“A delusion is a false belief held with absolute conviction despite superior evidence.” - Wikipedia
A few days ago I wrote an article entitled “What Does it Mean When Someone Thanks God?” This article is a critique of the delusional statements made on a daily basis by the religious. I had listed a few of the religious comments I found that day on my Facebook News Feed and discussed the importance of challenging such statements. Now to be perfectly fair, the religious are not the only ones proudly posting delusional statements up on their Facebook pages. Being from California, I see more than my fair share of New Age rhetoric being brandied about and many of these statements are certainly a part of our society’s delusional equation. This morning, one of my friends listed the following quote as being their single all-time favorite statement:
“I Can Always Enter My Vibrational Vortex of Creation... The key to getting inside your Vibrational Vortex of Creation; of experiencing the absolute absence of resistance; of achieving complete alignment with all that you have become and all that you desire, and of bringing to your physical experience everything that you desire — is being in the state of appreciation — and there is no more important object of attention to which you must flow your appreciation than that of self.” --- Abraham
I can happily and honestly say that I have no idea what the above statement means, nor do I ever care to know. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not being simply closed-minded to the possibilities of contemplative processes. I feel quite strongly that meditation, visualizations, introspection and other mental disciplines can be quite beneficial, even necessary, for human development. It’s just that statements like those found above are not only delusional; they are actually counterproductive to honest and positive contemplative experiences.
Having never heard of “Abraham”, the author of the above quote, I decided to do a little research. The name “Abraham” is actually a pseudonym for a semi-anonymous group of authors out of the company known as Abraham-Hicks Publications. This company is run by Esther Hicks, a former Mormon who is best known for being the narrator and star of the original version of the film “The Secret”. Esther Hicks book “The Law of Attraction” was one of the central sources for the “The Secret” book and movie scam.
“The Secret” promised that you can get everything you want or need simply through the power of optimistic thinking (money, power, sex, a job, a new car, etc.). That’s right, if you think about something, it will come. As many critics noted, there was nothing secret about the “The Secret”; it’s just one of the oldest scams in the world presented in slick new packaging. And its message is extremely harmful.
There are people I know that literally refuse to wear seatbelts because they feel that the “power of optimistic thinking” will protect them from ever having an accident. One friend of mine believes that our soldiers overseas should have the bullets taken out of their guns and should be denied the use of bullet proof vests, because “optimistic thinking” will save them from injury and stop our enemies.
The people I speak of are not uneducated; they have advanced degrees from prestigious universities and were born and raised right here in America. The problem is that these folks have adopted a belief system that tells them that there are real and actual forces in the universe, currently unknown to science, which can be controlled by the mind.
I am not saying that people who think this way are irrational. If a person really believes that there are hidden powers in the universe that can be accessed through the correct attention of the mind, then believing that you can stop a bullet with these powers, may in fact be perfectly rational. The question is whether or not these folks are holding on to a false belief despite superior evidence; that would make them delusional.
Over the millennia, mankind has learned how to control many of the forces of nature. Early in our history we learned how to generate heat by using friction, flint, or other materials to start fires. We invented the tools and knowledge needed to domesticate animals (corals, harness, tackle, etc.) so that we could travel greater distances, move heavier objects, and have a more reliable food supply. Through the sail and windmill we captured the power of the wind to do our bidding. Eventually we developed both the mechanical and electric motor, thus capturing the power of chemical combustion and electromotive force. And of course, if we choose to build a fission reactor, we now can capture the power of the atom, to both good and bad consequences. In the near future we may be able to construct atomic colliders capable of producing fusion power, and the promise of clean, limitless and cheap energy for the world may one day come true.
One thing is clear, as mankind learns how to control the forces of nature (to its benefit or detriment) the technology required to do so become more and more complicated. What are the odds that one day scientists will discover that a new and powerful force exists in the universe that can do almost anything and requires absolutely no technology to manipulate?
Neither the religious nor the followers of the New Age movement ignore the ultimate conclusions of science. In fact, both groups are merely holding out, hoping beyond hope, that science will someday come around to see their side of things. If a panel of prestigious scientists were to announce that they had discovered an ossuary in Jerusalem from the 1st century CE containing the bones of a 30+ year old male with odd DNA that could only have occurred through Parthenogenesis (virgin birth), do you think Christians wouldn’t rally behind the science? The same is true for New Ager’s; they are simply hoping that someday scientists will announce the discovery of the hidden powers they claim to be able to access with their minds.
Perhaps one day science will show the New Age movement to be right; but for now these types of religious and New Age beliefs are not only unproven and unsupported by science, but they fly contradictory to what we know to be true about the way the universe works. As such, to hold these New Age beliefs is pathologically delusional.
The basic promise that much of the New Age Movement subscribes to, is that through ethical living and some form of contemplative process, you will have a good life. This is a perfectly valid proposition which has no need for supernatural forces to augment its basic premise. Meditation, visualization, introspection, a few forms of prayer, and various other techniques that aid in self-discovery can be used to help anyone contemplate the important aspects of their character and too discover new principles to live their life by.
How could you possibly be discovering any truths about yourself, when you can’t even discover the truth about the universe you live in? Pretending that your mind has the power to alter the physical world or mentally coerce people to do your bidding, when you simply can’t, is the definition of being delusional.
If you find anything in the statement from “Abraham” above to be informative or even comprehensible, then this should be your sign that you have delved to deeply into the metaphysics of the New Age movement.
Just like with the delusional statements of the religious, we all need to challenge these delusional New Age statements for the same reasons. Currently, our country is politically divided by conservative Republicans who seem enthralled by religious delusions, and liberal Democrats who too often try to appeal to the delusions of the New Age movement to curry the favor of voters. If we really want a government that is motivated by evidence and rational debate, we must start by conversationally criticizing statements stemming from delusional belief systems.
Whether it is at the level of nations, or at an individual level, deluding oneself about any subject is contrary to honest self-discovery and development. In particular, thinking that any mental discipline can change the laws of physics is NOT a higher form of self awareness, but one of the highest forms of self-delusion.
September 22, 2011