The frequent distinction of ‘religious’ and ‘spiritual’ is not without value, especially in the context of the various kinds of scientism that have locked the ‘modern’ mind in a box of reductionist beliefs. But the exploration of the ‘spiritual’ is not so simple and leads most probably to precisely the kind of eclectic mishmash we see emerging from the New Age movement.
The latter is anomalous from the start and, surprising as it might seem, barely able to reach the level of the version generated in the Enlightenment. Consider Schopenhauer as an example.
The New Age movement is a puzzle: two of its main generators, Gurdjieff and Blavatsky, led the movement into grotesque directions and were both notably dishonest figures who crippled their own ‘movements’. It is almost impossible to make anything out of the mess of pottage of Theosophical junk. The ‘teaching’ of Gurdjieff, via the reactionary Ouspensky, is compelling on the surface but a charade of trick advertising to a closer look, and entrapment in the svengali nightmare of a dark side occultist. In the flood of gurus it seems that in every case there is a problematic failure to really speak to modern man.
The question of the ‘spiritual’ is thus more obscured than clarified here.
The distinction might well seek other grounds, including in the study of the early modern, the reformation, and the Enlightenment taken in its broadest range. In the final analysis secular humanism in its own reformation must find a way to broaden its perspective in this vein.
What is new age spirituality? The book A Course in Miracle is one of the trashiest pieces of junk of the whole movement which is riddled with regressive superstitions of all kinds, along with the p…