The old paradigm is one in which logical thinking was considered to be the highest form of intelligence. The New Thought movement was one in which the mind was recognized as the source of all creation.
This movement ushered in the new consciousness of the 20th Century. The foundation of this movement was the idea that infinite intelligence or God is omniscient—everywhere, and in everything, including human beings. This meant that all human beings had personal and equal access to infinite intelligence, through their individual minds. It was understood that we each have a separate mind which is connected to, or one with, infinite mind or God Mind. Each individual mind is endowed with the same qualities as infinite mind. Human beings are therefore divine beings, all possessing equal ability to use the creative capacity of divine mind. They can use the positive force for good, and for healing.
In the late 1800s, when the New Thought movement was born, the thinking was that every human being has access to—or possesses—infinite creative power. This was a huge paradigm shift. At that time, the old framework of understanding was that divine creative power was exclusively in the hands of an external God. This old way of thinking stated that, as human beings, we were subordinate to a powerful, superior God. It was believed that we needed to surrender our will to this external patriarchal God being (reflecting the martyr level of consciousness as described in the previous chapter). This new paradigm put creative power in our own hands. It said we are each responsible for what we experience. It allowed each of us to change the circumstances of our lives by drawing on and using this inwardly accessed creative power. This was an absolutely revolutionary idea at the time.
Ernest Holmes’s classic book, The Science of Mind, was influential in reorienting our understanding of our place in the world. It explained how, by changing our thinking, we can change the outcomes we experience in our daily lives. It gave us the science that proved that we are not victims of our circumstances. We are actually powerfully creative beings. New Thought churches base their teachings on these truths (which reflect what I call the magical thinking level). New Thought churches today include Unity Church, the Church of Divine Science, and Centers for Spiritual Living (previously known as the United Church of Religious Science), to name a few.
Although the New Thought movement was—and still is—important in the evolution of our spiritual understanding, it only takes us so far. It is empowering to know that our minds are one with the creative source energy that shapes our daily experiences. It is significant that we can work with that energy in order to manifest our personal desires. However, this level of understanding is not the highest truth. Many of the New Thought traditions are themselves evolving in consciousness and some are even experiencing “growing pains.” Some factions within the movements want to stay “true” to the original teachings of the founders. Other members are ready to embrace and celebrate the emergence of the new consciousness.
There are people who consider the New Thought teachings to be selfish. They judge them as being only about “me and my own desires.” However, this stage of understanding is an important one in developing a distinct and autonomous sense of self, spiritually speaking. Without this developmental phase, we would remain at the level of childish, codependent, and fearful patterns of thinking and behaving. By developing our own spiritual autonomy, we mature into spiritual adults. We discover we have the inner resources to stand on our own two feet and take care of our own needs. We can achieve our personal desires and dreams. Otherwise we remain as spiritual children, feeling like victims of an external power that only exists in our imagination.
As unique, autonomous selves, we are all equal. When we trust in our inherent creative capacity to get our needs met, we can release our urgency to compete with others. When we believe we can draw on our internal, creative resources, we feel safe enough to release our fears of lack and limited resources. We no longer need to fight with others over them. When we trust in the power of our infinite creative capacity, we lose the need to exert our power over others. Our fulfillment is no longer dependent on anything or anyone outside of us.
A large portion of human consciousness is now shifting or has shifted to the next level of understanding. I call this the metaphysical level. At this level, we learn that it is safe for us to relax and let go of the need to control our lives. We come to trust that life itself is taking care of us, moment to moment. We realize that we can just relax and allow life to flow through us. We understand that the details of our lives will be taken care of, by the inherent intelligence of life itself. We don’t have to figure it all out.
As we move forward in developing our understanding, we don’t abandon what we learned at previous levels. Rather, we incorporate it into the greater truth that is now unfolding for us. In this way, we continue to expand our consciousness. We have learned to use the creative power of our minds to improve our lives. We realize the value of this skill, not only for ourselves, but also to help others in improving their circumstances. And by joining forces with others, we can become powerfully influential on a larger scale, for the betterment of humankind.