A spiritual seeker profile.
Extract from the NEW AGE MOVEMENT by P Heelas.
Historical notes on Western seeker profiles. A social theory
The spiritual seeker profile within sub-cultures beautifully portrayed by Huysamans ‘in against nature’ (original 1884) and even more graphically in La-Bas (1891) seems to have primarily belonged to the cities. Bohemian, dandies, anarchists (such as Felix Feneon, with his belief in the essential goodness of human nature) and the alienated upper class who seek alternatives turning to esoteric or occultists.
Intellectual: spiritual seeker profile
Viennese intellectuals discussed by Jacques La Rider (1993) developed more theologically or philosophically informed versions of what Rider calls the contemporary rebirth of mysticism or ‘union of the self with God’ (p52)
Spiritual seeker biographical accounts
Two people both women and both of whom left the cities to go East, serve to illustrate the more series aspect of Finde-siecle sprituality. Alexandra David-Neel (1868-1969) became an anarchist at the age of nineteen. A freethinker and militant feminist, she went to London in 1888 where she became involved with Madam Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society (Blavatky herself was teaching in London), whilst back in Paris, she studied with Indologist Sylvain Liev; Edward Foucaux introduced her to the Tibetan Buddhist text and in the words of Stevphen Batchelor (1994) for spiritual inspiration she visited the Musee Guinet when images housed in its vault exerted for her a ‘vibration that neither Theosophists nor academics could provide’. (p309).
Spiritual seeker visits India establishes Auroville.
Mirra Alfassa (1878-1973) later became known simply ‘The Mother’ travelled from Paris in 1905 to work with the occultist Max Theon in Tlemoen, Algeria, ( Theon had been Grand master of the Hermetic brotherhood of Luxor or Light based in Egypt for the period 1873-1877 and had also found the Cosmic Movement) As Mirra reports ‘my return to the Divine came through Theon when I was told “the divine is within there… then at once I felt “yes this is it” ( cited by Sujatanahar 1989, p15) In 1920 The Mother settled permanently in India, joining forces with Sri Aurobindo to develop an Ashram in Pondiuchery, and more recently initiated Auroville, today one of the best known New Age Centres.