Pretty much every time I log onto Facebook now I’m greeted by an ad from a certain “earthy” network that is cleverly disguised as a friend’s post. This is a network that promotes New Age crap the way TED Talks promote… well… anything at this point. Lately, the ads targeting me are of a lecture series from a man who claims all manner of spiritual knowledge. He is a popular author in New Age circles, which is perfect because he talks in circles.
I read a comment on one of the fake-post ad threads from someone who was skeptical because the speaker is so young. He cannot possibly know what he claims to know, posits the commenter, because he’s too young to have accumulated all of this wisdom through experience. Therefore, he must be regurgitating other people’s work without attribution.
Well, yeah. Probably. But age is not the tell. Authentic firsthand wisdom has nothing to do with one’s age. Show of hands, how many of you have accidentally said wiser things as a child than were able to purposely put together in adulthood? Wisdom comes from innocence not age. And certainly not books.
The speaker could be a vessel of wisdom, sure. His brain could have silenced its consciousness of the knower and the known for Ultimate Consciousness to flow through the body as the wise one. How can we tell the difference between authenticity and salesmanship?
Well, in this case, it’s pretty easy. Our New Age guru advertisement “friend” has left us a breadcrumb trail. Actually, it’s more like whole loaves: all of his presentations are assertions of spiritual truths that center on the latest impressive-sounding theories and discoveries in physics and Earth sciences. He doesn’t just co-opt the language of these sciences to expound upon timeless truths, he claims to know the case-closed truth about such theories and preliminary findings. And he does so, in part, by pretending that these are his discoveries, his thoughts that he’s always had, which these scientists are just now coming around to. Their findings lend credence to his firm knowledge, which he, mysteriously, never talked about until the publication of their findings. Funny how that works.
Not so funny? How it works on so many people.
We are increasingly becoming a world of distractions. So much so that we’ve lost the thread of what we’re distracting ourselves from. It wouldn’t dawn on many of us to even back up and look at how what this speaker is saying mirrors not just the latest science (or pseudoscience) buzzwords, but claims more and final knowledge on the topics than even the scientists involved imply. His work may seem fresh and alive. It may seem wise. But sadly, it’s just more blather from another expert in pushing our buttons, hoping we will push the “like” button on his page and buy his talks.
The more we grow our distraction culture, he, and others like him, will continue to grow in popularity because the thing we’re distracting ourselves from is timeless nature. Timeless nature has no center. Timeless nature has no “me.” And I like me, so I’d rather ignore timeless nature, or seek knowledge of it, to recite that knowledge and claim ownership. This is what we do. The latest crop of New Age gurus are simply the modern exploiters of our lust for certainty. They’ve always been there. We’ve always wanted them there.