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Religion Library: New Age

Afterlife and Salvation

Written by: Benjamin E. Zeller

New Agers tend to focus on the possibilities for rebirth rather than seeking an end to the process, in distinction to the general approach of Hinduism and Buddhism. While some New Age practitioners adapt what they see as the Hindu concept of merging into the universal consciousness of Brahman, and others to what they understand to be the Buddhist notion of dissolution into the peace of nirvana, most hope for fortuitous future incarnations either as humans on earth or in alternative forms of consciousness.

The New Age focus on fortuitous rebirth reflects the movement's overall emphasis on salvation as this-worldly. While some scholars have characterized the New Age tradition as other-worldly and fundamentally rejecting the value of the world, since it characterizes the material world as an illusion constructed by the mind, the prevalence of New Age techniques designed to bring happiness, health, material abundance, and success in one's personal and business lives reveals the New Age tradition as very this-worldly. New Agers tend not to discuss the concept of "salvation," which they reject as a Christian or Jewish-Christian concept, yet in stressing self-development and spiritual advancement, New Age practitioners accept a form of salvation predicated on the progressive evolution of the individual soul in the current and future lives. Though this evolution may take many lifetimes, New Agers look to it as the ultimate goal of human existence.

Study Questions:
     1.    What do New Age followers believe about the afterlife?
     2.    Describe the relationship between human existence and reincarnation.
     3.    What is past life regression? How is it achieved?
     4.    Is the New Age movement “other-worldly,” or “this-worldly”? Why?