Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Is New Thought a Cult?

(Shorter version of the Dec. 29, 2009 article. Read and learn!)

Webster's 9th defines "cult" as 1) formal religious veneration; 2) a system of religious beliefs and ritual, also its body of adherents; 3) a religion regarded as unorthodox. Accordingly, anyone involved in religious communities can be considered "cultists." How much time and how many followers does it take before a cult becomes a respectable, if not respected, religion? It depends upon how quickly the cult achieves mainstream status. Once accepted, it proclaims all other spiritual paths as cults. 
Is New Thought a cult? Some say yes. In the mid-19th century, the Calvinist Christians (predominant Protestant mindset of the era and forerunners of current Christian fundamentalism) blamed New Thought adherents for creating and implementing modern psychological techniques. Too much focus on self-healing, they said, and not enough fear of the Almighty. The New Thought principles did bring the novel idea of personal integration and wholeness into public consciousness. “We can take control of our own destiny while recognizing that Spirit is not separate from creation, but One with it and as it,” according to the writers of that day. (Recently, the PBS miniseries "Origins" revealed that even certain physicists and cosmologists might embrace a kind of New Thought way of thinking.) 
New Thought teaches that the universe is perfect, that it's acceptable to love oneself and to forgive oneself. Love is much better as a choice than as an obligation. Anyone is free to walk away without fear of retribution or condemnation. New Thought spirituality makes no claim to ultimate truth. However, the more recognition that the Presence of God is within the individual, the easier it is to spread love abroad in the world. And love--compassion--after all, is the greatest calling, but only when it's voluntary. 
New Thought is a dynamic system, open at the top. Cults remain closed. 

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