“For Plotinus, the emanations from the One are real, including matter, though their reality is of a lower order to that of the One. While there is a soul and mind within each human, for Plotinus these also exist on a cosmic level. At a cosmic level they are in fact the two highest emanations of the One: Mind (nous) and Soul (psyche). They are divine and together with the One constitute a Triad. In the emanation of the Mind the undifferentiated state of the One is made intelligible. Soul is inferior to Mind and grasps things discursively by moving from one thing to another. Like everything else, human beings come forth from the One. Their highest aim is to return to the One. This must be done by rising above material and sensible reality first to the Mind and from there, by an ecstatic leap, to the One.”
– from Christian Mysticism: An Introduction to Contemporary Theoretical Approaches, by Louise Nelstrop, with Kevin Magill and Bradley B. Onishi
With the increasing focus on technical standards for commercial development in technology, medicine and government it’s odd to come across reminders that the life of thought was not always so streamlined and efficient. The materialist focus of science has left to drift unorthodox inquiries that don’t play into the hands of profit.
The New Thought movement is an interesting point of reference for these fragments as it represents the concretion of potentials implicit in Hermetic and Neo-Platonic thought filtering through the holes in a materialist paradigm. Where as in the past these lines moved more towards meditation and contemplative goals, with the materialistic scientism that arose in the 18th and 19th centuries there emerged those who brought the ephemeral concepts of Nous and Psyche to bear on physical results.
As the 20th century proved profitable through centralizing scientific focus on acceptable areas of cause and effect, the need for delving into the speculative realms of intuition left very little room for New Thought’s more outre explorations. Mesmer’s theories of fluid magnetism that were central to much of the New Thought philosophies were better explained through the psychological mechanisms of therapeutic hypnosis, notions of healing with the mind safely found a place in the placebo effect, more obscure concepts of mental telepathy, clairvoyance, etheric doubles and the like were left to wander unmoored and find what leverage they could on the fringes of new religious movements and occult philosophies.
This is not to say that there were not stalwart individuals who battled on against the scientific establishment. When the flow of ideas could no longer push outward, they turned back to reinterpret and redefine breakthroughs that had yet to be firmly entrenched in the scientisitic framework. Charles Fillmore, founder of Unity, a New Thought Church and offshoot of the Christian Science movement, in the following excerpt from one of his last published works provides a perfect example of this fascinating reinterpretive mechanism with his exposition on what he calls ‘the atom-smashing power of the mind’:
“Of all the comments on or discussions of the indescribable power of the invisible force released by the atomic bomb none that we have seen mentions its spiritual or mental character. All commentators have written about it as a force external to man to be controlled by mechanical means, with no hint that it is the primal life that animates and interrelates man’s mind and body.
The next great achievement of science will be the understanding of the mental and spiritual abilities latent in man through which to develop and release these tremendous electrons, protons, and neutrons secreted in the trillions of cells in the physical organism. Here is involved the secret, as Paul says, “hid for ages and generations . . . which is Christ [superman] in you, the hope of glory.” It is through release of these hidden life forces in his organism that man is to achieve immortal life, and in no other way. When we finally understand the facts of life and rid our minds of the delusion that we shall find immortal life after we die, then we shall seek more diligently to awaken the spiritual man within us and strengthen and build up the spiritual domain of our being until, like Jesus, we shall be able to control the atomic energy in our bodies and perform so-called miracles.
The fact is that all life is based upon the interaction between the various electrical units of the universe. Science tells us about these activities in terms of matter and no one understands them, because they are spiritual entities and their realities can only be understood and used wisely by the spiritually developed man. Electricians do not know what electricity is, although they use it constantly. The Christian uses faith and gets marvelous results, the electrician uses electricity and also gets marvelous results, and neither of them knows the real nature of the agent he uses so freely.
The man who called electricity faith doubtless thought that he was making a striking comparison when in fact he was telling a truth, that faith is of the mind and it is the match that starts the fire in the electrons and protons of innate Spirit forces. Faith has its degrees of voltage; the faith of the child and the faith of the most powerful spiritual adept are far apart in their intensity and results. When the trillions of cells in one’s body are roused to expectancy by spiritual faith, a positive spiritual contact results and marvelous transformations take place. When Jesus asked His patients, “Believe ye that I am able to do this?” He was making such a contact. Also when He told those to whom He ministered, “Thy faith hath made thee whole,” He used the same law. When He turned water into wine and fed five thousand by multiplying a few loaves and fishes, He performed in a masterly and beneficial way what our scientists made possible in a destructive way by releasing through the atomic bomb thepent-up forces of Spirit.
Scientists have invented a machine that records the forces of thought. Every thought expressed by the mind radiates an energy as it passes through the brain cells, and this machine measures the force of these radiations. Sir James Jeans, the eminent British scientist, gives a prophecy of this in one of his books. He says in substance that it may be that the gods determining our fate are our own minds working on our brain cells and through them on the world about us. This will eventually be found to be true, and the discovery of the law of release of the electronic vitality wrapped up in matter will be the greatest revelation of all time.
When we awake to the fact that every breath we draw is releasing this all-potent electronic energy and it is shaping our lives for good or ill, according to our faith, then we shall begin to search for the law that will guide us aright in the use of power.”
– from Atom-Smashing Power of the Mind, by Charles Fillmore