New Thought

Harnessing the power of mind to shape reality and improve life.

The New Thought movement, emerging prominently in the early 19th century in the United States, represents a philosophical and spiritual framework that underscores the pivotal role of thought in shaping individual experiences and realities. Rooted in a diverse amalgamation of wisdom from Ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Chinese, Taoist, Vedic, Hindu, and Buddhist cultures, New Thought weaves together a tapestry of beliefs focusing on the interactions between thought, belief, consciousness, and their manifestations within and beyond the human mind​​.

Origins and Historical Context

Tracing its origins to the dissatisfaction with scientific empiricism and religious skepticism of the 17th and 18th centuries, New Thought was influenced by the Romanticism of the 19th century. Phineas P. Quimby, often cited as the earliest proponent, pioneered the concepts of mental and spiritual healing, positing that physical illness is fundamentally mental. Quimby’s methodologies laid the groundwork for the movement, influencing subsequent leaders and shaping the core principles of New Thought​​.

Key Teachings and Practices

Central to New Thought is the belief in an omnipresent Infinite Intelligence or God, asserting that the divine essence dwells within every individual, manifesting as a spiritual being. This foundation supports a view of reality where thoughts, particularly those aligned with divine truth, possess the power to heal, transform, and elevate human experiences. New Thought advocates for an unconditional love and mutual support ethos, emphasizing the continual manifestation of our mental states into our daily lives​​.

The movement, from its inception, has championed the notion of an optimistic life outlook, integrating teachings from the Gospels, Emersonian transcendentalism, Berkeleyan idealism, spiritism, and Hinduism among other philosophical and religious traditions. William James, in “The Varieties of Religious Experience,” encapsulates New Thought as part of the “mind-cure movement,” highlighting its practical and speculative aspects that address a comprehensive schema for personal and collective wellbeing​​.

Evolution and Impact

Emma Curtis Hopkins, a key figure in the early development of New Thought, significantly contributed to its spread through her teachings and ministerial work. The movement rapidly expanded across the United States, especially within urban centers, due to the efforts of Hopkins’s students, who established numerous New Thought communities. The movement’s teachings on prosperity, healing, and the positive nature of the material world distinguished it from contemporaneous religious thoughts, like Christian Science, and aligned it closely with the burgeoning American dream of health, wealth, and happiness​​.

Despite its roots in Christian Science and mental healing movements, New Thought emerged as a distinct and comprehensive interpretation of human existence. It diverged notably in its acceptance of medical science, material reality, and absence of authoritative doctrines, positioning itself as a versatile and inclusive spiritual ideology​​.

Today, New Thought continues to influence a wide array of spiritual practices and beliefs around the globe. Its emphasis on the transformative power of positive thinking, the law of attraction, and the innate divinity within each individual resonates with many seeking an empowering and optimistic spiritual path. Through its historical evolution and the diverse expressions of its core teachings, New Thought remains a significant element of contemporary spirituality, offering insights and practices aimed at harnessing the power of the mind to navigate and improve the human experience.