THE PARADOX OF COMING TO AWARENESS
As the ancient Yin-Yang symbol shows, nothing is perfect (itself a form of perfection which allows change to occur); no one is completely one thing and not at least a bit of the other. To demand perfection of anyone is to seek the impossible. We should hold people to high standards, but not to the standard of perfection of form, which guarantees that no one will qualify. But how close can we get to a true consciousness of healing?
I am 67 years old now. I have seen a significant shift in the way that New Thought students are taught over the past three decades. When I was a student, and certainly when my teachers were students, there was a great deal of rigor regarding how we thought. One of my mentors, Dr. Carleton Whitehead, who was in his late 80’s when I met him, used to be very demanding of me – correcting what he perceived as expressions of my thoughts which he saw as not supporting my growth in awareness and depth of consciousness. He would become frustrated with me and we had several “come to Ernest (Holmes) conversations” about my lack of rigor or correct thinking patterns. This was normal in my experience; my teacher at my home center, Dr. Bill Taliaferro, was the same way.
As we have evolved as a movement, we have seen with such a rigorous approach to thinking, also came some incidents of emotional abuse of students. So, in later years, there has been more of an emphasis on what is often called a “heart-centered approach” to teaching in New Thought. In Spiral Dynamics™ terms, this shift mirrors the movement from a modernist (Orange) values system to a postmodernist (Green) values system – from a system where scientific rationalism is most highly valued to a system where feelings are most highly valued. This shift is congruent with larger patterns of cultural evolution in our society. In this context, it is important to remember that what I described as “emotional abuse” above is only seen as such from a postmodern (Green) values system – it seemed perfectly appropriate in the modernist (Orange) system. *
The paradox here questions the role, if any, of discomfort in learning. It can be said that all learning is change, and that all change involves at least some level of discomfort. Some aspects of our current belief system will be questioned or strongly challenged. We know from psychology that strongly held beliefs can be difficult to dislodge and change. A belief such as “I am a failure,” built up over years of reinforcement can create a formidable inner resistance to seeing oneself as a success. If we are to judge the quality of our thinking by the results which demonstrate in our life, and if those results are not desirable, how are we to learn, or to be motivated to learn, to change our patterns of thinking and feeling where inner resistance is strong?
"Always come to a complete conclusion when giving a treatment. Always feel that it is done, complete and perfect, and give thanks for the answer....The treatment should be repeated daily until a healing takes place. If it takes 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days, or 5 years, the treatment must be kept up until a healing is accomplished. This is the only method we know. It is not enough to SAY that everything is all right. This is true in Principle, but in fact and in human experience, it is only as true as we make it.
Treat until you get results. A healing takes place when the patient is no longer sick,
and until such time, mental work should be done."
~ Ernest Holmes
I have had significant healings in my life through the application of New Thought principles. I will add to that statement that in some of those cases I needed to be mentored in such a way as to create a great deal of discomfort within me before I could or would come to a greater acceptance of a better thought pattern. As I see it in retrospect, my teachers loved me enough to upset me. I was not happy during the process, but I am thrilled with the results.
“The genuine work which we must achieve is that which is most difficult and painful: the work on ourselves. If we do not freely take upon ourselves this pre-acceptance of pain and torment, they will be visited upon us in an otherwise necessary individual & universal collapse.”
~ Jean Gebser
If our essential self, the soul, is created with a Divine Urge to express fully and authentically (which I believe to be so), that essential aspect of us will not rest until healing occurs to facilitate such a flow of experience. In other words, it will tend to keep escalating our difficulties until we pay attention and do what is needed to heal. If I ignore the stresses in my life, I will feel uncomfortable; if I ignore that feeling, I will develop some minor physical symptoms; if I ignore those, perhaps a heart attack will follow. The overall system wants to heal, and the soul will not rest until I make the changes needed to heal; and the results may be fatal.
The paradox can be restated this way: Where is the balance between a teacher’s desire to have her students develop their capacities in mental science to a high degree, and her desire to maximize their comfort in the process? What skills are needed today which, perhaps, our teachers and their teachers did not develop because there was no demand for them? What do we do when the way to healing goes through great personal pain of some kind?
How do we develop the capacity to “Always feel that it (prayer-treatment) is done, complete and perfect, and give thanks for the answer?”
I am not advocating going back to the old days. I am advocating new approaches which encourage students to pursue the realization of taking dominion over their mental and emotional processes. We will know this has been accomplished when healings demonstrate in greater and greater numbers.
*NOTE: I am not referring to the kind of abuse that exceeded the known “best practices” of the times, which, in some cases, certainly were violated. I am referring to the common practice of things like openly questioning a student during class in such a way as to lead to discomfort.
Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard