"New THOUGHT" Spirituality...
Many students of New Thought consider Phineas P. Quimby to be the "father" of New Thought. The turn of the 19th century brought the Transcendentalists and Ralph Waldo Emmerson who made a huge contribution (as did many others), but Quimby's "mind cure" movement was the beginning of the lineage into New Thought. It is more mystical, (going beyond the psychic realm or New Age) existing between the material and the spiritual.
The three major organizations within the New Thought movement today are Science of Mind, Unity Church and Church of Divine Science, with an estimated 2 million plus followers in the United States.
The concept of New Thought (sometimes known as "Higher Thought") promotes the ideas that Infinite Intelligence, or God as everywhere present; that Spirit is the totality of All things; the “self” is Divine; mind is causative and consciousness is the energy of the Universe; there is a definite mind/body connection and "right thinking" has healing power; divinity dwells within each person and all people are spiritual beings; that "the highest spiritual principle [is] loving one another unconditionally; and, that "our mental states create the manifestations that become our experiences in daily living".
New Thought teaches the presence, goodness, impartiality, and availability of God, and the ability of all people to avail themselves of God's abundance in all things through the thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes that they hold. New Thought interprets the world as real, as mind or spirit, with the physical world being one way in which Spirit is expressed and experienced. Some of New Thought sounds like Christianity (albeit a metaphysical perspective), and the Bible is referenced with high regard, however, it is interpreted metaphorically and is not considered the only repository of truth or sacred scripture.
The two largest groups of New Thought are Unity (founded by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore), and Religious Science which embraced the philosophy of Science of Mind (founded by Ernest Holmes). Emma Curtis Hopkins, a former associate of Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy, was the teacher of the Fillmores, Ernest Holmes and Nona Brooks, founder of Divine Science. Other prominent thinkers/teachers, such as: Warren Felt Evans conducted a practice inspired by Quimby's work and wrote the first books that would later be called New Thought; and, Julius and Annetta Dresser, contributed to the philosophical-religious foundations and historical perspectives of New Thought. It was only after Hopkins began her contributions as teacher of the founders of Divine Science, Unity, and Science of Mind that a full-scale movement began.
It is most likely that those who brought New Thought into existence were Christians of some denomination. New Thought originally was expressed mostly in Christian terms, and it still largely considered a return to pre-church Christianity...the teachings of Jesus, rather than a religion about Jesus. New Thought adopted a distinction between Jesus and Christ (a level of awareness). Jesus was a man who rose to awareness of his divine nature—the Christ nature—as any of us are able to do, as well. In New Thought, Jesus is perceived as the "Great Example" rather than the "Great Exception."
Transcendentalism, especially as presented by Emerson, would become essentially the prime source of both Eastern and Western thought for early New Thought practitioners. Ralph Waldo Emerson drew largely from ancient Greece, but Oriental idealism pervades his writings. In his conception of the One, he is a Hindu, but in his expression of the Life of the Many, he is filled with the true Greek spirit.
Emma Curtis Hopkins, while still associated with Eddy, recognized that various religions had common doctrines, including healing truths. She likened Buddhist Nirvana (which she interpreted as "complete union with God") to Christ's 'I and my Father are one’. From Emerson, Hopkins, and others, New Thought became convinced of the oneness of all existence, partly the off-spring of mystical experience; partly the outcome of thought.
One of the most important figures in New Thought theory was a man whose life linked India and England and who was a leading New Thought theoretician, Judge Thomas Troward. He spent 27 years in North Indian Punjab as Assistant Commissioner and later Divisional Judge. Undoubtedly his ideas of Universal Mind were influenced by Eastern insights.
Seicho-No-Ie ("house of growth") represents a cross-fertilization between the Japanese spiritual tradition and American New Thought. Its founder, Taniguchi Masaharu was an avid reader of Western and Eastern philosophy and participated in another new religion called: Omoto. By chance he discovered a book “The Law of Mind in Action” by teacher Fenwicke Holmes, brother of Ernest Holmes. This book helped him to crystallize a system of thought that was officially launched as Seicho no Ie in 1930.
Seicho-No-Ie basic thesis: man, as a soul, is already perfect; man is originally a child of God; created in the Image of God and already possesses God's virtues of infinite wisdom, infinite love, infinite life, infinite supply, infinite joy and infinite harmony. For some reason man has forgotten this fact and has become identified with the materiality and external appearances. True meditation is the process of, once again, becoming aware of the divine nature. Seicho-No-Ie recognizes that "all religions emanate from one universal God." It has been accepted as part of New Thought by New Thought leaders.
Metaphysics reveals what creativity is, how it works, how it provides the foundation for all that has ever happened or ever will happen. New Thought theory is built on idealism, as are the great Eastern religions. In New Thought most think that the only way to be an idealist is to believe not only that everything is mental but that there is only one mind.
The essence of New Thought is the oneness of life; the great truth, namely, that all things work together toward a high ideal of enlightenment of human thought that remembers its Divine origins and inheritance. Otherwise stated, it is the truth that “God” the Creator/Source of all things lives with, in and as us, in every moment of existence, in every experience.
Belief in the reality of only one mind is a form of pantheism, meaning that all is God. Belief that there is one all-encompassing mind (God), but that within that mind are many subordinate but genuinely real minds is panentheism , meaning that all is in God. Panentheism is associated with process philosophy or process thought, which is a philosophy of the creative advance into newness.
The major focus of New Thought is healing/revealing, of every sort, whether it be in health, finances, or relationships. In Process New Thought healing is the reduction of the contrast between the past and the perfect possibilities given by God. To know the divine nature of oneself or anyone else is to dilute the negative weight of the past and thereby make it easier for each new experience to choose the divine perfection (the Christ-Consciousness) presented to it.
Are there similarities between New Age and New Thought?
New Thought and New Age both believe in a direct relationship with the Ultimate, however It is perceived. New Age, like New Thought, is strongly optimistic, largely because most people in both groups believe in a loving God, and that all people are part of God or have at least a spark of the Divine. New Thought accepts, as does New Age, the old Hermetic teaching, "As above, so below." Heaven, in a New Thought interpretation, alludes to one's state of mind, and on earth we experience the manifestation of that state. As in mind, so in manifestation. Symbolically interpreted, "Heaven" is the uplifted state of consciousness, the peaceful sense of universal Oneness that the mystic seeks.
Both generally believe that there is only one Presence and Power in the universe and that Power is good. Many see that Presence/Power as both immanent and transcendent. Both movements have a growing interest in panentheism. Both movements are philosophically idealistic, and the findings of the new physics support idealism.
New Thought and New Age do differ in practices and where/how healing is manifested. New Thought remains open to Truth from whatever unlikely source it may spring. New Thought focuses on the power of the mind to heal and to prosper in a world in which ALL is mind.
Ernest Holmes: "Change your thinking, change your life."