New Thought is a movement that started in the United States in the 19th century, but has since then spread all over the world. The basic premise of the movement is based on religious and metaphysical presuppositions. There are variety of beliefs, views and styles within the movement, but they are all linked with one idea, that your mind, and your faith and belief can help you heal diseases. It is all in your head they say, but the New Thought Movement has literally taken that approach in healing. Phineas P. Quimby is cited as the earliest proponent of New Thought. He practiced mesmerism and managed to develop concepts for mental and spiritual healing on the premise that every illness is a matter of our mind.
There are many beliefs within the New Thought system, but the core values and tenets are: Infinite Intelligence (GOD) is omnipotent and omnipresent, the Spirit is the ultimate reality in the World, human self-hood is divine, the origin for all diseases is mental, right and positive thinking has healing effects and Divine attuned thought is a positive force. The beliefs of the New Thought can also be separated into three major categories: Evolution of Thought, Theological Inclusionism and Therapeutic Ideas.
The first category, Evolution of Thought, is the one where according to the beliefs the as the process of humankind gaining understanding of the world, the Evolution of Thought will itself evolve and assimilate more and new knowledge. The New Thought is actually a process in which individuals and even the System is a “new moment”. Continuous revelation is one of the core principles in the New Thought movement. They believe in the “possible human”, a person/individual we are all capable of becoming one day.
The second category, the Theological Inclusionism, starts with the premise that “the principle that Truth is Truth where ever it is found and who ever is sharing it”. In this category, the beliefs are disseminated from the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu teacher.
And as with every system that believes in healing, there are therapeutic ides. Some of the organizations in this category are the Unity Church, the Divine Science and the Religious Science. They preach that God, the Infinite Intelligence is the only reality. According to their beliefs, failure to realize this and only truth results with sickness. Therefore, in order to heal oneself, he/she must believe and the healing can only be done with affirmation of oneness. One of the popular practitioners of the New Thought system, John Bovee Dods, has written few books that argue that the diseases originate in the nervous systems, and are triggered by electrical impulses in the system. As such, belief is the way to cure the disease. New scientific discoveries such as neural processes and electromagnetism have furthered connected the idea of New Thought with the mental state.
Practices and teachings
First and foremost, the New Thought movement does not oppose medical science. Quite the contrary, the movement is positive and life and the outcome of life. Some of the central ideas in New Thought groups, based on which the movement teaches and shows practices are: Infinitude of the Supreme One, Divinity of the Man and the Infinity Possibilities via constructive thinking and obedience to the voice of the Presence.
New Thought practitioners believe that the man can live in oneness with the Creator. They emphasize Jesus as a teacher and as a healer.
In many ways, New Thought implies monism, or in other words, views the oneness of the world. However, New Thought also has Gnostic beliefs (or dualistic, matter oppose spirit). In other words, New Thought is open for all.
Today, approximately 2.5 million people read all the activities and publishing done by New Thought. The largest movement is Seicho-no-Ie. The movement has spread in Japan following the Second World War and is gaining ground ever since. The phrase Seicho-no-Ie means “House of Growth” and has more than 1.6 million followers in Japan and in the world. The movement has more than 400 facilities where they preach their beliefs and system. Some other systems within the movement are the Jewish Science, Centers for Spiritual Living, Religious Science and Unity.
The Religious Science movement is operated within three organizations and those are the Global Religious Science Ministries, the United Centers for Spiritual Living and the Affiliated New Thought Network. There is no authority within the movement. Instead, the movement preaches to people “what it can accomplish for those who practice it”. Ernest Holmes, the founder of the movement has published the Science of Mind, a book based on teachings by Jesus Christ.
Unity is identified as the “Christian New Thought” and focuses on idealism in the Christianity. The Bible is the main source of information, but it is not interpreted literally. Another core source for information is the “Lessons in Truth”, a book written by H. Emilie Cady.