Classic EssaysRevilo P. Oliver

Orage and “New Age Consciousness”

A review of Consciousness by A.R. Orage

by Revilo P. Oliver (pictured)

A. R. ORAGE, THE MAN who popularized the phrase “New Age” in the early 20th century, and who honestly concluded on his deathbed that he had learned nothing of significance about the nature of life, here tries to lead the unwary reader to what is essentially the old notion of a “higher consciousness” (blissfully above thought and mental effort) or “cosmic consciousness,” which, when it actually occurs, is an hallucination produced by auto-hypnosis.

When I was a youngster, there was for a time a vogue for a book by P. D. Uspenski, Tertium Organum, which, in a long and rambling discourse, tried to conjure up a “higher” and super-rational consciousness from the then comparatively novel conceptions of Einsteinian relativity. Seeing the book taken seriously by presumably well-educated adults, most of them women, I obtained a copy and tried to understand it, until I realized that, whatever may be possible in mathematical theory or fantasy, no one has ever seen a tennis ball turned inside out without rupture of its outer surface.

Talk about a “higher consciousness” superior to reason naturally comforts persons who find mental exertion painful, and notions about transcendental powers naturally console persons who do not have the courage or stamina to confront the realities of a universe that was not made for man. These ideas, in the form in which they are peddled by Uspenski and Orage, are derived from the early Hindu mystics of the Vedas and Upanishads. They did reach a state of exalted consciousness — by the use of what they called soma, which, as R. G. Weston has shown, was simply the Amanita muscaria, a mushroom that has been for millennia a prime source of religiosity.

The struggle for existence in a universe we did not choose, and the burden of being a member of the only race which values objective, verifiable truth as an end in itself, makes us sometimes long for escape from reality — in some cases through a literature of the fantastic, of marvelous dream worlds, of free-ranging fantasy. But we must not confuse that necessary escape with what is real. Permit me to suggest to the reader that it is a waste of his time and energy to play with fantasies that lack the literary and aesthetic charm of poetry and imaginative prose fiction.

February 1977

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Daron Swarm
Daron Swarm
24 July, 2011 10:58 am

Too many conspiracy theory sites are around. Stick to the ones makes sense and offers useful information.

5 September, 2015 4:49 am

I think it is ESSENTIAL to fully differentiate between “Religion” and SPIRITUALITY!! With all of its many faults and utopian thinking, the New-Age Movement, for the very first time in all of known Human History, massively popularized the idea of a FREE, NON-DOGMATIC SPIRITUALITY!! This is, I believe, an IMMENSE STEP FORWARD for our Race and Civilisation! New Age thinking DOES NOT reject Science, but embraces it fully! As with any great Spiritual Movement, the New Age offers the very best…to the very worst!… In general, I found New Agers to be extremely open-minded, INCLUDING about topics related to Race and Eugenics!! Infinitely more so than all the Christian crowd!

Reply to  Marc
12 August, 2020 9:17 pm

This is a rather difficult and sensitive topic to some, and I myself have difficulties with certain aspects of it. First of all, if we take a look at the old 1993 National Alliance Handbook ( which is all I have in reaching distance at the moment ), there is a section entitled “New Ageism.” In that portion of the Handbook, it explicitly says, “A person whose mind has become infected with New Ageism is useless to his race; he will not admit the necessity to fight for our cause, because he believes he is in contact with powers which transcend the struggle for racial survival. He has abandoned the real world for his make-believe world, where men are not responsible for their fates.” Also it is clearly stated that… Read more »

12 August, 2020 8:25 am

Although I respect Oliver, it is rather ridiculous for him to pronounce the ancient’s experience of “higher consciousness” as merely the result of hallucinogenic drugs. He himself is, by stating such, revealing his own ignorance on such matters. Were such drugs used by certain individuals and sects both in the past as well as in modern times? Of course they were. However, all persons using such physical crutches to attain higher forms of consciousness are either weak souls who are incapable of the strength necessary for inner development, or advocates of practices designed to cater to one’s lowest egoistic impulses and lust for raw power. All the Ancient Mystery Sanctuaries, whether in India, Persia, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, or Rome, eventually fell into decadence and practiced esoteric techniques unworthy of healthy… Read more »