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Antecedents of New Thought by Eric Butterworth

Lecture 8 - Emmet Fox and Ernest Holmes

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Eric Butterworth has included Emmet Fox and Ernest Holmes in this talk because both of them drew heavily from the writings of Thomas Troward. He says in clip 148 that Emmet Fox's contribution to New Thought was conveying Troward's writings in a practical and accessible way, much like Emerson conveyed the writings of Immanual Kant. By doing so, he reached thousands and greatly impacted their lives.

Much of what Butterworth has to say about Ernest Holmes is done in a comparison of Religious Science to Unity, especially in clips 156, 159 and 160. That is natural, since these lectures were given to members of a Unity congregation. The most interesting observation he makes, I believe, is in clip 160 where he says "there is much greater difference within Religious Science and within Unity than there is between the two movements."

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TruthUnity note: the following is a summary of clips 161-162. This concept has been widely used to describe the process of decline of religious movements.

There is a professor of religion at the University of Southern California that cites the "Five M's of Religion." He says that all religions begin with what Emerson would call a "first hand and immediate experience of God." Somebody had an awareness, somebody had perhaps a mystical experience, somebody was moving along for his quest for truth and suddenly the light over the head, "ahh ... I have it!". Somebody had that awareness, whether it was a flash or a progressive thing, whether it was a mystical experience, whether it was an intellectual growth or unfoldment or whatever; but someone had that kind of experience. That was the man, or the woman.

So the man or the person out of this experience ... the man develops a message, he finds a way to articulate it ... by starting classes and groups he began to teach people.

In time, usually inadvertently, there is a movement created, usually by the followers... So they create a movement.

In time the movement begins to gradually crystalize and become much more rigid, especially after the man passes on. Then out of what is essentially fear something very striking happens. That is the movement very quickly goes through the transformation into a machine. In other words there are those who say "let's not rock the boat, let's keep it going exactly like it was." So there is a tendency to codify the words of the man to create a doctrine and people coming into this particular movement are indoctrinated with these words.

So this machine moves on and it can't change. It has built within itself a kind of inertia and all the safeguards to keep it from ever getting out of that initial pattern until we eventually have nothing left but the monument, the monument to the man. And we see that in its most extreme form in the jungles of Cambodia where you find these great temples which are great works of art ... but nobody seems to know why they were ever built and what kind of religions were taught there. They are monuments to some person that nobody seems to know about.

And this professor of religion seems to feel that this is already happening by evidence of many of the great cathedrals of Europe that have long since lost any viability as teaching institutions. They are just great monuments; monuments to the Christ and to the religion that came out of the teaching of this person, out of his first hand and immediate experience.


145 Review of earlier lectures

In our consideration of the last few weeks we've been dealing with what we've referred to as "A History of New Thought Ideas" and the awareness that there are always antecedents to any idea no matter how great it is and no matter who thinks he spontaneously dreamed it up. There's nothing new in New Thought as a subtitle of our consideration. We're not trying to be cute we want to relate the evolution of some of the ideas to expand our awareness of the whole. We've dealt with roots in philosophy, roots in psychology, something of the transcendentalism of Kant as articulated most practically in Emerson. We've dealt with the New England watchmaker turned mesmerist, Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, with Mary Baker Eddy, with Thomas Troward. Last week we considered the Fillmores in Unity. Today, we're going to think about Emmet Fox and Ernest Holmes.

Whatever this new insight and truth may owe to other systems, and certainly it owes a great deal because it is completely eclectic whether a person likes the term or not, there are some fundamental truths that, I think, are unique to the general New Thought system of today that's placed a new and dynamic meaning to the relationship existing between God and man. It has emphasized the creative power that is individualized in every soul. It has stressed that faith and conviction are not just terms used to designate the devotional life, they are dynamic and creative instruments to be used in everyday experience. It stresses the immediate availability of The Divine Flow within every individual. It stresses the constant potential for expanding the individual consciousness and for fulfilling his life, completing himself as a person. Develops techniques and systems whereby this can be accomplished.

146 Introduction to Emmet Fox

We would like to just briefly look at one of the most outstanding of New Thought teachers or ministers, one who is not noted so much as a theoretician as, perhaps, one who has developed the simplest possible way of expressing profound truths; this was Emmet Fox. Right here in New York City some of you possibly who've been around and studying this teaching for a while perhaps studied with Emmet Fox and, I'm sure, prize the memory of it.

Emmet Fox
Emmet Fox

Emmet Fox, at one time, here in New York City spoke before, what was often called, one of the largest congregations in the world of a religious audience. He was originally an electrical engineer in England and there is much that could be said about his background but perhaps the most important thing is he studied with and knew personally Thomas Troward, who we discussed some weeks ago. He ultimately reflected in the most practical way the Troward concept of Mental Science. I would say that Emmet Fox had the engineer's proclivity to get straight to the point and thus he had insights that were very incisive and took points by point, bang, bang, bang, and marvelous truths came out. He was influenced by some of the people that certainly I revere. He was influenced by Emerson, by Meister Eckhart, many of the transcendentalist poets, he was also strongly influenced by Mary Baker Eddy, and he considered himself a spiritual child of Charles Fillmore.

I was at Unity headquarters during the years shortly after the war when Emmet Fox used to come out to Unity once every year on an annual pilgrimage and talk to the workers and he always spoke so lovingly of Charles Fillmore and always felt that this was his homecoming. This in no way meant that he was a part of Unity at all. He actually was about as individualistic and free as a person could be.

He came to New York City and spoke to a few small groups and eventually accepted an invitation to, what was called The Church of the Healing Christ which actually still exists and he was invited to be the minister in 1931. This was a church that had been built up by Dr. James Murray. At one time it had a congregation that was quite substantial with a membership or attendance of something like 1500 people but it had gone down to a very small group. I think it's important to know this because some people feel that Emmet Fox just started from scratch and took the town by storm.

Actually under his leadership and his very interesting, simple approach he did attract large throngs of people and they were constantly moving from place to place. From the Astor Hotel to the Manhattan Opera House to the old New York Hippodrome. At one time I have various reports of 10,000, 8000, 6000 people regularly attending. I don't know what the figure really is but we know that there was certainly a phenomena that existed at that time in the Emmet Fox meetings. Eventually, the whole thing settled down to the more serious students and then for many years he spoke at Carnegie Hall to very large audiences.

Emmet Fox wrote, in 1934, The Sermon on the Mount and I'm sure many of you who've read The Sermon on the Mount some of you have, perhaps, come into this study as a result of someone handing you a copy of this. It's one of the most read books in the New Thought field. Later he wrote Power Through Constructive Thinking, Alter your life, Make Your Life Worthwhile, and Find and Use Your Inner Power.

147 Concepts from Emmet Fox

Certainly Emmet Fox is best known for some of the beautifully simple, cogent, spiritual concepts that are bantered about, and used by many many teachers, and sometimes they've become clichés to individuals in truth.

We've mentioned the idea of the Golden Key which we did in our opening meditation. Don't think about the problem think about God. This is one of the most widely quoted of Emmet Fox's ideas. Business people who are involved in relationships of negotiation either between companies, or in bargaining sessions between labor and management, and so forth he expressed the thought that many have used, and certainly I have, to good advantage and that is that God is on both sides of the bargaining table. The realization that as long as you're thinking in terms of the division of minds and of people that you set up the complications and thereby have to bridge the separation which exists, basically, in your own mind.

His thought was that it's important to try to realize that both or all involved in the disputes or in the discussions, all exist in infinite mind and in infinite mind there is a right answer through which all persons can be satisfied. God exists on both sides of the bargaining table. He always said that no matter what the problem you have nothing to deal with but your own thoughts. A very simple fundamental truth. You have nothing to deal with but your own thoughts so he would say, "Get busy changing your thoughts and keep them changed." That's an Emmet Fox concept, change your thought and keep them changed.

He says, the story of your life is the story of your relations between yourself and God. He reflected, as Fillmore did, as an indication of how the Bible works, the Bible is story of man's life and its relationship with God. You can find yourself in the Bible because your life is a story of where you are and your experience in trying to know God. One of the most effective teaching instruments that he used was related to a concept, that he called, your true place and you're right place and I think this has such great relevance with every person. There's a statement that's often been used in truth, "I am in my right place now," and many people have Pollyanna style affirmed this thing without perhaps realizing what it meant. I think he gives an insight into this which is very helpful.

He makes a distinction between your true place and your right place. In other words, the true place, according to Emmet Fox, is where God intends you to be. In other words, your true place is that place that is waiting for you somewhere. A place that no one else can fill but you. It's an ultimate. It's that which you like to think of as the best possible out working in your life. He says your right place is something entirely different. He says, it is the place that corresponds to your mentality. In other words wherever you are, whatever you're doing, good bad or indifferent, whether you're in the midst of tragedy, or injustice, or accidents, or sickness laying in a hospital you're in your right place.

Now, that's a startling one but you see that deals with the law of consciousness. In other words, he's saying then that you were there because that's where you are in consciousness and you can change your consciousness and therefore you can get out of that. You're right place therefore is not a static thing it's a moving experience that fluctuates according to the level of your own mentality. He emphasized even a person in jail is in his right place, you see. In other words, wherever you happen to be this is your right place and when you face up to that then you don't say, "Well, I don't know, this isn't my right place. I would like to be in my right place," therefore you're assuming that you're where you are because of injustices, because of the system, because of people don't like you, and so forth.

How often we do this in a job. We're sitting in our place at work and we say, "Oh, if I could just find my right place." Usually, there is a thought that, "This job is not good enough, it doesn't pay enough, they don't appreciate me," and so forth and therefore there's this terrible resentment and resistance. How much better, according to Fox, that you accept the idea that you're in your right place. You are there because that's where you need to be right now. When you change your thought about it and outgrow it in consciousness then you can move on closer and closer toward your true place. The place where you can be happy, the place that actually meets all of your specifications, all your ideals, and all your hopes but it's a matter of consciousness. As he says, change your thought and keep it changed.

148 Emmet Fox personally and contribution to New Thought

He was a very interesting person. Emmet Fox was, at first appearance, a quiet little Englishman. The kind of person that you might say would always be comfortable standing with his back to the fire but then once he opened his mouth he was an entirely different kind of a person. He was very spontaneous, very witty, but the most important thing very articulate in the simplest possible terms. Again, the engineer getting right to the point and saying things that were absolutely clear.

He says, "There is no need to be unhappy. There is no need to be sad. There's no need for illness, or failure, or discouragement. There's no necessity for anything but success, good health, prosperity, and an abounding interest in joy and life." As long as you accept the negative condition at its own evaluation so long will you remain in bondage to it but you have only to assert your birthright as a free person and you will be free. Now, that's laying it right on the line. Obviously, some of us say, "Well it's not quite that easy," but then you see Emmet Fox didn't equivocate he just laid it on the line straight and simple. If you work with it it works. Anyway, this is Emmet Fox and if you haven't acquainted yourself with Emmet Fox I certainly commend him to you and there are several books of his that I think you'd find quite helpful.

We wanted to include Emmet Fox in passing not that we want to shortchange him but that when we think of the evolution of the ideas and concepts of New Thought, I think, it's beautiful to see one who has given such great simplicity through tremendous teachings. In other words, as we have pointed out that the poet Wordsworth and, possibly, the essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson have expressed simply what Immanuel Kant was all about. In this same sense, when you read Emmet Fox you get a pretty clear insight into what Thomas Troward and some of the more abstruse metaphysical teachers were all about.

149 Ernest Holmes childhood years

Let's think a little bit about Ernest Holmes. The life of Ernest Holmes is like a Horatio Alger novel. He was born in 1887 in a rural area in Maine and he was born into, what today we like to call, poverty. He was the youngest of nine children and the family had very difficult circumstances. Though, obviously, they were a very happy family and very close.

150 Eric reflects on the value of higher education

They moved from place to place because of their economic difficulties and so he had practically no formal schooling whatever. Ernest Holmes was the classic self-taught person.

Ernest Holmes
Ernest Holmes

There is a time, I think, even today possibly today more than other times when we tend to look down on people that don't have degrees or have education and, ultimately, Ernest Holmes had many many degrees but all of them were honorary. He never attended college, never had any formal schooling at all. That's an asset, you see, for a person who is very intelligent, and very innovative, and adventurous because there's plenty of of places around: libraries and books abound where one can get great insights. Quite often the formal learning process is one that actually tends to close the mind rather than to open it especially in areas such as this.

People often ask me about my academic background and I always say, "Well, I can tell you about it but I would have to apologize for it." I spent six years in college and it was a total waste of time. Total waste of time and all of my education and preparation for this field has come completely since in breaking down many of the crystallized concepts that I had jammed into me in college so that's about where it is. I have a strong feeling about this and even about the so-called academic degrees which abound. There's something about it in the metaphysical field, there is a strange compulsion to have a doctorate tacked on before your name.

Many folks in the New Thought field are not aware of the fact that there is no such thing as a legitimate doctorate in metaphysics. All the doctorates that are given in metaphysics are given some of them spurious, some of them with very, very brief courses of study and so forth. Obviously, some would reject my thought about this but I feel that it's not that I reject legitimate doctorates but I simply don't want to have my name contaminated with a doctorate that is the result of brief exposure to learning processes that are very inadequate. Anyway, that's just where I am.

I think that this was pretty much the way Ernest Holmes felt. He was a very interesting person from this point of view. He was one who had great resistance toward organization and toward all the trappings of organization and had some problems as a result of it which we might get into in a little bit.

151 Henry Drummond influence on Ernest Holmes

TruthUnity note: You can find more about Henry Drummond on his TruthUnity profile page.

Henry Drummond
Henry Drummond / Wikipedia

He grew up in his home with several books that were about all he really had around this rather poor home circumstance. One was the Bible, and one was a big story of the Bible which had huge pictures, and another was a little work, which I'm delighted to discover was a part of his background and, it was a book of Henry Drummond which was called Natural Law in the Spiritual World. Henry Drummond I always consider as one of my gurus.

He was a Scottish preacher/scientist in a day when there was a great barrier between religion and science and so he was a phenomenon. He taught physics at the University of Edinburgh and at the same time was a pastor of one of the large churches there; Church of Scotland. Very brilliant individual and wrote many essays. Many of you are aware of his classic essay on love which has certainly been a popular one but you may not be aware that he wrote a lot of essays. Some of which I find to be classics in their field. Anyway, this essay of his on natural law in the spiritual world is a way of trying to bring together the fields of religion and science and he does it in a very interesting way. I suspect this had a great influence on Ernest Holmes and I suspect that this instead of the fact that it was a take off of Christian Science was why he used the term "Religious Science" and "Science of Mind." I think he was dealing with the idea of science as a very viable, practical way of dealing with life in a spiritual sense.

152 Holmes meets Emma Curtis Hopkins

Emma Curtis Hopkins
Emma Curtis Hopkins / Wikipedia

Ernest Holmes was greatly influenced by Emerson, by Emily Cady, by people like Meister Eckhart, Thomas Troward, Mary Baker Eddy, Emma Curtis Hopkins. As a matter of fact, it's rather interesting the story that he tells about his experience Emma Curtis Hopkins. We dealt with her briefly, I think, last week when we were talking about the Fillmores. We mentioned that Emma Curtis Hopkins was one of the most important teacher of teachers in this movement, though some of you probably never even heard of her before.

She was in quite elderly or advanced years, I suppose, we should say when Ernest Holmes looked her up. She was still teaching private sessions, however, and so he sought her out. When the appointment time came he was ushered into her presence and she was one of those grand ladies of the years past in the metaphysical movement who always would dress regally and then wore a big hat. Even on the inside still wore a big hat. If she were on the platform today she'd be with her big hat, and all her shawls, and so forth. He was ushered into the room and here was this woman with her big hat sitting. Without further word, or greeting, or conversation she launched into some concepts of truth and she talked steadily for an hour without a break. He kept thinking to himself, "When are we going to get to go to the class?" First thing you know, she stood up and indicated that the session was over, then he realized he'd had his first class.

At any rate, he returned again and again. He liked what he'd heard. Eventually, she unbent and he became very close to Emma Curtis Hopkins; became a very great friend of hers. He feels that his association with her gave a new dimension to his whole appreciation for truth. In later years, he rated her with Meister Eckhart as the greatest of all mystics which was, I think, a great tribute. Especially for one who had read extensively.

153 Holmes resisted identifying with Christian religion

When he was asked in 1957 if he regarded his teaching as Christian he said that he was not really sure. Many were quite shocked at this. As a matter of fact, Ernest Holmes delighted to shock people. I guess, maybe I have a little of that in me too. He was basically saying that he didn't want to be identified with the Christian religion. He didn't want to get the feeling that he was associated with a credo of religion. Unlike Mrs. Eddy and perhaps like Charles Fillmore, Ernest Holmes gave generous tribute to many sources and freely admitted that his philosophy was eclectic. Sometimes he would startle groups by saying, "Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ! Whoever was He?" People would be terribly upset at this. His main purpose, of course, was to have the person to think, what has this got to do with you in your own particular life today? If you'd listen to him and get over your shock very quickly well you'll find that he had a great devotion to Jesus Christ and to His teachings, and held them in great esteem, and they were so much a part of his teaching.

154 Ernest works with his brother Fenwick

Fenwicke Holmes
Fenwicke Holmes

In 1917 Ernest Holmes united with his brother, Fenwicke Holmes. Fenwicke, unlike Ernest, had somehow been able to go to college, and then went to a theological seminary in Hartford, and eventually became a congregational minister. Ernest spent some time with his brother Fenwicke out in California. Fenwicke had a congregational ministry in Venice, I believe, where he was very successful. They apparently both shared a common interest in the innovative and in the new. They were both very much interested in the transcendentalists and therefore together got into their quest for truth.

Eventually, they decided to start a metaphysical institute, I think, it was in Long Beach, California. Fenwicke gave up his church and joined Ernest and then they worked together for a while. They served as full-time teachers of their interpretation of Mental Science. They made, together, lecture trips throughout the country and, as a matter of fact, several years in a row they came here to New York City and gave some very successful lectures. They were billed as the Holmes Brothers. They had their meetings at the Hotel McAlpin right here in New York City. They did this a good bit and they traveled a good bit and were getting quite a reputation but Ernest liked Los Angeles and had a desire to settle down and do some sincere teaching. Fenwicke liked the speaking platform and so they parted company amicably. Fenwicke continued in the East as a lecturer and writer and Ernest settled in Los Angeles.

In 1929 or 1923, I believe it was, he began lecturing at the Philharmonic Theater. His following grew steadily, he was a powerful speaker, and a very very effective teacher.

155 Concepts of Science of Mind published in 1929

In 1926 he published the book Science of Mind, it has been re-edited and published many times over. This has become the textbook of the Religious Science Movement. It's, I think, the first four chapters I believe are an outline of Ernest Holmes' basic philosophy and I think they're very well put. It's a very effective outline of truth. He stresses the idea of first cause, spirit, mind, or that individual essence, that ultimate stuff and intelligence from which everything comes. He seems bent upon trying to avoid some of the clichés of religion and some of the trite religious definitions. He uses the word God only after he has very carefully explained that he's not talking about God in the skies. As a matter fact, he often refers to the thing itself and in this he's talking about mind, intelligence, spirit, that which finds conscious individual centers within all of us.

He stresses the idea that man's intelligence is indeed this infinite mind functioning at the level of man's concept of it. That it works for us by working through us. This, as you may recall, is strictly a Thomas Troward concept, which shows that he was strongly influenced by Troward. This presence, this process, this flow can become power to us only when we recognize it as power. Hence our belief in it sets the limits to the demonstration of a power which in itself limitless power. Only as much as we can believe can be done to us or for us. By conscious thinking we can make use of that universal law of mind and cause it to do things for us through us and it responds quite without respect to persons. It is ever ready and willing to operate in obedience to our creative belief. It works for us by flowing through us.

He stresses the idea, as did Troward, of the subjective and the objective phases of mind. The subjective he clarifies as the subconscious mind and the objective mind of the conscious mind and much of the study is based upon the workings of these aspects of mind. He uses the approach of the subconscious mind as the creative factory in each of us. He says, "It acts as a mental law working out the will and the purpose of our conscious thoughts." He says, "Man possesses limitless power because through his subjective mind he is one with universal subjective mind."

156 Eric reflects on subconscious mind and superconscious mind

Now, it's here I think I would like to inject, he seems to reflect something of the concept of Jung referring to the collective unconscious. I believe that there is here a, I almost hesitate to say, a weakness but a slight flaw not in the logic but in the way in which it comes through of Ernest Holmes. Which I think has led to a great deal of confusion. This is the idea that the subjective mind which is given most of the attention, as it is through most of the Mental Science approach to New Thought. That the subjective mind, basically, the subconscious mind is both the field in which we through our memory mind, the field in which mind works to care for all the vital functions of our body, which works to reproduce for us that which we in any way impose into it by our conscious thought, or by treatment, or suggestion, or by affirmation, and so forth. He has, I think, the intimation which is not always too clear that this also deals with infinite mind that this subjective mind is the way in which man's mind is related to The Infinite.

I feel the need here of another distinction which perhaps is because I have—though I must say in the early years I studied with Ernest Holmes and I knew him—yet I think my influence probably has been more strongly from the Fillmore approach—but I personally feel the need here or sense the longing for the added division of mind in terms of the super conscious mind. I think that unless we clear this up there is a tendency of a radial of confusion because so often it is said in New Thought—this is not exactly a quote from Ernest Holmes but there are others who are closely related to Ernest Holmes and taught by him express the thought—that, "I can do all things through the power of my subconscious mind."

In other words, this again is the idea of psycho cybernetics that the subconscious mind is a servo mechanism and therefore whatever I put into the subconscious mind it will work for me and reproduce in my life. This is a very basic concept in New Thought but there is a tendency, you see, to eliminate what so often is called the creative intention which is the spiritual flow within the individual. There's a tendency then to feel that everything is based in injecting into the subconscious mind that which I want to be reproduced in my life. There is also an inference and even a strong statement of Ernest Holmes that the spirit works according to law and the law is the subconscious mind or the collective subjective mind, the universal subjective mind.

There is the sense in this, as I see it, that whatever I want to do I tell my subconscious mind, it reproduces for me, and it's right because I want to do it. It's right therefore it works exactly in accordance with my desire and there seems, to me, to be an absence of this thought of the creative intention, of The Divine Flow of the, even of what Fox would call, the true place. In other words, I'm in my right place, and I affirm, and treat, and give my subconscious the message that I want to be in this place and that place but there seems to be not enough recognition of the true place. I don't want to belabor this because this is one little chink that I find in Ernest Holmes which certainly is offset by so much that is great and good.

157 Ernest Holmes view of prayer and positive thinking

He places a great emphasis on scientific prayer which he refers to, as many New Thoughters do, as treatment based upon the purpose of altering states of consciousness. He says, and I like this very much, "That one does not treat to make things happen but to provide an avenue through which they can happen." Would that all people in New Thought, Unity included, would be aware of this realization. He tries to dissuade people from using the term and Pollyanna approach of 'positive thinking.' He likes the idea of affirmative acceptance. He feels there is a tendency to get into positive thinking with the idea to just think a lot of thoughts and a lot of things are going to happen. He likes, personally, the idea of affirmative acceptance of trying to get your consciousness into a flow to receive the greater good which I think is very good.

158 Development of Religious Science centers

The work of Ernest Holmes during these early years grew. There was no organizational focus. There was no movement. He resisted organization. He was something like Charles Fillmore and possibly there's something implicit within the consciousness of the kind of innovative freethinker that Fillmore and Ernest Holmes were that just naturally resist the kind of organization that is so much a part of traditional religion. People kept urging him to develop some kind of a structure but he refused. Eventually, he yielded and developed the kind of a structure that was called the The Institute of Religious Science in 1927. That was the same year that he started the magazine Science of Mind but he was not interested in developing a movement.

Yet he was a great teacher, and people were coming, and they were taking his courses, and he was giving progressive courses because he was very effective as a teacher. People very soon were trained and became practitioners. There were dozens of them, hundreds of them, large numbers of them. It was inevitable that some of them would want to do something about it. Southern California, very soon, was dotted with little Religious Science centers all over the place of these people going out and doing practitioner work, and ultimately having center activities, and teaching activities, and so forth. Some of them, like Ernest Holmes, later became very popular teachers and some of the big figures in the movement came out of that early years with Ernest Holmes. They thought of themselves as extensions of the Institute of Religious Science.

Now, again, this was kind of a weakness which also was a strength much the same as Fillmore. A weakness in the sense that he was constantly inspiring people and getting them turned on. A strength in the fact that ... I should say a weakness in getting people turned on and still not giving them anywhere to go organizationally. A strength in terms of the fact that he in his own consciousness knew that the moment you organize movements you tend to sound the death knell of the free flow of truth. Now, this is the history of religions has always indicated this and, I think, all very intuitive spiritual teachers seem to realize this.

159 Conflict over idenfiication as a church

Finally, the big conflict came when one of these teachers set up a work somewhere in Southern California and began to use the name Religious Science Church. As I understand it, Ernest Holmes hit the ceiling. This was the end of everything, you see, because he had no desire or intent to start a church movement whatever. This was the farthest thing from his mind as it was with Charles Fillmore, as we mentioned last week. He was very upset about this but there was little he could do about it. They had no structure, they had no control over these people, and over the movement that was springing up. A trend was started and soon one by one they began to call themselves Religious Science churches. Also, these were in Southern California, a few of them branched out throughout the country.

Eventually, these people got together because he still refused to have anything to do with it. He didn't ban the people, they were all good friends and they were all teaching from Science of Mind and so forth but he didn't really actively involve himself at all. He thought maybe they'd get tired of this little game they were playing and it would all just settle down eventually. Those things don't happen and so all of these teachers eventually got together and formed an association of Religious Science ministers. It was not related officially with the Institute. Holmes himself was invited simply to be a member as a minister and so he was. He was a member of this group as one of the ministers.

He felt that maybe this was the answer to their need for organization but, of course, they didn't stop there. Once this trend begins it just goes on. It rolls on like the wheel of karma. Eventually, they incorporated into the International Association of Religious Science Churches, the IARSC, authorized to grant charters to local groups. The minister, at first, had to be trained by the Institute. In time, this kind of division led to further dissatisfaction and they felt that they were terribly dependent on the Institute but had no voice in it.

Eventually, Ernest Holmes decided that, I suppose, in a way that if you can't beat them join them so he organized into the Founder's Church, his own center activity, his Religious Science teaching center which today has a beautiful edifice. Now, Holmes decided that maybe the people had been right and he should form a organization which would take care of the relation of the Institute and the churches. A new church would be formed, the Church of Religious Science, which would involve not only his own Founder's Church and the educational work of the Institute but also all the churches in the field would be invited to be a part of this whole organization. He thought that maybe they would all decide well finally they've done something, they'd all come flocking home. But by now, the churches in the field, were in a strongly organized body with their own officers, and their own constitution and bylaws, and so feeling that this seemed like a repetition of the mother church of Christian Science they rejected it and they refused to be a part of it. The IARSC became a separate movement so now there were two Religious Science movements.

Again, this is simply what often happens in the evolution of religious things. The result? The IARSC continued on and it's a point of pride among most of them or a point of honor, I should say, that they don't consist of a group that broke away from the Church of Religious Science; that they are the original Church of Religious Science taking precedence over the headquarters. It's an interesting point, perhaps a legal point. Raymond Barker and the New York Religious Science group is a member of the IARSC which is the second wing of Religious Science. Actually these groups cooperate, they're very close. They exchange platforms, they all teach Ernest Holmes, and so forth, and there is no apparent ideological difference whatever. There's simply an evidence that movements always tend to get involved in static processes and when truth ceases to move then there are many, many problems that happen.

160 Eric reflects on difference between Unity and Religious Science

Now, I think, that the interesting point here and the only reason I mentioned this little story about the growth of the Religious Science Church not at all to indicate any great superiority between Unity and Religious Science because this is a ridiculous comparison but rather to indicate something, that has happened that has always happened, that is also in another subtle way a part of what is happened and is happening in the Unity field.

Quite often people ask me, "What is the difference between Unity and Religious Science?" I suppose, I could be facetious or on the other hand I could nitpick which is pretty hard to do especially when I hold Ernest Holmes in such great respect. My answer usually is, "There is much greater difference within Religious Science and within Unity than there is between the two movements." In other words, there is such a great freedom of expression, such a wide latitude of the individual roaming of consciousness of the individual teachers that it would be very hard to say this is what Religious Science stands for in terms of what the teachers stand for. We could stand Ernest Holmes beside Charles Fillmore and we could find certain differences but, as Fillmore always used to say, there are more likenesses than there are differences anyway.

In terms of the individual teachers you will find that many teachers within Unity are, perhaps, more like what some think of the stereotype of the Religious Science concept and they're more teachers in Religious Science that are more like, we normally think of, as the Unity stereotype. Where I fit in the stream, I don't know. I don't think I fit anywhere.

161 Why religious organizations impede the quest for Truth

There's an interesting thing about movements and, I think, I want to mention this at this point because, I think, it is something which I sense being a part of the thinking of Ernest Holmes. I see it also in the thinking of Charles Fillmore. Ernest Holmes was a seeker. Ernest Holmes was an innovator. He was one who was a quester in truth. He became excited about the truth and he wanted to share his excitement with others. All religious movements start at that point. He had no intent in the beginning, as certainly Mr. Fillmore did not, of starting a movement, of starting a church, of ordaining ministers, or getting involved in any kind of institutionalism. This was completely foreign to his thinking. What happened, as I pointed out, is something that happened without his acknowledgment and with a great deal of his own resistance. The story of religion has almost invariably followed this pattern.

People often ask me, "What do you think the future to be of Unity or of Religious Science?" I don't what the future of Religious Science is but I can speak for Unity. I can say it even though somebody might let the cat out of the bag and write a letter to Unity headquarters and tell on me but it really doesn't make any difference. I believe, and I want you to understand this as I say it in the right context, I believe that Unity as a movement is on the way out, you see. Now, that doesn't mean that we don't have a lot of work to do. It doesn't mean that it's going to die out as a viable teaching organization in the next year, 10 years, 20 years, 100 years, or 1000 years but I am simply saying this from the standpoint that the moment that any kind of religious movement organizes, institutionalizes, even in a very loose form it is already the sound of the death knell of the influence of that movement as that which can actively spread truth, you see.

In time there is more of an emphasis on getting buildings built, and getting members in, and doing the various things that fall into that kind of a category than there is an urging people to get out on the quest for truth. This is why I love Henry Drummond who, obviously, was an influence also in Ernest Holmes. Henry Drummond in an essay which is entitled The City without a Church, among other things, stresses the idea that the main purpose of the church is to help people get along without it. The point is you will rarely find a church that is trying to help people to get along without it strictly because it's trying to make itself progressively unnecessary. Institutionalism can't do that, it can't afford to do it, you see. This is the kind of thinking that is the beginning, the early nucleus from which movements are built, and from which they ultimately deteriorate.

162 The Man Message Movement Machine Monument of religion

There is a professor of religion at the University of Southern California that cites what he calls The Five M's of Religion. I may have mentioned this, some of you may have heard it but let me just pointed out here because I think it fits in the study. He says that all religions begin with what, Emerson would call, a first-hand and immediate experience of God. Somebody had an awareness, somebody had perhaps a mystical experience, somebody was moving along in his quest for truth and suddenly the light over the head, "Ah, this is it. I have it," you see. Somebody had that awareness whether it was a flash, whether it was a progressive thing, whether it was a mystical experience, or whether it was an intellectual growth or unfoldment, or whatever.

Somewhere somebody had that kind of an experience, that was the man or the woman, we should say. I'm using the man generically and maybe because it fits into the five M's. Then the man or the person out of this experience simply because man is innately a loving, gregarious creature can't really keep a thing to himself. Have you ever noticed that when you get an insight in truth you just can't hardly contain yourself? You just want to tell everybody about it. Unfortunately, we try to do that before we've told ourselves about it. That's why Charles Fillmore used to say, "The important thing is to go ye forth into all the world and preach the gospel," and he'd stress the idea that all the world is into the farther recesses of your own subconscious mind; preach the gospel.

Anyway, the man develops a message, he puts it into words, he finds a way to articulate it. He then in small ways, as the Fillmore's did as Ernest Holmes did by starting classes and groups and so forth, began to teach people his message. Then, in time, sometimes usually inadvertently there is a movement created. Usually, by the followers and it's a lot of enterprising, eager, well-organized people who say, "Look, this fellow is great. He's got great ideas. We must organize him. We must organize his followers. We must find the right structure for him," and so they create a movement with the best of intentions.

Then, in time, the movement begins to gradually crystallize and become much more rigid. Especially after the man is no longer present, when he passes on into another experience. Then out of what is essentially fear something very striking happens and that is the movement very quickly goes through a transformation into a machine. In other words, there are those who say, "Let's don't rock the boat. Let's keep it going just exactly like it was," and so then there's a tendency to codify the words of the man, to create a doctrine, and people coming into this particular movement are indoctrinated with these words. This machine moves on and it can't change. It has built within it a kind of inertia and all the safeguards to keep it from ever getting out of that inertial pattern. On, and on, and on it rolls until eventually we have nothing left but the monument, the monument to the man.

We see that in its most extreme form in the jungles of Cambodia where you find these great temples which are great works of art and curious to people who are interested in the study of art, and archaeology, and so forth but nobody seems to know why they were ever built and what kind of religions were taught there. You see, they are monuments to some person that nobody even knows about. This professor of religion indicates that he seems to feel that this is already happening as evidenced by many of the great cathedrals of Europe who have long since lost any viability as teaching institutions. They're just great monuments. Monuments to the Christ and to the religion that came out of the teaching of this person; out of his first-hand and immediate experience.

163 Why open ended inquiry is essential

I mention this only because it is something that is rarely said and I think we can say it in this kind of a forum because I believe that this is more consistent to the consciousness and the concept of Ernest Holmes, certainly to Charles Fillmore, than anything else. That whereas today we get very concerned about the fact that I belong to Unity, or I belong to Religious Science, or Divine Science, or Christian Science, or whatever. We seem more concerned with the kind of organizational chauvinism that seems to build up and the kind of jealousies that go between them. Whereas, actually we so easily tend to forget about the basic awareness, the basic process, the basic consciousness that unfolded in the minds of the person who thus is the founder of the movement. It's so easy to say, "Well, I'm studying Ernest Holmes and that means I read his words. I won't even look at Charles Fillmore, or Mary Baker Eddy, or anybody else. I'm studying Ernest Holmes." Ernest Holmes didn't study Ernest Holmes. Ernest Holmes studied Charles Fillmore, Thomas Troward, Meister Eckhart, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emma Curtis Hopkins, and on, and on, and on you go.

So with Charles Fillmore. Charles Fillmore didn't study Charles Fillmore. He was busy studying everything that he could get his hands on, you see. The only way that you can really be true to the spirit of Ernest Holmes or the spirit of Charles Fillmore, or the spirit of Mary Baker Eddy despite the fact that there is a very crystallized machine that won't allow that to happen is to get into the same sort of open-ended inquiry and consciousness that these people had and to continue on from there, you see. As long as that kind of thinking permeates the field then there's very little problem as to whether it's Religious Science, or Unity, or whatever. The question is simply, where I am today and how I can begin to expand my awareness, and get a greater consciousness of my oneness with God? There are certainly many techniques, many individual means, great ideas expressed that can be very helpful to the person.

164 The legacy of the man compared to the movement

I see Ernest Holmes as a very outstanding teacher and one who though in our day-to-day it may be difficult to evaluate him in terms of the kind of antecedents we've been talking about because he only passed away in 1960 and that's too soon. Perhaps it's too soon to evaluate Charles Fillmore. Perhaps 100 years from now we may be able to look back, and I suspect, that we will see Ernest Holmes much in the same way as we see some of the other greats that we've talked about in previous weeks as one who has played a great role. I think possibly that as time goes along we'll be much more concerned with that role as an innovator of spiritual concepts. As one who evolved some of the great ideas that have been set forth by the antecedents than we will with Religious Science as an organization. I would suggest the same thing is true of Unity.

165 Humanity is divinity wearing a mask

Ernest Holmes had a strong conviction that every person is an evolving soul. That man is an immortal being not because he has made a bargain with The Infinite but because he's made of eternal stuff. He says, "Humanity is divinity wearing a mask," and I like that. "That which has gained self-consciousness must progressively become more and more conscious of itself. Man is on the pathway of endless expansion. He is unfolding from and into The Infinite."

166 To be spiritual is to be normal

He has a clear thought, also, about healing and medicine and I think this is significant. We talked about Charles Fillmore's attitude about this mostly because it stands in contrast with the very rigid concept of Mary Baker Eddy relative to medicine. I think Ernest Holmes has a very clear thought about it. He says,

"To be spiritual is to be normal and we will never arrive at the truth through the denial of facts. For all facts, rightly understood, will fit into the Divine pattern. The time will come when the healing agency of spiritual thought will become common knowledge. Meanwhile, we cannot wait for that time. Our individual conviction and knowledge are sufficient to demonstrate the truth of our position. Our relationship to the medical fraternity should be one of glad and willing cooperation. Each is seeking to relieve human suffering. The time will come when the healing power of thought will be better understood and more universally sought after. We do not deny that people are ill or that they need healing. We do not deny the reality of physical or psychological aids for they too are some part of the operation of the spirit. What we affirm is that every person has access to the creative cause and source. The spirit which creates and sustains everything flows through the mind of man into the accomplishment of that which mind idealizes."

167 Holmes rejects reincarnation

I think, this is about as far as we need to go. There are a lot of other aspects that we can think of. Ernest Holmes, for instance, did not endorse or adopt the idea of reincarnation as Charles Fillmore did so therefore it's a kind of an open question in the Religious Science field. Although, many Religious Science teachers themselves accept the idea of reincarnation. I suspect that it would appear that Ernest Holmes in his early experience along the way of his research with Spiritualism, and with the psychic people, and with the phenomena surrounding it that he probably had accepted, at that time, the idea of a progressive soul by soul unfoldment in an eternal existence that did not deal with the idea of a return or re-embodiment in this particular phase. Certainly, I admire him and respect him for his concept. He didn't speak too much about it except occasionally to take a backhanded swipe at the idea of those who believe in reincarnation. This was a thing that was simply a personal conviction with him but, as I say, a lot of his teachers have become believers in reincarnation.

168 Religious Science influence on Seicho-no-Ie

It's also interesting as a sidelight, and we'll close with this but, just as an interesting commentary that the kind of non-Christian basis of the Religious Science approach, which has been readily acceptable to people who do not have this deeply entrenched belief in fundamentalist Christianity, actually has been more adaptable to the Eastern religions, to Buddhism in Japan for instance, than to religions in America. Whereas we've said that Charles Fillmore's concept because he stayed very close to the biblical, Jesus Christ concept and interpretation that it has had tremendous inroads into the various traditional churches Religious Science, probably, hasn't had that kind of a growth in that area. Its growth has worked in different ways. For instance we have the phenomena, and I think, we should readily accept the fact that this came through the Religious Science and possibly much through Fenwicke Holmes but also through Ernest Holmes, the development of the Seicho-no-ie Movement in Japan.

Masaharu Taniguchi
Masaharu Taniguchi

Some of you may recall having here, at the center, several times Masaharu Taniguchi, a delightful Japanese man who has lectured here on several occasions and given workshops here. He kind of is a man like Charles Fillmore. He started off after many years in the business world and was influenced by the Mental Science approach and I am sure through Fenwicke Holmes and Ernest Holmes, the Religious Science approach. Made an easy adjustment between this, and Buddhism, and Shinto of his background and evolved from this a Mental Science approach in Japan which, whereas the metaphysical movements in America have made steady progress from time to time in different areas, he just swept the country by storm. They have something like three or four million active, zealous adherents of their movement in Japan. I think, they claim to have sold maybe eight million copies of his book in Japan which is a very substantial movement.

As those of you who know, who read of anything with the Seicho-no-ie work, have read their Seicho-no-ie magazine it's just just strictly truth as we know it today through Unity or Religious Science. It is interesting that coming through this more Mental Science with the focus not on the Christian orientation that it has much more widespread and ready acceptance in the Buddhist/Shinto areas which is just a commentary. I don't know it has any relevance to our discussion tonight but it is interesting.

169 Conclusion and meditation

Anyway, this is Ernest Holmes and I certainly commend to you the textbook Science of Mind which is a very interesting, very effective outline of truth. Certainly cannot say enough for Ernest Holmes as a person and as a teacher. I certainly have great admiration for him and feel that his length and shadow will continue on as an influence of many peoples across movement lines as the years go by.

All right, so much for our consideration this evening. Okay now let's go forth for a moment in the consciousness that we exist in The Infinite mind which Ernest Holmes refers to as the thing itself, that Divine process within us. Let's know that this mind process has no other purpose in us but to express through us and it can do no more for us than it can do through us. If we open ourselves receptively, and we commit ourselves to the free flow of this consciousness, and we give thanks for the demonstration in our experience of Divine order, harmony, peace, success, effectiveness of the person. We go in this consciousness. Amen.