April 14, 2013 | New Thought Ancient Wisdom | Rev. Howard Caesar

From Unity Church of Christianity in Houston Texas This is The Awakened Life with Reverend Howard Caesar

Unity is a non-denominational Christian church providing a positive, practical, and progressive approach to Christianity Let us join the service in progress with the Reverend Howard Caesar Today's topic or lesson I have titled, "New Thought, Ancient Wisdom" I know many of you have attended Unity perhaps for a long time, some of you more recently, some have listened on television, and hopefully you like and value what it is that we offer and teach here But you may not necessarily know how it is that Unity really came to be formed, how the teachings were arrived at, what were the strands that came together to kind of evolve into what we call Unity and its teachings today

And so I want to talk to you a little bit about our roots and what contributed to the creation of the movement we call Unity You know we like to say that Unity is a positive, practical, progressive approach to Christianity and spirituality And I was actually the one that coined those three Ps They are used regular–they were always there, they always existed We were always positive, practical, progressive, but I kind of put them together as one

And so you see them around in the Unity movement But all 3 are very important words in terms of what Unity represents You know–when it comes to–I think–religion and spirituality we all know that there is always more than one path that people will have choices that are out there and they can choose from And–you know–there are those that may want to argue that their way is the one way or their way is the only way and things like that But we do not argue about that because one of our teachings is that there are many paths that lead to God

And many of the great minds and mystics and teachers have spoken it very much in those terms So the idea is that we evolve, and we are always shifting and changing and sometimes we get to a place where we are asleep for a while , and then we sort of wake up, and we hunger and thirst, and we have a readiness really to go to the next level We have a readiness to kind of seek, knock, search–you know– knock at the door, and the Divine opens, and we are fed and nourished at another level when we reach that readiness So in Unity much of the emphasis has been placed on– around the teachings of the power of thought of course Not only that but that is one of the main emphasis–the power of thoughts, ideas, and beliefs–the energy that every thought carries and the importance of really delivering a positive message therefore to the spiritual table each week or on a regular basis what we stand for so that people can be nourished and fed with something that is uplifting and meaningful and life-giving

So positive is important And then we also want to be practical and choose to be practical because people need to really–you know–believe what is being said They have to see that it makes sense They are able to integrate it and also get results from what it is that is being taught And then also in Unity we teach that it is progressive which means that we will have elements in its teaching that can be outside the box; they can be new

It can be different; it can be beyond traditional views Some–not all–of the teachings, but it is kind of looking at it in a new way– taking you to another place–another way of looking at it And so Unity had its beginnings actually in the late 1800s And it is considered one branch of what is called, "New Thought" "New Thought" is an umbrella over a number of "New Thought" movements–Unity being one

And so "New Thought" includes movements that often had the term science in it because around that time in the early– well the late 1800s, early 1900s there was a lot going on trying to sort of combine religion with science and actually the science of thought And so there were movements like "Christian Science" and "Divine Science" and "Religious Science" as I say And actually "Religious Science" came to be known as "Centers for Creative Living" or "Spiritual Living" as they are known now But there were many other independent churches and organizations that evolved out of the kind of late 1800s, early 1900s There was a lot going on at that time that lent itself towards that

And actually at the title "New Thought" the term really does not mean that we are offering teachings that are new or have not been thought of before necessarily; it is just adding kind of a new thought to an old rigid line of thought that existed there in the 1800s And so that emerged–some of the old doctrine and dogma that was rigid in some ways And so it was being introduced into the mainstream, and what happened was there were–you know–various things that took place in America which introduced sort of new ways of worship and new ways of thinking–religious wise And some of these things were the emergence of some Eastern teachings that had come to be Bit by bit they found their way into the consciousness of American life and the American way of looking at religion as well as they began to integrate

And so all of the "New Thought" movements being kind of open-minded as they were were influenced to some degree by the teachings of the East– those which came from India and most specifically the Bhagavad Gita, the Vedanta, the Upanishads which were all terms for some of the Hindu tradition And so Unity in "New Thought"–you know–had this kind of blending of Eastern and Western thought Now–so Unity–what we say is it is, "New Thought, Ancient Wisdom" So that–you know–it is a new present; it is really kind of a new presentation or a–of the old, the ancient, the universal ideas and truths, teachings and thoughts It is kind of a–it is not that they are new; it is bringing them new today from the old

You get what I am saying? So that when we talk about "New Thought" we often have hyphen ancient wisdom–"New Thought-Ancient Wisdom" And that is my title today of course Some of the ideas in the teachings that distinguish Unity–I think– and are sort of maybe distinguishing it from mainstream Christianity, and it may even have a hint of the Eastern, but–you know– are not necessarily all that obvious are things like the nature of God being good We really emphasize that Also that God is omnipresent; that God is a presence

You know–that God is intelligence–the Divine mind of God is everywhere, and you can tap into it– connect your mind with the mind of God That God indwells us; we talk about the Christ within Of course even Paul talked about Christ in you–your hope of glory We teach that at our core we have the nature of God And–therefore–goodness, our higher self, our true essence is spiritual

Another teaching is that–of course–say every Sunday there is one presence and one power–okay? We do not believe in evil; evil is really the absence of good– the same way that darkness is the absence of light And so it is really the ignorance and separation of humanity from truth in various degrees that has evil show up And that again is an Eastern thought And there is the emphasis on oneness which the word "Unity" means really and emphasizes And the sense of separation is really the cause of all suffering– that oneness is the answer

Oneness with the truth that sets you free We certainly teach on many paths and all paths that God is love, but the emphasis is on it being a direct experience– a direct, first-hand experience of the Divine and helping people to have that through prayer and meditation We teach that there is one truth, one God, but many paths Again–pretty, fairly unique That thought is creative as I said and that consciousness creates our reality, that we are eternal beings, that we are more than form, and that basically the body houses the eternal aspect us which is the spirit, and that we have lived many lives

So a lot of that carries–kind of–a dimension of an Eastern thought And it has a compatibility with what Unity teaches Now Unity has always been about the teachings of Jesus Christ–you know– but from a more progressive approach Sometimes a non-literal, metaphysical kind of view going more into the mystical And so the literal aspects to the scriptures are there, but we get additionally into the non-literal

And–you know–it is interesting that history shows and scholars have found and tell us that the first century after Jesus's death–that first 100 years– that there were basically 5 theological schools of Christianity And they did not agree with one another; they had differing views In fact the scholars tell us that 3 of the 5 were actually liberal in interpretation of Jesus's teachings They were metaphysical; they were allegorical They were non-literal–okay

And so what Unity and "New Thought" has sought to do is really not allow the non-literal to get squashed down–to keep it alive That is what metaphysics is about–the non-literal really And beyond the physical and moving into the realm of the formless as science studies only objects– only what it can see and touch, and we are talking about spirituality in a realm of the formless that then moves into form And it is a whole other dimension So how is it that "New Thought" really came into existence? Well it–there were many strands, and I want to share just some of the strands it had an effect including the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads

Keep in mind that the United States of the West is not much more than 200 years old It is very young; it is still a baby in terms of how–you know–the sacred texts have been around over time The Vedas–the Vedas are known to be the world's oldest sacred texts And when I refer to the word Vedanta–Vedanta is kind of the covering term for any reference to Vedas, the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads That is the Vedanta

Okay–so in the early 19th century–in the 1800s British scholars they produced the first English translation of India's sacred texts So prior to that there had been all kinds of distortions and misunderstandings about teachings of the East because it really had not been put in to English language to be able to be seen and studied And so it became more understood And now Hinduism basically is distinct in that it has no central authority, it has no founding figure, it has no historical starting point, it has no single creed or canonical doctrine, it has many Holy books rather than one, and these are all reasons why it has been called the world's largest disorganized religion Okay–and a lot of people like that because–you know– they have a resistance to organized religion because some of the history of organized religion has not been all that wonderful

So "New Thought" goes back to–as I say there is a number of threads and strands that are involved Anton Mesmer of the term mesmerized–becoming mesmerized Anton Mesmer he really wanting to really–this comes out of wanting to understand the workings of the mind during this era of time, and Anton Mesmer was involved a bit with and studied by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby And Phineas Parkhurst Quimby went on from there in his study of the mind And he was a big strand really that moved into "New Thought" of had an effect–an impact–on the formation of "New Thought

" Because he was–you know–there are the Quimby manuscripts that are very fascinating and what he was able to learn about the mind and actually demonstrate himself and talk about is amazing But he was into healing in particular, and he was the one that used–for the first time–the term science as it related to religion And so he felt that–you know–he wanted to study Jesus and see what was the science of Jesus and what allowed him to do what he did And so he believed that there were spiritual laws and principles and understanding that was important So he said–if I recall–that Jesus was the man and Christ was his science

You see that the word Christ actually was another word for the science that he lived from which was a state of consciousness as well of course But even when he was studying and doing these things–Quimby– we did not even have the word yet subconscious We did not have psychology and all of that going on So we are talking about really–and it is not that long ago, so things have really moved along Now these first English translations of the sacred texts of the East fell into the hands of a person named Ralph Waldo Emerson and also Henry Thoreau and Walt Whitman and there were others

But Emerson is said to be the first really to openly and publicly speak about these Eastern religious precepts And Emerson himself was a seeker–you know–and he was a seeker after universal principles He was not narrow minded; he kept broadening and opening always He wanted to discard the beliefs of the day that did not hold up to scrutiny And so he had that kind of analytical mind

Now Emerson and Thoreau both had mystical experiences that they could not really understand until they found these sacred texts of India, and that helped them each individually understand some of the mystical experience that they had had and put it into words Actually there is a journal entry from 1837 in which Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote this–he said, "I behold with awe and delight many illustrations of the one universal mind" See how they talked about it as a mind that was everywhere present He said, "I see my being embedded in it A certain wandering light comes in, and I see that it is not one and I another, but this is the life of my life

In certain moments I have known that I existed directly from God" Emerson saw evolution really–evolution of the expression of spirit– the evolution of consciousness being important He is said, "In man the perpetual progress is from the individual to the universal From that which is human to that which is Divine" There was a movement–see? And he was always about the idea that instead of a fallen, sinful humanity, separate and apart from God–he was upheld in this ecstatic kind of vision that he had had about a Divine essence that you tap into that is inherent in every person

So these ideas were beginning to emerge And Emerson–as you know–is a graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Divinity School, and there was that famous address from him to his classmates–the Harvard Divinity School address And I will just share one line to give you kind of a taste for the flavor of what he was saying He said–and this is to the classmates–"Let me admonish you first of all to go alone, to refuse the good models– even those sacred in the imaginations of men And dare to love God without mediator or veil

Cast behind you all conformity and acquaint men firsthand with deity–with God" So that is what he is telling his classmates to acquaint them firsthand with an experience of God And that is what he believed that you could have Back then you had to go through a mediator You had to go through the authorities of–you know–whatever was placed before you

It was not even thought of, and so in place of salvation he proposed what he called a "new metaphysical consciousness" in which the great obstacle to fulfillment is not an inherent depravity– which was believed back then–but that your central obstacle to fulfillment was simply an ignorance of your Divine nature Okay–and so that is why–again–all of that was a strand, and we teach so strongly that you are Divine Identify with the Divinity within you–these kinds of things And so keep in mind that in itself was a core precept of Vedanta–okay–ancient texts And now Ralph Waldo Emerson was banned from speaking at his alma mater again [laughter] and labeled a rebel

We resist ideas for a while because interestingly enough 28 years later he was invited back as a celebrated public figure, and they gave him an honorary degree–a doctorate And so there you have it where they start out rejecting what you have to say; they come back and embrace you because new things are typically rejected We do not like them; they are criticized–whatever And then all of the sudden bit by bit they find their way into the consciousness because they have truth, and they have value It is an interesting dynamic

And so when Thoreau who–you know–came to know Ralph Waldo Emerson–when Thoreau went to the Walden's Pond he took with him just a few texts; one of those texts was the Bhagavad Gita And he was studying that So get that India had inspired Emerson Emerson had inspired Thoreau Thoreau it is said to have inspired Ghandi

And Ghandi helped and inspired Martin Luther King Jr in the principles of non-violence And so you see how things move along through– and touch people who touch masses in various ways and get some of these ideas in a shift taking place in the world of consciousness, and so Emerson and a group of transcendental thinking or transcendent thinking individuals came together and they formed what had come later were called the Transcendentalists, and that was definitely a strand that played into "New Thought" And so if we go back to Phineas Parkhurst Quimby for just a minute, he was doing his work through the 1800s, and there came a person to him that needed a healing And that person was Mary Baker Eddy And she was healed through the methods that Phineas Parkhurst Quimby had uncovered, and she began to then study under his methods

And she began to teach them herself There was a bit of controversy between the Quimby house and the Mary Baker Eddy house because Mary Baker Eddy somehow did not believe that–she was convinced that what she taught was her own, and yet after Quimby's death they found among his letters one from Mary Baker Eddy acknowledging the contribution that he had made to her So an interesting note Another interesting note is that–and Mary Baker Eddy did great work and Christian Science is a great path and one of "New Thought" But it basically is kind of closed ended as to what Mary Baker Eddy said is what goes

And it is interesting–she was very protective of what she taught So the text which is the main text even to this day– Science and Health with a Key to the Scriptures– in the first 33 editions it had quotes directly from the Bhagavad Gita And it acknowledged the Bhagavad Gita in it After the 33rd edition they were removed So it was–again–not really recognizing where some of the thoughts and ideas had come from

Emma Curtis Hopkins was a very well known name in "New Thought" worked with Mary Baker Eddy for a time, and she began to have some ideas of her own which were squelched, so they had a parting of the ways And Emma Curtis Hopkins believed that ideas belong to everybody, and she wanted to get them out And she went and actually created a metaphysical school– one in Boston and one in New York And she became known as the teacher of teachers because so many people that came there went and became founders of "New Thought" movements, "New Thought" organizations, "New Thought" churches out there so that Charles and Myrtle Fillmore–co-founders of Unity– they studied at that metaphysical school with Emma Curtis Hopkins Ernest Holmes–the founder of Religious Science–studied there

And that became more recently the Centers for Spiritual Living The people who founded Divine Science–all these movements–went there and many others And so it is known that Emma Curtis Hopkins–who had those schools– she would openly quote from the Bhagavad Gita in her articles teachings and things like that So all these people were–one way or another–directly or indirectly– having a degree of a blending of the teachings of Jesus and universal teachings and an impact from sacred texts of the East being built into the consciousness of what it is that they began to teach in "New Thought" And so we said Unity had its beginnings in 1889

And there was about 3 or 4 years later a big significant event, and that was when they had the Parliament of World Religions in 1893 And one of the speakers there was Swami Vivekananda And he spoke to this body of world religions there and just brought them to their feet He just brought a whole new level of conscious–a whole shift there– a deepening in which people felt a whole new level of oneness– that they were–they may be different in religions and so forth, but he really introduced this idea that we are all one And that talk is still–you know–historical and available and his teachings as well

But there were a few other gurus that came around that time– Krishnamurti–he settled in California and actually Charlie Chaplin and Greta Garbo and Charles Laughton and a number of well known names would drive up the coast to where Krishnamurti was, and they would listen to him and study under him And later there were people like Aldous Huxley and Alan Watts and Joseph Campbell and others that became friends to Krishnamurti And then even Ken Wilbur–more recent–and Deepak Chopra– they acknowledge their debt to Krishnamurti and the impact that he had And you have Paramahansa Yogananda appearing on the scene with the book Autobiography of a Yogi And you may or may not know but they have sold over 400 million copies of that book

400 million It is not a million seller So keep in mind the hunger that exists for people to be exposed to and come to know about some of these sacred texts and teachings of the East And so with all of that there were many gurus that came in in the 60s and 70s, and with it came–again–kind of an openness into meditation and to yoga of course which is very common now today And a big factor in the meditation thing was when Maharishi Mahesh Yogi came, and that was–he spoke in 1967–August of that–in London

And some really significant people were in the audience And that was John Paul and George of The Beatles And so they grabbed–they went backstage and wanted to get his course Two days later they went and took his 10-day course That hit the media because The Beatles were so big in that day

Anything they did was just big, big news So it went in every newspaper from coast to coast The Beatles had ditched LSD in favor of meditation That impacted; everybody was into meditation then And everybody was–that is what put TM on the map

The Maharishi was on The Tonight Show and on The Today Show He was on the cover of Time Magazine He was everywhere because The Beatles had endorsed meditation, and they wanted to know more So all of this began to seep into the consciousness of the West–you see And you may or may not know but Emmet Fox–you know–spoke in– and he was a great metaphysician; he wanted to become a Unity minister, and they said, "No, you have to go through the school

" Well–he was so evolved he was like, "I don't have to go through school" He was already speaking to thousands of people in Carnegie Hall–all right And one of them that came to see him was Norman Vincent Peale But before I go there actually you may or may not know that the organization AA–Alcoholics Anonymous–used as its first textbook prior to the creation of the Big Book–they used Emmet Fox's book The Sermon on the Mount Emmet Fox is clearly a metaphysician of "New Thought

" You see his books in all "New Thought" bookstores–okay Norman Vincent Peale went to Carnegie Hall to hear Emmet Fox He was impacted Norman Vincent Peale read Charles and Myrtle Fillmore's The Writings of Charles Fillmore He was impacted; he said it had a profound impact on him with the direction he took with his ministry

He wrote a bestseller called The Power of Positive Thinking That came out in–I think–the 60s He said, "I got that title out of an article from Charles Fillmore" You know–Robert Schuller acknowledged at a church growth seminar that the impact that Unity had made; he owed them a debt of gratitude That was he did and what he taught really was in essence in such alignment with the readings he had made of "New Thought" and Unity

So there are many, many things out there that bring us all together, and I just wanted to give you a taste of why we are, what we are, why we teach, what we teach, the importance of being open as we are because as they say in the East–you know–the spiritual path is a journey It is not a destination–that you have to keep moving and be open to deeper levels of spiritual awakening and experiencing of God and of truth and of life and love And so we in "New Thought" and Unity are "New Thought-Ancient Wisdom" We combine and integrate and have woven together in that which is powerful, hopefully helpful, mystical, universal, inclusive, loving, points to the God that dwells within us all, and to having a direct experience with God All is one and one is all

God bless you all [clapping] Thank you for joining us for today's message We invite you to be with us again next Sunday At Unity we believe that God's presence of love and goodness is everywhere And that life is meant to be good

You can find out more about Unity and our teachings at UnityHoustonorg