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, November 24, 2020


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.




Tuesday, March 24, 2020

By Rev. Dr. Arthur Chang

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

Our objective reality of the corona virus will not destroy us. If there is to be a great destruction, it will come from the storm of anxiety and fear we will allow to run rampant in our inner life—our consciousness.

Modern people seem to show little regard for the value of spiritual life, perhaps because religious groups tend to be restrictive. Yet, today’s people readily take fragments of Spirituality, such as love and delight, with as little responsibility as they can. We are capable of having a single-minded focus on pleasure as is the case with drug addicts. Although pleasure is a perfectly normal aspect of our human experience, it does have a tendency to cause us to lose our sense of boundaries and the balance of our well-being. An old but poetic way of describing this syndrome is, “Selling our souls to the devil.” In the same way we can give our onus of control over to pleasure, we can do it with fear. Fear is not an enemy, as it is a necessary survival function, but can get out of control. The truth seems to be that any one of our feelings can be destructive  when we lose our balance.

Our current challenge is how to align our feelings of faith to strengthen our consciousness of healing. Faith is our healing consciousness, which often suggests that healing is to be instantaneous. It is almost never instantaneous, as it is processive. Is it any less faith when healing is processive?
Often, healing begins, not with faith,  but with peace and hope. Faith is a state of consciousness that must be acquired. The soil in which faith grows best is that of peace and hope. This we always have but must claim. First, we must calm down by breathing deeply and saying:

Right now, I breathe in peace.
Right now, I breathe out fear and anxiety.
Right now, I breathe in hope.
Right now, I breathe out hopelessness.

(Say this calmly while breathing in slowly. Repeat several times if your feelings are anxious or fearful, until those feelings dissipate and you feel a deep stillness. Then continue with the rest of the prayer below.)

I am calm, positive, optimistic,
And I am fully accepting of my healing.

Now as my mind is settled and still,
I affirm my faith in the One Power and Healing Presence.
As this Presence is calm, powerful and healing
Throughout the universe,
So is It in me and my loved ones, 
The perfect healing action.

This Power guides and protects me,
To hear and respond to right knowledge,
To ignore all thought and action contrary to my health.
I openly, with great faith, accept right results
And I am grateful for my well-being, now,
And so it is.                                

In the face of a crisis, everyone wants to have immediate results from her spoken word. After all, we may argue, that was what Moses, Elisha and Jesus experienced. Bible miracles are far more about the miracles within the mind, of consciousness, than they are about the objective world. By becoming literal about these stories, we will never see how to get through to the other side of any challenge. We must form a symbolic mental equivalent to that which we desire.  For example, Moses crossing the Red Sea and Elisha taking the small vial of oil and filling the large jars, turning a seeming lack of options into abundance for a better life for the whole community. We learn to see the symbolic meaning of Jesus telling the storm “Be still” and inviting Peter to walk on water. This is our invitation to walk on water.

May you know with great challenges come opportunities to call forth your greatness.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019


This year, we will come to Thanksgiving with smiles as broad as our appetites. Oh we may not begin with the singing of “This Land is My Land,” or “American the Beautiful.” Our scope of interest may not be able to push beyond the delicious aromas of the day’s cooking locked in this blessed gathering home. It may have time for the urgency of hugs while looking beyond to the delights and our favorite pies. Yet, this day is not without its knotted threads of tensions; the young adult relative who is still whining like a child because he wants to eat before everyone gets there; the other guest who complains about the late comers. Then there is the host who must make it all work.

Minor ingredients such as these may arise from Thanksgiving. However, let them all be flavored with the depth of thankfulness. The object of the day may seem to fill the stomach but it is most successful when it fills the soul. The true light of simply being grateful for being alive and having whatever faculties, friends, family and loved ones we do. Some of our beloved may have fallen by the wayside during the years. Thanksgiving is the moment of remembrance of their many kindnesses and the letting go of their faults.

We will never be able to match the gift of life God has given us. We will never use all the opportunities we have to make our lives all that it can be, but we don’t need to be lacking during this time, to be as grateful as we can be for what we still have in relationships and possessions and most of all, in God’s continuous support of us.

May this Thanksgiving be the enrichment of your soul’s greater expression of the good vested in it.