Sunday, June 9, 2013


Have you heard of New Thought? It's a self-help movement, and a way of constructive thinking and living. Now, don't get me wrong. I have both feet firmly planted on the ground---well, most of the time---so I am not really into New Age thinking, prosperity consciousness, and the like. However, I have had a long and happy association with a couple of churches that emphasize a metaphysical approach to life and which construe and interpret sacred scripture, not literally, but allegorically and symbolically.
The truth is that all sacred scripture and mythology is written in figurative and symbolical language. Take the Bible, for instance. It's all about you---indeed, every person---and your journey through life. It's all about how you can use your mind to your greatest advantage as well as to the advantage of others. One of the greatest New Thought ministers of all time, Dr Emmet Fox, wrote,  'I wish that every Bible had printed on the cover, “This means ME,” because everything in the Bible is a study in human psychology and metaphysics.' Ditto the Quran and all other sacred books.

In recent times a number of books have been written that espouse the almost heretical view that positive thinking is not the way to go. Rather, we should engage in ‘realistic thinking.’ What these writers don’t seem to realize is that true positive thinking is realistic thinking. I repeat, positive thinking is realistic thinking. The fair dinkum positive thinker does not see the world through rose-colored glasses. No, he or she sees things as they really are, but simply refuses to give power to the negative. Some difficulties and problems in life are insoluble, but there is always a way of responding effectively to them, even if that sometimes means living with the difficulty or problem. Yes, despite what some New Thoughters have asserted, no amount of positive thinking will change some cold, hard facts, but it can nevertheless help you to rise above, or simply accept, the harsh side of life.

In short, I have never found it helpful to engage in negative thinking. As I see it, you can be both positive and realistic at the same time. I will, however, say this. Contrary to what my old spiritual mentor Dr Norman Vincent Peale (pictured above) used to preach, I no longer think it’s necessary to always substitute a positive thought for a negative thought that arises, and as soon as it arises, in consciousness. The regular practice of mindfulness has taught me that it is more often than not sufficient to simply observe and note the negative thought, but refuse to give it any more attention than that---and certainly no power over you. Observe, note, but don't dwell on the negative thought.

Now, when it comes to positive thinking, affirmations, creative visualization, and the like, the really important thing is this---there is nothing to believe 'in', but the act of belief, in and of itself, can be curative and otherwise beneficial. Indeed, without belief in your desire or vision, you will certainly fail. ‘For as you think in your heart [that is, mind], so are you’ (Prov 23:7). We need to rise above our problems and difficulties. Take this Bible verse: ‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth [that is, the problem or difficulty], will draw all men [the various ‘elements’ that go to make up the solution to your problem or difficulty] unto me’ (Jn 12:32). This ‘lifting up’ takes place in your mind. Some refer to it as getting ‘altitude’ on your problem, others call it ‘expanded consciousness.’ It doesn’t really matter what you call it, it’s simply a reference to the creative process.

Here’s something else that is very important. Only felt thought---that is, believed thought---works. There must be a strong feeling-tone or emotional mood to your thought (that is, your desire, vision or intention) for it to 'work.' True, any thought always induces some feeling or emotion, but in order for your thoughts to be truly creative there must be a strong emotional tone to your thought. The thought must be felt as true if it is to impregnate your subconscious. More than that, thought and feeling must become one. You must feel 'at-one' with your thought. That giant of New Thought, Judge Thomas Troward (pictured left), said, ‘Feeling is the law [of mind] and the law is feeling, the law of perfect creativeness.’ In other words, no feeling, no result.

The 'Father of American Psychology' Professor William James [pictured below right] also understood the vital importance of feeling or emotion. He wrote, ‘Individuality is founded in feeling; and the recesses of feeling, the darker, blinder strata of character, are the only places in the world in which we catch real fact in the making, and directly perceive how events happen, and how work is actually done.’ Yes, it is feeling or emotion that impresses a desire, vision or intention onto the subconscious mind. Indeed, the desire, vision or intention always 'springs' from the feeling or emotion. In the words of the Rev Ike, 'The feeling gets the blessing!' However, it is not enough to simply want something very much. You must believe the object of your desire, vision or intention to be true. So, the thought must be both felt and believed to be true if there is to be any chance of its actualization.
Now, this is the real meaning of the Bible verse, 'I have laid up thy word [i.e. desire, vision or intention] in my heart [i.e. mind/especially subconscious mind]' (Ps 119:11). That is where the real power source is located. Then there's this verse---'let it be to me according to your word' (Lk 1:38). Thoughts are creative, and the thoughts we habitually entertain and cultivate  in our minds will to a very large degree determine what happens in our lives. Then there's this gem of wisdom---'by your words you will be justified [a positive or satisfactory outcome], and by your words you will be condemned [a negative or unsatisfactory outcome]' (Mt 12:37). We create our own heaven or hell by our thoughts and mental attitudes, so 'choose whom you will serve' (Josh 24:14). Now, this is one of my favorite verses: ‘he sent forth his word, and healed them, and delivered them from destruction’ (Ps 107:20). All of these verses are about you. You see, the term 'word', when used in the Bible, refers to your inner speech, more particularly, thought with feeling, felt thought, believed thought, awareness, conviction, consciousness, and even mindfulness. After all, a word is simply an articulated thought, whether expressed exteriorly or interiorly.

Here’s another very important word in sacred scripture---‘water’ (or ‘waters’). ‘And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters’ (Gen 1:2). Interpreted metaphysically, this verse of the Bible refers to ‘spirit’---that is, your creative word (namely, felt thought or feeling) passing through your consciousness (‘waters’) and bringing your desire, vision or intention into manifestation. It is the creative process of mind dynamics---working in your mind. In the same way as the Spirit of God is said to have brought the entire world into existence through intention, so we are able to create desired experience in our own lives through our own individualized intentions. The same, single 'logic' (that is, law or principle) applies to all things.

We are because God (Life) is. So, there is one way of being, with thought being creative according to the nature, impulse, emotion, intention, and conviction behind the thought. Now, the Bible says that ‘the words of a person’s mouth [mind] are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook’ (Prov 18:4), and ‘there is a river, the streams of which shall make glad the city of God’ (Ps 46:4). The reference to ‘deep waters’ is a reference to consciousness, in particular, the depths of your mind, especially your subconscious mind, and the term ‘city of God’ refers to a sound mind or state of consciousness.

Having created a positive mental attitude for yourself. live, move, and act in that mental atmosphere as if (the 'act as if' principle of William James [pictured right]) your desire or ideal were already a fact. 'Believe that you have received, and you shall receive' (cf Mk 11:24), says the Bible. And, when it comes to affirmations, here’s a useful Bible verse: ‘Let the weak say, I am strong’ (Joel 3:10).

One more verse from the Bible---'Even the Lord is in the midst of you; you shall not see evil any more' (Zep 3:15). New Thought teaches that there is only one creative Power and Presence active in the world and in our lives. That Power and Presence is the very ground of Be-ing Itself---the All-in-All ... in all things, as all things. The Power and Presence is God (the Good)---and you can use it! Whatever comes to you will be in accordance with your consciousness. So, take charge of your thoughts---and use them wisely.

The Bible verses to which I have referred are misinterpreted by many preachers, especially traditional Christian ones. As I've already mentioned, the Bible is a psychological and metaphysical textbook when properly understood. Of course, you have to study and work hard as well. Positive thinking is never enough on its own. However, without a strong positive mental attitude, you are doomed to fail.

So, send forth your word---and it shall be done for you. The important thing is to accept the ‘it’ … whatever it may be.

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