Articles - Alan > A Practical Spirituality: Process New Thought


A Practical Spirituality: Process New Thought

Process New Thought is a uniquely powerful and balanced approach to living life to the full: spiritually, physically, intellectually, emotionally; by uniting certain basic practices and understandings, chief among which are

New Thought: God-centered health-wealth-happiness-producing practice designed to transform your daily living by changing your unconscious assumptions and consciously held beliefs, attitudes, and expectations; and

Process Thought: The remarkably penetrating, coherent, philosophy of the beginningless, endless creative advance into newness pioneered by Alfred North Whitehead and further developed by such prominent later thinkers as Charles Hartshorne, John B. Cobb, Jr., and David Ray Griffin.

Process thought accepts the scientific position that the universe is made up of pulses of energy. But process thinkers interpret these units of energy as feeling (prehending, in Whitehead's terminology) one another in at least a slight degree, and are thereby unavoidably interrelated. Earlier ones influence later ones, and developing ones have at least a little freedom to choose (unconsciously for most of them) how they will blend the past and the possible. In other words, they are living experiences. Referring to the centrality of experience and interrelationship of experiences, process thinking often is called panexperientialism or process-relational philosophy. Using other terms, it can be called a variety of panpsychism or psychicalism, which is a pluralistic idealism: all is mind, which is nothing but experience, such as feeling, deciding, remembering, thinking); but there are innumerable minds.

It is common to picture mind as an enduring thing (substance), but, in reality, mind is a process of momentarily developing, yet permanently lasting, experiences. Some people who experience—often in a mystically intense degree—the interpenetration or mingling (prehending) of minds as indicating that there is only one mind (God); but that conclusion leads to insoluble problems of the reality (rather than mere appearance) of ourselves and other people and of the freedom of choice required for all genuine existence and especially for meaningful human living.

The God believed in by process thinkers is the perfectly loving God, who guides us (and all other experiences) by presenting perfect possibilities for our unique situations, and perfectly preserves the completed experiences after they have blended the past and the God-given possible. God is our senior partner in co-creation, passionately yet impartially involved in our lives. Our other partners in co-creation are the past selves in the lines of development that we call ourselves, as well as the vast numbers of experiences constituting our bodies and all the other experiences making up the universe.

We, in Process New Thought, put the essentials of New Thought and process thought together to produce unsurpassed satisfaction, in all dimensions of existence.


Advantages of Process New Thought

It is down-to-earth, applied in readily understandable ways. It is exceedingly simple, although it requires constant practice. It uses familiar New Thought techniques, such as affirmative prayer, visualization, spiritual mind treatment, and meditation.

In its theory, it is superbly, elegantly

1. Rational, yet thoroughly respectful of mystical experience.
2. Personalistic: God is not anthropomorphic, but is impartially personal (self-conscious, rational, value-oriented) without the limitations of human personality.
3. PanENtheistic, not pantheistic. God is not all, but is in all; and all is in God (by means of prehension, the feeling of the feelings of others).
4. Panexperientialistic: there is nothing actual except experience, meaning any sort of awareness, from subatomic to divine.
5. Relational: everything is related to everything else and is nothing apart from relationships.
6. Idealistic, in both popular and philosophical senses, yet maintaining a realistic idealism of a vast number of minds/experiences, none of which is dependent for its existence on being perceived by any other unit of experience.

A former New Thoughter (Religious Science) maintains, "We get so caught up in the Law, we forget the mystery and magnificence of it all." Process New Thought helps to remedy this by helping one to gain a deeper sense of the presence of God as, in the words of A. N. Whitehead, "the poet of the world, with tender patience leading it by his vision of truth, beauty, and goodness," a God who is non-anthropomorphic yet personal, impartially loving, and utterly responsive and reliable. While most New Thought groups encourage a deep feeling of spiritual significance, Process New Thought strives to unite such feelings with the most adequate philosophical understanding of how God can be everywhere present without canceling our freedom and reality as selves distinguishable from God without being separated from God.

A New Thought leader says in one of his advertisements:

The mistaken belief that a distinction exists between God, souls, and the universe is the primary intellectual error that contributes to irrational thinking, psychological conflicts, behaviors which cause discomfort and misfortune, and inability to experience satisfying spiritual growth. Instead of thinking of God and souls, or of God and the universe, acknowledge God expressing as souls and God's cosmic forces manifesting as the universe.

This is exactly the opposite of our position, which maintains that failure to recognize such distinctions results in irrational thinking. But, as everyone must, he immediately starts letting in such distinctions. He continues:

You will not then consider yourself or the universe to be separate from God. [Nor do we, for we recognize everything to be most intimately associated with God, and impossible to exist apart from God, yet we recognize everything to be distinct from God, in the sense of not being part of God.] . . . When you pray for others, in God-awareness, you will thankfully acknowledge that, because they, too, are in God [our emphasis, to indicate a vast difference between being in God and being God], their needs are (and will be) met in accord with their receptivity to their highest good.

Clearly, they could not exercise any receptivity if there were no distinction between themselves and God. It may possibly be that the author of the ad simply means that God and we are of the same type of reality: mind, spirit, experience. If so, we agree. However, if he means that there is only one unit of that reality, we strongly disagree. If minds are characterized by uniqueness of perspective, some degree of awareness and freedom of choice, and ability to engage in co-creation but not unilateral creation, it makes no sense to speak of one mind's becoming another or appearing as another. All that one reasonably could want in relation to non-separation of units of reality can be had in prehension, the feeling of the feelings of others. It is by prehension, not identity, that God includes us and we include God, in the only meaningful sense

Process New Thought does not simply let distinctions between God and ourselves slip in unavoidably; Process New Thought straightforwardly proclaims a pluralistic (many units of reality, all intimately related, mingling) rather than quantitatively monistic (only one unit of reality) idealism (all, we agree, is mind-spirit-experience). The creative process demands the coming together and blending of many units of reality in order to produce a new unit of reality. And it is genuinely new, real in itself, not just a remolded bit of God or idea in the divine mind. An indication of the reality of a developing unit (experience) is its ability to resist God's guidance, which it could not do if it were part of God (in which case guidance would be replaced by irresistible fiat).

Process New Thought takes the best of spiritual insights and life-changing, healing techniques, and blends them with a thoroughly rational philosophy that takes into account the discoveries of current science. The result is an unparalleled path for living victoriously and doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8).

Process New Thought surpasses earlier types of New Thought, much of which still holds to antiquated metaphysical beliefs that defy logic in maintaining that there is nothing but an omnipotent God, a single mind with many centers each of which has the power of free will.

In sum, the practical spirituality known as Process New Thought is in the tradition of the more than century-old healing and overall wholeness movement known as New Thought, updated and enriched by insights from process philosophy, producing a remarkable synthesis that is likely to become a major force in the 21st century.

Alan Anderson