I just spent almost a week celebrating my 80th birthday and it was wonderful. There were cards and letters from many lovely people and some dear old friends showed up for the party. What good fortune to live long enough to really enjoy life!
Whoever it was that said, “Youth is wasted on the young”, wasn’t looking at the whole picture. It seems to me that every decade brings great joy and great adventures. I loved being 18 in some ways and I love being 80 in other ways. It truly is all good.
One important difference this year was that my church, my family, my friends, and I, all made a big deal out of this birthday. I don’t usually pay much attention but this one impressed me. I even spoke on the topic, “What I Have Learned”. You can find it on the CSL Carlsbad website.
The co-pastors of the Center, Rev. Debby ODonnell and Rev. Mattie Dobbs let some of my old friends know about the day and I was surprised and grateful to hear from so many. It made me feel very loved.
Some of my favorite people showed up from far away places. I received wonderful letters from old friends – some who moved far away and also from people who are relatively new to the church. You have no idea how great it is to get missives telling you how your teaching of Science of Mind has changed someone’s life.
I started the church almost 25 years ago with only one idea. I wanted to teach Science of Mind and, according to my notes, cards and letters, I did it! It took several hours to read everyone’s messages. They nearly all told me how much they had learned Science of Mind from the church and my books and how it helped them. I believe their kind words and today I feel as though I have achieved my dream.
The letters and notes were one high point. The former students who visited were another. So were the many volunteers in the church who helped organize a spectacular church event. It was all perfect.
Funny thing about birthdays. We change a lot as we go along the years but we are still the same person. I sometimes forget I’m not still that young girl with her nose buried in the book or that young mother caring for an infant. It feels like a very short time since I started the Center For Spiritual Living in Carlsbad. I am eternally young.
On the other hand, the mirror tells a different story. I have changed physically and emotionally. No roller skating anytime soon but I have mellowed a lot. I am not nearly as unhappy as I was when I was younger. I like life more. I like people better.
Science of Mind gave me a sense of self-worth that I really needed. It has also gave me the courage to reach out and connect with people. I didn’t do that as well as a younger person. Strangers seemed threatening.
Some people seem to be born friendly and to enjoy people, even as teenagers and younger adults. I tended to be all tied up in myself, in my problems and my work. I have met many more good friends in my second half of life – mostly through my church.
I started going to church to heal emotionally and to succeed at my writing work. I wasn’t thinking about friendships. When I became a leader in church, it surprised me that so many people joined a church to make friends. I think I may have even disapproved.
The idea of a spiritual community grew on me rather quickly because I met so many great people who were students and leaders of Science of Mind. At some point, I realized that whatever brought the people together was good. We are One in God. Now, although I still believe the purpose of church should be to teach how to use spiritual law, I no longer cringe when I hear “spiritual community.” I have reconsidered as I wised up.
It now seems to me that my dear friends – old and new – are one of my greatest gifts from this teaching. Of course, I know spiritual law well enough to understand my ability to create solid friendships has developed because I’ve learned to love and accept myself more. I now can also love and accept others easier.
As I have learned to make good friends, I have had to release the expectations about my friends agreeing with me. I no longer need someone to reinforce my beliefs to accept him or her into my life. When I was younger, I was more insecure so I only wanted friendships with people like me. I needed agreement! Unfortunately, in those days, I couldn’t always agree with myself.
I’ve matured. I’ve learned that my grandmother was right when she said there is more than one way to skin a cat. I still don’t know why anyone would want to skin a cat but I do know that people go about life differently and if it works for them, it works from me.
The joy of having an active spiritual community is that it is a place to meet people with similarities who are willing to let you be in their lives without being in your back pocket. Some people only want one best friend but that isn’t enough for me. I am too complicated for just one best friend. I agree with Walt Whitman who said, “I contain multitudes.”
One at a time, amazing people have gathered in my life and each one has opened up a new view of how life can be lived. I learned to be alike them in some ways and skipped the rest. This friend is interested in art and so am I. This one loves to chat about old movies and so do I. We touch but we do not flatten each other.
I especially treasure those friends who make me laugh. Laughter is such a gift in anyone’s life. I can be just as close to the serious ones if I feel they are honest and true. The only thing I watch for is that the friendship is balanced and not just one person trying to cheer the other up all the time. There is more to friendship than nurturing although that can be very important.
Mostly, I believe friends should cherish each other for who they are. None of us is alike but we are all blooming in God’s garden, delighting each other with our differences as well as with our likenesses and agreements.
Here’s one thing I’ve learned I want to share. When we widen our viewpoint and appreciate life for what it is, we can open up to more people’s friendship. When we accept that we are all Love in action (or God in action), then we can widen each other’s scope of life. We will find friends easily.
I had a happy birthday and I thank you. If you are reading this blog, you are my friend and that means we are a gift to each other.
Do I want more friends?
What kinds of people would I like to know better?
Am I a good friend to myself?
Thirty-five years ago, I attended Religious Science noon meetings in New York City quite regularly. They were open-agenda, drop-in events. Julia Coleman, who is a student practitioner, and I are now starting a similar noon meeting on Tuesdays from 12:30 to 2 PM. We begin on Tuesday, March 19th.
I loved those noon meetings because they helped me figure out how to use Science of Mind in my personal life. At the time I was having relationship trouble and I thought it was because he wouldn’t “behave”. I was also scared about money and very anxious to make it to the top of the Big Apple by writing for teens. I was doing well and Science of Mind was helping although I didn’t know as much as I wanted to.
In my beginning studies, I found Science of Mind very abstract. It seemed impossible to incorporate the beliefs into my ordinary life. The idea that I could be perfect, whole or complete seemed ridiculous, yet I yearned to believe it. Those SOM noon meetings I attended were a Godsend because they helped me bring the ideas into my day-to-day existence.
I started by attending noon meetings at the RSI building in mid-town Manhattan. They were led by a practitioner who read questions from the floor and made comments before she treated. They were rather formal but they helped me.
I soon switched to the meetings Rev. Valerie Seyffert led. I liked those better because we conversed about regular situations in regular lives. Rev. Valerie led her meetings at Quest Bookstore in the Fifties block. Quest was a fabulous metaphysical bookstore. I think there were only two spiritual bookstores in the City. I loved the Quest meetings because anyone could ask a question. They felt real.
Since it was midtown Manhattan, most of the issues revolved around ambition. I heard some fabulous stories about winning acting roles, selling books, landing singing gigs and achieving amazing corporate promotions. Since I was frantically,writing and selling it was the perfect place for me.
Rev. Valerie was also the perfect teacher for me. She had been Staff Minister for Dr. Raymond Charles Barker and when he retired, she started her own work in the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park. Independent churches were rare in those days but she had nerve and a deep belief in the Infinite Possibility of Infinite Mind. Dr. Erwin Seale ordained her.
When I lived in New York City, I was just recovering from alcoholism and on the fast track to writing success. I’ve always been grateful for Rev. Valerie’s ability to help me incorporate theory. She also helped me with my questions about how my 12 Step work could fit in.
She made it all sound ordinary. On the other hand, her life wasn’t exactly ordinary. She’d inherited the permission to rent her studio apartment in the National Arts Club Building from her deceased artist husband. We met there on Sundays and she taught also held classes in that studio. We were usually around thirty or forty. Fabulous space.
The apartment was like something out of the movies. It was one very big studio room, a tiny kitchen and small bedroom with this amazing second floor library terrace that ran around three walls. Nothing up there but the aisle for walking and rows and rows of books. The fourth side was tall glass open to full Northern light. People said, “I would kill for this space.” It made me wonder…
I was impressed by her apartment as well as her wisdom. I was a bit of a snob so I was also impressed that she a Baroness and a Countess on her Board of Trustees. Another prominent church member was a descendent of the Noble Prize family who spent her days giving away money to deserving causes. All that was heady stuff for this middle-aged girl who grew up in a housing project.
Rev. Valerie was articulate and logical and, after all those years with my hero, RC Barker, she knew her stuff. I also found the space quite inspirational. All that light triggered visions for my future. One day, I had a moment when the light actually seemed to be within me as well as outside in the space around me. That day the world stood still long enough for me to “get it.”
What I “got” was that I was a wisdom teacher in my own right. I “got it” that I might not be original but I valuable. I was a skilled teacher and writer and that made useful to the world of Science of Mind. I understood I had a brilliant future. The moment passed and I was back to sharpening pencils and pounding typewriter keys but I was changed. I have tried to live up to that vision. That is why I continue teaching, writing books, and sending out this blog.
I know now that everyone is uniquely gifted and has something special to give the world. I am so grateful for my teachers. I do my work because people like Rev. Valerie Seyffert were there for me, as Dr. Barker was there for her. Religious Science has grown so much during my term of service because we all reach out and touch so many others.
One of the things life has taught me is that simple ideas are powerful. Our noon meetings will be based on simple but powerful ideas. Everyone is welcome, whether a beginner or experienced in the teaching.
The seed idea for our group came from Carlsbad’s Julia Coleman, who brought up the idea of having conversations about Science of Mind. I agreed if she would be the co-leader. That means, among other things, that at least one of us will be there every Tuesday. Julia, is a brilliant student and she asks great questions, so I know we can keep the conversation rolling.
I have made a definite, penciled-in commitment, beginning 3/19. That’s a big week for me. I am speaking on Sunday, March 17, starting the Conversations on Tuesday, March 19, and giving a workshop with Lynn Guilfoyle on Science of Mind and Twelve Step recovery on Saturday, March 23 from 9 to 12:30. You are all invited to everything.
For the Tuesday noon meeting, bring your topics or questions and a brown bag lunch. You can participate as you like. You can talk or listen. You can skip lunch and watch others eat. We will serve tea only. The meeting is offered on a free will offering. I hope to see you there.
Who were my first teachers?
What did I like about my first experiences?
Would I like to check this group out?
If I am unable to attend, because I am out of the area, would I like to start a similar group? (I can help you).
My ministerial students are delightful people and I am energized by their desire to serve humanity. I believe I am at my best when teaching and I know how important good teachers are in this world. That said, teaching the Bible is a challenge.
We are wrapping up our Bible study section and, as usual, I have learned some fascinating things. It is truly a powerful book, not just because of the stories and the ethical inspiration but mostly because there is so much history of our western civilization involved.
Neither of my two excellent students had much experience with the Bible. One was a Catholic in her childhood and the other has only attended non-traditional churches and spiritual groups. That is fairly typical in these times.
Twenty-three years ago, when I taught my first Bible class, several of my students knew much more about the content of the Bible than I did. They were older and they had grown up in Protestant churches. They could sing the old hymns and quote chapter and verse.
Like my current students, I had little familiarity with the actual book. I had a Catholic childhood also and we didn’t get much Bible in Catechism classes. In college, I was supposed to write a poem based on Genesis but I used a Children’s Bible for research.
My one New Thought Bible class was metaphysical interpretations. As a new minister and teacher, I quickly found that my students expected me to know the content of the Bible stories and they weren’t convinced by my metaphysical interpretations when I knew so little about my subject.
It is humiliating to have your students know more than you do so I set out to learn about the Bible. I plunged into a mysterious world of theology, history and scholarship that was fascinating but extremely complicated. The first thing I discerned was that the experts didn’t agree on much. Their opinions seemed to depend on the background of the scholar. There seemed to be a big split between the academic and theological authorities.
As a Religious Science minister, I should not have been surprised that the culture and training of the expert created a filter that influenced his or her conclusions about the facts. We know that everything begins with consciousness, don’t we? So why was I surprised to discover that many Bible colleges still taught the world was created in six days?
During the next few years, I learned quite a bit about Bible scholarship and actually wrote a new second year class for Religious Science International. I had a writing background and was able to distill material for the basic class based on established scholarly authorities.
The text we used, Rescuing The Bible From Fundamentalism, was a best seller by an Episcopalian bishop, John Spong. I also included a summary of Bible history and basic information. Rather than interpreting meaning, that class is all about the facts. The information is correct but it was just the tip of the iceberg. The study of the Bible is a lifelong project for many people in this world then and now. The Good Book is still a best seller every publishing year.
What I learned about the Bible helped me make fewer mistakes in my talks. I stopped receiving little notes telling me that the expression, “In the beginning was the word,” came from the Gospel of John rather than Genesis.
I got very cautious about quoting from the Bible. Since then, Rev. Margo Ruark published her excellent book, Where’d He Get That? And it turns out that even Dr. Holmes made mistakes on Bible quotes fairly often. Of course, the Bible was very important to Ernest Holmes because he grew up reading it.
The Bible was very important to all the early founders of New Thought. It developed in the late 1800’s as people began to understand that most of the Bible stories could not be literally true. Up until then, most people thought Moses wrote the Old Testament and Jesus or the Disciples wrote the New Testament. The more science discovered, the more complicated and varied the reactions and beliefs became.
All over the Western world, people and church leaders took positions on the schism between science and religion. Those positions ranged from the fundamentalist churches that insisted the Bible was inerrant to the traditional churches that insisted the Bible contained great truth but was not accurate about dates and times. In New Thought, our ministers vary a great deal in their use of the Bible but they depend on metaphysical principles.
My goal as a teacher is to help my students know a bit about Bible content and history. I know they will make their own choices about how much to use the stories as illustrations of New Thought principles.
I also want my students to understand about the Bible in relation to their work. First, the people who are attracted to their centers come with very different histories and Bible experiences. Some have no religious experience at all. Those may have little interest in the Bible or they may have a lot of curiosity.
Most people who attend our centers grow up in a traditional Protestant or Catholic teaching and then left them in order to find a deeper truth. Some of these people may have a fondness for Bible stories. Others may be completely turned off by the Bible. Quite a few people will expect to hear the familiar references in talks – especially around the holidays.
I also want my students to understand that many current events are related to the Bible. Issues such as women’s rights, same sex marriage and capital punishment are Bible based. I want my students to know that the Bible is filled with contradictions. Statements such as, “The Bible says,” are not enough.
Very soon, my students will be ministers. They will be free to use the Bible or not. Everything I know and love about New Thought begins and ends with choice. For me, this is a religion of self-reliance and personal choice.
My choices have changed over the years. They are different from two of my good ministerial friends. One never opens the Bible. The second never gives a talk without at least a reference to one or more stories from the Good Book. They are both very successful.
I know my students will also be successful. How do I know? The Bible tells me so.
What part did the Bible play in my childhood?
Have I ever read any part of the Bible?
Do I want to know more about that good book?
Do I believe the Bible should be in a New Thought Sunday talk? Never? Sometimes? Often? Always?
According to the pundits, my candidate didn’t do as well as his opponent during the first TV debate. I was distressed until I decided to play the Glad Game. Now I am encouraged because we will work harder on the election. Pollyanna taught me to trust.
Trust took me a while to learn. But trust and gratitude were two qualities I had to embrace in order to stay sober. It wasn’t quite as simple as Pollyanna made it seem.
When I first got sober, my sponsor wanted me to see the bright side, stay on the sunny side of the street and look for the silver lining. If nothing else, he thought I should be grateful I was sober. I was miserable because I thought I had to repair my life immediately. How could I be happy when my life was a disaster?
Even worse – when he brought up the subject of gratitude, I felt like a naughty 12 year old. That was my age when my mother bought me the book Pollyana because she thought I was a grumpy brat.
In case you don’t know the story, Pollyanna is a poor little orphan who knows the secret of happiness. She’s the daughter of deceased missionaries and comes to a small town in middle America back in the late 1900’s. She converts the whole town to New Thought only she calls it teaching everyone the glad game.
Pollyanna (and my sponsor and my mother) all agreed that no matter what is going on, you can always find something to be glad for. One example was the time when she wanted a doll and the missionary barrel contained a pair of crutches. Obviously, she couldn’t be glad for the crutches but, she could be glad she didn’t have to use them.
The glad game actually is the secret of joy. I started practicing it a bit late but I am now a true believer. Very early, when I balked, I was told that if I couldn’t be thankful for my current life, I should give thanks for the good that was going to come out of today’s problems.
Over the years, I’ve applied that technique to many of my own issues and also helped other people use gladness and gratitude in their lives. I have found applying gratitude in this manner has always worked. Even though I wasn’t always able to reorganize life exactly as I wanted, in retrospect, I have seen things turn out extremely well.
Sometimes playing the glad game improved outside conditions as though it was a miracle method. Sometimes the results were on the inner level. People found peace of mind, a shift in understanding or some other invisible benefit. Sometimes the desired results worked in surprising and unusual ways.
Here is a true story from AA. It is, as my mother used to say, “as funny as a crutch”.
Speaking of crutches… A speaker in a meeting was on crutches because she fell off a bar stool and broke her leg. She spoke about how very grateful she was. Seems her broken leg was the direct cause of her decision to get sober.
My second story is personal. Once, I wanted a job on a Sunday newspaper very, very much. I was consistently writing free lance for them and they consistently hired a younger man. I was despondent, desperate and angry. Then I remembered to practice the glad game and I began to look at a wider field of opportunity. That worked so well it seemed like magic.
Thank God I didn’t get the job writing for that pokey little Sunday newspaper. Instead, I made contacts in New York and built an exciting career that landed me on the NY Times best seller list for months. I wrote 80 books for young people during the next ten years. It all happened because I decided to be glad for new opportunities.
The glad game is a great deal like affirmative prayer or spiritual mind treatment, isn’t it? We always end our prayers by giving thanks. We thank God for the good that is coming even before we see it. It isn’t too much of a stretch to say that our thanksgiving step in affirmative prayer is playing the glad game.
Our New Thought religion is one of joy, gladness and gratitude and we praise life. Joy is a wonderful part of our religious experience. You and I and Pollyanna all sprinkle glad game dust wherever we go.
According to Pollyanna, there are over 800 verses in the Bible that praise God and call for joy. I haven’t counted and she is stuck permanently at age twelve so I’m not absolutely certain about the number. I do know there are plenty jumping for joy verses in the good book.
The Old Testament, especially the Psalms, tells us to sing a new song; to play skillfully with a shout of joy, to jump for joy, and to generally create an uproar. We jump, we dance, we sing, we shout for joy. It’s all good!
It isn’t just Pollyanna or the Bible that teaches us how to be joyful. Tips on how to build more joy into your life come from everywhere. From Pollyanna, you’ve learned to play the glad game. Thank you, Polly dear. From the lady with the broken leg, you’ve learned to be thankful for the good that comes out of trouble. Thank you, dear lady on crutches.
There are plenty of other glad game teachers. Melody Beattie says, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity… Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Dr. Dennis Merrit Jones writes, “If we look deeply enough, we will find blessings even in things and events that on the surface we might tend to judge as negative. In the process, notice your glass is getting fuller.” Thank you dear Dr. Dennis.
The Buddhist Monk. Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Give thanks, even for your non-toothache.” Do you have a roof over your head and did you have a meal today? Are there people in your life that care about you and whom you love deeply? Do you live in a country where you are free and able to practice whatever religion you choose? I’m sure you get the idea.” Thank you dear Tich Nhat Han.
The glad game is all about changing our thinking so we make room for joy and happiness. It sets up the Law of Attraction and brings us more good. We remember that joy is our birthright.
You and I joyfully live in gratitude as we daily play the glad game. If we want to learn more, we start by making a list of the things we enjoy that we have at hand. We can also give thanks in advance for the things that are coming.
Adding to that gratitude list is a part of our spiritual practice and it brings great joy. The things we discover that make us happy are personal, deep and true. They may also be quite simple. We always leave room for discovery of more joy. We never let the to-do list rob us of ecstasy.
What makes me sing a joyful song?
What makes me jump for joy?
What do I choose to put on my gratitude list?
What future good am I glad for?
This Sunday, one of my favorite musicians sang of my favorite songs, It is Well With My Soul. I love my friend Louise Park and her talented voice brought tears to my eyes. I love the song because it is beautiful music and the lyrics speak of an eternal Truth that has carried me through a lot of “stuff”.
New Thought is a wonderful teaching with a lot of useful ideas. Like most people, I was attracted to it because it helped me control my life at a time when things felt completely out of control. I learned how to change my thinking and change my life.
Learning how to do affirmative prayer or spiritual mind treatment opened so many doors to success that I usually want to talk about that aspect of the Religious Science philosophy. I am very grateful for the gifts it’s brought me over the years. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I had not found it. I’m almost certain I wouldn’t be here. I’m very certain I’m much better off than I would be without it.
Science of Mind gave me control over my life in ways I didn’t believe were possible. I was able to drop the victim role, celebrate choice and go after the things I wanted in a successful, direct and exciting way. I live my life in gratitude for my teachers, my colleagues and my New Thought practice.
Despite tremendous gains in control, the truth is, I am not in control of the whole Universe, I cannot rewrite the past, and I cannot control other people’s lives. While I can nearly always control my reactions, “stuff” continues to happen. It really does rain on the just as well as the unjust. There are times when the sun does not shine at all. Not everything is within my control and it’s not all good news.
Especially in the out of control times, it helps me to remember the underlying principles of New Thought. I have studied for many years and I continue to review the basics. I learned in those studies that no matter what is going on at the surface level, there is a transcendent truth where all is well with my soul.
I am deeply grateful for the underlying philosophy that New Thought, especially Religious Science is built upon. When things I do not wish for happen anyway, I depend on that basic philosophy. In those times, it is really important to have completed my studies. It is also important to have friends to remind me of the truth that sets me free.
Yes, even though I’ve been in this teaching a long time, there are still rough patches. People die. Bodies age. Illness hits. Loved ones get into trouble. Jobs disappear. Worry about the future persists. While most things can be changed with prayer, some things have to be accepted. Knowing that I am a spiritual being who was created in the image and likeness of God helps.
Of all the religious concepts in Science of Mind, the idea that I am a spiritual being having a human experience is the greatest gift. I have come to believe that I was created by a loving God, and that the spirit of God living within me can never be harmed, changed, destroyed or disturbed. At the level of Truth, I am perfect, whole and complete. What’s more, I came to this life in perfection, wholeness and completeness and I will leave the same way.
In the dark of the night, when the heebie jeebies or the blues in the night hit, I can hold onto and believe basic truths. Here are a few things I can usually remember; I know that God is Love. Love created me and is always with me. Love surrounds me. Love enlightens me. Love is the wisdom that guides me. The Love of God lives in me and through me. God and I are One.
These days, I am a happy person nearly all the time. I have come through difficulties in one piece, to live life at an even higher and more satisfactory level. I can nearly always believe that there is something within me that knows itself as Love and yearns to express as Love. That something is what I might call Soul.
No matter what is going on, all is well with my soul. That can sound deceptively simple or even like a cliché unless you are in trouble. Then it is a lifesaver that you can catch in even the roughest waters and cling to.
I love the deeper aspects of the Science of Mind teaching so much because they are so helpful in life. The first two steps of spiritual mind treatment say that there is only one God and that God lives in us. We are unique, indivisible expressions of god. Those two steps are basic wisdom to really focus on and try accept at a deep level. They are the truth that sets us free.
In many ways, they are much more useful than just learning how to manifest our desires. When we really get it that life is made up of temporary experiences and eternal Truths, we will handle life better. No matter what the temporary experience is, there are eternal truths to rely upon.
Let me give you an example. I went to the hospital for the first time, about ten years ago, and I was in so much pain I couldn’t even remember how to do prayer treatment. All I could remember was that this was just an experience, not the truth. I kept telling myself that I was perfect, whole and complete over and over. I recovered very quickly and returned home to live happily again.
If you want to deepen your consciousness of connection to the Love of God, spend some time each day with the truth that sets you free. It is time well spent.
Does my spiritual practice include attention to spirit?
Do I want to spend more time on the first two steps of treatment?
Do I want to read basic spiritual books?
Do I want to I meditate daily?
Do I want to spend more time listening online to talks from spiritual teachers?
When my sister visits, we talk about many things including politics, the media, friends, our children and grandchildren. Sometimes we talk about the early years, although neither of us dwells on the past. This morning, one of us said, “We learned early not to ask for much money. It wasn’t there.”
We all develop ideas about money very early in life. The economic positions and attitudes of our parents, combined with the economic times to help us form impressions and beliefs about the availability and uses of money.
Like many people my age, I learned “Money doesn’t grow on trees” and if I wanted to get ahead I should, “Work hard and save every penny”.
As a small child, everyone I knew was poor. Even after World War Two, when I was in high school, my family was still living in a government housing project and I thought other kids were rich because they lived in real houses.
My grandmother used to tell me that my face was my fortune and she meant that I was pretty enough to “marry up”. My mother, who seldom agreed with my grandmother about anything, said, “It’s just as easy to marry a rich man as a poor man.”
Even as a kid, I could see that they had pretty faces themselves. It was clear that it wasn’t so easy to find a rich man to love.
In those days, if anyone had tried to explain prosperity principles to me, I would have laughed in their faces. Later, when I finally had a good job as a schoolteacher and attended Redondo Beach Religious Science Church, I laughed at Dr. Richelieu’s money ideas.
I was so busy struggling with money issues myself that the idea that it was normal to be prosperous seemed absolutely fantastic – even a bit insane. But I did work hard and eventually got at least some of what I wanted in life.
Later, I met people who inherited wealth and I noticed that they took their riches for granted. Instead of being obsessed by lack and limitation, they seemed to focus on more interesting things and simply expect the money to be there. I was fascinated by anyone who had an expectation of prosperity. For me, it was an exotic and amazing mindset.
Over the years, I also met people who made a lot of money through creative work. They seemed to be more grateful for what they had. I admired people who found work that made them wealthy and happy. I wanted to join their ranks but I was beset by old ideas that made me fearful. I was ambitious but I turned down a lot of opportunities because I couldn’t imagine myself in a position of wealth and power.
Ambition was a good beginning for acquiring wealth. But ambition alone didn’t do the job. Over the years, I have had to release a lot of limiting ideas about finances and accept some new, more expansive ideas about the nature of the Universe. It took work to even begin to solve the puzzle of why my hard work didn’t automatically bring big bucks.
While I’ve never had a whole lot of enough money, I’ve done all right and I’ve lived a prosperous life. The most important financial lesson I’ve learned is to be grateful. If we judge ourselves by looking at what we want and don’t have, we will always be unhappy.
Nothing builds finances as well as expressing simple gratitude for what you already have. It will make you healthier and happier just to count your blessings. It will also set the law of attraction in motion and bring more prosperity. It is true that, “What you think about, comes about.”
Many of us learned that there “wasn’t enough” about the time we learned to walk. That’s a deeply buried belief. Moving from belief in lack to belief in abundance is quite a trip.
The first step is to accept that no matter what your current bank account is, you are working with spiritual laws of unlimited possibility.
This is the time of year when you local church is starting new basic classes and when you sign up you will learn all about spiritual laws and how they work in your life. Go to the Center For Spiritual Living website to find a nearby center, There are also classes on-line.
Anyone can use gratitude as a daily tool to build a new prosperity consciousness. Wake up and make a list of your financial blessings with your first cup of coffee. No matter what your current situation is, you have blessings and it helps to notice them by counting.
Start with the basics. List your home, whether it a mansion, or a couch in your friend’s living room. List your food whether it is a gourmet feast or from the McDonald’s dollar menu. List your transportation, whether feet, thumb, bus or car. Gratitude starts where we are. Spiritual laws kick in and create more.
All you have to do is remember to keep your thoughts on the sunny side of the street. Staying in the state of continuous gratitude works continuously to increase your wealth. You will be aware that your habits of thought are changing because you will be happier and people will be nicer and more generous.
It is especially important to acknowledge all gifts and accept all offers. Thanking people for their gifts ensures that the gifts keep coming. Thanking God for the financial abundance in your life every morning sets the tone for the whole day. Genuine gratitude greases the wheels of life!
What we need is a new idea of success to replace any old idea of failure. What we want is to accept prosperity as natural and normal. If we do our daily spiritual work our habits of thinking change and so will our financial situation.
Here are some simple gratitude suggestions. Let them become habits.
- Keep a daily gratitude list and include financial items.
- Give an extra tithe to your church to express gratitude for what the church teaches you about prosperity.
- Send thank you notes for all gifts. Include lunch invitations and hand me down clothes.
- Take someone you love to lunch or give a gift.
- Share your wealth by giving away old clothes and other inused items.
What do I currently believe about money?
What would I like to believe about money?
How can I express gratitude today?
What other wealth building steps I am willing to take?
My ministerial class is currently studying world religions and the latest class tackled Hinduism. In New Thought, we honor all religions. On the other hand, when I read about the complicated and abstract layers of Hindu beliefs, I am very happy to be a New Thought teacher.
A long time ago, a black writer named James Baldwin wrote that he only understood how American he was when he went to live for a while in Europe. In a way, studying other religions makes me understand my allegiance to Religious Science even more than before.
It is very good for New thought leaders to understand world religions and their origins. One reason is that we get people from every faith. We need to minister to people of different ages, social classes and ethnic and religious backgrounds. We New Thought leaders also come from many different heritages.
We also need to understand other people’s religious beliefs because they influence everything. The days when Westerners can trample on older cultures are long gone.
In New Thought, our relation to Oriental religions is unique. Not only are we willing to find goodness and truth in all teachings, but we do have an historic influence that makes us very different in a mostly-Christian country.
Our founder, Ernest Holmes, was influenced by earlier New Thought organizations such as Divine Science and Unity but since he was living in California in the 1920’s and 30’s, his studies brought him a wider understanding of worldwide religious teachings.
There is a big difference between Missouri in the 1880’s when the Fillmores founded Unity and Hollywood in the 1920’s when Holmes founded the original Institute in Los Angeles. In the 20’s & 30’s, Anna Mae Wong was a big movie star and the plots of old films often included séances, past lives, and Oriental mystery and magic.
I don’t mean to imply that Holmes based the Science of Mind Textbook on old movies or Oriental teaching, I am just saying that when he started up, there was a burgeoning interest in Oriental religions. He had a wider world view and he had teachers and lecturers from the Orient in his original Institute classes.
Even more important, one of the major influences of Ernest Holmes was a colonial judge named – Thomas Troward who had lived most of his life in India. Troward was also a religious scholar of Eastern and Western religions. His books, The Creative Process and Edinburg Lectures are classics in New Thought. Every Science of Mind minister and practitioner takes a class in Troward.
Times have changed since the 1920’s. The 1960’s brought a profound interest in Indian culture and religion. From Transcendental Meditation, to the Beatles’ trip to India, and the myriad hatha yoga classes, we know more than we used to about the Hindu belief system. Words like karma, and guru, are part of the English language.
Many people in NorthAmerica meditate daily because they are convinced there are physical and spiritual benefits. Meditation is an accepted activity before prayer for all but the most traditional Christians. We are much more in tune with the Orient than our earliest New Thought people could have imagined.
Since I just finished teaching an Emerson class, I am very aware of how American thought and attitudes are so firmly based on the ideas of self-reliance and trusting yourself. They are also based on an encompassing, non-dual description of God.
Our “American Thought” is quite distinct from the thoughts and beliefs of the early European founders. Our unique and historic waves of immigration have always made us more world wide and less ethno-centric than our North European founders. We speak English but we think American.
Ask around and you will discover that there is no place quite as committed to social mobility and equal opportunity for a diverse population as in this nation. Those are distinct American values that we need to preserve and protect. Turning back the clock politically is not only impossible, it is against our national ethos. While the United States has many influences, in many ways, we have invented ourselves.
Ralph Waldo Emerson is the cornerstone of that distinctly American way of thinking. He is often called the only American philosopher. He and his friends in the Transcendentalist Club were determined to loosen the hold of traditional European dependence. They called for a uniquely American voice in religion and in literature. That is their legacy if you study them in a college class.
In New Thought, we study Emerson primarily because he was an influence on New Thought leaders. His influence is distinct and we know about most of it. What most of us don’t know is that Emerson was definitely influenced by Hindu and Buddhist religious texts. When you study, you find that New Thought has a definite Oriental emphasis on the description of the One God as source of all. Everything!
In his day, Emerson was accused of being a pantheist rather than Christian because he located God in Nature – not just in heaven. Emerson’s OverSoul is as much like the Hindu Atman as anything. Emerson’s idea of God is a long way from the traditional concept of Michelangelo’s Old Man in the Sky.
The ideas that are so uniquely “American” have made the United States different in wonderful ways. I love that about our teaching. The class I taught yesterday was a fascinating class even though the religion is too complicated to cover in one session.
My students are younger and more open to the idea of complete acceptance of the Truth that is found everywhere. I loved it that one of my students had spent time in India and could share stories about how their religion impacted modern Indian lives.
I love the fact that the study of world religions is an integral part of our wonderful New Thought teaching. I love the fact that our ministers are alert, well-informed, and totally committed to the ideas of an all-encompassing and inclusive God who doesn’t have anything outside (like the Devil) to battle.
I love the fact that we know we make our own choices and create our own cause and effect strands (karma). I love the idea that some of us believe in reincarnation but not all of us accept that Hindu belief as our own.
I love being a New Thought teacher. Not a day goes by that I don’t bless this religion and its mandate to accept, include and speak for the highest and best in all of humankind.
What do I love about my country?
What do I love about New Thought?
What have I learned that’s new lately?
What is my personal religious heritage?
How have I integrated it into my present life?