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.


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.

 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

 CHRISTMAS: A RESETTING OF CONSCIOUSNESS

By Rev. Dr. Arthur W. Chang
 
 Christmas is a rich treasure trove of spiritual insights on how to live your best life. The central notion is that the expected messiah or “Christ” is the light of the world and came to overcome the darkness of hopelessness and depression. A struggle for mere survival in this life is a cry for positive and creative change. The Christmas story uses the words, redemption, salvation and peace as the gifts of the Christ birth.
 
The power of Christmas is the power of consciousness to reset the patterns of the mind, which trend downward. The Christ Power is for redeeming the positive trajectory missing from one’s life. It restores the hope of success, happiness and fulfillment. The two sacred birth narratives of the Christ by Matthew and Luke are irreconcilably conflicting. However, contradiction fails to rob the stories of their essence, which calls the reader to reflection, suspending logic and accepting paradox for a deeper meaning.
 
 Paradoxes in sacred teachings often indicate a need to stop relying on the legs of reason and to take to the wings of intuition. This is because the deeper meanings are beyond words as they deal with the wonderment of God in the world as the consciousness of the Christ.
 
Connecting Heaven and Earth
 
Christmas connects heaven and earth. Empowerment comes from this connection because heaven is the word for our sacred Source. God is perfect, whole and complete but, paradoxically, affects creation as creation affects God. Jesus, in teaching his disciples how to pray, observed the notion, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The individual is not an island or free agent but an interdependent being—a being constantly in relationship. Thus, Jesus said, “Love God and Love your neighbor as yourself,” as he summarized the Mosaic Commandments.
 
In Luke’s version, an angel established this relationship with the priest Zachariah, telling him his wife, Elizabeth, who was beyond childbearing age, would have a son—John. Elizabeth is Mary’s cousin. The angel next appeared to Mary, the virgin, and told her she would have a son—Jesus, the son of God, the Messiah. Messiah means Christ, the anointed of God. Everyone comes into the world anointed by virtue of his or her individuality and talents. Christmas is giving birth to that Christ nature.
 
In the Matthean version of the Christ birth, the angel spoke, not to Mary but to Joseph, telling him not to divorce Mary because her child was that of the Holy Spirit. Both Matthew and Luke highlight, throughout their writings, the feminine quality of nurturing and relational wisdom. When the angel appeared to the shepherds, they were tending their flocks by night. Night implies a birth of something new coming from the Divine Dark or womb of God. The Women were the ones the angel spoke to about this special birth.
 
Peace
 
In the Lucan narrative, the angel often announced his presence with the word “Peace.” Peace on earth means peace to all people. The Christ spirit is ecumenical—universal. This peace is already within us and we are to evoke it.
A peaceful consciousness in the face of covid-19 and political upheaval will not be achieved with a waving of a wand. Positive changes for such matters are processive, but need a sustained consciousness of Christ-peace for changes to come about. Peace gives us the patience and hope to sustain wearing a mask to protect others and ourselves from the virus, and for making political changes. The Christ consciousness is always at work in the realm of peace.
 
Magi, Gifts and the Christ Child
 
One form the relationship takes is through the Magi, kings or wise men, going from the east to bring gifts to the Christ Child. The “east” represents the rising sun. Sunlight is the gift of life itself. For centuries, humans worshiped the sun. We confuse the sun with what it represents. The birthday of Jesus was chosen around Winter Solstice, when the days begin to get longer, symbolizing that this birth would bring light to the world.
 
The wisdom of the Magi, the kings, the wise men, is a gift for the ages—just as pertinent to us today as it was at the time of the original gift. We and our descendants can draw on this wisdom to recognize our God potential for preparing for a good future.
 
The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh may be summarized as follows.
 
1.   Gold: Is for dominion or the way of spiritual responsibility.
2.   Frankincense: Is for spiritual transformation.
3.   Myrrh: Is for the wisdom to recognize this experience is a window of reality that does not last forever. Take advantage of this opportunity.
 
These are only a few of the many symbols inherent in the Christmas stories, which are available for resetting our trajectory when it seems to be heading in an unacceptable direction.
 
This Christmas, feel into the optimism of the season along with its joys and beauty and realize that Christmas functions like the crowning Sabbath of a year, rather than a week. You will find in your contemplation a new feeling that will reinforce the good news that the Emanuel is here, and within you. You only need to turn to It and It will respond positively in your life. 

founderslosangeles.org
 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

 IN DEFFENSE OF NEW THOUGHT’S POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING

By Rev. Dr. Arthur Chang

In defense of New Thought teachings of Positive Thinking

When, recently, a political commentator referred to Norman Vincent Peale as a “charlatan”, I was taken aback. The commentator was analyzing Mr. Trump’s handling of the pandemic, COVID-19, by using positive thought and the politicizing of the scientific, Center for Disease Control (CDC), guidelines thus making them ineffective. It raised the commentator’s ire that Trump was applying his understanding of teachings from Peale’s book, “The Power of Positive Thinking.” Trump held that by his maintaining positive thoughts about overcoming the coronavirus, it would go away. Undoubtedly, that was a disastrous conclusion, resulting in approximately 12.5 million people being infected as of November 2020. By not using CDC guidelines until a suitable vaccine is available, the nation is subject to a “snake oil Sam” prescription.

Norman Vincent Peale was a popular and highly respected teacher of New Thought, and it would be sad to think that a bad interpretation of New Thought principles will cast the cloak “charlatan” upon the immense contribution of this movement to the positive outcome of countless people’s lives.

What is New Thought?

The New Thought movement is a spiritual movement, which draws its foundation upon "ancient thought". We will find its influence from the wisdom of the Ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Chinese, Taoist, Vedic, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist cultures.

Core Teachings of New Thought:

1.     God or Infinite Intelligence is supreme, universal, and everlasting

2.     Divinity dwells within each person, that all people are spiritual beings

3.     The highest spiritual principle is loving, teaching and healing one another

4.     Our mental states tend to manifest as our experience

5.     Faith or positive thinking is encouraged for all challenges, hopes and aspirations of our lives

Systems have their flaws especially in application

As with all systems, New Thought can be misapplied, especially when it is confused with “magical thinking.” The miracles of New Thought are often aligned with the Laws of the universe, “science”, where science means the way something works. In our work, Mind is central and the consciousness of good is encouraged. Good includes truthfulness, love, compassion, resilience, faith, and the feeling that we are immersed in infinite possibilities or optimism, despite appearances to the contrary. As with all systems, there are differences among our main thinkers. However, New Thought being law-based must also be science-based. Thus, the consciousness for a cure for COVID-19 that starts with positive thought must include the thought and work of the scientists as well as their methods. A good New Thought interpretation for COVID-19 would begin by affirming a cure, but would include following the CDC guidelines. This is not different from realizing that thought does not take the place of food or work. It supplements it. They work together. We need confidence, faith and hope to continue to persist despite the challenge.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water

As we should not throw the baby out with the bath water, nor should we give up on doctors and hospitals when their practitioners make mistakes. It doesn’t make them charlatans. It simply makes them wrong. Error is part of all systems.

Some New Thought people may mistakenly think that thought is a substitute for action, when thought should be a supplement to action. The fullness of creation requires thought plus action. Action is life itself. However, we need the power of positive thinking if we, in our short lives, will evolve to express the best in us despite the challenges we face.

Norma Vincent Peale has done much good for many people. That an important person misinterpreted him does not make Peale a charlatan. On the contrary, he was a teacher of New Thought showing how positive thoughts can make a great difference to those who wish to thrive and flourish and not merely to survive in this life.

 

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