What kind of world do you want to live in?  That question has been rolling around in my mind for the past few days.  So, I throw the question to you — what world do you wish to experience?

Now, I know I could go down a deeply political path in responding to that question, but that is not my goal today.  It might have been a few years ago when I know my writing and approach to spirituality had a much more partisan bent to it.

As The Kybalion teaches, everything is in rhythm.  Everything swings back and forth in a natural dance from one end of the pendulum swing to the other end.  Yes, I still have a political viewpoint and a desire for our American democracy, but I am less consumed by it.  You may be immersed in it and that’s fine.  That’s where you are on your “swing of the pendulum”, it’s natural and it’s good for us to have such diverse approaches.

Now, in answering our question, I want to pursue a much more “spiritual take” on it.  I do so but I know that for each of us, as we consider something “spiritually” it can take us to the realm of the “worldly practical” and that generally walks us right back into politics.

That said, what is that “spiritual take”.  To that end, I want to go back and review some words from a late nineteen to early twentieth century New Thought writer, Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Wilcox has well known in her time, primarily as a poet.  The early 1900s were flush with New Thought publications.  Many of the publications liked to break up their prose with a bit of poetry and Ella’s was a favorite.  It was positive and uplifting, using catchy language and phrasing and was generally quite memorable.

I encourage you to read a bit of her poetry.  Here is a link to an online repository of her poems.

Here is one I like entitled “Kingdom of Love”. Reading it makes me think of the story of the Prodigal Son or the hero’s journey and definitely speaks in my mind to the ideas expressed in the famous line from T.S. Elliot’s poem “Little Gidding”: ““We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

In addition to poetry, Ella wrote a few novels and several works of non-fiction.  One of those latter books was a 1904 volume entitled The Heart of the New Thought in which she laid out her outline of the philosophy.  It is one part of that book that I which to check in with today as we consider the question posed at the beginning of this article.

NOTE:  For more on Ella Wheeler Wilcox including links to free online books of hers, check out our resource page.

The Heart of New Thought?

Is there a “heart” of New Thought?  Yes, but how you answer that question depends upon what you mean by its “heart”.

On the one hand, we could say that the “heart” is the key components of the philosophy.  And what are those central tenets?

Briefly stated they are: 

  • Everyone is a Oneness, a Spirit, an interconnectedness of All.
  • Everything is embedded with the characteristics of that Spirit which created this world.
  • Those characteristics include the presence of consciousness and the desire to be creative and express oneself.
  • Part of that creative expression is a motivation towards evolution to higher and more complex expressions, both in form and in consciousness.
  • Humans crossed a threshold in consciousness through the process of evolution such that they possess a self-awareness and the ability to use their free to make conscious choices.
  • It is through our use of our conscious choices that we tap into the creative power of Spirit to create the life and world that we desire.

This “heart” of the philosophy brings us to the practical application of it through our examination of our thoughts (both conscious and subconscious) so that we may shift them towards what we truly desire.  We move from being a victim of the world out there which frequently drives our thoughts towards fear and negativity to being a conscious co-creator of the world where we seek a more positive existence of prosperity, abundance, goodness and love.

But there is another way what we could interpret the “heart” of New Thought and that is through the lens of that very love we desire.  Where is that “heart centered” approach in the use of the philosophy?  Where in our call to be conscious co-creators of our lives are we creating a more “loving” world? 

And, it is in contemplation of that question that we come full circle to our original question which I will modify thusly: “How are we being conscious co-creators of that more loving world we want to live in?

The Road from the Head to the Heart

In her fairly short summary of New Thought, Wilcox divides the topic into categorical topics such as “Obstacles”, “Thought Force”, “Opulence”, “Optimism” and the like.  One chapter that caught my eye was the one on “Wisdom”.

In it, Ella expresses the same feeling that I have about the conscious use of New Thought principles.  That is, one who first comes to an understanding of the power of their thoughts generally uses them to manifest more worldly stuff—money, wealth, power and so on.  Here is how she puts it:

“A GREAT many people are attracted to the New Thought of the day, by its declaration of our right to material wealth, and by its claim that the mind of man can create, command, and control conditions which produce wealth. There is no question concerning the truth of this claim. But woe unto him who cultivates his mental and spiritual powers only for this purpose.”

At a certain point, if one truly embraces the New Thought philosophy, one realizes that when they create wealth for themselves especially at the expense of others, then they are actually causing harm within the realm of the interconnected Oneness.  Simply put, if my creative actions cause harm to another person, then I am ultimately hurting myself because we are connected.  As Ella put it:

“Not until you obtain the faculty of being happy through your spiritual and mental faculties, independent of material conditions, not until you learn to value wealth only as a means of helpfulness, can you safely turn your powers of concentration upon the idea of opulence. To demand, assert, and command wealth for its mere sensual benefits, to focus your mind upon it because you desire to shine, lead, and triumph, is to play spiritual football with spiritual dynamite. You may obtain what you seek, you may accumulate riches, but at the cost of all that is worth living for.”

Ultimately Wilcox points out what we have heard all of our lives, “money cannot buy happiness”. Although we might follow that up with a joke or two about “what money can buy” in the material world, in our hearts we know that continuing to focus on creating our greater and greater wealth while the rest of the world suffers is neither sustainable nor heart centered. To this point, Ella offers this advice:

“The man who wishes to control circumstances must love better things than money before he can succeed. He must love, and respect, and believe in his Creator, and trust the Divine Man within himself, and he must illustrate this love and trust by his daily conduct, and in his home circle, and in his business relations.”

When I read that, I hear that we must love and trust the power that created this world and ourselves and that we must focus our use of our thoughts and energy towards the betterment of all in our daily actions.  What do you hear?

Conclusion

One doesn’t have to believe in the power of our thoughts and other New Thought tenets to desire to live in a “better world”.  One only needs to recognize, no matter what their essential beliefs are, that they have some “sphere of influence” through which their words and actions can work to move us towards a more just and equitable world.

Yet, if one does adopt of viewpoint that their thoughts are creative and that they have the power to choose their thoughts (in addition to their words and actions), then it calls deeply to them to change the focus of their consciousness.

Yes, we all want personal security and comfort.  We all want certain material worldly things such as money and wealth and enjoyable experiences. We all want to experience the magnificent abundance of what is available here in this third dimensional material experience.  But as we grow and evolve in our beliefs and outlook on life, we are called to transcend simply looking at life through the lens of “what’s in it for me?”  We are called to open our hearts and practice the heart of New Thought.

Beyond our having a personally enjoyable life, we want to be a force for creating a world around us that is also enjoyable for others.  After all, if we are connected….and we are…..then what other world could we want to live in but one where we all have the opportunity to experience these divine gifts we have been granted.

Mark Gilbert

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