Dr. Arthur Chang, author of “The New Positive Spirituality: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Everyday Life,” defines positive spirituality as the practice of positively embodying God’s attributes of love and law and using them in our lives to bring our desires into physical reality.


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

THE PAST: THE WOMB OF THE PRESENT

THE PAST: THE WOMB OF THE PRESENT

By Rev. Dr. Arthur Chang

 

Presently, “Be in the moment,” is a fashionable Buddhist saying. Equally popular is the more poetic version, “The past is history, the future is a mystery and the present is a gift; that is why it is called the present.” For reducing anxiety and for better focus on an immediate task, these sayings can be powerfully useful. Perhaps for those reasons, a good insight can run amok when we reflexively generalize it to every occasion. For example, to say, “Don’t live in the past,” or “Don’t be influenced by the past,” does not mean the past is irrelevant. Our past is to us as the great library of Alexandria was to ancient learned minds. “Knowledge is Power,” says Sir Francis Bacon, and the past represents our storehouse of knowledge. The Buddha underscores the relevance of the past by saying, “All that you are is the result of all you have thought.” This is not limited to ideas, but includes our perception of our actions. Furthermore, Aristotle says, “You are what you habitually do.” Our habits are the skills and knowledge we use to develop our talents into strengths, which make them available in the present moment. A strength is the ability to provide consistent, near perfect performance in a given activity. All we have in the present moment for determining our best action are gifts from our past.

Yet, how easily we can diminish the crucial importance of the past by associating it mostly with things undesirable or obstacles in our way toward a better future. As an iceberg’s greater volume is beneath the surface of the sea, so is our reality more past than present. According to Process Thinkers, reality comes in droplets. This means it comes into being and immediately perishes. This is based on the discoveries of quantum physics. Our minds cannot detect this change or process any more than, in watching a moving picture, we can detect the discrete fixed frames of unmoving pictures run at a certain speed to give the illusion of movement. Thus is the illusion of the present being continuous.

By not understanding that the present moment is like an undetectable flash of time before it becomes the past, we may assume everything we are doing today is the present and yesterday’s activities are the past. If so, we may be living in a continuous illusion, not appreciating that the past is the womb of the present.

Yet, as fleeting as the present is, it is our awareness of our reality that can reset the past for more favorable support in creating our future. Here, Mind is the actor. Mind interprets the present moment and calls upon our past (our knowledge and experience) for relevant insights for surviving and thriving.

Life is a holistic endeavor and, although there is value in breaking down our perspective of time into past, present and future, our reality includes this as a total system acting as one. By such means we will find our most harmonious relationship to this web of existence we call reality. Thus, although our lives are mostly our past, it does not make the essential spark of awareness called the present less important. It makes it a part of a whole--a system that is at its best when it works actively as past, present and future.

 


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

 

IMPROVE YOUR LIFE

By Rev. Dr. Arthur Chang

 

Winter reminds us of how little things seem to change. In some regions, under the cold white snow, who would suspect that a springtime is already forming deep beneath the surface of appearance? We wish for new things without seeing any obvious movement or change. Secretly, we may find a warm corner of our mind and strain our ears to listen to Ernest Holmes’ “Change your thinking, change your life.” 

 

At times, there may not be much evidence that something is happening. Mind is like the frozen winter. What is silently at work cannot be seen. Must God work in mysterious ways? Why don’t things work as spontaneously for us as they did for Jesus and the prophets? Such thoughts cause us to worry about our level of faith even as we realize that to worry is the antithesis of faith. It is a catch 22. Yet, with persistent belief that my thoughts will change my life, my life does change for the better without me noticing it.

 

Sometimes it seems that problems in the past tend to suggest that I cannot do what needs doing. After failure, defensive response works like a protective scab after a cut. Yet, countless people have failed before and come rushing back to a successful life as if it were their destiny. Perhaps they were right. If not, why would Ernest Holmes say, “Never limit your view of life by any past experience.” 

 

If we are to heed Dr. Holmes’ advice, then what alternative responses can we make. Two thoughts spiring to mind immediately. The first is to learn from your past mistakes. The second is to remember your relationship with the Cosmic Presence we call God. This memory is for bringing to the present moment the truth that, “With God all things are possible.” The important aspect of this statement is not to become a philosophical discussion, debating whether God can do all things. The assertion is to get the mind out of its ego-made box, and release it to the infinite sky where it will naturally fly. There, from the realm of infinite possibilities, we will see beneath the frozen snow of judgment, or appearances, that there is a whole world of creative movement occurring.

 

With a spiritual inclination, we may be tempted to meditate, contemplate and pray unceasingly, but not to act on our own behalf. “Let go and let God!” Ernest Holmes, the master of creative thought gives this direction, “Seek to make your work a prayer, your believing an act, your living an art. It is then the object of your faith will be made visible to you.” 

 

We have come full cycle in the art and science of improving our lives. We must be willing to change our minds, not to limit ourselves by the past and to seek to make our work a prayer, our believing an act, and our living an art.

 

By such means are our lives improved.

 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

 

ERNEST SHURTLEFF HOLMES

By Rev. Dr. Arthur Chang

 

Ernest Shurtleff Holmes (January 21, 1887 – April 7, 1960)

Happy birthday Ernest Holmes!

If you are convinced that living positively is the pathway toward your best life, you may wish to know the pavers to this path of confident living in a dangerous world did not just fall from the sky one sunny day. Throughout history, spiritual teachers from many traditions have laid a paver or two along this path. Moses, the Psalmists, Solomon, Hermes Trismegistus, the Hindu seers, Lao Tzu, Buddha, Jesus, St. Paul, Patanjali, Marcus Aurelius, Meister Eckhart, William James, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Phineas Quimby and countless others have been preparing this path for us. More recently, the New Thought thinkers have added their scientific spin to it. These thinkers including Quimby, Mary Baker Eddy, Emma Curtis Hopkins, Charles Fillmore, Holmes and others.

Holmes, in his book The Science of Mind, published in 1926, attempted to systemize “thought” into a “Religious Science.” Borrowing from the ancient Greeks, the Hebrew prophets and especially Jesus, Holmes’ effort was to shift our consciousness from being subject to the whims and fancies of time by revealing the science of thought. His objective was for us to know how to use the Law of Thought for definite purposes.

Holmes felt deeply that the greatest discovery by humans was the creative power of thought. Henry Ford, though not the first or the last to discover his agreement with the Holmes’ conviction on the power of thought, said, “Whether you believe you can, or whether you believe you can’t, you are right.” Combining the philosophy of Plato on God’s Perfection, Intelligence and Power with the psychological model of Freud’s conscious and subconscious mind, Holmes argued, “Thoughts are things.” Of course, one must understand that some measure of poetic license is taken in this statement. Yet, it may not be as much as we may think because Einstein’s  indicates energy and information do become mass in our objective world.

Holmes believed that, in prayer, our thoughts are like seeds from our conscious mind, planted into the soil of subconscious mind and yielding creative entities in the actual world.

Today, a completely new emphasis of psychology has developed around a positive way of life called “Positive Psychology.” However, Positive Psychology is quite distinct from New Thought and Holmes’ assumptions. Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology is a strong proponent of Aristotle’s “The Good Life” can be achieved by positive means.

Nonetheless, on Ernest Holmes’ birthday, there is much to appreciate and celebrate. He has contributed enormously to living positively by urging us to use our thoughts to create the best life we can live.