When I first encountered New Thought teachings, I found myself confused by the constant use of the term “the Law”. Part of the problem for me was that I tended to want to plug in some variation on meaning that related to the “laws” created by our legal systems. Maybe it was my Christian upbringing and my indoctrination into the 10 Commandments as “God’s Laws”? Not sure.
Here, I want to explore the meaning of “the Law” from New Thought and in so doing, reference a popular book from 1964 entitled Working with the Law by 20th century writer and teacher, Raymond Holliwell.
OK, generally when New Thought uses the term “law” it is more similar in concept to the idea of the “laws of science” than legal laws. For example, in science the “law of conservation of energy” says that energy can neither be created nor destroyed – only converted from one form of energy to another. Such a “law” is attempting to describe some consistent nature of “how the universe works” based on our observations and measurements.
We might consider the “laws of science” to be observable “givens” in the world of physics (or physical matter) while the “laws of New Thought” are stated as comparable givens in the world of metaphysics (moving into the the realms beyond matter). Probably the best known metaphysical “law” is the “Law of Attraction” which states that you will attract into your life whatever you focus on; whatever you give your energy and attention to is what will come back to you. Also, there is the “law of correspondence” which ties the nonphysical realms to the physical realms via the Hermetic adage “as above, so below; as below, so above.”
But beyond such metaphysical “laws”, we also have a much more broad reference to something bigger and more encompassing called “the Law” with a capital L. What is that?
To get at that answer, we have to start with the basic New Thought premise that the Universe is mental in nature, that everything is Mind with a capital M. Hence, God and all its synonyms that never quite capture its totality….Spirit, the All, Infinite Intelligence, the One, the Thing Itself, etc……created this infinite experiential playground and embedded it all with Consciousness or Mind. We live and have our being in Mind.
However an “infinite experiential playground” calls us to have “experiences”. Our “beings” embedded with Mind desire us to move and create and grow and change and experience the Universe. In other words, we “beings” also want to be “becomings”. The never changing Divine spark within us wants to move through a process of experiencing change and evolution. Hence, we are ever in a state of dynamic divine tension between permanance and change, between being and becoming.
Mind without movement would limit the gifts that this divine universe could offer Life. There is a then a call to the movement of Mind. Science of Mind founder Ernest Holmes (borrowing much from Thomas Troward) called this “Law”. Holmes defined Law as “Mind in action.” He said that the Universal Law is “the Creative Medium of Spirit”. We might think of it as the ocean being Mind and the currents pushing the ocean being Law.
In the preface to his small book, Working with the Law, Raymond Holliwell stated, “I shall call God working in our lives “LAW”. I like that, although we should probably say a bit about what we mean when we say “God working in our lives”. It does NOT mean some anthropormorphic God being interceding in the minutia of our daily affairs. What Holliwell was getting at (again, using New Thought concepts) was that “God” (Spirit, the All, the Thing Itself, etc.) was “working in our lives” when IT received the impress of our thinking and acted upon those thoughts. Therefore, the “Law” was that part of Spirit that “processed thoughts into manifest things”.
Raymond Holliwell was born in 1900 and at the age of 41 created, along with his wife Loura May, the School of Christian Philosophy in Atlantic City, New Jersey. This school and seminary offered a “Christian type” of New Thought teaching. Holliwell also began writing books and magazine articles and for a while hosted his own radio program. Beginning in 1946, he and his wife began wintering in Phoenix, Arizona each year and later on moved their school to the southwest on a permanent basis.
Holliwell taught classes from his manual entitled Mechanics of the Mind. In describing his school and its purpose, he wrote, “the School of Christian Philosophy teaches the Truth of God and His Creation, man and his oneness with God, unity as the basic law of the universe, and consciousness as the determining power in the life of each one of us.” (Quoted in chapter 9 of Martin Larson’s book New Thought Religion)
His book, Working with the Law, is perhaps his most complete and accessible description of his philosophy, In 12 brief chapters, he describes “the Law” and how we humans can use it to manifest the life we desire. Among many teachers and motivational speakers (including Bob Proctor and Mary Manin Morrissey, this book is often cited as a key reference. Here is our resource page with a bit more on Holliwell.
Reading the Law
Entire books and classes have been writen around “using the Law”. What I want to do is offer you a tip on how to read New Thought texts when the term “the Law” seems impenetrable. If like me you sometimes get bogged down with New Thought writings over-referencing “the Law”, then I want you to begin plugging in other phrases or terms in their place to see if that opens the text up more.
Consider using words such as “God working in our lives” or “Mind in action” or “the Creative Medium” or the “creative movement of Spirit” or “Mind creating” or similar things.
Let’s take a couple of examples.
Ernest Holmes from the book Love and Law: “Law controls everything, absolutely. But the Law itself is an effect. …The Law did not make itself. The Law is not intelligence, as causation, it is the result of intelligence as causation, . . . “
Pick a replacement phrase, plug it in and reread. Use the same phrase for each use of “Law”….or change it up it if helps.
For example, “The creative movement of Spirit controls everything, absolutely. But the creative movement of Spirit itself is an effect. …The creative movement of Spirit did not make itself. The creative movement of Spirit is not intelligence, as causation, it is the result of intelligence as causation, . . . “
Did that help any?
Let’s take an example from Holliwell, Working with the Law, chapter 3: “The secret of the Law lies in one’s consciousness. A man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things he possesses, but in the consciousness of that which he has. Man posesses the whole world and all its wealth, yet is only able to enjoy what his consciousness permits him to discern.”
Let’s replace Law a few times and see what we get:
“The secret of God working in our lives lies in one’s consciousness. A man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things he possesses, but in the consciousness of that which he has. Man posesses the whole world and all its wealth, yet is only able to enjoy what his consciousness permits him to discern.”
“The secret of Mind creating lies in one’s consciousness. A man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things he possesses, but in the consciousness of that which he has. Man posesses the whole world and all its wealth, yet is only able to enjoy what his consciousness permits him to discern.”
“The secret of the creative movement of Spirit lies in one’s consciousness. A man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things he possesses, but in the consciousness of that which he has. Man posesses the whole world and all its wealth, yet is only able to enjoy what his consciousness permits him to discern.”
What do you think? Does it offer you any wisdom? Does it take it deeper for you? I hope so.
In any case, I hope this has been beneficial and I encourage you to read Holliwell’s little book.