(Excerpted from America, The Sorcerer’s New Apprentice: The Rise of New Age Shamanism)
Even the most enthusiastic promoters of the consciousness revolution admit that there are bad trips. It takes only one disaster—and there have been thousands—to contradict the basic New Age teaching that we’re tapping into a benevolent and good “Higher Self” through “altered states of consciousness.” Why, then, the evil and destructive forces that suddenly break out as though a mask has inadvertently slipped off? Why did Paramahansa Yogananda, for example, founder of the Self-Realization Society and one of the greatest Yogis of all, “fall apart” toward the end of his life?
“He was taking on the evil karma of others,” was the explanation given. However, what Yogananda’s close assistant, Charya Bernard, observed disillusioned him completely.... It caused Bernard to finally admit to himself that of the 40,000 people he had counseled during his years at Yogananda’s side, only a handful had received any lasting benefit while thousands had actually been harmed by yoga.
Carl Jung laid the foundation for the consciousness revolution with his own psychic adventures. In the process he encountered “the stuff of psychosis...found in the insane.” Jung called this analytical journey under altered states of consciousness “a risky experiment” and he considered it “a questionable adventure to entrust oneself to the uncertain path that leads into the depths of the unconscious.” Yet like a man who is torn between the dread of a great danger and a prize he covets, Jung complained that our “rational age” failed to see the value in his “voyage of discovery.” However, since Jung’s death, and despite disastrous results that are seldom admitted, this voyage has become extremely popular. There was something almost sinister in Jung’s desire to see other people involved in what he confessed was an “uncertain, risky and dangerous” path that could well become “the quintessence of horror.” The fact that Jung, in order to retain his sanity, had to fight his own altered consciousness by clinging desperately to “ordinary consciousness” should be a warning to others. Describing those years when he teetered on the brink of what he called “total psychotic breakdown,” Jung wrote:
I needed a point of support in “this world,” and I may say that my family and my professional work...remained the base to which I could always return...[or] the unconscious contents could have driven me out of my wits....
I have a medical diploma from a Swiss university; I must help my patients. I have a wife and five children; I live at 228 Seestrasse in Kusnacht—these were actualities which made demands upon me and proved to me again and again that I really existed, that I was not a blank page whirling about in the winds of the spirit, like Nietzsche [who died insane].
Here we have a strange paradox: The man primarily responsible—if not for today’s consciousness revolution itself, then certainly for the aura of respectability that it bears—had to cling desperately to ordinary consciousness in order to retain his sanity. Yet he suggests that salvation comes through attaining the very altered state that nearly destroyed him. We dare not ignore the fact that altered states of consciousness have traditionally been cultivated in order to experience “spirit possession.” If any man was ever “possessed,” surely it was Jung himself.
In Hostage to the Devil, Malachi Martin relates a number of examples of demonic possession that go beyond the dangers of “negative thinking” that Herbert Benson and other popularizers of psychology’s religious “science” consider to be the great evil. There are thousands of such well-documented tragedies that demonstrate that psychological explanations involving the “unconscious” for the phenomenon long known as “possession” are pitifully inadequate. Many of these cases involve intelligent and apparently well-meaning persons who believed and followed the latest psychological theories, only to find themselves “possessed” by an “evil spirit”—in spite of the fact that they had until then considered “possession” to be a religious delusion.
With undergraduate degrees in biology and anthropology from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in ethnobotany, Wade Davis is representative of today’s highly educated Westerner. His participation in numerous expeditions to the jungles of Central and South America and elsewhere, however, and his exposure to spiritualist societies have given him another perspective. With his background, it was difficult for Davis to lay aside the superiority that scientists exude when analyzing “primitive” cultures, but the numerous cases of “spirit possession” that he witnessed forced a reevaluation of his thinking. Davis wrote:
For the nonbeliever, there is something profoundly disturbing about spirit possession. Its power is raw, immediate, and undeniably real.... The psychologists who have attempted to understand possession from a scientific perspective [avoid] issues that cannot be approached by their calculus—the existence or nonexistence of spirits, for example…[and] consider possession a behavior of “psychically disequilibrated persons with a mytho-maniacal constitution.”
These wordy explanations ring most hollow when they are applied to certain irrefutable physical attributes of the possessed [immunity to fire, etc.]; [upon these] my logic wavered.... In the absence of a scientific explanation, and in the face of our own certain ignorance, it seems foolish to disregard the opinions of those who know possession best.
Such warnings are smugly disregarded by those who have built a “scientific” mythology founded upon the materialistic assertion that a spirit dimension is nonexistent. Upset at the emotional reactions aroused in audiences by The Exorcist, parapsychologist Loyd Auerbach writes, “To set the record a bit straighter, let me say that the only demons we, as scientists, deal with are one’s own ‘demons’ that may be conjured up by the subconscious and the imagination.”
With a healthy fear of evil spirits neatly debunked by psychologists, the barrier that has kept so many people from involvement with the powers of darkness is now gone. There is no longer anything to be afraid of, for nothing is there except “fragments of one’s own personality.” So goes the refrain. All that is now needed is to accept a new understanding.
Unfortunately, that “understanding” begins with a denial of evidence and is concerned not with truth but with the dogmatic claim of the new religion of psychology that it alone is the true faith of humanity. We now stand in grave danger that psychology’s glib pseudoscientific explanations of spiritual power are increasingly opening the West to the very phenomenon psychologists have sought so long to deny: demonic possession.
As we have already indicated, highly educated Westerners are embracing, as science, a Hindu gospel that must take much of the responsibility for making India one of the poorest, most superstition-bound countries in the world. This gospel offers to Calcutta’s one million beggars who have been born and live and will die in its streets the good news that their running sores, gnawing hunger, and poverty do not really exist but have been created by their own “negative” thinking. There is no suffering, disease, or death; one merely misperceives what is actually there.
In contrast to Eastern mysticism, which denies what sin has produced and offers no real solution, Christianity teaches that the moral laws of God’s infinite justice have been violated. There is no way that finite man can pay sin’s infinite penalty. By his own choice, man has consigned himself to eternal separation from the God who created him. God, being infinite, could pay the penalty, but it would not be just, because He was not one of us. In the supreme act of love, God became a man in order to satisfy the claims of his own law and died the death that His justice demanded for our sin.
The triumphant cry of Jesus just before He expired upon the cross—“Tetelestai!” “It is finished!”—is an accounting term in the original New Testament Greek (teleo, to discharge a debt). The infinite penalty for sin had been paid. According to the Bible, all man needs to do is humble himself to admit that he, as a sinner, deserved what Christ suffered in his place, and to receive the pardon that is offered as a free gift of God’s grace and love—a pardon he could never merit or earn. Certainly the staggering nature of such claims (there could be no better news if these claims are true!) would demand a careful investigation. Famed Harvard University law professor Simon Greenleaf (in his day, the highest authority on legal evidence and a confirmed skeptic, who accepted the claims of Christ only after careful research) declared in an appeal to his colleagues to make a similar investigation: “These are no ordinary claims; and it seems hardly possible for a rational being to...treat them with mere indifference or contempt.”
In contrast, there is a palpable emptiness to the New Age gospel. Not only doesn’t it ring true either to logic or ordinary experience, but it lacks those qualities to which the human heart aspires. Righteousness and truth are missing altogether—yet surely the question of truth ought to far outweigh feelings, personal preference, or mystical experience. Of what value is the most ecstatic experience if it is mere fantasy, or, worse yet, a fraud? To barter away the eternal benefits of truth for the feelings of the moment is a bad bargain indeed.
Moreover, in the Hindu/Buddhist/New Age philosophy, the forgiveness for which every honest heart yearns is absent. No wrong is admitted, even though our consciences tell us otherwise and long for release. Thus there is no thankfulness or gratitude to God for forgiving and saving us, for we are our own gods and saviors—yet forgiveness and gratitude are universally recognized to be among the noblest human qualities and greatest blessings. Nor is there a taste of mercy or grace, for the same reason.
As an answer to man’s deepest longings and need, naturalism/pantheism offers an impersonal cosmic Force with dark and light sides. Instead of love, the greatest virtue and highest experience, we are left with a void.
With the Utopian but empty slogan, “Love is the ultimate first-strike capability,” the Pentagon Meditation Club is promoting the erection of a “peace shield”—an alleged force field generated by meditation and prayer. It is hoped that future war will be prevented through enough meditators tuning into mankind’s latent inner potential for peace, and visualizing the world’s leaders “joining together in fellowship to resolve issues” [https://bit.ly/3eccazR].
Similar ideas were promoted by a February 1988 American/Soviet conference co-hosted by Barbara Marx Hubbard and Rama Vernon of the Center for Soviet-American Dialogue, at which delegates explored shamanic techniques for creating peace. Much of the inspiration for the conference grew out of the mystical experiences of Hubbard, whose pseudo-Christian pantheism/naturalism was representative of conferees’ beliefs. A conference for American business and educational leaders presenting similar ideas for “conflict resolution” in July 1988 featured Hubbard as the opening keynote speaker, and Soviet director of Global Family, Mikhail Zykov, speaking on the topic of “A Soviet Perspective on Spiritual Community.”
The effectiveness of the Eastern gurus (aided by innumerable “spirit guides” and fellow travelers) to convert the Western world to the Hindu/Buddhist/shamanic faith has been unprecedented in all of history. America is in the process of a radical transformation. The success of this effort owes much to America’s homegrown evangelists who have surfaced from such a broad spectrum of professional credibility: the Bernie Siegels, O. Carl Simontons, Herbert Bensons, Michael Rays, Jean Houstons, Gerald Jampolskys, John Denvers, John Lennons, and Timothy Learys. Most of these New Age zealots seem to be motivated by a sincere desire to help a suffering world. Whatever the motivation, however, the determined undermining of Christianity is well on its way, and the establishment of an ecumenical New Age shamanism as the world religion has made astonishing progress everywhere except in Islamic countries (Sufism notwithstanding). The full impact upon every area of society promises to be beyond present comprehension.
Many of America’s largest and most powerful corporations, with branches in numerous countries, have now joined this unprecedented worldwide missionary effort. Management-experts-turned-missionaries are taking to the whole world the same Eastern mysticism that the gurus brought to the West but now incorporated into and redefined as the latest techniques for successful personal and business performance. The sophistication, advanced degrees, and affluence of these new jet-set missionaries lend a credibility that makes their seductive gospel almost irresistible.
These are a new breed of business leaders who talk about the interconnectedness of all things, getting back in touch with nature, and the divine spark within us all as the basis for a new planetary unity. They especially want to share the psychospiritual technologies of the mind, which they hope will help mankind to realize its full potential and thereby turn this suffering world into paradise at last. It sounds so good.
As we have seen, the ancient shamanic techniques for contacting spirit guides have been introduced to the masses under the umbrellas of science, medicine, psychology, education, and business, but with the entities explained away psychologically. Yet no amount of scholarly rationalization can change the fact that these consciousness-altering techniques consistently bring contact with, and in many cases possession by, seducing spirits.
Seemingly unaware of the grave danger, America, once the world’s leader in finance, business, science, and technology, is reasserting its leadership position but now in a new enterprise—the rise of New Age shamanism. The implications are staggering. An inescapable choice, which will determine our destiny, confronts us. Shouldn’t that choice be made on the basis of the evidence and in firm commitment to ultimate truth?