ROBERT W. BROCKWAYTHE ROOTS OF NEW AGE
From such texts, as well as their own speculations, New Agers have constructed a cosmology which is very much like that of the Hindu-Buddhist and Gnostic. New Age intellectuals fully concur with astronomers and astrophysicists concerning the cosmos’ Big Bang origin some fifteen billion years ago; the expanding universe with its millions of galaxies, black holes, and dark energy; and, indeed, all that constitutes the time/space continuum of astrophysics. However, New Agers hold that despite the vastness f the cosmos, the dimensions of reality have not even begun to be encompassed.
There is another cosmos, the astral plane, fully as vast, if not more so, than the time/space continuum. It is a universe of planets, solar systems, and galaxies very much like the cosmos known to astrophysicists. But, being made of of subtle bodies, physical entities which are more refined and on a higher plane than our time/space continuum, this universe is closer to perfection. Yet it is no less physical than our universe. There is continuity between our plane of existence and the astral plane, and, when beings die in our universe, they do not cease to be but pass over to the other dimension.
According to New Agers, ours is not a fallen world, nor is it ruled by Satan. In these ways, New Age differs sharply from the New Testament Book of Revelations. New Agers do not believe in hell or the devil. At the same time, New Agers, in their own way, share the Christian apocalypticism of the New Jerusalem and the coming time when God will wipe away all tears. They consider our plane of existence to be the lower world, most entrapped in materialism. Some New Agers compare our state to wearing many layers of clothes; being burdened by them. When souls pass over, they doff at least some of this garb and are thus liberated. Yet, the astral plane to which they go is itself intermediate, a higher state than is our cosmos, but by no means the ultimate one.
As Hanegraaf interprets it, the New Age “attitude toward this life is like being in school. Some love it and others hate it.” Our everyday existence is a stage: “a stepping stone to higher realities.” The believers in the Age of Aquarius are hopeful, they “combine expectations with an equally strong belief in higher realities and in expectation of an earthly millennium of love and light”, in other words, the eventual redemption of this cosmos and, presumably, its synthesis with the astral plane.
There is contact between the two planes of existence through the aforementioned channels. There, the “masters” on the astral plane, who are embodied beings but of much more refined subtle physicality than we are, live out their lives. They correspond to the avatars in Hinduism, such as Krishna.
The astral plane, however, is also intermediary. In time, we pass over to a yet higher cosmos which, though still physical, is even more refined and subtle, and, from there to still others. Some New Agers, basing their thought on Hindu scriptures, assert that there are nine planes of existance. The ultimate rebirth is in what Gnostics called the Pleroma, which is a purely spiritual state in which the scattered sparks of divinity are finally united in the One-All.