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Excerpts from

New Thought Common Sense

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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Book Contents
What Life Means to Me. Partial Contents: Antitoxin of Common Sense; Are You Doing the Best You Can; Be Not Easily Offended; Ignore Misfortune; Power of Personality; Good Business; High Calling of Fatherhood and Motherhood; Thought Building for Children; New Thought Economy; What is a Good Woman; Are You Alive; Old and New Thought view of Life; Common Sense Ideas in Marriage; Woman and the Cigarette; Famous and Infamous Women; Enemies to Happiness; Enthusiasm; Universal Need; Building Kindness Cells; What is the Loving Thing to Do; What Life Means to Me.

Chapter 1


THE philosophy of New Thought is not new, it has not one original idea, but is a simplified and practical form of a very ponderous and wonderful religion. It makes an application to the everyday needs of modern life, of principles and ideas which the ancients used only for the few who chose the life of adepts.

No being, human or divine, known to history, sacred or profane, can be called the originator or discoverer of mental or spiritual healing. The Bhagavad-Gita, the oldest known record of religious tenets, is full of New Thought.

In the Dhammapada Buddha it is said :

"All that we are is the result of what we have thought."

"In this Universe there is one continuous force on every plane of existence. There is no difference between the sun and man. There is no such thing as my body, or your body, except in words. It is all one. Sun, moon, mineral, man. Even in manifest motion there is only unity. One who has learned how to manipulate the internal forces  will get the whole of nature under his control.

"One man having more control of "Prana" than another, can rouse him for the time being to a state of vibration, and transmit health to him. The process can be carried on at a distance. Is there any break between you and the sun? Why, then, cannot force travel?

"This is only primitive healing. Faith and will, brought to bear, rouse, through faith, the dormant Prana of the patient and dispels disease. All manifestations of power arise from control of Prana or thought."

Here are some of the principles taken from the Raja Yoga. (The literal meaning of Raja Yoga is "The science of conquering the external nature for the purpose of realising the Divinity within." What right has any modern teacher to claim that central idea as his or her own discovery?) "We must have four sorts of ideas: Friendship for all; we must be merciful toward those in misery; we must rejoice with the happy, and ignore wickedness."

Every reaction in the form of hatred or evil thought is so much loss to the mind; and every evil thought, or deed of hatred, controlled and overcome will be laid to our favour. Each time we suppress the unworthy impulse, so much good energy is stored in our favour, to be converted to higher uses.

In the least known Atharva Veda there are suggestions and affirmations for the cure of disease which rival in minuteness and number any modern mind cure scheme.

Those who care to look up these old works, can find how the masters of the most ancient philosophies were familiar with all the laws claimed to be discovered by Theosophy, Christian Science, or New Thought.

It is difficult to understand how any modern metaphysician can claim a "discovery" in this line of thought, after reading such extracts from a philosophy thousands of years old when Christ came to earth. The idea that nothing exists in the universe but God, and that by our consciousness of unity with Him we attain health, bliss, and immortality, is the very foundation stone of the Vedas. It is at least presumptuous for anyone in this age to claim it as a discovery.

Once every century or two, the progressive minds of earth grow tired of empty forms and creeds, and seek for some simple expression of true religious feeling. Just now this creed is known as "New Thought." Two hundred years ago it was called "Quietism," and its leader was a woman, Mme. Guyon. She was born with a passion for a religious life. She passed through various phases of self-torture, self-sacrifice, austerity, and devotion, and yet found no peace.

Finally a holy man said to her: "Madam, you are disappointed because you seek from without that which you have within. Accustom yourself to seek God in your own heart, and you will find Him."

This statement was a revelation to Mme. Guyon; from that hour she became what was in that age termed "a mystic." It is said of her by a historian of her time: "God was continually present to her, and she appeared to feel and behold all creatures as immersed in the gracious omnipresence of the Most High. In her adoring contemplation of the Divine Presence, she often found herself unable to pray for any particular blessing. More than once those who chanced to sit near her, believed they perceived a marvellous efflux of grace proceeding from her to themselves."

Mme. Guyon founded a religion called Quietism. It meant simply the habit of becoming quiet and finding the Divine Nature within. It called for no aid of priest, ideal, form or creed.

That is precisely what the "New Thought" and "Mental Science" people mean when they talk about "going into the Silence."

Mme. Guyon gained her idea of  "Quietism" from one who had gained his from the adepts and scholars of India.

"New Thought" goes back to the same reservoir of human knowledge and religious attainments. Mme. Guyon often went to the extreme, which means fanaticism, and lost her balance, as so many devoutly religious people do.

She refused to have an aching tooth extracted, believing it was right to suffer since the pain was sent. She lost all interest in the world in which she lived, and unless engaged in establishing hospitals, or in other charitable works, or in her large correspondence on religious matters, she found happiness only in solitude and quiet, frequently lying absolutely motionless for hours in the woods.

It is a good thing to be alone a portion of every day, and it is a good thing to commune with one's own soul. There is no growth possible otherwise. But it is a sensible thing to keep in touch with humanity and to walk along earth's highways, interested in and interesting to one's fellow-beings.

Any religion which eliminates human sympathy and common sense is on the road to fanaticism.

Just as Mme. Guyon was absurd in refusing to draw the aching tooth, so the modern spiritual fanatic is absurd and almost criminal at times, when he allows a member of his family to die without trying "old thought" means of cure.

There is a spirituality capable of preventing disease.

But once it fails and allows the enemy to creep in, then, if he is not quickly put to rout, let practical methods make their attempts at cure.

While we keep our eyes fixed upon the heavens, we should remember that our feet must remain on the earth until we are freed from our bodies.

We have not yet learned to fly.

* * * * *

The longer I live and the more I see,
   Of the struggle of souls toward the heights above,
The stronger this truth comes home to me:
   That the Universe rests on the shoulders of love.

Chapter 2


MANY phases of metaphysical thought today have become epidemic. They need the anti-toxin of Common Sense, to save the minds infected, from mania.

Any philosophy, or religion, or creed, or dogma, which fails to make men better sons, husbands and fathers, better neighbours and citizens, is of little use to the world.

Any woman who is not improved as a daughter, wife, mother, neighbour and friend, by her religion, has not found the path that leads to the highest development of her character.

Hundreds of men and women in our midst are striving to attain powers which will enable them to reach above this everyday plane of consciousness, and to see and hear what is transpiring in psychic realms.

Insanity, divorce, broken homes and broken minds, frequently result from those foolish endeavours to become "adepts."

The ranks of the adepts are not reinforced, but the ranks of the world's unfortunates are.

No religion, no philosophy, no course of mental or spiritual training can fit human beings to adorn or enjoy "realms beyond" unless it fits them first to adorn, and enjoy, the realms in which they are placed by Destiny.

No amount of spiritual enthusiasm can render us capable of filling important positions in "kingdom come" unless it enables us to first perform every nearest duty here on earth with willing cheerfulness, courage and trust.

The Creator who placed us upon earth, in human bodies, with human instincts and appetites, intended us to live as normal human beings, performing the tasks necessary to the earthly sojourn, while we develop to the best of our ability the character which merits immortality.

But this development cannot be obtained by leaping over the practical, commonplace obligations of home, neighbourhood and society, and arriving at some spiritual eminence from which immortality is discernible.

It must be attained by climbing up the stairs of duties performed. Prayer and meditation "in the silence" are both means of lifting the mind above the petty worries of everyday life. They are like refreshing showers, which cleanse the mind from dust; like rays of sunshine, which bring forth blossoms on the barren earth.

But the woman who devotes her time to prayer and meditation and neglects to sweep her room, to prepare the meals for her family, to care for her person and make herself attractive to her husband and children, and who fails to interest herself in the things which render her companionable to those nearest her, is not developing the highest attributes of her nature.

She is not winning immortality; and she is not on the path to the highest usefulness in this world.

She is making a mistake, which will prove a hindrance to her happiness on both planes of consciousness.

When any religion creates a growing chasm between a wife or a mother, and her family, and causes a separateness of interests, and atrophies the affections, its divine origin may be questioned.

Religion should give new vitality to the heart, strengthen the love nature, and bring those who are near to us still nearer; it should enable us to be so broad, so tolerant, so sympathetic, so loving, that all difference of faith can be borne, without discord or alienation of the affections.

New Thought, so called, of all religions ought to bring harmony rather than dissension into the family circle. Its whole philosophy rests upon the power of silent thought to change conditions and achieve results.

The old creeds believed in proselytising, in trying to make converts, in preaching and haranguing, and in revival meetings, which consisted in working upon the emotional and hysterical nature of the "unconverted."

New Thought has abandoned all these methods. The law of assertion has taken the place of preaching and praying with "sinners." Thought has been declared by physical science to be a phase of the same energy which governs the solar system. It is understood how, rightly and persistently directed, thought can draw to the mind which sends it forth whatever that mind desires. Demand creates supply.

The woman who wants her family to come into harmony with her ideas, should begin by making her family love and respect her in every capacity of wife, mother, sister, daughter and friend.

So practical, so thoughtful, so humanly loving, so useful, so companionable should she be in her daily life, so cheerful and so amiable in her performance of duties, that her example would, in the natural course of events, seem worthy of emulation, and her ideas and opinions worthy of respect.

When such a woman sends into space her quiet, earnest assertions that those who are dear to her believe as she believes, and understand as she understands, she need use no arguments, no sermons, no educating methods, to bring about the desired result.

Sooner or later she will be given her heart's wish.

But she who allows her creed to separate her from her family, who forgets to be the ideal wife, mother or daughter in trying to be the spiritual adept, only drives her family further away from the truth as she understands it, and delays her own best development by neglecting her nearest duties.

It is good wives and good mothers and good women in the daily walks of life that the world needs, not adepts or miracle workers.

"Be ye faithful in a few things, and ye shall be made rulers over many."

Great powers come to those who continually perform small obligations with an understanding of their importance in the building of the House Beautiful—the human character.

* * * * *

I care not who were vicious back of me:
No shadow of their sins on me is shed.
My will is greater than heredity,
I am no worm to feed upon the dead.

"New Thought Common Sense"

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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