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, 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.

 

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. 

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