As indicated by the previous two chapters the spectrum of new era religiosity is

a broad one. Populated predominantly by the urban-industrial middles classes,

the spectrum of new era religious discourse and practice embodies a repertorial

range stretching from the explicitly religious and communal to the purportedly non-

religious and private. Whilst the heterogeneity of new era repertoires must not be

lost sight of, there nevertheless exist a number of discursive components which

appear across the spectrum of new era narratives as recurrent rhetorical motifs. In her

study of ‘mystical-esoteric’ groups in and around the federal capital of Brasília, for

example, Siqueira identifies a number of shared motifs which she records as ‘notions

of karma and reincarnation’, the ‘emphasis given to the development of spirituality’,

the annihilation of ‘the Ego’ and its attachment to ‘materiality and the world of

illusions’, stress upon encountering ‘the divine within each and every person’, and

the espousal of ‘holism’ and resulting claims of organizational ecumenicity (2003:

44). The following overview of new era discourse identifies three motifs which act

as primary organizing principles around which new era narrative repertoires are

structured. These three narrative components are: a holistic perspective in which a supernatural force or universal energy is held to pervade the cosmos, uniting

individuals with it and, by virtue of its mediating ubiquity, with each other; an

individualistic emphasis in which the self is posited as the primary agent by which religious authority is arbitrated and through which self-fulfilment is achieved by

harnessing and manipulating cosmic forces residing deep within the self; and, a

pragmatic ethos in which new era repertoires are regarded as a form of practical knowledge comprising information about and techniques designed to achieve

absolute self-realization. Whilst the specific content of organizational discourse

inevitably differs from group to group, these three motifs act as architectonic themes

pervading the entire new era spectrum and thereby play a major role in defining the

overall trajectory of particular new era narratives. Although specific attention is paid

to the discourse of new era groups and organizations already discussed, a number of

other relevant sources (e.g. Japanese new religions) will also be drawn upon to make

the following treatment as broadly representative as possible. Prior to engaging the

three primary motifs of holism, individualism, and pragmatism, however, it may prove beneficial to look at a concrete example of new era discourse in action (so

to speak!). In addition to furnishing a working example of new era motifs at work,

the following overview of the ‘Course in New Gnosis’ also provides a welcome

grounding and particular point of reference for the analysis which follows.