The New Thought Movement
It is generally agreed that the New Thought Philosophy originated with the ideas of Phineas Quimby, an inventor, clockmaker, mesmerist and healer who was born in 1802 in Lebanon, New Hampshire – a son of a blacksmith.
Although he never coined the name "New Thought" (sometimes referred to as "Higher Thought"), he developed a belief system based on the idea that illness was a manifestation of erroneous beliefs.
The trouble is in the mind, for the body is only the house for the mind to dwell in [...] Therefore, if your mind had been deceived by some invisible enemy into a belief, you have put it into the form of a disease, with or without your knowledge. By my theory or truth, I come in contact with your enemy, and restore you to health and happiness. This I do partly mentally, and partly by talking till I correct the wrong impression and establish the Truth, and the Truth is the cure.
Religion and New Thought
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, was reportedly a patient of Phineas Quimby and is said to have been heavily influenced by his ideas – however, she never publicly acknowledged any reliance on Quimby’s teachings.
The difference between New Thought and Religion, however, is that New Thought has evolved as a philosophy that can be applied and understood regardless of religion – in other words, the difference between the New Thought Movement and religious ideas, is Theism.
New Thought philosophers generally agree that as we discover more about this world, more truth will be revealed about us and our environment. This means that the philosophy is a process and not a fixed amount of religious tenets.
However, that does not mean that people didn’t find a way to mix their own religious beliefs with New Thought ideas – most modern groups that have adopted New Thought principles, are mostly Christians who rely on the Bible as their guidebook and interpret it in terms of New Thought ideas.
At the core of New Thought Philosophy are the basic beliefs, that:
- the Divine is in all things and
- the mind is much more real and powerful than matter.
The Mind Is More Powerful Than Matter
We’ve all heard the phrase,
"Mind of Matter"
...which was first coined by Sir Charles Lyell, in his book "The Principles of Geology,"
It may be said that, so far from having a materialistic tendency, the supposed introduction into the earth at successive geological periods of life — sensation, instinct, the intelligence of the higher mammalia bordering on reason, and lastly, the improvable reason of Man himself — presents us with a picture of the ever-increasing dominion of mind over matter. - Sir Charles Nelly, 1863
Sir Charles Lyell was what is best known as a "Uniformist," in other words, he believed that the processes that apply to various disciplines within science (specifically, in his case, Geology), are naturally repeatable, and consistently repeatable over time to produce the same, predictable results.
In New Thought, whenever something gets created or actioned in the material world, it always follows a blue-print of thought. That means, that thought is first – and naturally, material creation follows it.
In other words, laws govern physical processes – and those laws have to be defined, by some sort of intelligence – or mind, if you will...
The Divine Is In All Things
This follows that there, plausibly, could have been one, original mind, or self-awareness; that imagined everything that is, was and will be.
A mind that has created the blueprint for all things material, which means, that it essentially exists in and as all the things we experience – even if we think we’re experiencing it for the first time.
New Thought, essentially, believes that this mind, or intelligence, has the power to change our perceptions and the matter that we perceive – and that we are, in essence, part of this mind.
Whether you are religious or not – the ideas behind New Thought are mostly Universal. Can you apply it to your current beliefs, or doesn’t it fit?
If it doesn’t, no harm done. If it does, then what possibilities have opened up?