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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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Healing Hypotheses  

APPENDIX L

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE IMMEDIATE BACKGROUND
AND NATURE OF
PROCESS NEW THOUGHT

OLD WESTERN RELIGIOUS THOUGHT

God is separate from the world.

Healing is either miraculous or medical intervention with the natural course of events.

(CONVENTIONAL, SUBSTANCE) NEW THOUGHT

God is all. Healing is receiving of God's general offering of good that requires acceptance by individual initiative (in varying degree accepting divine guidance) in using impersonal law. Reality is enduring substance.

FROM OLD TO NEW SCIENCE See Alfred North Whitehead, Modes of Thought (New York: Macmillan, 1938), Lecture Seven.

Matter in the basic form of changeless atoms has been replaced by equivalence of matter (as splittable atoms with subatomic particles) and energy. Energy is recognized as coming in momentarily-existing bursts or packets (quanta). Energy is essentially lifeless, and life a curious accident in the midst of the gigantic accident that is the universe. Earlier belief in the discreteness of things is replaced by recognition of things as interrelated in fields of force.

PROCESS NEW THOUGHT: God is all, but is more clearly recognized as the mind or personality of the universe, recognizing the universe as God's body. Healing is

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receiving of God's specifically-designed good, offered uniquely to each one. There is no acting, impersonal law, but the regularity, reliability, constancy of God's love may be considered at least its equivalent. Reality is not enduring substance, but is a vast collection of momentarily-developing units of experience.

Process New Thought is a combination of (a) the broad idealistic outlines and techniques of conventional (substance-oriented) New Thought, (b) the essential insights of the process-relational, panentheistic views of such thinkers as Whitehead and Hartshorne, and (c) an emphasis on the metaphysical centrality of personhood, characteristic of Bowne and his successors in (Boston) Personalism. In somewhat greater detail, Process New Thought is characterized by the following:

1. It accepts science's discovery of a process-relational outlook, but with a Whiteheadian recognition of the creative, living nature of the bursts of energy (called occasions of experience by Whitehead), with energy recognized as what we experience as feeling. There is nothing actual (concrete) except these units of experience. There is freedom in some degree at all levels of concrete existence since all experience has at least a little freedom. Process Philosophy is a panexperientialism; all concrete (actual) existence is experience, not passive stuff, whether considered matter or mind. Occasions of experience are the basic building blocks of reality.

2.   Life is that in which there is (a) aim (relatively free choice of possibilities), (b) creative activity (transforming potentiality into actuality), and (c) enjoyment of the process (of creating a new unity out of the combined many coming to an occasion from the past-which is composed of a multitude of earlier choices). Lifeless things are abstractions from (collections of) momentarily subjectively-aware, creative, living units (occasions of experience).

3.   The creative process is the taking of the

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many of the past and blending their influence with divinely-given possibilities, thus producing unique new creations, which are new unities of all that has been. The job of all existence is the creation of new unities. "The many become one, and are increased by one." See quotations below.

4.   As the new many are created, they are added to God's awareness, resulting in God's endless growth.

5.   Process New Thought takes care not to commit the fallacy of misplaced concreteness (mistaking the abstract for the concrete). The concrete, actual is found in occasions of experience, rather than the aggregates (collections) of them (abstractions from them) that constitute physical things and ourselves as existing more than a moment. We have serial selfhood. Instead of being things that have experiences, we are the experiences that, considered together make up the things. We (the momentsold or decades-old abstractions) are successions of occasions of experience; we have serial selfhood.

6.   Living in the moment is required by serial selfhood. Since concretely one has only a moment to live, one should make the most of it. Understanding that we are new creations moment by moment can provide a powerful psychological impetus to drop old limitations and to accept divinely-given opportunities for fullest living.

7.   After a moment of subjective (self-aware, not necessarily conscious) existence a subject (occasion of experience) becomes an everlasting object, which influences everything that comes later. Preservation of all effort in objective immortality, the state of perfect preservation of each subject-become object. Although doubted by some prominent process thinkers, there is personal subjective immortality, in which there is the perpetuation beyond bodily death of lines of development of personal occasions of experience (and probably less complex animal occasions) that preside over occasions

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making up physical bodies.

8.   Ultimate power is the lure of God's persuasive (rather than coercive) love-beauty.

9.   The wisdom-love-beauty of God is the initial aim that begins each occasion's reaction to the influence of the past constituting the situation in which it comes into existence. God's love-wisdom is offered not as general possibilities available to everyone, but as specific, tailor-made plans for the particular occasion of experience, taking into account the character of the occasions in the line of development with which the occasion in question is especially identified. The presence of God as initial aim (indwelling Christ, in New Thought terminology) justifies the New Thought claim that what is sought already has been attained; the ultimate that any occasion can accomplish is to accept completely its initial aim.

10.   The personality of God is the mind of the universe.

11.   The hierarchy of existence is explained in terms of increasing clarity of awareness of inclusiveness; the higher the level in the hierarchy, the clearer the awareness, the more obvious the intelligence, the more fully personal; God has the utmost in clarity-intelligence-personality. There is nothing beyond the personal God.

12.   Mystical experience is awareness of the larger context of existence, especially with regard to awareness of the divine love process, of providing initial aims, which is the giving activity of divine love, and the receiving of completed occasions, permanently keeping them, and making them available to all upcoming occasions--the receiving activity of divine love. The mystic leaps ahead of the usual human level of awareness in the continuum and realizes that order and love are one. Occasions have forward-looking poles, called mind, and backward-looking poles, called matter. The mystic is most consistently forward-looking, and universal- looking.

13.   The universe is the body of God, body

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understood as collection of immediate servants of presiding mind. One's own body is the servant both of God directly and of the portion of God that is one's "own" mind. Neither God nor the universe in some form (and perhaps many co-existing versions) had a beginning. God never was without a body (universe) of some type.

14.   Mind within mind is the universal pattern. Each mind (occasion of experience) contains all earlier minds. (Occasions are unaware of other occasions developing at exactly the same moment, but this is no more practically important than the fraction of a second that it takes a message to travel from toe to brain or the roughly eight minutes that it takes light from the sun to reach us. On no reasonable theory can we know anything exactly as it happens.) All is present to everything; extrasensory perception is the basic type of awareness; sensory perception is just a narrowing of attention.

15.   Time is real and is defined as the transition from one occasion of experience to the next. Experience is inconceivable apart from before-and-afterness. Freedom and creativity require a settled past and an open future. An "eternal now" of past, present, and future coexisting in their fullness is a denial of the reality of creative process; an "eternal now" may be an emotionally satisfying symbol of the comprehensiveness of God, but in reality there endless development. If process is basic to any part of reality, it must be basic to all of reality. Retrocognition is sharpened awareness of part of what is within an occasion. (It makes no difference whether one says that all the past is within God, or akashic records or oneself, for each contains all; separation is only relative.) Precognition is awareness of what is likely to occur, sharing in God's knowledge of probabilities; but the future holds surprises even for God, since freedom prevails.

16.   Natural laws are abstractions that cannot act; they are changing (generally over vast periods of time) habits of interaction of occasions of experience, but unchanging pattern by which creation takes place by

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blending of the past and the divinely-presented possible.

17. Treatment (for health, happiness, or whatever) is understood as enrichment (by awareness of divine reality of the healee by healer, or by more conventional methods) of most relevant part of the past of whoever or whatever is the object of concern (one cannot directly influence a developing occasion, so one influences the past out of which it comes, regardless of whether the healer understands that this is what is being done), in order to minimize contrast with the perfect possibility for new creation as offered by God in initial aim. Reduction of contrast makes it easier for the upcoming occasions to accept their initial aims. (The healer changes his or her own awareness by realizing the divine perfection of the one to be helped for the physician administers a drug] and this changes part of the background out of which the upcoming occasions will arise, making it easier for the one being helped to select the divinely-offered aim.)

18.   Relative separation of "God the One" from "God the many" in creation is in terms of stages of development of occasions. The start is pure God in the context of confrontation with the past (a vast collection of completed occasions of experience), but it is convenient to refer to distinctive later stages of aim and the resulting completed occasion as other than God, although in a comprehensive sense there is nothing but God.

19.   A mind (occasion of experience) is not aware of anything beyond itself that is strictly contemporaneous, but this is no more inconvenient than the passage of a fraction of a second for a message to go from one's toe to his or her brain, or the roughly eight minutes for sunlight to reach us.

In short, Process New Thought is a practical, applied, clarified idealism, in which God is recognized as utterly personal, completely impartial, totally reliable, all-inclusive, unimaginably intelligent, completely loving (sharing--uniquely adapted for each occasion of experience--perfect possibilities for realization and

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completely accepting and preserving whatever anyone or anything makes of the divinely-provided potentialities). God is fully available and all-availing. Process New Thought is New Thought minus any instances of the fallacy of misplaced concreteness such as notions of changeless (non-growing) impersonal God, enduring substance, changeless and/or active law, and with the addition of insights such as the following from Alfred North Whitehead's Modes of Thought and Process and Reality and Charles Hartshorne's "The New Pantheism" in The Christian Register, May 20 and 27, 1936, (various omissions and combinations not noted) and The Philosophy of Charles Hartshorne:

[MT 135]   [A] dead nature can give no reasons. All ultimate reasons are in terms of aim at value. A dead nature aims at nothing. It is the essence of life that it exists for its own sake, as the intrinsic reaping of value.

[MT 155-55]   None of [the] laws of nature gives the slightest evidence of necessity. They are the modes of procedure which within the scale of our observations do in fact prevail. .. They exist as average, regulative conditions because the majority of actualities are swaying each other to modes of interconnection exemplifying those laws,. . . [T]o judge by all analogy, after a sufficient span of existence our present laws will fade into unimportance. New interests will dominate. In our present sense of the term, our spatio-temporal epoch will pass into the background of the past, which conditions all things dimly and without evident effect on the decision of prominent relations.

[MT 163]   [I]n one sense the world is in the soul. . . . [But] the soul itself [is] one of the components within the world.... [My] present experience is what I now am. .

. . The soul is nothing else than the succession of my occasions of experience, extending from birth to the present moment. Now at this instant, I am the complete person embodying all these occasions. They are mine. On

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the other hand it is equally true that my immediate occasion of experience, at the present moment, is only one among the stream of occasions which constitutes my soul.

[MT 164]   [E]ach happening is a factor in the nature of every other happening.

[PR 32]   The ultimate metaphysical principle is the advance from disjunction to conjunction, creating a novel entity other than the entities given in disjunction. The novel entity is at once the togetherness of the 'many' which it finds, and also it is one among the disjunctive 'many' which it leaves; it is a novel entity, disjunctively among the entities which it synthesizes. The many become one, and are increased by one.

[PR 254]    Apart from the experiences of subjects there is nothing, nothing, nothing, bare nothingness.

[PR 254]    On one side, the one becomes many; and on the other side, the many become one.

[PR 340]   Each task of creation is a social effort, employing the whole universe. Each novel actuality is a new partner adding a new condition.

[PR 520]   [Various] strains of thought . . fashion God in the image[s] of [l] an imperial ruler, .. . [2] a personification of moral energy, . . . [3] an ultimate philosophical principle[, and 93) the Whiteheadian process-relational-organic view, which] does not emphasize the ruling Caesar, or the ruthless moralist, or the unmoved mover. It dwells upon the tender elements in the world, which slowly and in quietness operate by love; and it finds purpose in the present immediacy of a kingdom not of this world. Love neither rules, nor is it unmoved; also it is [p. 520] a little oblivious as to morals. It does not look to the future; for it finds its own reward in the immediate present.

[PR 521]   God is not to be treated as an exception to all metaphysical principles, invoked to save their collapse. He is their chief exemplification.

[PR 522]   [God] is the lure for feeling, the eternal urge of desire. His particular relevance to each

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creative act as it arises from its own conditioned standpoint in the world, constitutes him the initial 'object of desire' establishing the initial phase of each subjective aim.

[PR 526]   [God] is the poet of the world, with tender patience leading it by his vision of truth, beauty, and goodness.

[PR 532]   What is done in the world is transformed into a reality in heaven, and the reality in heaven passes back into the world. By reason of this reciprocal relation, the love in the world passes into the love in heaven, and floods back again into the world. In this sense, God is the great companion--the fellow-sufferer who understands.

[Hartshorne, NP]   A man has some awareness of the actions of his bodily cells; but what these cells do individually the man as a whole does not do, but only what these cells do in concert or together. We are cells in the body of God; for the most general bearing of our collective acts God is responsible, but not for our individual choices as such. . . . Omnipotence in the legitimate sense means all possible power over all things, but it does not mean "all the power in the universe as the power of one thing."

[T]he problem of evil is met in part by admitting a real division of power between God and finite creatures. To say that we are parts of God is . . . only shorthand for saying that God feels our feelings (the same applies to our relation to our cells, except that our intuition of cellular feelings is vague and imperfect). Sympathy is the very meaning of unification in a truly spiritual philosophy.

Panpsychism [psychicalism]. . . abolishes the apparent implication of pantheism that God has a body composed of mere or dead matter. His material body is simply the minds inferior to him (as a man's cells to the man) collectively dominated by him, but also exercising influence upon him. A body is the organization of one's

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immediate servants. All things are the immediate servants of God, hence all nature is literally his body. But servanthood is limited by the principle of the division of power, and the action of the master is subject to reaction upon the master. This removes another paradox in the older theologies of a God upon whose action no counteraction can be exerted.

As the world acquires new content with the happening of new events, the things with which God sympathizes, the total contents of his sympathetic awareness, are added to and in this sense changed. Thus ethically God is forever the same unstinted love, but esthetically he is the ever-changing symphony of the world-process.

[God is] creative in the only sense in which creation is given any meaning by our experience. To create is to mold the course of events into correspondence with an idea. Men thus literally create each other when they mold each other's character by education and friendship. Thus the paradoxes of timeless purpose, together with those of non-sensitive ("impassive") love, and of action without reaction, are done away with once for all.

Personality is the only principle of wholeness, of integration, on a complex level such as the universe must involve, of which we have any experience. . . .[T]he scientist believes in a kind of unity or integrity of nature which he does not analyze. What could this unity be? If nature as a whole is a person of a supreme kind, then of course she will have certain ways of acting, for in such ways does personality express itself....

[The attributes, characteristics, of God] were posited because they were required for an intelligible universe. . . . Atheism . . . declares that the world as a whole must forever be completely unintelligible to us [and] that there is no ultimate standard by which life can be ordered.

[PCH 691]   Of the dualities connected with psychicalism, the key one for me is, singular and composite.

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Groups of sentient entities are not necessarily also sentient (fallacy of composition), nor are members of a group that as a whole does not feel necessarily insentient (fallacy of division). From whom did I first learn about this? It was not Whitehead but Leibniz, who saw it with the clarity of genius nearly three hundred years ago.

[PCH 692]   Not only did I reason to psychicalism from my theism, but the converse reasoning also was important for me. If, without psychicalism, theism is incoherent, so, without theism, is psychicalism. How can many psyches, each of whom (Plato) is to some extent self-moved as well as moved by other self-movers, constitute an orderly cosmos [if there were no God]?

[PCH 700]   My   ultimate   intuitive   clue   in philosophy is that "God is love" and that the idea of God is definable as that of the being worthy to be loved with all one's heart, mind, soul, and entire being. This definition I owe to Paul Tillich. I conclude that therefore love in its most generalized sense is the principle of principles. It is creativity, stressing one of its aspects. Whitehead says that "Love, imperfect in us is perfect in God." It is with his help that I have been able to generalize this to apply to nondivine actualities generally, Peirce hints strongly in the same direction and so does Bergson.

[PCH 700]   Two important differences between my psychicalism and Whitehead's are that I conceive God as analogous to a "personally ordered society" rather than to a single actuality, and distinguish between God's Consequent Nature (CN), capturable in a concept, and the contingent states or instantiations of that nature--states knowable only intuitively and (to put it mildly) knowable adequately only by God. The CN in itself is part of the formal not the material side.... It is not contingent.

[PCH 700-701]   Because Whitehead does not distinguish between consequent [upon what happens throughout the universe] nature and consequent states of God, or between divine concreteness and instances of this

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abstraction, he obscures the truth that . . . The creative process has had no beginning.  

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