Gurus, Seers, and New Agers

Janja A. Lalich

in Bounded Choice

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780520231948
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520937512 | DOI:
Gurus, Seers, and New Agers

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This chapter describes the spiritual, religious, and self-awareness milieu of the 1970s with reference to Heaven's Gate, a cult group influential at the time. The characteristic beliefs of that era and that milieu had a tremendous impact on individuals who founded the group, as well as on many who joined in the early years. The mass suicide of 39 members of the group led to an uncovering of their actions and beliefs. The Heaven's Gate belief system grew out of a social phenomenon now identified as the New Age movement. The moral imperative of the New Age movement was guided not by a political vision but a cosmic one, which held to the belief that a person could and should transcend daily life by tapping into the universal mind, the oneness of all existence. It was in such an environment of cosmic oneness, altered states, socio-cultural influences, personal transformation, and reliance on seers and gurus that Heaven's Gate came into being. A careful socio-historical examination of the cult is provided: how and when it was formed, the interpersonal dynamics, the organizational crises, the highs and lows of daily life, the crucial aspects of the belief system that held it together, and the energies of the charismatic leaders who guided the way.

Keywords: New Age Movement; gurus; cosmic oneness; transcendence; charismatic leaders; seers; new agers

Chapter.  6348 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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