The New Age movement has found a solid foothold in the South and is also finding a new tolerance for its unorthodox spiritual practices, reports New Age magazine (July/August).
The Asheville, North Carolina area hosts up to 50 retreat centers, and the city has more massage therapists per quarter block than most other places, writes Lauren Winner. The economy of the city has long been fueled by tourism, and now Asheville is attracting a growing number of spiritual pilgrims, gaining the title of the “Sedona of the east,” referring to New Mexico New Age hot spot. The still-predominant Methodist and Baptists are reported to be more accepting and open-minded than expected, as evidenced by the waiting lists for courses on Eastern spirituality.
Another emerging hotspot of alternative spirituality is the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. The once popular resort area has become a center of Buddhist teaching and practice, reports the New York Times (June 18). Major Buddhist centers — said to number up to 25 — have spread throughout the Catskill region and academics and others say the Buddhist presence is growing not only in number but in its unique variety of traditions from China, Tibet, Korea and Japan.
“If the world survives another 500 years, the Catskills will be a pilgrimage place for the United States and Europe,” says C.W. Huntington Jr. of Hartwick College. Already there are people from Asia and Australia attending retreats in the Catskills at Zen Mountain Monastery and the International Dai Bosatsu Zendo.
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