Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Is it a New Thought or just Ancient Wisdom in modern clothing - Part Six

Emma Curtis Hopkins: Teacher of Teachers

Sell all, let all move aside – let go, and give to the one Poor, the Unencumbered First Cause, the Unknowable Absolute, the Unhindered God, the Unweighted I AM, the Predicateless Being. This is the universal insistence of inspired mystics. We have only one thing to give, namely, our attention.[1]

This Scientific Christian, also called an “inspired mystic,” “the mother of New Thought,” and “New Thought’s forgotten founder”[2] was an “ardent feminist who believed in the goodness and innate spirituality in women … ordained [over] 111 of her advanced graduates (male and female) … [and] another 350 or more … as healing practitioners”[3] at the Emma Hopkins College of Metaphysical Science in Chicago, Illinois. Among her students were many who later became prominent teachers and leaders within the New Thought movement, including Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, H. Emilie Cady, Frances Lord,[4] Annie Rix-Militz,[5] Malinda E. Cramer, New Thought poetess Ella Wheeler Wilcox, New Thought publisher Elizabeth Towne and, considerably later, Ernest Holmes. She was born Josephine Emma Curtis in Killingly, Connecticut, in 1849 to Rufus Curtis[6] and Lydia Phillips Curtis.[7] She married George Irving Hopkins[8] on July 19, 1874. Their son, John Carver, was born in 1875 and died in 1905. Proving her “teacher of teachers” status was entrenched in her DNA, at fifteen years old she entered Woodstock Academy (Connecticut) as a student and because of her genius was soon given a place on the faculty. Little else is known about her younger years, except she had studied and was well versed in many of the great religions of the world and the Greek scholars; even learning Greek so she would not need a translator. So it is here that we will jump to the year 1883 when, at 34, she met Mary Baker Eddy.

After hearing Eddy speak, Emma wrote her saying, “I want to tell you that the beautiful theory you advanced has taken … so firm a hold of my heart … I am now anxious to learn more of the science … directly from your own lips.” Thus began a not quite two year journey into Mary Baker Eddy’s teachings of Christian Science, and a continued study into mental healing,[9] where she became a practitioner in the organization and the editor of the Christian Science Journal. In a rift that was exacerbated by Eddy’s “closed at the top”[10] leadership style – including the claim that Christian Science came to her in a personal revelation - and Emma’s writings on ancient religious philosophy in the Journal, a huge no-no to Mrs. Eddy, these two titans of Thought Science clashed. Emma was kicked out of the organization. When asked about Emma’s claim that Mrs. Eddy teaches mesmerism, Mrs. Eddy claimed Emma “is not qualified to teach Christian Science and is incapable of teaching it.” [11] However, Reverend Marge Flotron[12] had this to say about Emma’s abilities:

When she left Christian Science, Mrs. Hopkins left with a greater and grander view of Truth teachings of the Christ than either Quimby or Mary Baker Eddy had. She saw no separation between God and Man. She saw no two Powers, no duality – this is good and that is non-good. She did not see that. She gave us New Thought which is devoid of guilt complexes, of people developing guilt complexes, for she knew that the true teachings of God, through the Christ, lays no burden on Man and does set free. She said, “God is Good ... Good is God. There is only God; therefore, there is only Good, and there is no evil. There is nothing to fear; there is nothing to hate. There is no power to hurt; there is no matter with its laws.” In other words, matter has no Power: matter has no Law. We give matter power!

This understanding came through her never-ending dedication to the analysis and assemblage of the ideas of all the great teachings of the Greeks,[13] Egyptians[14], Spinoza[15], the Zend-Avesta[16] and others, and most noticeably empowered and entrenched in what she called, ‘the twelve doctrines of Jesus Christ’. These doctrines gave a solid foundation to what she called the Science of Life, Health, Strength, Support, Defense or Protection, Truth, Love, Substance, Intelligence, and Spirit[17], Science of Mind[18] and New Thought Movement[19] as described in her magnum opus, High Mysticism:

1. Repentance-The Silent Edict: “All the everlasting pages struck off by men under the white flames of inspiration, have been the result of knowing or unknowing obedience to the Soundless Mandate of the Lofty One inhabiting Eternity: “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”[20]

2. Remission: “One who had been utterly set free from the might of the flesh and its death, rose, an untrammeled Being, and said, “Preach Remission.”[21] Preach the removal, the putting away of the consequences of the downward vision, which appear as evil, matter, lack, pain, decay.”

3. For-giveness: “I am for-given and governed by Thee alone, and I cannot sin, I cannot suffer for sin, nor fear sin, sickness or death.”

4. Faith: “Faith is man's El Shaddai[22], his risen recognition of himself as Jehovah Soul, seeing the mystery of Divine Obedience everywhere awaiting the kingly rise of his heaven-planted boldness to command, “I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me!”[23] “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.”[24]

5. Works: “It was practicing inborn authority over the Universal Servitor, when the wonderful Jesus cried … [and] Abraham was practicing inborn authority over the Invisible Servitor, when he said … [and] David was practicing innate authority over the Universal Obedience, when he said ... “When thou shalt make his Soul an offering . . . the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper.”[25] “For it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”[26]

6. Understanding: “This Sixth Study is a lesson in invocation...Whatsoever we desire we are invoking it, and sooner or later it arrives upon us. Let a man draw himself to himself, and leaving all else choose what he will, and so it shall be unto him...our own inspiration or inbreath of the Breath of Brahma.”

7-12. Ministry: “...recognition of the Angel of God's Presence as the original Self of every man, woman, child .....”Seek ye the Lord and his strength, Seek his face evermore,”[27] will not be a beautiful sentence on a page, but a living fact according to high science .... Practice of the Presence of the Most High, the Great Countenance of the Absolute, the Ain Soph,[28] caused Nahum the prophet to cry out [in 2:1], “Watch the way, make thy loins strong, fortify thy powers mightily!” For the loins do show strength by reason of high watch, and the “l Am Strength” is our giant truth .... Victor Hugo wrote about the mysteries because his hidden Self knew the mysteries as our hidden Self knows mysteries—Mysteries which we may tell forth as new music or new life comes to register on our outer forms; as everything we declare soon registers on our outer forms .... The Eleventh and Twelfth Lessons are the Eschatology[29] of the Mystical Science.”

Evolving from the Mental to the Mystical to the Absolute, she believed, similar to the first two steps of Treatment in Religious Science[30], “We train our realizations first, and then demonstrations follow.”

Whether reading her first book, Scientific Christian Mental Practice, or her other more than two-dozen works, every page is chock full of quotes from the Bible and the other sacred texts of the world, Eastern and Western. She sought to reveal the Truth that runs through all of them by illustrating her translations, interpretations and commentary on the subjects of the Divinity of Man and our ability to use this mystic ability for healing:

My god is working with me, for me, by me, and through me, to make me a living demonstration of the omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient good, in the form of health, prosperity, success, and wealth! There is a sure helper in every man, woman, and child, who will give you and I the desires of our heart, if we turn to no other source but the spirit. Now for you, who have been so good and true, and who have prayed and prayed ... Nothing seems to happen.

Get quiet.

Sit down.

Watch and wait . . .

There will come an hour when the tree of life will burst into flower and cast at your feet the most glorious shower of things far grander than you ever knew! Ye are above the wheel of matter and the net-work of mind. Ye are light of the world--free, flawless, immortal.[31]

[1] High Mysticism, Emma Curtis Hopkins, “Remission,” pg 31:6.

[2] New Thought’s Hidden History: Emma Curtis Hopkins, Forgotten Founder, J. Gordon Melton, Institute for the Study of American Religion (Santa Barbara, CA) – paper presented at the American Academy of Religion’s annual meeting in Boston, 1987. Emma brought a focus to the movement in 1886.

[3] Harley, Gail M. Emma Curtis Hopkins: Forgotten Founder of New Thought. 2002, Syracuse University Press

[4] Brought Christian Science to England and author of several books.

[5] Author and founder of Home of Truth, a New Thought spiritual community in Alameda, California. She was the professor of “Scripture Revelation” at the College.

[6] Successful dairy farmer, part time realtor, and Civil War hero (lost a leg in War).

[7] Emma’s mother (1828-1920) bore four children, three of whom died before the age of 13.

[8] A high school teacher who divorced Emma in 1900 claiming abandonment (they hadn’t lived together in 15 years).

[9] Mary Baker Eddy was once a patient of P. P. Quimby’s. Though she eventually disavowed his influence on her work, it is quite evident and has been proven that her beliefs were based on his work with her. We will not go into the facts of that here nor do we desire to belittle her contributions to Mental Science.

[10] References Ernest Holmes’ intention that we stay “open at the top” for revelation and the Divine Emergence of the teaching.

[11] Eddy, Mary Baker. Christian Science Journal, April 1887, “Questions Answered,” p. 25

[12] Rev. Marge Flotron at the INTA Congress in July 1989. She founded Ministry of Truth International, which was dedicated to keeping the works of Emma Curtis Hopkins alive and spreading the “Good word of God” through her books and teachings.

[13] For example, Plotinus and Porphyry.

[14] She knew that the Denials and Affirmations came out of the Egyptian teachings and that Moses’ "I AM THAT I AM" came out of the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

[15] Baruch Spinoza, later Benedict Spinoza, (1632 – 1677) was a Portuguese Dutch Jewish philosopher. In his magnum opus, Ethics, he opposed Descartes' mind–body dualism. He is considered to be one of Western philosophy's most important philosophers.

[16] Ancient Persian texts of Zarathustra of Zoroastrianism (600 BCE), which teaches there is one universal and transcendent God and that active participation in life through good thoughts, good words, and good deeds is necessary to ensure happiness and to keep chaos at bay.

[17] Emma Curtis Hopkins, Scientific Christian Mental Practice (Cornwall Brige, CT: High Watch Fellowship, 1958), p. 12.

[18] A term she uses within her books.

[19] A reason why she was considered the “forgotten founder” of the New Thought Movement.

[20] Isaiah 45:22

[21] Luke 4:18

[22] One of the Judaic names of God, translated as God Almighty.

[23] Genesis 32:26

[24] Matthew 6:13, also known as The Lord’s Prayer

[25] Isaiah 53:10

[26] Luke 12:32

[27] Psalm 105:4, 1 Chronicles 16:11

[28] Translated from the Hebrew as “no end,” “unending,” “there is no end,” or “Infinite;” it is the divine origin of all created existence

[29] A branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world or of humankind.

[30] As defined by Ernest Holmes in The Science of Mind, it is “the time, process and method necessary to the changing of our thought.” Also described as an affirmative prayer.

[31] High Mysticism, Emma Curtis Hopkins, DeVorss & Company

Friday, April 22, 2011

Is it a New Thought or just Ancient Wisdom in modern clothing - Part Five

Thomas Troward: The Influencer

Far and away the ablest statement of philosophy I have met, beautiful in its sustained clearness of thought and style, a really classic statement.[1]

The final nineteen years of Thomas Troward[2] – Late Divisional Judge of the North Indian Punjab, Honorary Member of the Medico-Legal Society of New York, First Vice-President International New Thought Alliance, lecturer, painter, author, and father of six – was dedicated to writing and painting. His writings were a major influence on Ernest Holmes,[3] Frederick Bailes,[4] Joseph Murphy,[5] Emmet Fox,[6] and the Alcoholics Anonymous organization. Ernest Holmes said of Troward’s writing: “This is as near to my own thoughts as I shall ever come.” The two most famous of his writings were the “Edinburgh & Dore Lectures on Mental Science,”[7] and The Creative Process in the Individual.[8] Multi-lingual in English, Hindi and Hebrew, Troward was able to read many of the holy texts of the world in their original languages, especially the Bible[9] and Hindu scriptures. He was raised in Church of England and was a daily Bible reader from boyhood. Though his writings have a clear Christian bent at times and tend towards the scientific jargon of his time, the clear judicial weighing of evidence and logical manner he composes his words about the matters of Man’s Divinity and the Law of Cause and Effect, delivered through a Western-filtered intuitive oriental mysticism, accomplishes what he had envisioned he would do: develop a system of philosophy that gave peace of mind and the practical results of physical health and happiness to the individual.

His books quote Plato, Swedenborg and the Bible, illustrating his judicial logic from sources Buddhist, Hindu, of the Koran and Raja Yoga.[10] Like Emerson before him and many others after him, notably Ernest Holmes in The Science of Mind, Troward combined the Ancient Wisdom of the Orient and India with a Christian mysticism. He then placed a judicial robe around it and brought the concepts of The Unity of Spirit, The Subjective and Objective Mind, and The Law of Growth;[11] Principle is not bound by precedent[12]; The Divine Ideal,[13] The Personal Factor (Nature unaided fails), The Denouement of the Creative Process,[14] and The Hidden Power (the Power for Good in the Universe which is in each and every one of us)[15] to all. It is a life-affirming treatise on Love and Law, head and heart, the Divinity of Man and The Law of Cause and Effect – the very essence of New Thought.

[1] Troward, Thomas. The Edinburgh and Dore Lectures on Mental Science. 1904 & 1909, DeVorss & Co. edition, 1989. Back cover. From William James (1842-1910) who was a pioneering American Psychologist and philosopher trained as a medical doctor. He wrote influential books on the science of psychology and pragmatism.

[2] Born in Punjab, India of British parents who, at the age of 18, graduated from college with gold medal honors in literature and then decided to study Law. At age 22, he returned to India and took the difficult Indian Civil Service Examination. One of the subjects was metaphysics, and Troward surprised everyone with his answers because of their originality. He became an assistant commissioner and was quickly promoted to Divisional Judge in the Punjab, where he served for the next 25 years.

[3] He claimed that twenty five percent of The Science of Mind came from his studies of Troward.

[4] Dr. Bailes (1889-1970) served with Ernest Holmes as the Assistant Dean of the Science of Mind Institute, wrote five books, broadcast twice-weekly on the radio, and lead the largest Science of Mind church of his day.

[5] 1898-1981, Divine Science minister in Los Angeles (to 1300-1500 attendees), daily radio broadcaster and author of over two dozen books including the multi-million sellers The Power of Your Subconscious Mind.

[6] 1886-1951, popular Divine Science minister in New York, author of ten books, healer, mystic, knew Troward, became an important resource to those in the AA organization.

[7] Edinburgh Lectures given at Queen Street in 1904. Dore Lectures given at London’s Dore Art Gallery in 1909

[8] Originally published in 1915, DeVorss & Co. Edition, 1991

[9] His studies in the original Hebrew provided the foundation for his book, Bible Mystery and Bible Meaning.

[10] Primarily concerned with the mind and its relationship with the body. Swami Vivekananda described the process as follows: “When the mind has been trained to remain fixed on a certain internal or external location, there comes to it the power of flowing in an unbroken current, as it were, towards that point. This state is called dhyana. When one has so intensified the power of dhyana as to be able to reject the external part of perception and remain meditating only on the internal part, the meaning, that state is called Samadhi.”

[11] Troward, Thomas. The Edinburgh and Dore Lectures on Mental Science, 1904 & 1909

[12] Defined as “the working out of an idea to its logical conclusions in spite of the accumulated testimony of all past experience to the contrary ... “, Troward, Thomas. Creative Process in the Individual, “The Starting Point,” pg.1-2

[13] An Individuality which recognizes its Source...to open up itself a channel by which that Source can flow in uninterruptedly

[14] The Creative Process in the Individual, 1915

[15] The Hidden Power and Other Papers on Mental Science, 1921

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Is it a New Thought or just Ancient Wisdom in modern clothing - Part Four

The Pioneer
He had a very inventive mind, and was always interested in mechanics, philosophy and scientific subjects. During his middle life, he invented several devices on which he obtained letters patent. He was very argumentative, and always wanted proof of anything, rather than an accepted opinion. Anything which could be demonstrated he was ready to accept; but he would combat what could not be proved with all his energy, rather than admit it as a truth.[1]

In order to study Dr. Quimby[2], considered either the father or founder of New Thought[3], we first must review a bit of the history of his prominent influence – Franz Mesmer.
Born in 1734, Mesmer was an Austrian physician practicing in Paris. He believed that when the ebb and flow of the fluid within a human organism was disturbed through being out of harmony with the universal rhythm, a mental or nervous illness could result.[4] Using conventional methods along with the placing of magnets and lodestones onto the affected area of the patient’s body, Mesmer was able to effect remarkable symptomatic relief. He called it magnetism.[5] He later discovered that the same effect occurred when using any other object during the sessions, changing his views and calling it “animal magnetism,” a force that comes from the healer[6]. For many years, he continued curing patients to fame and fortune and quite a bit of ire from the more orthodox medical practitioners.
In 1777, during his military adventures in the U. S. Revolutionary War, The Marquis de Lafayette,[7] one of Mesmer’s fans, mentioned this healing method to George Washington. In 1784 Louis XVI established a committee of some the most famous doctors and naturalists of the time, including Antoine Lavoisier[8] and Benjamin Franklin, to investigate the feasibility of magnetic phenomena. Despite the fact that the committee conducted its research with a disciple of Mesmer’s, and not Mesmer himself, they reached the conclusion that the magnetic rays were nonexistent and any beneficial results from such treatment was due to self-suggestion. They also concluded that magnetic treatment was especially dangerous for women since it might destroy their inhibitions. With his reputation destroyed, Mesmer left Paris for London to start up his practice again. Failing there too, he moved to Switzerland, where he died in obscurity in 1815.
Returning to early 19th century America, we find the young Phineas Parkhurst Quimby had cured his own pulmonary tuberculosis by filling his days with intense excitement that “took possession of my senses” and outdoor physical activity, such as carriage rides and running. This event prompted his interest in the mind’s ability to affect the body.
Though not schooled formally, Quimby was a successful watch- and clock-maker, and holder of several mechanical patents. An avid reader with an extraordinarily inquisitive, perceptive, and inventive mind, this interest in self-healing led him, years later in 1836, to a public demonstration of mesmerism by Charles Poyen St. Sauveur, a French disciple of Mesmer. According to Quimby’s son, it is not strange that … Quimby should feel deeply interested in the subject. Here was a new, to him at least, phenomenon; and he at once began to investigate the subject; and on every occasion when he could find a person who would allow him to try, he would endeavor to put him into a mesmeric sleep.”[9] Soon the future philosopher and Healing Physician began studying mesmerism, reading everything he could. While experimenting with two of his friends, Quimby discovered he too, could mesmerize. Of this first experiment he writes:
So we sat the subject in the chair, the gentleman stood in front of him and I behind him, and the gentleman tried to draw him out of the chair; but he could not start him. Then we reversed positions, and I drew the subject out of the chair. This showed that I had the greater power or will. This ended the first experiment.
Particularly receptive to Quimby's mesmeric influence was Lucius Burkmar, an uneducated 19-year-old who was particularly susceptible to being in the mesmeric sleep. In it, he reportedly could clairvoyantly travel through time and space, see objects at a distance, read other minds, and diagnose and prescribe simple herbal remedies for treating diseases. Lucius even diagnosed and cured Quimby of a horrible kidney condition, in two days. However, their work was being called “a deception, a fraud, and a humbug; Mr. Quimby was vilified and frequently threatened with mob violence, as the exhibitions smacked too strongly of witchcraft to suit the people.”[10] They traveled throughout Maine and New Brunswick giving public demonstrations in the early to middle 1840s. It wasn’t long before Quimby discovered that many of the no-nos that he read about mesmerizing, such as not working during a lightning storm or in the vicinity of a woman wearing a silk dress, were “humbug.” In addition, he realized that he too possessed this independent sight Lucius had, and did not need to go into a trance. He felt he no longer needed Lucius nor the limitations of mesmerism, and that there was a deeper spiritual science at work.
He was absorbed in developing his theory, or “the Truth” as he termed it, so that all could understand and practice it. He told his son: “Wait till I get my theory reduced to a science, so that I can teach the Truth to others, and then I can make money fast enough.”[11] Over the next almost two decades, while ridiculed by the whole medical profession, each step in opposition to all the established ideas of the day, he experimented with his healing ideas. “In the sick and suffering he always found staunch friends, who loved him and believed in him, and stood by him; but they were but a handful compared with those on the other side.”[12] He soon concluded that disease is what follows the disturbance of the mind or spiritual matter, what follows an incorrect opinion or when mind was diverted by error. He realized that Truth is the destruction of this opinion whether the disease is something made by belief or forced upon us by our parents or public opinion. And finally, he knew what he had was a science because he could teach it.
Quimby never claimed to be the founder of this science of healing; that he credited to “Jesus Christ.” Though he used that name, he also distinguished between Jesus and the Christ: “Jesus was as any other man, but Christ was the Science which Jesus tried to teach.” He also saidChrist is the God in us all,”[13] and that “Man’s belief is his heaven and hell.”[14] Those identifications led Quimby to coin the term “Christian Science” in an article:
The leaders of the medical schools, through the hypocrisy of their profession, deceive the people into submission to their opinions, while democracy forges the fetters which are to bind them to disease. Science, which would destroy this bondage, is looked upon as blasphemy when it dares oppose the faculty, and religion has no place in medical science. So in the church the religion of Jesus’ Science is never heard; for it would drive aristocracy out of the pulpit, and scatter seeds of freedom among the people. Nevertheless, the religion of Christ is shown in the progress of Christian Science, while the religion of society decays as the liberal principles are developed.[15]
Though an avid Bible reader and with “a deeply religious nature,”[16] he wasn’t too keen on religion or conventional men of medicine: “It is necessary to say that I have no religious belief. My religion is my life, and my life is the life of any wisdom that I have. The two most dangerous to the happiness of man are those of the medical science and priests.”[17]
Working in person or through letters, he described his method of treatment in this way:
A patient comes to see Dr. Quimby. He renders himself absent to everything but the impression of the person’s feelings. These are quickly daguerreotyped on him. They contain no intelligence, but shadow forth a reflection of themselves which he looks at. This [mental picture] contains the disease as it appears to the patient. Being confident that it is the shadow of a false idea, he is not afraid of it. Then his feelings in regard to health and strength, are daguerreotyped on the receptive plate of the patient … The patient sees … the disease in a new light, gains confidence. This change is daguerreotyped on the doctor again … and he sees the change and continues … the shadow changes and grows dim, and finally disappears, the light takes its place, and there is nothing left of the disease.[18]
From 1847 until his passing in 1866, Phineas Parkhurst Quimby devoted his life to healing the sick, treating over 12,000 patients during those years. Most notable of his patients were Warren Felt Evans, a practitioner and author of mental healing;[19] Julius and Annetta (Seabury) Dresser,[20] early organizers of New Thought; and Mary M. Patterson (Mary Baker Eddy), founder of Christian Science.
The last five years of his life were exceptionally hard. He was overcrowded with patients, greatly overworked, and could not seem to find an opportunity for relaxation. At last, nature could no longer bear up under the strain; completely tired out, he took to his bed, from which he never rose again. While strong, he had always been able to ward off any disease that would have affected another person; but, when tired and weak, he no longer had the strength of will or the reasoning powers to combat the sickness that terminated his life.
It is clear that, although his practice was originally based in mesmerism, his final methods came from the teachings and example of Jesus of Nazareth, and through intuition versus through academia. An hour before he breathed his last, he said to his son:
I am more than ever convinced of the truth of my theory. I am perfectly willing for the change myself, but I know you all will feel badly, and think I am dead; but I know that I shall be right here with you, just as I always have been. I do not dread the change any more than if I were going on a trip to Philadelphia.[21]
His death occurred January 16, 1866, at his residence in Belfast. He was sixty-four. George Quimby felt his father’s epitaph should have been:
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. For if ever a man did lay down his life for others - that man was Phineas Parkhurst Quimby.

[1] George Quimby (Dr. Quimby’s youngest son and later his assistant), from New England Magazine
[2] Not an academically trained or licensed physician, his patients called him this.
[3] Many scholars regard him as the “Father of the New Thought Movement” because of his connecting the powers of the mind and physical healing. Braden, in Spirits in Rebellion, called him the “Founder.”
[4] Successful Hypnotherapy Diploma Course, Copyright © 1984-2009 International Association of Pure Hypnoanalysts (IAPH).
[5] In 1766 his thesis, “De influxu planetarum in corpus humanum,” revived (possibly plagiarized) the Newtonian idea that the planets exude invisible rays that affect the human body and disease. He had earned two doctorates: medicine and philosophy.
[6] It was later described as a mental suggestion. In the later 19th century, Scottish surgeon James Braid coined the term “hypnosis” or “sleep of the nerves,” to avoid the stigma of Mesmer’s reputation.
[7] Marie-Jean Joseph Paul Yves Roche Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, 1757 – 1834, a French aristocrat and military officer who famously befriended and served under George Washington during the American Revolution.
[8] 18th century French chemist, called the father of modern chemistry, found and named oxygen (1778) and hydrogen (1783), who helped construct the metric system and put together the first extensive list of elements.
[9] George Quimby, New England Magazine, 1888
[10] George Quimby, New England Magazine, 1888
[11] Ibid
[12] Ibid
[13] The Quimby Manuscripts. “The World of the Senses”
[14] The Quimby Manuscripts. “God and Man”
[15] P.P. Quimby. “Aristocracy and Democracy,” February 1863
[16] George Quimby, New England Magazine, 1888
[17] The Quimby Manuscripts: God and Man
[18] George Quimby, New England Magazine, 1888
[19] Wrote six books, two of which, The Mental Cure and Mental Medicine, came out before Mrs. Eddy’s Science and Health.
[20] Their son, Horatio, wrote extensively on Quimby and edited and compiled his manuscripts and journals.
[21] George Quimby, New England Magazine, 1888

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Is it a New Thought or just Ancient Wisdom in modern dress - Part Three

Ralph Waldo Emerson:

The Transcendentalist

[In Emerson’s Essays] We are lifted out of the provincialisms of time as well as of space … often by the sheer magic of a paragraph come to feel that we live, move, and have our being in the wide universe of spirit, all radiance, all beauty, all good.[1]

Most famous for his lectures and essays, a leading figure in the Transcendentalist movement,[2] and considered the Father of the New Thought Movement,[3] Ralph Waldo Emerson was born to Ruth Haskins and the Rev. William Emerson[4] in Boston, Massachusetts. He was the second of five sons who survived into adulthood; three died in childhood. Just before his eighth birthday, Emerson’s father died of tuberculosis. Raised by his mother and the other women in the family, he was greatly influenced by his aunt, Mary Moody Emerson, of whom he exclaimed:

Nobody can read in her manuscript, or recall the conversation of old-school people, without seeing that Milton and Young had a religious authority in their mind, and nowise the slight, merely entertaining quality of modern bards. And Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus — how venerable and organic as Nature they are in her mind![5]

Aunt Mary “introduced young Emerson to Oriental literature and classical philosophy, speculated with him about John Donne, and laughed at his riddles and puns in Greek.”[6] Her profound effect on Emerson, inspiring him with her love for reading and Nature,[7] continued until her death in 1863. At 14, Emerson went to Harvard College where, by his senior year, he began a lifelong love of poetry while serving as Class Poet.

“In the morning, solitude,” said Pythagoras. By all means give the youth solitude, that Nature may speak to his imagination, as it does never in company; and for the like reason give him a chamber alone; – and that was the best thing I found in college. (Emerson’s Journal, 1859)

After a few years of making his living as a schoolmaster, Emerson attended Harvard Divinity School and, at the age of 26, became the junior pastor of Boston’s Second Church. Three years later, after the death of his wife Ellen Luisa Tucker, he wrote in his journal, “I have sometimes thought that, in order to be a good minister, it was necessary to leave the ministry. The profession is antiquated. In an altered age, we worship in the dead forms of our forefathers.”

His disagreements with church officials over the administration of the Communion service and misgivings about public prayer eventually led to his resignation in 1832: “This mode of commemorating Christ is not suitable to me. That is reason enough why I should abandon it.”

That year he took off for Europe, meeting William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Thomas Carlyle (who had a particularly strong influence on him). During that journey, in France, “Emerson's moment of insight into the interconnectedness of things in the Jardin des Plantes was a moment of almost visionary intensity that pointed him away from theology and toward science."[8]

Returning to America in late 1833, Emerson began his career as a lecturer. His first presentation, “The Uses of Natural History in Boston” developed into his first book, Nature (not to be confused with the essay of the same title written in 1844). In its introduction, he wrote on how the ideas of old do not have to be a part of the philosophy of the new:

Our age is retrospective. It builds the sepulchres of the fathers. It writes biographies, histories, and criticism. The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? …. The sun shines to-day also. There is more wool and flax in the fields. There are new lands, new men, new thoughts. Let us demand our own works and laws and worship.

And yet, in the chapter “Language,” he keeps a connection to the old:

This relation between the mind and matter is not fancied by some poet, but stands in the will of God, and so is free to be known by all men …. It is the standing problem which has exercised the wonder and the study of every fine genius since the world began … There sits the Sphinx at the road-side, and from age to age, as each prophet comes by, he tries his fortune at reading her riddle.

He wants us to be self reliant, to have the freedom to think on our own, using what serves us from those before, ancient and not so ancient, incorporating that wisdom with the evolution of new thoughts and philosophies.

In 1835, Emerson married Lydia Jackson.[9] On September 8, 1836, the day before the publication of Nature,[10] Emerson met with Henry Hedge, George Putnam and George Ripley to plan periodic gatherings of other like-minded intellectuals.[11] This was the beginning of the Transcendental Club, which served as a center for the movement with which he is well known. A year later he brought women in to join the club,[12] including Margaret Fuller, who was an important figure in Transcendentalism. It was at this time that he delivered his now-famous Phi Beta Kappa address “The American Scholar,”[13] his ‘Declaration of Independence’:

The first in time and the first in importance of the influences upon the mind is that of nature …. The next great influence … is the mind of the Past … whether of literature, of art, of institutions, that mind is inscribed. …. Action is with the scholar subordinate, but it is essential. Without it, he is not yet man … Inaction is cowardice … there can be no scholar without the heroic mind. The preamble of thought, the transition through which it passes from the unconscious to the conscious, is action.

1837 also marked the beginning of his life-long friendship with Henry David Thoreau; of whom he once inquired, “Do you keep a journal?”

In July 1838, Emerson was invited to give the graduation address at Divinity Hall, Harvard Divinity School. “[It was there that] Emerson discounted Biblical miracles and proclaimed that, while Jesus was a great man, he was not God: historical Christianity had turned Jesus into a ‘demigod, as the Orientals or the Greeks would describe Osiris or Apollo.’”[14] Outraged, the establishment and the general Protestant community denounced him as “an atheist and a poisoner of young men's minds.” He was not invited back to speak at Harvard for another thirty years.

In 1840, he and fellow Transcendentalists Bronson Alcott and George Ripley decided to begin a magazine, The Dial, with Margaret Fuller editing (Emerson would edit the final two years until 1844). His Essays (first series) were published in 1841. These writings were most influential to the New Thought Movement; we explore three of them here.

Essay: Self Reliance[15]

It is fair to say, as many do, that this is not only excellent prose, but also a definitive statement of Emerson's philosophy of individualism. The first of three epigraphs well describes the 50-paragraph tome: Ne te quaesiveris extra, “Do not seek outside yourself” (Persius).

In this essay, Emerson brings in much of his influences from Kant[16], Carlyle, and Goethe. Seizing on Carlyle’s 1827 claim “Reason discerns Truth itself, the absolutely and primitive True,”[17] Emerson teaches one to “detect and watch the gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within” and to “trust thyself” and be a “nonconformist,” as we are “redeemers and benefactors, pious aspirants to be noble clay under the Almighty effort.” He tells us that “no law can be sacred … but that of my own nature;” and that we “do not need … any secondary testimony.” One must “trust your emotion” for “there is a great responsible Thinker and Actor moving wherever moves a man; that a true man belongs to no other time or place, but is the centre of things … where he is, there is nature … a cause, a country, and an age.” He references the lives of Jesus, Luther, Wesley, Milton, and Caesar, whose histories, words and actions informed and educated him in formulating his philosophy. In the second third of the essay, Emerson talks about how “we lie in the lap of immense intelligence, which makes us organs of its activity and receivers of its truth,” describing a connection to God that is natural and internal. Continuing, he talks about the ancient wisdom becoming the new when he writes, “whenever a mind is simple and receives a divine wisdom, then old things pass away, – means, teachers, texts, temples fall; it lives now, and absorbs past and future into the present hour.” He does not condone casting it all away as much as listening to that voice of the Universe which separates the man-made from the divinely inspired: “That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him …. Every great man is an unique [sic].” With this he extols the need to listen to one’s self, not rehash others: “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”

Essay: Compensation[18]

In this work, Emerson delves into what is known today as the Law of Cause and Effect; a spiritual law principal to the philosophies of Buddhism, Hinduism, and other spiritual movements.[19] He begins:

Ever since I was a boy, I have wished to write a discourse on Compensation: for it seemed to me when very young, that on this subject life was ahead of theology, and the people knew more than the preachers taught. …. It seemed to me, also, that in it might be shown men a ray of divinity, the present action of the soul of this world, clean from all vestige of tradition, and so the heart of man might be bathed by an inundation of eternal love, conversing with that which he knows was always and always must be, because it really is now.

In this essay, he speaks of a dualism, though not in reference to an outside Power. You might say he speaks of two sides of a single coin. He describes this duality as “the ebb and flow of the sea, day and night, man and woman, in a single needle of the pine, in a kernel of corn, in each individual of every animal tribe … the entire system of things gets represented in every particle.” He tells us “[the] soul, which within us is a sentiment, outside of us is a law.” He continues later with a paragraph of Biblical and literary sayings that was and still remains in the vernacular such as: “Tit for tat; an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth; blood for blood; measure for measure; love for love …. Give and it shall be given you …. What will you have? quoth God; pay for it and take it …. It is thus written, because it is thus in life.” And he goes on to prove the point that the Universe works the same way: “Cause and effect, means and ends, seed and fruit, cannot be severed; for the effect already blooms in the cause, the end preexists in the means, the fruit in the seed.”

Essay: Over-Soul[20]

Emerson reveals his pantheistic colors and distaste of duality (as in a God or Power separate from mankind). His journals show he was reading the Bhagavad-Gita[21] and Henry Thomas Colebrooke's essays on the Vedas at this time, once stating: “The Bhagavad-Gita is an empire of thought and in its philosophical teachings Krishna has all the attributes of the full-fledged monotheistic deity and at the same time the attributes of the Upanisadic absolute …. I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad-Gita.” Charles Braden said that evidence of Emerson’s reading of the philosophies of the Orient occurred when he wrote, “There is no bar or wall in the soul where man, the effect, ceases, and God, the cause, begins. The walls are taken away. We lie open on one side to the deeps of spiritual nature, to the attributes of God.”[22]

In short, evidence of Emerson’s influences from Ancient Wisdom and beyond is plentiful. In Studies in New England Transcendentalism, Harold Clarke Goddard made an accounting of the number of times Emerson quoted many of these thinkers and writers:

Shakespeare, 112; Napoleon, 84; Plato, 81; Plutarch, 70; Goethe, 62; Jesus, 54; Swift, 49; Bacon, 47; Milton, 46; Newton, 43; Homer, 42; Socrates, 42; Swedenborg, 40; Saadi, 30; Luther, 30; Webster, 27; Aristotle, 25; Hafiz, 25; Wordsworth, 25; Saint Paul, 24; Dante, 22; Chaucer, 20; Coleridge, 20; Michelangelo, 20.

Though he died in 1882, his influences continue through not only the New Thought Movement and other metaphysical liturgy, but with the likes of Nietzsche: “Behold, it saith, I am born into the great, the universal mind. I, the imperfect, adore my own Perfect … the soul is the perceiver and revealer of truth” – a truth born in the before, learned from the past, and projected into the future through the present form of Ralph Waldo Emerson

[1] From Andrew George’s Introduction to Emerson’s Essays

[2] A movement in literature and philosophy that emerged in New England in the 1830s and 40s, protesting the general state of culture and society and, in particular, that of intellectualism at Harvard University and the doctrine of the Unitarian church taught at Harvard Divinity School. Its core beliefs included an ideal spiritual state that "transcends" the physical or observed and is realized only through an individual's intuition; a knowledge that is a priori rather than a posteriori (i.e. religion). Other major figures in the movement were Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Margaret Fuller, and Elizabeth Palmer Peabody.

[3] Spirits in Rebellion, Braden, p. 35

[4] A Unitarian Minister. Considered Liberal Christians, a non-Trinitarian theology. Per Rev. Samuel J. May of the American Unitarian Association, Boston, 1867: “[They] have no formula of faith; no system of doctrines; no list of articles prescribed by...human authority...believe...that each and every rational and moral being, male and female, is under the highest obligation to form his or her own opinions about religion [free will]...believe with the Apostle Paul (Rom. viii. 14), that, “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God”...that Jesus of Nazareth was led by the Spirit of God...was the most excellent person who has ever lived upon earth...the best teacher of true religion...the character of God and his purposes respecting man and that the moral precepts he gave were more nearly identical with perfect righteousness...”seek first the kingdom of God.” Prayer is a universal practice and they reject predestination, eternal damnation or the need for salvation...human nature is neither inherently corrupt nor depraved (original sin), but capable of both good and evil, as God intended.

[5] Mary Moody Emerson, from a paper read before the Woman's Club, Boston1869, under the title “Amita.”

[6] “The Simple Life: Plain Living And High Thinking In American Culture,” David E. Shi, 2007, University of Georgia Press

[7] The “Amita” paper: “...she was driven to find Nature her companion and solace. She speaks of "her attempts in Malden, to wake up the soul amid the dreary scenes of monotonous Sabbaths, when Nature looked like a pulpit."

[8] Emerson: The Mind on Fire, Robert D. Richardson, Jr., 1995, University of California Press. The Jardin des Plantes, in Paris, is the main botanical garden in France.

[9] They had four children: Waldo, Ellen, Edith, and Edward Waldo Emerson.

[10] Included one of the tenets of Transcendentalism and New Thought, the Divinity of Man, when he wrote, “A leaf, a drop, a crystal, a moment of time is related to the whole, and partakes of the perfection of the whole. Each particle is a microcosm, and faithfully renders the likeness of the world.” In the chapter “Spirit,” he writes, “Who can set bounds to the possibilities of man … we learn that man has access to the entire mind of the Creator, is himself the creator in the finite.”

[11] Emerson: The Mind on Fire Berkeley, Robert D. Richardson, Jr., 1995, University of California Press

[12] “The Transcendentalists championed the enfranchisement of women. The beginnings of this reform can be traced to them more definitely than any source...Men and women were all alike human beings...and should enjoy equal rights” - Braden, Spirits in Rebellion, 1963

[13] An Oration delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society, at Cambridge, August 31, 1837

[14] Buell, Lawrence (2003) Emerson Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

[15] Emerson’s Essays: First & Second Series Complete in One Volume. Edwin Irwin, ed.

[16] Immanuel Kant was an 18th century German philosopher and geographer who believed one ought to think autonomously, free of the dictates of external authority. He introduced the terms transcendent and transcendental meaning to that which goes beyond (transcends) any possible knowledge of a human being. These concepts were important to Coleridge, Wordsworth and Carlyle; who exchanged ideas with Emerson.

[17] Multiple secondary sources

[18] Emerson’s Essays: First & Second Series Complete in One Volume. Edwin Irwin, ed.

[19] Hinduism calls it Karma. Buddhism describes it in the second Noble Truth as Paticca-samuppada (dependent arising). In Galatians 6:7, Paul wrote, "For whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap." Many metaphysicians call it the Law of Attraction. It is also found in Newton’s third law, which states that for every action there is an equal, and opposite reaction.

[20] Emerson’s Essays: First & Second Series Complete in One Volume. Edwin Irwin, ed.

[21] Hindu texts stressing the relationship of The Brahman (the universal spirit) and the Atman (the individual Self). These had a large influence on Schopenhauer, Descarte and Spinoza.

[22] Spirits in Rebellion, Braden, 1963, pg. 37