The "Oprahfication" of Eastern Mysticism
- Monday, March 03, 2008
Given the fact that we are beings created in the image of God, we have an intrinsic spiritual nature. In other words, we are spiritual and as such we have a natural inclination to satisfy or fill this essential aspect of our being. As Christ followers, we have been made to know that this need is finally and fully met through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that follows the reconciliation of our souls to God through faith in the atoning work of Christ Jesus.
However, as orthodox Christianity continues to ebb in the Western world there follows a spiritual vacuum and as it has been observed, nature abhors a vacuum. At present this spiritual void appears to have found its latest alternative to Jesus Christ in the convoluted and ambiguous world of New Age religion.
While the term “New Age spirituality” may conjure up images of incense, crystals, and Shirley MacLaine—or associations with flower haired hippies—this “new” spiritual movement, which is anything but new, has acquired a most powerful and influential advocate: Oprah Winfrey.
Recently Oprah announced that, beginning March 3rd, she will be offering a free 10-week interactive webinar based on the book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by best-selling author Eckhart Tolle. Tolle, who is described as “a contemporary spiritual teacher who is not aligned with any particular religion or tradition … conveys a simple yet profound message with the timeless and uncomplicated clarity of the ancient spiritual masters: There is a way out of suffering and into peace.” In describing the thesis of his latest book, Tolle writes: “An essential aspect of this awakening consists in transcending our ego-based state of consciousness. This is a prerequisite not only for personal happiness but also for the ending of violent conflict endemic on our planet.” In other words, it is the alteration of our “consciousness” that is key to the salvation of men, not Jesus Christ and our shared problem is incorrect perceptions, not sin.
For anyone familiar with the world’s religions this, along with most of what passes for “New Age” spirituality is nothing more than ancient Eastern mysticism wrapped in modern Western attire. Tolle, who experienced “a profound inner transformation” which “radically changed the course of his life” at the age of twenty-nine” became an active participant in A Course in Miracles in the years following. Published in 1975, A Course in Miracles is a spiritual self-study course representing primarily the thought system of monism, which is the idea that all is one (i.e. the Star Wars concept of “The Force”). Ironically, Oprah has been offering this course for free on her website since January 1, 2008.
Here are some sample excerpts from A Course in Miracles, which reveal teachings derived from Buddhism and other monistic or pantheistic philosophies:
Extend your perception beyond what your senses register. (Lesson 1)
That body does not mean anything….One thing is like another. (Lesson 1)
Everything you see is the result of your thoughts. There is no exception to this fact….salvation requires that you also recognize that every thought you have brings either peace or war; either love or fear. To trust in the force that moves the universe is faith. Faith isn’t blind, it’s visionary. Faith is believing that the universe is on our side and that the universe knows what it’s doing. (Lesson 16)
Now compare these statements to the words of Buddha:
This whole world of delusion is nothing but a shadow caused by the mind…. There is no world … outside the mind … To Buddha every definitive thing is illusion…. Things have no reality in themselves but are like heat haze. (The Teaching of the Buddha, pp. 86, 100, 104, 108)
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