“Science of Mind in its broadest and truest sense includes all there is in science, religion and philosophy. It is the result of the best thought of the ages.” [SOM Archives]
The teachings of New Thought are based upon much of what traditional religions have already put forth across the centuries. It is well-documented that Ernest Holmes relied heavily on the teachings of Jesus and the Christian Bible, as he compiled what would become his life work and the “textbook” of a movement: The Science of Mind. It’s important to remember that those texts mirror teachings across many cultures and continents.
And so it is not only instructive to return to these ancient holy books to reconsider various points of curiosity; it is required of all who claim the mantle of spiritual teacher. In fact, it is inconceivable in the truest definition of teaching that anyone would cling to a handful of teachings in a tradition built on such an intricate and deep tapestry as is the spiritual inheritance of Science of Mind, without regularly spending time in the source literature.
Therefore, it remains important to review, revisit, reconsider and re-read biblical texts (Christian, Hebrew and Gnostic), the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao te Tzing and more to remain informed, responsive and reliable as a spiritual leader and teacher.
This topic came to me this week as I was listening to a particular Michael Gott song, A Light in the World. The words are simple and as is always the case with Michael Gott, the music deeply inspiring.
“I am a light in the world,…”
The refrain is repeated throughout, with a couple minor variations.
To shine our “light” the farthest, we must have many facets, like a diamond. A diamond’s brilliance is added by its facets, which are “smooth surface areas of a diamond which have been cut, polished and positioned at different angles which allow light to enter and reflect back from the stone. The …facets control the brilliance and the durability of a diamond. The quality of the facets of a diamond are the major determining factor in enhancing the diamond’s ability to sparkle or reflect light and play a large part in the resulting brilliance of the stone.”
Like facets on a diamond; the depth of the knowledge, and the quality of the foundation in any teaching ministry determine the ability of the message to reach across a community, and to touch people meaningfully; to shine.
As spiritual teachers, the facets we “cut” into our brilliant diamond (messages) come from continued and in-depth study of the various wisdom texts that form the foundation of New Thought. If we choose only to teach from the New Thought interpretations of these resources, we are a flat stone without any reflecting facets.
When we take the inspirational perspectives of any number of New Thought teachers, and we go deep to read (re-read) and study the parallel lessons from the ancient teachings and texts, we add facets – letting the light in from another angle that we can reflect back outward. Our message gains greater depth and brilliance that will resonate longer and more deeply than if we just repeat or rephrase the New Thought interpretation.
Here’s an example of the lesson of “consciousness” (New Thought) or “faith” (traditional Christian) from the book of James in the New Testament of the Christian Bible.
2 Count it all joy… when you meet trials of various kinds,3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, … ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given. 6 But … ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that they will receive anything from the Lord; 8 they are double-minded, unstable in all ways.
This counsel from James highlights the importance of faith at all times, even when we “meet trial of various kinds” and goes on to coach readers that we must ask in faith “with no doubting,…”. It also opens the chapter saying that we are to “count it all joy” – good AND bad.
If we only read verses 5 and 6, we might be able to draw a straight line to the New Thought teaching that “it’s all consciousness“. It seems to say: ask with strong faith and we will receive; have doubts and all bets are off. This buttresses the claim that anything we experience is consciousness, so if things are not going well – it’s all us! Let’s keep reading, though and see if that holds up.
12 Blessed is the [person] who remains steadfast under trial, for when s/he has stood the test s/he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
Aaaaah, there is value in being tested; in experiencing life’s ups and downs for it produces wisdom, resilience or as noted here, “the crown of life“.
The great learning value of failure is gospel in modern day leadership circles. Warren Buffet shares this regularly as do other successful icons. We learn deep and abiding lessons from our own failures and while our mindset and consciousness certainly play a role in how we got into one mess or another (and how we get out); we lose something along the way when we focus only on the consciousness aspect and neglect the ancient truth that struggle and strife are an IMPORTANT part of life’s learning process.
And then there’s the extreme view that takes root in some corners that all we need is consciousness – even to the exclusion of action. No one who has a biblical background can teach that with a straight face.
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, s/he is like a person who looks intently at their natural face in a mirror. 24 For they look at themselves and go away and at once forgets what they were like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, they will be blessed in their doing.
Doers will be blessed in their actions. We will all walk circuitous paths, fraught with boulders, detours, pain and sorrow. Along the way we will also encounter many opportunities for success, joy, peace and happiness.
The deep truth that lies beneath the surface lesson of “it’s all consciousness” is that consciousness is but a tool. We can use it to our benefit, but we must understand that no spiritual hocus pocus can protect us from the trials of physical life on this earth. We become conquerors when we recognize that we will experience challenges; but that we have a choice. We and we alone have to decide whether to allow life’s challenges to defeat us, or to keep getting up, learning the lessons, and moving forward.
And when we choose the 2nd path, we are indeed A Light in the World.
(C) 2017 Practitioner's Path