Monthly Archives: December 2014

Willpower and Ernest Holmes

Q. […] What is the right way to use willpower?

A. Because the will is a directive, not a creative force, you should use will to keep your mind and your thoughts focused. Do not use will in an attempt to force things to happen. (The Law, having been given direction, is what causes things to happen.) Will is an instrument of the intellect, not of the imagination. Use your will in making decisions and your feeling and imagination in bringing power to them. Remember that when imagination and will are in conflict, imagination invariably wins. This is because emotion strikes deeper in the wellsprings of being than does the intellect.

(Ernest Holmes, Questions and Answers on the Science of Mind, 2011, p. 59)

Wise words. Much frustration is caused by misunderstanding one’s own ability to cause things to occur – thinking there is a direct link between will and certain things occurring. Instead, will – more strictly understood – can be used to direct our focus. By developing an ability to focus, results can flow.

Jesus and Christ

Q. What is the difference between Jesus and Christ?

A. Jesus is the name of a man. Christ means the Universal Principle of divine Sonship – the generic human, the Divine Pattern, the ideal toward which humanity evolves, the apex of individual evolution, the conscious union of the person with God. Jesus embodied the Christ. Jesus increasingly became the Christ as his mentality increasingly perceived the relationship of the human Jesus to the Christ principle, which is inherent in all people. This Christ has come in a certain measure of power throughout the ages to different individuals, and still does come, and is ever inherent within each of us.

(Ernest Holmes, Questions and Answers on the Science of Mind, 2011)

Holmes was a prominent figure in the New Thought movement, which started in the 19th century in the United States and reached a significant level of prominence. I first heard of it tangentially through William James. What I didn’t realize is that much of the New Thought writing was explicitly Christian, and in particular formed a new Early Christianity movement – the idea that they were recovering something in early Christianity that had come to be downplayed or misinterpreted through centuries of theological and political ossification.

The above characterization of Jesus Christ has some similarities to the Mormon view – another Early Christianity movement that started in the 19th century. Mormons take God the Son (Jesus Christ) and God the Father to be one God in the sense that they were united in mind and purpose, although separate beings.

Contrast this with the more orthodox view of the trinity in Christianity – God the Son and God the Father are separate ‘persons’ but the same ‘essence’. Although the view of Holmes, and the Mormon view, makes some sense to me, I am unable to make much sense of the more orthodox view, unless it is translated along the lines of something like the view of Holmes or Mormonism. It becomes a mere verbalism – God the Son is God and God the Father is God, but God the Son is not God the Father. It doesn’t make much sense, and is probably the result of too much theologizing – exactly the concern of Early Christianity movements.

Something like the Holmesian view makes sense of certain Gospel passages – for examples, Jesus ‘grows in wisdom’, talks about himself and God the Father as different in certain respects, talks of God the Father knowing something that Jesus does not, and so on.

Tweaking George Harrison

There is a song called ‘My Sweet Lord’, which is about the Hindu Krishna. Krishna has many similarities to Jesus Christ, and is in some sense a Hindu equivalent of the Christ.

It is fairly straightforward to convert the song into a Christian one. The key verse containing part of the ‘Maha Mantra’ (Great Mantra) and reference to Krishna is

Hm, my Lord (hare krishna)
My, my, my Lord (hare krishna)
Oh hm, my sweet Lord (krishna, krishna)
Oh-uuh-uh (hare hare)

The key mappings are krishna -> Christus (Latin for Christ) and hare -> Jesus. A few more tweaks for some of the later lyrics in the song could also be made.

Given the rest of the lyrics, it fits in with songs about advent. If for some reason you find yourself singing the song and are a Christian, it might be more resonant with the changes.

Two in the bush

A common critique from a secular perspective of certain formulations of Christianity is essentially a variation of the idea that ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’.

So, the critic argues, since there are good things here and now that are well-evidenced, this is worth more than things that are put forth as possible future goods in standard Christianity in some sort of Paradise or Heaven.

How is a Christian to respond? I think there are two major points to be made.

1. If one ‘lets go of the bird in the hand’, so to speak, along the lines that are often advocated within Christian practice, one can find that multiple birds return or perch anew on one’s hand (love, inner peace, joy, and so on). That this occurs in many cases seems obvious, and in such cases a giving up of various things isn’t actually a giving up. Once God is put in first place (a typical Christian idea goes), a large number of other good things will be added typically in the here and now.

2. Having said that, the evidence that one can obtain the ‘two birds in the bush’ later on is stronger than is often thought. That is, the lines of evidence which converge on some sort of continued existence, where the goods that can be obtained there far exceed the goods here and now are multiple.

The first and central line of evidence is the experience many Christians have, after which they are left with a feeling that they know there is a Heaven, and that one can get to it. That is, it seems that they perceive or have knowledge of something which corresponds to some degree to the Christian notions of God and Heaven. The witnesses are many and, in most cases, credible in other aspects (doctors, architects, teachers, and so on).

Another line of evidence is in the many people who have died, and then reported something like the Christian Paradise or Heaven* upon resuscitation.

* I would argue that Paradise should be used for the immediate state a subjective self enters into, which is a sort of closeness to God, whereas Heaven should be used for the resurrected, fully bodily state (as N.T. Wright refers to it, the ‘Heaven after Heaven’) that Christianity holds will obtain at some future time. Be that as it may, Heaven in popular vernacular is used to refer to the immediate state a subjective self or soul enters into.

A third line of evidence is considerations on the nature of the continuity of the subjective self (for example,  we say a person has the same basic subjective self at time 1 and time 2, where the matter of which their bodies is composed has changed, and the form of that matter has also changed – therefore, neither the stuff of which they are made nor the particular formation of it can account for the continuity of their subjective self).