5 Creepy New Age characters to be wary of

Published on January 31, 2013 by      Print
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By Caroline van Kimmenade

The road to self-knowledge is full of charlatans. Below are five creepy characters that I have encountered on my own journey who have proven to be particularly disturbing.

The Terrorizing Therapist

The terrorizing therapist will tell you that all your life- and relationship issues go back to your relationship with your parents (true, but). The terrorizing therapist will also tell you that your life will be painful and shitty unless you pull your heart together and learn to full blast LOVE your parents. 

Whether those parents are in any way loving and supportive themselves is apparently completely beside the point to the terrorizing therapist. Even if they beat you, sexually abused you, ignored you or constantly judged you until you felt like a complete low-life, love them you shall.

As enlightened as it may come across, this is really just a form of institutionalized self-blame. Now, on top of everything else, it’s all your fault because you’re not loving enough. This kind of threat blends perfectly with the widespread and deeply embedded religious assumption that we are all sinners in the first place.

The terrorizing therapist is a tyrant, encouraging his clients to smother their own truth in a thick Love-Sauce that might seem like it should be delicious, in theory, but sure doesn’t taste it.

The Anti-Anger Authoritarian

A shady “guru” who starts each class by blessing the room and asking everyone to hold hands. It’s all a big fantastic thing to be a part of—until someone gets angry. This is not allowed, you see.

The teachings of the anti-anger authoritarian can pretty much be summed up with two rules:

  1. Agreeing with the anti-anger authoritarian  = Love
  2. Disagreeing with the anti-anger authoritarian  demonstrates a lack of loving awareness on your part.

There is no space for creative disagreement in the anti-anger authoritarian’s classroom. The setup is not a research community that thrives on positive criticism. This, dear people, is the corner of the universe where ALL THINGS HAVE BEEN FIGURED OUT IN THEIR ENTIRETY ALREADY. Your job is simply to nod.

Now, most of us already have some very insidious anti-anger programming inside of us. Getting comfortable with our own anger and being discerning in understanding what that anger is telling us is a spiritual path of its own.  But not if the anti-anger authoritarian can help it. The anti-anger authoritarian understands that honoring anger means honoring individual needs and boundaries. Therefore, in the anti-anger authoritarian’s understanding, allowing anger is basically an attack on group morale and the imperative of unity. Anger prevents brainwashing, so it must be washed out.

The anti-anger authoritarian embodies that inner critic that is already telling us be nice, be good. Faced with the anti-anger authoritarian, we need to decide for ourselves: will we continue to make ourselves wrong for having anger?

The Shady Smiley Sister

We all know them, those ever-too-bright types. When you look closer, the brightness seems off somehow. These people have gotten so good at “fake it until you make it” that they have actually become fake. The initially pure-of-heart smiley sister tries so hard to make all the magic ponies come to life. It’s hard to see who is really under that fake mask of eternal happiness.

In many ways, the shady smiley sister is the personification of the Hollywood dream. The more she is revered, the more she will be able to justify her stance and take others down with her. The shady smiley sister appeals to the part of us that just wants to feel good. She makes it all seem so easy and enchanting. She is—implicitly—confronting us with a choice: get real (and leave!) or pretend you’ve “arrived” and glue on your happy face.

The Childlike Channeler

The childlike channeler lives by the motto “It’s true because daddy/mommy says so.” Except, “daddy” or “mommy” is now an ascended master who nobody bothered to run a background check on. This master announced itself to the childlike channeler with a big “Om, blessings to you, dear child” and the childlike channeler was all ears (and tears), like a kid listening to a bedtime story. “Please don’t think for yourself” types will follow these bedtime stories to the letter. Finally, someone who is telling them what to do! Finally, someone who can givethem some clarity! For those who don’t want to get their own two feet wet, the childlike channeler is a dream come true.

Childlike channelers carry an extreme feel-good message that revolves around their core belief: “I am a child of the light, and all is taken care of”… regardless of whether this is actually true or not. This leads to a “hanging back” to allow the universe to fix their problems and resolve their issues rather than taking good old fashioned charge of their lives. These kids struggle with the same issues for years and years, because they keep swallowing the feel-good lies that stop them from making needed changes in their lives. Of course, some feel-good confirmation can be good at the right time, but childlike channelers live in a perpetual floating state of mind and over-identify with the “spiritual” side of things until they lose touch with the practical reality we all live in; they are not critical thinkers. Simplistic, charming, and naïve, the childlike channeler believes that being “spiritual” is the ultimate solution to the uncertainty and fear that comes with finding our own way.

The Fake Zenmaster

The fake zenmaster believes that proclaiming to be enlightened is the same as actually being enlightened (whatever enlightenment is, anyway). The fake zenmaster prides himself on “not thinking.” In reality, his mind is swarming with one particular thought that masks all the other ones: “I am so good at not thinking.” It’s a lot like those anti-odor contraptions that you plug into a socket. They’re advertised as “removing smells” when, in fact, they’re just wrapping the smell in a sickly sweet aroma.

Spend enough time with a fake zenmaster and you’ll start to notice something fishy. You’ll start to get an inkling of the huge amounts energy they are constantly expending on suppressing his true state of mind. The emptiness that you at first mistakenly interpret as peace is intended to mask the muddle underneath—like one of those panoramic backdrops they use in the movies to suggest space that isn’t there.

The fake zenmaster has a lot of new-age fodder on his side and plenty of impressive quotes to adorn himself with. When we believe him, we trick ourselves into thinking that our messy road to full self-acceptance is too far off the beaten track to succeed.

Concluding Note

It’s important to acknowledge the ways in which these 5 kinds of creepy new age characters tap into our own unexamined wounds and silver-bullet dreams. There are no shortcuts to a real and satisfying life. More often than not, promised shortcuts provide endless detours in which the hopes and aspirations of those who got lost along the way are being used to feed the ego’s of those who have figured out how to appear like masters.

These are times of massively hyped bling, little patience, and an expectation of instant success. Taking it slow and finding your own way may well make you the black sheep of many established circles. But the proof is in the pudding, and you need to find your own flavor.

About Caroline van Kimmenade 

Caroline van KimmenadeCaroline van Kimmenade is a Happy Sensitive Person who writes about being sensitive (HSP / empath) over on TheHappySensive.com She describes deep happiness as that underlying sense of empowerment that you feel when you know that you have the inner tools to make things work in your life – even if it may take much longer than you’d prefer and you get some cuts and bruises along the way. She has several alter ego’s that tweet as IDSensitivity on twitter ( twitter.com/IDSensitivity ) and is currently busy making non-stinky Facebook posters for her page: www.facebook.com/thehappysensitive

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  1. Barbara Gini (@BodyLogique) says:

    I like the way you got right to the point on these 5 types with laser-like accuracy ! I had the mis-pleasure of having one of these as a business partner- a classic ‘Fake Zenmaster’ who had underlying qualities of a Ninja Assassin-(I never knew what hit me until it was too late!) The ones that purposely hide their creepified New Aged-ness are the most dangerous of all! :)

  2. Emile Sorger says:

    Whew, I got anxious reading that… not far off from the running cast of characters I encounter in yoga studios, meditation halls, my head. Good job pointing out how easy it is to get sucked into one of these agendas as a quick spiritual fix to all of life’s ugly little experiences. I’ll chuckle next time I run into the fake zen master that lives in brain.

  3. Jade Doherty says:

    Ooh I enjoyed this I did!

    Hope you’re not tired after hitting all those nails on the head!

    Jade xxx

  4. Barbara says:

    Thank you!!! You did indeed hit the nail on the head.

  5. Angela Jamison says:

    Hear hear!

    Lots of clarity here. You picked up the essence of Childlike Channeler and Fake Zenmaster especially well.

    Thanks. :)

  6. Jackie dobrinska says:

    Absolutely love this. I know too many in each category and so much prefer the imperfect, messy authentic human experience of becoming truly whole . Light and shadow. I’m glad I’m not the only one out there welcoming such great dialogue!

  7. Philip Clement says:

    What all your character types have in common, is that the ‘shadow’ side of life (light) has NO place in their ego based realities. It is astonishing to me, in my mid sixties, to encounter so MANY younger people, teachers and seekers alike, who run, shrink and avoid, at the first sign of conflict, friction, or emotional awkwardness. In fact, it would be impossible to understand or even distinguish light, without darkness.

    There is also another creepy creep to watch out for: the “pro-anger terrorizing therapist/teacher/guru” who overtly judges, criticises, and denigrates to demonstrate his spiritual superiority. Those types are void of empathic skills, although they can fake it, like any respectable sociopath. They use their absence of compassion to come across as fearless truth speakers, yelling, pushing, dismissing and accusing, with apparent no regard for the consequences. They sell themselves shamelessly as being better than others and attract a following of people who want to explore their own anger/power and shame issues, among other things. They will call their abusive ways a “deeper” form of love, and like the anti anger authoritarian, tolerate NO challenge to their authority.

    Excellent piece Caroline!

    • Caroline van Kimmenade says:

      Thank you Philip & what you say about the pro-anger terrorizing therapist/teacher/guru, so true! This relates to a lot of historical instances of violent revolution and destruction in the name of “truth and evolution” too.

  8. Laura says:

    Thanks for describing these types with so much precision and humour!
    They can also be found in a church near you. Run, run, run!

    Personally i am allergic to them – can smell their bullshit straight away- but too many people get caught in their web of inauthenticity (with some serious consequences)

  9. Doroti says:

    Interesting how we continue to judge all those creeps out there when they are in reality projections of our own mind. It takes one to know one! Ekam sat.

    • Barbara Gini (@BodyLogique) says:

      With all due respect and just to pose another point of view: Is it ‘judgement’ or is it ‘observation’? Wouldn’t one be judging others to suggest that their observations/ judgments are merely projections of the mind? And who says that in reality our own observations/judgments are merely mental projections and not ‘actual’ ?

      (I think most will agree that whether you call it judgement or observation, people will always exercise it to one degree or another.)

      “As many truths as men…” ~David Mitchell

      • C init says:

        I enjoyed this article also, thank you.
        Barbara, the above response is one I struggle with. Not yours, but the judgement that all observation is judgement and therefore perception.
        It has been a paradigm I have struggled with. It seems more and more frequently people express their spiritual paradigms as THE truth. Would you agree? I appreciate your observations….
        (Or anyone for that matter.)
        I consider myself very introspective, which also highlights differences rather than projections.

    • Kim says:

      Wait wait, are they in reality, OR are they projections of our own mind? I mean, if they’re IN reality (that objective universe of matter moving through space) then they are not just projections.

    • Jenn says:

      Oh good grief, this is exactly what I deal with all of the above discussed 5 types I have to navigate in life. I can point out the fact that Jeffrey Dahmer was a serial killer without it reflecting upon me in any way, as I am definitely not one. I can also point out that ice is frozen water, and that doesn’t make me ice. This frothy but completely empty pontificating is entirely the problem. Let’s call it what it is- a covert attempt to shame people for absolutely nothing. There’s something really manipulative and twisted in that. I see it with a lot of new agers. It reeks of dishonesty.

  10. Doreen says:

    Creepy NewAge types became known with the ascent of Windham Hill records, crystals, and channeling. While in college I worked at a health food store and picked up night shifts at a bar just across the street from it to make ends meet. During the day the smiling gurus would clog the aisles of the food collective dispensing essential health and spiritual advice and generally giving selflessly of their abundant mystic knowledge courtesy of some Ram Das channeling session they attended the month before. However, at night these gurus would show up at the bar across the street and clog the area around the bar hitting on women half their age (who showed no interest whatsoever to begin with), while downing enough alcohol to paralyze an elephant.

    And it wasn’t just the guys. We had some “Earth Goddess” types who during the day exhibited the bountiful care-taking nature of Mother Nature while at night, slept with anyone they could.
    Of course it was all in the name of self-improvement and for the benefit of human kind. At least that is what they told themselves in the morning.

    Do people really need “gurus” or “masters” to benefit from Yoga ? No. They don’t. I had hoped that the 80s New Age movement would have cured people of the notion that they need someone or something to follow to “get life”. Sure, we benefit from the collective wisdom of humanity and history but we don’t need to deify others to experience growth.

  11. Michaelle Edwards says:

    Great article illuminating the ways controlling people use new age philosophy to further their agendas. Put a sanskrit moniker on it and make it holy. The way we give up our power by being ‘nice and boring I might add” lets these charlatans like the Fake Zen master, anti-anger authoritarian and the terrorizing therapist create confusion and stagnation in our lives. WE had a supposed buddhist monk in my neighborhood a few years ago that everyone but me and a few others was convinced was a realized being. He is in jail for life now but not before he had sex with his disciples 12 year old daughters and lied to everyone about who he was and all of his magical powers from sitting on tiger rugs meditating in Cambodia.
    The born sinner tape has been running too long in our brains. I see this with yoga postures where teachers say the pose begins when you want to come out. So many people stay in physical postures in yoga because the yogi tells them that you have to feel bad first and then you get to feel good. Great writing,. thanks for a wake up call that hopefully will reach many people . I will forward it on to my ex boyfriend who could not make a decision without seeing a spiritual reader or looking at his angel cards. New age white bread.

  12. Doroti says:

    Niether amadisimo. Introspection… I am that.

  13. Louise says:

    Thanks for this. The fake zenmaster sounds like one of my yoga teachers. I don’t go to his class anymore but being relatively new to Yoga it is hard sometimes to know whether these people really are suspect or if it’s my own paranoia. I have found Yoga to be unexpectedly confusing at times and the website has really helped me to remember to trust my own instincts if something doesn’t feel right.

    • Caroline van Kimmenade says:

      That’s exactly it Louise. It helps to have these things on paper to validate intuitive nudges when we’ve been conditioned to ignore them. Having a logical framework to complement our intuition really helps solidify intuition-directed action.

  14. Jenn says:

    Thanks for this post! I needed the validation after dealing with all five types. They wear you down after awhile. It’s exhausting to be around so much dishonesty and to be censored almost constantly for attempting to be honest and genuine anywhere near them. Anyone who insists we should deny our natural emotions and reality is either misguided/ deluded or a complete shyster with unscrupulous motives. There’s comfort in knowing I’m not the only one who has dealt with these types.

  15. Marilyn Mesa says:

    I notice they aren’t making sense. I see some of them contradict themselves and they don’t say I know I said this few weeks ago but now I’m saying this.

    Instead, they make contradicting statements without explaining why they are doing so.

    They expect you forget it and just smile like a fool.

    No , explain to me why you did this , this and this. Explain to me why you said this , this , this.

    Get off your high horse and forget about your massive ego and tell me why.

    If you don’t have this big ego then what’s the problem in admitting you were wrong and now you changed your mine.

    There is no way to verify spirituality or even everyday life. People are constantly making things up for agendas. No one real knows what the puppetmaster is up to.

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