The Celestine Prophecy – New Age Piffle

Wednesday, December 15th, 1999

Published 18 years ago -

The Celestine Prophecy

by James Redfield

Review By Dan Geddes

The Celestine Prophecy claims to be a novel, and it is: a novel disguising a New Age primer. The hero, (who I believe is never given a name) is told about a mysterious, ancient Manuscript now in the process of being discovered in Peru. The Manuscript provides the 9 key insights into life, and the insights are so utterly revolutionary that the Manuscript is being actively suppressed by both the Peruvian government and The Church. The Manuscript, written c. 600 B.C.[1], claims that near the end of the Second Millenium, a “critical mass” of humanity will begin to see the truths in life, thus spawning a new age of peace, harmony, etc., etc.

The plot of the novel is how our hero serendipitously discovers each of the nine insights, one by one in order, through scientists and explorers wandering around Peru trying to unearth the thing. En route he meets beautiful women who provide key insights, and is shot at by the angry, evil Peruvian government, which is fearful that the Manuscript will eventually overturn society as we know it.

Ok. Since the plot is mainly a clothes-line on which to hang the nine, New Agey, insights, what are they? Pretty much what one would expect:

1) There is more to the universe than meets than eye, than we can grasp through common sense, or scientific understanding; also there are no coincidences, everything happens for a reason. This is especially helpful for the plot, because whenever our hero is at insight number X, someone who has just been studying insight number X will materialize and explain it to him. (Note: The Manuscript itself is never quoted directly, only paraphrased by characters who have studied translations; this saves Redfield the embarrassing authorial task of trying to write out solemn passages direct from the Manuscript.)

2) People need to view human belief systems historically, to see the inexorable progression to the coming, true, New Agey beliefs.

3) Everything, including people, are nothing but energy fields.

4) All human interaction is a struggle for power, for each other’s energy fields. We all use “control dramas” (from playing the passive “poor-me” to the active “aggressor”) to steal each other’s energy.

5) The mystics, who have experiences that lead them to the conclusion that they are at-one with the Universe, are absolutely correct. More and more people will have such (utterly valid) experiences as we enter the New Age.

6) We need to clear away our own personal forms of “control dramas” before we can view the world purely.

7) We need to continually recharge ourselves through such activities as viewing nature and eating vegetables. Once we are filled with energy (love), we can also send it back to plants (which will grow better) and people (who will now steer clear of dreaded co-dependent relationships).

8) We sometimes become “addicted” to a person, whereby after the initial “in love” stage dissipates we begin to struggle with our mate for our common energy. Instead, we should continue to renew our energies independently, and then share the wealth.

9) Science was a helpful stage in human evolutionary growth in that it gave us the means to exploit nature so that eventually (c. 2500) humans will work only about ten hours a week if at all, and have the rest of the time to recharge themselves. We will realize the insanity of despoiling nature, and set aside much of the earth for our recharging (especially pristine rain forests and mountain peaks).

Oh yes. And the Manuscript does mention a 10th insight, but for that, folks, we must await the sequel. [Published 1996 as, duh, The Tenth Insight, an automatic best-seller.]

This book has sold so well for a number of reasons, chief of which are how desperate people are to find “The Meaning” of life (rather than realizing that we ourselves, as linguistic beings, make that up as we go along), and because it seems to tell the Baby Boomers that “Yes! The Sixties was right after all!” Redfield even goes so far as to have the Manuscript mention “the sixth decade of the second millennium” as a time of great surging in people’s energy consciousnesses. Shameless pandering via the oracle. Just like the whole book.


[1]     How does The Manuscript, written in 600 B.C.E., know that future societies will eventually base their calendars around the birth of then unborn Jesus of Nazareth? But I guess if the Manuscript knows all the key insights of life, it is also good for a little prophecy.

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