11/22/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

New Age: The Danger Of Stumbling Upon The Miraculous

We were living in a 400 year-old cottage in Dartmouth, southern England, when Ed
received a phone call from a woman in
Australia who wanted to contact Yoko Ono. We had been featured in a
magazine there and the woman had read that Yoko was in a book we wrote, along with Paul McCartney, Richard Gere and the Dalai Lama. She wanted Yoko’s phone number so Ed asked her why? She wouldn't tell him until he said, "How can I give you a contact for Yoko if
I don’t know why you need it?" She reluctantly replied, "OK, I am channeling John Lennon and he has an urgent message for Yoko."; "In that case," Ed innocently responded, "why not ask John for her number?" At this the woman became enraged and hung up.

phone call was a great example of the confusion surrounding what is known as
the new age, where people believe they have stumbled upon, envisioned, and discovered
the miraculous. The intention is often pure and meaningful but can also be

were teaching in Plymouth England when a participant, Christine, told us that Deepak
Chopra had renounced the world and was healing people at the local Body and
Soul center. We were surprised as we had met Deepak through a mutual friend, we also had written a book that he was a contributor. As it
didn’t sound right, we decided to go to the center. There we found an Indian man
calling himself Deepak Chopra but who, despite knowing all of Deepak's work,
clearly he was an imposter. The misguided belief that he was the real thing had led
people to stay up all night listening to him talk, to spontaneous healings, and
to plenty of money flowing his way. Later that evening Deb called the center's
owner to confirm that she knew he was not the real Deepak. It took over an hour
to convince her. By the next morning the man was gone, as were the healings.
Once the belief was broken, so was the transformation.

We were recently asked to give a talk on the
theme of The Dawn of the New Age. Although we agreed to do this, it was with
some reservation as we are not sure there really is a new age. Especially as
the request came soon after we had returned from Jerusalem, where we had been
taken to meet the Bedouins camping on the hills outside the city.

It was hard for us to find a dawn of the new
age there, to find any sense of a new awakening, amidst abject poverty,
ramshackle huts and a sea of mud. So it made us ask, where is the new age? What
do we mean by this? Is it experienced only by the privileged few, those of us
who live with heating and electricity and enough food, who can afford to think
beyond ourselves?

The new age is certainly not new as awakening
to deeper levels of awareness has been with us since humans began seeking a spiritual
purpose to life. There is no doubt that in the west there has been a tremendous
increase in those who are seeking, opening their hearts and discovering a more
joyful and enriching way of being. However, does this have any meaning at all
if we do not reach out to help those around us, if we do not extend beyond
ourselves to those who are in need, unable to fend for themselves, or who are
lost and displaced?

If there is a new age dawning, we pray it is
one of compassion and service. That we are able to put our own needs aside and
instead enable others to live with greater dignity. We do not have to go anywhere
to do this—our own streets are littered with people living in the shade. May we
assist each one of us to find our rightful place in the sun.

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You can pre-order a copy of our book at: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can
Transform You and the World
. It will be published Nov 3.


Ed and Deb Shapiro' new book, BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform
You And The World
, personal forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with
contributors such as Marianne Williamson, astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Ellen
Burstyn, Michael Beckwith, Dean Ornish, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jane Fonda, Jack Kornfield, Byron
Katie, Ed Begley, Jean Houston and others, will be published Nov 3rd 2009 by Sterling Ethos.

Deb is the author of the award-winning book YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND. Ed and Deb are the authors of over 16
books, and lead meditation retreats and workshops. They are corporate
consultants, and the creators of Chillout
daily inspirational text messages on Sprint cell phones. See: