Pots Of Gold

rich3Did you believe in Leprechauns as a child? Did you wish upon a star? Did you play Cinderella waiting for her Prince? Did you have a magic penny? Or toss your money into the wishing well?

Some people carry unrealistic ideas about money into their adult years. For example, the person who expects money to buy  love or happiness is looking for more than money can accomplish. So is the person who tosses  money away on junk and doesn’t save for another day.

Money isn’t magic. However, our money ideas work almost like magic in our lives.

A few years ago everyone was talking about a book called The Secret. It sold extremely well by repeating the same truths that New Thought has been teaching for over 100 years. It seems we must rediscover the fact that our thoughts are creating our experience in every new generation.

Earlier, Dr. Eric Butterworth wrote an excellent prosperity book called Spiritual Economics. I love Butterworth’s wisdom because he is so clear and he focuses on changing our consciousness in order to create new results.

There are many classes and workshops on prosperity in New Thought churches. My church, the Center for Positive Living in Carlsbad, CA, will focus on financial abundance this month of September. Rev. Debby O’Donnell speaks.

No matter what prosperity message you read or hear, wherever you are, you will hear some version of, “Change your thinking and change your life.”  That’s a shorthand version of every Science of Mind message. New Thought teaches God is Love, operating in our lives as Spiritual Law. Our individual minds are  directly connected to the Great Mind and we are constantly sending messages to God whether we know it or not.

Our lives will take the direction of our prevailing belief patterns. Random thoughts are not as powerful as our trained spiritual mind treatments or affirmative prayers but the Spiritual Law is always responding to the direction we give through our thoughts, beliefs and emotions, (which comprise our consciousness).

Many of the beliefs we hold are shared with others and we may not even think about them as beliefs because they seem so natural.  For example, in Canada and the USA, most of us share the belief that hard work pays off. One might say our North American culture is built on that belief. Our media reinforces the idea. Despite individual differences, that shared belief created  two prosperous nations.

Individual beliefs do have an individual impact. If I grow up believing that I must work very hard for money because it is very scarce, I will be less successful . Even if I have more money, I’ll be exhausted.

On the other hand, if I grow up believing that no matter how hard I work, I’ll never get ahead, I will have another result. Perhaps I will believe I am too dumb or too uneducated or the wrong gender, or whatever. In any case,  If I learn about spiritual law, I can change my belief and get more of what I want out of life.

The workaholic can envision, pray, believe and accept more fun and more free time. The discouraged worker can replace his or her “Why try?” mentality with an  “I can do” attitude.

As you read this, take a look at your responses. Do you believe that hard work pays off? Do you think you are working too hard for too little result? Do you have a defeated or pessimistic attitude? What would you like to change in your life? What would you like to have? More time? More money? More fame? New kind of work?

Nothing of this essay is intended to blame anyone or detract from anyone’s worth as a spiritual/human being. Our worth is always equal in Truth because we are all living in God.  Some have more money than others do today. That can change soon.

It is important to understand that money is simply money. It is not anyone’s intrinsic worth. Is that something you need think about? Do you need to look at your beliefs around worthiness?

If we are honest and we can lower our defenses a bit, we will see our ideas about money are showing up in our lives. Even if we cannot see that in our lives, we can probably see spiritual law working in other people’s lives. Take a look around but do not judge. Just observe.

Sometimes we don’t know what we think . One way to become more aware is to listen to our own chatter. Even if we say it with a laugh, we are claiming the idea when we say, “No rest for the wicked” or “A woman’s work is never done” or “I just can’t seem to get ahead.”

Become conscious of what you are saying when you are not listening. Those are habits of thought and you may want to change some of them because habits have power. Begin by asking yourself what you want to believe and pray to release what you do not want. You will see change.

Other ideas are not so apparent and they may have been acquired very early. Some may have a lot of emotion around them. These subterranean beliefs can be powerful and even dangerous to our bank accounts.

For example, as a younger woman, I turned down many financial opportunities and it was because I had a deep-seated belief that I could not have love and financial success. Counseling helped me see what I was doing and change some behavior.

Do you have a  journal? It is very instructive to spend time writing down money messages you heard as a child. Did you grow up in a home where money was secret? Or  mysterious? Was there never enough? Might you still live in that atmosphere? Do you want to change?

For example, I used to be very frightened of authority – especially the IRS. Filing my income tax  was scary. Once I discovered how and when I adopted that fear, I was able to release it. Knowledge is powerful.

Almost all of us have ideas about money that need to be rescued from the shadows.  The plan is simple. Discover what you want and what’s standing in the way. Then go for it.

Shape your spiritual practice around prosperity work. Use meditation and spiritual mind treatment to work your magic.   Release the old stuff that isn’t working and accept the new stuff that is right for you. Make this a priority and do not give up. Be consistent and do what you need to do to believe that spiritual law is working for you.

You will be guided gently to take steps in the direction of your dreams. The more you can believe there is a Power for Good working for you, the faster you will see the abundance  you desire.

Way will open.

Ask yourself

What’s my desire?

What’s my plan?

What’s my spiritual practice?

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Our Sacred Trust

Kingsolver2My friend and I go back 25 years. We share age and politics, as well as religion and love for family. Our conversation jumps from subject to subject and era to era very easily. Over lunch, we agree it is depressing to see civil rights moving backwards.

         That was just one moment of discouraging thought. We quickly moved on to happier topics – our kids, grandkids and great grandkids. We know nothing really moves backwards, no matter how it may appear in any particular moment. The Creative Energy of Life and Love is constantly expanding and we both know it.

So many things have gone right in our lifetime. People live longer and are happier. We have amazing inventions and leisure time. Many of us are more secure and happier.

There seems to be less fear for the future. We remembered the days when people built those tacky little bomb shelters that were supposed to keep people safe from the Atomic War. We have had wars but no atomic ones. That is a cause for hope and celebration, considering we grew up with the threat of atomic annihilation.  It seems even our leaders prefer desire peace.

This is the fifty-year celebration of the March on Washington and I am trying to remember how much better things are than they were then. Memory helps.

I can do it. I’ve learned is trust. Right now, I am trusting that the nation will continue to move forward and not allow civil rights to go any farther backwards. After all, We are one nation under God. The Creative Expression of Life is always expanding and life continues improve although not always in a straight-ahead path.

In church, we learn that our personal lives can move outward into greater expansion of our Infinite Potential. That is true on a national and global basis as well. Over the long run, a look at history proves that Life is better.

It’s natural to have things improve. Humans are built to want more and better. It is a part of our creative nature. The Law of Cause and Effect works in our personal lives and it also works on a global scale. We no longer dwell in caves, do we? Most of us live longer, richer and healthier lives.

Progress happens consistently although it may not happen as smoothly or quickly as we want. It takes vision and desire to set new ideas in motion. And new visions are always happening. Right now, many people are visioning an end to global poverty. I trust that their vision will manifest in our lifetime.

John Lennon and I like to imagine a world of peace and plenty. I’m sure you agree with those great goals. What we know in Science of Mind is when enough people believe and accept a new vision it must come about because spiritual laws are inexorable.

It’s not always easy to expect the best, and sometimes I get upset when I see regression. These days, I see backward steps on several social rights issues. Women and people of color are losing ground. What happened to gun control? Many new laws are proposed at the state level that are dangerous.  Because I lived through the bad old days, I am absolutely certain I do not want to be turned around. Maybe we need to start singing “We Shall Overcome” again.

Several states have created laws that closed women’s health centers.  Their aim is to prevent women from having abortions and the result will be to endanger women’s health. Up until the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973, women lived in fear of unwanted pregnancies. Recent actions in red states now endanger our freedom. Women should have the right to make choices and control their own bodies.

I trust the changes will be tested in court and thrown out, meanwhile, women (especially poor women) suffer. Simultaneously, these same states are tightening voter laws. Red states are closing polls in Democratic districts. They are also shortening hours and requiring more stringent voter ID’s. No one should have to stand in line eight hours to vote.

I am old enough to remember literacy tests and poll taxes. They were infamous ways to keep Afro-Americans from voting. After years of courageous and historic struggles, the “New South” emerged.  Things appeared to change and we even elected a black president. Many younger people take fairness for granted but equality and liberty and justice should never be taken for granted.

The Trayvon Martin tragedy has put some of the problems of blacks back in the news. A divided nation reacts to that tragedy in predictable ways. When our president spoke of his personal experiences he was actually condemned by some. It felt just like the bad old days to me.

I do not really compare today’s struggles with fifty years ago but we all need to remember that what happens to one citizen in the country happens to us all.

John Donne, wrote a famous poem in the 1700’s, and, in part, it said,

No man is an island,


Entire of itself, 
Every man is a piece of the continent,


A part of the main……..

I am involved in mankind,

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 


It tolls for thee.

That poem makes perfect sense to anyone who studies metaphysics and knows we are unique, individualized expressions of God. When we look at others, we don’t see strangers, we see brothers and sisters – all expressions of God.

What Donne wrote in England in the 1700’s is still true. When one woman dies from a coat hanger wound, we are all hurt. When one young man is shot because of his color, we are all hurt. When one person is kept from voting, we are all hurt. We live in God and how we treat each other is our highest expression God as Love.

No matter who you are or where you live, you are  connected through the Oneness of God. We all have the power of prayer and we embrace the vision of equality for all, trust in God, and Love as the Creative Energy of the Universe. Despite appearances, holding that vision will produce results that look like miracles.

Will you join me this month in daily prayers claiming equal rights for all?  Will you join me in holding the vision of social action progress? Will you know, with me, that restrictive laws and activities are turned around now?

Many of the early New Thought leaders believed the United States had a special, historic place in the history of humankind. I agree with their vision. Equality under law was a powerful idea in 1776 and it has expanded over time. As our wisdom and tolerance developed, our greatness grew. We don’t go backward, we lead the way forward. Thank God for the Sacred Trust we hold.

Ask Yourself

Do I trust the future?

Do I want to speak out?

Do I want to forward this post?

What more can I do?


How To Get What You Want

dareI taught high school for many years. Mostly, I worked with kids who had difficulty in school. Some had emotional troubles or couldn’t learn, or couldn’t concentrate. Some had extreme situations at home. Some had no homes. My job was to teach reading or study skills. I couldn’t fix everything.

It’s a tricky business to teach kids who don’t seem to want to learn. Or can’t learn. You must establish order and let them know you are on their side. I found the work difficult but rewarding. Imagine the thrill of seeing a teenager move from third grade reading skills to sixth grade in one semester! I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of a student in my life.

But it wasn’t all miracle working. Many of my students had years of failure in previous classrooms. It was a challenge to motivate them. Some students tried and gave up. Some never tried. Some were there because juvenile court sent them and they’d be incarcerated if they skipped. Some came because there was heat in the building or free food.

My classrooms were orderly, friendly and safe. The classes were on their grade level so many of the kids learned fast. Others learned sporadically and others learned nothing at all. I did the best I could with what I knew.

There wasn’t much real help. If I complained about a student, administration suspended him for a week and that certainly didn’t help him learn. So I almost never complained to the authorities.

Most of the educational theories were nonsensical but there was one counselor who helped me. Charlie and I would sit in the lunchroom and talk. I complained, and Charlie listened because he wanted to be supportive. We both thought he was letting me “vent” but he actually helped me more than he knew or I ever expected.

One day, I was complaining about a student and Charlie gave me the golden key to understanding.  He explained, “He doesn’t know how to get what he wants.”

You and I know what we want and that’s a wonderful thing. Our desire brought us here. We are in this marvelous teaching to learn how to get it. I thank God that I am privileged to teach Science of Mind to adults who can generally learn easily what they need to do in order to attain their goals.

Those of us who have been around a bit know some general ways to approach our goals. There is great power in the Science of Mind teaching because it offers a logical framework for how to bring more good into our lives.

We know what we want and we know how to get it. The basic formula is simple. Most of us have heard it so often that it sounds like a cliché. Change your thinking and change your life.

Those really are the rules. Nothing changes until the mind changes. First we identify the goal. Then we change our thinking so we attract it. Of course, even when we know that we need to change our thinking, we sometimes falter. Why do we hesitate? Sometimes we forget to stop looking at the problem and never begin looking at the solution.

Another reason for faltering is that we can’t quite believe that it works. We don’t trust the spiritual law because it sounds like improbable magic. Lack of trust is easy to fix.

In Science of Mind, you are never asked to step out on faith without proof. You can build trust and test everything yourself. You can make a scientific experiment to the truth of the system. New Thought came into being in a scientific era and you can use scientific inquiry to develop trust .

You can build your trust experimenting on your own. You can prove that changing your mind works. Once you decide to try it, the best way to do it is make an organized, scientific experiment.

The way to get more trust in using the process of changing your mind to change your life is to keep records of your consistent spiritual practice. I dare you to select a goal that seems reasonable and use your spiritual practice consistently and record your progress for a period of time. I suggest at least three months for a fair trial.

You need a simple goal for this experiment. Don’t want to make it too difficult for yourself since your goal is to test the process. Don’t select a huge goal that might means months or years of work ahead. For example, if you desire increased prosperity, select an amount you can imagine easily. Don’t start with a million. Perhaps a hundred or a thousand dollars?

After all, you are simply building trust at this point. When you’ve had practice getting what you want you can up the ante. Remember, it is your consciousness (or thinking) that must change. Whether it is a hundred or a million is all the same to God but the process works through you and you are probably not ready to envision, believe and accept a million in three months.

Now, build a part of your daily spiritual practice around your prosperity goal. Specifically visualize your dollar goal and keep a record of what comes in. You will learn how to get what you want more effectively through this exercise and you will believe it because it is your personal record.

If you take it a step at a time, the process will work efficiently for you. You already know what you want. You already know how to change your thinking. You can build your spiritual practice easily. Read books on prosperity. Take care to be grateful for what you have and everything you receive. Say your prayers daily. Spend time imagining money coming in. Keep a record and tithe ten percent to your spiritual center or spiritual source.

At the end of your experiment, you will have your goal and much more trust based on your own experiment. You will have scientific proof that you know how to get what you want and that is a wonderful thing.

Note… I suggested practicing prosperity because money is easy to count but the same process works on all life-affirming goals as long as you are not trying to control another person’s actions. It works on finding new friends, being healthier, travelling new places and finding new work.

Isn’t it exciting?  You know how to get what you want! What a gift we have in this teaching.

Ask Yourself

What do I want to try first?

How shall I set my goal?

What is my plan of action for my spiritual practice?

How will I keep my records?


Fear & Love

open005I read a novel set in Portugal in the 1700’s. Although it was not a violent book, the Inquisition loomed in the background and eventually some of the major characters were burned at the stake. The story disturbed me, as stories about religious fanaticism always do.

I thought it was a good novel about interesting people but at the end the writer obviously thought the Protestant religion was best because it was so sane. However, I know there were many witches burned in Protestant nations in that time.

I thank God every day for my religion where I learn that God is love and fear is only a mistake or error.

Most of the terrible things like war, pogroms and ethnic cleansing come from fear. So do the personal terrors such as economic disparity, prejudice, crime and abuse. Fear creates problems such as suspicion and sleeplessness in our daily lives also. Fear of the unknown creates trouble on personal, tribal, national, and global levels.

This week, people are caught up in the story of Trayvon Martin’s death and rightly so. Whenever a young man is tracked and hunted because he is a different color it is a cause for national concern. I understand the jury has spoken and that the trial it is over. Somehow, we must choose Love rather than despair.We must trust Love.

Perhaps Trayvon’s death will awaken people and they will see there is more to be done about fearful laws, fearful guns and racial divides. We cannot just elect a black president and say it is over. We must find a way to help people release fear and move into acceptance, and Love.

New Thought people are leaders in acceptance because our teaching is steeped in the belief of Oneness. I am feeling very much at One with Trayvon’s parents this morning and so are many others. I hold them in Love and I choose to respond to the nonsense in the media with Love. It is my attitude of choice.

Fear and Love are attitudes and we all slide up and down the scale, just as we do with hot and cold, happy or sad, healthy or well.  We all have mixed bags of choice and we are not always logical. One person fears immigrants but loves to travel. Another person loves people but fears animals. Nations with borders either love or fear each other. When did we last hear anything mean said about Canada?

Fear can elect politicians and impact laws. We build fences and place armed sentries at gates to keep out people whose labor we depend upon.  Gated communities are built in fear. In some places, kids must walk in groups to school because they live in fearsome neigborhoods. Fear is contagious but Love overcomes all.

Sometimes a mild form of fear is useful. I check the date on my refrigerated food. I wear a hat in summer and a jacket in winter. I even fear the company of some people enough that I avoid them.

We are constantly picking positions on the attitude scale. These choices should be conscious instead of automatic. When we are conscious, we choose Love because it is our true nature. We choose Love and we avoid spats, arguments, and even wars. We choose Love because it expands joy and brings adventure, wisdom, and happiness. We choose Love because it reinforces our true God-self.

Choosing Love is easy to practice in small ways when we are conscious. We might even make a game of overcoming fear. We might be brave and try a new restaurant or make a new friend or join a new group.

Choosing a new restaurant is a long way from the Spanish Inquisition – of course it is. But the fear that keeps us in a rut is a small version of the fear that created the Inquisition. It also created segregation and racial prejudice. Fear creates wars. It also creates great havoc and pain on all levels including our  personal life. It is good dispose of fear and move toward Love.

Your choices help yourself and they also help everyone else. Our collective consciousness if made of individuals like you and me. Anytime we choose Love over fear, we move everyone forward. In the next few days, think about your current choices. Are they Love based? If not, are there alternatives? I trust you will all take a small risk toward more and Love and Life.

Some of us may be tuned into fear-based news media that makes it seem as though our nation is filled with threatening strangers and the world is terrifying and evil. If that is our news source, we need to change the channel. Fear is contagious and so is Love. Fear is a habit and so is Love.

Developing the habit of making conscious choices based on Love makes a difference in our planet. We can’t heal it all alone but we are not alone. Let’s open up to Love with ourselves, our family, our friends, and all the other people on the globe. Let’s accept Love as normal. Let’s stop resisting change and diversity.

If we only speak to people with our same opinions, who look like ourselves, in our neighborhood, and in our own age group we might as well talk to ourselves. I love my marvelous friends, not just for our agreements, but also for our differences. They enrich and enlarge me.

In New Thought, we believe that all human beings are expressions of God. We all come from One Source and that Source is the Creative Energy of the Universe and it is Love. Fear is error or a mistake. We do not waste our energy fearing life or reacting in anger to someone else.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” Why not take that as an affirmation to use in the context of your personal life?

Small choices matter. Here’s a personal example of  fear and error can change. Rev. Debby and Rev. Mattie added a ritual to our Sunday service after I stepped down as pastor. They brought in a traditional candlelabra and I’ve never liked ritual because of my childhood religion. In the first weeks, of candle lighting, I feared the change.  I thought,  “Why talk about the Truth found in Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity or Islam during a New Thought service?”

I truly love Rev. Debby & Rev. Mattie and I loved their leadership so I was silent. Every Sunday a congregant lights candles honoring the major faiths. Then we are asked to look within and light our own personal candle of Love and Light.

Thank God, I didn’t choose to be the crow who croaked, “That’s not the way we used to do it.” Thank God, I chose Love instead of fear because candle lighting is now one of my favorite parts of the service.

Ask Yourself

How is fear holding me back?

What are my choices?

Where shall I begin?


I Believe!

spitfire-katharine-hepburn-1934-everettI watched a 1934 movie where Katherine Hepburn played a hillbilly faith healer. The writer made Hepburn’s character absolutely grounded in the idea that you must believe it is done even as you pray for it. The character could barely read and was truly ignorant but she had the consciousness of a great spiritual teacher.

As I watched the movie, I wondered if the writer knew Science of Mind. Her ideas about how prayer worked seemed  totally on the mark and Dr. Holmes was right down the street in those days. Who knows?

I am fascinated by old movies and this one, Spitfire is sort of famous for being the flick that began Hepburn’s slide into her years as “box office poison”.

It was quite a bad movie but I watched it because I am interested in faith healing and hillbilly culture. Not that I learned anything but it is fun to see how things were portrayed in those days .

In real life, Katherine Hepburn was a classy New Englander who graduated from Bryn Mawr and she was startlingly miscast. Bryn Mawr girls have their own very special weird accents so Hepburn’s attempt at Ozark lingo was incredibly wrong. My relatives came out of those hills and I never heard anyone talk like that. They were peculiar and superstitious people in some ways, but not nearly as ignorant as the characters in this turkey.

What truly amazed me was how definitely the writer gave the instructions for successful prayer. Hepburn has all that wonderful electric energy and when she prayed, she put her star power into believing it was so. Between the romantic back lighting and Hepburn’s ethereal expression, I thought I was watching Song of Bernadette in some places.

However, the story was a romance, not a saintly saga. During the first half of the movie, she raised an old lady from the dead and healed just about everyone in the town, then in the last half she dodged violent villagers and decided whether to love Robert Montgomery or Ralph Bellamy. I think it’s the only movie I ever saw where Bellamy got the girl.

Anyway, Spitfire was kind of fun and it reinforced the idea that we must really, really believe our good is happening even while we pray for it. Anyone who has ever learned about affirmative prayer knows it is important to have faith that it is working even as we pray. That was so when the Master Teacher Jesus spoke, it was true in 1934, and it is true now.

We have trust in the process of prayer because that is how Universal Mind works. That’s why we always pray in the present tense. God is always in the Now and always responding to our deepest beliefs.

On the next day, my conversation group talked about the necessity of “feeling” the result of prayer as we prayed and building our trust that God can and does do the work. The emotional component of consciousness is very important. Not only must we understand the way things work but we must believe it. Belief is emotional so when we pray, we should “feel” the result as we realize the prayer is done.

We had a marvelous group discussion and I think we all understood how to pray more effectively. All the great teachers, including Dr. Holmes tell us that we must be involved emotionally as well as logically to make prayer work.  We have to believe it, see it, taste it, and enjoy it, as we are working in mind for it.

There are many things we can do to make it real as we are working toward our goal. One way is to spend some meditation time enjoying the feeling that you expect to have when you attain your goal.  For example, if you pray to lose weight, you might follow that up with fifteen minutes imagining how you feel and what you will look like with the weight off.

Some teachers suggest that if you want more prosperity in your life, you should spend some time wandering through expensive department stores getting the “feel” of being wealthy. Of course, as you walk through the store, you must be careful to feel good about being surrounded by luxury, not wistful because you can’t afford things.

The process of praying for any goal is really a process of changing your consciousness so that you can attract and keep the desired experience. We are aiming to change our minds significantly. It is not enough to attract a new car, we must also have the consciousness to safely enjoy it and be able to pay for the insurance and gas .

There are many ways to build a strong emotional element in your prayer work. Perhaps the best is to linger a few moments during the part of the prayer when you realize that you have spoken your word. Before you give it to God to do the work, take a pause and seriously feel how thankful you are to attain whatever result you’ve prayed for. Let that good, grateful feeling sink in and deepen the experience you desire.

Another way to create a deeper emotional acceptance for good in your life is to behave as though you love yourself more. If you speak well of yourself, dress well and take good care of yourself physically, you are expressing your self-love. Healthy self-love is a declaration of worth and a way of saying to yourself and to God that you deserve the best. The more you can believe in your self-worth, the more you can accept from Universal Mind.

You do deserve the best. You have star power that lights up your world.  When you pray, you are in touch with Universal Power and Love. You don’t need other special powers or two boyfriends or  romantic back lighting to be a star when you pray. You are already the star of your own life and you are also the director and writer of your own script. Believe it!

 Ask Youself

Do I expect the best when I pray?

What can I do to bring up my belief level?

How well do I treat myself?


The New Transcendentalists

Walden PondMy friends, the Zagwyns, are in Massachusetts this summer so they sent me photos of some Transcendentalist landmarks, including Walden Pond. They knew I’d love to see and hear all about this amazing spiritual vortex. This is the birthplace of the Transcendentalist movement and New Thought followed closely behind. I like to think of us as the New Transcendentalists.

 If you attend a Center for Spiritual Living Center or follow New Thought some other way, your lineage includes a group of distinguished American thinkers called Transcendentalists. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Bronson Alcott and Walt Whitman are among them. You have a very proud heritage.

The early New Thought writers all quoted Emerson and for many, many years, he was the best known, most quoted and most widely read of all American authors. For example, my mother could quote Emerson poems by heart.

It is difficult for us to imagine how much impact Emerson had because his ideas are all around us today and they don’t seem that original. However, he was a revolutionary influence in the fields of philosophy, religion, and literature. His ideas about finding God in Nature, self-reliance and trusting ourselves branded the character of this nation as democratic and self-reliant.

Emerson was trained as a Congregational minister but he did not believe in some of the rituals, including communion. He decided to become a writer and platform speaker instead. In 1836, he published an essay called Nature. It was not particularly well received but now it is a standard reading in college English classes.

The same year Nature was published, Emerson helped establish an informal group popularly called the Transcendentalists. This group originally gathered to discuss new ideas from Europe; instead, they became the birthplace of independent American thinking. The Transcendentalists were important founders of abolition, women’s suffrage, and authentic American literature as well as opening up traditional religious thinking.

Emerson was the central figure in the movement. During the next fifty years, Emerson wrote and spoke all over the nation and in parts of Europe. His essays included SelfReliance, Compensation, Spiritual Laws and the Over Soul. Our CSL class on Emerson includes these and other essays as well as some history of the era.

So many of the ideas and attitudes that we think of as distinctly American come from the works of Emerson and the Transcendentalists. It is hard to imagine a world without them. It is also extremely difficult to imagine Religious Science without Transcendentalism.

Emerson found God everywhere and Ernest Holmes accepted the immanence of God as an absolute truth. Emerson said we should be self-reliant and listen to our hearts. Holmes believed that our intuition was a pathway to God’s wisdom. Emerson wrote, “To thine own self be true”. Holmes said, “Every man knows the truth.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson was born 1804 and died 1889. He was Harvard educated but he urged American intellectuals to take a self-reliant attitude and stop looking toward the European past. He consistently called for an authentic American voice in literature. Emerson said many wise things, including “Imitation is suicide.”

Ernest Holmes was born 1902 and died 1956. He was a self-educated thinker who combined Emerson’s idealism with mental healing techniques. The 1937 Science of Mind Textbook is one of the most influential books of the 20th century.

The two men lived in entirely different worlds, even though they were New Englanders, because of the differences in life at their different times. Despite these material differences, Emerson and Holmes had much in common. Both were born into families with dominant mothers and absent fathers. Both had brothers, but no sisters. Both men were precocious, avid readers and showed amazing promise at an early age. Emerson entered Harvard at 14. Holmes dropped out of school because he was bored and studied independently.

Both were born in New England. Emerson lived his whole life around Boston – most of it in Concord, and that was the vortex of intellectual power in his time. His neighbors and friends were some of the most brilliant people in US history. Margaret Fuller, Bronson Alcott, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Theodore Parker and in New York City, Walt Whitman were all his good friends.

Holmes chose to move to the creative center of his time – Los Angeles. His congregation was filled with movie stars, and one of his main financial contributors was the man who subdivided Bel Aire. The Institute he established included Asian religious leaders, college professors and psychologists. Holmes’s open mind blew away any narrow idea of religion. The teaching was called Religious Science because he viewed life as a whole, with no split between science and religion or the visible and invisible worlds.

Emerson and Holmes shared a similarity in temperament which was instrumental in making them great leaders in thought and in life at the same time it was a result of their beliefs. They were both happy, well adjusted, loving men. In his day, Emerson was often described as sanguine, which means he was never ruffled, and always optimistic. Holmes was also sanguine.  A woman who attended my church used to go to hear him in earlier times. Once, I asked her, “What was he like?”  She thought quite a while and finally said, “He was a merry little man.”

Both men were generous. During Emerson’s lifetime, he supported his mother, brothers, friends, including the Alcott family for most of their life. He also very generously sponsored the publication of other writers works. Stories about generosity abound about Holmes’s as well. They both lived well and neither was interested in amassing a lot of money. They expected it to be there.

Emerson and Holmes shared many beliefs. They both believed in idealism – that is they believed that behind every material experience, there was a spiritual cause. They believed in abundance – that is they could share their wealth, give of themselves, circulate freely and there would be enough to go around. They believed in self-reliance, that is, that the final authority in our lives is within, that we must look within to find our unique and individualized truth.

They believed in the sacredness of life – all life. Neither man distinguished good and bad aspects of life, but they saw only good. They were both fascinated by Asian religions and incorporated compassion and detachment into in their teaching. Nevertheless, they remained Westerners. They believed in the innate value of all people. They recognized that all of us have a divine origin and nature.

This is your lineage. If you have studied Ernest Holmes, you have also studied Ralph Waldo Emerson. Their wisdom is available to you as a gift from the Universe. Say thank you and accept; happiness, peace, idealism, optimism, self-reliance, sacred life, and all the other components of their enlightenment.

Ask Yourself

What would I like to accept from Holmes or Emerson?

What would more self-reliance feel like?

What would more self-love feel like?

What would _____ feel like?

Where can I learn more?


It’s All Her Fault!

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I’m amazed! I thought we won these battles a long time ago, yet I see on the evening news that state after state is closing in on women’s freedom to choose. A woman should have a choice about what to do with her own body.  Is this a time warp and it is 1960?…Otherwise there is no excuse for this nonsense.  

For a while, I was a home teacher and one of my students was a shy, lovely young woman who had been told she couldn’t come to school because she was pregnant and might “contaminate” other girls.

She got caught in an unwanted pregnancy and chose to carry the child to full term. No matter what her choices were after the child was born, this was a setback for her and her life plans. It was a long time ago.

We all face setbacks in life and she had the intelligence to manage better than most unwed mothers. If it was her decision to keep her child, she was headed toward poverty, according to the statistics. If she chose to have her child adopted, that was fine although there could be psychological issues. She had some difficult choices to make.

I didn’t know her well and we didn’t talk personally. She was a good student and I tried to teach her well. I remember I thought it was very unfair to kick her out of school but life was very unfair for women. It’s a sure bet that the baby’s father didn’t have to leave.

Abortions were still not legal and I have no idea if she would have wanted one but the point is, she didn’t have a safe choice. Every woman deserves a choice!

That was a long time ago and times have changed. Teens now are usually allowed to finish school and some of the girls are allowed to choose a special school where they also get parenting classes.

I wrote a book called Young Parents once and I learned from the research. If the girls choose to keep their kids, they were statistically doomed to poverty for the remainder of their lives. Of course there are exceptions but most teen parents struggle for years. Almost none have a baby’s father who stays in the picture.

When I taught high school, back in the Sixties, I heard kids say you couldn’t get pregnant the first time. Some of those kids also believed that you had to “really enjoy it” before you could get pregnant.

Those kids  were sixteen years old and it was more than fifty years ago.  United States Congressmen and State Representatives are a long way from  high school. Some of them spouted ideas on the news that were more nonsensical ideas than any I have ever heard from a teenager.

Why are they really against Planned Parenthood? Why are they attempting to whittle away at abortion clinics? I can’t believe they are motivated by religion or they’d be more religious about helping the children who are already here.  I think they must believe that their views will bring them more votes from people who fear change.

These fearful voters are the same ones who are routinely trying to keep poor people from voting. They also want more guns and they are anti-immigration and the list goes on. If dinosaurs ran for office, the change-adverse voters would rush to vote for them. Oops! Dinosaurs do run.

Resistance to change concerns me but I really get hot about the shutting down of abortion centers and the persecution of Planned Parenthood organizations because I have a great long term memory.

In my day, girls were routinely blamed for getting pregnant. We were supposed to know better and understand that boys had “needs” that would drive them to distraction. It was up to us girls, when we went on a date, to keep our wits about us and our knees shut.

During this last election, I heard several political figures spouting the same nonsense. I even heard one candidate claiming that women cannot get pregnant if they are “legitimately” raped. That is probably based on my 1960’s students’ belief that you had to enjoy it before it worked to make babies.

If my news station is to be believed, that is a fairly common belief today. I had never heard that particular canard until recently, but apparently it has been around a long time in the right-to-life circles. Do they old guys still chuckle and say, “If rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it?”

All of this is just another alarming sign of the age-old prejudice against women. Whether it is a judge who blames the rape victim because she wear the wrong clothes or the neighbor who blames the teenage girl for going out with that wild boy, it always centers on the idea that it is all her fault.

How about your family? If you have children and grandchildren, what are you teaching them? Do you tell the girls to be careful and the boys to have fun? I hope not.

As a retired Religious Science minister, I’m supposed to look on the positive side and I usually do. The positive side here is that it will all change despite some people’s attempts to block progress. And I’m positively glad to know that New Thought arose, to make progress and accepting women as equals was part of that forward movement.

Many feminists deny all the traditional teachings as being anti-female and patriarchal. Their interest is in ancient teachings featuring goddesses and that is an interesting development. I’m glad they are doing it but I’m happy to see there are other attempts to the nonsense in the dominant religions.

Some people see the Bible as an old fashioned book that promotes men into leadership positions of power. They say blaming the woman is a common theme in the Old Testament.

True – there are a lot of stories about women enticing men to sin, probably because men wrote the book. Whether it is Eve, Delilah or Jezabel, these Biblical characters are nasty ladies. Some of the traditional churches seem to hang on to those attitudes, stating that women cannot be priests or ministers and the man is head of the household.

But most of the traditional churches are moving away from those beliefs based on stories written thousands of years ago. Protestant seminaries are crammed with women studying to be ministers. We are living in more enlightened times.

I don’t worry so much about what the churches say anyway. If someone chooses to believe that sex without a desire to conceive is a sin and not use birth control, that is personal business. It becomes impersonal when freedom of choice for every woman is threatened.

I think this is a good time to take a good look at the issue of women’s rights in general and check out your own attitudes about sexual behavior. Is it all the woman’s fault in your world?

Ask Yourself

Do I want to change any of my personal attitudes?

Do I want to investigate this issue?

Do I want to tell my legislators how I feel?