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New Age vs. New Thought Movements
The first time I recall reading any ‘new age’ material it was books by Shirley Maclaine including Out on a Limb and Dancing in the Light. I remember watching Ms. Maclaine’s movie, Out on a Limb and being moved by her spinning ecstatically on a beach boldly proclaiming, with outstretched arms, “I am God!” I didn’t know whether that declaration was just a form of arrogance among the ‘new agers’ or whether that was a spiritual truth.
I have read many, many New Age, New Thought and Spiritual books that make similar claims.
According to Wikipedia, the New Thought movement (also “Higher Thought”) is a philosophical movement which developed in the United States in the 19th century. Although Ernest Holmes is recognized as the founder of New Thought, he based his teachings on the writings of Phineas Quimby, and Emerson.
According to John Gordon Melton, writing in Britannica.com, the New Age movement, is a “movement that spread through the occult and metaphysical religious communities in the 1970s and ʾ80s. It looked forward to a “New Age” of love and light and offered a foretaste of the coming era through personal transformation and healing.” [Source]
In the both the New Thought movement and the New Age, they believe that there is only One Source and we are all an individuation of/from that Source.
One of the tenets of the New Age movement is a belief in reincarnation; whereas the New Thought philosophy doesn’t so much promote reincarnation as it believes that the Soul is Eternal and all One. New Thought focuses more on the here-and-now rather than what happens after death.
From a post by Flowupstream on a Beliefnet discussion.
“In New Age Spiritualism seekers are incouraged (sic) to find “what works for them”. Themes like “channeling” (sic) Ascended Masters, using energy from crystals, sound therapy, angels, spirit guides, energy vortex, dance, yoga…”
The major focus of New Thought is healing or ‘revealing,’ of every sort, whether it is health, finances, or relationships.
Followers of both New Thought and New Age believe in a direct relationship with ‘The Ultimate Source’ however IT is perceived. Followers of both are generally strongly optimistic because they believe that they are all part of ‘God’ or at least have a Spark of the Divine within. I call it the ‘God-Spark within.’
Both groups accept the biblical teaching of ‘as above, so below.’ The New Thought group interprets ‘heaven’ as a state of mind which manifests itself in one’s earthly experiences. As in mind, (above), so in manifestations (below). “Heaven” can be interpreted as ‘the uplifted state of consciousness, the peaceful sense of universal Oneness that the mystic seeks.’
Both generally believe that there is only one Presence and Power in the universe and that Power is good.
According to Shiloh Spiritual Center, “New Thought and New Age do differ in practices and where and how healing is manifested. New Thought remains open to Truth from whatever unlikely source it may spring. New Thought focuses on the power of the mind to heal and to prosper in a world in which ALL is mind. “
New Thought teaches a specific form of ‘prayer’ in which to use the mind for healing that they call Spiritual Mind Treatment. (See my essays on prayer and Spiritual Mind Treatment by clicking on the purple links above.)
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