New Thought Editorials > Looking Back to our Roots and Forward with our Shoots


Winter 1998

Looking Back to our Roots and Forward with our Shoots

Janus, the Roman god of the doorway, had a face on both sides of his head, so that he could look in two directions at once. As one year ends and another begins, we are inclined to look at where we have come from and where we are going.

New Thought has interesting and powerful, if somewhat tangled, roots. Beginning with mid-nineteenth-century New Englander Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, who healed thousands of people, it spread through the efforts of numerous speakers, writers, and healers. Some of them founded New Thought denominations; most like Quimby himself, did not. Through their efforts, New Thought principles quickly became the force underlying most American success literature.

New Thought is a do-it-yourself religion that does not demand allegiance to any specific set of beliefs. It is open to new ideas and new approaches, but we have to keep checking our roots, making sure that we are not discarding something worthwhile in our zeal to progress. As we move from a Newtonian universe into an Einsteinian universe, we will need to revise the foundation upon which the beautiful mansion we call New Thought rests, but we must be sure that in the process, we do not undermine what is good and beautiful. We need to be familiar with the history of the ideas on which New Thought was constructed, the underlying principles of psychology and philosophy on which it rests. As those are revised, New Thought can evolve with them, slowly, deliberately, and carefully.

Recently, the Executive Board, as part of the work of reinventing INTA to make it seaworthy for its voyage into the twenty-first century, went back and took a look at the original 1917 INTA Certificate of Incorporation. We discovered that it read, "Its objects shall be to federate various groups of people throughout the world who are teaching and practicing spiritual healing and applied Christianity. . . that it may secure standing before the business world and command the admiration and respect of all people." The INTA founders clearly saw New Thought as extending far beyond church on Sunday, all the way into daily life, even into "the business world" in which most of us earn a living.

This, then, is our charter: to make New Thought a household word, for prosperity and healing throughout our everyday lives, permeating everything we do. Quimby believed he had discovered the lost healing methods of Jesus, and those methods are built into New Thought teachings and practices. We are to take these teachings of Jesus and build our lives around them, outside or inside mainstream Christianity. We can look to the Bible, symbolically interpreted in New Thought style, along with other wisdom literature, to guide us toward the universal principles that appear in every time and culture as guides to successful living. We can become centered on those principles, letting them govern our choices and actions, for they come from God.

And when others notice the happiness and success that surround us, and inquire as to our secret, we can proclaim proudly that we are New Thoughters, whether brand-name or generic, affiliated or independent, part of a movement that traces its roots back to Quimby and further, to Jesus. We have taken these ideas and made them our own, put them together to meet our individual needs, and set them to work in our lives. Whether we speak of Spirit, or Wisdom (Quimby’s favorite name for God), or the Ultimate, or Big Mama (a la Edwene Gaines), God is our center and our source. We have experienced the unconditional love of God, the infinite intelligence of God, and the utter reliability of God. And now we’re busy becoming bigger and better channels for God to pour good through to the rest of the world.