Mystical Solutions

The men sit around a table, their brows furrowed in concentration. They are staring at pencil sketches they’ve made—images that appeared to them while they meditated. Each man softly asks his drawing: What have you come to teach me? When the answer flows into his mind, he jots it down. No, these aren’t a bunch of flaky New Age adherents gathered in somebody’s basement. They are Fortune 500 executives learning problem-solving techniques in plush offices. What they may not know is that they’re also absorbing New Age spirituality. The sketching exercise is part of a program called psychosynthesis, a set of relaxation and visualization techniques that help people tap into their subconscious, or “higher self,” to solve workplace problems. Seminars that employ psychosynthesis techniques have taken place in such diverse settings as NASA, IBM, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Practitioners of psychosynthesis say that their techniques are a synthesis of the best the West and the East have to offer. They teach people how to connect, or synthesize, the rational, emotional, and spiritual sides of their personalities. The result is a meditative state that allows the subconscious to supply solutions to whatever problems a participant has. The use of Eastern religious terms such as meditative makes psychosynthesis look a lot like Eastern meditation. But psychosynthesis promoter Michael Brown insists that his seminars don’t contradict any religious teachings because, as he puts it, psychosynthesis “touches the oneness about which each religion speaks.” This assumes that the “oneness” that unites all religions is a mystical experience. But is that true? Christianity enjoys a rich tradition of mysticism, but it’s very different from its Eastern counterpart. Eastern meditation has its origins in the belief that everything is part of a larger spiritual substratum, or God. For example, Hinduism teaches that the individual self is Atman, and the universal spirit is Brahma. In New Age teachings, Brahma becomes the “higher self.” The point of meditation is to achieve a state of enlightenment, in which we realize our true identity as part of God. Or, as New Agers put it, we connect with the “higher self” and tap into it for energy, creativity, and wisdom. But Christianity teaches that the Creator and the creation are separate and distinct. While Christians believe that it is possible to have intimate communion with God, that communion doesn’t obliterate the distinction between us and God. As Saint Francis de Sales put it, when Christians meditate we enter into the “presence of the King” and are changed by being in His presence. That’s why programs like psychosynthesis are more than simple techniques to help people solve workplace problems. They’re employer-sponsored—or sometimes government-sponsored—religious training. Whether the tools are meditation or sketching, Christians should understand that they’re being asked to involve themselves in Eastern mysticism. If your own company considers holding seminars to teach employees how to discover their “higher self,” help your coworkers understand the worldview that drives it: Psychosynthesis is not just an innocent workplace technique. It is a dangerous spiritual practice—one that asks us to worship, not the God of the Bible, but New Age counterfeits.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary