You Create Your Own Orthodoxy
by Jordan S. Gruber [first published in GNOSIS Magazine # 16, Summer 1990]
[Note: A much longer and more comprehensive version of this essay
can also be found on Enlightenment.Com.]
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Summary: I believe that at the core of the New Age there is something new, exciting, relevant, useful, bodacious, and "beyond belief" -- yet nonetheless real. And that something is summed up in that little ol' phrase: "You create (or co-create) your own reality." And out of this notion a new Orthodoxy, a new Natural Theology (in Jean Houston's words), will arise.
For some of us, "New Age" does not rhyme with "sewage." Yes, most New Age claims may be silly or nonsensical, and the vast majority of New Age teachings and practices are over-hyped, but it certainly remains possible that among all the New Age gobbledygook there resides something of unique value and importance, some spiritual truth, or at least some metaphysical principle, which, though unavailable to our great-grandparents, is available to us now.
By divining the nature of this new principle we may be able to begin to turn previously vague New Age philosophies into a coherent spiritual system deserving of the title "Orthodoxy." After all, the systems which we now consider "orthodox" were once fledgling systems themselves, initially without thousands of years of tradition and practice to validate their authenticity and authority. If, arguably, the most powerful metaphysical current of our time- at least in North America-is the rise of something called the "New Age," then as students of the spiritual we should critically examine what about this current is genuinely new, powerful, and perhaps even truly transformative .
Having taken human potential seminars, used megabraining technology, read various books of the true believers, and digested some of the criticisms of the debunkers and the skeptics, I am certain of at least one thing: although we don't know how it works, or why it works, there is indeed something significant behind the recent spread of the New Age maxim which states, in its simplest form, that you create your own reality.
It's easy to dismiss this principle out of hand. The scientist rejects it for violating the cherished laws of his or her scientific paradigm. The student of traditional esoteric systems rejects it because it seems to encourage the cultivation of "powers," long discouraged as distracting one from the path of enlightenment. And for those who believe it justifies immoral or non-moral behavior ("there are no accidents and everyone has chosen everything that happens to them"), or who have seen it unconscionably used to inflict guilt or shame in themselves or in others ("why did you cause that cancer in yourself?"), the principle seems ethically bankrupt and viscerally reprehensible.
Yet, still . . . there is something tremendously exciting and powerful about this notion. Perhaps, as some have suggested, it merely bespeaks an escapist urge to regress to a narcissistic, infantile, and "magical" stage of life. But on the other hand, such a criticism may simply be a projection of the rational mind, and not at all an accurate indication of what people experience when they seriously work with the maxim in their own lives.
By now, many people have accepted the reality of "you create your own reality," and have spent considerable time and effort attempting to figure out what is going on here. One possible explanation, derived largely from the work of Joseph Chilton Pearce, [1*] is that there is a deep core of mind within each of us, for convenience's sake called the deep child mind, which administers the reality-creating power that is generated, ultimately, by a much vaster source. According to this theory, the deep child mind does not understand words or thoughts, but rather responds to physical movement, aural tones, touch, and perhaps certain types of imagery. Analogs to this deep child mind explanation can be found in Hawaiian Huna and Kabbalistic theory, among other places.
This deep child mind approach to the reality-creation hypothesis clarifies why reality-creation is neither as simple as some of its proponents claim, nor as morally and ethically bankrupt as is energetically asserted by some of its critics. It is not so simple, because the "you" that creates reality is not a "you" that almost any of us can ordinarily identify or communicate with. In fact, it is an almost total misidentification of this "you" with the ordinary ego that has rendered the reality-creation maxim so fatuous in so many of its formulations. The charge of moral and ethical bankruptcy is directly addressed by the realization that we all share the same deep child mind, and that this aspect of our individual and collective selves is absolutely convinced that it is wrong to do anything that causes harm to anyone or anything else.
Briefly put, the deep child mind is not going to assist you in the performance of miracles, true magic, or powerful transformations if you are attempting any of these for selfish (with a small "s") purposes. You might be able to hoodwink the deep child mind for a short while, but soon enough it will catch on and close down your illicit ego-centered operations. By acting like a built-in circuit breaker, it seems, the deep child mind assures that we will not be given more power than we can responsibly handle, at least in the long run.
It would, obviously, take a great deal of space to fully explore this deep child mind theory or any of the other explanations that have come about, [2*] not to mention the many criticisms that have arisen in response. [3*] Nevertheless, the deep child mind notion makes at least some sense, and should provide the skeptical with a portal into understanding what may eventually be one of the core principles of a new orthodoxy. Such a new orthodoxy (i.e., "right and glorious opinion") may take hundreds of years to formulate, and undoubtedly the reality-creation maxim will only be one small aspect of its eventual dogma. Nevertheless, the reality-creation principle is here and now, and possibly here to stay, and is rapidly spreading through a significant percentage of the mystically-inclined populace.
We can ignore this principle, simply assuming that it is silly and meaningless, or we can look at it with the eyes of a child, willing to trust that it has "shown up" now in such a prominent and provocative way for a reason. At the very least we should approach it as a hypothesis, carefully formulating its application and then testing it in the ongoing laboratories of our own lives. In this way we may discover another sense in which we human beings literally matter, as we play a role in sustaining and co-creating the material, as well as the psychological, aspects of our universe.
1. See Joseph Chilton Pearce, The Crack in the Cosmic Egg: Challenging Constructs of Mind and Reality (New York: Julian, 1971), and Exploring the Crack in the Cosmic Egg: Split Minds and Meta-Realities (New York: Julian, 1974). The deep child mind explanation presented in this article is derived from conversations with William Carl Eichman.
2. For some additional explanations of the reality-creation principle see, e.g., Jane Roberts, The Nature of Personal Reality (New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1987), Peter McWilliams and John Roger, You Can't Afford The Luxury Of A Negative Thought (Los Angeles: Prelude Press, 1988); and Robert Anton Wilson, Prometheus Rising (Phoenix: Falcon Press, 1988).
3. Two of the very best criticisms of the reality-creation principle have been made, respectively, by Ken Wilber in his article "Do We Make Ourselves Sick?" New Age Journal, September/October 1988, p. 50, and by Ted Schultz in "A Personal Odyssey Through the New Age," in Not Necessary the New Age (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1988), p. 337.
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