One of the more prominent controversies in New Thought today is the blow back against those in the movement who teach that it is consciousness and consciousness alone that creates – and that when we are ill, or have bad fortune; we have created or even invited it into our experience.
This has caused a tidal wave of backlash, and terminology like “sick shaming” and “spiritual malpractice” has emerged to push back against this largely unhelpful interpretation.
Some New Thought “purists” may scorn the push back as being evidence of a weakening commitment to the principles of spiritual living, but a deeper dive into the ancient spiritual foundations may provide more support for the push back than the purists.
In the Hebrew scriptures, the book of Job tells a story of a wealthy and prosperous man who seemingly has everything one could desire: health, wealth, family, power and stature in his community. AND,…he had a strong relationship with the Creator.
According to the scriptural canon, God allows Satan to test this man by inflicting all measure of horrors on him. Satan believes that Job’s love and devotion to God are situational, and so to prove Satan’s error, God allows him to test Job.
Those with any biblical history in their background will recall that Job suffered the loss of his livelihood, his servants, his family and then suffered horrible physical ailments.
During the trials and tribulations that Job suffered, 3 of his friends came to him and provided comfort and commentary. They also suggested that Job has created all of his own problems through his relationship with God and encouraged him to repent – or in New Thought parlance: to get his consciousness straightened out.
This is rejected in the telling of the story: we read that the reason was Satan’s desire to prove Job as a “fake” and we see in the end that Job remained steadfast in his devotion to God throughout the ordeal, and was restored and increased – no repentance or consciousness change needed.
This same Truth is reiterated in the teachings of Jesus in John 9, where Jesus and his disciples come across a blind man who was begging.
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”John 9:1-3
The lesson here is clear: the blindness was NOT due to a lack of consciousness on the part of the man, or his parents – but presented instead as an opportunity to show the power of Spirit to heal.
The spiritual tools taught in New Thought are indeed powerful and life-changing. However, adherents and practitioners without an in-depth knowledge of the historical spiritual canons (Hebrew scriptures, New Testament, Bhagavad Gita, Dao de Ching, etc.) must take care to study beyond the counsel of a limited circle of teachers before pronouncing the truth as they know it and teaching it to others.
The challenges in our lives, and the lives of others, present a grand opportunity to tap into the rich spiritual history of humanity and to use the refined and modern tools of 21st century spirituality to do good works in the world.
New Thought practitioners – and their clients – benefit greatly when the perspective of first do no harm is practiced throughout the spiritual guidance process. The counsel to “first do no harm” is taken from the writings of Hippocrates and used today in the oath taken by medical professionals (physicians) upon entrance into professional practice.
Seeing lack, illness, misfortune and other trials as an opportunity to shine the Light of Spirit is a noble undertaking. Pointing out that the person experiencing these challenges has invited them into their lives is not only cruel and unusual and often harmful; it’s unsound spiritual practice and well-documented in the historical spiritual canons as wrong.
The healing benefits of spiritual living are accessible to all, but there is a responsibility for those who put themselves forward as professionals in the art that extends beyond passing the tests, paying licensing fees and hanging out a shingle. There is a responsibility to own the wisdom we are sharing and ensure that it is based on sound principles that stand the test of time and align with the teachings across the ancient wisdom canons.
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