then able to reproduce important parts of the conversation:
Yes she was alone with N then, in the kitchen at home, and then she wrote down what they were talking about and then she read it to me later. I wasn't there then. It was really exciting. Well anyway, then she told this animal communicator about it, that she didn't like being alone, that she didn't trust me to come back, well I don't know everything she said. It was great (p1).
"Synchronicity" are meaningful coincidences that cannot be explained exhaustively with probability calculations or common sense. Such coincidences testify that we are more connected to each other than it may seem or what the conventional science claims. Behind certain events, it is possible to imagine an invisible planning. Some meetings may be perceived as meaning for them to take place:
I feel guided a lot. You meet the people you're going to meet, you get the meetings you're supposed to have. It could be… Everything can come to you, such as a book, so that you get a greater understanding of something you are in right now. All these synchronicities (p9).
That trauma and the like in previous existences can cause symptoms and problems in this life, which can disappear by reliving the original experiences, is confirmation that these memories and experiences are genuine and that we have lived before. Several respondents mention that friends and relatives from past lives can often be recognized in the eyes when the people meet in the next life. Although the appearance changes, there is something about the individual's gaze that is constant, which can give a strong certainty that it is not the first time you have met that person:
There's a difference when you look in living life in the eye, than when you look at the photo. I had seen him in a photo. And I just said… Look, Rolf, I feel… Because he's into this, too. I feel like we've known each other before, I said. Yes, he said. So just… Yes /laugh/ Great fun. And then it was just so… (p10).
One of the respondents feels fortunate as she has had experiences of things that are out of the ordinary from childhood:
And then this thing with spirit contact and things like this, I have that in and of itself. So that I belong to these a little fortunate, I say, because my childhood was not fun, but on the other hand, it meant that my playmates were not playmates of a human being, but it was these little people then. In the woods or in the garden that I had. And I could even tell those classmates… To impress them… I could say this, that your room looks like this and that, even though I've never been there. And they thought it was scary, because I'd never been there. I have things like that, so my intuition is very strong in this case (p7).
The fact that someone already as a child has experienced a strong resistance to eating meat is seen as a sign that these are experiences, or habits, they have brought with them from a previous life. This can be understood from the idea that at some point in their development everyone should develop such an aversion to eating meat:
I couldn't be in the kitchen if I saw raw meat, then I walked out of there. [Me: Yes. What do you think of that, I don't know. I think I've been a vegetarian in a previous life. [Me: Which explains why you] Yes, there I have… In fact, there are a few different things like… Meat was so clear. And then when I was sixteen, it was such a relief to become a vegetarian (p4).
One respondent tells of the near-death experiences she had in surgeries. For her, these have confirmed that there is an existence after death:
Then I went through operations myself and got experiences, and then it becomes even more noticeable, because then you have not only read about it, but now I have experienced it myself… What it's like to die and enter a new world. And I did, I did two surgeries. And both times… As the staff said… We were losing you. And then I think like this, well then maybe that's the moment I disappeared into this other world… It was a beautiful world (p7).
Some reading experiences can be daunting. An interviewee tells us that many years ago he found a new book in a store, read a few pages and then laughed for a whole week. It was as if a weight had been lifted off his shoulders: "It was just the front page. So it was like putting the key in the lock about" (p5). The author of the book is the one who the respondent still, after several decades, thinks gives the best description of reality.
Criticism of newness.
There are also many criticisms of newness and the new age. Such spirituality, for example, can be perceived as overly commercial, fuzzy, dogmatic or group-oriented. It is emphasized how a new world of imagination can sometimes lead to a simplified thinking. Supporters have then gone too far in their interpretations or generalizations. These species are not something that respondents want to be associated with. One of the respondents is interested in the "Law of Attraction" and the like, but she points out how some literature she has encountered handles these things in an overly banal way. That if you think about something, a certain car, for example, you should get it shortly: "Think about a car and it will be yours tomorrow approximately!" (p4). Such literature is described as "borderline cases". One of the respondents had considered putting her children in the Anthroposophic Walldorf school, but changed her mind when she saw the information material the school sent out:
I thought there was a lot of fear at that school. For example, they sent out a picture, a description of a child sitting on a rocking horse, a real toy horse like this and rode, and then there was a cross over it. That's wrong. There was a child sitting on a log. That's right, because then… And dolls shouldn't have faces either, because then… It was more right to sit on the log, because then the mind had to work, and you had to imagine that it was a horse. They promote the imagination. The man who was on the real horse didn't have to imagine, so it was bad. But of course it doesn't work, that the imagination stops, but the one who sits on that other horse, he continues to play that it is a real horse, or that he is out on some meadows or that he is in a situation… If he had a horse of flesh and blood, he would keep playing. The imagination does not stop with the objects, it is also an incredibly material sight, I think (p4).
When a certain ideology or certain ideas about what is right and wrong are overemphasize, it can resemble brainwashing, even within the new spirituality:
But I like… I like people that you see flaws, and I like… I like this, in both… All sorts of things like that, so you can see that… There is room to be human… And I don't like sitting like that… wet-in-wet in beautiful colors. And then it becomes very boring art. I think it's going to be like brainwashing, that everyone should be the same. I want the individual to come forward and do what they want (p4).
One of the interviewees is interested in the UFO issue and is too likely to be visited by extraterrestrial civilizations. However, she objects to what she describes as "religious ufology":
There are many ufology societies that are very much into the divine… They are so divine and… No, I don't think… I believe in equals. Not this to look up to… Oh, they're gods. Then we'll end up in the same… Then we have a new Bible again va (p10).
A new doctrine can be more or less systematic or elaborate. Some directions are content with "let's worship the goddess again" (p6). One respondent, who reads very different literature in the new age area, notes that there is "a lot of rubbish" as well and that it is important to be able to sleep. There are course yards where the goal is for the participants to develop spiritual abilities. This can be misguided and even dangerous. Nyandligheten is an industry with many fortune seekers. A lot of it is about making money. The fact that the range is so "sprawling", for example in book boxes that sell such literature, is a sign of this, according to one respondent.
Personal problems can be understood too concretely, based on an imagined causality with causes in past lives. Reincarnation therapists tend to ignore the fact that there may be a symbolic dimension to what their clients tell us. They take it too literally. If I'm afraid of water, it doesn't have to mean I've drowned in a previous life. Such things can also have a symbolic meaning, one respondent points out, that it rather says something about how I am experiencing my life right now, that I may be "drowning mentally in my situation, of all demands" (p4).
Sometimes causal reasoning based on the law of karma becomes even cynical. If a three-year-old child is murdered, there are those who want to argue that then in a previous life that child should have killed a child who was three years old. This is certainly a possible reason, but it is unwise to latch on to this explanation. The Law of Karma teaches that man himself is responsible for how his life becomes. Nevertheless, it is possible to criticize this notion, according to which every human being is entirely the cause of his own destiny. The objections are not that it could not be true in principle, but that it can lead to a bad attitude if this is emphasised too much. It will be too selfish. After all, life is a relationship with others.
The claim that each "creates their own reality" can lead to a lack of empathy. If someone has been in a car accident, then it is insensitive to ask that person why she attracted that particular experience:
And now it's become a lot like this, you say with new-age people… "You create your own reality." And then this is going to be… Yes, someone has a car accident… Why did you create that for? So you have to blame yourself. I can't agree with that attitude… Some people think, "I don't have to worry about anyone else, I just have to worry about myself." Because I'm creating my reality. That's my world (p10).
In the short term, we cannot make very big changes in our lives, according to one respondent. The idea that "thought is creative" and the like is based on the assumption that existence is built in an arbitrary way, which it is not. One of the respondents describes certain parts of the new age as "a subjectivist swamp" that he personally wants nothing to do with. When people remember past lives then it is often in the form of celebrities and great figures from the history of the world, which indicates that there may be an element of self-deception in the whole thing. The idea that you can attract or attract anything, just by focusing on it, is all too simple:
The Secret is on it, it's great poppis like this in new age huh… And you can wish for exactly what you want, and you get it, because the universe is like a big candy factory, and so just wish… If you want enough, like this… Because you are creating your reality. But I think that's only one half of the equation (p10).
I don't give a about it, and they have to blame themselves. And it doesn't matter anyway, because everything exists and everything… and blablabla. If you use this philosophy, it's like a copout. You run away (p10).
The interest in finding out who you've been in a previous life is in itself suspicious and there's room for a lot of self-deception:
I would say that the interest in… this slightly romantic interest in past lives and so, what, speculation about it, it's very much related to what I call newness-newage-cripples huh, like that. That it's these bored, middle-aged housewives who drink herbal tea and talk about being princesses in ancient Egypt and things like that… Yes, I have been and… That there will be some kind of, well, sentimental pastime va (p11).
An interviewee puts the very concept of "spiritual" into question. What exactly do we mean by that? She exemplifies with poetry and art:
The spiritual is not in the description, it is a very materialistic way of seeing it. The spiritual is in how you build something. I mean, a poetry doesn't become spiritual just because you write heaven ten times, or… But that's what fits between the words and how to construct it up (p4).
And I get very tired of looking at descriptions like this that are supposed to be so-called fine art. I like this thing in that case art in some way, and that you feel that it is a human being, and you know the person's inner being, and that there is someone who is looking, and that it can take up terrible situations, but themselves as well as how… This intelligent way of manifesting it, and how a spirituality seeps through. But for example, like Edith Södergran, she can be very spiritual, I think, even though she writes darkly, she writes that she lies at the bottom of a dark well for example. It's not heaven or anything, but there's so much longing and love that it holds, and that's what I think is spirituality (p4).
"We're going to evolve into, like, Jesus. When we're done, we're like him."
What the interviewees say about what is the ultimate goal of humanity and with life here on earth.
Developments on Earth have gone through different phases. Since the advent of industrialism, development has accelerated. This development is progressing. It can be described as "the energy level should be raised here on earth" (p1). We are being re-created from animals to real people. Tendencies to be overcome are such as desire for ownership, self-assertion, egoism and nationalism. This will be done primarily through natural development, not through external edicts, laws, etc. "There's a little bit of a difference between us and the Stone Age man who clubs the neighbor to death there. So it's happened a little bit. But it is both darkness and light, until the date we realize that we are part of the whole" (p5).
Human history is seen in an ethical or moral context. The usual religions have so far played a crucial role in this:
Thousands of years ago, we were barbarians. We killed each other, and it was like… Yes, what did we have? We had Vikings and yes it was raw, and revenge was done on families and killed hello wildly. It was really barbaric. Then came the Old Testament. And then people actually started to sharpen up and become a little more humane. And then came the New Testament, because then you were open to a little more love and things like this (p3).
There is too much focus on money in the world. Criticism is directed at people who are braceing themselves for the economic crisis:
Today it's money that governs, basically everything, I think. And to actually get away from this money… Money is to be made all the time. Look at this crash that's been now. All these billions that the state has pumped into all these countries. This money is missing, and it's missing because someone got it. Everyone who's got all these billions (p3).
The media goes the establishment's errands and chooses to remain silent about things that could be inconvenient, such as signs and even evidence that the Earth is actually visited by individuals from other planets:
It's just that there are no journalists who have picked up the data, because they go like sheep cooks like this and just run their usual stuff, huh. And then there's this stuff… It's taboo. They can't write about it, or don't want to, or I don't know what it is (p10).
There are journalists and writers who could help make these new perspectives known and respected. These are people who are perceived to have knowledge and a positive interest in things that are on the limit, but who for some reason choose to lie low or even ridicule new and interesting information. One of the great morning newspapers is described as such a "stop block". There is also too much focus on negative news:
I think it's going in the right direction. Humanity is moving in the right direction and… I am very much against this negative news that is, and the disaster alarms and all the misery that we are inundated with. And now it's about the climate. It's a huge overinterpretation of all the negative things I think (p1).
When asked what the respondent would do if she gained power, she replied that she would replace politicians with wise people:
We teach our kids that they can't fight, and then we put the guys in the military and then they start shooting, and then there's war somewhere and then we put them there and then they kill a lot of people. But you can't go out on the street and kill anyone here, you get punished, but if you kill someone in war, that's okay(p3).
One of the respondents claims that you will be considered "stupid in the head" if you claim that there are spaceships that can get to our planet from other civilizations. However, there should be information about such things on NASA's website, she claims, it's just that no one has made an effort to find it. Authorities in different countries have long covered up knowledge and observations made by visitors from outer space. However, some such classified information has now begun to come out, after researchers requested it. The security services of different countries cooperate on projects that the public is not told anything about. These authorities have knowledge of things like reincarnation and are busy trying to track down certain souls who have reincarnated, such as Adolf Hitler. One of the interviewees recently had a harrowing meeting:
After this conversation I had with this man yesterday, I don't know anything anymore. There they say you can decide where the souls are going, and you have to make amends for past lives, and now they're looking for Hitler to get his soul, and kill the man hitler is in. And this is the Swedish government that is doing this. High-ranking security officials. It sounds crazy (p9).
A growing interest in new-age thoughts suggests that progress is being made:
Yes, we are becoming more and more human, and there is more and more love that is actually emerging. And we think more about life, it's a lot like this new age, and whatever it is, a lot of people who are interested in things like this (p3).
The earthly paradise is not so far away. An interviewee makes a parallel to technological developments:
But if you look at it from an astronomical point of view, it's a short time. And we can only see how the development has been forced since yes since industrialism began, for example, it is going furiously fast… If you buy a computer today and go home with it, it is already outdated when you are at home with it, as soon as possible. So that if the development is forced… Now it seems like it's going on a curve like this… Everything is moving at a fast pace now, and faster it will go (p5).
Humanity has crossed a critical line:
If you have survived this period that we have, then you can't go back again. Then there has to be a forward development. And then why should we… Imagine that you have a free… You have access to free energy. No one has to argue about space. We have access to space, because we can control gravity. We have free energy. Anyone can get a spaceship, get a house, get everything… We don't have to work for bread. Then why should we go to war? Why should we fight? When there is… Many of the reasons disappear… Because that's why we do it, because we think we have to get ourselves together. That's the mentality (P10).
There are many signs that things are moving in the right direction. At the grassroots level, many people get their eyes on phenomena such as circles in crop fields, says one respondent:
This summer, people like that have just fallen in. Plus this thing with cornfield circles, some guys who were down there by themselves checking, and went into these, and then told me. So that I have connected a network of contacts, especially in the last six months, a lot has happened. I've never had that before. And one gives the other. So I think there's a lot going on now at the grassroots level that's not visible (p10).
According to some prophecies, the world is facing cataclysmic and positive changes: "The energy level will be raised here on earth, a lot of things will happen, and time will go faster, and all sorts of dramatically will happen" (p1).
Visitors from extraterrestrial civilizations may soon make themselves known in a more unambiguous way to humanity:
I think we have a lot of stuff that's going to happen in the years that are coming. I think so, but it's not certain to be. This will probably happen both in our technology and in… We may even be able to connect with extraterrestrial civilizations. A lot of people think it's on G now (p10).
Different parts of the world are at different stages in this transformation or development. The people of the North are the forerunners. The fact that the Nordic countries are not directly involved in war is a sign of this. "And then we are fortunate here in the Nordic countries then because we have come much further. We don't have a lot of wars and things like that. But the whole world is not in" (p3). Here in the Nordic region, there is generally a greater human ability or maturity. This maturity manifests itself, for example, in the fact that we find it difficult to slaughter animals, something that people from certain other cultures can do without thinking about it. Even an interest in sports suggests that the bellicerious mentality has begun to fade: "We who don't fight, we engage in sports. And it's football games and you get angry and like this… It's like that to get an outlet for this energy" (p3).
Environmental degradation and the like are a burden on Mother Earth, but this will eventually be able to be remedied and stopped. Damage to the planet can be healed. The temperature rise may be a misunderstanding:
And now that they think the climate and all this… That it's our fault and so on, which I think it's not just, even though we've added our scoop to it, like, that's it… I don't know if you've heard it, but there are… It's not just the Earth that's warming up, it's all the planets in the solar system. There is a lot going on with every planet. Even Pluto is getting warmer, which is so far away from the sun. So it's not just here. And then you might start to wonder if it's just us, and our fault, when the whole thing… In the middle of the galaxy, scientists now know… And this is common mainstream, that there is a black hole… Which they didn't think. They've recently started to admit that's actually it. And not only that black holes suck in, but that they also give out energy. But they emit energy much like at the equator, and at the South Pole and the North Pole, on Earth… So do suns, so it comes out. And they can see that in supernovae and stuff like that. They've seen that. At first, they couldn't explain… How could it come huge… from several million light years, or a thousand light years, different sizes, such large… Well that's because it also radiates energy, in such strange explosions or at black holes and stuff… (p10).
The universe is a dangerous place and an asteroid could hit Earth. Therefore, it is lined that we develop a technology so that we can create colonies in space if necessary. Civilizations on other planets, which sometimes visit us, already have such technology. We need to embrace and learn from them.
Becoming a vegetarian is a necessary change of course that must be made: "So that we will not reach the finish line until everyone has become vegetarians as well. As long as we kill our friends like that. As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be war" (p3).
In some parts of the world, the challenges are greater:
We're going to suffer so much, so that in the end we're going to say no, enough is enough… For example, when these Muslim women have… Generation after generation. In the end, they're sad, and that's when things start to happen. So that there will be suffering, more and more suffering, and there will be many disasters, many people will die. It must not be a world of peace and love, unless everyone has come. And then we have a challenge, don't we? It will take many years (p3).
There could be another great war. This is something that is mentioned in the new literature:
But there might be some setbacks too for you to k… It's about hunger and satiety, feeling cravings for different things, and then you get full of something. And that this war mentality must have… Maybe you're still hungry before it can be fed (p4).
A different time perspective.
The interviewees' time perspectives seem different. The next incarnation is not seen as a distant one. One of the respondents is looking forward to being able to devote herself to space travel in the next life:
And I'm already thinking… What do I want to do for something good in this… How do I want to develop myself so that I can… What do I want to do in the next life? I want to go up there, I've always been fascinated. I feel like I belong up there (p10).
Death is seen as a good thing. A respondent describes how to then get to "another level in the universe where everything is fine" (p1). Life here on earth with its trials can be perceived as more enigmatic, how it can be as it is, while there is a conviction if you have actually chosen all of this yourself:
Like an old car, huh, you give it up, so… Why do you have to keep the same car all the time when it's getting old? Yes, then you leave it back… Not an atom you have can die, but it goes back to the system. And then you get a new body then, if you want (p10).
We learn not only for this life, but also for future incarnations:
I say this, from birth to death, we are exposed to things from the outside, to build up and receive the doctrine, so that we know what life is like. A lot of people say this, but what's the point of it? But that's to have it for next (p7).
One interviewee said she was in no hurry. When asked if the interviewee longs for the future state that the new spirituality describes, she replies: "But I don't do it like that… Strangely enough… eventually… No, nothing now. I feel like there's so much of this earthly life that I probably want to devote myself to in multiple genes… reincarnations" (p4).
Eventually, the individual gets to a point when she feels she wants to take her spiritual development seriously:
Then you get to a point in one of the lives where you feel like I have… yes, I have come to a limit, I have had enough of what I have experienced, or my experiences tell me that I want to move on to something else. And that is where the path really begins, which we are talking about, and which is a more intensified path of experience, one might say, and where in this life one tries to go an inner spiritual path (p2).
If anything can be said to be the goal of our development, it is to develop a compassion for all living things:
Compassion is primarily because you recognize your own pain, from your own experiences, from your own experiences, you recognize them in your fellow man or animal, or plant or whatever it is, and so you eventually avoid harming other living beings. And that's probably the goal of development as well, to become so loving that you feel like you're part of the whole. And what you do to the environment, you really do to yourself (p5).
Man must dismantle his "ego":
Yes, then there's this ego that rules… As I always say to the devil. It's not really the devil, it's egos, as many people say, that yes, there must be a lot of devil in that man. But it is the ego that DIRECTS man to make bad sake (p7).
The individual is about to become perfect. Such perfection is characterized by a high degree of humanity and wisdom. Already today there are individuals who are perfect or "enlightened". Some are incarnated here on earth, while others are now permanently resident in a spiritual existence. Time and again in the material, the biblical Jesus returns as the model for human perfection: "We shall evolve into, like, Jesus. When we're on target, we're like him."
This type of insight also has a moral dimension. People with these gifts are normally very loving: "But then I think you see everything in a love light. That's the idea that you see bigger. And that you can put it in a different perspective" (p4). "The perfect man is like a genius of love" (p6).
When asked how these people can be described, a respondent replies:
I think it's pretty classic stuff, as we would. Which you might attribute to saints and… Humility and things like this. But it is above all that they are less self-absorbed, or less self-centered, less their own and more of other, by other people, perhaps by all creation. They're less egos, somehow. But not only as in the way they act, but I really mean in depth, that is, really in depth, in the deepest soul, that they are not. It's like an enlightened one in a way. I think you need to go down that road… You get smaller in the self. And finally, hopefully the self disappears (p2).
This maturity that is the goal and result of the experiences we make is a parallel to what a human being can achieve even in a single life. An informant makes a parallel to his mother:
I mean, my mom can say this… Yes, it's good to… She's eighty or so, but she said that when she was 70. You don't have to be vain anymore, that's so nice. You don't have to worry about what people think, or /inaudible/. It's the same phenomenon, but all over the world. Maybe over many lives. That you think so… ORKA, as well. Tired of things. Because I think it's similar to what it's like in this life. That you're so in… When you're young, you're going to do things and build things up and things like that, and then you'll be a little wiser (p8).
The perfect man is no longer man or woman, but has become androgynous, a hermaphrodite. Then we will no longer start a family or bring children into the world. This means that the individual has been freed from many bands. She no longer needs a representative of the opposite sex, as she now houses all the characteristics in herself. At this level, the individual has become like God, who is also height above such duality. "They say you become one with everything when you're enlightened. Yes, but then you become God, and then it will be amazing in the whole world" (p9).
At that point, the individual has a complete bank of experience: "Well then you should have been from murderers, or whatever you want, to something… to have done something good. To have been through it all, and it takes a lot of incarnations" (p7).
One respondent does not think that the end goal is for us to become androgynous, but instead want to describe it as having access to both our male and our female side: "No, I think you need to have a balance between the male and feminine energy, just like yin and yang… It's about him balancing in giving and receiving" (p9).
There will be a paradise on earth. National borders will be dissolved and everything will be as one nation. The new-age system of thought is consistent with an indigenous religion that existed in the past. It was this wisdom that Christ taught from the outside, for example, but which then partly fell into oblivion. The major world religions have played an important role and still do so, but in time they will be replaced by this common religion. Already in five hundred years there will be many people in the world who are deeply embracing this understanding of life. In three thousand years, the world will have achieved perfection. Humanity agrees on all the major issues.
However, the new spirituality does not describe a final goal. A "kingdom of heaven" on earth with perfect people may seem like a grand vision, but this kingdom will still be only a station on the way. "The goal and the goal… There is no direct goal. But the development looks so yes, that you get there" (p4). Nor can it be said that life has a certain meaning, that it is about something certain: "Yes, it depends. Then you have to define the question. Because really it doesn't. The only meaning of life is what we fill life with" (p5). "Evolution itself… it has no goal SO, because you never get to an end point" (p6).
One of the respondents discusses the idea of eternal development and transformation within the new worldview. That this must go on forever, otherwise life would be like nothing. To live a single life or to be able to achieve a definitive end goal would in practice be almost the same: "As soon as you cut off infinity into something finite… As soon as something becomes finite, even if it's huge, it's practically nothing. Compared to eternity, something finite is always close to zero" (p6).
All the people are going there. And you could say that, that is our current goal if we are to talk about goals. That is humanity's goal then. It's only a milestone, but… (p6).
The interviewees' path to embracing the view of life they have today looks different. There are those who grew up in Christian, moderate Christians as well as in homes where questions of spirituality have never been touched upon, as well as in homes with an acceptance of alternative views.
Separations from previous partners have in some cases become the starting point for a more intense interest in things like spirituality and personal development. Some can trace their interest back to childhood and a philosophically laid teacher or inspiring kinship. In someone, this interest was aroused during an acute life crisis. A séance and the information that emerged there became for one person the turning point that made her abandon a previously skeptical attitude towards the spiritual.
The spiritual interest is mostly practiced on its own, with sporadic encounters with like-minded people. A couple of the respondents state affiliation with a particular organization. It is possible to cultivate an interest in several different teachings in parallel. In many cases, the interest of the interviewee has today been preceded by the study of other teachings. The spiritual conception of life is not imposed on others. Being a vegetarian is seen as self-evident, mainly from an animal rights perspective.
Close relationships in this life are often relationships that have continued from a previous existence. Role changes are common, such as that, for example, a parent in this life may have been the interviewee's child in a previous incarnation. The interviewee's own children may have been the interviewee's parents or siblings. Becoming a parent is not necessary, although having children and being a parent is described in a positive way. Being free and independent is an ideal. There may be a person with whom the individual is especially connected over many lives, possibly forever, a so-called "twin soul".
Reincarnation and karma are the "key" that can explain the fate of the individual and a prerequisite for development toward perfection. People can be "young" or "old" in a double sense, partly in terms of their chronological age in this life, and partly in relation to how far they advanced in their spiritual development. Life is a school. We ourselves are fully responsible for our fate. Suffering is indispensable. We ourselves have planned or at least approved how the present life has been shaped. We did this on the threshold of this incarnation and then with an "adult" perspective. Outside of this physical world, everyone is the same age.
God is above every duality. God is neither man nor woman, neither good nor evil. This God can be described as both personal and impersonal. The whole world is the body of this deity. God works through the laws of nature. Every human being, with his soul, is part of this deity. God cannot directly influence the fate of the individual, but is more of a kind of administrator of the individual's own karma, both the pleasant and the unpleasant. The Theodicé problem is hereby solved.
The institutions that have power and interpretive precedion in the world today, such as science and the Church, have a limited understanding of the fields in which they are considered experts. The media often runs the business of power. The public is being misled, for example when it comes to visitors from other planets. The usual care and psychotherapy can be valuable, but it needs to take on board the new perspectives. Understanding how disorders and symptoms often stem from experiences and traumas in previous incarnations is central. For example, a phobia of water may be due to the person drowning in a previous life. There are great opportunities to sort out your problems on your own.
Outdated paradigms should be replaced or rather supplemented with a new, holistic perspective. This new perspective is at the same time a kind of essential knowledge or religion that humanity has previously embraced. Deep down, there is only one truth. The new spirituality is in more or less complete form a representative of this truth.
The interest in or conviction of the correctness of this new spirituality is not a religious belief, but more similar to knowledge. Its claims are possible to test in its own life and get confirmed. There are many alternative paths to knowledge or certainty about this deeper truth. So-called "enlightened" people are individuals who have a self-perceived certainty of this deeper truth, independent of studies in this life. Such information provides access to detailed knowledge in many areas of life. These individuals are self-written teachers.
That people are generally unaware of, uninterested in, or even skeptical of these perspectives, is naturally in their present spiritual level. Both the individual and the world at large are progressing according to a plan. Constant progression is guaranteed. The time perspective for the individual is different. The next life is not far away. Death is seen in a positive light. The experiences and talents of this life are passed on to the next. On a personal level, the goal is to develop spiritually and eventually achieve sympathetic and cognitive sovereignty. The world will become a paradise in the not too distant future. Then the national borders have been dissolved and all people share the same view of life. There are no wars and everyone is a vegetarian.
"To know that a person is in some sense 'religious' is not as important as to know the role religion plays in the economy of his life" (Allport &. Ross, 1967, p. 442).
The purpose of this study is to understand more about how individuals with a new worldview view themselves, others and life, thereby getting a clearer picture of the thought system itself and what impact this may have on the individual's well-being and functioning. Previous research has shown that people with this type of interest at group level have a psychological profile that differs from the normal population and which is possibly associated with a greater degree of ill health. The former is well established (thin walls, tendency to magical thinking, cognitive loseness, schizotypal traits, attachment patterns, etc.), while the latter is still the subject of discussion. The reasons suggested have been both biological or genetic predisposition and early, formative relationship experiences. An influence based on the thought system itself (Farias &granqvist, 2007) has also been proposed. In the former case, the involvement in newness is seen as a "symptom of", in the latter as a "cause of", the mental state of the individual. The purpose of this study has been to follow the latter track and investigate what, from a psychoanalytic frame of reference, may indicate that the thought system itself bears some of the blame, either as the cause or reinforcing factor behind these findings made by previous research. The focus has been on the "here and now".
Many of the thoughts that will be addressed in the discussion should be seen as tentative, theory-generating, or at least with the hope that they will be able to function that way. Proposals and statements will not be able to rise above a "guilt by association" level. The requirement of scientificity for a psychology degree work is thus put to the test. However, such approaches here can also be valuable in the mapping of an area that is still relatively unexplored, at least from a psychoanalytic or psychodynamic perspective.
Hammer writes, referring to the Danish historian of religion Mikael Rothstein:
No religion is a logically perfect system. [E]a logically coherent religion would be doomed. It would lack the contradictions and gaps that allow new generations of believers to comment on and change tradition and to reflect their own circumstances in it (Hammer, 2004, p. 136).
One impression of the material is that the new-age system of thought actually comes very close to what Rothstein describes as a religion without "a gap." One hypothesis is that this relative freedom from internal contradictions, coupled with ideals of love and peace and a world of thought that exhibits clear parallels with infantile thinking, are some of the factors that may be behind the special psychological profile that followers have exhibited in various surveys, and can provide a background for understanding any risks of ill-feeling. A doctrine with total and comprehensive claims and that lacks such a gap (e.g., that the individual's insecurities can have their outlet in a quiet observation that "God's ways are inexhaustible", but that he surely cares about me and loves me) will build up an inner pressure. This pressure needs to be addressed in some way.
The interview responses give the picture of a worldview where things like suffering, injustice, evil and aggression have different meanings than the general ones. Hammer points out an interesting detail with memories of past lives, which may have relevance to this study:
[J]ust in reincarnation therapy there is an interesting anomaly. The New Age is rightly portrayed as a rosy vision in which no radical evil seems to exist. With a little positive thinking and a belief that the cosmos wants us well, everything will be fine. It is therefore particularly striking that so many experiences during regression are extraordinarily violent. Here there are psychic reserves where you can unbridledly live out all the night black in your interior (Hammer, 1998, p. 81).
A counter-argument from the worldview itself could be that the past has been more cruel and violent. This fits into the picture that humanity as a whole has evolved from more lawless or primitive stages, and on the other hand, the individual who is interested in the new worldview has had time to live through such things to an extraordinary extent, which explains his interest. Here, however, rothstein's/hammer's (2004) observation forms the starting point for a kind of inventory of where such a "darkness" might go or how it can be handled.
Werbart (2000) writes that we humans are "irretrievably doomed to live as separate 'in-dividuals', dependent on each other, divided into two sexes and several generations, vulnerable and mortal…" (p. 37). Elsewhere, the same author writes that we have to "accept the existential conditions of man: our seclusion as separate individuals, our division into two genders, and the impossibility of being both, the division into the parent and child generations, our aging, and our mortality." (Werbart, 1996).
Based on these two quotations by Werbart (1996, 2000), seven "reality domains" have been distilled, which will be used as an instrument in the first part of the discussion. Under these headings, reflections will be collected that are deemed relevant to each domain. Reflections based on the interviews are mixed with thoughts about previously done research. The compilation is deliberately biased against what can be perceived as an observation based on psychoanalytic theory and does not reflect the interviews as a whole. These domains are referred to as follows: allocative, constitutional, vertical, horizontal, capacitive, declinative, and terminal realities, respectively. (The designations are given a more detailed definition in connection with the different sections.)
This domain deals with the individual's place in the world in some kind of basic sense. Something that is fundamental, given and equal for everyone. It touches on how we perceive to be born, to be human, to be an individual, etc. Everyone is the center of their own life. We are born alone, as it is called, and die in some sense as well. Our existential loneliness. That no one can be expected to have the same interest in our companies and ideas as ourselves. Responsibility for your own life, having to set your own course and take responsibility for the choices you make. That ability to take on this responsibility can be stricken for various reasons, but still can never be transferred to anyone else. Questions we can ask the material are: How do respondents relate to the allocative realities? How do they resist them? What can be the signs that such resistance is more or less successful?
Stories of space recur in many places in the material. An interest in astrology, that is, that the positions of celestial bodies have an impact on the individual's well-being and personal qualities are included. However, references to ordinary astronomy are more frequent. One of the respondents receives treatments with something called "plejadhealing", at a therapist who combines this with astrology and CBT. A couple of the respondents tell us what they got out of meditating: a sense of "emptiness" and "space". The greatness of the universe, as well as one's own and humanity's relative in importance. This is often mentioned in relation to the perspectives that the spiritual worldview opens up. One of the respondents has seen a picture of the Craig nebula and reflects from this. Karma energies are "sent out" and "return" and one can imagine how they make a journey into space on their way back. The temperature rise on Earth is questioned by one respondent on the grounds that there are also conditions in the Milky Way that affect the climate here on our planet. A conviction of the eternal time span of the evolution of the spirit, the countless levels, the boundless depths of matter, filled with living beings layer upon layer, etc.
It cannot be ruled out that the many references to the gigantic dimensions and dimensions of the cosmos serve the function of cancelling or diminishing the challenges or conflicts associated with life in the here and now. It is conceivable that these "cosmic journeys of thought" are resorted to, so to speak, lifting the individual out of the usual frameworks or limits of human life. Here Freud's reflections on the "oceanic" feeling may fit in (1929/2008, p. 410). Perhaps it can be likened to "scale shifts", the dimensions of human life are drawn out to vast distances with the result that the pressure of life here and now is eschediated or decimated. "What will it do in a hundred years, when it all comes around?"
Maybe it's a way to comfort or cradle yourself to rest? It is possible to think about dissociation, or the milder form "absorption", which Granqvist, Fransson and Hagekull (2009) write about based on attachment research. In other parts of the new age, something similar may be achieved mainly through different techniques or practices. Examples of things that can be interpreted in this direction are also given in this material. But perhaps it is possible to imagine a similar condition that is self-induced with the help of the thought system itself or reasoning that this stimulates? That the perspectives are drawn out very far, in an almost intoxicating way. Perhaps it is more like "diffusion"?
Many stories in the interviews have a fairy tale shimmer about them. This applies, for example, to the many reincarnation memories, which traces these set aside in the present life, as well as how the respondents returned people from past lives. Everyday life includes synchronicities, meaningful coincidences, telepathic senses. The "enlightened" walk or have recently walked the earth, people who embody perfect love and wisdom. Hammer (2004), referring to sociologist Max Weber, writes that the new age stands for a "re-enchantment" of reality. The author takes the phenomenon of patterns in crop circles as an example: "For the new age-interested, such phenomena point to the fact that the world is good much murker, bigger and more magical than science tells us" (p. 311). "Man is no longer a deadly biological being on an insignificant small planet on the edge of one of many millions of galaxies. We have once again become heroes in a great tale of life" (p. 310).
Here you can make a parallel to such research that has shown a tendency to "magical thinking". Farias, Claridge and Lalljee 2005) writes:
Concepts like those of karma and synchronicity are employed as a common belief system, which allows the individual to establish a virtually unending network of connections. Thus, it is possible to explain practically any trivial event as if filled with rare significance. This hign frequency of magical attributions suggests that New Age people, more than just sharing a set of beliefs, possess a personality and cognitive disposition, which makes them particularly prone to search for meaningful connections between seemingly distant and unrelated objects and events (Farias et al., 2005, p. 980).
"Alone or not?"
Encounters with strangers are sometimes described as "metaphors." The person hit it or it because it was "meant to be." One of the respondents questions whether a person she met and talked to a day before the interview was even correct, or if they had only been something that materialized to give her the information she needed to get. It is not always certain that the other exists "in his own right". It's an event that has to do with your own learning, your own karma.
Is it possible to emphasize one's existential loneliness, while at the same time being contested? In the interviews, the individual is portrayed as partly mol alena, with the full responsibility for creating his destiny and that the outside world is in some sense a chimera, that is, much as Shirley MacLaine describes it:
I began by saying that since I realized that in every respect I was creating my own reality, I must also conclude that I was really the only living person in my universe. […] I went on to express my sense of total responsibility for and power over all events taking place in the world, because everything that happens in the world is only taking place in my reality. (MacLaine, 1989, referenced in Kärfve, 1998, p. 26)
At the same time, it describes how the individual is surrounded by spiritual helpers, guardian angels and guides, who can be contacted from anywhere and at any time, as well as that the individual is involved in a constant interaction with relatives and, for example, twin souls on a telepathic way. Mother Earth is mentioned, as are visitors from other planets watching over us. Here, the idea of how relationships in this life are a continuation of relationships in past lives also fits in. Such can be interpreted as attempts to overcome this existential loneliness. Extremes seem to be met.
Several stories deal with the importance of the gaze. People who see each other from another life may not recognize each other in appearance, but the eyes are the same. Here it is possible to make a parallel to the idea of "the mother's gaze", "the look of the beloved", "wells of the soul", etc. The individual can also be called to this in so-called regression therapy, when she returns back to a previous existence, and there encounters someone: Do not meet the gaze.
"God as a Principle"
The image of God is ambiguous. Respondents describe God as "a system", as "light", "love", etc. This is height above all contradictions and dualities. God is both man and woman, both good and evil. When asked whether God is personal or impersonal, contradictory and questionable answers are given. Not only do respondents have different opinions among themselves, but the question seems difficult to already out for everyone. Frisk (1998, referenced in Frisk & Åkerbäck, 2013) conducted a survey in 1994-95 with followers of the new spirituality, where one of the questions was whether the person believed in God. 97% of respondents said yes. But Frisk nevertheless noted that in the new environment where the survey participants moved, the word was very rarely used. When asked if this god was perceived as personal or impersonal, she received a partly surprising response. The survey presented had two options. Respondents had to decide whether God was seen as "Spirit/Life Force" or "Personal." The options were answered with 63% and 20%, respectively, i.e. the majority perceived God as "Spirit/Life Force". Frisk noted, however, that although this possibility was not pronounced, 14% of respondents ticked off for both options.
Nor is it a god who will intervene or actually answer the individual's prayers. God already knows what to ask for, says one respondent, referring to the Sermon on the Mount in the Bible. God is a kind of mark of the individual's own energies. An administrator of the suffering of the individual.
One respondent believes that God is not more aware of us than we know the cells in our body. When Freud writes about religion, it is often about the projected "Father" proclaimed to space, who is supposed to be a guarantor of justice and prosperity. Such descriptions are more closely related to traditional religion. The interviewees in this study do not talk about an animated god figure, but more about things like "love" and "light". This comes closer to what Freud (1929/2008) refers to as the "oceanic" feeling, that is, an experience that "relates to limitlessness and union with all things" (p. 406). Freud is equally skeptical about this.
Granqvist (2014) emphasizes that attachment theory is particularly well suited for understanding the parts of religiosity that concern attachment components. He emphasizes that the image of God within the new spirituality is decisively different from traditional religiosity, in that the image of God in newness seems to have difficulty fulfilling the function of "a larger and wiser person" to turn to and seek comfort in, as this study confirms. Farias et al. (2005), which claims to have not found an increased suffering among its respondents, has researched in English druids and the like and it cannot be ruled out that these actually have a connection-like relationship with nature. Granqvist and Hagekull (2001) recruited their test subjects from new age environments in a big city. Newness is a diverse area and, if nothing else, with regard to attachment aspects, and if the thoughts put forward about the centrality of the God relationship are correct (God as a symbol or surrogate for the early attachment persons), it would probably be urgent and fruitful from a research point of view to try to make a differentiation (a "type 1", a "type 2", etc.) of the new spirituality.
Vitz (1977) writes about a god image that describes him as "energy" and that seeks to nullify all opposites: "New Age mentality attempts to break down distinctions between things and their opposites, and to claim that there are no seriously important boundaries" (Kindle location 2024). God is everything and everywhere, but perhaps the new man can miss him anyway?
This domain is about the assigned role of the individual in nature. From birth, being limited or niched in one sense or another. Not in relation to generation, class, etc., but more constitutionally. Where one is no better than the other, just different. Gender is the most fundamental, but this can also be understood more generally: We cannot be "everything". Questions we can ask the material are: How do respondents relate to the constitutional realities? How do they possibly resist them? What can be the signs that such resistance is more or less successful?
Between incarnations, it is often possible to change gender. Anyone who is a woman today can also have experience of being a man and vice versa and probably repeatedly. Through reincarnation memories, it is possible to gain information and knowledge about this. Basically, you are neither one nor the other, or both. A female respondent says that it is not difficult for her to know what it feels like to be in prison, or to be in a trench, as this is something she herself has experienced in previous existences.
Based on psychoanalytic theory, the split in the two sexes is seen as a fundamental and structuring principle, something to relate to and in one way or another reconciled with. A lot has happened here, both inside and outside the psychoanalytic world. However, it can be noted that in the group of new people there is an interesting study object for those who are interested in gender theory, etc. At the same time, the view of the sexes is essential. Based on feminist theory, it is most similar to "distinctive thinking" perhaps. There is talk of male and female energies and of more "single-pole" states, which are not only or have been constructs, but where the masculine and feminine principle has been in pure culture. CG Jung's "anima" and "animus" are referred to. In this sense, the new worldview combines a conservative view of men and women with a more radical or exotic view.
Löwendahl (2002), in her interview study on gender in the New Age, notes that perceptions of such things are polarized in her material. Male and female respectively are perceived as given categories. Men are perceived as logical and rational, while women are sensitive and intuitive. The informants emphasize female over male, that the former is more central to the spiritual search. The author comes to the conclusion that while, for example, in a writer like Simone de Beauvoir it is the woman who is "the Second Sex", among her informants the opposite view prevails: here it is the man who is "the Other" (p. 123). In the interviews, this is expressed in both men and women joining forces against the "men of power" who dominate in science, the church, politics, etc. It can be speculated that while for women this has a more emancipatory motive, this resistance for men fulfils a different function, or has other effects.
The basis is small and arbitrary. Yet there is one thing that deserves to be addressed, at least as an idea. This observation also appears to be in line with what Hammer (2004) writes about the newness as a liberation project for many women. In the material there are many stories about love relationships that have ended. The female respondents tend to describe this precisely as a liberation to be able to devote more to their personal or spiritual development, while the men in the study who tell about such life events do so in a more thoughtful way and possibly with a greater sense of guilt or shortcomings.
The goal is to become androgynous or hermaphrodit. Then the two sexes have equalized and the individual has become a "real human being". The individual no longer needs anyone else to feel whole, or for their emotional needs, but can "polarize with himself." A sign that progress is moving in this direction is the many divorces; We live in the "zone of unhappy marriages." This process is a parallel to the emotional and cognitive perfection described as "enlightenment". Then we will be like God. Here, too, the new worldview defies the boundaries of the current "reality domain".
This domain is about hierarchies, subordination, and overorder. Vertical dependence as well as responsibility. Guilt and gratitude on these grounds. In one case, the dependence on those who have powers, experience or knowledge, which the individual may not have himself but may sometimes need: School, care, managers, parents. God? In the second case, the responsibility of those who are younger, the next generation, or those in whom the individual is in a responsible or privileged position. These are roles that can shift, over time or in different contexts between which the individual moves. Questions we can ask the material are: How do respondents relate to the vertical realities? How do they possibly resist them? What can be the signs that such resistance is more or less successful?
The individual's parents are rather to be regarded as "fellow walkers". The child, though chronologically younger, may be older than his parents spiritually: "an old soul." Before birth, the individual, with an adult perspective, has had an overview of the life to which she is to be born and has signed a kind of contract. There and then she fully understands what life will mean. The everyday expression "no one chooses their parents", which often forms the basis for compassion for children's situation and sometimes societal efforts, is put into question here, since in the individual actually chose his or her mother and father. One respondent who had a very tough upbringing says that she had chosen it herself, so it was okay.
In Granqvist's (2004) research, interviewees speak very critically about their parents, sometimes as if they were present in the room or within reach. This can probably be demonstrated to some extent in this material as well. There is no reason to question the stories of respondents. One thought, however, is whether in some cases or to some degree, it may be that the past is painted in something too dark colors in relation to the bright, explained worldview that respondents acquired later in life? A kind of "contrast effect"?
With regard to this, new-age test subjects in AAI interviews can sometimes speak as if, for example, the parents could hear (Granqvist, 2004), this can also be a consequence of the worldview itself. It is clear that respondents' perception of life is much more holistic or "gaps" than is normal. One respondent tells of her father who died, that she felt no need to stay so long on his deathbed, as she could instead talk to him in a different way. One respondent tells us that a former relative usually comes to her as a bird on the anniversary of her death. What should be interpreted as largely ominous in the normal population, can possibly be judged too harshly in the encounter with someone who has a new-age outlook on life.
"Own spiritual DNA."
The individual understands himself, his strengths and weaknesses, based on his or her experiences in past lives. Either concretely, via, for example, reincarnation therapy, or as a theoretical conviction. Her qualities are not primarily something that has come with growing up, the interaction with parents and close relatives, society, time, culture, relationships, inheritance, etc., but they are a result of their own accumulated "experience bank". Mozart is mentioned by a couple of respondents, as someone who has engaged in music in many incarnations. His talents cannot be explained solely from the basis of growing up and the training he received from his father. An interviewee explains similarities with his parents based on the "psychic or spiritual DNA" he himself brought into life.
As a rule, we meet up with people from past lives, but now in new constellations. Dad may have been your brother and you may have been married to your mother. The material provides examples of many different constellations. The newness shares several features with the traditional, e.g. Christian, religion, but here is an example of a notion that should be exotic to most people. Farias and Granqvist (2007) write about role reversals in AAI interviews, an indication that the child had an unhappy and unsatisfactory relationship with their guardians. Psychoanalysis suggests that these are fantasies that normally exist in the small child, to be able to defy the order of generations and transcend "incest taboos" (the small child who wants to marry the parent of the opposite sex and outcompete the parent of the same sex). Chasseguet-Smirgel writes:
Freeing oneself from the weight of the scene, escaping the generational chain, trying to give life to a child without a father, or without a mother, to imagine being born of a virgin or believing himself to be God, undoubtedly represents alluring possibilities (Chasseguet-Smirgel, 1991, p. 30).
Such an allure, which the author writes about, can even live on unconsciously in the adult individual, but without causing any worries. One difference in this material is that the imagination is argued for with rational arguments.
The detronization that takes place by both parents and previous generations recurs in the view of the institutions that have interpretive preceding in the world, such as science and the Church. The newness rejects both science and religion as "veihcles of truth" and instead argues that one needs to listen to one's interior (Houtman &aupers, 2007). "Science could at best rediscover the insights of the masters of antiquity," said Theosophy and Blavatsky (Hammer, 2000, p. 25).
Healthcare, and especially psychiatry, therapists and psychologists, are questioned with similar objections, the academy as well. These are all described as old, outdated paradigms that will soon be replaced by the new, holistic paradigm. These authorities are not really experts in the areas in which they are considered to be. They are not entirely wrong, there are "grains of truth", but their perceptions need to be supplemented. Psychologists and therapists often work "too narrowly." An awareness of how trauma from past lives affects and produces symptoms in this life is necessary. Granqvist (2004) writes about an increased suffering for which the new ducks do not seek help. This can perhaps be partly understood on the basis of this stated skepticism towards established care and psychiatry. "Snack therapy." Psychologists who "walk in the mental corridors and tramps". There are also too many medications. The therapist sends his client to the priest, if the patient raises spiritual problems, while the priest sends him back to the therapist, because these are things that none of them understand.
At the same time, there is also a certain respect, especially for science. "God creates through science," says one of the respondents. Several people tell us that they are interested in things like astronomy, the new physics, etc. "Scientists may act as both punching bags and heroes, deeding the needs of esoteric teachings," Hammer writes (2000, p. 11). Ambivalence is also expressed in the new terminology: frequencies, energies, paradigms. Can this be understood as a desire to participate, but not really know how to do it? Recognizing these institutions, such as science, would reasonably require subordination, as the researchers are part of a guild that has been working on their things for hundreds of years.
There are certain things about the church, especially the music and the church room, that are highlighted as valuable. Many references to the Bible are made. The Biblical Christ, however, is described as a church misunderstood and almost hostage-taking spiritual and moral genius. Wikström (1998) writes about how the Church, though imperfect and rigid, still offered something against which people could "take a crack at a religious core of ideas in their doubt or in their rejection" (p. 38). Vitz (1977) writes that the new spirituality "knows no law of love. In part this is because it knows no laws at all, since laws imply a law-giver" (Kindle location 2218). An adolescens theme?
In literature, this, by all accounts, describes the love-hate relationship as "Scientologistism" (Hammer, 2000, p. 15) and "religism."
It is possible to point out how virtually all natural or social hierarchies are rejected. Here, the newness and its adherents are the very spearhead that stands for the new. But there is one marked exception and it is the individuals who the respondents believe are completely perfect people, "the enlightened". These people who are ahead of the individual in spiritual development then represent, one might say, "the older generation". The almost unreserved esteem shown to these individuals has traits of what is commonly referred to as "idealization." By being connected to them, by being able to acknowledge them and understand them, the individual possibly gains a share of their greatness.
In the group of these high spirits, the Biblical Christ has a special status. He is often mentioned in the material. Månsus (1997), founder of the so-called "Bromma Dialogue", priest in the Baptist Church and experienced networker in new-age contexts, writes: "Every serious New Age movement has a Christian ideology; sometimes they speak more of Christ than we do in the Church" (p. 4).
Then it can also be pointed out that hierarchies are present also in many other ways, for example in the relationship between nations and peoples that are perceived to be more developed and others that are undeveloped and have longer to go. Here, too, the extremes are pitted against each other. This is what Farias et al (2005) summed up as "holistic individualism".
"God as a parent."
Respondents show a great interest in theological issues. Some of the Church's beliefs, in particular the notion that Christ's death on the cross could free the present from guilt, are rejected by arguments of reason. The church's image of God, as it is perceived, is also questioned by all accounts good and well thought-out arguments. While God for the Christian is a living mystery, he does not appear to be to the respondents. He is apparently difficult to grasp (personal or impersonal) but respondents have clear answers to questions about God's qualities in general, his extent, his role in the world and relationship with the individual, as administrator of our karma, etc. So in some sense, the newness has detonated even God. With psychoanalytic terminology, it could be said that the followers managed to see through God, "penetrated" and triumphed, even over him?
At the same time, the image of God that fades out is quite strange. He is not powerful or stern, like the god of the Old Testament, but rather turned away, indifferent, or with an almost instrumental relationship with us. It's not exactly the image of a "good parent" fading out, seen with attachment theoretic eyes. He lets people suffer, but he does this out of love, explains one of the respondents. For us to be perfect. At the same time, it is obvious from the interview answers that there are many people in the world who will have to suffer severely in the future. It is close at hand to ask whether the image of God and attitude to the outside world do not interact in any way, and unless the relationship of God has been given the features of "identification with aggressor".
The new god has not created men, as we have existed forever. Therefore, there is also no guilt or reason to feel or show him any gratitude. This God has not let his son die on a cross, to lighten our burdens. There is no debt of gratitude either. This God does not help or assist us in any active way. Man is thus independent, both in relation to the earthly parents and to God. However, Arlebrand (1992) believes that there is a missing object behind the new search. This search has degenerated into "spiritual materialism and consumerism. Without contact with God, man is forced to fall into the worship of himself and his personal needs. Man seeks not "anything", but "someone". 224f).
Granqvist et al. (2009) in its work based on attachment theory, it is claimed to have been able to demonstrate that people with new-age orientation have a more disorganised/uncertain connection. What of this can be explained by the influence of doctrine itself, and what does it have to do with growing up experiences or biology? In relation to ordinary religion, some individuals can repair a flawed connection, according to Farias and Granqvist (2007), something called "earned security", while this has not been demonstrated in the research on the new ducks.
This domain is about human dependencies and bonds, to love partners, friends, colleagues, neighbors, fellow human beings. As well as the individual's responsibility, in a horizontal direction, needs, obligations and rights, to do their part. Ethics and morality. Questions we can ask the material are: How do respondents relate to the horizontal realities? How do they possibly resist them? What can be the signs that such resistance is more or less successful?
Much is said in the material about the love of almost. This love is extended not only to the loved ones, not only humanity, but to all life forms. The ambition is certainly magnificent and beautiful, but can be problematized from a psychological point of view. Freud writes:
The commandment "Love your neighbor as yourself" is the strongest averting of human aggression and a prime example of the unpsychological procedure of the cultural overself. The commandment is impossible to follow; Such great love inflation can only degrade the value of love, not eliminate necessity (Freud, 1929/2008, p. 469).
In relation to man's natural constitution, it seems like an overwhelming task to undertake. "Love and hate are close to each other," but this is not something respondents would agree with, and this also gives a hint of the special definition of the word "love" that the thought system provides. With Rothstein/Hammer (2004), does it feel justified to ask where the darkness, the aggressiveness, should go?
"Becoming a parent."
In the material there are examples of both those who are parents and those who are not. It is possible to live a rich life without children. Many are never given the opportunity, or connect with a longing when it is too late. Of course, it can also be a conscious decision. What needs to be problematized is if the attitude of not wanting to become a parent is motivated by or downplayed based on the doctrine itself. For it is obvious how the individual could come to such a conclusion, on the grounds that parenthood has been accomplished in previous lives, or that he or she is too developed spiritually to engage in such things. Something that is then argued for with reference to ideas within the thought system – and from a self-image that is held up using the same thought system – and perhaps never mourned.
"A future kingdom."
The development on earth goes against the formation of a world kingdom, where things like national borders will disappear and where all people will embrace the same view of life, have "the same religion". Yet not much is said about how this is to be achieved, other than that everyone needs to develop themselves. People in some parts of the world are already longer come, like the Nordic countries, while others have a more difficult journey up to the thinking end goal.
Not so much in the interviews is about how the individual should be able to contribute to this future goal, work politically, organize, etc. A structural perspective is largely lacking, in addition to a more general criticism (which also affects the business world, the media, politicians, etc.) of the establishment and the state of things. It is togetherness as an ideal, but not so much in practice. This is true of what Farias and Lalljee (2005) found in their investigation. That those with new attitudes largely affirmed community and a larger whole, as vision and ideal, but basically had an individualistic attitude to life. Freud writes:
Self-imposed loneliness, distance from others, is the most closely related protection against the suffering that can emerge from human relationships. One realizes: the happiness one can achieve on this path is the tranquility of calm. Against the feared outside world, one can defend oneself only by somehow turning away from it, if one wants to solve this task only for oneself. But there is another and better way, namely that, as a member of the human community, you attack nature by means of scientifically led technology and submit to the will of a man. One then works together with everyone else on everyone's happiness (Freud's, 1929/2008, p. 415).
Although many things in the material can give a slightly alienated or reserved impression, examples of passionate encounters are also given. A person who, for one reason or another, becomes interested in or takes a liking to is interpreted as a reunion from a previous incarnation. The latter could perhaps be described as "a symbiotic hope". A willingness to immediately close the other to his heart, an absolute recognition, a reunion, instead of having to get to know the other first, negotiate, feel the other on the pulse, see where you have him or her. Such intensity and openness is also something that is idealized. This has features of what Farias and Lalljee (2006, referenced in Farias &granqvist, 2007, p. 126) demonstrated in his experiment where the test subject had to take a position on a made-up story, whether a person he met, for example, in the store who felt very familiar, and what this could then be due to.
The "twin soul", as described, is an example of something similar. He is someone with whom the individual is connected through time and space. When incarnated at the same time, this can result in a relationship that is exceptionally tight and intense and not always harmonious. When you are apart, you can sense the other person's feelings telepathically. The times one is not incarnated on earth at the same time, the other may act as a "guardian angel".
There's something about all or nothing. How can this be understood psychologically? Perhaps as a difficulty in enduring the uncertainty and that a solution then offers to simply skip the initial stage. Someone you meet and become curious about turns into a reunion from "past lives". It is probably possible to get ideas based on attachment theory about what this would be about, but perhaps it is something that can also be explained based on the new-age thought system. That the worldview sanctions such interpretations and thus offers "paths" to get to the other who is less arduous. Here, perhaps, Werbart's formulation, that we are "doomed to be in-dividuals" (2000, p. 37), well in.
This domain is about how the individual handles his inadequacy and weakness. One such as both natural or acquired. Not being talented enough or talented enough for what you want to achieve, for example, or to be. Questions we can ask the material are: How do respondents relate to the capacitive realities? How do they possibly resist them? What can be the signs that such resistance is more or less successful?
"To be free."
Ahlin (2007, referenced in Frisk & Åkerbäck, 2013) describes a Danish study that wanted to investigate newage sympathies in the population. A survey was sent out to 385 therapists, which were assumed to include typical New Age performances. 170 responses came back. Among other things, the researchers wanted to find out to what extent these people considered themselves religious or spiritual. The answers showed that they viewed themselves that way much more than the population. Five answer options were provided. Christian/religious/spiritual search/has reached spiritual clarity, as well as a fifth option, which was no to all designations. A fifth ticked all options. One-fifth, all but one option. The author suggests that this may have been because respondents didn't think any of the response options suited them.
In this study, too, respondents are defended from being labeled religious. The name "new age" is not appreciated by anyone. There are forms of newness that respondents do not want to be mixed up with and they present good reasons for this. The time aspect also comes into play: "new" has been called for almost a hundred years, says an interviewee. Another aspect of this, however, is that the respondents do not want to be mixed up with the believers, as they just "believe", while the new spiritual thoughts can be tested, verified or otherwise replaced. From a psychological point of view, something problematic can be seen with this, which connects to the reasoning at the beginning about "gap". It is possible to get the feeling that the emphasis on reason makes the thought system more closed and waterproof.
"Know, don't believe."
Respondents believe that this worldview represents the paradigm that will triumph over science, religion, and psychology, in the not too distant future. Freud (1929/2008) writes about religion as a collective neurosis or delusion and that it is achieved by "detracting from the value of life and distorting the image of the real world, which presupposes that intelligence is suppressed by methods of intimidation" (p. 421). But the respondents in this study "do not suppress their intelligence" as it seems, it is not something that the doctrine itself or its prophets advocate or encourage. On the contrary, they show great delight in science, even call their own thought system "spiritual science", and the arguments in a way sound sensible. Perhaps this is part of the insidiousness of newness? "There is no instance over reason," Freud writes (1927/2008, p. 371). It cannot be ruled out that the inner coherence of the thought system (based on fairly simple premises: everyone is the cause of their own destiny, for example) is one of the factors that is responsible for the fact that the suffering could be greater, and if it is there that it is not recognized (Granqvist, 2004).
The answers in the results section that concern health and ill health are available of many different kinds. That the individual feels bad, feels uneasy, can be explained by "low energies" in the environment or that he or she telepathically captures someone else's well-being, such as the twin soul. Poor feelings are preferably handled with certain techniques, herbs, etc. Bad feeling is described with words such as "programming", "patterns", "cell memories" that can be repaired via some form of therapy or healing, that the human has "locks" hanging on him that need to be removed, etc. The power of thought is considered great. Carl Gustav Jung is described as someone who could have taken psychology a step further: "Jung was aware that there was something more, he was a bit like this… But others only talk about the unconscious. But from there, connect it to something bigger," says one respondent. The question is whether that is a correct description. In the material there are several reasonings where, from a psychoanalytic perspective, it seems that the respondents actually ignore a deeper layer in man. Many descriptions of the causes of poor feeling seem rather pre-psychoanalytic. It's 1-to-1 ratios, no transformative line is recognized.
Freud (1996a, p. 265f) claimed that, with his psychoanalysis, he had caused man a third violation. Copernicus was first to claim that the Earth was not the center of the universe. Darwin followed up by claiming that man was not unique, but a product of evolution and related to the monkeys. Freud's theory of "an unconscious" claimed that man was not even the master of his own house. Psychoanalytic terminology has since set aside traces in language, in art, etc., and in how we think about ourselves, our driving forces and symptoms. However, it is a perspective on the human being or on one's problems that does not always come naturally. It is all too easy to place the cause of one's feelings, one's conflicts and feelings, "out there". In many ways, we still live in a world of imagination where external causes are largely given responsibility for our inner state and our symptoms. The difference with the new worldview seems to be that this resistance is formalized here, with seemingly good arguments and reasoning. Perhaps it can even be argued that the resistance, the defense against sometimes having to be in the hands of an illogical and unreasonable side of oneself, is "reinforced" with the help of reason.
However, there are also examples in the material of how, for example, reincarnation memories are seen as possible symbolic constructions. An interviewee comments that recollections from a previous life in which the individual drowned, which would explain why that person was afraid of water in this life, perhaps rather should be interpreted as that person experiencing it as that he or she is "drowning in their life right now, in their feelings".
Due to an oversight in the sample and lack of prior knowledge, two participants were included in the study, which actually included a more Gnostic worldview. This was something that became apparent only late in the analysis work. These people certainly matched the selection criteria, that is, they would believe in "reincarnation, karma and the idea that the individual is evolving towards perfection", etc., but they did this in a slightly different way.
Gnosticism is a spiritual doctrine that existed already at the time around the birth of Christianity and from which early Christianity chose to distance itself. According to Gnosticism, there exists an almighty, perfect god, but it is not he who has the full responsibility for making our world look the way it does. Instead, this is explained by a kind of "god of help" that is not perfect. The fact that the world looks the way it does is ultimately due to its faults and shortcomings and because we humans have traits of the latter. The view of the state of humanity and the way forward, as the respondents presented it, somehow seems "darker" and more mysterious compared to how the other respondents described this.
Some Writers (Kärfve, 1998, p. 21) wants to merge the new spirituality with Gnosticism. This is possibly fruitful from a religious perspective, but from a psychological or psychoanalytic perspective, it can probably lead to errors. One impression is respondents with a Gnostic worldview have responded more "religiously" and in some sense more meekly than the others in the group. They have not expressed the same strong belief in progression and individual sovereignty, for example, which there can probably be something healthy about. The most heartfelt description of God was one of the Gnostics in the group, although he also wrestled with duality personal-impersonal. Gnosticism seems to be a middle between traditional religion and newness, even psychologically.
"Postmodern or modern?"
Hammer (2004, p. 319) have an interesting discussion about whether the new spirituality is modern or postmodern? His answer is that it has traits of both. It is postmodern in its questioning of the authority of the world. Likewise, in the celebration of the individual's freedom to create their own mix of beliefs. But beneath the surface, it is strikingly modern. A true postmodern approach to one's own identity would be to cheerfully affirm the divided, the contradictory, in one's own identity. But within the new age there is instead a strong focus on "finding oneself", "one's true self", etc. Nor is the notion of a world plan, an ever-advancing development, particularly postmodern, Hammer writes. Once again, the extremes meet. A conservative order is paired with a very progressive one.
The interviewees express great sympathy with the situation of animals. "We grow animals." How we breed and consume these is likened to "concentration camps". Being a vegetarian is seen as something obvious and is even one of the criteria that the interviewees state for the future world kingdom. In the light of the many reports on the downsides of animal production that appear in the media, such an attitude is highly understandable. From a psychological perspective, however, it is possible to problematize the most radical animal ethical reasoning. That animals are "as valuable as humans" can also be understood as an over-identification, the basis of which may be that it is one's own perceived helplessness (Freud, 1927/2008, p. 390) projected onto them, and where the price may be to increase alienation in relation to the outside world.Freud writes:
The hermit turns his back on this world, he wants nothing to do with it. But you can do more, you may want to remake it, build a new world instead of the present, a world where the most unbearable traits have been wiped out and replaced with others… He who embarks on this path of happiness, as a rule, achieves nothing; The reality is too strong for him. He becomes an insane man, who usually finds no helper when he tries to realize his delusion. It is claimed, however, that at some point we all behave in the same way as the paranoiac, who, through a wishful construction, corrects a side of reality with which he cannot stand, and in the face of this delusion in reality (Freud, 1929/2008, p. 418).
The commitment to animals probably exists on a scale, from sympathy, compassion and sound identification, to over-identification. On this scale, there is paranoia. The variant closest at hand is that referred to as "collective quarrel" (Ottosson, 1983), that is, when the individual "speaks for a minority group against society at large" (p. 214) in a self-righteous and unforgiving way. Which minority is subject to the individual's care is possibly also more or less arbitrary, or may shift, as it is the individual's personal struggle against an uncomprehending world that is the primary one.
"Not a victim."
In the material there are many arguments that the individual is not a victim of the circumstances, not even the most painful. This applies to both the individual himself and the environment.
A similar example is what is said about "spiritual emergency". One of the respondents claims that healthcare tends to diagnose people with psychosis when in fact it is a symptom of a spiritual advancement: "spiritual emergency".
In the material there is a tension between, on the one hand, what can be perceived as a very ascetic or strict regime: the ego should be driven out. Life is a school with curriculum, tasks and "backlogs". The Church's doctrine of grace or forgiveness of sins is rejected. On the other hand, a great sensitivity to influences, moods and "low energies" is described. The Bible language "which you sow you shall also harvest" reaps many times in the material. This is said to have great explanatory value for both oneself and for the world at large. Yet respondents don't give the impression of being some particularly cynical or stern people. Here, too, it seems that the opposites are meeting. From Christian theology, newness would probably be termed a "doctrine of deed." The contrast with a more sober Christianity becomes clear in what Persson (2007) writes: "Many are afraid that evil thoughts and feelings will come out when you let go of control. And of course it could be. We are not called to save ourselves. This is God's job."
"The meaning of suffering."
A lot of the material is about suffering. Physical and psychological suffering, suffering as the "engine of existence", etc. The theodicé problem has been solved. No one can do wrong and no one can do wrong. We need suffering to develop. When we have learned our lesson, a protection comes into these "energies". Newness describes a completely guilt- and sin-free existence. But the emphasis on suffering is also a contrast to so much else in the interviews: the visions of the future, the perfection of existence, the light and love.
It is interesting to reflect on how new age, newness and the like are often described as "fuzzy" worldviews. However, there is a very rational trait in much of what respondents tell us. Life works with millimetre justice, according to clear and clear principles.
This domain is about slowing down or aging at all. How to manage the passage of time. The assigned measures of time, power and health of the individual and relatives and life changes due to such. As well as summing up, releasing and moving forward as a principle. Questions we can ask the material are: How do respondents relate to the declinative realities? How do they possibly resist them? What can be the signs that such resistance is more or less successful?
The reincarnation and karma thoughts were lifted out of a whole. Theosophy retained the more camera-like parts, one might say, while the suggestive, collective community of believers, who could probably have subdued to some extent the harsh deterministic pressure, was left behind.
Previously, the individual could have lived a more ubitable life, in relation to rich mythology and reincarnation was seen mostly as some necessary evil. As soon as possible, the believer wished to be freed from this "wheel of rebirth" and to be united with and live in the presence of the gods. Today, the framing of these thoughts is mechanical and executive, while it is the individual himself who is the agent in the grandiose stories.
Everyone is on their way and has to go through basically the same life phases and experiences. The idea of constant progression can perhaps also be used as a defense against feelings of hopelessness and sadness at not having achieved what one desired in this life. The fact that the new entrants see themselves as forerunners may also contribute to a sense of victory and ease, after all.
"A positive outlook on life."
The newness is described by the respondents as a bright and positive outlook on life. "Unreservedly positive," said one of the interviewees. But from almost any other point of view, it can be difficult to understand whereupon such a judgment is based.
If everything really has a meaning and no radical evil exists for real, why does the ordinary, unenlightened man still seem to see an abyss of senseless suffering? Some New Age writers say they have the answer. The seemingly difficult is only an experience that the soul has chosen to expose itself to, because in its wisdom it knows what it needs in this incarnation. Even the most difficult living conditions are a burden that is voluntarily accepted (Hammer, 1998, p.85).
There is no getting rid of the feeling that there is something about the new-age thought system that encourages a slightly manic approach. About a special group of defense mechanisms, dedicated to protecting us from looming abandonment or depression, Winnicott writes (1993):
It is precisely when we use the manic defense that we are least likely to feel that we are defending ourselves against depression. At such times, we are more likely to feel elated, happy, active, eager, joking, omniscient, "full of life." At the same time, we are less interested than usual in serious things and in the horror of hatred, destruction and killing (Winnicott, 1993, p.197).
Arlebrand (1992) writes: "Since occultism perceives everything in physical reality as manifestations of the divine, the existence of evil becomes a problem to explain" (p. 197). The author sets out a few different explanatory models within alternative spirituality: Evil can be seen as an illusion, as an energy that is in the wrong place, as an imbalance between cosmic principles, or simply as "the uncomfortably good" (Arlebrand, 1992, p. 197f). This is something that respondents agree with. Evil is an aspect of God. To the extent that we are subject to this, it is because we have something to learn, it is our own energies that, so to speak, return to us. The analysis of evil and its consequences is simple and clear.
Without going into what is true and what is not, is it reasonable to ask, from a psychological point of view, what this and a number of other analyses in the new-age thought system risk doing to the supporter? Are these really ideas that can be embraced without them having any blunting or negative effect?
The material contains some accounts that give the impression of being of the type conspiracy theories, e.g. that different countries' security services cooperate to recover the reincarnated Adolf Hitler. Even more sober criticism of or distrust of the establishment may have features of conspiracy theory. This is interesting because the thought system itself attaches so much importance to the fact that it is the individual himself who creates his destiny and that no one else really has influence over this.
Wikström (1998) talks about "the inability of the crisis-stricken man to look the bitter reality in the eye" (p. 36) and about a kind of regression back to the child's magical thinking and control. With increasing age, it can be expected that the pressure presented as a hypothesis above actually increases. The signature Muertos (2012, January 28) writes, referring to some of the foreground figures of new age, which have now reached middle age:
I suspect that what's going on is that New Age, now entering its third generation, has developed a theodicy. Now, this is a theological term, but it essentially means an explanation of the existence of evil – why bad things happen to good people. For some of those in the New Age milieu – Foster Gamble, David Icke, Whitley Strieber, Duncan Rhodes and others, all incidentally in middle age and with a long term involvement in the New Age milieu – an explanation is needed as why, if we've entered the Age of Aquarius, is the world less peaceful, equal and progressive than ever? Conspiracy theories offer such a theodicy – the New Age hasn't happened because evil people prevented it from happening (Muertos, January 28).
Vitz (1977) is on the same idea based on the promises that came with the so-called humanistic psychology:
Second, as people aged, they realized that many of the things thought necessary for self-actualization would not be attainable in their lives. Besides interpersonal disasters, there were career failures, serious health problems, and many other disappointments. The discrepancy between the promised "high" of the Maslovian self-actualization or Jungian individuation and the reality of their lives created a vast disappointment and "credibility gap." The belief that psychology could make you happy, that it was the answer, began to fade (Vitz, 1977, Kindle location 2231).
This domain is about the definitive end. The ultimate "no" (Lacan). The final violation of the omnipotence of the individual. It includes death, but not only, but also projects, relationships, hopes that have come to an end, whether the result was the desired or not. Questions we can ask the material are: How do respondents relate to the terminal realities? How do they possibly resist them? What can be the signs that such resistance is more or less successful?
The newness may give the impression that it has finally succeeded in abolishing death. This is of course not alone, other religious or spiritual teachings normally also describe an existence that continues. What is special about newness is not the conviction of a life after death, but it is the lightness with which the subject is handled that surprises and can raise questions, from a psychological perspective. Life is seen as very short at the same time as eternal. The next incarnation is not distant and several of the respondents tell us how they are already preparing for it.
Abolishing death also guarantees justice: Those who do something bad in this life get a payback time in the next. What could previously be met with a heaven and hell is now placed in future incarnations.
One argument for an increased "death awareness" is perhaps that the realization that we and everyone else should die is structuring in some sense. It gives frameworks to life and everyone is included, we are faced with the same conditions. If death didn't exist, it might even be a good idea to invent it. One can recall the famous piece of Tertullian, who writes about a Roman emperor:
Even when, amid the honours of a triumph, he sits on that lofty chariot, he is reminded that he is only human. A voice at his back keeps whispering in his ear, "Look behind thee; remember thou art but a man" (Tertullian.org, 2015, April 5).
How do respondents relate to the seven existential terms or domains? The most striking is the voltage that fits within each category. The individual is admittedly completely alone with full responsibility for his destiny, but at the same time surrounded by angels, helpers, guides and twin souls, with whom he can interact and be influenced, concretely or telepathically. Perhaps in this solitude there is a attraction to the "ocean-like" like Freud (1929/2008, p. 410) talks about, rather than at the existential, which in that case possibly points to an early phase in life when the individual was enclosed and alone.
While male and female are fundamental principles, "anima and animus," everyone is also on the road to androgynity. Between lives, the individual possibly changes gender and thus has experience of having been both. Vertical is taken into account in some respects, in relation to the "enlightened" and in relation to the overall development of souls, where some are ahead and some are behind, but otherwise this is not recognized. My parents are fellow hikers. In the past life, the roles may well have been reversed. The establishment, science and the Church in the first place, are subject to harsh criticism. God is not directly criticized, but is vague in the contours. Is he personal or impersonal?
The vision of a perfect world kingdom, a "new age", is still alive. However, a driven individualism competes with this goal and there does not really seem to be a strategy for how humanity together will succeed in getting there. It doesn't seem to be about collaboration, in the first place, but more about how everyone individually should improve their karma and then you meet there. Suffering takes up a lot of space, in doctrine and in interviews, while the goal of each is guaranteed: emotional and cognitive perfection. To be like Christ and the great predecessors. The theodicé problem has been solved. There is no evil. The interest in unconscious and "childish" layers in man is not so pronounced. Perhaps because the worldview places this on the "outside"?The focus is more on how to fix what is perceived as problematic. Confidence in the power of thought is great.
While there is a focus on aging, this is urgently associated with the growth of the soul and the advancement. There are older and younger souls, and being an older soul is undividedly positive. Children can spiritually be more advanced than their parents. Deep down, no one has any age, except this spiritual "age." The unpleasant or frightening death is present in the reincarnation stories, and in man's past, but hardly otherwise. Death is seen as an event among others, soon the individual will come back and can pick up where she left off.
The summary assessment is that the respondents do not recognize the existential conditions of human life, as these can be formulated based on, for example, psychoanalysis.
It is of course neither possible nor ethically justifiable to try to assess individual respondents based on an interview. The following becomes a kind of extrapolation based on the conversations, impressions of the world of thought itself and in relation to previously done research and psychoanalytic theory.
That there might be an increased psychological suffering within the group of new people (Granqvist, 2004) seems reasonable to think from a psychoanalytic perspective. In a subculture where a doctrine is covered that in so many paragraphs could be a verbalization of very primitive defenses, the incidence, at the group level, of real developmental pathology should also be elevated. Such a pathology can be both biological-genetically conditioned, as well as be based on early relationship experiences or both (Farias &Granqvist, 2007). Previous research has been able to show from different perspectives how the group of new-age, at group level, exhibits a personality profile associated in the normal population with a greater degree of suffering. From a psychoanalytic perspective, it is conceivable that these persons have never actually achieved a higher degree of functioning and that newness, therefore, with its proximity to infantile thinking, simply harmonizes with the normal state of these persons. That newness such as this can be used then corresponds to their "center of psychological gravity" (PDM Task Force, 2006, p. 23).
Granqvist et al. (2009) highlights "dissociation" and its milder variant "absorption" as markers of mental illness. This can be found in individuals who are looking for different kinds of experience-centered activities in the field. Based on the material in this study, it is possible to hypothesize the possibility of something similar, but which is not achieved primarily through meditation, drum dancing, etc., but in direct relation to the doctrine and the reasoning that can be done based on it. Perhaps this could be likened to a kind of self-induced cognitive "diffusion". Such a thing would have similarities to what Wikström (1998) calls "cognitive and moral contamination" (p. 45). In connection with this, the same author (Wikström, 1998) writes about two tendencies that he believes characterize "the modern ideological and religious field: fundamentalism and relativism. Both offer relief, an escape from the confusion" (p. 44). Judging from the interview material, the newness seems to cover both of these extremes. There is a tension between the principled and the limitless.
Furthermore, from a psychoanalytic perspective, it seems unlikely that socializing with a system of thought that newness would not at the group level also result in greater neurotic suffering. This has similarities to the interaction with a destructive sect, only with the difference that here it is a level reduction that is largely maintained by the individual himself. This reduction can be more or less prolonged or manifest. The situation is probably made more difficult by the fact that such regression can then be justified or "reinforced" with good arguments based on the new world of ideas. In more severe cases, this should be described as the individual being in a state of "semireversible" regression. The regressive level of experience has become a lifestyle that is idealized and has influence over a larger or lesser part of the individual's existence, ambitions, relationships and visions of the future, etc. However, the individual basically has a higher level of function, which is why it is justified to talk about "regression".
Finally, there are those who, despite the world of thought, seem to succeed in maintaining a dynamic and salutogenic relationship with it. There may well be a deep fascination and conviction about its correctness or value, but the individual still somehow manages to metabolize this in his mind, without the pressure/allure of simplification and regression based on the doctrine itself manifesting itself in projection, dissociation, too strong the idealization of the supposedly "enlightened", too strong a tension between ideals and reality, ingroup thinking, etc. From a psychoanalytic perspective, it can be said that the person has then managed to handle the stress without resorting to too many primitive or overly rigid defenses. Their answers are more dynamic, they like to reflect on an unconscious both in themselves and in others, they seem to live in reality, forget about the dizzying perspectives from time to time, nor do they seem to be in any great hurry with their spiritual evolution. Tolerant of the imperfect. To the extent that he or she regresses in relation to his or her spiritual interest, this is a more benign and temporary journey back, "in the service of the self," much as the ordinary religion seems to work (Geels &. Wikström, 2006, p. 148f).
Perhaps the latter actually recognize the existential conditions on a psychological and relational, if not theological, level by putting as well as "quotation marks" around them?
Wikström (1998) writes about the situation of modern man that he has to deal with the transformations and diversity of society with an increasingly porous or fragmented self (p. 42). Flax (1990) polemizes against those who, based on postmodernist ideas, question that man should have, or even need, a "self" and writes:
I work with people suffering from 'borderline syndrome'. In this illness the self is in painful and disabling fragments… Those who celebrate or call for a 'decentered' self-seem self-deceptively naïve and unaware of the basic cohesion within themselves that makes the fragmentation of experiences something other than a terrifying slide into psychosis. These writers seem to confirm the very claims of those they have contempt for, that a sense of continuity or 'going on being' is so much a part of the core self that it becomes a taken-for-granted background. Persons who have a core self find the experiences of those who lack or have lacked it almost unimaginable (s. 219).
This study has tried in a Freudian spirit to problematize the new-age system of thought. The doctrine as such seems almost to be the "negative of psychoanalysis". Some of its performances are gaining increasing public support. Perhaps it is possible to live even below your actual "religious" level, regardless of what is true or not? There is no escaping the feeling that when Freud (1927/2008) presented his criticism of religion, he did so from a different time and a different psychic reality than we have to live in.Rooted in a living Jewish culture and with the wind of enlightenment behind it, he was able to argue against people's religiosity with a force that was based on the fact that he himself still possessed the kind of connection or anchorage that modern man has been deprived of.
Allport, G. W., Ross, J. M. (1967). Personal religious orientation and prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,Vol. 5, No. 4, 432-443.
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Mini-D IV. Danderyd: Pilgrim Press.
Arlebrand, H. (1992). The unknown. Libris.
Bauman, Z. (1997). Postmodernity and its discontents. Polity Press.
Bergstrand, G. (1990). From naivety to naivety. Stockholm: Verbum.
Bergstrand, G. (2004). An illusion and its development. On the view of religion in psychoanalytic theory . Verbum.
Bostrom, H. (2008, 16 July). One in three Swedes believe in rebirth. The day. Retrieved 2014-12-19, from http://www.dagen.se/var-tredje-svensk-tror-p%C3%A5-%C3%A5terf%C3%B6delse-1.186792
Bäärnhielm, S., Scarpinati Rossi, M., Pattyi, L. (2007). Culture, Context, and Psychiatric Diagnosis: Manual for Interview according to the cultural formulation of the DSM-IV. Transcultural center. Elanders Berlings Malmö.
Centre for Contemporary Analysis (2009, Feb). Faith and spirituality in Sweden. Retrieved 2014-11-28, from http://www.samtidsanalys.nu/_RAPPORTER/TroAndlighet_feb2009_tva-delar.pdf
Chasseguet-Smirgel, J. (1991). The two trees in the garden. Sfph.
Chryssides, G. D. (2007). Defining the New Age. IN D. Kemp &. J. R. Lewis (Red.), Brill Handbook of New Age (p. 5-24). Boston: Brill.
Faber, M. D. (1996). New Age Thinking. A Psychoanalytic Critique. University of Ottawa Press.
Farias, M., Claridge, G., Lalljee, M. (2005). Personality and cognitive predictors of New Age practices and beliefs. Personality and Individual Differences. 39: 979-989.
Farias, M., Lalljee, M. (2005). Holistic Individualism in the Age of Aquarius: Measuring Individualism/Collectivism in New Age, Catholic, and Atheist/Agnostic Groups. Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion. 47(2):277-289.
Farias, M & Granqvist, P. (2007). The Psychology of the New Age. IN D. Kemp &. J. R. Lewis (Red.), Brill Handbook of New Age (p. 123-150). Boston: Brill.
Farias, M., Underwood, R., Claridge, G. (2013). Unusual but sound minds: Mental health indicators in spiritual individuals. British Journal of Psychology, 104, 364-381
Flax, J. (1990). Thinking Fragments. Psychoanalysis, Feminism & Postmodernism in the Contemporary West Berkley: University of California Press.
Freud, S. (1914/2003). Introduction to Narcissism. S Skr IV. Stockholm: Nature and Culture.
Freud, S. (1927/2008). An illusion and its future. S Skr X. Stockholm: Nature and Culture.
Freud, S. (1929/2008). We are disgusted with the culture. S Skr X. Stockholm: Nature and Culture.
Freud, S. (1996a). Lecture XVIII. The fixation on the trauma. The unconscious. S Skr I. Nature and Culture.
Freud, S. (1996b). The development of libido and the sexual organization. S Skr I. Nature and Culture.
Healthy, L. (1998). Neo-religion in Sweden. A religious perspective. New Doxa
Healthy, L. (2000). New age practitioners in Sweden: Background, beliefs, commitment and "conversion". In C-G Carlsson &L. Healthy (Ed.), In The Return of Gods and Goddesses: Studies in Neo-Religion. (p. 52-90). Umeå University: Department of Religious Studies.
Healthy, L. (2007a). The new movements – where did they go? The new Doxa.
Healthy, L. (2007b). Quantitative studies of New Age. IN D. Kemp &. J. R. Lewis (Red.), Brill Handbook of New Age (p. 103-122). Boston: Brill.
Healthy, L. & Åkerbäck, P. (2013). The meditating Dala horse. Dialogos.
Geels, A. & Wikström, O. (2006). The religious man. Nature & Culture.
Granqvist, P; Hagekull, B. (2001). Seeking Security in the New Age: On Attachment and Emotional Compensation Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion. (40:3) 527-545.
Granqvist, P. (2004). The myth of openness and tolerance. The Journal of Psychology (7).
Granqvist, P., Ivarsson, T., Broberg, A. G., Hagekull, B. (2007). Examining Relations Among Attachment, Religiosity, and New Age Spirituality Using the Adult Attachment Interview Developmental Psychology. Vol 43. No. 3.
Granqvist, P., Fransson, M., Hagekull, B. (2009). Disorganized attachment, absorption, and new age spirituality: a mediational model. Attachment & Human Development, Vol. 11, No. 4, July, 385-403.
Granqvist, P. (2014). Mental health and religion from an attachment viewpoint: overview with implications for future research. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, Vol. 17, No. 8, 777-793, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13674676.2014.908513
Hammer, O. (1998). Born again… And again, and again. From Res Publica; New Age/Gnostic Renaissance,No. 2/98.
Hammer, O. (2000). Esoteric Science: Aspects of the History of Scientologistism. In C-G Carlsson &L. Healthy (Ed.), In The Return of Gods and Goddesses: Studies in Neo-Religion. (p. 11-31). Umeå University: Department of Religious Studies.
Hammer, O. (2004). Looking for the whole. Wahlström & Widstrand.
Harris Interactive (2013, Dec. Americans' Belief in God, Miracles and Heaven Declines Retrieved 2014-11-30, from http://www.harrisinteractive.com/NewsRoom/HarrisPolls/tabid/447/ctl/ReadCustom%20Default/mid/1508/ArticleId/1353/Default.aspx
Heelas, P. (1996). The New Age movement: The Celebration of the Self and the Sacralization of Modernity Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Houtman, D., Aupers S. (2007). The Spiritual Turn and the Decline of Tradition: The Spread of Post-Christian Spirituality in 14 Western Countries, 1981-2000. Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion. 46(3):305-320.
The Humanists (U.S.) I don't think God exists. Retrieved 2014-12-19, from http://www.gudfinnsnoginte.se/
Hägglund, H. (2009, 12 November). Hand-laying attracts many curious. Church newspaper. Retrieved 2014-12-17, from http://www.kyrkanstidning.se/nyhet/handpalaggning-lockar-manga-nyfikna
Ipsos-MORI (2012). Religious and Social Attitudes of UK Christians in 2011. Retrieved 2015-04-06, from: http://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Polls/ipsos-mori-religious-and-social-attitudes-topline-2012.pdf
Jareteg, L. (2010, 29 October). The Church of Sweden offers the occult "spirit baptism" in Mass! [Blog posts]. Retrieved 2014-12-19, from http://bibelfokus.se/node/174
Jones, J. (1991). Contemporary Psychoanalysis & Religion. Yale University Press.
Järvå, H. (2014, April 12). Joining scientologists was like falling in love. Swedish Television. Retrieved 2014-12-21, from http://www.svt.se/opinion/att-ga-med-i-scientologerna-var-som-att-bli-kar
Dear, E. (1998). The new self-deification. From Res Publica; New Age/Gnostic Renaissance,No. 2/98.
Löwendahl, L. (2002). Using the Body as an Instrument: A study of the New Age focusing on health, physicality and gender. Lund's studies in history and religions. Vol. 15. Almqvist & Wiksell International.
Muertos (2012, January 28). Should We Give Thrive a Pass on Facts, And Instead Praise its "Message?" [Blog posts]. Retrieved from http://thrivedebunked.wordpress.com/2012/01/28/should-we-give-thrive-a-pass-on-facts-and-instead-praise-its-message/
Moonus, H. (1997). New Age and Christian Faith – Openness, Dialogue and Boundaries [Lecture Manuscripts]. Retrieved 2010-08-27, from http://www.evl.fi/kkh/kuo/klk/kumu/mansus.htm
Oneness University (U.S.) Oneness Deeksha. Retrieved 2014-12-24, from http://www.onenessuniversity.org/#firstPage/1
Ottoson, J.-O. (1998) Psychiatry. Stockholm: Liber.
Peters, E., Day, S., McKenna, J., Orbach, G. (1999). Delusional ideation in religious and psychotic populations. British Journal of Clinical Psychology,38, 83-96.
PDM Task Force. (2006). Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual. Silver Spring, MD: Alliance of Psychoanalytic organizations.
Persson, G (2007). Theology and Psychology : How Can Psychology Help Us Have a Better Relationship With God? [Lecture script.]
Rizzuto, A-M. (1979). The Birth of the Living God. The University of Chicago Press.
Rothstein, M. (1997). God is blue. The new religious movements. Nora: New Doxa.
Sanner, I. (1998). The New Age is a story of love. Res Publica: New Age/Gnostic Renaissance (2/98). Östling's publishing house.
Sjödin, U. (2002). The Swedes and the Paranormal. Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 17, No. 1, 2002.
Sophocles. (1986/2000). King Oedipus. In Swedish translation by Emil Zilliacus. AWE Gebers/Norstedts.
Sutcliffe, S. J.; Saelid Gilhus, I. (2013). New Age Spirituality: Rethinking Religion. Taylor and Francis.
SvT Play (u.å.). From Sweden to heaven. Season 3 – Episode 7. Retrieved 2014-12-17, from http://www.svtplay.se/video/2502136/fran-sverige-till-himlen/avsnitt-7
Tertullian.org (2015, April 5). Tertullian: The Apology, Chapter XXXIII. Translated by S. Thelwall. Retrieved 2015-04-06, from http://www.tertullian.org/anf/anf03/anf03-05.htm#P399_186733
TV4 (u.å.). A night at the castle. Retrieved 2014-11-29, from http://www.tv4.se/en-natt-p%C3%A5-slottet
Utterstrom, A. (2014, April 13). Spiritual smorgasbord or cultural Prozak – the new time is here. Today's News,p. 12-16.
Science and Popular Education. (U.s.a.). This year's bewilderer. Retrieved 2014-11-30, from http://www.vof.se/utmarkelser/arets-forvillare/
Science and Popular Education. (u.å.b). This year's bewilderer. Retrieved 2015-04-06, from
Vitz, P. C. (1977). Psychology as Religion: The Cult of Self-Worship [ebok Kindle]. Michegan, Grand Rapids: Eerdman Publishing Co.
Werbart, A. (1996). Foreword to Quinodoz, J-M: Taming Loneliness. Nature and Culture.
Werbart, A (2000). Our Need of Taboo: Pictures of Violence and Mourning Difficulties Free Associations. 46 8:21-48.
Wikström, O. (1998). To see the hidden. Nature and Culture.
Winnicott, D. W. (1971). Play and reality. Nature and Culture.
Winnicott, D. W. (1993). The creative impulse. Nature and Culture.