Overcoming the False Belief that Me is Separate from We

BY CONOR MACCORMACK

Barring having taken up residence under a rock (the appeal of which I can seriously entertain these days), we have all seen and read the slew of horrific headlines dominating the news and social media. Whether it is the senseless atrocities committed by Islamic fundamentalists, systematic oppression of racial, religious, and sexual minorities around the world, continued unrest in the Middle East, economic/social inequality or the most recent cringe inducing act of the Trump administration, many are asking the age old question, “How can we combat evil and injustice?”
Some believe in the old Mosaic maxim of “an eye for an eye,” that only by fighting fire with fire can we stamp out the forces of darkness politically, socially, and spiritually. Others may strike a more fatalistic tone, saying that there is no point in trying to effect change since the “world has gone to hell” or that it’s “just the way of things.” How should we in the New Thought community – whose shared mission statement is to have a world that works for everyone – go about doing our part to dispel the darkness which can cloud our lives, individually and collectively?

Wallace Wattles, socialist congressional candidate and inspiration for The Secret celebrated New Thought’s power to transform the lives of individuals and create a more just society. Illustration by Tim Botta

As in any area of life understanding and mastering the basics is a key component of spiritual practice; counterintuitive as it may seem in our complex world. In New Thought our fundamental premise is that our habitual thoughts, emotions, and beliefs play a significant role in shaping the microcosm of individual circumstances as well as the macrocosm of socio-political policies. Knowing that we are interconnected with others and our environment through Universal Mind, and that whatever we put into this subjective medium in the form of concepts and ideas will be expressed objectively, we can begin to create a better world by, as Ernest Holmes wrote, beginning right where we are through reconditioning our beliefs. While we may take this oft repeated point for granted it is only by consistent practice that positive changes will begin to take place.
By the continual “renewing of our minds” we see through the erroneous “patterns of the world” rooted in fear, bigotry, and superstition. We come to realize that on all levels violence only begets violence, hatred breeds hatred, and that “an eye for an eye makes the world blind.” The thought that evil is to be fought with aggression aides in perpetuating it. To resist evil by responding to it measure for measure will only succeed in rendering an equal reaction of chaos and destruction. That is why all crusades, jihads, witch hunts, pogroms, inquisitions, and prohibitions are doomed to failure, serving only to fan the flames of the evil they seek to destroy. As the Buddhist Dhammapada says, “For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by love. This is an unalterable law.”
Harv touched upon this in a post back in February, quoting the spiritual teacher Adyashanti as saying that activism and action must be rooted in what we love, rather than what we fear or hate. Reacting in a spirit of opposition against an ideology, rather than taking principled action in support of your chosen cause, reinforces the other side which digs their heels in, thinking that they are being attacked. Take the current political goings on for instance: opponents of the President’s policies, instead of presenting alternatives with calm but firm confidence, resort to viciously denouncing him which as we know all too well he and his supporters are happy to do in kind. This school yard back and forth serves as grease for the wheel of strife. A prime example of principled action is the strategy of nonviolent protest perfected by Martin Luther King, Jr. and his fellow leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. Through their unwavering faith in the ideal of full equality before the law, they were able to overcome the engrained concept of racial segregation and the violent efforts of those who sought to maintain the unjust status quo.
On the other side of the coin, readjusting our perspective frees us from the shackles of apathy and despair. The realization that we are made “in the image and likeness of God”, endowed with the abilities to transcend our limitations, will put the lie to the idea that we must acquiesce to existing states of sickness, poverty, injustice, and oppression of all kinds. Study and application of the laws of mind demonstrate that we need not want for any good thing, helping to dissolve the false belief that opportunity is limited or cornered, which all too often leads to cutthroat competition, justifies underhanded business tactics, and creates a cultural atmosphere of distrust. This, along with knowledge of our essential unity – biologically and spiritually – as children of “One God and Father of all”, should inspire us to advocate and champion the rights of others alongside our own.
The false dichotomy which has risen in New Thought/metaphysical circles between whether individual empowerment or social justice is the sole means of transcending evil is needlessly divisive. As Mitch Horowitz has chronicled on this blog leading New Thought luminaries of the early 20th century, such as The Science of Getting Rich author Wallace Wattles (who ran for political office as a – gasp – Socialist) and Nautilus magazine publisher Elizabeth Towne, both taught and lived the two principles without contradiction; while progressive activists like Marcus Garvey and Elizabeth Cady Stanton freely drew on tenants of mind metaphysics in their respective quests to spearhead personal and political liberation.
With that said not all New Thoughters/metaphysicians need pick up signs and take to the streets. As St. Paul noted in his First Letter to the Corinthians “There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” As individual expressions of the Infinite we have been blessed with diverse talents, to be used for our own advancement as well as that of others. Whether we compose symphonies, perform surgeries, write legislation or mow lawns we can carry out our singular capabilities with enthusiasm and render our services in goodwill, knowing that the optimal expression of each constituent part adds to the well–being of the whole. By contributing our unique spark to the flame of truth we do our part to aid in dissipating, slowly but surely, the shadows of ignorance and overcoming evil with good.

Conor MacCormack is a freelance writer covering New Thought and alternative spirituality. He is preparing to begin a course of study to earn ordination as a Religious Science minister. MacCormick has written a book of poetry, Lines of Life and Vision, in addition to producing updated editions of New Thought classics The Science of Getting Rich, As a Man Thinketh, and The Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science, all available on Amazon.  He also works as an editor, providing proofreading and content creation services for authors, entrepreneurs, health care practitioners, and educational organizations. MacCormack lives in New England with his wife.
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