The New Thought
Nannie S. Bond
The Spirit of The New Thought
Edited by Horatio W. Dresser
[An address to the Psychomath Society, Waltham, Mass., 1898.]
The thought we are considering is not new intrinsically; it is the esoteric teaching of the Scriptures of every nation. It has been glimpsed by poets, prophets, seers in all ages, so that not alone the Bible, but all literature, is illumined when the rays of this thought fall upon it. Christianity, by the mass of mankind, has been received only in the letter. Even when it is interpreted in a so-called spiritual sense, the mind has not always grasped the esoteric teaching which identified it with other religions, for all religions spring from one root — God expressing Himself through the finite mind.
There is much that is beautiful, inspiring and uplifting in the letter of Scripture, much of direct instruction and help; but when we penetrate into the Spirit and catch glimpses of the untold glories of which the letter is but the shadow, we can no more rest content in the letter than we can live our adult life by the scant knowledge and wisdom of our childhood. The soul can no more go backward in manifestation than the tree can become a seed. The soul is drawn ever on and on toward perfection.
What is this esoteric teaching which constitutes the basis of the “New Thought”? The self is the soul, and is one with God. If the soul is one with God, it must contain within itself all power and efficiency, and it must look within for Truth.
When this truth with its correlatives is received a new birth takes place in the soul. It may formulate itself like this: “Behold, I make all things new.” I have been in bondage to sensation, and so have been ill ; to wrong opinions, and so have been unfortunate. Now I make a new world and a new body. At first there may be little apparent change in the man, but the turning point has been reached; he has aroused himself; he has begun to live; a sense of security and peace attends his every action. Gradually layer after layer of selfism is cast off; personal vagaries, whims and idiosyncrasies fall away, and the Soul comes forth in all its glory.
The Old Thought, truth in the letter, sees the Promised Land, but cannot enter it. With the New Thought we begin the journey thither, and our progress is slow or rapid, according as we understand and obey it. It is not until one proves the truth of some very simple law that he is willing to take the rest on faith; then he goes on proving the Truth more and more for himself. In the Old Thought it is easy to realize that there is perfect safety in the spiritual realm for the soul which trusts in God. We feel such a soul must be protected; we have no doubt in the matter. Then this same confidence takes possession of us as we think of a soul seeking truth for its own sake in the intellectual realm. We feel such an one must be protected; he can read anything, trusting to the integrity of his mind to eliminate error. But when we come to the physical plane, a mighty force seems pitted against our ignorance, and we feel helpless and at the mercy of this force. If we walk into the fire we are burned; if we walk into the water we are drowned. At this point the New Thought asserts that it is possible for the soul to command the mind, and thus enable the body to rise superior to destructive forces. . . .
The need to look within for truth is very apparent, when one reads the mass of books and magazines on this subject in circulation. There is often so much chaff to one grain of wheat. We long to fly to the “Secret Place of the Most High,” to be free from the “strife of tongues.” There we can quietly rest our mind, and from out the silence that which is essential for our progress becomes clear to us, and the rest fades away. It is no task to read in one line; the thought slips easily along the accustomed channels in the brain. But if we would grow into a knowledge of the New Thought as it is presented by different minds, we must read widely and accept truth wherever found. Nothing is more fatal to growth than to rest in any one’s interpretation of truth as final.
We must follow methods and rules, and learn the law in this as in all else. Do we wish to realize God’s presence in our soul, we must shut out all unworthy moods, all unworthy thoughts. We cannot find God when we are impatient or depressed. God does not hide Himself, but we have obscured our spiritual vision and cannot see Him. Do we wish to train the mind to see truth, we must obey the laws of the mind; we cannot analyze or grasp any subject under consideration by letting our thoughts lazily drift, with no will at the helm. Methods for training the mind and body are various as given in Metaphysical Science, Theosophy, Christian Science and Mental Science, Each person pursues the course which appeals to him as most reasonable, but no one can try any of these various methods without benefit and without soon realizing in his own changed consciousness that there is a potency in these methods which proves the existence of law governing the realm which before seemed chaotic and confused.
May it not be that we are to learn that there must be development on all the planes — spiritual, mental, physical; that if one is ignored it is to the detriment of the rest? “Man shall not live by bread alone.” Have we not tried to do this?
Have we not neglected to use the force of thought on the mental plane, and the power of high and lofty moods of the spiritual realm, in our government of the physical? In the individual there must be an awakening which is felt on all these three planes. Where there is Life there is activity. God is Life, and when this Life flows freely through us there must be action; there can be no stagnant places, no sluggish streams. This Life is a positive force, and sweeps away all negative conditions. The question of greatest importance to the invalid must ever be, How can I receive this Life? The law by which it may be imparted by one to another is not yet sufficiently understood to make its action uniform and available at all times; but some have been able so to grasp it as to manifest health in their own bodies, though unable to use it with equal success under all conditions for others.
The new psychology, if not an outcome, is a co-ordinate factor with the New Thought: the one helps the other. From these allies we learn that physiological changes are made in the brain and body by thought, and that this thought, according to its character and quality, hinders or helps the working of spirit in us; that thus habits are formed, evil is rooted out and good established in character. Persons who have tried for years by the old methods of repression, by prayer and so-called religious helps, to overcome certain faults — as impatience, irritability, anger, fault-finding, depression — find them vanish by the application of a few simple rules which establish real physiological chains in the brain and awaken dormant nerve-centers in the body. Thus we recognize law on the three planes. But we must remember that according to the New Thought the power operating in these laws is soul, that there is no force resident in matter. The soul knows itself a child of God, uses the mind to think according to this ideal, and thus brings about the right action of the forces in the body. We may find that what we call physical laws will change with the mental and spiritual unfoldment of the race.
I will try to give some of the rules which separate themselves in my memory as most important. First, we must take the right conditions; there must be peace within and without. If the truth has been met in the mind with argument, this stage must be passed; the noise must cease before one can accomplish anything in mind and body. We create our own mental atmosphere, and while the storm of argument and controversy is raging in our mind it is divided against itself. We must know that truth is within, and the arguments and reasons we present to our mind must be convincing and authoritative, before we begin to apply any rule for the reception of this truth within. Then peace being established in the mind, there must be peace without. Sometimes it seems that to be unselfish one must meet every demand made upon him by others. Experience teaches that the result of such a course is often confusion of mind and apparent arrest of spiritual growth. The course to pursue is a question for the individual to decide; but for meditation and concentration time must be regularly observed, if only for five minutes each day. Effort must not be spasmodic, but according to nature. One needs to be resolute in cutting away the frivolous and trifling claims of persons and things. . . .
The going into the silence may act as an agent in restoring health to the body, by detaching us from sensation. According to the idealists in the New Thought, this is always the end to be sought. Invalids live in thought in disagreeable or painful sensations, and even when comparatively free from pain, on what is called “well days,” they still often live in sensation by keeping in thought how much better they feel.* (*Miss Bond was for many years an invalid before she adopted the New Thought. – Ed.) This is far from the normal condition. We should be free from consciousness of sensation either good or bad. We should realize that it is soul which feels, not body. . . .
This thought is for those who are athirst for truth, for those who have not yet solved their life problems. The ideas and opinions held by individuals will be modified more or less according to their present understanding of truth. To some it is but the grafting of new fruit, to others it is the uprooting of the tree. It sweeps away the old idea of saintliness; it broadens and expands our ideal; it shows us that true spiritual development includes physical wholeness. We cannot be in bondage to the body and be a “new creature in Christ Jesus” at the same time. We must meet the requirements or acknowledge our deficiencies. We can no longer rest content with emotional religion, or a religion of sentiment or a religion of inward ecstasy; our religion must be a renovating power in mind and body alike. No idle dreaming for those who stand in the ranks of the New Thought, but steady, persistent effort in overcoming old conditions of mind and body. . . .
The tendency of the New Thought is to simplify. This must be so, for it is a broader generalization. The New Thought does not limit God. If one has rested in the concept of a personal God, the New Thought will lead on to an idea of God beyond all such limitation. The personal God is simply the picture which the finite mind presents to itself of Reality. “God is Light, in Him is no darkness.” When the mind would approach this Reality it is blinded by excess of Light; the mind cannot grasp the great truth of its oneness with God; it must be led on gently by the soul.
As our idea of God is expanded we see man in new light. Those powers we have looked upon as supernatural we find to be natural and inherent in man; he is potentially different as viewed from the New Thought. . . .
The New Thought teaches us to see God in everything. If we see Him in everything, there is no evil to us. “When me they fly, I am the wings.” (From Emerson’s poem, “Brahma.”) We find good everywhere, and when the New Thought limits itself to one interpretation of truth and tells us to walk therein, it has ceased to be the New Thought. There is deeper meaning in life and a greater centralizing force in character, when one thus sees God in everything. Then all experience translates itself into one language, and our philosophy of life is simply this expression in words of individual experience. Experience translating itself into thought is thus continually adding new stars to our sky.
The New Thought differentiates persons; they become more individualized as they find their center of consciousness in God, What is more fitting than that the inner worship and adoration of each soul should find outward expression in appropriate symbols? The church and its institutions are these symbols, and each soul by its very differentiation should be a note in a grand symphony of worship. If we find God in everything, in every event and experience of life, surely He will be found in every religion or philosophy formulated by the human mind. We shall find more of His spirit in one than in another, but each lives by the truth that is in it, not by the error. God is not glorified by magnifying one’s own religion and depreciating his brother’s. Each man’s religion is best for that man at the time; when it ceases to be best for him it will be cast aside and a higher form substituted. If one holds his form of religion as superior to that held by all others, he allies himself to the narrow spirit of the Hebrew nation against which Jesus put forth all his power, and in combating which Paul has given to the world some of the most eloquent passages in his Epistles. The lowest form of religion may contain some truth which a higher form has neglected to emphasize. To those to whom public worship is the meeting together o£ persons whose minds are run in the same mold, who can think only certain thoughts and hold certain ideas, the New Thought stands opposed; for the New Thought in its broader sense should make worship possible, though each soul worship God under a different symbol. God may be worshiped in phenomena, or worshiped as force back of phenomena, or he may be put so far away as to be worshiped as the “Unknowable,” or the thought may go out to a loving Father as made known by the Christ. The symbols are numberless. Even the soul which reaches out to a Person on a throne is not out of place in the assembly, for he is on the way to the true idea of God. As a man becomes more individualized he should come into closer relations with his fellow beings; this thought does not separate individuals or make the personal tie less. The man who uses the New Thought brings all persons into right relations with himself; he does not show his sympathy by entering into the unworthy moods or thoughts of any one about him; he seeks to radiate light which shall dispel such mists of mind; he is not independent of persons, he sees God in every one; but if they fail him, he has a sure refuge within, so that his peace is constant and undisturbed by outward events.
To me the knowledge gained through the New Thought is a reinforcement of my belief in prayer. It is to me as if, through a knowledge of the right conditions and a knowledge of the working of mental and spiritual powers, we were learning how to pray, how to use this great force we call prayer. As the human mind comes more and more to understand the working of electricity, it stands amazed at the wonders wrought. The force has always been here. We are just beginning to know how to use it. So it seems with thought and prayer; we are just beginning now to understand what a mighty force is thought, and this force underlies prayer. There can be no true prayer even in the Old Thought, unless the man bring the whole power of his mind to bear upon it ; languid petition, doubting, wandering prayer is but vain repetition, which accomplishes nothing. We may pray fervently for patience, doubting all the time our ability to attain that virtue. But let us reinforce our mind by the affirmation of patience as already attained, “I am patient,” and watch the result. We find the affirmation is an added power. May it not be because it asserts with perfect faith that what is desired is ours ? . . . “Lord, 1 believe; help thou mine unbelief.” The positive statement is made first. Law is the action of God in things. By faith we set in motion those laws which answer our prayer. Prayer becomes simply the normal action of the finite in its reaching to the Infinite. Every prayer is answered. We may not always understand the answer; it may come in some hard experience which forces us to have the self-control, the patience, or whatever virtue we have desired to possess. But let us keep in mind that prayer needs effort. We can not rise into the consciousness of the higher self where God is, and think our own vain thoughts at the same time. We must train our mind to obey us. The New Thought shows us the way.
If we have looked upon trials, as sent by God; if we have cherished the spirit which hugs them to oneself with the feeling that if this special one goes another will come, as if God took pleasure in the unhappiness of His children; we have put undue emphasis on the text, “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth,” and so have considered ourselves, when in trouble, as favored of God, then to us the New Thought stands opposed. Trials are seen to be a necessary stage m the soul’s evolution — means by which God is working in and through us to teach us a truth. Thus a lesson is learned; trials cease to be judgments, they prove themselves friends; they bring with them the deeper insight into life, greater power to help. … It is often those who have suffered most who rest most patiently in this Love and Peace. The greater souls leave there all pain and suffering in perfect faith, and not only their own suffering, but the suffering of the world. They see God even in the apparent evil; it is the lesser souls that murmur and complain.
No phrase is fraught with deeper meaning than this, “Thy will, not mine, be done.” It is overlaid in many minds with factitious ideas, but its radical meaning is indeed a root thought in all religion; it is the only avenue by which real happiness can enter the soul. This is so familiarly a truth as to have become trite and commonplace to many minds; but the New Thought sets it ablaze with a new light when it asserts that the Universal Will means perfection on every plane for every individual — atom or man. Deviation from this perfection, either through ignorance or wilfulness, must bring disorder, hence to a self-conscious being, pain. The remedy must be the bringing of the private will into accord with the Universal Will . . .
I know no better antidote tor any hard experience than to feel it is the beginning of heaven. It must be, for God is in it and is ever waiting in every soul to bring it into that state of consciousness we call heaven. Life should not be made a continual battleground; the conflict between higher and lower ought to be a temporary stage in growth. When once the choice is perfectly made all things are added to the soul. Self-sacrifice, conflict, struggle — these are means, not an end. In God is Love, Peace, Joy. Let us ignore evil, see only good; claim our birthright, as the New Thought is constantly reiterating. This dwelling in thought on limitation, conflict, keeps the race on this lower plane. The soul here and now should begin to enter consciously upon that joy which comes when desire and will are one — “the angel law,” as Browning expresses it. We should enter the kingdom here and now, day by day lessen the sense of warfare and struggle by living more and more in the consciousness of the higher Self; for that which seems self-sacrifice ceases to be felt as such when the higher Self rules.
Each must build his own world. Let us rest on the foundation of a tolerance as broad as that inculcated in the Vedas, and rise on a love which soars in consciousness with the Christ into the very heaven of heavens and reaches out and down to the needs of the humblest. . . .
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The Spirit of The New Thought
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