Self religion

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A self religion (or self-religion) is a religious or self-improvement group which has as one of its primary aims the improvement of the self.[1] The term "self religion" was coined by Paul Heelas[2] and other scholars of religion have adopted/adapted the description. King's College scholar Peter Bernard Clarke builds on Heelas's concept of self religion to describe the class of "Religions of the True Self".[3]

Scope[edit]

Hanegraaff notes that "self religion" may equate to New Age spirituality in general.[4] and author Michael York writes, "If 'self-religion' means personal exegesis and selection by the individual, the general rubric is applicable to trends in the late modern/early postmodern transition, which encompass much more than simply New Age and Neo-pagan religiosities."[5] Eileen Barker, in her 1999 book New Religious Movements: their incidence and significance, said that they were "toward the New Age end of the NRM spectrum".[6] Massimo Introvigne, an Italian sociologist of religion, describe "self religion" as "a deep but vague and unorganized interest in the sacred".[7]

Examples[edit]

Groups characterized as (or associated with the concepts of) self religions or "religions of the True Self" include:

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Chryssides, pp. 290-291.[need quotation to verify]
  2. ^ For example in Heelas, Paul (1991), ""Cults for capitalism? self religions, magic and the empowerment of business", in Gee, Peter; Fulton, John, Religion and power, decline and growth: sociological analyses of religion in Britain, Poland, and the Americas, Twickenham: British Sociological Association, Sociology of Religion Study Group, ISBN 0-9517224-0-9 
  3. ^ Clarke, Peter Bernard (2006), New religions in global perspective: a study of religious change in the modern world, Routledge, p. 8, ISBN 978-0-415-25748-0, retrieved 2010-05-22, "Looking at the situation from West to East, one kind of spirituality that is increasingly sought after in the former concept is the [...] inner-directed or internally focussed spirituality that gives rise to what, building on Heelas' (1991) concept of Self-religion, I prefer to describe as Religions of the True Self." 
  4. ^ Hanegraaff, Wouter J. (2004), "New Age Religion", in Woodhead, Linda, Religions in Modern World: Traditions and Transformations (Routledge): 300, "[...] New Age spirituality has indeed sometimes been dubbed 'self religion'(Heelas, 1996)." 
  5. ^ York, Michael (October 2001), "New Age Commodification and Appropriation of Spirituality" (PDF), Journal of Contemporary Religion 16 (3): 361–372, doi:10.1080/13537900120077177, retrieved 2010-04-03, "If 'self-religion' means personal exegesis and selection by the individual, the general rubric is applicable to trends in the late modern/early postmodern transition, which encompass much more than simply New Age and Neo-pagan religiosities." 
  6. ^ Barker, Eileen (1999-05-05), "New Religious Movements: their incidence and significance", in Wilson, Bryan R.; Cresswell, Jamie, New religious movements: challenge and response, Routledge (published 1999), pp. 15–32 [17], ISBN 978-0-415-20050-9, "It is not impossible - indeed, as one moves toward the New Age end of the NRM spectrum, it is quite common - for individuals to have overlapping memberships, happily hopping from one 'self-religion' to another. It would not be impossible for committed seekers in California, Amsterdam or Highgate to spend twenty minutes in Transcendental Mediation each morning before embarking on their Tai Chi, then going on to attend a channelling session on Monday, to meet with their Co-counsellor on Tuesday, have an Alexander lession on Wednesday, watch an Osho video on Thursday and participate in a Forum Seminar throughout the weekend. Two months later one might find them chanting 'Hare Hrishna', 'Om Shanti' or, perhaps, 'Nam Myoho Renge Kyo'." 
  7. ^ Witham, Larry (March 11, 1996). "Europeans forge new religious paths Boomers tilt traditions to fit their needs". Washington Times. p. A.12. 
  8. ^ Heelas, Paul (1991-10-01), "Western Europe: Self-Religions", in Clarke, Peter, The World's Religions: The Study of Religion, Traditional and New Religion, London: Routledge (published 1991), pp. 167–173 [168], ISBN 978-0-203-41397-5, retrieved 2010-05-22, "[...] such neo-Gurdjieffian movements as Arica [...]" 
  9. ^ Heelas, Paul (1991-10-01), "Western Europe: Self-Religions", in Clarke, Peter, The World's Religions: The Study of Religion, Traditional and New Religion, London: Routledge (published 1991), pp. 167–173 [168], ISBN 978-0-203-41397-5, retrieved 2010-05-22, "[...] such neo-Gurdjieffian movements as [...] the Emin Foundation [...]" 
  10. ^ est features prominently in Heelas's "Western Europe: Self-Religions" articleHeelas, Paul (1991-10-01), "Western Europe: Self-Religions", in Clarke, Peter, The World's Religions: The Study of Religion, Traditional and New Religion, London: Routledge (published 1991), pp. 167, 172, ISBN 978-0-203-41397-5, retrieved 2010-05-22  as an influential movement. Heelas writes in his very first paragraph: "And the founder of est (the highly influential seminar training established by Erhard in 1971) observes that, 'Of all the disciplines that I studied, and learned, Zen was the essential one.'" (page 167). And Heelas goes on to discuss est and Erhard a few pages later: "No European city comes anywhere near the 'one out of 34 adults have taken est' figure provided by this organisation for Boston. [...] To the extent that Erhard, for example, is a latter-day Gurdjieffian (it is surely not a coincidence that he devotes himself to what he calls 'The Work') he can appeal to a similar clientele as those attracted to the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man." (page 172).
  11. ^ Clancy, Ray (July 21, 1992). "Professionals fall prey to New Age gurus". The Times (London (UK)). 
  12. ^ Heelas, Paul (1991-10-01), "Western Europe: Self-Religions", in Clarke, Peter, The World's Religions: The Study of Religion, Traditional and New Religion, London: Routledge (published 1991), pp. 167–173 [169], ISBN 978-0-203-41397-5, retrieved 2010-05-22, "Mention of the self-religion which I know best, namely London-based Exegesis, serves to introduce one such contributor. D'Aubigny, the leader, has had an office devoid of books, except the collected works of Jung." 
  13. ^ a b Bowker, John, ed. (2000), "New religious movements", The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, Oxford University Press 
  14. ^ Heelas, Paul (1996), The New Age movement: the celebration of the self and the sacralization of modernity (reprint ed.), Wiley-Blackwell, p. 59, ISBN 978-0-631-19332-6, retrieved 2009-09-24, "Furthermore, and perhaps more significantly, est has served as an important model for other Self-movements. est graduates, together with those otherwise involved with Erhard, have moved on to develop their own seminars.[...] In 1977, est graduate Robert D'Aubigny founded Exegesis in Britain." 
  15. ^ Heelas, Paul (1991-10-01), "Western Europe: Self-Religions", in Clarke, Peter, The World's Religions: The Study of Religion, Traditional and New Religion, London: Routledge (published 1991), pp. 167–173 [168], ISBN 978-0-203-41397-5, retrieved 2010-05-22, "The great majority of the self-religions active in Europe owe their immediate ancestry to developments in the United States. Going back a step, however, these developments in turn largely derive from events in Europe. One event, above all others, stands out: Gurdjieff's establishment, in 1922, if the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man. [...] Gurdjieff's Institute paved the weay for what was to follow. [...] ASll the basic ingredients of the self-religions are [...] in evidence. As well as provoking what was to come, Gurdjieff's 'The Work' is still alive and well. [...] Between five and ten thousand attend centres [in England] (including the Gurdjieff Ouspensky School), and then there are those attached to such neo-Gurdjieffian movements as Arica, the Emis Foundation (700) and the School of Economic Science." 
  16. ^ Heelas, Paul (1991-10-01), "Western Europe: Self-Religions", in Clarke, Peter, The World's Religions: The Study of Religion, Traditional and New Religion, London: Routledge (published 1991), pp. 167–173 [168], ISBN 978-0-203-41397-5, retrieved 2010-04-03, "Gurdjieff provided the (often) group contexts, complete with rules and techniques, to effect transformation. All the basic ingredients of the self-religions are thus in evidence. [...] and then there are those attached to such neo-Gurdjieffian movements as Arica, the Emin Foundation [...] and the School of Economic Science [...]" 
  17. ^ Clarke, Peter Bernard (2006), New religions in global perspective: a study of religious change in the modern world, Routledge, p. 33, ISBN 978-0-415-25748-0, retrieved 2010-05-22, "[...] the Rajneesh movement [...] developed a psycho-spiritual therapeutic system founded on ideas of, and ways of realizing, the True Self, derived from Eastern spirituality, and on the 'new' and as yet fringe developments in psychotherapy in the West. Other similar movements include [...] Insight [...]" 
  18. ^ a b c Heelas, Paul (1991-10-01), "Western Europe: Self-Religions", in Clarke, Peter, The World's Religions: The Study of Religion, Traditional and New Religion, London: Routledge (published 1991), pp. 167–173 [170], ISBN 978-0-203-41397-5, retrieved 2010-05-22, "[...] the great majority of self-religions [...] These are the est-like movements [...] - the Church for the Movement of Inner Spiritual Awareness/Insight, Self Transformation, the Life Training/the Kairos Foundation, Relationships and the like." 
  19. ^ Barker, Eileen (1999-05-05), "New Religious Movements: their incidence and significance", in Wilson, Bryan R.; Cresswell, Jamie, New religious movements: challenge and response, Routledge (published 1999), pp. 15–32 [17], ISBN 978-0-415-20050-9, "It is not impossible - indeed, as one moves toward the New Age end of the NRM spectrum, it is quite common - for individuals to have overlapping memberships, happily hopping from one 'self-religion' to another. It would not be impossible for committed seekers in California, Amsterdam or Highgate to spend twenty minutes in Transcendental Mediation each morning before embarking on their Tai Chi, then going on to [...] participate in a Forum Seminar throughout the weekend." 
  20. ^ McCarl, Steven R.; Zaffron, Steve; Nielsen, Joyce McCarl; Kennedy, Sally Lewis (2001), "The Promise of Philosophy and the Landmark Forum", Contemporary Philosophy, Barbados Group Working Papers (Jan/Feb & Mar/Apr 2001) 23 (1 & 2): 51–59, doi:10.2139/ssrn.278955, SSRN 278955, "We describe a contemporary experience [...] provided by [...] Landmark Educational Corporation. Its introductory program [is] called The Landmark Forum [...]. [...] [Bartley's] work includes much of the philosophy that informed the est training, the program that preceded and is precursor to the Forum." 
  21. ^ Clarke, Peter Bernard (2006), New religions in global perspective: a study of religious change in the modern world, Routledge, p. 33, ISBN 978-0-415-25748-0, retrieved 2010-05-22, "[...] the Rajneesh movement [...] developed a psycho-spiritual therapeutic system founded on ideas of, and ways of realizing, the True Self, derived from Eastern spirituality, and on the 'new' and as yet fringe developments in psychotherapy in the West. Other similar movements include [...] Mind Dynamics, an offshoot of Silva Mind Control." 
  22. ^ Clarke, Peter Bernard (2006), New religions in global perspective: a study of religious change in the modern world, Routledge, p. 228, ISBN 978-0-415-25748-0, retrieved 2010-05-22, "Although it assumes responsibility for the African race as a whole, Rastafarianism can be also aptly described as a 'Self religion' (Heelas, 1991)." 
  23. ^ Petersen, Jesper Aagaard (2005), "Modern Satanism: Dark Doctrines and Black Flames", in Lewis, James R.; Petersen, Jesper Aagaard, Controversial new religions, Oxford scholarship online, Oxford University Press US, p. 444, ISBN 978-0-19-515682-9, "As stated in the introduction, the three main traits I use to define modern Satanism are "Self-religion," that is, the realization of an "authentic nature"; the use of Satan as a positive and negative symbolic expression of this aspiration; and a coherent organization or body of work." 
  24. ^ Heelas, Paul (1991-10-01), "Western Europe: Self-Religions", in Clarke, Peter, The World's Religions: The Study of Religion, Traditional and New Religion, London: Routledge (published 1991), pp. 167–173 [168], ISBN 978-0-203-41397-5, retrieved 2010-05-22, "[...] such neo-Gurdjieffian movements as [...] the School of Economic Science [...]" 
  25. ^ Heelas, Paul (1991-10-01), "Western Europe: Self-Religions", in Clarke, Peter, The World's Religions: The Study of Religion, Traditional and New Religion, London: Routledge (published 1991), pp. 167–173 [170], ISBN 978-0-203-41397-5, retrieved 2010-02-18, "Together with Eastern traditions, Western therapeutic thought has also influenced one of the best known self-religions, Scientology" 
  26. ^ Clarke, Peter Bernard (2006), New religions in global perspective: a study of religious change in the modern world, Routledge, p. 33, ISBN 978-0-415-25748-0, retrieved 2010-05-22, "[...] the Rajneesh movement [...] developed a psycho-spiritual therapeutic system founded on ideas of, and ways of realizing, the True Self, derived from Eastern spirituality, and on the 'new' and as yet fringe developments in psychotherapy in the West. Other similar movements include [...] Silva Mind Control, which is based largely on New Thought [...]" 

References[edit]