An Introduction To The Basics
Stan Ousley, Jr.
This education module is for "real people" who "have a life" and whose time is valuable! It is an introduction to the Divine Science interpretation of New Thought. New Thought evolved from nineteenth century teachings of Phineas Quimby (mental healing), Mary Baker Eddy (Christian Science) and Emma Curtis Hopkins, the "teacher of teachers" who taught, either directly or indirectly, various founders of the New Thought denominations. Divine Science was the first of these religious organizations. In Denver, Nona Brooks evolved a Divine Science movement founded upon the earlier teachings of Malinda Cramer. New Thought was a "new thinking" that came out of orthodox Protestant Christianity of the late 1800's and incorporated elements of Transcendentalism and Vedanta Hinduism (with its monistic theism) along with some perspectives from nineteenth century Unitarianism and Universalism.
A. The basic principle of Divine Science is the Omnipresence of God. In her 1898 Denver newspaper article describing Divine Science, Nona Brooks makes it clear that the visible is an extension of and expression of the Invisible. That called God can be known by other terms; a Shakespeare character said "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Brooks and other early New Thought pioneers used terms familiar to people in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
B. At the level of Spiritual Science, we can explain the Fundamentals in less "religious" ways. First is the concept of that called God, or Divine Mind, or Cosmic Creator, or Ultimate Source, or The Supreme Ultimate, or Pure Consciousness, or First Cause. Pure Intelligence as Consciousness, Light, and Energy are the building blocks of the Universe as we know it. Intelligence and the Consciousness behind thoughts are INVISIBLE in essence. Light exists as INVISIBLE waves that form visible particles. Energy is "eternal" and can never be created or destroyed. It, too, is a constant. The Spiritual component is "the Love factor" -- and Love itself cannot be quantified, empirically measured, but it is the expression of the Essence. In many traditions, Love is the center of our "soul" -- the inner seat of at-one-ment with the Nature of Universal Life-Source. The soul can be described as our "God-core" within us.
Although our outer physical body, the visible, is "time-sensitive," our inner individuated soul, the Invisible, is eternal. Intelligence, Light, Energy, and Love are the components of our timeless being in Being. But our physicality, our body form, is essential for us to express life in Life, and to grow in our soul unfolding. In this dimension, we cannot "do" much if we are disembodied!
C. The "practice" of Life at a higher level of understanding is rooted, grounded, in THE GOLDEN RULE found in many religions and spiritual teachings. From the viewpoint of quantum physics and energy field theory, it is evident that THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE IS INTER-RELATED. So when we do unto others as we would have others do unto us, we actually are doing unto the universe as we would have the universe do unto us through the Spiritual (INVISIBLE) Law.
D. SPIRITUAL LAW is the foundation for our living at the level of Principle. By the LAW OF CAUSE AND EFFECT, we reap as we have sown. By the LAW OF ATTRACTION, at the mental science level of interpretation, we "attract" into our lives that which is in alignment with our subjective feelings-beliefs. In some mind science circles, people intentionally visualize or affirm or make "treasure maps" of their desires. This Law often works for us when we do not have a "disconnect" between our objectivity and our subjectivity.
The Law of Attraction has a more mystical application as well. Nona Brooks taught us not to "formulate" our desires. If we take a pint cup to the ocean, if that is our affirmation and visualization, we can only carry away a pint of the water. Brooks advises us to affirm the general, never the particular: abundance and health and peace and harmony for all humankind. At the mystical level of interpretation, we "attract" that which we really need (beyond our greed). What we really need may not be what we have imagined or fantasized that we need. What we really need comes into our awareness and experiences through GRACE, the free giving of Love. We can call Grace a "harmonizing cosmic impulse towards homeostasis" instead. We see the trees of the forest, at times in disarray, until we become aware, often reluctantly so in our ego-thinking, of the larger forest -- a symbol of the Greater Harmony.
By the LAW OF RECIPROCITY, as we give, we receive even more than we have given. Selfish people are not usually very happy people, because in focusing upon the visible material aspects of life, they miss out on the "blessings" of the invisible dimensions: friendship, generous sharing of one's talents and resources, inner growth and acquisition of Wisdom. By the LAW OF MENTAL EQUIVALENTS, or Correspondences, what we experience is congruent with our understanding coupled with our earlier experiences and our feelings and perceptions about those experiences. Thus, some people go from one abusive relationship to another or from one illness to another. Others "attract" into their lives good relationships, health, and prosperity. FEAR and fearful thinking can influence our inner mental equivalents in negative ways.
By the LAW OF CIRCULATION, we keep the flow going. A saying is "Don't hold on to love, pass it on." Discernment is important, but it is vital to discern our own negative attitudes of scarcity thinking or greed or selfishness as well, for such can block the flow. By the LAW OF EXPECTATION (faith), we "feel" as well as "think" that the Dependable Principles of Spiritual Law are ever operative, regardless of any outer condition. By the LAW OF LIFE, we connect within to the Nature of the Invisible Reality in Its Essence that is expressed through us in the World.
E. So is there Evil or why does there seem to be less than Ideal Goodness in the world? Nona Brooks wrote that: "Nine-tenths of the wrongs and sufferings of the world come from man's inhumanity to man. All conditions of evil, such as the sweat shop, unjust labor conditions, all immoral conditions, could be banished from the face of the earth, if men would turn their thought to universal love, for the evils of the world fade away in the light of good."
In a very modified form of Process Theology, we can see that in every micro-experience, or "occasion of experience," we can either react on the basis of past learned behaviors and felt perceptions and internalized beliefs, or we can, instead, choose a different response, or "Harmonizing Impulse." As an example, maybe gossip in the past has seemingly helped me to feel accepted by peers and gotten me seeming approval and attention from others. But in the momentary instant, when someone's name is mentioned, I am at a "choice point" influenced by my inner conscience of what is ultimately right or wrong, and I can choose the more harmonious "Golden Rule Response" instead. It is a Divine Opportunity. As within, so without. Inside us and all around us, people may "know better" but they still make choices that are less than ideal.
In the ancient Greek, "sin" was an archery term that meant "missing the target" or "missing the mark." The Greek word "sin" as used in Paul's writings meant "the sin nature" -- not a specific mistake. What we have been programmed to do and think can be reprogrammed, as we are transformed by the renewing of our thoughts in our minds. Think about what kind of learned behaviors are being programmed into people by violence-based computer games where one is rewarded for "killing" a cartoon character? In the past we saw violence on t-v. But computer games are programming us to actually participate in violence. "God" or the Supreme Ultimate or Cosmic Mind is not to blame for such negative conditions. Nona Brooks taught that WE are responsible for our thoughts as well as our actions.
F. PRAYER practiced scientifically is an inner process of aligning with the Ideal without manipulating it. Meditation is not necessarily a "religious" practice. Any activity is useful if it quiets our mind and helps us refocus from the outer world to the inner world, calming our emotions, and re-perceiving external situations and challenges. The "prayer process" in Divine Science is not supernatural or religious. It is a process of going into The Silence and then contemplating the Universal Good or Ideal Quality we are focusing upon, recognizing that reality in our lives, accepting such (realization), and then being thankful.
Many folks steeped in orthodoxy are accustomed to praying to a "God" that they relate to as a father figure, a supernatural version of a human person, and these people may find Divine Science and New Thought impersonal. They want a parental "God" to talk to and a God who answers specific prayers often presented in begging ways by the one praying. Here’s my rebuttal. The Law is always neutral, but we personalize it as we use it and experience it. Love is always impersonal until we express it. Energy is neutral until we embody it. Consciousness or Intelligence is personalized in our minds as we THINK it. Light as invisible waves comes into form as particles, and we are vibrating energy fields of light. WE make it personal and WE each personalize the Cosmic Essence in our own individualized essences.
G. The GOAL of scientific New Thought is happiness and harmony, within and without. It is living in a "user-friendly" universe.
A. New Thought is not orthodox Christianity. It is, at best, "heterodoxy" -- a "variation." But even early Christianity had many variations. James, Paul, Thomas, John, and Philip are all associated by name with various early "versions" of what became Christianity. In Divine Science and New Thought, Jesus the human man became The Christ because he "embodied" that Consciousness of Oneness with Source. The Virgin Birth and even The Resurrection are interpreted as symbols for inner states of consciousness. In New Testament Greek, Jesus was "Son" of God as huios -- one who has the same qualities of God -- a spiritual offspring, not a biological offspring or "child" as used in another Greek word teknon. From a Greek Lexicon, we read: "Huios primarily signifies the relation of offspring to parent and not simply the birth as indicated by teknon. … Used metaphorically of prominent moral characteristics." That which is "born of" Spirit is spirit. Only Begotten or monogenes, used only by John, signifies a connection of Essence. From the Lexicon: "Jesus Christ designated as the only One of the same stock in the relationship of the Son to the Father. He is not to be understood as eternally born of the Father, but only in His humanity was he born." (As we all are: born of visible flesh and begotten of invisible Spirit!)
In the Divine Science textbook, we read that CHRIST refers to: "The indwelling identity of God-man, the divine [nature of the] individual." Concerning Jesus, we read: "The man of Nazareth, historically speaking, who became the full embodiment of the Christ consciousness, which has earned for him the title, Christ Jesus."
Another variation that I personally find meaningful is an understanding of The Cross of Christ and The Way of The Cross as the PROCESS behind the PRACTICE of New Thought Christianity.
Simply put, the horizontal or cross (Cross) bar represents our enmeshment in worldly or everyday thinking and acting, based on "less than our best" such as jealousy, greed, grudges and un-forgiveness, lust, war at all its levels. The upward or vertical bar represents the spiritual current ascending to the higher consciousness, the "Crown of Christ." Where the bars intersect is where the "crucifixion" of ego takes place inside us. As we ascend to the "Christ" Consciousness (or Buddha Nature or Atman in other traditions), we become The Resurrection within. Although he interprets it VERY differently, evangelist Jimmy Swaggart is correct (but rejected by most of his ministerial peers) when he teaches that our problem is not "sin" (specific failings or actions) but "the sin nature" (inner inclinations often based on ignorance or misunderstandings) and "Christ is the Source, and The Cross is the means." A New Thought interpretation is that the Christ Consciousness is the Source, and The Cross is the means -- the inner process of attaining at-one-ment -- with the Source. So those teachings, interpreted very differently by me than they would be interpreted in orthodox circles, brought me back to Christianity a few years ago, practiced in a New Thought context, as I also realized that Jesus' Ministry was universal rather than religion-specific.
Many people "react" in a negative way to Jesus because of previous bad experiences with Christianity, which is the religion about Jesus rather than the religion OF Jesus.
B. Jesus The Way-shower
In Divine Science, Jesus is a spiritual Way-shower, not a religious dogmatist. Jesus did not get along with the Pharisees, the "religious professionals" and ordained ministers of his day. His universal, non-religious specific "teachings" and healing methods lead us to "salvation" -- defined by Nona Brooks' sister Fannie James as "knowledge of the Truth." Jesus taught The Golden Rule. Most of the Spiritual Laws were described in his teachings. Jesus taught the Law of Reciprocity (it is returned to us "pressed out and overflowing"), the Law of Mental Equivalents ("as we think in our hearts, so are we"), the Law of Circulation (the Parable of the Talents), the Law of Attraction ("to him who has much, more is given; but to him who has little, even that little will be taken away" and "ask, and you will receive; knock, and the door shall be opened"). Jesus taught the Law of Faith or Expectation: When you pray [ask], believe that you will receive -- and when faced with challenges, "fear not, only believe." Paul taught the Law of Cause and Effect (we reap as we have sown). John taught that God is Spirit, NOT a person, and God is Love (LOVE is the Nature and Essence of God).
The GOAL of "Christian" New Thought is also happiness and harmony, within and without. Jesus talked about "The Kingdom of Heaven." In more traditional terminology, HEAVEN is defined as follows in the D.S. textbook: "Consciousness of the omnipresence of God. Spiritual realization of that which is 'within' and 'at hand' -- the omnipresent God, the Christ within. A state of consciousness in which the ideal is spiritually realized. It is the full realization that I and my Father [Source] are one."
Jesus exemplified and personified, through his teachings and actions and healing ministry, the core concepts of New Thought. All the New Thought denominations have been, at least originally, Jesus-based in their teachings. To identify oneself as a "Christian" is NOT necessary in order to practice New Thought Principles, nor is the so-called "Christian Religion" totally congruent with some New Thought interpretations. Nevertheless, we read in the Divine Science textbook: "Divine Science is a Christian religion based upon the teachings of Jesus, expounding the principles of the omnipresence of God and proving by the law of expression that innately man [humankind] can be only what God is."
In the Old Testament, there are two words representing two concepts that refer to Deity. These words are Elohim and Yahweh. Elohim refers to Infinite Supreme Spirit behind all of Creation. Yahweh is defined by Zodhiates in the lexicon of the Hebrew Greek Key Study Bible (KJV edition) as: "the covenant name of God most prominently known in connection with His relationship with the nation of Israel" and "the name is found with reference to God's dealings with men [humankind]..." Yahweh is, in short, the expression in the visible dimension of The Law and especially, The Law of Expression that out pictures through the "spiritual laws" of Cause and Effect, Attraction, Reciprocity, Circulation, and Mental Equivalents. The laws are activated by the Law of Expectation or Faith.
But the spiritual laws are impersonal, in the same way as natural laws such as the law of gravity are impersonal. We can use the laws to our benefit, but we cannot manipulate them or change them. Foundational Divine Science teacher Nona Brooks went so far as to present a sermon entitled "Why We Should Never Formulate Our Desires" and differentiated between mental science and spiritual science.
In the Divine Science textbook (p. 106), we read: "The power of the Lord, Law in action, is present to heal." (underline added) Jesus' reference to The Father, as in John 10:30 "I and my Father are one," personalized the relationship in a more intimate way -- the anglicized version of the Greek word Father is "pater." Jesus did not claim a unique power, but rather an intimate relationship with Power, itself. That relationship was in the context of The Christ Consciousness, from the Greek word for "anointed" or elevated and blessed. Jesus stated: "I can of mine own self do nothing" and he taught: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father." (From the Gospel of John, KJV.)
The metaphysical understanding does not in any way diminish Jesus' personhood, his spiritual role as Way-shower, or his Oneness with God as the perfect expression of The Christ of God, Emmanuel, God-with-us. Rather, it clarifies and explains the Universal Principles behind the effectiveness of his Ministry.
But doesn't that take away or "deprive us" of the personal God (an old man up in the sky or maybe a cosmic Santa Claus?) that we pray to for things? Doesn't this make that power called God too impersonal? Certainly this perceived impersonalization is a stumbling block to many people accustomed to an "orthodox" viewpoint of a supernatural human-like God, even though we read in the writings of John's earliest school of Christianity that "God is Spirit" and that no one has ever directly seen God, but God IS Love.
Another way to look at it is that WE ARE THE HANDS AND FEET OF GOD in the World. We express Emmanuel, God-with-us, through our everyday actions. GOD IS PERSONALIZED THROUGH US! Our "method of prayer" is to connect our personal soul, the God-core within us, to the Mind of Christ, not in order to "get" something but to BE something -- to BE the individuated expression of unselfish love that serves others. Jesus talked about God as father -- pater in the anglicized Greek -- and such models the relationship each of us has individually with the personalization of Principle. Jesus as Way-shower demonstrated how it works, teaching that those who had seen him had seen the nature of the Father (Sacred Source).
Written by Rev. Stan Ousley Jr., D.D., Ph.D.
Symphony of Love