PART ONE MY SPIRITUAL AND LIFE JOURNEY
CHAPTER THREE –
YESTERDAY AND TODAY
ELIXIR OF GOD
In the morning I sit with a clear soul,
transparent and shining
like a crystal spirit,
waiting and prepared to meet
the abundant day ahead.
I walk silently, peacefully, tranquil
in “the space” of its glory.
Here is the “one",
quietly prepared, clearly ready,
to foster and incubate
joy – clear, pure, unencumbered
joy – the elixir of god.
OPENING NEW THOUGHTS
Finding God On The Train has been primarily focused on my developing a personal connection with God during my commutes to Washington D.C., and how I strongly believe this connection is available to all of us who will find a quiet place and take the time to connect with God. As we have discussed, this is not a new concept, but has been a spiritual tradition for centuries with mystic Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and Christians.
As the book’s subtitle conveys, I started this journey also on a quest for a positive and a personal spirituality that would sustain and nourish me. In the past two hundred years the New Thought movement in America has been the centerpiece of positive spirituality, synthesizing key concepts of mind control, positive/affirmative thinking, optimism, mindfulness, and gratitude along with an interest in this personal connection with God, resulting in the formation of established churches based on these concepts, including Unity, Religious Science, and Divine Science. In this chapter, I would like to take an in-depth look into the positive spirituality offered by New Thought and see how, today, behind the scenes, it has grown in popularity and is fueling a positive spiritual rebirth and reawakening.
WHY DOES NEW THOUGHT MATTER?
So besides being popular, you may ask, why does this matter when I have been focusing on promoting a personal connection with God, regardless of religious orientation, persuasion, or practice; or quite frankly, even if we have no religious focus. I would answer saying, no traditional or mystical approach matters in this regard, except in its ability to enlighten us as to how we might individually improve both our spiritual and secular lives. I am not a Hindu, but I believe the Upanishads and other Hindu texts offer a constructive way for me to approach my spiritual life. Likewise, I am not a Buddhist, but I practice mindfulness meditation, which is the primary focus of Buddhism.
I am going to introduce, and translate into spiritual terms, a concept I have borrowed from my early college courses in Psychology – “Constructive Alternativism,” or more simply put - “Use What Works.” This is an approach, where instead of focusing on any one doctrine, theory, or practice, we understand all of the available options, picking and choose what we personally need, or feel is the most useful. Using Constructive Alternativism, or “Use What Works,” I would encourage you to create your own personal positive spiritual practice.
This said, I feel it is easy to get information on the major religions, but the religious foundation of New Thought, and its contribution to the formation of a positive spirituality, still remains a secret, although, it is impacting much of the spiritual work being published today. As I have outlined earlier in the book, I only discovered the existence of established New Thought spiritual centers by chance. Rarely will you ever see a direct reference to New Thought or positive spirituality, so I simply want to offer this as an alternative, especially for those who may be seeking a positive spiritual experience to augment, or replace, their current approach.
While I say New Thought is not discussed, the key New Thought concepts, centered in a positive based spirituality, have profoundly impacted the spiritual marketplace. Understanding the history and origins of New Thought, will help us understand these new positive spiritual teachings originating from New Thought, and provide the basis for a working approach to what a positive spirituality must include to be viable.
I also want you to understand where my spiritual leanings are, so you can understand many of the key concepts I convey in my poems, prayers, affirmative thoughts, and meditative guidance: such as; the Law of Attraction, Law of Mind Action, Cocreation, Manifestation, Vibrational Alignment, God Consciousness, Transitioning, and the many other related concepts springing from my New Thought orientation. I want you to understand that my focus definitely impacts how God communicates with me. The New Thought movement has impacted my thinking, and in turn my concept of God, and as a result, these concepts permeate God’s messages to me in my meditations.
Let me take a moment and more fully clarify what I mean by this. In my opinion, we are all what we believe and think, and God will approach us within the perspective that fits for our existing stage in spiritual consciousness. God speaks to me in New Thought terms, such as cocreating and manifesting, so understanding key New Thought concepts and definitions, will help you understand and translate these messages in your life.
I also want you to understand that in your own personal communication with God, I believe you should expect the same; if you are a Catholic, for example, God may use the Catholic religious icons, symbols, and concepts that you understand to communicate with you. So as a Catholic, you may be directed to the Virgin Mother, Saints, or Catholic rituals or practice. If you are a Muslim or Jew, the message and communication will be unique to your faith, belief, and religious culture.
What I am conveying here is that, in my opinion, God only seeks to communicate based on your level of awareness and belief. I believe strongly that God has no vested interest in doctrine or dogma, only communication. You believe in angels, you will get angels. Need a little sin and guilt, God may use this too. In short, God will speak your religious language. This may be why many feel that God’s message only applies to those who practice their religious orientation, and all others are at best doomed.
And lastly, the positive spirituality of New Thought, is a religious approach incorporating the teachings of diverse spiritual orientations. New Thought approaches have no fixed dogma, thus providing an open framework, as it does for me, to personalize my religious practice. This, I feel is an essential aspect of what positive spirituality must entail in order to be effective. There are few set rules and regulations, except for you do your best to connect with God by whatever means works for you.
I feel the issue some of us have with established religions, is their focus on replicating the path of a spiritually connected individual, who lived hundreds or thousands of years ago. What worked for Martin Luther (1483-1546), may or may not work for you or me, to use one very courageous and spiritually connected leader as an example. Of course, this would also apply to Jesus. This is the time when we all have an opportunity to forge our own spiritual paths based on one key understanding - all soul based paths lead to the divine. This, I will also emphasize, must be the fundamental belief of a fully positive spiritual approach, because it is totally inclusive, and refuses to force a religious perspective.
In brief, what I am saying is this - if you find it helpful - here is an opportunity to form your own personalized spiritual approach; tailoring your faith, practice, dogma, and beliefs to fit your needs, and your personal connection with God. With this move to personalized religious practice, some us may chose to break our bonds with our current churches, while others will strengthen them, and use all of this to augment their current practice, giving it a more positive focus. In the spiritual awakening, that I believe is underway, one dogma does not fit all, or quoting Larry David, on his HBO show Curb Your Enthusiasm, regarding proselytizing around the world
“I like lobster. Do I go around pushing lobster on people?
Do I say, "You must like lobster?” "Eat lobster! It's good.
It's good." You know, it's not only where you live; you go
to Africa. You travel all over the world. "Eat lobster! Have
some more lobster! It's good, have lobster!"
Just because one, or many of us, prefer to eat lobster, doesn’t mean we all have to eat lobster. Let’s put away the bib and the crackers and see how New Thought developed in the first place, and then move on to look at how New Thought impacts us today. Before we start, I would like to provide an overview of the essence and origin of New Thought.
A NEW THOUGHT ENVISIONING
We begin our journey into the understanding of the positive spirituality of New Thought with a simple envisioning. Imagine you are growing up in a New Thought world, you are twelve years old and attending your New Thought church. The focus of today’s Sunday school lesson is that you are directly connected with God, and this truly loving God is always with you and assisting you. God wants you to have the best life possible, to be the best you possible, and will work with you in creating this life through your thoughts, prayers, and affirmations. Your church school teacher reminds you, as Jesus taught, you need only to simply ask, believe, and it would be given.
But even with God’s help, the responsibility for your life, depends on your attitude and approach to life: God helps you fulfill your plan; you need to have the plan. You do all of this, by connecting directly with this divinity within, through affirmative prayer and meditation. There is no need to worry if you take a misstep, for with God, there is no concept of sin or guilt or shame, there is only positive thought and action that reflect the best life for you. When you move in a negative direction, counter to your best life, you create negative events in your life, thus creating fear, pain, frustration, and despair. The turmoil now existing in the world, is generated by people, and is not the work of God. God is always available and waiting even if, you or the world, loses direction.
When you are connected with God you can create heaven on earth. As an example, your church schoolteacher talks about Jesus, who taught the world how to pray, heal, and connect with the divinity within, and as a result developed the qualities and powers of God. Yes, Jesus was divine and the son of God, but as he taught, we are all divine, and the sons and daughters of God.
Along with the traditional spiritual leaders like Moses, Buddha, Mohamed, etc., non-traditional spiritual leaders such as, Taoist founder Lao Tzu, the Sufi mystic Rumi, Meister Eckhart, the German mystic and theologian, or Emerson, may be mentioned as examples of those who experienced a similar level of spiritual connection. You are taught to love yourself, and others, understanding your God given right to happiness, love, and success. You are also taught to accept and acknowledge all other religions and paths, and understand there are many roads to God.
Now take a few moments and think of your own religious training for a moment. How does it compare? Would you have approached your life differently? Would your spiritual journey have been impacted? Whatif your parents held similar beliefs and fostered this perspective? Would it have changed your relationship with God and life?
DEFINING NEW THOUGHT - SPIRITUAL SCIENCE
New Thought, or the New Thought Movement, as it is often referred to, is not a religion but a framework for a positive spiritual approach. New Thought, to use a cooking analogy, is a savory stew incorporating some key ingredients. This New Thought spiritual stew starts with the favorable soup stock of the early transcendental philosophy of Emerson; adds to it key concepts of ancient religious wisdom; primarily Hinduism spiced up with some Kabalistic Judaism, Taoism, Buddhism, and Muslim Sufism; and then combines all of this with a large quantity of the teachings and the healing practices of Jesus and the early Christians. This is all served up in a spiritual scientific framework of universal laws.
Many New Thought practitioners interpret Jesus’ teachings and healing practices within a global religious framework, and like many other mystics, believe in a spiritual universe created and actively impacted by a supreme force or Godhead. According to New Thought, this divine universal force, which is addressed by many different names, God, Source, Spirit, Creative Mind, Infinite Mind, or Divine Mind, is an active force in the world and the lives of humankind. Taking this one step further, New Thought practitioners believe, we all have God within us and - like Jesus - by focusing on our God natures, we move towards being and becoming divine.
What is intriguing to me is the combination of philosophy, psychology, religion (Hinduism mixed with the Gospels) and science, combined for the first time by the positive spirituality of the New Thought movement. To explain this “New Thought” approach, spiritual writers have offered a scientific explanation and basis for our relationship with God, and what happens in the world, by introducing religious laws which impact believer and non-believer alike - such as the Law of Attraction, the Law of Cause and Effect, and the Law of Circulation, to name a few. Paramount is the Law of Positive Thinking, often called Mind Action, demonstrating we are all responsible for and personally create our own reality through our own thinking, and not as a result of external circumstances. This “scientific approach” is the reason why many of the early New Thought religious organizations added "Science" to their name: Divine Science, Christian Science, and Religious Science.
Using the mind for healing has always been a major New Thought emphasis, and the primary focus of the early church founders, who used the healing approaches of Jesus and Christian Gnostics to cure their own illnesses. New Thought was often referred to as the “Mind Cure” in the early days of its inception. It is also interesting to note that most of the New Thought innovators, who established the centers of learning and churches were women, and all of them were attracted to New Thought by a need to treat a serious illness that seemed untreatable at the time; including Mary Baker Eddy, Myrtle Fillmore, Emma Curtis Hopkins, Malinda Cramer, and Nora L. Brooks.
New Thought also spawned a host of practical business oriented writers and motivators, many of whom were also attracted to New Thought in search of a healing, including Prentice Mulford, Wallace Wattles, Thomas Troward, William Attinkson, James Allen, Charles Haanel, Robert Collier, and Christian Larson, to name a few. These motivational pioneers wrote best selling books applying New Thought concepts, especially the Law Of Attraction, to success in business, relationships, and life - not unlike what is happening today in our spiritual landscape. We will discuss the impact of these motivational New Thought pioneers later in this chapter.
If you think of the melting pot nature of New Thought’s development - it is very American – starting with a simple idea, early initiators began to combine new approaches, improving on the original ideas and making these ideas even better. Idea upon idea, still being added today, to create a uniquely American perspective to positive spiritual enlightenment, a sort of Christian Hinduism, an ethnic, philosophical, and religious melting pot creating something more useful and dynamic than any of its parts alone. Let’s look at how this all came about in the 1800’s.
NEW THOUGHT THEN
William James, noted Psychologist of the 1800’s, researched and lectured extensively on the impact of religion on the “mind,”culminating in his book of lectures titled, The Varieties of Religious Experience. This book, dedicates a chapter to what James referred to as “The Religion of Healthy Mindedness,” referring to New Thought as “Mind Cure” movement, as it was known during its early inception. Here is James’ original thoughts regarding the positive spirituality of early New Thought:
Mind Cure is an optimistic scheme of life… One of
the doctrinal sources of Mind-cure is the four Gospels;
another is Emersonianism or New England transcendentalism,
another is spiritism with its messages of "law" … belief in the
all-saving power of healthy-minded attitudes as such, in the
conquering efficacy of courage, hope, and trust, and a
correlative contempt for doubt, fear, worry…
William James, went on to say of the New Thought movement at the time, “it must now be reckoned with as a genuine religious power.” As James explains, for the first time Science was applied to religion, the Law of Attraction was introduced, and the concept that we can control the world through our thoughts, was added to the healing focus of Jesus and early Gnostics sects, along with the universal God of the early Hindu sages; and it was a very popular spiritual framework. What happened at this time I compare to the awakening and cultural shift that occurred in the 1960’s, with young people across America and the world moving to a new awareness, which still impacts music, the arts, social awareness, politics, spirituality, and culture today.
So let’s see who had the guts to buck established religion and start promoting what some have, and many probably still do, perceive as heresy. In New England, we pick up the debate about our relationship with God as it is being reframed by the Transcendental Movement. Drawing their conceptual philosophical base from Plato and his concept of the “Over Soul,” the Transcendentalists believed in the innate divinity of every man, the ability to have a personal relationship with God, the essential unity of all religions, and added on to this, a defiance of tradition and disregard of external authority. Spurred on by the liberal preaching of William Ellery Channing, it reached a crescendo in the late 1830’s and 40’s with the emergence of a Unitarian preacher and spiritual teacher, writer and poet, named Ralph Waldo Emerson, the person many consider the key force in the religious framework of New Thought’s positive spirituality.
Emerson and Thoreau, along with their friends Margaret Fuller and Theodore Parker, formed the Transcendental Club and met regularly for moral and philosophical discussions. Fuller and Emerson went on to publish The Deal, the most influential magazine of the time. But always, at the heart of the movement was Emerson, who created a controversy when he asked during his 1838 Divinity School Graduation Address at Harvard - “Why should we not have a firsthand and immediate experience of God?”
Emerson’s spiritual teachings, and personal journey, went on to frame the spiritual side of the New Thought movement. Referring to Emerson, Walt Whitman, who was also a key figure said, “I was simmering, simmering, simmering. Emerson brought me to a boil.” For a guide of Emerson’s spiritual work I would suggest a book by Richard Geldard titled appropriately, The Spiritual Teachings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and of course, The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
The origins of New Thought grew from the well known and the completely unknown. As I have mentioned, a key component of New Thought was the “mind cure or mind healing” movement, whose principle teaching was that “Spirit is more real and more powerful than matter - so the mind has the power to heal the body.” Our next stop Is Portland, Maine, to meet Phineas Parker Quimby (1802 -1898), a watch and clock maker, suffering from Consumption, who with little formal education learns early hypnotism (mesmerism at the time) and through his experiences with hypnosis, auto suggestion, and the Placebo effect, realizes illness is a “matter of the mind.”
Quimby, becomes the first New Thought healer using Jesus as a model for the ability to heal based on belief. Quimby opens an office in Portland, Maine and focuses on his mentally aided healing, and is quite successful. All of the established New Thought churches were, directly or in-directly, founded by Quimby’s patients who became his students. Mary Baker Eddy was an early patient/student of Quimby’s and went on to establish Christian Science - the first Mind Cure oriented church, although many disagree as to whether it is the first New Thought church, because of its strict dogma and religious practices.
Warren Evans, another Quimby patient/student published three books on Quimby’s ideas including Mental Cure (1869), Mental Medicine (1872), and The Soul And Body (1876). Julius Dresser and his wife, Annette, both Quimby patients, went on to write books, and their son, Horatio Dresser became a popular lecturer based on his parents work with Quimby. To the list of key New Thought concepts Quimby added:
Disease is due to false reasoning, so health is due to
knowledge of the truth. To remove disease permanently,
It is necessary to know the cause, the error which led to it.
“The explanation is the cure.” To know the truth about life
is therefore the sovereign remedy for all ills. The truth
Jesus came to declare.
THE FIRST NEW THOUGHT CHURCHES
It was Emma Curtis Hopkins, a former student of Mary Baker Eddy, who had the most impact at the time on the future of New Thought. Along with spiritual healing, Hopkins’ focus was on the changing role of women, and the reign, of what she referred to, as the Mother aspect of God. She went on to write, Scientific Christian Mental Practice, and founded the Emma Hopkins College of Metaphysical Science.
A well known graduate of Emma Hopkins College - Dr. E.B. Weeks, who became a popular New Thought speaker in his own right, went on to inspire the Fillmore’s and the creation of the Unity Movement. On a spring evening in 1886, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore attended a lecture given by Dr. Weeks. Charles Fillmore’s real estate business was failing, and Myrtle, had only a few months to live from her hereditary tubercular condition. As a result of Dr. Weeks lecture, Myrtle had a mystical epiphany, and left the lecture repeating over and over in her mind one single line, “I am a child of God and therefore I do not inherit sickness.” This led to the healing of Myrtle, who lived on for another forty years.
Charles and Myrtle helped and healed others from their home, and the Unity movement came to life. There was no formal attempt through the early years to organize a church, and at its core, Unity still remains a coming together of students seeking truth. The Fillmore’s prayer group evolved into, what is known today as, Silent Unity, a prayer vigil dedicated to praying prayer requests from all over the globe, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Charles, published a little magazine named Modern Thought, which became Unity magazine, and the world’s first fully New Thought religious organization was established
Unity was not an offshoot of any Christian church, so it generated no dogma, and instead focused on the teachings and ministry of Jesus, while directing its efforts toward a “firsthand experience with God.” So in the words of Unity minister, scholar, and one of the top New Thought religious leaders of our time - Rev. Eric Butterworth, as quoted from his book Unity A Quest For Truth, “Unity is not a new religion. It is not a new philosophy or a new teaching. Unity is purely and simply a technique in the demonstration and practice of Christian principles." Butterworth goes on to clarify:
- Unity is dedicated to the open mind, to the continuous quest for truth.
- It does not seek to tell you what to think, how to define God, or what creeds to accept.
- Unity seeks to teach you only “how to think”, “how to pray” – so that you can formulate your own definition of God and find your own distinctly personal revelation of truth.
- The ultimate goal of Unity is to help you become one with God.
Unlike past religious awakenings, there was no major break within the traditional Christian church with the move to New Thought, and as Eric Butterworth goes on to explain, referring to the history of Unity and the New Thought movement.
It was essentially a movement of idealism, religious
liberalism, and a sincere search of the practical truth
that frees. The term New Thought never did designate
an organization. Emerson used the word in referring to
“this new thought.’’ W. John Murray popularized the term
at the turn of the twentieth century in his phrase:
“The New Thought of Man, the Larger Thought of God.
Let’s look at some of the key New Thought positive spiritual concepts, which are embodied in Unity, and the other New Thought spiritual organizations, we will discuss in a few minutes. First, God is you. When I first heard that we should think of ourselves as God, it was a shock, until I realized that it did not mean, I was God. I am going to quote again from Eric Butterworth’s book, Unity A Quest for Truth, directly so I explain this idea clearly.
All ice is water, but not all water is ice. The life in you is God -
life, the wisdom in you is God - intelligence, the love in you is
God - love. You are a child of God, an expression of God – so
there can be nothing of you that is not innately of God.
So what about Jesus? Traditional Christian doctrine says that Jesus is the hope for all humankind, and we must believe in Jesus to be saved. Unity asserts that the true hope of humankind is not reveled in Jesus, but through Jesus, and is reflected in the Christ within the heart of every person, which Jesus revealed. In Jesus’ teaching, he did not place emphasis on himself, but always on all people who believe, “He who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do (John. 14:12)."
A key tenet of New Thought positive spiritual law within Unity, and related organizations, is the concept that – our lives and affairs are completely influenced and shaped by the character of our thinking, that a person is not limited by God’s will, or by heredity, or environment, or by fate or circumstance - but by his or her dominant state of mind. This, in Unity nomenclature, is known as the “Law of Mind Action,” the foundation of what is more popularly known, today, as the Law of Attraction.
Wow, when I heard this for the first time I was floored. What I heard was - everything good or bad in my life is the result of my thinking, and I am responsible for what I am attracting into my life. I thought, if this was true, then if I could change my thoughts, re-direct them, I could change my life. And I have come to accept there is no other way to change my life, but by changing my thinking.
As I became more familiar with New Thought spiritual approaches, the concepts congealed to comprise the basic principles listed below:
1. God is the source and creator of all. There is no other
enduring power. God is all good and active in everything,
2. We are spiritual beings, created in God’s image. The spirit
of God lives within each person, therefore all people are
inherently and naturally good because God’s divinity is
within us and in everyone.
3. We create our experiences by what we choose to think
and what we feel and believe.
4. Through affirmative prayer and mediation, we connect
with God and bring out the good in life.
5. Knowledge of spiritual principles are not enough.
We do and give our best by living the Truth we know.
We make a difference.
The Unity Church is currently the largest New Thought movement today, with 125,000 members worldwide.
Divine Science was also founded in the late 1800’s. It was based directly on the teaching of Emma Hopkins, and was established when Nora L. Brooks, who was suffering from a severe throat illness attended a lecture given by Emma Hopkins, and after several private sessions was healed. Nora Brooks teamed with another patient/student of Hopkins, Melinda Cramer, who had a similar healing experience, and together they formed Divine Science, which has a membership of about 5,000 today. Divine Science adheres to the following:
1. God is all both visible and invisible.
2. One presence, One Mind, One Power is all.
3. This One that is all is perfect life, perfect love, and
4. We are the individualized expression of God.
The United Church Of Religious Science was founded in 1927 by Dr. Ernest Holmes, another Maine native, who was a Divine Science Minister, and became a popular lecturer after publishing what is virtually a textbook on religious New Thought titled, Science of Mind. In 1927 Holmes was convinced to create the United Church Of Religious Science, whose membership is about 100,000 today.
Prayer has always been a central feature of New Thought religious practice, as we outlined with Unity, which maintains prayer vigils, 24/7, to this day. To this prayer focus, Dr. Holmes introduced the technique and practice of the “Spiritual Mind Treatment.” Using the Law of Mind, as outlined in the Science of Mind - Holmes trained his practitioners to formally pray to infinite universal intelligence, God - seeing their clients as whole, perfect, and healed, and as a result, impacting and improving their condition.
Of all the New Thought writers, I find the works of Dr. Holmes a source of continual inspiration. I have not only read, Science of Mind, but use it as a textbook for continuous learning, and often, listen to the excellent audio version when I need some redirection. I can also honestly say, I have read every book Dr. Ernest Holmes has written and published, and would recommend them all.
Likewise, I also occasionally attend Religious Science services on Sunday, and would suggest attending both Religious Science (often now referred to as Centers for Religious Science) and Unity services if you are looking for a more established New Thought based religious alternatives. For daily reading, I would also suggest subscribing to the Religious Science monthly magazine, Science of Mind A Guide To Spiritual Living - as I mentioned previously - I read this every day for inspiration, and it is a centerpiece of New Thought information.
I would like to close this focus on the origins of the New Thought religious movement, and the advent of positive spirituality, with a 1958 quote from Dr. Holmes, which may still result in being more than wishful thinking.
We have launched a movement which, in the next 100 Years,
will be the great new religious impulsion (a force that moves
something along) of modern time.
THE ORIGINAL NEW THOUGHT
MOTIVATIONAL SELF - HELP PIONEERS
As I mentioned, these early positive spiritual pioneers were joined my numerous, and often better known, motivational/self-help pioneers and practitioners, who must also be considered as rightful founders of the New Thought movement. I have mentioned a number of there writers, lecturers, authors, and entrepreneurs who mastered and evolved the early key New Thought concepts, especially the Law of Attraction, and applied them to success in business, relationships, and life.
In 1889 Prentice Mulford (1834-1891), a literary humorist and author, published Thoughts Are Things, which became a guide to the New Thought belief system. William Walker Atkinson - attorney, merchant and publisher - who was the editor of numerous New Thought magazines, and wrote, Thought Vibration or the Law of Attraction in the Thought World, and over 100 other books on related New Thought subjects. Russell Conwell, whose book Acres of Diamonds was first published in 1890 - originating, as I mentioned earlier, from a speech he would give 6,000 times around the world to raise the funds to open my Alma Mater, the only university funded by New Thought concepts.
Other key inspirational and motivational New Thought pioneers included, James Allen (1864 - 1912), the poet and philosopher best known for his New Thought classic As A Man Thinketh, and his magazine The Epoch; Judge Thomas Troward, known as the Judge, whose book, Mental Science, based on his Edinburgh Lectures On Mental Science (1904), further defined the movement for the academic world, including William James. In 1910, Wallace Wattles published The Science Of Getting Rich, to be followed by the Science of Being Great, and The Science of Being Well. Charles Haanel (1866 – 1949), New Thought author and businessman, best known for his book written in a form of a course in New Thought, titled The Master Key System, published in 1912 which, later inspired Napoleon Hill’s work.
During the 20th century, these New Thought pioneers would be joined by Christian Daa Larson, whose ten books included, Your Forces and How to Use Them (1912), On The Heights (1908), The Pathway Of Roses, and Perfect Health, and who went on to inspire the young Ernest Holmes. Robert Collier (1885-1950), whose book the Secret Of the Ages, sold over 300,000 copies. The only student of Judge Thomas Troward was Genenive Behrend (1881-1960), who went on to write two very popular books, Your Invisible Power and Attaining Your Heart’s Desire.
It was Wattle's book The Science Of Getting Rich, a gift from her daughter during a difficult time, initially inspiring Rhonda Byrne to do her early work on The Secret. Byrne in The Secret and The Power quotes extensively from all of these early pioneers including Troward, Haanel, Collier, Behrend, and Larson. Other well known 20th century contributors include, Joel S. Goldsmith with The Infinite Way, published in 1947, Neville Goddard, and of course, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, who after reading Creative Mind and Success by Ernest Holmes became a minister and started his career. Peale would later say, “there is no question that Ernest Holmes’s teachings had helped me on my way.”
I feel compelled to note this listing is only a guide, and does not include all who have contributed during this time. It is meant as a reference and not an exhaustive list. These New Thought motivational self-help practitioners, including those of today who we will discuss next, kept New Thought alive by reaching millions through their plethora of books, magazines, articles, and lectures, while the established New Thought religious organizations reached only a comparable handful.
NEW THOUGHT TODAY - THE SECRET REVEALED
I fully believe that today, humankind, confronted by a tumultuous world, appears to be in the throes of a powerful spiritual awakening fueled by a desire to reconnect with God, move beyond the desires of the ego, and rediscover the authentic soul. New Thought concepts focused on positive spirituality are now, more than anytime in the past, comprising the very foundation of this movement towards enlightenment.
A visit to your local bookstore, or Amazon, and you will be astounded by the New Thought oriented positive spiritual best sellers now prominently displayed - not just tucked back in the religion section which, if you notice, is full and overflowing in most book stores - including; The Magic, The Power, and The Secret (Byrne); Peace In The Present Moment, A New Earth, and The Power Of Now (Tolle), The Power Of Intention (Dyer), The Third Jesus (Chopra), The Age Of Miracles (Williamson), Getting In The Vortex (Hicks), Coming To Your Senses (Kabat-Zinn), The Seekers Guide (Lessor) , How God Changes Your Brain (Newberg & Waldman), The Moses Code (Twyman), Quantum Wellness (Freston), and Loving What Is (Katie) and hundreds more classified as spiritual, religious, motivational, or self-help. Each one of these authors owes a debt of gratitude to the New Thought religious and motivational pioneers who came before them and blazed the trail.
Leading and powering this movement today, is a spiritual educator, guide, facilitator, and an international spokesperson for positive spirituality, Oprah Winfrey. As I have mentioned in my earlier chapters, I must credit Oprah with changing my life, and the lives of millions by introducing the best selling New Thought primer, The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne. Suddenly millions were exposed to the concept of the Law of Attraction and with Oprah’s and laterwith Larry King’s support this New Thought message focused on positive spirituality, which had been in the past geared to a small audience of mystics, now became believable, accessible and repackaged for mass distribution. New Thought and positive spirituality was rediscovered.
More than this, The Secret opened me up to the world of positive spirituality and a loving - kind God available to assist all of us with obtaining an abundant life. Ann and I were hooked, and read many of the books by current practitioners who were presented in The Secret, with our favorites being Rev. Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith, the former Religious Science minister and founder of the Agape International Spiritual Center author of Spiritual Liberation: Fulfilling Your Soul’s Potential; and Jack Canfield author of the Success Principles.
The established New Thought centers; such as Unity, Religious Science, and Divine Science, were caught off guard by this popular movement and worldwide discussion of conventional New Thought concepts, realizing in their avoidance of proselytizing, they had inadvertently contributed to keeping these teachings a secret to the general public. In response, Unity published its own book titled, Sacred Secrets – Finding Your Way to Joy, Peace, and Prosperity.
Still, few who read The Secret, understood that these approaches could be found and were incorporated in, established religious organizations which focused on positive spirituality, such as Unity, Religious Science, or Divine Science. Honestly, the connection has still not been adequately communicated, and as I have mentioned, this is a problem I hope to rectify with this book. Although The Secret has been the most impactful book Oprah has introduced, there has been many other New Thought oriented works, focused on positive spirituality, that Oprah has, over the years, introduced before and after The Secret.
Oprah admits, she found her way to her positive spiritual path, after reacting to her pastor’s sermon on God being vengeful, and then reading Unity’s Rev. Eric Butterworth’s classic, Discover the Power Within You. I have quoted extensively throughout this book from the works of Eric Butterworth - the New York City Unity Minister who conducted services at Avery Fisher Hall in the Lincoln Center, and was recognized as one of the top religious leaders in America of the 20th century. Oprah has expressed that Discover The Power Within changed her life, as it did mine, and I would recommend it as required reading along with The Secret.
Since I am recommending books focused on the movement toward awakening and positive spirituality, I must also recommend the third most influential book in my life, The Power of Intention, by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, who went from his first book, Erroneous Zones, and in the 1990’s personally and professionally evolved into a positive spiritual guide and educator, assisting his readers with connecting with the divine intention in their lives.
I appear to be on a roll, so let me also mention the fourth book I would also recommend reading, and this is Eckhart Tolle’s classic, The Power Of Now, instructing us on how to reach enlightenment by living in the present, the “Now," and controlling our ego’s desire to live in the past and the future. Tolle brings to light the “Pain Body,” the pain center we all individually and collectively carry with us and sink into, creating our own life of pain. We will focus on the role of the Pain-Body in Book Two, when we discuss mind control and control of consciousness. Note all of these books discussed, are listed by author, and available for purchase on my blog’s online spiritual bookstore.
Oprah Winfrey branched out to an international audience in 2008 introducing Eckhart Tolle’s second book A New Earth – Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose, with a series of ten one hour online programs, reviewing a chapter at a time with the author and 700,000 thousand viewers, who participated across the globe, communicating via Skype. Oprah augmented these efforts with her positive spiritual Sirius XM Satellite Radio program, Oprah’s Soul Series, which is also videoed so free Podcasts can be offered via iTunes, which I love, and watch on my iPhone, iTouch, or iPad.
Soul Series has introduced spiritually minded listeners to a virtual cornucopia of spiritual authors and thinkers of our time. Via these podcasts I have been introduced to Elizabeth Lessor and her book The Seeker’s Guide; John Kabat-Zinn’s work on Mindfulness and his book Coming To Your Senses; Byron Katie’s Loving What Is; and most impactful, at least on my diet, Kathy Freston’s book on spiritually conscious eating titled Quantum Wellness. In 2009, Oprah aired another international spiritual webcast featuring Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith, Rev. Ed Bacon - a New Thought style Episcopal Minister from Texas who is sensational and has recently published his first book 8 Habits of Love – Open Your Heart, Open your Mind, and Elizabeth Lessor the author I have mentioned, and the cofounder of the Omega Institute.
Since Oprah now has a network – OWN Oprah Winfrey Network - her reach has expanded with shows like Super Soul Sunday. Free downloads for all types or media are still available on iTunes, and Oprah’s website, listed on my blog. Since this only scratches the surface of the programming centered on New Thought focused positive spirituality available through Oprah programs, for more information go to www. Oprah.com/spirit.html.
MY CONVERSION TO CONSCIOUS EATING
On a personal side note, I need to reveal that Oprah’s Soul Series is responsible for my being a vegetarian, and my fully putting into practice the concept of conscious eating. Early is 2009, I bought a book I already mentioned called Quantum Wellness – A Practical and Spiritual Guide To Health and Happiness by Kathy Freston, who was unknown to me but since I am in the benefits field, and it tied wellness with the word "Quantum," as in Quantum Physics, the only science mentioned in The Secret, I picked up a copy. Since I spend up to five hours a day commuting, I read a lot, so I bought the book, brought it home, and left it on the bookcase with our cookbooks. In March of 2009, I am on my home treadmill watching Oprah’s Soul Series on my iPhone, and Oprah is interviewing Kathy Freston, and discussing the book. I thought - wow this is the book I bought a few months back, so I listened.
Freston, who has a definite positive spiritual orientation, is asking a simple question, “If you are searching for enlightenment how can you justify ingesting animals that have died in agony.” After I listened to the two podcasts, Ann and I decided to read her book and explore the concept of conscious eating. We took Freston’s recommended 21 day fast, where you give up caffeine, alcohol, wheat gluten, sugar, and all meat and dairy products. We succeeded and as a result decided to not go back eating meat or meat by products.
As a result we were vegans for the remainder of the year, but slipped back into our old ways for a few months early in 2011. After I read The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell, PhD - the scientist who led the China study and has shown through research that animal protein could result in cancer, and other health issues - we returned to a vegetarian diet eating cheese occasionally. So I have Oprah to thank and for my healthy, and spiritually conscious diet.
OTHER MODERN DAY NEW THOUGHT ORIENTED
CHAMPIONS OF POSITIVE SPIRITUALIT
There are other influential New Thought oriented leaders who have paved the way for the evolution of this positive spiritual awakening. Foremost has been Louise L. Hay, metaphysical lecturer, former Religious Science Minister, and renowned author of the best selling, You Can Heal Your Life, published in 1984. Louise Hay went on to establish the spiritual publishing firm, Hay House, which has published the leading positive spirituality and New Thought oriented authors of our time: including, Wayne Dyer which we have mentioned, Ester and Jerry Hicks (Law of Attraction), Don Miguel (Toltec Wisdom), Greg Branden (The God Code, The Divine Matrix), Doreen Virtue (Angels and Spiritual Counseling), and Marianne Williamson (Expansion of Course In Miracles) to name just a few.
Hay House publishes the Law of Attraction work of Esther and Jerry Hicks, who over the last thirty years, have defined and redefined the key concepts of the Law of Attraction through their books – Ask and It Is Given, The Law of Attraction, The Amazing Power of Deliberate Intent, Money and the Law of Attraction, and their latest The Vortex. Esther communicates the Teachings Of Abraham – a non-physical group of highly evolved teachers. Before I started to personally connect with God on the train, I was at first a bit freaked out that Esther was getting this information via what some might call “channeling”, but after a few sessions, I got over it, and realized this was a true, modern guide and approach, to practicing the Law of Attraction.
Along with Louise Hay, and the teachers Hay House publishes, I would have to add Joel Osteen, who I believe qualifies as a champion of positive spirituality through his ministry at Lakewood Church, located in Houston, which is now the largest church in the world; with over 40,000 attending services, and seven million television viewers bolstered by the readers of Joel’s best selling positive spiritual guides, including Become A Better You, Your Best Life Now, and It’s Your Time. I have listened to countless Joel services, and have seen him in person, and I would classify his approach as positive New Thought with a bible focus, very reminiscent of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, who like Joel, has translated key New Thought concepts into usable and practical terms.
As I have mentioned, I have only scratched the surface of the New Thought, and spiritually positive, related works, influenced by New Thought that are in the bookstores now, or have been, during the past few years. New Thought has entered our vocabulary with concepts like the Law of Attraction, Laws of Prosperity, the concept of gratitude, abundance, vibrational alignment, cocreating, and manifesting. This is a revolution positive spirituality, with a foundation in New Though,t and we can learn from and share in the bounty.
CLOSING NEW THOUGHTS
I will close this look at New Thought, and the world’s positive spiritual awakening today, with a quote from Rabbi David A. Cooper, from his book, GOD IS A VERB Kabbalah and the Practices of Mystical Judaism, written in 1995. This quote is based on the 1995 Hebrew calendar year of 5755, so in 2014, we would be in year Hebrew year 5774.
According to Jewish mysticism, five thousand seven hundred
fifty-five years ago, a new paradigm of human consciousness
was born…what we call the process of enlightenment.
Kabbalists say that we are rapidly approaching another major
paradigm shif in awareness. It will be called messianic
consciousness, and we will understand everything in an
entirely new light.
When I read this the first time I was stunned and tears came to my eyes. I truly believe we are fast approaching this consciousness - whether we call it messianic, God, or Christ consciousness is a matter of religious semantics - the shift in awareness has begun, with New Thought based positive spirituality is leading the way.
CLOSING NOTE ON ENLIGHTENMENT
The focus of the New Thought positive spirituality is making a personal connection with the indwelling God, the God residing within our souls, within our divine self, and obtaining God consciousness. In the Meditation Note below titled Divine Self Blooming, we are reminded to connect with this Divine Self, and use it as a gateway for this connection with God.
DIVINE SELF BLOOMING
The divine self, like an ocean of spirit within your consciousness
evolves, grows, matures – connected and one with God – fully
present - the spiritual self – the soul within. This is your indwelling
God – your perfect you always present in the mystery of infinite
Open your mind and heart to this divine self, allowing it access
to your life and the freedom to evolve into you. Enlightenment truly
is the divine self becoming fully conscious, and with ego in tow like
an errant child - moving through consciousness to claim its divine
right – its perfec place.
Search no further than your heart, for here is the sound and fury
of your liberation – your becoming – one connected and whole in
Source. Tea off the rags of physical form and walk without armor –
with eyes closed – ego in check – and move to the essence of your
soul – God within – God without.
This is the time to hold the crystal heart – to see the Heartlight
and realize it all has been with you all along – the divine self
CLOSING AFFIRMATIVE THOUGHT
Readers, who are familiar with my Daily Posts On Enlightenment featured on the Blog, know these Affirmative Thoughts are based on positive notes I write for Ann each morning. I started writing Ann a morning note a few years back that I would include with her morning tea, when I woke her up to start the day. I simply ask God for guidance, and as I sip my morning coffee, and watch the dogs play in the yard, write what comes to me without editing. The notes have evolved, and have become an important guidance for both of us, each day. For Ann, these notes have become expected and when, on the rare occasion, I do not write one, she calls me to ask in a puzzled voice, “where’s my note?”
These notes are a morning dose of New Thought influenced positive spirituality, covering a wide variety of topics and, although specific to Ann on that day, are usually so generic they can be applied by any of us as a daily affirmation when we find them useful. I would like to close this chapter with the Affirmative Thought below titled - A Single Thought, which I feel reaffirms the essence of New Thought, with its basis in mind action and the ability to cocreate with God. If you find these notes useful, you can explore all of Ann’s notes that have been published on the Blog, to date, by clicking Affirmative Thoughts, under “Categories,” on the left sidebar of the blog.
A SINGLE THOUGHT
Today let us return to the basics and understand that
a single thought coupled with emotion is
at the center of all attraction and mind-action
creating and taking vibrational form
in the universe.
Today let us monitor each thought and replace
it with a positive concept – lack or less
become abundance and more –
let not good enough
become more than enough.
Today let us understand that thought by thought
we bring about our dreams and desires
and will create
our heaven on earth!
As always, thank you for taking this spiritual journey with me. Our next stop is the final chapter of Part One - My Spiritual And Life Journey, titled, Connecting With God On The Train - where I focus on an in-depth review of the techniques and approaches I use to develop my personal connection with God during my commutes to Washington, D.C. I hope you will join me.