It was in its spiritual optimism that New Age spirituality was most deeply and dangerously in error - an optimism that derived from the middle 1960s hippie movement (or perhaps from the middle 1950s Beats/ beatniks).
The basic stance of this movement was that modern people had spiritually progressed beyond those of the past; that there had been and was ongoing a transformation and advance in human consciousness - with all kinds of new information, experiences, possibilities.
Crudely, but accurately, the New Age assumption was (and is) that the younger generations were spiritually better than the older. This was unwarrented self-congratulation, self-congratulation for one's actual defects! It was indeed spiritual Pride - which is one of the most dangerous of sins.
I believe that New Age optimism is almost-completely wrong - or more exactly is based on a deep confusion (often a deliberate confusion).
Modern Man has a destiny, possible now but not in earlier eras; but that destiny has not been embraced - and was not embraced by the New Age, but was merely claimed to have been embraced, while the truth of the matter was a deepening materialism (especially political) and pleasure-seeking (esepcially sexual).
They understood themselves to be people aiming high and achieving new heights; but in contrast, I see people who consistently and with great stubbornness refuse to aim high - who are reductive and disenchanted in all areas of life - at home, at work, in spirit, in church and other groups.
They are people who deny the fact that We, including the New Age people themselves, are more 'this worldly', more materialistic (reductionistic, positivistic, scientistic) than ever before in the history of Man - and it is getting worse.
When I look at the New Age movement over the past fifty years; I see supposedly-spiritual people who are either merely engaged in mundane, petty gossip and bureaucracy 'about' spiritual matters; and/ or people who engage in covert personal hedonism (usually sexual, and/ or financial exploitation) superficially dressed-up in a spiritual garb.
Our current situation is actually one in which spirituality has been refused; for generation upon generation. This continues; and therefore our situation is getting progressively worse.
Each generation declines from the earlier, because the refusal of the necessity of spiritual progression gets more deeply entrenched.
When spiritual progression is necessary yet does not happen, the gap between where we are and where should be increases - it has increased from a gap to a gulf.
There is an ever-greater distortion of the relationship between our-selves and reality. New Age optimism is one aspect of this distortion.
We ought, therefore, to be pessimistic about the future unless or until there is a massive, qualitative, wrenching and world-shaking change in our basic spiritual stance; until we acknowledge the spiritual as primary at a macro- and micro-level.
This would, obviously, entail a transformation of human thinking. Which is not the kind of thing that happens without people noticing; it is not the kind of thing that happens gradually.
Of course transformation could not happen in a permanent way (not in mortal life) so transformation would be intermittent (perhaps brief, certainly unstable) - but at any given moment it either is, or is not.
The dishonest claim of permanent and solid transformation has been a plague of modern spirituality. While we ought to strive for the spiritual as much and as often as possible; the situation can only improve when people are clear about the times when they (and others) are Not attaining the primacy of the spiritual.
We must recognise that modern man had-and-has a destiny to become consciously spiritual - to become as spiritual as hunter-gatherers but to do so consciously. It is because such conscious spirituality must be chosen, voluntarily and in full freedom that we have not done it.
The spiritual has not happened. As things actually are, optimism is not just mistaken but harmful.
Despite New Age claims; Man's destiny has not even begun to happen at a societal level. The basic nature of our world is one of increasing evil consequent upon the fact that we have refused, and continue to refuse, to recognise the reality of the spiritual and live-by the reality of the spiritual - to make this our life-priority, to seek it to the best of our (limited) ability.