New Thought Editorials > Loftier Understanding


Winter 2003

Loftier Understanding

The transition from one year to the next is a wonderful time to think about desired changes. The month of January is named for Janus, the Roman god of gates, doors, and beginnings who is pictured with two faces for looking forward and backward at the same time. We may look back with nostalgia for what is gone or with relief for the end of pain. We may look forward with anxiety for the uncertainties ahead or with joyous anticipation of opportunities to come. The choice is ours.

New Thought minister Emmet Fox had a lot to say about doors and gates, which, he maintained, always symbolize understanding. Passing through a door or gate symbolizes a change in consciousness. The door of the soul opens inward, so to push against it with our willpower works against our own good and keeps God out. The doors of hell (like heaven, a state of consciousness) are swinging doors with no locks or other fastenings, so we put ourselves in and can get ourselves out. Love is the Golden Gate.

Both Fox and his New Thought contemporary, Florence Scovel Shinn, made much of Psalm 24, verse 7: "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in." To be lifted up, Fox explains, is to make room for a loftier understanding and for the power of God in action. Shinn adds, "As you are lifted up in consciousness, you contact the super-conscious, the God within, and the King of glory come in . . . lifts your burdens and fights your battles, solves your problems."

Fox reminds us that change is the law of the universe, and today’s physicists tell us that change is the only constant. Without change, there could be no novelty, and everything would become stale and stagnant. Therefore, says Fox, we should not fear change, for it leads to transformation if we rely on God. "It is not so much that a door has closed on a chapter of your life, but rather that a door has opened on new and more interesting things." "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5).

The irrepressible Shinn goes even farther. She uses the words of the ascended Jesus Christ in Revelation 3:8 as an affirmation for a man facing challenges: "Behold, I have set before thee the open door of destiny and no man can shut it . . .". She comments, "It didn’t seem to make much impression, so I was inspired to add: ‘and no man shall shut it, for it is nailed back.’" What a powerful image! No chance gust of wind or stray negative thought can keep you from the wonderful opportunities just over the threshold. No enemies, real or imaginary, can withstand the power of the God-aligned mind.

Jesus used the door metaphor in his parable of the Good Shepherd. His disciples didn’t get it, so he had to explain it to them (John 10: 1-16). The rightful shepherd, whose voice the sheep know, enters the sheepfold by the door. Anyone who climbs the wall or come in through the window is up to no good. "So what?" responded the disciples, knowing that Jesus was a builder, not a shepherd. "I am the door of the sheep," explained Jesus. "All that came before me are thieves and robbers . . . I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

New Thought is especially concerned with what we say to ourselves when things are not going well. Symbolically interpreted, the Bible is all about our thoughts in general (sheep) or our fear thoughts (enemies or thieves). Only by habitual God-aligned mental self-discipline, keeping our attention on God instead of on our fears, can we enter the strait gate and narrow way (Matt. 7:14) that leads to life abundant. There are no shortcuts over the wall. In the "interesting times" that we are living in as we enter this new year, it is more important than ever for New Thoughters to set the example for the rest of the world as we "lift up our heads" and look for the good.