The New Thought Today
International New Thought Alliance (INTA)
The Spirit of The New Thought
Edited by Horatio W. Dresser
[The following is compiled from various bulletins issued from Washington by the International New Thought Alliance, since April 1, 1916. These, the most recent statements, by new leaders, indicate the present trend of the New Thought.]
The most startling thing about New Thought is that it is not new. It is the oldest thing in the world — the only thing new about it is the form in which it is presented to the world. New Thought is a new way of thinking about man, God, and about thought itself. Thoughts are things, and things are thoughts. “Thing” and “thought” are twin words, and at their root are one* (*Of course the new leaders cannot mean that these terms are wholly interchangeable. They mean that thought is a reality, a formative power— not a vague or inefficient force — and that by right thought one can dispel adverse beliefs which credit too much power to “things” in the world of space and time. —Ed.) . . . These are some of the ideas that have received the name “New Thought”: that disease is of mental origin instead of material; that right thinking brings health to the body and prosperity to one’s affairs; that right thoughts will heal perverted appetites like drunkenness and sinful living; that knowledge can conquer death; that God-love in the heart will destroy all enmity on the part of people and other creatures; and that there is no limit to thought and its power, except what thought puts upon itself. . . .
The basis of New Thought belief is that all life is one, and that man is the highest expression of that life, the fountainhead or first cause of which is Universal Energy or Force — God. It believes that man, through recognition of his unity with this force, has power to control absolutely his own fate and create conditions of life and environment to bis own desire.
Healing the sick is a strong feature of the New Thought movement, and great work has been, and is being done, by its followers, who, however, do not claim to possess any special power in accomplishing desired results. They know that this power is common property, and that it is at the disposal of all just as soon as they know how to claim and appropriate their own from the Universal Source, They take literally Christ’s promise: “He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do;” and believe that the power to do His works is just as potent within us now as it was ever in any man; we can demonstrate this power simply through the realization of our possession of it.* (*To this might be added the plea expressed in the foregoing chapters for a real science as the true basis for healing. — Ed.)
New Thought does not condemn any form of healing, metaphysical or physical, but regards them all as good; realizes that physicians and drugs are necessary to many lives at the present stage of development, but believes that, as the race unfolds, all external aids will be discarded, and eventually it will be universally realized that all healing comes from within, and not from without.
New Thought believes that the laws and processes of the universe are beneficent. This being true, there is absolutely no place for fear and worry. The disciple applies this philosophy to every experience of life. The result is a serenity and poise that are conducive to health, happiness and power.
The New Thought believes in a common brotherhood with a divine Fatherhood. It has not come to destroy, but to fulfil. While it is profoundly religious, it is non-sectarian. It teaches that there is no problem in life that cannot be solved by a knowledge of the law of God as written in the hearts of men and by obedience thereto. . .
The International New Thought Alliance is an affiliation of all teachers and leaders who are putting before the world the principles of New Thought. It is not an organization in the old sense of the word, but a union for constructive work, and it is not so much an institution as an influence. Article II of the Constitution and By-Laws of the International New Thought Alliance defines its purposes as, “To teach the Infinitude of the Supreme One; the Divinity of Man and his Infinite Possibilities through the creative power of constructive thinking; and, obedience to the voice of the Indwelling Presence, which is our source of Inspiration, Power, Health, and Prosperity.” Its motto is “Propaganda and Fellowship.” It has no fixed creed or dogma, and it does not endeavor to regulate people’s beliefs, but rather to make them believe in themselves. . . .
Many inquiries are received at headquarters asking this question, What is New Thought? To answer in a word, New Thought believes in the Good. The motto of the old crusaders was “God with us.” The motto of the New Thought is “God in us.” The consciousness of the divinity at the heart of things gives life a new meaning. If man is made in the image of God, he partakes of the divine nature. God is Love, God is Health, God is Abundance, God is Joy, God is Peace, God is Illuminated Intelligence, God is from Everlasting to Everlasting, in the eternal Here and Now, and man, who is the child of God, made in His image, partakes of all these things. This is the New Thought— the New Thought of God. He is not alien. He is not distant. He is “nearer than hands and feet,” He is the one life and we are in that one life. All the Good belongs to us. It is our divine inheritance.
“New Thought” is not a name or expression used to designate any fixed system of thought, philosophy, or religion, but the term itself conveys the idea of a growing or developing thought. When New Thought is molded and formed into a system it ceases to be “New” Thought, Truth is not susceptible of monopoly or being made into a system. It cannot be encompassed by institutions, but its living Spirit is present in every manifested form and object of nature.
The New Thought practises in the twentieth century what Jesus taught and practised in the first century. He taught healing — it practises healing. He said “Judge not that ye be not judged” — it discourages condemnation and sees the good in others. He admonished us to take no anxious thought for the morrow — it practises the divine supply. He taught faith — it makes faith the central principle of its theory and practice. He taught love and
brotherhood — it is demonstrating unity and cooperation. The New Thought is the Christ-thought made new by being applied and proved in everyday affairs.
The New Thought is positive. It would overcome sickness by health, error by truth, anger by love, evil by good. The things of God are all positive, for any negation is lack of God. . . .
Life is organic. The life principle is always manifested through harmonious cooperation of different cells and organs. A movement that is vital must have the same harmonious cooperation between the individuals that compose it. True organization is the very opposite of crystallization, for crystallization means death, while organization of the right kind means life and life more abundant.
Organization in no wise limits individuality, but rather supplements and completes it. There are certain things that many working together can do better than the same individuals can do working alone. Team-play is the keynote of this age — the most vital and progressive age in history.
An organization does not believe and, therefore, should not dictate the belief of its members. Only individuals believe. Each man has his own creed. The very word is from credo, which is a singular verb in the first person, meaning “I believe.” True organization has no right to interfere with this most sacred prerogative of the human soul. It is the divine right of each individual to believe what he pleases. As a man’s home is his castle, so his conviction is sacred and belongs to a realm that society has no business to invade. With belief, organization has nothing to do, although the beliefs of its members have everything to do with organization, for they constitute its soul. In the true sense, individuals should have more liberty in cooperation and correlation than when working at divergent and cross purposes without being rightly related each to the other. For what is liberty but the freedom to fill one’s own part in the divine scheme, and how can we best fulfil this part except as we work in harmony with others who are filling their parts?
Organizations are created to do things which can better be done by working together than by working singly. It is on these lines that the International New Thought Alliance is proceeding. It is merely a band of individual centers and individual teachers and followers working together in freedom for one common purpose, and this purpose is to carry the truth message and the healing message to all who are ready to receive. . . .
The New Thought movement cannot be measured by numbers. It is not so much an institution as an influence. It is impossible to determine the exact extent to which this influence has affected modern thought, but even its enemies must admit that it has been considerable. Consciously or unconsciously it has literally affected millions of people. Signs of its far-reaching effects are seen on the stage, in the pulpit and in the press. The new fiction of the day abounds with it, many of the new plays are fashioned along similar lines, the moving pictures not infrequently feature it on the screen, while in many of the orthodox and liberal pulpits, especially in the large cities, may be heard “New Thought sermons.”
This is as we would have it, for the leaders of this movement are not so desirous of building up a great organization as they are of influencing the world for good. Many of our members are also members of churches and we are not only content that they should retain their church membership but often urge them to do so and to become better church members than before, teaching the truth according to the new illumination they have received. So long as the world is benefited, so long as the health, prosperity and happiness of men and women are augmented, so long as the cause of peace and brotherhood is advanced, so long as the thoughts of men grow more constructive, more cheerful and more in harmony with the divine thought, we are satisfied.
Whether it be from this cause, or others, or from many causes working in conjunction, a transformation is taking place in the thought of the world. It is apparent in many lands. Even in the midst of the terrible war in Europe, perhaps as a reaction from its horrors, is growing up a new spirituality.
[Comparing the above with the expositions of the New Thought in the preceding chapters, one finds it essentially the same in spirit. The newer leaders have lost the vagueness of some of the earlier writers, while gaining a directness of thought which sometimes oversteps the mark. The individualism of the early days is still apparent, but also a spirit of cooperation and fellowship which the leaders of twenty years ago pleaded for almost in vain. The present clarifying statements concerning the true functions of an organization may well challenge the attention of those who adhere to the formal statements of conventional creeds. If the New Thought is essentially a ‘tendency,” a “developing thought,” not a fixity, it must be so regarded by its critics.
But if “only individuals believe,” each having a “creed of his own,” in what sense is the New Thought still “a rational and positive spiritual philosophy,” in the terms of Henry Wood? What is universal? What is “the science of life and happiness”? In what philosophical sense is all life “one”? The New Thought is indeed “not a fixed system of thought,” and yet its adherents have held stoutly to certain propositions that may readily be stated in universal form, and submitted to the tests of philosophic reason and carefully scrutinized experience. Thus Mr. Chesley pleads for the “Law of the Good,” while all the essayists argue for certain psychological principles in accordance with the law of growth “from within outward.” These and the other general propositions may he put to the test in the light of science today.
The above statement that man is “divine,” with “infinite” possibilities, would seem to imply that we can all be gods. It is profitable to contrast with this statement the more cautious plea in a forgoing essay that man is a “medium” of God, and Mr. Wood’s effort to avoid both pantheism and individualism. We find the true clue, no doubt, in the more qualified proposition above, that “God is in us.” This indeed is the real “Spirit of the New Thought.” God of course is the only Divine being. Man lives, moves, and has his being in God, and may become in deepest truth a medium or instrumentality, a child of God. What is needed is affirmative realization of the Divine presence. For, as the above reads, God is in us, not simply “with” us.
If, then, we say that the inner life is the source of causality, we must mean that all true causes are spiritual, that is, all are from the Divine. A “mental” cause might be an affirmation suited to the individual merely, and it might express mere caprice. Any one is free to make this venture, to deem “environment” passive in contrast with his will. Any one may regard his thoughts as “things” in the sense that everything shall seem to be as he thinks. But if one wishes to find the universal basis of thought, one surely needs to avoid putting undue emphasis on the finite self.
Mr. Quimby set a good example in this respect. He did not claim much for himself when he held that there is a “science of life and happiness,” a science which, when stated in scriptural terms, he calls “Christian Science” in one of his articles. His emphasis was on the universal, on the principles and methods which are for all — the Christ-science of all time, in contrast with the facts of any particular phase of history. He did not claim much as a re-discoverer. The greatest value of his work lay in the method of silent spiritual healing whereby the Christ-science could be made real for any individual. The emphasis belongs on the science as divine, not on man as the one to use it in the service of others, although each must believe in himself as heir of the spiritual ages.
The following essay may suggest a way to reestimate the “Spirit of the New Thought” in this connection. It was called out by one of the usual criticisms of the New Thought when the writer was pleading for a return to the Gospels as clues to spiritual healing. The critic, a theologian, claimed that the Gospel works of healing were different in kind, hence that one must first draw doctrinal distinctions between the Lord and man, between “divine miracles of healing” for a purpose in a given age, and the merely “magical miracles” of Christian Science and the New Thought. The writer contends, however, that one should judge the works of healing today as if one believed that God lives today, that the divine kingdom is inseparable from the soul. May we not see a purpose, then, in the healing movement which began with Quimby, and which has differentiated into all the present-day branches — Christian Science; Divine Science; Practical Christianity as advocated by Unity, Kansas City; and the various phases of the New Thought? Should we not interpret this movement from within, in the light of actual experience?]
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The Spirit of The New Thought
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