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How Has New Age Spirituality Emerged as a Product of Capitalism and Colonialist Mindsets?

The rise of New Age spirituality ties deeply into broader themes of capitalism and colonialism. Rather than presenting an authentically revolutionary stride in human spiritual development, New Age practices can often reflect and perpetuate some problematic aspects of these systems.

shamanism vs. new age spirituality

Key Differences Between Shamanism and New Age Spirituality:

1. Historical and Cultural Roots:

- Shamanism: Rooted in ancient, indigenous practices that are deeply connected to the land and community. Shamanic traditions were developed over centuries within specific cultural contexts.

- New Age Spirituality is Largely a modern phenomenon that arises from a blend of various elements from different cultures, often without a deep understanding of their original meanings or contexts.

2. Core Practices:

- Shamanism: Involves community-oriented rituals and personal sacrifices or challenges that promote communal well-being.

- New Age Spirituality: Characterized by a pick-and-choose approach where individuals often focus on self-improvement and personal peace, sometimes at the expense of broader social issues.

3. Philosophical Depth:

- Shamanism: Maintains philosophical complexity and integrity through stability and ties to traditional values.

- New Age Spirituality: This can be marked by a superficial adoption of "exotic" elements geared more towards individual fulfillment than true spiritual depth.

Capitalist Tendencies in New Age Spirituality:

New Age spirituality often aligns with capitalist values, which emphasize individualism, consumption, and the commodification of spiritual practices. This alignment illustrates how:

- Commercialization: Many New Age practices are sold as services or products, making spirituality a consumer good.

- Individualism: Emphasis on personal success and wellness can overshadow and degrade communal and ecological well-being.

- Disconnection from land: New Age Spirituality often turns towards land as a healing provider without sacred reciprocity and long-term relationship to localized care.

Colonialist Overtones:

New Age spirituality can also demonstrate a colonial mindset through:

- Cultural Appropriation: Often involves taking spiritual practices from marginalized cultures without respecting their origins or compensating these communities.

- Superficiality: Tends to simplify and repackage complex traditions to fit Western consumer preferences, which can distort and devalue their original meanings.

Why People Follow New Age Spirituality:

Despite its pitfalls, many follow New Age spirituality because it:

- Offers easy access and instant gratification with less commitment to rigorous spiritual or ethical disciplines.

- Provides a sense of spiritual exploration and freedom without the need to confront uncomfortable historical or cultural realities.

Pitfalls and Advices to Avoid Them:

The pitfalls of New Age spirituality that followers should be cautious of include:

- Lack of Accountability: It's easy to avoid confronting personal biases or societal injustices within many New Age frameworks.

- Misunderstanding and Exploitation: Cultural elements are often used out of context, leading to misrepresentations and exploitation of the original cultures.

To avoid these pitfalls:

1. Critically Assess Sources: Engage with authentic cultural sources and recognize the history and struggles of the communities behind the practices.

2. Commit to Social Justice: Incorporate awareness and actions that support social, environmental, and economic justice as part of spiritual practice.

3. Foster Community Connections: Move beyond individualism by building and contributing to community-oriented practices.

Responsible spiritual practice involves more than self-care—it requires a conscientious approach that respects cultural origins and tackles broader injustices. Individuals can forge a path toward more authentic and responsible spiritual engagement by understanding the implications of capitalism and colonialism in New Age spirituality.

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I always talk/pray to the "Diyin Nilch'ih Dineh'eh/Wind Holy People (those ones who have gone before us ...) when I do pray... I respect shamanism, as well... I admire the mongolians/ Tibetan monks- for instance...


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