History of New Thought & Science of Mind


Our Founder

From time to time, we are blessed to know people of apparent genius, people whose insight, understanding and love are influential in changing the thinking of whole generations, and whose impact will be felt for years to come. Dr. Ernest Holmes was such a person.

Dr. Ernest Holmes founded the spiritual movement that became United and International Centers for Spiritual Living. Born in 1887 on a small farm in Maine, Dr. Holmes spent his teenage years outdoors exploring such mysteries as “What is God? Who am I? Why am I here?” His inquiries led to his 1926 book, The Science of Mind, which outlines the foundational viewpoints of modern New Thought.

Dr. Holmes is also the author of numerous other books on metaphysics and originated the Science of Mind magazine, which has been in continuous publication since 1927.

Origins of New Thought


· The Greek Philosopher Plato developed the philosophical concept of transcendence.

· The verb “to transcend” means “to go beyond” something. In Transcendentalism, it meant that there are truths that go beyond, or transcend, proof. These were truths that were simply “known” but could not be proved with logic. These truths were a private experience of faith and conviction.

· The German philosopher Immanual Kant gave Transcendentalism its name.

· Kant, with other German thinkers, influenced the views of some important English writers; the poet-critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, and the Scottish philosopher-historian Thomas Carlyle. These three, especially Carlyle, exchanged ideas with Ralph Waldo Emerson of Concord, MA.

· It was Emerson who brought the movement to New England and nurtured its growth in this country.

·  American Transcendentalism thus began in the 1840’s as Emerson interacted with Longfellow, Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Thoreau and Lowell. This influential group of people were all born within a few years and a few miles of each other in New England.

· Transcendentalism was the beginning of American interest in Oriental thought. Emerson and his friends read the Hindus, Confucius, Buddha and the Mohammedan Sufis. The Bhagavad-Gita was very influential to Emerson.

· Transcendentalism became an eclectic composite of Oriental, Greek, English, French, German, and native thought.

· Transcendentalism is a belief that there is a higher reality and greater knowledge than that manifested in human mind. It divides reality into a realm of spirit and a realm of matter. This same division is made by many of the great religions of the world.

· Science of Mine and New Thought evolved from the Transcendentalism movement.

Major Influences in Science of Mind


The founder of our teaching, Ernest Holmes (1887-1960), was most heavily influenced by four New Thought contributors as he moved along his spiritual path and developed Science of Mind. Those teachers were:


· Ralph Waldo Emerson, the distinguished New England philosopher and essayist (1803-1852)


· Thomas Troward, an eminent British jurist and metaphysician (1847-1916)


· Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, a mental healer (1802-1866)


· Emma Curtis Hopkins, a greatly respected American teacher and mystic, often called the “teacher of teachers” (1853-1925)

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Emerson’s entire life was one of spiritual exploration. He has been called “the Father of New Thought” because he was instrumental in gathering together a group of intellectuals, writers, and philosophers to explore the transcendental philosophy.

Emerson entered Harvard College on a scholarship at age 14. He became a Unitarian minister. He wrote eloquent essays on many subjects.

Emerson thought every man is an individualization of the one and only God. He thought that at the center of our being we are all operated on by spiritual laws which execute themselves.

Emerson is not thought of as a New Thought writer, but rather as one of the sources from which New thought drew a great deal.

Reading: Emerson’s eloquent essays that particularly reflect Science of Mind thinking are Self-Reliance, Spiritual Laws, Compensation and The Over-soul.

Ernest Holmes and Emerson:

Ernest Holmes was a spiritual seeker. Born in 1887, he was primarily “home schooled” by his mother, who was an ardent reader. In his teens, Ernest began a search for the similarities in all the worlds’ religions. He read extensively about all of them. He was deeply moved by the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Holmes said, “Reading Emerson is like drinking water to me”.

Thomas Troward


Thomas Troward was born in the Punjab, India in 1847, educated in England and returned to India to become a Divisional Judge in the Punjab, which is now Pakistan.

His chief interest lay in the field of religion. He explored the Indian religions and studied comparative religions. He studied Indian lore and sacred writings as well as Hebrew and other ancient scriptures. He was an ardent student of the Bible and was drawn to Emerson’s writings. The concept of reincarnation was a strong influence in his thinking

He associated himself with the Higher Thought Centre in England and became a noted leader of British New Thought.

Troward was interested in formulating a theory of mental healing. When he was asked to label it, he called it “Mental Science “.

Troward began by examining the universe. He saw things that seemed to have a quality of livingness and some which did not. Since the difference was not always sharp he concluded that there are degrees of livingness. Further searching led him to conclude that what makes the difference is intelligence.

Reading: Trowards The Dore Lectures contains a logical, intellectual explanation of this rich philosophy.

Ernest Holmes And Troward:

Holmes discovered Troward’s work in 1914, two years before Troward died. He said, “This is as near to my own thoughts as I shall ever come”. He began speaking on Troward’s writing to growing groups when he was 25 without realizing his lifetime ministry had begun. He totally absorbed Troward’s ideas and deeply linked them with his own thinking. Holmes was one of the main channels through which Troward’s ideas reached American circles.

Phineas Parkhurst Quimny (1802-66)


Phineas Quimby was an American mental healer whose ideas greatly influenced the New Thought movement, a religious-metaphysical healing group. He originally studied mesmerism and became a practitioner of hypnosis. He claimed that he could heal by mere suggestion. Quimby believed that illness originated in the mind and was created by erroneous beliefs. He taught that when a person opened their mind to God’s wisdom, they could conquer sickness.

Emma Curits Hopkins


Emma Curtis Hopkins, more than any other single teacher, influenced New Thought. She was born in Connecticut in 1853. She was educated at Woodstock Academy there and remained for a time as an instructor.

In 1882, she went to Mary Baker Eddy (founder of Christian Science) because she was ill. She was healed. She then devoted herself to the study and growth of the Christian Science approach. She became a practitioner and served as editor (1884-85) of the Christian Science Journal. Within another year, her independent quest for spiritual truth created an impossible situation between the two religious thinkers and she began to explore other metaphysical writings.

In 1886 she left Mrs. Eddy and moved to Chicago where in 1887, she established the Christian Science Theological Seminary, an institution founded to promote teachings similar to those of her mentor. She quickly won a following. She branched out and taught classes in New York, San Francisco, Kansas City, Boston and elsewhere. Among those influenced by these lectures were:


· Melinda Cramer and Nona Books, co-founders of Divine Science;


· Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, who established the Unity School of Christianity.


· Harriet Emilie Cady, author of Lessons in Truth;


· Annie Rix Militz, founder of The Home of Truth; and


· Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science.


Because her influence was so pervasive in these New Thought organizations Emma Curtis Hopkins came to be called the “Teacher of Teachers.”

Emma Curtis Hopkins was a genuine mystic. She emphasized this element in all her teachings and writing. She drew upon the Bible, the non-Christian scriptures, and the works of the world’s great philosophers and saints in her teaching. Her mysticism was a very potent influence upon Ernest Holmes.

She spent time in London, where she had contact with Thomas Troward and other British leaders of the New Thought movement. She eventually ceased using the name Christian Science and began teaching privately.

Ernest Holmes And Hopkins:

Ernest Holmes studied with Emma Curtis Hopkins in her later years when she was teaching only individuals. He felt she was among the greatest of the mystics. Reading: Hopkins’ Scientific Christian Mental Practice is a powerful treatise on mental healing.

Who is Ernest Holmes?


Ernest Holmes is the founder of the International Religious Science movement which is recognized as one of the leading viewpoints in modern metaphysics.

Science of Mind is a spiritual philosophy that easily applies to everyday living while also expanding the student’s sense of their relationship to God and their place in the Universe. Known to his family as the “question mark”, Ernest Holmes was a passionate seeker of knowledge. He embarked on a path of independent thinking at age 18.

He wrote Science of Mind which is used as a textbook in Religious Science churches. The major milestones of his life were:


· Began lecturing on Troward 1916


· Published his first book called Creative Mind 1923


· Published The Science of Mind 1926


· Established the Institute of Religious Science 1927


· Founded Science of Mind Magazine 1927


· Revised The Science of Mind 1938


· Reorganized the Institute to become the Church of Religious Science 1949


· Dedicated Founder’s Church of Religious Science 1960


· Made his transition 1960


· Church became known as United Church of Religious Science 1967


Ernest Holmes did not originally intend for Science of Mind to be a “church”, but rather simply a teaching institution for his philosophy. In that spirit, many member “churches” have traditionally referred to themselves as “centers.” The mental healing work of Phineas Quimby was a source of inspiration to much of the New Thought movement, including RS/SOM. Ernest Holmes was especially strongly influenced by Emma Curtis Hopkins, especially her “Scientific Christian Mental Practice”, a direct precursor to Holmes’ “Spiritual Mind Treatment”.

Holmes had previously studied another New Thought teaching, Divine Science, and he was an ordained Divine Science Minister. He saw humans as being “open at the top”—that is, open to an evolutionary improvement of consciousness in all areas of life.

Modern Day New Thought Movement


As noted, the New Thought movement has deep roots in the teachings and writings of the modern-day great philosophers. Today there are numerous smaller groups, most of which are incorporated in the International New Thought Alliance, of which the Centers for Spiritual Living is an active member organization, along with Unity and Divine Science.

Today’s New Thought movement, of which Science of Mind is key part, promotes the ideas that Infinite Intelligence, or God, is everywhere, spirit is the totality of real things, true human selfhood is divine, divine thought is a force for good, sickness originates in the mind, and “right thinking” has a healing effect.

Although New Thought is neither monolithic nor doctrinaire, in general, modern-day adherents of New Thought believe that God, or Infinite Intelligence, is supreme, universal, and everlasting, that divinity dwells within each person, that all people are spiritual beings, that the highest spiritual principle is loving one another unconditionally, and that ‘healing’ one’s thinking can heal a myriad of unwelcomed life conditions and circumstances, and that our mental states are carried forward into manifestation and become our experience in daily living.

The New Thought movement originated in the early 19th century, and survives to the current day in the form of a loosely allied group of religious denominations, authors, philosophers, and individuals who share a set of beliefs concerning metaphysics, positive thinking, the law of attraction, healing, life force, creative visualization, and personal power.

Science of Mind as a Distinct Philosophy Within New Thought


While there are many attitudes, philosophies, and approaches to practicing the broader concept of “New Thought”, as reflected in the multiple schools of thought within it, Science of Mind has a clear and identifiable philosophical approach to the world that gives it a powerful and profound distinction.

To have the ability to elicit results, we are called to be consistent in our practice and exploratory in our pursuit of what “works” for us. Science of Mind gives a basic framework to help maintain consistency while also providing the creative medium through which unlimited individuality may be expressed. It is a great work to balance the gifts of our minds and our spirits and the philosophy of the Science of Mind provides a framework to seek and hone that balance in very powerful and direct ways.

For more information specific to the Science of Mind CLICK HERE.

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