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submitted in accordance with the requirements

for the degree of


in the subject


at the



30 NOVEMBER 2004


This thesis is the result of the study and interpretation of Emmet Fox’s religious
thinking as portrayed in his published books. Inspired by his simple, yet universal and
comprehensible beliefs, the enthusiasm for a project of this nature was further
supported by those in the New Thought movement. Many individuals endorsing this
belief system have played a significant role in my own development and understanding
of such concepts and I am eternally grateful to them. In loving memory I acknowledge
Dr June Jones, considered the ‘mother’ of New Thought in South Africa, for training
and qualifying me within this line of thought. My heartfelt thanks to Dr Margaret
Stevens for her involvement in New Thought in South Africa and her continuous
support and friendship throughout the years.

I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to the following people who have
taken a more active part in the compilation and completion of this project:

Professor Kobus Krüger, for his interest in the subject, and who, through his
unique way of enthusing, guiding and encouraging one, gave form and structure to

Liz Stewart, for her skillful and professional editing.

My mother, Marie, for her unconditional love throughout my life.

My late father, Duggie, for his motivation.

Ludi for believing in me and initially encouraged me to undertake such a project.

And together with our boys, Wicus and Jaco, provided the balanced, supporting
and loving family environment to work in.

The religious significance of Emmet Fox (1886–1951), a pioneer in the New Thought
movement, is the focus of this study. The relevance of Fox’s religious thought will be
determined in reference to and in the context of contemporary theorist Ken Wilber’s
theoretical framework of integral hermeneutics. On the basis of Fox’s primary writings,
biographical information, the ideas and philosophy of modern New Thought scholars and
Wilber’s literature, Fox’s religious thought was interpreted and evaluated. Aspects of Fox’s
belief, such as creative mind, scientific prayer, meditation and healing, concepts such as God,
Jesus Christ, death, reincarnation, karma and end times, as well as his method of biblical
exegesis are discussed. It becomes apparent that Emmet Fox, preacher and teacher, had
never intended to provide a scientific or academic structural doctrine in which to deliver his
teaching. His non-conformist, simple, yet well thought-through beliefs, which include esoteric,
eastern and universal truths, focused on the fundamental truths that are necessary for
humanity’s evolutionary development. This approach made Fox’s teaching valuable to his
audience of the time, a changing American consciousness, as well as appropriate to a
transformational South Africa, where it is relevant in bridging the various cultures, languages,
and religious beliefs within a continuously changing spiritually minded population, and most of
all, beneficial to every person’s inner spiritual journey towards ultimate enlightenment.

Fox’s underlying religious belief is that ‘the thought is the thing’ and this endorses the whole
of the New Thought teaching, which states that ‘whatever the mind can conceive and believe,
it can achieve’ or ‘be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind’. Probably the most
remarkable feature of his religious thinking is his popular allegorical interpretation of the Bible,
which he interprets spiritually.

It is apparent that there is an affinity between the religious thought of Emmet Fox and that of
Wilber. Although the intent of this study is not to compare these scholars, it is interesting and
valuable to Fox’s interpretation that they advocate a similar underlying belief in the holistic
Kosmos and the importance of having an integral vision.


New Thought

Fox, Emmet

Wilber, Ken

Alternative religion

Power of the mind

Creative thought

Metaphysical teaching


Allegorical interpretation of the Bible

Integral hermeneutics

Theory of everything

Divine Mind

Scientific prayer


Acknowledgements …………………………………………………………………………. i

Summary …………………………………………………………………………………….. ii

Key Terms …………………………………………………………………………………… iii

Chapter 1

INTRODUCTION ……………………………………………………………………. 1

1.1 Topic, approach and relevancy …………………………………………… 1

1.2 Method ………………………………………………………………………. 7

1.3 Survey of Literature ………………………………………………………… 8

1.4 Structure of the thesis ……………………………………………………… 11

Notes ………………………………………………………………………………. 13

Chapter 2

THE LIFE OF EMMET FOX ……………………………………………………….. 14

2.1 His life ……………………………………………………………………….. 14

2.2 His publishers and publications …………………………………………… 38

Notes ……………………………………………………………………………… 44

Chapter 3

NEW THOUGHT HISTORY ……………………………………………………….. 45

3.1 What is New Thought? …………………………………………………….. 45

3.2 History, roots, forerunners and founders ………………………………… 47

3.2.1 History, roots and forerunners …………………………………….. 47

3.2.2 Founders/leaders of organisational movements ………………… 51

3.3 Theology, philosophy and subsequent challenges for New Thought …. 53

Notes ……………………………………………………………………………… 62

Chapter 4


4.1 Growth and evolution ………………………………………………………. 66

4.2 The great chain of being …………………………………………………… 72

4.3 Thanatos and eros …………………………………………………………. 78

4.4 Fall from source: involution and evolution ……………………………….. 80

4.5 The path of return to wholeness ………………………………………….. 84

4.6 A theory of everything ……………………………………………………… 87

4.7 Conclusion …………………………………………………………………… 93

Notes ……………………………………………………………………………… 96

Chapter 5


5.1 Upper-right quadrant: exterior individual …………………………………. 99

5.2 Upper-left quadrant: interior individual …………………………………… 100

5.3 Creative mind ……………………………………………………………….. 102

5.4 Prayer, meditation and healing ……………………………………………. 114

5.4.1 Prayer and meditation ……………………………………………… 116

5.4.2 Healing ………………………………………………………………. 133

Notes ………………………………………………………………………………. 140

Chapter 6


6.1 Lower-left quadrant: interior collective (cultural) ………………………… 143

6.2 Lower-right quadrant: exterior collective (social) ………………………... 144

6.3 The God concept …………………………………………………………… 146

6.3.1 To define God ……………………………………………………….. 153

6.3.2 The personal God …………………………………………………... 154

6.3.3 The seven main aspects of God …………………………………... 157

6.3.4 The names of God ………………………………………………….. 161

6.3.5 A jealous God? ……………………………………………………… 165

6.3.6 Closing thoughts on God …………………………………………... 166

6.4 Jesus Christ: a metaphysical revolution ………………………………….. 168


6.4.1 Jesus and Christ: the human and the divine …………………….. 171

6.4.2 The Jesus Christ teaching …………………………………………. 175

6.5 Socialising concepts ……………………………………………………….. 177

6.5.1 Church and structure ……………………………………………….. 177

6.5.2 Tithing ………………………………………………………………... 178

Notes ……………………………………………………………………………… 182

Chapter 7


7.1 The process of dying and death …………………………………………... 186

7.1.1 Death defined ……………………………………………………….. 186

7.1.2 The next world ………………………………………………………. 188

7.1.3 The bardo experience ……………………………………………… 194

7.1.4 Preparation for life here-after ...................................................... 198

7.2 The concept of reincarnation ………………………………………………. 200

7.2.1 Immortality …………………………………………………………… 201

7.2.2 The doctrine of reincarnation ……………………………………… 201

7.2.3 Karma ………………………………………………………………… 209

7.2.4 Liberation from the cycle of rebirth ………………………………... 211

7.3 The end times ……………………………………………………………….. 212

Notes ………………………………………………………………………………. 218


Chapter 8

BIBLICAL EXEGESIS ……………………………………………………………. 221

8.1 Biblical exegesis in the New Thought tradition ………………………….. 221

8.2 Emmet Fox’s method of Biblical interpretation ………………………….. 223

8.3 Allegoric and symbolic scriptural analysis ……………………………….. 228

8.3.1 The Sermon on the Mount …………………………………………. 228

8.3.2 The Ten Commandments ………………………………………….. 233

8.3.3 The Lord’s Prayer …………………………………………………… 239

8.3.4 The Good Shepherd ………………………………………………... 244

8.4 Conclusion ………………………………………………………………….. 247

Notes ………………………………………………………………………………. 250

Chapter 9

CONCLUSION ………………………………………………………………………. 253

APPENDIX A ……………………………………………………………………………….. 264

APPENDIX B ……………………………………………………………………………….. 265

APPENDIX C ……………………………………………………………………………….. 266

APPENDIX D ……………………………………………………………………………….. 267


APPENDIX E ……………………………………………………………………………..... 268

BIBLIOGRAPHY …………………………………………………………………………. 269




The religious significance of Emmet Fox (1886–1951), a pioneer in the New Thought
movement and one of its most popular writers ever, is the focus of this study. Emmet Fox1
was born in Ireland, of Irish parents, although he had been conceived in the United States,2
on 30 July 1886. He received his education in England, but after becoming an American
citizen (1941), he lived out his career in the United States, about which he was passionate.
On 13 August 1951 he died in his beloved Paris. As one of the metaphysical movement’s
greatest leaders, he also addressed the largest crowds in this movement’s history.

The primary aim of this research paper is to understand Fox’s religious thought. I would like
to determine the current influence of a teaching such as that which Fox presented and
whether it is worthy of our attention. A question I have asked myself is why one would
choose a person such as Emmet Fox, who seemingly wrote and preached in such simple
language that even a child can understand it? At times the written material may become
boring in its simplicity and its repetition of similar facts. It has been said that if one has read
one of Fox’s books, one has read them all.

The above question will be answered through interpreting Fox with reference to and in the
context of the theoretical framework developed by Ken Wilber, specifically in three of his
books: Sex, ecology, spirituality: the spirit of evolution (1995), Up from Eden (1996) and A
theory of everything (2001). This contemporary theorist believes that humanity is living in a
fractured worldview that separates and divides everything – a worldview that is in need of
healing. He acknowledges that ‘at the very base of men and women’s consciousness, then,
lies the Ultimate Wholeness [but that] it is not in the vast majority consciously realized’
(Wilber 1996:14). It is this fear and resistance of the wholeness that keeps humanity
imprisoned in ignorance, judgement and being pathological.
Ken Wilber, one of the most widely read (author of over a dozen books) and influential
American philosophers and thinkers of our time, has been called a true philosopher-mystic.
Writing with great conceptual clarity and a wealth of information, the work of this
remarkable scholar is regarded as the catalyst that humanity needs for a shift in
consciousness into a new millennium. This project will therefore critically evaluate Fox’s
religious thinking in terms of Ken Wilber’s theory to determine whether there is an inner
affinity between New Thought3 and Wilber’s reflections. It seems that Emmet Fox, a
precursor of Ken Wilber, is in line with the model of religious thinking of the present.

In the final analysis the aim of this study is to understand the relevance of Emmet Fox in
the South African context.

Fox’s religious and educational upbringing was of a rather traditional and formal nature. As
a young boy he discovered his healing abilities and was drawn to the metaphysical
teachings of that time. On leaving the Catholic Church, he began to study movements such
as Practical Metaphysics, New Psychology and Divine Science. It was important to Fox to
have the freedom to approach God in ways known to him.

In sketching a complete biographical overview of his life and work (see chapter 2), one will
gain insight into the nature and quality of his teachings. This shy and rather greyish
character, who then turned into a positive and spiritually focused young man, came to
influence so many lives. His simple, qualitative, well-balanced and practical approach to
life, combined with his appreciation of beauty all around him, as well as his enthusiasm for
life and belief in God as first cause, forms the backbone of his metaphysical teaching.

One should take into account, when one analyses Fox’s methods, that he was first a
preacher and not an academic. Therefore this work will not involve detailed academic and
theological discussions, but will emphasise his ability to bring ancient symbols and truths
right into the field of every person’s understanding today. From a detailed description and
analysis of his teachings, together with his allegorical and metaphysical ways of
interpreting scripture, one comes to understand his intent and purpose for such a structure
or method. His advice has always been from his own personal experiences and
inspirational insights. His guidelines were simple, practical and easy to apply. When
students inquired about the next step in their spiritual growth, Fox reminded them to use
what they had rather than enrol in yet another intellectual activity. The ‘mere accretion of
knowledge’, he states, ‘is true in the study of mathematics, or of physics, or chemistry’, but
‘it is not true in metaphysics’. Metaphysics is both a science and an art and one learns by
doing. ‘Spiritual growth comes from putting into practice the knowledge we already
possess’ (Fox 1984:36).

In an attempt to understand his teaching of the power of the mind, Fox reminds us of
Pythagoras, who said ‘man know thyself’ (Fox 1994:29). He points out that truth has been
inspired by the Divine Mind and thought is the creative force in the world. This, he says, is
stated over and over again, in different stories, through different symbols, in various ages
and traditions, because it is the basis of all spiritual growth. To know and understand one’s
own nature is to have the power to control it. And he believes that the Bible shows one how
to do this. He always reminded his readers that God is ‘All’ and ‘Good’ and therefore there
is nothing to fear.

In the early 1930s Fox was ready to move from a more fundamental religious background
into the now-known New Thought movement. ‘New Thought or Christian metaphysics’, as
he calls it, has ‘helped to wear down the old theology in its various forms’ (Fox 1994:29).
This movement, which stands for the principles of the love of God and the power of prayer,
to Fox is the basis of New Thought. It suited his enquiring mind and allowed him to express
and worship God in his own ways, which to him is the ‘direct seeking of God in the
individual soul’ (Fox 1939:17). It was against this background that he began his teaching of
what he really knew and really believed. He summarised it in a single phrase: ‘As you
believe, so shall it be done unto you.’ This to him is the teaching of Jesus in the New
Testament. He believed that ‘all you have of your religion is what you practice’, for as a
‘mere theory, it is dead’ (Fox 1941b:12). He always reminded teachers of truth, to teach
only what they really know and believe.

In a volume called Who’s who in New Thought (published in 1977 by Tom Beebe) Emmet
Fox was listed as one of the historical figures that are featured. Other names included
Horatio W Dresser, Ernest Holmes, Emma Curtis Hopkins, Ralph Waldo Trine, Emanuel
Swedenborg and many more (Larson 1985:287). Besides having been one of the most
popular New Thought writers (Anderson 1985:247), Fox was also considered to have been
the ‘most famous minister’ of Divine Science, which was the earliest New Thought
denomination to have emerged (Anderson and Whitehouse 1995:24). Larson (1987:179),
through reading Fox’s material, is amazed at his power. And although he considers that
there was nothing even remotely original in Fox’s thought, he believes that Fox’s appeal
must have lain in his simplicity and forthrightness. It is this easy and casual way of writing
about spiritual matters that made him such a popular writer. Fox did not write to prove
anything, but rather to state things in a simple way in order to make his readers and
listeners aware of their own potential.

One is aware that Fox was not an academic and that he seldom, if ever, engaged in
academic discourses with other theologians of his time. While he differs from traditional
Christianity on some interpretations of the Bible, this nevertheless leaves an emptiness
within the sphere of theological discussions. He hardly ever refers to any other researched
or academic work and neither does he place his teaching within any historical or religious
framework. His books do not feature a bibliography or index of any nature, either. Although
his metaphysical interpretations of the Bible were not considered particularly deep, they still
seemed relevant to his readers.

However, it is undeniable that he did influence his readers and listeners to greater spiritual
heights and transformations in their personal lives and his work continues to inspire his
present-day readers. His strength as a preacher and writer seems to lie in his non-
conformist nature. He did not follow any other person or teaching; nor was he interested in
producing an academic achievement. His teaching is not about comparing, proving or
validating an existing system or school of thought, but only about sharing what made sense
to him. He wrote and preached for the person in his congregation who was not interested in
theologies, theories or philosophies, but was struggling with challenges in his or her
relationships or business or with ill health. Fox provided these people with soul food and he
did this within their religious framework. His advice was challenging, yes, for this is when
one shifts energy and the miracles are demonstrated. However, the tools and guidelines
were always directed at the level of the person’s spiritual understanding where it could be
of value to him or her. He has stated that although someone else’s interpretation may be
helpful or stimulating, one should nevertheless keep one’s focus on God as the inspiring
factor, for it is this consciousness that will lead one to obtain a direct illumination on the
teachings. I’m convinced that it is just this unsophisticated, uncomplicated, simple and
straightforward approach that is the foundation of his success. It was his passion and
enthusiasm for life that became tangible through the written and spoken word.

It is clear from this study that his insights and explanations on topics such as God, Jesus,
prayer, healing, the mind, thought, death, reincarnation, the Bible and its symbolism are
still relevant today. Although one comes across some ‘contradictions’ regarding his
thoughts, one has to consider whether these were included deliberately, or whether he
really did contradict himself. (This will be examined in the appropriate chapters.) Despite
these concerns, he is still a contributing player in the field of challenging people to look
anew at existing truths. When he encouraged students to believe Jesus when he said
‘greater works shall ye do’, he stated that: ‘We believe we can do it, not as a limited
personality, but we believe we can do it in virtue of our oneness with God. Not I but the
Father in me, he doeth the work’ (Fox 1939:18). From a statement such as this the reader
immediately shifts from a limited personal consciousness of ‘I cannot’ to a greater
understanding of oneness with God in which ‘I can’. These subtle reminders, but dynamic
paradigm shifters, are relevant throughout his work.

Can Fox’s method of interpretation and his easy way of explaining religious truths benefit
readers of a multireligious and multicultural country like South Africa? In a previous study4 I
investigated the possibilities of New Thought contributing to changing lives and providing
answers and positive solutions to problems, as well as determining the conditions for its
relevance in building bridges across a multidimensional land, allowing people from different
backgrounds, languages, cultures, religions and political beliefs to work towards a win-win
situation where everyone can benefit and be happy (Venter 1996:2). I came to the
conclusion that New Thought in general supports the ‘optimistic scheme of life’ (James
1987:91) and offers an alternative religious experience to those religious people who have
been disappointed by present organised religions (Venter 1996:137–138). New Thought,
and Fox in particular, focuses on ‘whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can
achieve’, or ‘be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind’.

This study then proceeds from personal experience and subjective conviction that the
religious thinking of Emmet Fox, familiar in its form, though challenging in its application,
does provide a kind of a passageway between the older American spirituality and the more
recent spirituality embodied within New Thought. Fox’s work provides a religious paradigm
that proves to be extremely relevant in bridging the different cultures, languages and
religious beliefs in a country such as South Africa,5 and in particular in playing a significant
role in assisting a continuously changing spiritually minded population.6 According to many,
humanity is on the brink of the next evolutionary step in its existence. As Teilhard de
Chardin (1959:213) once stated, ‘In every epoch man has thought himself at a “turning-
point of history”.’ The Boer general Jan Christian Smuts (1987:vi), who was twice prime
minister of South Africa, said in the 1920s that

the old concepts and formulas are no longer adequate to express our modern outlook. The old bottles
will no longer hold the new wine. The spiritual temple of the future, while it will be built largely of the old
well-proved materials, will require new and ampler foundations in the light of the immense extension of
our intellectual horizons.

The old must therefore make way for the new, and this is true of one’s thoughts too.

When Fox came onto the religious scene, he provided, through his method of allegorical
and symbolical interpretations of the Bible, a new bag in which his readers and listeners
might receive the truth. He brilliantly wove the traditional and the new ways of thinking into
a mind-shifting and liberated experience that allowed many, according to their testimonies,
to move into greater insights and wisdom. If this method includes the ingredients that make
one a true teacher, then Fox was indeed one. This gift was of vital importance to a
humanity who needed a shift in consciousness at that time. As stated above, according to
many analysts, humanity once again finds itself in a time of spiritual change, and Fox’s
method provides us with a model of teaching that is most significant and applicable in
these times.

At the beginning of this chapter Ken Wilber was introduced to the reader. In order to
compile a summarised version of his theoretical framework of integral hermeneutics, three
of his books were consulted. First, Sex, ecology, spirituality: the spirit of evolution explains
the evolutionary thought of the great chain of being – that perfectly unbroken or
uninterrupted fashion from matter to life to mind to soul to spirit – the processes of
involution and evolution. Second, Up from Eden: a transpersonal view of human evolution:
this first attempt, based on actual anthropological evidence, to reunite humanity with the
rest of the Kosmos, weaves together the insights from disciplines such as psychology,
philosophy, anthropology, religion, sociology and mythology. It tells of humanity’s
evolutionary journey over some six million years. Finally, in A theory of everything: an
integral vision for business, politics, science and spirituality Wilber presents a theory and
model that integrates the realms of body, mind, soul and spirit. Applying these theories to
real-life problems in the fields referred to in the title of his book, he offers a vision of
wholeness rather than the slice-and-dice alternatives.

The following chapters will provide one with the necessary opportunity to experience and
apply this model. The study will include an in-depth and critical look at Fox’s religious
thought and in particular his scriptural interpretation, and will also compare it with other
work. In placing his method alongside other models, such as Wilber’s theoretical
framework, one will be able to determine the significance and relevancy of this man and his


For this study I read and analysed all the literature written by Emmet Fox himself in order to
gain insight into his religious thinking, and to understand his methods of interpretation. This
material offered the most extensive explanation of his work and thinking. With the intention
of gaining a more personal and biographical understanding of Fox’s life and work, the
writings of two of Fox’s personal friends were consulted. One is by Harry Gaze (Emmet
Fox: the man and his work) and the other by Herman Wolhorn (Emmet Fox’s golden keys
to successful living and reminiscences). These were the only comprehensive sources of
literature on the life of Fox that I could obtain. From this information facts were gathered
about the man; his interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes; his involvement in his church and
with other groups and individuals; the people he met and visited on his trips around the
world; his thoughts on abstract theories and specific topics; the techniques he used in
healing and prayer; and how he lived everyday life and dealt with his challenges. This
material constituted a structured outline in which his religious thought was placed and will
be discussed in further detail in the various chapters of this study.

The Addington-INTA 7 Archives provided a couple of articles from its collection that were
written either by Fox or about him. These articles gave a very early impression of his way
of thinking as they appeared in 1939. Other casual writings were all taken up in later
publications of his work.

Contemporary New Thought scholars Anderson, Whitehouse and deChant responded

directly to some of my questions about Fox’s work. Their replies gave insight into the
relevance of a man such as Fox and the application of his methods in a modern religious
community. This helped to determine the place that Fox had or still fills within the
theological and religious arena of metaphysics.

I wrote to some New Thought individuals in order to determine whether they are aware of
any people who are still alive that may have known Fox personally, or may have
correspondence or other literature in their possession. However, there was no response to
this request. I also contacted Emmet Fox’s publishes, Harper & Row, for information about
current sales, their best-selling volume, which specific groups were buying books, and so
on. Although they agreed to send me this information, I have not yet received it.


To my knowledge no scholar has taken on the life, work and religious thinking of Emmet
Fox as an academic project. This study is therefore a first attempt to look critically at the
relevancy of Fox’s method and teaching model. For the first time, so far as I know, Fox’s
religious thoughts and ideas will be structured according to subject matter and discussed
alongside other references of the same contents. This method, I believe, provides one with
a greater insight into his thinking, understanding and interpretation of Scripture and other
relevant subjects. It also offers one an opportunity to analyse and apply his model more
freely and critically within a multi-religious arena.

Harry Gaze and Herman Wolhorn (above) wrote popular and precise works on his life and
teaching. They both knew Fox personally and shared his opinion and understanding of life
and scriptural interpretation. Because of this close relationship between them, one does
get a very personal and even unusual insight into the everyday life of Emmet Fox. This is
evident throughout their books and is the authors’ intention, as may be seen from the
discussion of their books below. Neither Gaze nor Wolhorn attempted any critical analysis
or comparison of Fox’s work, and this overwhelming and even loyal appreciation of him
and his teaching seems to have left a gap from a more academic and comparative
perspective. It is interesting to note that other authors (below) did not compare Fox within
any theological or academic framework either. Either Fox is so unique in his practical
method that there is nothing or no one to compare him to, or he was not considered worthy
of being discussed theologically. As stated above, his work is not of an academic or
scientific nature; neither was this his intention. It is the aim of this work to provide a more
conclusive study on his thoughts.

Emmet Fox: the man and his work (first published in 1952) was written by Harry Gaze, who
felt he was qualified to write about the man and his work, as he had known him from a
young age. Gaze was a teacher and lecturer in Practical Metaphysics, New Thought and
Divine Science, and began his lecture work as early as 1898. The young Fox’s desire and
thirst for knowledge led him to Gaze’s lectures. Gaze also enjoyed the acquaintanceship of
many of the lecturers, writers and teachers who inspired Fox’s spiritual quest. Gaze’s work
took him all over the world and the young Fox was clearly fascinated by this, and it
doubtless contributed to his own desire to become a lecturer. Harry Gaze (1968:8)
remembers how Emmet admired his teachers and how he loved them for the truth they
were teaching and living, ‘but he did not consider them infallible. He belonged to no church,
was bound by no creed and was subject to no human guidance save his own inner light’.
Their friendship deepened over the years and Gaze witnessed the beautiful process in
which Fox built himself up in health, strength and wisdom in order to prepare himself for his
valuable service to humankind. He wrote the story of Fox’s life ‘in order to let those who
have been so richly blessed by his books, sermons and lectures gain a more intimate
acquaintance with the man himself, as well as to supplement the knowledge of his most
essential teachings’ (Gaze 1968:7).

Herman Wolhorn decided to write a biography of Emmet Fox because of the insistent
demand from his followers for a more intimate view of the man than his books could
provide. Having known and worked very closely with Fox, Wolhorn is also qualified to
reveal the warm, private and personal side of Fox to his readers and followers. His book,
Emmet Fox’s golden keys to successful living and reminiscences (published in 1977), is
divided into two parts. Part 1 is a summary of Fox’s teaching and includes topics such as
‘The great golden key’, ‘Change your mind’, ‘The power of love’, ‘An angel on your
shoulder’, ‘The word of power’, ‘Your success story’, ‘Psychology’, ‘Wealth’, ‘The Moron
Club’, ‘Reincarnation and life after death’ and ‘The stars in their courses’. Wolhorn
annotated these teachings with his own personal observations and experiences in his
association with Fox.

Part 2 is an intimate view of Fox as known and experienced by Herman and his wife,
Blanche. They spent many years travelling with Fox all around the world and they
experienced a side of him that was not too commonly known by others. They regarded
these times as a great blessing in their lives and it was a joy to have been part of it. Fox
entertained them with his knowledge of the towns and countries they were visiting, of
music, theatre, art, museums, restaurants and the finest cuisine, and they always stayed in
the best hotels. Many stories and experiences are shared in chapter 2. The information in
this book is grouped in such a way that it conveys ‘a comprehensive portrait of Fox in his
constant search for Truth and in the ongoing work of his Healing Ministry’ (Wolhorn

Dorothy Clark Hubbard, a student of metaphysics for a number of years, first attended
Emmet’s services before becoming a close friend. In an article, ‘Dr Emmet Fox as I knew
him: some personal reminiscences’ (1971), she shares her experiences. On their
occasional free Saturdays she used to drive him around and they enjoyed the scenery and
fine cuisine. She treasured his friendship and was especially touched by his generosity.
Ervin Seale, pastor of the Church of the Truth, New York City, and a well-known author
himself, wrote a tribute to Fox on the day of his ‘departure’. In an article titled ‘Dr Emmet
Fox – August 13, 1951, Paris, France’, he describes Fox as ‘distinctive, individual, and pre-
eminent; he was, to use a poet’s simile, like a great tree which has gone down, leaving an
empty space against the sky. No description fits him so well. None, I think, would give him
more satisfaction than “good and skillful teacher”’ (Seale 1951:17).

General publications on the history of New Thought, for example by Braden (1987, Spirits
In rebellion: the rise and development of New Thought) and Larson (1985, 1987, New
Thought religion: a philosophy for health, happiness and prosperity), do include separate
headings on Emmet Fox. In discussing some of the first outstanding leaders in the
organised New Thought movement, Braden (1987:164, 317, 352–355) refers to Emmet
Fox as the person with the widest book circulation and the one who drew the largest crowd
ever in the history of this movement. Referring to his popularity, Braden states: ‘He was in
no way sensational either in his language, in his ideas, or in his illustrations.’ When Fox
was compared to people such as Aimee Semple McPherson, Billy Sunday, and even Billy
Graham, ‘his services were models of quiet, thoughtful, prayerful worship’. Braden stresses
the simplicity of the man and his teachings, the warmth that drew people close to him, his
forthrightness, his deep sincerity and comments that he was always hopeful, optimistic and
confident. ‘His message was for “right now”’ (Braden 1987:355).

Fox also influenced the New Thought movement in that most of his books were bought and
read by ministers of other denominations, and these are still best-sellers in large
denominational bookstores. Glenn Clark, a Presbyterian, who also had close associations
with the leaders of the New Thought movement at that time, once mentioned that should
he have to pick a football team, he would include Emmet Fox for power.

Larson (1987:178–182) discusses Emmet Fox’s role under headings such as Biographical;
Success; Message and method; and Eschatology. He also stresses that Fox’s books were
read by thousands, particularly by ministers from other denominations. It is said that his
books do not lose their lustre. As stated above, it was Fox’s simplicity and forthrightness
that Larson was writing about. He also comments that Fox made use of Swedenborgian
methods of exegesis to interpret Scriptures.8

Although Anderson and Whitehouse do not provide a separate heading for Fox in their
book New Thought: a practical American spirituality, they nevertheless refer to him
frequently, and quote him. They describe him as one of the most famous ministers of
Divine Science and one of the best-known figures in New Thought that gained recognition
outside the movement. They state that Alcoholics Anonymous, before developing their own
literature, made extensively use of Fox’s writings. He was noteworthy for his symbolic and
metaphysical interpretations of the Bible in publications such as The Sermon on the Mount
and The Ten Commandments. Fox’s famous technique, called ‘The golden key’, is also
referred to. It simply states to ‘stop thinking about the problem and instead mentally
rehearse everything you know about God’ (Anderson and Whitehouse 1995:135). When
the influence of New Thought in business is discussed, it is mentioned that Tony Robbins
occasionally quoted Fox. The name of Fox is referred to, together with names such as
Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller and Napoleon Hill, as New Thought’s influence
crept into the culture of the day.


Chapter 2 will focus on the personal life of Emmet Fox; biographical detail will be followed
by a look at his professional life as preacher and writer; and through the eyes of his close
associates and friends, insight will be gained into his religious thinking, his likes and
dislikes, as well as a more intimate picture of Fox himself; followed by a complete look at
his publishers and publications.

There is a short description of the general history of New Thought in chapter 3. The
theology, philosophy and religious methods of the movement will be discussed and
analysed as the backdrop to Fox’s influence.

Chapter 4 consists of Ken Wilber’s perspective on the spirit of evolution and acts as a
theoretical framework in which Emmet Fox’s religious thinking can be understood and

In chapter 5, Fox’s thoughts on creative mind, prayer, meditation and healing will be
reviewed and evaluated within Wilber’s individual quadrants, which include the upper-right
(exterior) and the upper-left (interior).

The concept of God, Jesus and the Christ, and socialising concepts, including church and
tithing, are all emphasised in chapter 6. As in chapter 5, these are explored within Ken
Wilber’s social-cultural quadrants, including the lower-left (interior/cultural) and the lower-
right (exterior/social).

Chapter 7 examines Fox’s view of the processes of dying, death, immortality, the doctrine
of reincarnation and karma, as well as the end times.
Fox’s method of biblical exegesis, with The Sermon on the Mount, The Ten
Commandments, The Lord’s Prayer and The Good Shepherd, sets up the field of
exploration in chapter 8. And the study is concluded in chapter 9.

1 Only Dorothy Clark Hubbard (1971:41) referred to Emmet’s first name, Joseph, after his physician father.

2 He always referred to himself as having an American soul because he was conceived in the United
States and he was overjoyed the day that he eventually became an American citizen.

3 New Thought scholar Paul Alan Laughlin considers Wilber ‘the most brilliant and wide-ranging synthetic
thinker working in the field of spirituality today, possessing the mind of a genius coupled with the soul of a
mystic’ (Laughlin 1999:143) and he advises followers of New Thought to ponder Wilber’s observations.

4 Venter, M 1996. ‘New Thought in South Africa: a profile’. MA dissertation, University of South Africa,
Pretoria. It focuses on the historical roots of New Thought in South Africa and its major contributors. The
conclusion reached was that New Thought offers an alternative to spiritual and religiously minded people
in South Africa, and can potentially play a dynamic role in the cross-cultural bridging that is taking place
in a changing South Africa (Venter 1996:ii).

5 In a country such as South Africa, where we have more than eleven official languages, a simple written
English text can have groundbreaking results.

6 South Africa, with its multicultural and multireligious background, offers a challenge to every spiritually
minded person. The more its people awaken to a greater spirituality than the fundamental and dogmatic
ones they adhered to, the more they search for something that will guide them gently into the next level of
their own understanding. With a strong dogmatic Christian influence still visible in this country, Fox’s
approach to the Bible can provide a bridge for many a student to cross over.

7 All collected and stored archival materials are now housed in the Addington-INTA Archives and Research
Centre in Meza, Arizona.

8 Swedenborg believed that the Bible is the word of God throughout, down to the smallest jot, and declared
the Scriptures divine. The Bible possesses a spiritual sense, an internal or mystical meaning, which
according to him can only be rightly understood through an inspired interpretation.



Emmet Fox was a layman who became a great exponent of New Thought. As an Irishman
who worked in the field of electrical engineering, he soon became very well known and
popular as a New Thought minister. Fox was born in Ireland on 30 July 1886. He was
educated in England, lived out his career in America, and died in France, on 13 August
1951. His family had a long Catholic tradition. His father was not merely a famous surgeon,
but also a Member of Parliament. He received his early education at the Stamford Hill
Jesuit College, near London. It was known for the way in which it inculcated systematic
thoroughness and remarkable self-control in its students, and these were traits of Fox’s
character throughout his life. The Jesuit Order trained men who were not afraid to break
with traditional teachings and who eventually influenced the philosophical beliefs of the
world, such as Pascal, Descartes and Voltaire (Gaze 1968:18–19).

It seems that Fox was a natural healer. At the age of six he placed his hand on his
mother’s aching forehead, who then experienced no more pain, and felt a sense of peace
embracing her. In another instance, when he spoke the words, ‘Mary, Mary, you are going
to be well! Yes, you are going to be well!’ to the sick sister of the maid who was working for
them, he realised that it was their (the maid’s and her sister’s) faith that had brought about
the healing (Gaze 1968:97). Even as a young boy he understood that the ability to heal
was not special to him, but is a power that is possessed by all. He seriously began his
investigation into the healing phenomena at the age of eighteen. At that time he was not
very strong himself. His impaired hearing and vision led to nervous shyness and even to
being labelled a ‘sissy’.

His ability to heal led to his divergence from the Catholic Church. His quest for answers
and explanations led him into a study of metaphysics and later to its teachers and healers.
It included movements such as Practical Metaphysics, New Psychology and Divine
Science. The works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, Mesmer, Mary
Baker Eddy, Curtis Hopkins, Horatio W Dresser and Charles Fillmore all led to Fox’s
deeper understanding of healing. To him, healing meant ‘complete harmony of body, mind
and soul’ (Gaze 1968:98–101).

It has been stated that his movement away from the Catholic Church was a gradual
process. That there was no break with the church indicates that his ‘new-found faith was
not a protestant one so much as it was an increasing enlightenment that encompassed all
faiths’ (Gaze 1968:20). It was important for Fox to have the freedom to approach God in
ways known to him, and therefore he also respected the ways of his parents and other
people. It has been said that ‘his family did not oppose him so much as they adjusted to his
new way of life’ (Gaze 1968:22). Once, after he had appeared on the platform with
psychics such as Sir Oliver Lodge and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at the Albert Hall, an article
in the newspaper led to a family confrontation, which resulted in Fox and his mother never
discussing the subject again. However, it seems that he and his mother shared a fine zeal
for their inner faith and therefore respected each other in that faith. His sister, Nora Fox,
never realised what great work her brother had done, for he always underplayed his fame
so that he did not hurt the family’s Catholic sensitivities. It was at his cremation that Nora
said: ‘Fancy him starting a new religion when we’ve got a perfectly good one!’ (Wolhorn

Harry Gaze first met Emmet Fox as a young electrical engineer who was attending Gaze’s
classes in healing. Gaze (1968:22) remembers him as a ‘shy but avid student, eagerly
concerned not only with the techniques of healing but also delving into the underlying
philosophy and psychology’. Fox is regarded by thousands of readers, students and
seekers as a writer of religious books, a teacher, minister and friend who served them for
years and a healer who was always willing to pray with them. Fox’s personality is described
as being ‘a little grayish outwardly’, rather than ‘booming and rosy’. He was regarded as an
adventurer, but in the sense of a spiritual adventurer rather than one who would risk his life
in exploring the wilderness. His shyness was often interpreted as coldness. His charm was
described as magnetism. When people were asked what Emmet Fox was like, they
seemed more impressed with his spiritual qualities than his personal and physical
appearance. He is remembered as someone who was always positive, who was sure of
himself, and who knew what he was doing and why. One of his common expressions
illustrated this, when he said, ‘life is thrillingly interesting’. Having had a ‘center line and
focal point’, he kept on track and was not distracted by meaningless events. He is also
described as ‘a happy man with a shining twinkle in his hazel-grey eyes’; one with ‘dark
and heavy brows and grey hair’; and his ‘laugh was a deep chuckle rising from “far below”’
(Gaze 1968:13–15).

Herman and Blanche Wolhorn, who had known, worked and travelled with Fox for over
twenty years, remember a more personal and intimate side of him that is not usually known
to others. Wolhorn (1977:135) regards Fox himself as the greatest golden key of all. He
states that Fox ‘opened a new way of life for millions of people and was the means of
channeling healing to thousands of others. His faith in the power of constructive thinking
and its ability to change lives continues to affect millions through his published writings.’

Whatever Fox did, he did with all his heart. He used to imprint this quality on his students
by saying that, ‘if you sing of the glory of God, really glorify Him with all your voice’ (Gaze
1968:15). From an unpublished manuscript of a lecture series delivered in 1938, Fox said:

Please get away from the idea that anything very important must be complicated. All the essential
things of life are simple – or life would not go on. Apart from Divine Science, the religion which is
nearest to God, it seems to me, is that of the Quakers. It is probably one of the smallest religious
groups in the country because it is so simple. It is more fundamental in my estimation than most others.
I admire all churches, but to my way of thinking the Quakers have the essentials. They give you the
goods, no wrapping paper, just the goods (Gaze 1968:15).

He lived a well-balanced life, with quality and simplicity the two elements that he demanded
in his surroundings. His appreciation of beauty in all forms and aspects included watching
the stars and the sky, visiting museums and far-away places, viewing masterpieces of art
and sculpture. He would often say, ‘God is so good to us’ (Gaze 1968:17).

Regardless of some physical weakness, Fox had the unique ability to demonstrate the
wholesome power of God and to inspire his students for many years. He states clearly that

there is no need to be unhappy. There is no need to be sad. There is no need to be disappointed, or

oppressed, or aggrieved. There is no need for illness or failure or discouragement. There is no
necessity for anything but success, good health, prosperity and an abounding interest and joy in life …
as long as you accept a negative condition at its own valuation, so long will you remain in bondage to
it; but you have only to assert your birthright as a free man or woman and you will be free (Fox 1994:1).
He also lived a life of spontaneity, enjoying a sense of humour, independence and good will.
These were all qualities he had inherited from his Irish parents. Fox felt that a growing
simplicity in one’s life is one of the tests of the seeker’s sincerity. He states that

sooner or later you will have to put God first in your life, that is to say, your own true spiritual
development must become the only thing that really matters. It need not, perhaps had better not, be
the only thing in your life, but it must be the first thing. When this happens you will find that you have
got rid of a great deal of the unnecessary junk that most people carry about; mental junk, of course,
although physical junk is apt to follow upon this. You will find that you will do a great deal less running
about after things that do not matter and only waste your time and energy, when once you have put
God first. Your life will become simpler and quieter, but in the true sense, richer and infinitely more
worthwhile (Fox 1979a:119).

According to Gaze (1968:29) two steps are singled out that summarise Fox’s approach to
education. The first is ‘singleness of thought to the point of realization, or concentration’,
and the second lesson of life is ‘control of thought’. The following words were written
thousands of years ago by an Eastern sage: ‘All that we are is the result of what we have
thought.’ The apostle Paul preached that ‘we are transformed by the renewing of our
minds’, and Fox explained it as ‘you choose all the conditions of your life, when you choose
the thoughts upon which you allow your mind to dwell. Thought is the real causative force
in life, and there is no other.’

Fox perceived the world as a school in which one has to learn one’s lessons. The two
lessons that run throughout his work and his personal life are the ‘lesson of the
Omnipresence of God, and the lesson of the power of thought’ (Gaze 1968:25). The two
thousand or more books in his library testified to the wide interest he had shown in this
subject matter. One could find on the bookshelves the Upanishads of Hinduism, the Sutras
of Buddhism, the Gospels of Christianity, the works of John Wesley, George Fox, Martin
Luther and Mark Twain. He loved music, especially Mozart, art, poetry and dancing, and
works dealing with physical culture. Fox was always learning. ‘Teaching and learning was a
single process with him. Ordinary conversation offered him opportunity to find new truth’
(Gaze 1968:27).

At a later stage in his life he also achieved his goal of learning to skate on ice, and he was
passionate about the circus. This love was shared by his good friend and a member of the
board of trustees of Fox’s church, the writer Earl Chapin May (author of the best-selling
From Rome to Ringling). Fox encouraged everyone to visit the circus. He emphasised its
rejuvenating effect and said that the best way to see a circus is through the eyes of a child.
‘If you don’t have a child of your own, beg, borrow or steal one and go to the circus’, he
would say (Wolhorn 1977:142). He came to know the performers very well and he often
used the life of the circus as a metaphor for his sermons. Every season he would give a
cocktail party for the circus performers, and would also be involved in helping them with
their daily challenges on a spiritual level.

Fox gave his first metaphysical talk in 1928 in the Mortimer Hall in London. From this
moment he was ambivalent about whether to continue working as an electrical engineer, or
whether to take up public speaking and writing. Gaze encouraged the young Fox, and soon
afterwards he started his career as a speaker, first in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool,
Edinburgh and Glasgow, and then in New York. In 1931 Fox knew a change was coming in
his life, and his original thought was to go to Russia, a country that was ‘in the throes of an
interesting political experiment’ and that was ‘beginning to open its doors to the outside
world’. After a great deal of prayer he received the answer, ‘Go west; see America first’
(Wolhorn 1977:135). He never did go to Russia, but one of his most popular booklets on
reincarnation was translated into the Russian language and published in many magazines
in Russia.

In 1931 the unknown Fox arrived in New York. Later he was believed to have been one of
the greatest mystics and religious teachers of the time, who brought an enrichment to
America that had not been known in the past. He arrived in the US with a six-month visa,
but was eventually to stay for twenty years. His first break came when Florence Scovel
Shinn, whom he had met in London, invited him to speak at her church while she was on
vacation. The day he appeared unannounced on the platform some people left the room
(those that remained came back early the next week in order to obtain a seat). Not long
after this ordeal, about seven hundred people left the room on the day that Fox did not
speak and someone else stood in for him. He received invitations to speak at the Church of
Truth and the Unity Society in the Salmon Building. The secretary of the Church of the
Healing Christ, Herman Wolhorn, recognised his potential and offered him the position of
successor of Dr James Murray in 1931. As a forty-five-year-old, his career then took off in
one of the largest congregations of its kind in the world.
Dr James Murray, a teacher of Divine Science, came into the movement through Matilda
Cramer, who in turn was a student of Emma Curtis Hopkins. The Church of the Healing Christ
had its beginnings in 1906 under the leadership of Dr Murray. Neither Murray nor Fox
identified himself with any existing group. However, they always had close relationships with
kindred groups such as Homes of Truth, Unity, Divine Science, New Thought and Churches
of Truth. Dr Murray built up a congregation of about 1 500 members, which began to drop in
numbers when he died. After Dr Murray’s death Dr A C Grier succeeded him for a short while.
And then the young and upcoming Emmet Fox took over when Grier resigned as pastor of the
Church of the Healing Christ and thereby started ‘one of the most remarkable ministries of
any church in America in that or any other period’ (Braden 1987:352).

As a layman preacher Fox decided to become ordained. Unity insisted that every graduate
should first complete the formal requirements. But as Fox was already such a big success,
Nona Brooks of Divine Science was willing to ‘waive the formal requirements, and so he
was ordained as a minister of Divine Science by the College of Divine Science at Denver’
(Braden 1987:352). He then renamed his church The First Church of Divine Science of
New York (Larson 1987:179).

Emmet Fox gained the respect of his congregation by living the truth. There was an
authority in his manner, and with his charm and quiet dignity he brought the message into
the hearts of the people. He was never bound to a building, and was not convinced ‘that
buildings were essential in maintaining a religious organization’. So, like the children of
Israel, this congregation moved among various halls, rooms and auditoriums. There was
no hierarchical structure or complicated organisation. This loose organisational structure
reminds one of a country such as South Africa, where similar trends are noticeable. It is my
opinion that organisational structure within New Thought groups is very loose and it seems
that the future role of New Thought in South Africa is not going to be one of a highly
structured new, religious movement, but rather one of offering people an opportunity to
‘transcend’ their present religious thought and to keep on transcending it without
necessarily leaving it. This allows individuals within the South African New Thought
Movement the freedom ‘to provide bridges between different cultures, languages, religious
and political beliefs in times of major change and adjustment’ (Venter 1996:142).
Therefore, continues Gaze (1968:76–77), one could rather refer to Fox’s church as ‘a
school for spiritual development’.
As the numbers of attendees grew over the years, the church had to find larger venues.
The movement from one venue to another had its own story. Originally meetings were held
in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, which was then demolished so that the Empire State Building
could be erected. It was at this time that they approached the management of the Biltmore
Hotel for a venue. At first the hotel management were uncertain whether they really wanted
to accommodate a church meeting on their premises. The then-famous president of the
Biltmore hotels, John M Bowman, who was present at the meeting that day, said to his
staff, ‘Gentlemen, it seems to me that we have everything in this hotel but God.’ And with
this statement, the church was ‘in’ (Wolhorn 1977:137). The congregation had to move
around as often larger venues were required to accommodate the growing numbers of
attendees. From the Biltmore Hotel, the church moved to the Hotel Astor, then to the
Hippodrome, the largest auditorium in New York City with the exception of Madison Square
Garden. Between 5 000 and 6 000 people attended the Wednesday evening and Sunday
morning services. On special occasions such as Easter the number reached 8 000. On
these occasions the police were called in to direct the flow of traffic.

These meetings attracted the attention of the press. Headlines included ‘Preacher uses
hotel ballroom to popularize prayer’ (Newsweek); ‘Every Sunday the preacher, Emmet Fox,
pounds home the same vital message’ that ‘Prayer does change things!’ When he was
asked by reporters why he used ballrooms and theatres for his meetings, he answered, ‘I
couldn’t get some men into church with a shotgun, but they’ll come to a hotel.’ Walter
Winchell, the well-known New York columnist wrote: ‘Two new religious movements are
attracting plenty. Emmet Fox, who a year ago held his meets in a hotel, now turns them
away from the Hippodrome and the Manhattan Opera House’ (Wolhorn 1977:141).

Braden (1987:352–353) recalls that ‘he had the distinction of preaching to the largest
congregation in New York, and probably the greatest in all America’. The Manhattan Opera
House was often filled to capacity, even before the start of the service, and hundreds of
people were turned away. A newspaper journalist from the New York World-Telegram (30
October 1937) described Fox’s service:

Somebody said the other day that when you see a crowd leaving a public building, you can guess what
sort of meeting it has been – whether a gospel meeting or a prize fight, a circus or a classical concert –
but that nobody could place the crowd that comes from the Manhattan Opera House every Wednesday
night, because it contains every kind of person. As a matter of fact, it is a cross-section of New York’s
population at prayer meeting, the regular Wednesday evening meeting of the Church of the Healing
Christ, when the pastor, Dr Emmet Fox, explains the life of man from the angle of psychology and
metaphysics (Gaze 1968:78).

Although Emmet Fox was crowd conscious, he never held onto them. He used to say to his
congregation, ‘There are a number of good centers and churches in the city. While I am
gone, if you find someone else where you can get more help, you must stay there’
(Wolhorn 1977:139–140). Some did, but there were always more people by the time he
returned. He had a certain charisma that attracted people. His father had been a Member
of Parliament and years ago when the Liberal Party’s regular speakers could not rally a
crowd, the young Emmet was called upon. It was well known that each week their own
rooms in New York were packed to capacity. Ladies would even roll up their expensive
mink coats to sit on the floor wherever they could find a space. Herman and Blanche
Wolhorn (1977:140) recalled the time they travelled with Fox to Yosemite National Park in
California. He was enthusiastically describing the popular Broadway play Green pastures
to them. As the story unfolded, people from the other tables gathered closer in order to
hear the story. Even waitresses stopped serving. Wolhorn then made the remark that there
are enough people to start a metaphysical meeting, and as Fox turned around, every one

This magnetic speaker attracted people from all walks of life. Although each one had his or
her own agenda, most seekers hungered after the truth – they were thirsty for that
something which was missing from their lives. The gift Fox gave to people was to awaken
in them confidence in God and then make them realise that they had to claim it for
themselves. ‘The goodness of God is unchangeable; if you do not experience it the fault is
yours for not choosing it’ (Gaze 1968:83). Fox would remind everyone that there is a place
for them, and that ‘the Divine Providence wouldn’t make you if He didn’t need you – there
just isn’t an unnecessary human being in the world’ (Gaze 1968:85).

Dorothy Giles, (from Cosmopolitan) wrote: ‘America’s soul clinics had taken me to one of
Emmet Fox’s Sunday meetings. There I had seen some four thousand New Yorkers of
every walk in life – lawyers, teachers, bank clerks and bank presidents, stenographers,
debutantes and Park Avenue dowagers’ (Wolhorn 1977:142). Everyone had his or her
spiritual battery recharged by listening to Fox. The names of those who attended read like
a Who’s who. Patricia Murphy, the famous restaurateur, would often decorate the platform
with flowers on a Sunday morning. The steel industry executive Charles Schwab also
attended the meetings and he once remarked, ‘What a wonderful thing it would be for the
country and for industry if we could get a man like this in the steel business.’ The musical
director at Carnegie Hall, Mitropoulos, also attended the meetings, after which he would go
into rehearsal with his orchestra. Fox and Wolhorn often remained behind to listen to the
performance. Clergymen from other denominations also attended and even their notices in
the paper began to take on a more constructive and metaphysical aspect (Wolhorn

The radio was also a medium through which Emmet Fox shared his teaching. He was first
heard on the radio through the active interest of the well-known actress Paula Stone.
Although the programme was successful, the rigid censorship regulations of the time
‘erased some of the natural sparkle and delicious humour that he had on a public platform’,
for he was at his ‘inspirational best as an extemporaneous speaker’. Emmet Fox
nevertheless did recognise the power of the radio and predicted that one day, when the
strict regulations of censorship were lifted, the radio would become the best way of bringing
the teaching to every one. Another of his predictions that came true was that ‘the
metaphysical approach toward teaching religion would be integrated more and more into
the orthodox churches as the new generation of religious leaders became aware of the
great potential in scientific – affirmative – prayer, and the need for healing as Jesus
demonstrated it’. They would return to what he called ‘the practical Christianity of Jesus
Christ without dogma or creed’ (Wolhorn 1977:143–144).

Fox was also known as a very practical man. He would always include some practical
guidelines and instructions in his teachings and challenge his listeners to try them out for
themselves. From the many letters he received, all telling of transformational stories, one
gathers that the people did precisely that, and naturally experienced the miracles. Fox
planned each sermon and essay intelligently, although many of his inspirational ideas
emanated from a spontaneous and sincere mind. He spoke directly and clearly on those
subjects that had been valuable in his own experience and those had inspired his hearers.
Braden (1987:353) recalls that Fox’s service did not differ that much from an ordinary
church service, save for a silent healing meditation period, which was considered the most
effective part of the service. The affirmations Fox used were all positive and all included

Written questions were handed in regularly and he used to answer them after the
Wednesday and Friday noon lectures. These were helpful to all as they reached the core of
people’s problems and aspirations. There were many questions about the men in service
during World War II. To questions such as ‘How can I help a man who is in the war?’ he
answered, ‘Get fear out of your own heart. Treat yourself. Get that fear out of your heart
and he will be safe. Don’t ask me how; that is too complicated; but he will. Pray until you
feel satisfied that God is with you. That is the very best treatment of all.’ To another typical
question, ‘Can another person’s thoughts affect me?’ he replied, ‘Only your own thoughts
can affect you. Of course, if you dislike the other person and think he wants to hurt you,
that will hurt you, but it is your own belief. See the Christ in him and that will free both him
and yourself’ (Wolhorn 1977:149–150).

He was not a man to build structures around his teachings or himself. He always
encouraged his congregations to seek Truth wherever they could get it. ‘Go where you find
the most good, and stay where you can grow’, he often said (Gaze 1968:89). He reminded
people not to be too hard on themselves, for they are not perfect and they should not
expect to be. On the other hand he told them to apply the golden rule 1 and not to sin any
more. Fox was known for attracting and loving crowds. He was always willing to help
anyone, even if it was just a silent prayer of ‘bless you’ as they passed him in line. Being
Irish, he had ‘a sparkle and liveliness in his manner of speaking’ (Gaze 1968:90). His
sense of humour had always been acknowledged and remembered by those who had
known him. An eloquent speaker who chose his words well, he nevertheless realised how
much one is still in the hands of the dictionary … as if we cannot express exactly and truly
what is within us. That’s why he said, ‘Do not be in bondage to mere words and form, but
concentrate on the underlying thought. The thought’s the thing’ (Gaze 1968:92).

Emmet Fox was a tireless worker. Even during his annual three-month summer vacation,
he took his activities elsewhere, unearthed new facets of truth, and gave life-sustaining
instruction to people across the country and around the world. He never wasted time and
said that ‘what we call “time” represents the very substance of your existence. The hours
and the days, the months and the years are soul substance, either efficiently employed in
building up a successful and glorious life for you, or wasted and lost.’ When he was asked
by Dr Ernest Holmes (founder of the Church of Religious Science, Los Angeles), ‘How is it
that at the end of every June you can close up the Church, go away for three months,
come back in October, and you have the crowd right back with you?’ he chuckled and
replied, ‘I carry them in my pocket.’ To this Dr Joseph Murphy (minister of the Church of
Divine Science, Los Angeles) added, ‘He keeps them in the pocket of his mind’ (Wolhorn

In a greeting sent to the members and friends of the Church, Fox wrote:

This service completes our activities for the season 1932–33. It has been a year of vigorous growth
and progress. The Church membership has largely increased and the general attendance has grown
steadily from week to week. It will be noted that more than once we have had to move our quarters
from one part of the hotel to another, but this has been caused by the need for more room and is a
tribute to the success of the work. Many striking demonstrations have been reported to me, and most
of us feel that we have made a very definite advance upon our former selves of June 1932. A number
of remarkable healings have occurred during our meetings but what I consider still more important is
that many people have demonstrated both in bodily health and in affairs by their own personal work.
The power of self-healing is the only guarantee that one really understands the teaching. The
circulation of our various booklets and publications has greatly increased and this is a matter of
congratulation because the written word is almost the best way of spreading the message at the
present time. May the summer intermission be an opportunity for mental stock-taking and a general
reorganization of your spiritual life. It is well that there should be such periods when the mind can
digest and assimilate the food which it has been receiving (Wolhorn 1977:138–139).

When Fox took on the vocation of minister at the Church of the Healing Christ, it was not
primarily to be a healer. However, throughout the years, he did engage himself in prayer for
personal healing and there were weekly healing services. He stated that:

Healing is an essential part of the Jesus Christ teaching. If you are coming to the meetings and reading
the books, and you are not getting healings, at least in some departments of your life, then you
definitely have not made your contact with God (Wolhorn 1977:144).

Although Fox had used the laying on of hands as a method of healing when he was a young
boy, he did not use it in his ministry. He preferred to use scientific prayer, the practice of the
presence of God,2 as it seemed to be more effective to him. Although he considered prayer to
be enough, he never condemned the use of medicine. In fact, he believed that one can only
be healed at the level of one’s understanding (the subconscious level), and should one
believe in the use of medicine, then one should bless it and take it.

Fox had a method for dealing with those who sought healing from him. He would listen
attentively, even meditatively, to the person’s story, as this would often be the time that he
intuitively received some insight into the case. He would then pray with the seeker –
sometimes in silence. During this prayer he would centre his conscious mind on the healing
power of Christ within, and practise the Presence of God at the specific place of need.
When he was done, he would get up to indicate that the interview was over, and either
greet the person with his hand, or extend a blessing with the words, ‘Bless you! Bless you!’
On the second visit, Fox did not allow the person to repeat his or her story as he felt this
was focusing on the limitation rather that the richness of God’s abundance. This method
reminds one of Caroline Myss’s (in Tipping 2000:74) description of the ritual the Navaho
Indians had for preventing belief in the importance of wounds from becoming an addictive
pattern. It was said that if a person had a grievance to share, the whole tribe would meet
and everyone would listen with empathy and compassion as the person aired his or her
‘woundedness’ three times. Thereafter, should the person wish to tell the story again,
everyone would turn their backs and say ‘Enough! We have heard you express your
concern three times. We have received it. Now let it go. We will not hear it again.’

Part of Fox’s healing education included assignments in breathing, concentration and

observation. He reminded the seekers not to accept anything less than perfect health,
harmony and happiness, as these are one’s divine right as sons and daughters of God. He
stressed that negative and limited thinking are merely bad habits – like the bogeyman
under the stairs. They were only there because we believe them to be there (Gaze
1968:105–108). Another reminder to the patient was to ‘tell no one for a while until the
healing has had time to “jell”’ (Wolhorn 1977:146).

Fox had ‘an uncanny way of isolating the essentials and seeing the difficulty in its true light
and proportions’. This helped patients to be more relaxed, because they could see
problems not as isolated cases, but in proportion with the rest of their lives. In one case a
singer came to see Fox in quite a frantic mood. She was to sing at the inauguration of
Franklin D Roosevelt, but close to the time she had developed a sore throat. When she
asked him to heal her throat, he said instead, ‘Why don’t you forgive your parents?’ After
this had been done, he reminded her that her voice would be fine and told her: ‘When you
sing, believe that healing goes out through your voice’ (Wolhorn 1977:146–147). His
spiritual advice was so much in demand that private consultations continued after the
evening talks. Often neither Fox nor Wolhorn would get home before three or four o’clock
the next morning. But Fox was not influenced by status and those socialites who insisted
on preferential treatment were told to wait patiently until such time as he could see them.

Although healing others came naturally to him, he found it very difficult to treat himself. At
one evening talk he whispered hoarsely over the microphone to the crowd of more than
five thousand people, ‘If you want to hear a lecture tonight you will have to practice what
you’ve learned. Treat for me right now.’ So he sat down in complete silence, praying with
them, and after a while he rose and gave one of his best lectures ever (Wolhorn 1977:149).

Practising the silence3 in his healing sessions was very important to Fox. This allowed the
Presence the ‘opportunity to work in the souls of those who listened’ and it ‘melts down
individual differences’ (Gaze 1968:114–115). Fox also included a healing silence before
meetings. He suggested that people enter in silence, sit down and be quiet. The instruction

Get your breath both physically and mentally. Then think of God in any way you like. Recall a favorite
text or a verse of a hymn that has helped you. Then ‘drop’ your problem into the silence, and then
forget it by thinking of God again (Fox 1942:5–6).

Fox never married and did not attach himself to any social set. In a conversation about
marriage with Wolhorn (1977:151) he answered,

I have thought about it more than once, and I realize that I could have lived a more normal and perhaps
a happier life, but I have always felt that the work was so important that I had to forego these things
and devote all my energies and time to getting out the message.

However, he was very popular with women and enjoyed female company as well as his
friendships with women. He thought highly of women and said that ‘the more women were
emancipated, the more civilization and democracy advanced’. His friendships were deep
and long, but simple and few. True friendship was marked by a sense of mutual search –
rather than a teacher-pupil relationship. His devotion to his ministry, writing books,
lecturing, preparing sermons and practising prayer and meditation fulfilled him in many
ways. Although he was never a parent, he took on the responsibility of a father for those he
counselled, and often referred to the word ‘child’ in his healing work.

Harry Gaze (1968:116–125) paints a picture of Fox’s life as one that was sensitive in
nature: a person who loved books and music. One of Fox’s hobbies was collecting old
clocks and watches. The furnishings of his apartment, like his clothes, were simple and in
good taste. His living quarters on the twenty-third floor of a hotel in mid-town New York
were sunny, spacious and bright. Some of the rooms opened up onto a terrace where he
kept some little evergreen trees. His sense of humour was ‘kindly and whimsical’. Gaze
recalls the day that he and Emmet went for lunch and how surprised he was to notice that
the menu had some interesting names for the various courses. For example, the appetiser
was named ‘Elixir of Life’, the soup was titled ‘The Fountain of Life’ and the salad was
called ‘Eternal Youth’. It was only later that Gaze discovered that Emmet had had the ‘gilt-
edged menu printed for his benefit’ as he was known ‘as an advocate of life renewal’. He
found this a rejuvenating experience.

Other close friends added to this picture as they remembered him as a merry and warm
companion. ‘Joyousness was an element of saintliness that grew with him during his
lifetime.’ This joyousness found its expression in a spontaneous generosity to all people.
He loved all kinds of people and he met people from all walks of life. An evening with Fox
was always entertaining, as he would then be extremely relaxed. ‘He was an amusing
mimic and took great delight in bringing to life his well-loved Dickens characters.’ He also
loved to sing his favourite songs while travelling. He had many friends in the theatrical
world (Gaze 1968:116–125).

Fox had a very practical approach to life. Whenever he sensed a financial need within
someone, he would give assistance. He never accumulated money, or possessions. He
said: ‘I need only one apartment; I can eat only one meal at a time.’ He entertained a
consciousness of prosperity at all times. Hubbard (1971:41) recalls the time that her family
moved away and Fox reminded her to ask for whatever she might need. He said: ‘Just
make-believe that you are going to JP Morgan or a bank or any place where you could
naturally get money.’
Emmet Fox always had a special place in his heart for America and its history and thought
it only natural that he should become part of this great nation. In 1930 he came to the USA
as a visitor, only to return to the United Kingdom to apply for permanent residence of the
US. With the help of senators Robert W Wagner and Dr Royal S Copeland, he was able to
re-enter the country in 1933 as a permanent resident. On 21 May 1941, when he became
an American citizen, he joyfully waved a little American flag that he took from his pocket.
Blanche and Herman Wolhorn witnessed this ceremony and he then took them to the
house where he had been conceived. Although his parents moved back to Ireland (where
he was born), he would always say: ‘I have an American soul’ (Gaze 1968:126). He
believed that the US had a key role to play in shaping the future of the world and was
always proud to be an American.

The threesome, Blanche and Herman Wolhorn and Emmet Fox, went on regular trips
around the country, visiting the World Fairs and other places of interest. Canada, Mexico
and most of pre-Hitler Europe were also on the agenda. They preferred to travel by car, as
it gave them the opportunity to view everything. Fox did not drive a car. Hubbard (1971:39),
who also drove Fox around, remembers when he once ran into a man on a bicycle with his
motorcycle. On the spot Fox sold his motorcycle, for he was convinced that London was
getting too crowded for motorcycles. Emmet Fox was especially attracted to a second-hand
bookshop with some long-out-of-print books. It was in such a shop in London that he was
first led to the metaphysical movement.

He seemed to have had a ‘prodigious memory’. He told Hubbard (1971:41) that he ‘had to
train himself to forget’. At one time he could give line and page of Milton’s Paradise lost.
His general knowledge of all the major towns they drove through was also impressive.
When asked where he got his information, he answered: ‘From reading the Brooklyn Eagle
in London’. He regarded this paper as one of the most outstanding publications in the
world. When asked about his photographic mind, he agreed he had one, but also
commented: ‘So does everyone else, because the subconscious always remembers
everything that an individual has experienced. What people have to do is to train their
minds to recall information when needed’ (Wolhorn 1977:164).

During these trips time was always put aside for prayer and meditation. Blanche and
Herman Wolhorn remember an incident when they were travelling through the drought-
stricken Middle West. Fox decided that it was time to pray for rain. Well, soon after that,
they had to stop again, for it was raining so much they could not see where they were
going, and then it was time to give thanks again. Whenever anything happened along the
road on their trips, especially with the car, Emmet Fox suggested prayer and treatment.
Once when every effort to start the car failed, and it began to rain, Fox remarked: ‘Man’s
extremity is God’s opportunity. Let’s put our weight on God’ (Wolhorn 1977:204). The
treatment always worked.

Fox was extremely generous on these trips and besides insisting on the best hotels,
service and scenery, he always bought something of sentimental value. This deeply
sentimental and sensitive side of Fox was known to Blanche and Herman. On another
occasion while they were visiting a Navajo trading post, Blanche inserted a nickel into a
slot machine, which flooded the floor with even more nickels. The Navajos were amazed
and as they began to help her picking up her winnings, she counted seven Navajos.
Looking up at Emmet Fox she asked, ‘Isn’t seven divine fulfillment?’ Fox laughed and
replied, ‘No metaphysical skull-duggery, please!’ and ‘No more gambling for you’ (Wolhorn
1977:205). These trips took them to all the major towns, amid breathtaking scenery,
interesting small hotels and very challenging meals (they discovered that ‘Home Cooking’
signs do not always deliver what they promised), as well as diverse differences in
characters that they met. They often treated and prayed for accommodation as they drove
through the streets. Emmet Fox managed to do a great deal of writing on these trips.
Another delight was Fox’s tea drinking. He loved the drink, but always had to train the
waitresses to make a pot of tea (bag in the pot and then boiling water must be poured onto
it). In the end he gave up and decided ‘I had better stick to metaphysics.’

One of Fox’s highlights was the visit to the Unity School with its headquarters in Kansas
City. Fox had always regarded Charles Fillmore, founder of Unity, as one of the great
prophets. He considered himself a spiritual son of Fillmore, for he states: ‘A prophet is one
who has certain contact with God in a very rare degree and gives that out to his fellowmen’
(Wolhorn 1977:165). Charles Fillmore was one of the great men of that generation. And
Fox thought of Nona Brooks, co-founder of Divine Science Church, as his spiritual mother.
It was during a visit to the First Divine Science Church and the Colorado Divine Science
College in Denver that Fox gave his lecture on ‘The historical destiny of the United States –
the mystery of the American money’. It seems that even as early as 1938 some of the
predictions he made had come true.

The Wolhorns accompanied Fox on some of his visits to Europe too. The first was in 1937
and more trips followed in 1938, 1950 and 1951. They were amazed at Fox’s ability to
speak French so eloquently. He always enjoyed visiting the cathedrals, museums and
galleries of Europe. They even spent some time at the Père Lachaise cemetery, where the
‘list of persons buried’ read like a ‘Who’s Who of the theatre, music, history and the arts’.
When Fox remarked that ‘all good Englishmen and Americans come to Paris to die’, he did
not know how prophetic he was, for his own ashes lay for a month at this cemetery before
they were brought back to America on his favourite ship, the Ile de France (Wolhorn

Fox had his favourite restaurants. Lunch was usually at Fouquet’s on the Champs Elysées,
where he enjoyed filet of sole and a bottle of Sylvaner. Dinner was enjoyed at the La
Coupole in Montparnasse. He loved French cuisine and thought it better than English.
Even in the States, he visited and enjoyed French restaurants. He knew Paris as well as he
did London. He wanted Blanche and Herman to see everything and to experience the
beauty of these cities. In travelling he had one rule regarding hotels – only the best.
Although Hitler and Mussolini were in power at that time, as Americans they had no
problems with travelling arrangements or border crossings.

In Rome Fox visited St Peter’s and soon his magnetism took over as more and more
tourists gathered around him for an explanation of the place. He was recognised all over
the world by people who had attended his talks or who recognised him from the
photograph on his books. Fox never tired of all the sightseeing. He was like a young
student drinking in all the beauty and marvels around him. On one occasion when he
insisted that Blanche sing the famous Italian aria O mio bambino, and people
spontaneously threw coins to her, he remarked: ‘Maybe we ought to continue this and we
could pay our passage around Europe’ (Wolhorn 1977:190). With his tenor voice he often
joined in the singing and once did a duet with Blanche, after which they were applauded
with shouts of ‘Bravo! Bravo!’
On this trip to Europe Fox met Dr Carl Jung and each parted with increased admiration for
the work of the other. Fox was also very interested in Dr A Rollier’s heliotherapy, which
was used in healing tuberculosis of the bone in children and lungs in adults. This method
used sunlight to heal people – especially the sunlight before nine o’clock in the morning.
Rollier remarked that ‘sunlight should be used like most medicines in small doses’ and
when asked by Fox about special diets for the patients, he said, ‘We serve them any food
that the sun shines on!’ (Wolhorn 1977:192–193).

Fox loved London and insisted that the Wolhorns see everything: from the obvious tourist
attractions (Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and the Houses of
Parliament), the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, a photograph with some
chimney sweeps, all the venues where he used to give talks, outdoor performances,
lunches and dinners at his favourite places, to Petticoat Lane. His energy never flagged.

In his eagerness to find out everything about healing, he seldom left a stone unturned.
Although he believed that true healing comes from God, he nevertheless realised that man
brings this about in different ways. On one such a trip he visited Dr Olson from the Battle
Creek Sanatorium; he discussed healing and prayer techniques with Mr and Mrs Voliva of
the Christian Catholic Church; B J Palmer, the founder of the Chiropractic School of
Healing, explained his method of healing and even gave Fox a chiropractic treatment; he
studied the methods of healing that were used at the Osteopathic School of Healing and
experienced another treatment there as well (he liked to speak from first-hand experience).
In Wyoming, at the hot baths of Thermopolis, he investigated the healing of rheumatism
and other ailments. Hubbard (1971:40-41) reveals that Fox had a skeleton – a real one – in
his closet, because he felt that ‘the skeleton was a vital part of a person’s health’. It is
known that he practised yoga exercises and often went to a chiropractor.

Fox was always eager to meet leaders in the field of healing. Besides visiting the New
Thought groups, he once met Aimee Semple McPherson from Angelus Temple, who was a
dynamic leader and healer. On the same trip he visited the large Seventh Day Adventist
camp to listen to a lecture. In a book that he was autographing for Emmet Fox, Dale
Carnegie wrote: ‘Few – if any – have done more than you have to help people stop
worrying and start living. I have enjoyed your books immensely. May God keep on loving
you always’ (Wolhorn 1977:202). The British politician Ernest Bevin was one of the famous
personalities that came into Fox’s life. He had a deep affection and respect for him. On the
occasion of Bevin’s death, Emmet Fox said, ‘Destiny sometimes moves a capable man
around on the checkerboard of life and places him where he can be most useful’ (Gaze

On 7 December 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour, Fox spoke at his
meeting on the subject of ‘Light in darkness’. He was also scheduled later in the day to give
talks in Washington DC at the Metropolitan Presbyterian Church and the subjects were
‘Christ and Anti-Christ’ and ‘The Search for God’. It was on their way there that they heard
the news of the bombing. Chaos reigned. Fox spent a great deal of time in prayer and
treatment. He once remarked: ‘Things look very bad for both Europe and America. There
are very dark days ahead. It will last longer than most people think. It will need a lot of
prayer on both sides of the curtain.’ He was of course referring to those that had passed on
and considered their prayers helpful and ‘we should not hesitate to ask their prayerful help
when we think of them’. He continued: ‘America will win. There is no question about that,
but when the war is over it will not be the world we know. Eventually it will be a better world
for millions of people’ (Wolhorn 1977:207-208). One week after the bombing, Fox arrived at
the Manhattan Opera House in New York to address the largest crowd (8 000 people) that
had ever come together in the metaphysical movement.

During the war there were great shortages of gasoline (petrol) and tyres, and these limited
travelling arrangements for Fox and the Wolhorns. Eventually they started to take trips by
plane as Fox had speaking engagements all over the country. Sometimes they were
‘bumped’ off flights by the military and had to change their arrangements. Fox never
minded these minor inconveniences and always quietly ‘treated’ each situation as it

After the war, when civilian travel to England was still discouraged, Fox decided to take a
trip to Mexico to further research Mexican symbolism. He continued his search for truth and
said ‘he would pay any price and go anywhere to get a lift in consciousness, and he spent
a good part of his life and his wealth in doing just that. It was a joy’, says Wolhorn
(1977:210), ‘for Blanche and me to be part of it’.

On the topic of psychic research, Fox stated

Do not dabble in psychic things. If you wish to investigate thoroughly and scientifically, well and good,
but this will be the work of years, and will call for scientific conditions. The chief objection to the running
after mediums that so many people practice is that it is really a running away from the responsibilities
of this life (Wolhorn 1977:211).

Emmet Fox’s psychic research began in London at the British Society for Psychical
Research. Fox then continued his research in America and sat with several well-known
mediums. He also worked with three highly respected astrologers.

The psychic-spiritual side emerged when Fox and the Wolhorns gathered regularly to pray
and treat for special cases. Fox became aware of Blanche’s psychic ability and over the
years they recorded specifics regarding time, date, conditions and other details for their
research. It was the beginning of many experiments in ‘telepathy, psychometrics, absent
healing, and other forms of psychic and spiritual healing’. The psychic-spiritual relationship
between the Wolhorns and Fox continued throughout the years of their association. There
were many incidences of proof of these ‘signals’ between them. One such story referred to
the day, precisely at 7:45 pm, that Herman and Blanche nearly had a fatal car accident.
Fox later shared with them that on that day, at 7:45 pm (he kept a diary), he had picked up
a signal from them that they were in danger, and he treated immediately for their divine
protection. Fox often used Blanche’s ability to feel and see as part of his experiments or to
verify his own insights. On one occasion Blanche and Fox had the same feeling of a
terrible battle that was to occur. They could actually see soldiers fighting in the streets.
Seven years later on D-Day during the Allies’ invasion of France, this terrible battle did take
place in that area.

Fox always had the feeling that 1939 would be a crucial year for him. On 9 April, Easter
Sunday, Fox announced to his congregation that he needed a rest and the church would
be closed for the season. The Wolhorns escorted him to a private place where he shared
with them a karmic record of his life.4 He said: ‘If I get through this night, I will have a
number of years to carry on.’ He asked Herman and Blanche to pray for him and to keep
on praying until they had a real sense of the Presence of God. After many hours of prayer
Blanche saw a great white light in the room and Emmet Fox standing in it. When they
knocked on Fox’s bedroom door, he called out, ‘Yes, I know. The crisis has passed and all
is well’ (Wolhorn 1977:220–221). It was at breakfast the next day that Fox shared with
them what happened. It was a rare experience that the Bible calls the ‘alighting of the
dove’, which means that the demonstration has been made. He told them that he was to
have died when he was a young man, but that prayer saved him, and he expressed
gratitude to the Wolhorns for assisting him through this crisis. However, he did mention that
there would be a third time and that it would be harder to overcome.

Wolhorn (1977:153) remembered his conversations with Fox on abstract theories. Once on
a trip, Herman commented that the bushes next to the road seem to rush by, whilst the
houses and trees in the far distance seem to move with them. Fox replied that ‘nothing
moves and nothing stands still’. To this seemingly paradoxical statement, he added that
‘Einstein and the mathematicians might be able to explain it better, mathematically’ (which
apparently Einstein had done at an appointment with him in Princeton). He also explained
that to say that ‘the car was at any particular point in this journey’ is to say that

the car would not be moving, it would be standing still, yet we know it isn’t. No matter how small an
interval of time we use, the same thing would be true. I believe the whole of existence is a state of
consciousness in the Mind of God, being re-created perhaps a billion times a second. We might
compare it to the electric sign with moving lights. It seems as if the light were traveling around the sign
but we know that is an illusion caused by each bulb lighting up in turn for a fraction of a second – what
we might call metaphysically ‘flashes of consciousness’. The same thing is true with motion pictures.
The actors seem to move, but actually the movies are a series of still pictures. It is because life is a
state of consciousness that spiritual healing is possible. The difference between Jesus with his
instantaneous demonstrations and others who may have to spend some time in prayer before the
healing takes place is that Jesus had a complete awareness of perfection. When he could motivate that
belief in others, the healing followed. The person was ‘re-created in wholeness’ (Wolhorn 1977:153–

Fox also had a theory about departed souls making their presence known to a friend or
loved one by producing some sort of odour in a room. He personally had such experiences,
and was usually able to identify the contactee. He felt that this mode of communication was
easier for the departed than some other uses. In sharing these thoughts with his students
in private classes, he cautioned them not make a fetish of it, but ‘develop spiritually and all
these things will come to you’. Another theory that he discussed was that one day in the
future one would be able to think oneself to a desired place and would actually arrive there.
In his humorist ways he advised students that ‘in the meantime, until we attain that state of
awareness, it is easier to hop into a taxi or train and pay the fare’ (Wolhorn 1977:154). He
felt that ‘humankind had only begun to sense the true powers resident in the Mind of God
and therefore in the mind of the individual’. For him there is ‘only one Mind in the universe,
Divine Mind, and we are all individualizations of that – undivided parts. This is the true
“image and likeness”’ (Wolhorn 1977:154–155). He also believed that:

There are many other races of beings besides the human race. We know only a tiny corner of the
universe. There are beings who were once human and who have now advanced far beyond our
comprehension. There are entities called angels who can be sent by God at certain times but their
appearances in this world are very, very rare, and they do not come unless sent. However, angels
never were human (Wolhorn 1977:155).

Fox always held a higher and more complete picture of the world. As he used to say,

those who are perplexed by the difficulties and seeming inconsistencies of life should remember that at
the present time we get only a partial view of things; and that a partial view of anything never shows
the thing as it really is. At any time we see only a particular section of the whole, and even that we see
awry, through our lack of understanding (Gaze 1968:127).

He believed that the period he was living in was one of crises, as well as one of the most
significant eras for some 56 000 years. He saw it as a time in which humanity had to
develop its individuality, meaning humankind must realise the innate divinity of all.

Fox believed that humanity had reached a stage where it was ‘ready to do without personal
prophets of any kind, and to contact the Living God at first hand for itself’. He stated: ‘The
Great World Teacher of the new age is not then to be any individual, textbook, or
organization, but the Indwelling Christ’ (Gaze 1968:131). Fox had already stated in 1933
that within 25 years the human race would emerge with ‘flying colors, purified,
strengthened and emancipated. As for individuals their fate depends on one thing: the
condition in which they keep their consciousness. The only real protection is the Practice of
the Presence of God that manifests itself in mental peace and good will toward all’ (Gaze

The third challenge in Fox’s life came in 1951. Fox and the Wolhorns were on a trip to
Europe and Fox was anxious to see all his favourite places in Paris. The Wolhorns
remembered how strange it had seemed to them that Fox wanted to go to the Père
Lachaise Cemetery several times. On 11 August, after lunch, Fox suggested that they
should meditate together. Afterwards he began to review his life. He said at one time that: ‘I
have given all I have to the people. Now it is up to them to carry on.’ He continued: ‘We
three have lived many times before and it is not by accident that we are together in this life.
I have often thought of past lives and at times ancient Egypt comes into focus, and at other
times Greece and especially the Acropolis seems very vivid’. When Blanche shared her
insights into a past life in Egypt, and said how she would like to visit that country, Fox
responded, ‘You and Herman will make it, but I won’t’ (Wolhorn 1977:225). Seventeen
years later they visited Egypt.

After dinner Fox requested a slow drive up the Champs Élysées, where he and Blanche
sang Roses of Picardy together. He then retired to his room. The next day when he did not
arrive for their 1:00 pm appointment, they found him in his room, lying in bed with his Bible
resting on his chest. They eventually managed to get him to a hospital where at 2:00 pm on
13 August, he ‘took his departure from this side of the curtain’. Apparently prior to his
departure, the doctor recalled him sitting up in bed and starting to give a lecture. He was
very peaceful and ‘there was a beautiful smile on his face. He was radiant and looked
twenty years younger. We kissed him’, recalled the Wolhorns, and said, ‘We’ll be seeing
you’ (Wolhorn 1977:227). After an autopsy it was stated that he had died of a cerebral
haemorrhage. He was cremated at his beloved Père Lachaise Cemetery and his ashes
were shipped on board his favourite liner, Ile de France.

It was only after the Wolhorns had boarded the ship with Fox’s ashes that they began to
receive ‘signals’ from him again. In her diary on 13 August Blanche wrote:

Dear Dr Fox, from the beautiful smile on your face today, I know that you know that all the things you
taught are true. How wonderful for you! You always said thirteen was your ‘lucky’ number. Continue to
bless us. I shall always sing ‘Roses of Picardy’ for you as I did the last time we were together’ (Wolhorn

Apparently this song was played by the orchestra when they boarded the ship.

There were many lingering questions regarding Fox’s death. Some people wondered why
he died. For ‘if it is true that prayer can heal, why did it not heal Emmet Fox?’ Gaze
(1968:139) tried to answer these questions by stating that

Fox did not just get along with a partially functioning body, but he was able to pour into his service a
vitality and vigor that palpably reached into other lives. The notable courage and confidence that he
evoked in other persons were demonstrations of the transformation that had taken place in his own
personality … [and] although Emmet Fox gave a perfect theory, a theory that can be exemplified in life
by others, he himself did not completely exemplify it. In spite of the testimony of his overcoming
physical handicaps and his ministry with its tremendous strain on his vitality, might there still have been
divine and human possibilities he did not exhaust?

This seems a rather unfair remark, as surely those who grasped Fox’s teaching would not
have expected him to live forever. Death is not a failure of prayer, rather the next phase in
one’s development. Harry Gaze (1968:146) then summarises Fox’s transition as a positive
move towards greater spiritual freedom. He states that

although Emmet Fox believed in and taught the wholeness of soul, body, mind and spirit, in his mind
there was the greater attraction to a life that appeared to give more spiritual freedom – hence the
chemistry of his body worked in that direction. His prayers had become powerful and his body was
sensitive to the secret prayer of his soul to be free.

Fox (1979a:223) felt strongly that once one has outlived the body, it should be cremated
and one should dispose of the remains. His own ashes were scattered to the winds. He
states that the late owner of a body

wore out a number of physical bodies during his life and this is only the last of them … The beauty of a
beautiful body comes from the soul that shines through it … That soul with its beauty and joy has gone
now, and the body left is but an old garment which has been discarded.

The following declaration by Fox seems to be a summary of his attitude to life.

I do my duty and enjoy myself where I am; I do my job and pass on – to another. I am going to live
forever; in a thousand years from now I shall still be alive and active somewhere; in a hundred
thousand years still alive and still active somewhere else; and so the events of today have only the
importance that belongs to today. Always the best is yet to be. Always the future will be better than the
present or the past because I am ever growing and progressing, and I am an immortal soul. I am the
master of my fate. I greet the unknown with a cheer, and press forward joyously, exulting the Great
Adventure. Armed with this philosophy, and really understanding its power, you have nothing to fear in
life or death – because God is All, and God is Good (Fox 1979a:230).

Newspapers in Europe and in America carried the news. The following tribute was written
by Dr Fletcher Harding for the Science of Mind magazine:
On Monday, August 13, 1951, the earthly sojourn of Dr. Emmet Fox came to a quiet end, in his beloved
Paris, where he began the experience of which he had written to comfort uncounted thousands in his
booklet Life After Death.

Seekers of Truth throughout the entire world will reverently pause to pay tribute to this noble soul
whose life was marked with rich achievement. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will
treasure his books for generations to come. His Sermon on the Mount has been carried by praying
hands into every church. His Find and Use Your Inner Power has made the lives of millions brighter.
When he wrote Make Your Life Worth While and Power through Constructive Thinking he left us clear
and simple guideposts for Christian living.

In recent years it seems fitting that Dr Fox should take his work to Carnegie Hall, which had known the
finest music. He brought to its time-honored halls the finest of thinking and Christly teaching. His rich
humor and humble British dignity endeared him to thousands. His footprints are clearly established on
the sands of time.

The metaphysical movement claims Emmet Fox as one of its greatest leaders. Although he was
ordained to the Christ Ministry by the Reverend Nona L Brooks, co-founder of the Divine Science
College in Denver, Colorado, and affiliated his New York work with this organisation, his ministry
reflected his own marked individuality. With the authority that arises out of a deep spiritual
understanding and conviction, he spoke the Word of God with clear certainty and unwavering faith. The
greatest monuments left to honor him are the mended lives of men and women everywhere who have
found peace of mind, health of body and purposeful living through his teaching.

Our hearts are deeply moved over the golden bowl that is broken, but our loving thoughts embrace the
emerged Spirit that moves through timeless space in the Eternal Heart of God. Our gratitude and
blessings reach out to our honored friend whom the hand of the Infinite Shepherd has anointed. In
reverent faith we know that beyond the dim horizon of our vision his unseen lips still speak the words of
God to a vaster congregation (Wolhorn 1977:228–229).

Ervin Seale, the pastor of the Church of Truth, in New York City, wrote the following on the
death of Fox:

The true spiritual teacher dedicates his strength to others and takes upon himself the psychic burdens
of the race. He lays down his life in every earnest effort to lighten these burdens. Dr Emmet Fox carried
a tremendous burden all his life. But ‘all that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own’,
and in the end, the prayers of thousands attended and blessed him, not necessarily for return, but for
progress. In the most immediate sense in which we can contact life, he is not dead. He walks abroad in
all the changed and happier lives he touched. We all owe him much. We shall not soon see his like
again (Seale 1951:17).
Emerson once stated when he was writing the life of Plato that ‘great geniuses have the
shortest biographies’ (Gaze 1968:117). Gaze seems to agree with this as he considers
Fox’s life to be one of simplicity, yet powerful.


Emmet Fox reached many people through the services he conducted, and even more
through the written word. His publishers, Harper & Row, estimated that over the years
there have been over twelve million readers of these editions. Very well-known writings
such as The golden key and Alter your life were first published as booklets and distributed.
His most famous interpretation of The Sermon on the Mount was also distributed in this
way, until sales grew to such proportions that it was necessary for a publishing house to
take it over. Under the expert handling of Harper & Brothers (now Harper & Row) a new
edition of The Sermon on the Mount reached best-seller rating on non-fiction lists, and ‘it
has remained a best seller on religious lists ever since’. By 1940, only a couple of years
after the book appeared, Harper had published nineteen editions.

Edward Larocque Tinker, distinguished historian and book critic, wrote in the New York
Times Book Review of 31 March 1940:

This book is a condensed, distilled essence of years of Bible and metaphysical study – a practical
hand-book of spiritual development ... In explaining the manifold benefits of perfect understanding of
Jesus’ teachings, Dr Fox concisely and without a trace of sensationalism gives his readers a profound
outlook upon life, and an absolutely fresh scale of values which the Sermon on the Mount presents to
mankind ... The substance of Dr Fox’s purpose is to show that everyone has troubles, ill health and all
the rest of it, but that down the ages certain people have attained mastery over these misfortunes and
through their own efforts have been able to lead lives of unbroken happiness’ (Wolhorn 1977:157–

In the Christian Herald Albert Linn Lawson reported:

Not in a long time have I come across anything that surprised and delighted me so much as The
Sermon on the Mount by Emmet Fox ... It would seem that the many, many volumes written about the
Sermon on the Mount would well-nigh have said all that human tongue could say about it. Far from so!
Dr. Fox has opened my eyes, and will, I feel sure, likewise open the eyes of everyone who reads his
book (Wolhorn 1977:158).
‘The extraordinary sales record of The Sermon on the Mount has been achieved with very
little effort on the part of either publisher or book trade’, Harper wrote, for the book spoke
for itself. Publications such as Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Divine Science Monthly
(now Aspire) and Unity magazines began to publish articles by Fox.

When the United States entered World War II in 1941, a paper shortage developed. It was
soon clear that restrictions on publishing The Sermon on the Mount would not work. So an
agreement was made with another publishing company, Grosset & Dunlap, who had a
paper surplus, to undertake this publication. After three years, this company was reluctant
to give back the publishing rights to Harper for it had sold half a million copies during the
war book boom.

Fox was later convinced by Fred Becker and Eugene Exman, editor-manager of Harper’s
Religious Books Department, to attend autographing parties at bookstores as they felt it
would help to spread the message. He often included the following quotation by
Shakespeare when he autographed books, ‘There is nothing good or bad but thinking
makes it so.’ He felt that this statement summed up the essence of his own teaching
(Wolhorn 1977:160).

There was such a demand for his books that The Sermon on the Mount was translated into
French, Spanish, German and other languages. Editions of his writings also appeared in
France, Mexico, Greece and Brazil. Two other popular publications, The mental equivalent
and Life is consciousness, were reaching vast numbers and brought about many healings
and transformations in people’s lives. Wolhorn refers to the miraculous healing of Dr Jack
Holland, a well-known professor at San Jose State College in California, after reading The
mental equivalent.5

Often out-of-town visitors visited the publishing house in the hope of finding Emmet Fox
there and asking him questions. One of the staff members, Eleanor Jordan, who was
familiar with Fox’s works, helped many visitors on their spiritual paths. His other books all
reached best-seller status. They included Find and use your inner power, Power through
constructive thinking and Make your life worth while. Other highly successful publications
appeared after his death, namely Stake your claim, The Ten Commandments and
Diagrams for living.6 According to Fred Becker from Harper, the manuscripts of only two
authors became ‘best sellers after their death: Zane Grey, writer of Western stories, and
Emmet Fox’. After his death all his work was translated into French and even in a
translated language, his books became best sellers throughout the French-speaking world.

Besides his many publications 7 there were the well-known pamphlets that were designed to
fit into one’s pocket or purse. Most of these booklets were included in the books Power
through constructive thinking and Alter your life. The best-known and most often used
include The golden key, The seven day mental diet, The Lord’s Prayer; The magic of
tithing, Make your life worth while, and The seven days of creation. These were practical
tools to assist people in their daily spiritual work. There were also cards, four by six inches
in size, on which appeared subjects such as Treatment for divine love, How to get a
demonstration, and The word of power. These could be used whenever the person was
challenged by something in life, as they acted as reminders of our true divine natures.
Reading and rereading them at intervals did bring about a change in the people’s outlook
on life.

Fox devoted himself to people and wrote little on the subject of political and social affairs.
Only four small pamphlets covered the subject of historical movements. These included
The historical destiny of the United States, The zodiac and the Bible, The American spirit
and How to maintain peace.8

Alter your life (originally published in 1931) is compiled from Fox’s earlier writings. It is
based on biblical texts and offers a progressive, life-changing course designed for all
readers, whether they have read a religious book before or not. Fox explains that the
dreary problems we are facing are actually bad habits of mind, and ones that we can free
ourselves of.

I regard Power through constructive thinking (published in 1932) as possibly the most
comprehensive of Fox’s teachings. As early as 1963 over a quarter of a million copies of
this book had been in circulation (Braden 1987:354). Fox touches on all the relevant
subjects in such a concise manner that, according to many accounts, his readers
remembered and readily quoted his words. He knows his topic, understands it, explains it
simply and lucidly. The reader is left in no doubt about how to get out of any difficulty at any
time in life. This book is so designed that it instructs the reader in building a life through
constructive thought, as ‘all power lies in creative thought’. Throughout this book one
realises that our destiny is in our own hands, as it is impossible to think one thing and
produce another – like attracts like and like produces like. This truth encourages us to
carefully consider what we think about all day long – what thoughts we are entertaining in
our minds – for thought is the key to life.

Topics such as life after death and reincarnation are thoroughly researched and presented
in a very clear way. The golden key, probably the best known and most widely read of
Fox’s works is also included in this book. It states that the key to a fulfilled life is to take
one’s mind off the difficulty and focus it on the various aspects of God. Other gems such as
The seven day mental diet, The wonder child, The Lord’s Prayer and The Good Shepherd
are only some of his most inspiring writings and have helped people to clarify their thinking
on these important points. All the essays in this book were previously published as
separate pamphlets and are still obtainable in that form.

Find and use your inner power (published 1937) was previously known as Sparks of truth
and contains one or more of the laws of psychology or metaphysics. It is a reminder that
‘The Laws of Thought are the Laws of Destiny’ and that ‘Whatever you believe with feeling,
that you bring into your life’ (Fox 1979b:xi). In these simple single-page gems of wisdom
and inspiration, many students have found abiding spiritual truths as well as practical
advice for daily living. Fox is known for his light and amusing style of writing. Fundamental
truths are stated in the plainest and simplest language so that even an intelligent child
would be able to understand them. Fox uses everyday problems and experiences with
which all his readers can identify and challenges them with his answers.

Make your life worthwhile (published 1942) consists of short, one-page essays. It instructs
the reader in practical successful living. It deals with everyday challenges and Fox
concentrates on the power of prayer. Through highlighting the concepts of the power of
prayer and thought, one’s inner sources, the belief in God as the source of everything,
faith, the wisdom within the Bible, the great mental laws and some of the keywords in the
Bible, he gives his readers practical advice on how to achieve real health, happiness,
prosperity, greater security and peace of mind. This is an easy book to read with no
technical terminology. Most of the short chapters end with a biblical quotation. The
principles covered in this book motivate the student to apply them immediately and
experience transformations within their lives.

Herman Wolhorn, who had known Fox for more than twenty years as an assistant,
companion and friend, regards the short essays in Stake your claim (published in 1952) as
the ‘refined gold of his lifetime of teaching and helping people’ (Fox 1992:ix). It is written in
an easy to read and understand style, like all of Fox’s writings. Each of the 72 essays is a
time-tested recipe for accomplishment and wellbeing when one consistently puts it into

Around the year with Emmet Fox (published in 1952) consists of 365 short pieces, never
more than a page, which could be read as a devotional and inspirational exercise on each
day of the year. After Fox’s death, the publishers realised the success and popularity of his
work. They decided to publish a book for all his friends and followers from his unpublished
and published lecture notes as well as from his manuscripts.

As there has always been a demand for copies of Dr Fox’s sermons and lectures, The Ten
Commandments (published 1953) came about as a response to that request. It represents
a series of sermons that were delivered to thousands of people over a period. Fox’s ability
to take a profound spiritual truth and explain it in simple language so that all can
understand it and use it in their daily lives is evident in this work. He explains the Ten
Commandments, as given to Moses, in a refreshing way, underlining the spiritual meaning
more than concentrating on the literal interpretation. His observation is that ‘there is no
problem that cannot be solved, nor any aspiration that cannot be fulfilled when once the
underlying meaning is absorbed and made a part of one’s life’ (Fox 1979d:5).

In Diagrams for living (published 1968), Fox simplified some of the Bible stories by re-
telling them with his interpretation in mind, as well as adding modern-day terms. As the
sub-title, The Bible unveiled, indicates, Fox delivered his promise to students to ‘unveil’ a
cross-section of the Bible written in allegory and symbology. He believes that when we
understand that some of the facts that are taught in the Bible as historical facts are really
allegory, then readers will open up their consciousness to the different diagrams for living
that it offers. In outlining these diagrams, he feels that each one can then take the
necessary steps to make his or her life worthwhile and interesting. He believes that we are
on every page of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation; that each character portrays an
aspect of ourselves; and that each story contains the ingredients of our unfolding lives; that
every character in the Bible symbolises a state of one’s soul; every incident signifies
something that can happen to us; every name, place, number and letter has a symbolic
meaning revealing a facet of our many-sided personalities (Fox 1993:1–4).

1 The complete rule is ‘Stop thinking about the difficulty, whatever it is, and think about God instead’ (Fox

2 In another way, scientific prayer is referred to that which is seeing the Presence of God where the trouble
seems to be and it does not merely give one the courage to meet the trouble; it actually changes the
trouble into harmony. In Power through constructive thinking, Fox (1979a:267) says, ‘Scientific prayer or
spiritual treatment is really the lifting of your consciousness above the level where you have met your

3 Fox learned techniques for practising meditation and silence from Dr Porter Mills, a former Chicago
physician who gave up his practice to do metaphysical healing (Gaze 1968:33).

4 Read Fox’s own account of the ‘unfolding of the Judgment Books’ in the chapter, ‘Reincarnation and Life
After Death’ in Power through constructive thinking.

5 A personal communication by Jack during a visit to South Africa confirmed this healing.

6 This book (Diagrams for Living) was based on the manuscripts that Fox left with Herman Wolhorn.

7 Fox published prolifically. His works included Alter your life (1994); Power through constructive thinking
(1979a); The Sermon on the Mount (1934); Find and use your inner power (1979b); Make your life
worthwhile (1984); Stake your claim: exploring the gold mine within (1992); Around the year with Emmet
Fox (1979c); The Ten Commandments (1979d); and Diagrams for living: the Bible unveiled (1993).

8 These articles can be found in Alter your life.




William James (1987:88–89) described New Thought as the American people’s ‘only
decidedly original contribution to the systematic philosophy of life’. This movement, which
is a blend of religion and philosophy, was founded in the United States in the late
nineteenth century. After The Bill of Rights in 1791 guaranteed freedom of religion in the
USA, New Thought, in a response to this spirit of religious freedom and tolerance, ‘arose in
rebellion against faiths of fear and preaching rooted in concepts of sin and damnation’
(Venter 1996:14). Emmet Fox (1944:29) remarks that ‘it was, in part, a reaction to the
terrible Calvinism which had gripped New England for so long’. The title of Braden’s book,
Spirits in rebellion, indicates that the spokespeople of this movement ‘were and are actually
in rebellion, even though they regard themselves as the true proponents of original
Christianity’ (Larson 1987:ix).

This study, however, is not about New Thought in general; it is neither a detailed
discussion of its theology, nor an evaluation of any of its belief systems. After an overview
of its historical roots, I will discuss the continuing debate among contemporary New
Thought scholars on some of the challenges of New Thought as a movement. This will
provide the backdrop for determining the role of Emmet Fox within the larger scope of New
Thought theology and philosophy and whether Fox had any theology or not.

It seems essential to start with a definition (3.1), followed by a short overview of its history,
roots and the acknowledgment of its forerunners and founders (3.2), as well as New
Thought’s theology, philosophy and subsequent challenges (3.3).


‘If you aren’t quite sure whether it is a philosophy, a religion, or a movement – join the
crowd’, writes Kathy Gottberg (1996:8). She is not the only one who finds it difficult to
define New Thought, with its unusual dimensions and tolerance. Larson (1987:ix) states
that ‘New Thought is a basic attempt to reinterpret the conventional dogmas of historic

religion’, whereas Braden (1963:9) indicates that New Thought is a term ‘loosely used to
cover a wide range of philosophical, theological, psychological and practical approaches to
God, to the world, to life and its problems, that had its development within the last hundred
years, chiefly in America, though under one name or another it has extended itself over
much of the Western world’.1 He describes New Thought as

neither church, cult, nor sect. It stands for Universal Brotherhood, teaches that the Son of Man has
power to forgive sins, including the healing of the sick; that health, happiness and success are the
birthright of every child of God. There is no future punishment. The individual rewards and punishes
himself as he conforms to or opposes the Eternal Law of Life. New Thought believes that the great
need is not so much a theoretical Christianity as an applied one; that living the Christ life does not so
much imply uniformity of creed or form, as being activated by the same inward Spirit, demonstrated by
loving helpfulness to one’s fellows … It holds that all religions and all peoples are at different stages of
growth. Every man has a right to live his own life in accordance with the highest dictates of his own
conscience, for where truth is there must be freedom … It is not a name of any fixed system of thought,
philosophy, or religion, for when moulded into a system, it ceases to be ‘New’ Thought. But the
following can be said of it: It practices in the twentieth century what Jesus taught in the first (Braden

In discussing the origins of New Thought and labelling them complex, Ferenc M Szasz
states in his article ‘New Thought and The American West’ (1984:83) that some of the
proponents of this movement argued that ‘they were simply restating the spiritual message
of Jesus, a message which had been lost since the fourth century’. Fox (1944:29) echoes
these statements: ‘What we call New Thought is, of course, only the primitive New
Testament teaching restated in modern form. It is essentially a Back-to-Jesus movement.’
Braden (1963:12) asserts that ‘New Thought is the Christ Thought made new by being
applied and proved in everyday affairs. New Thought is positive, constructive, a philosophy
of optimism, the recognition, realization and manifestation of God in Man.’ Elmer Gifford
(Braden 1963:13) comments that ‘as Mind advances, the old forms die, because they no
longer serve or satisfy men’s needs … New Thought can never therefore be a finished
product and if it remains truly New Thought, it will never be completed enough to
creedalize it’.

One of the most outstanding examples of a New Thoughter, according to New Thought
thinkers, was Jesus. ‘His thinking, believing and example were “new” thought in his day,
opposing the “old” ways of the priesthood and its practices in those days’ (Venter 1996:17).

Jesus’ proclamation in Matthew 9:17, ‘Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins;
otherwise, the skins burst, the wine runs out, and the skins are lost. No; they put new wine
in fresh skins and both are preserved’, was already teaching the process of paradigm shift.

Sarah J Farmer (Anderson 1993:1), one of the early New Thought leaders, refers to this
shift to newness by defining the movement: ‘It is simply putting ourselves in new relation to
the world about us by changing our thought concerning it … We are not creatures of
circumstance; we are creators …’ Charles Fillmore (1981:140) defined New Thought as ‘a
mental system that holds man as being one with God (good) through the power of
constructive thinking’. Alan Anderson (1993:1) sees New Thought as ‘a movement of
philosophical-religious thought and action originating in the nineteenth-century United
States and emphasizing the attainment of health, wealth, and happiness through the
control of one’s conscious and non-conscious beliefs, attitudes, and expectations by
means of deliberately practising the presence of a wholly benevolent deity’.

For Anderson and Whitehouse2 (1995:4) the principles of New Thought are expressed
concisely in Romans 12:2, ‘Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. New
Thoughters seek nothing less than total life transformation, empowerment through
changing their thoughts and keeping them changed.’ Dell deChant3 (1991b:16) sees New
Thought – like Christianity – as ‘a diverse religious movement, because both Christian and
non-Christian groups can be found under this broad heading’. In their series of lessons, the
Unity-Progressive Council (deChant 1991b:16) states that all New Thought groups affirm,
at least, that ‘Ultimate Reality is Good; Humanity is divine; Mind is primary and causative;
The freedom of individuals in matters of religious belief’. Gordon Melton4 (1995:6–7) recalls
the growth of the New Thought movement from an obscure cult status to a ‘prominent
indigenous American denominational family’ that has ‘established itself with a significant
constituency in the United States’.


3.2.1 History, roots and forerunners

Although the origins of New Thought are complex, there is nothing ‘new’ about New
Thought. It embraces a wide range of thought and sources, including the gospels, the

writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Berkeleian idealism, spiritualism, the theory of evolution
and Hinduism (James 1987:91). Although Alan Anderson (1993:1) acknowledges Eastern
influences within New Thought, and even explores the possible connection between these
two as they ‘might fit into a larger pattern of thinking, which might lead to an universal
theology or philosophy’, it is really Paul Laughlin5 who is passionate about Oriental thought
as the foundation of this movement. In one of his articles (Laughlin 1997:113) he shows
that New Thought is compatible with Eastern philosophy and that the precursors of New
Thought were comfortable with Oriental roots.

Before the present name of ‘New Thought’ became accepted, the movement was known
by other names such as Mind Cure, Mental Science and The Metaphysical Movement.
Some individuals, such as Dorothy Elder (1992:9), still use the terms Metaphysical and
New Thought interchangeably. Steven Sadleir (1992:152), in his discussion of Religious
Science (founded by Ernest Holmes and one of the major New Thought movements)
classifies it under the heading of Metaphysical Teachings. Although New Thought’s
approach to biblical exegesis is known as the metaphysical interpretation, Dell deChant
(1994:2) believes that it should correctly be called ‘allegorical’, and more specifically
‘idealistic allegorical exegesis’.

Other philosophical and religious thinkers who are acknowledged by New Thought as
precursors of the movement include Plato (428–348 BCE), Augustine (354–430 CE),
Origen (185–254 CE), John Scotus Erigena (810–877), Anselm (1033–1109), medieval
scholasticists, Descartes (1596–1650), Spinoza (1632–1677), Gottfried Leibniz (1648–
1716), Hegel (1770–1831), and mystics (deChant 1991b:19).

Events such as the Civil War (1861–1865) brought about radical changes to the whole of
America. Post-war America witnessed the eruption of secularisation and modernisation. It
was a period influenced by industrialisation, urbanisation and the development of a mass
society. Other influences included the emergence of a middle class, an increase in literacy,
the expansion of education, the move westwards, an increase in European immigration
and the advent of female empowerment movements. Besides the impact of the Idealists
and Rationalists, European influences, in the persons of Mesmer, Swedenborg and
Emerson, had quite an effect on the precursors of New Thought.

Franz Anton Mesmer (1734–1815) will be remembered for his use of hypnosis in the
process of healing (then known as mesmerism), and his effect on Quimby, the first great
exponent of New Thought in America. The Swedish seer Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–
1772), with his Doctrine of Correspondences, which reminds one of Platonic Idealism, had
a great impact on the Transcendentalist movement, as well as on Quimby and Evans. For
some scholars, Hegel’s (1770–1831) Idealism is considered to have emerged as New
Thought today.

Characteristics of Transcendentalism that directly influenced New Thought were first of all
a belief in humanity’s spiritual nature – ‘the supreme dignity of the individual man’ (Braden
1963:31); second, support of the enfranchisement of women and equal rights; and lastly
the reading and study of translations of Eastern scriptures. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–
1882), the leader of the Transcendentalists, was claimed by some New Thought leaders to
be the Father of New Thought. According to Frederick Bailes (in Braden 1963:35–37),
Emerson was healed of tuberculosis by ‘what we turn TO rather than by what we turn
FROM’ . Focusing on the ‘oneness with the Over-Soul’ rather than on the illness is to live the
whole secret of Emerson’s philosophy. Robert Winterhalter6 in his article ‘Ralph Waldo
Emerson: Morning Star of New Thought’ (1996:72, 85) recognises Emerson’s indirect
groundbreaking work ‘for the dawning of higher understanding’, as well as respecting him
as ‘the Morning Star of New Thought, heralding the New Dawn’.

In Braden’s (1963:49) book Spirits in rebellion, Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802–1866) is

labelled the founder of New Thought. His experiences and practices of mental healing were
‘the real beginning of the New Thought Movement’. Anderson and Whitehouse also trace
the origins of New Thought back to this clockmaker, faith healer and inventor who was
deeply influenced by Mesmer and Swedenborg. He describes disease as ‘something made
by belief or forced upon us by our parents or public opinion … Now if you can face the error
and argue it down then you can cure the sick. Disease is false reasoning’ (Braden
1963:59). He speaks with confidence as he had a ‘mental’ healing himself.

Although deChant gives Quimby the credit for laying the foundation for New Thought, he
does not acknowledge him as its founder, but gives this honour to Emma Curtis Hopkins,
the teacher of teachers. In a paper titled ‘Quimby as founder of New Thought’, Anderson
(1997a:5, 20) addresses the question of the relative importance of Quimby and Hopkins in

founding the New Thought movement, and ultimately feels that Quimby deserves the title
of founder of this movement.

Fox (1944:28) believes that ‘no one person can be said to have “originated” it [for] like all
significant movements it came into the race mind through several different channels at
about the same time’. He refers to Emerson and regards him as the prophet of the
movement. Quimby is mentioned as the healer of Portland, Maine, who taught several
students who went out afterwards and spread the teaching in different ways. Lastly he
mentions the New England Transcendentalist Movement, which was really part of the
same current of thought, and again includes the name of Emerson, as well as Bronson
Alcott, Margaret Fuller, Thoreau, Theodore Parker and others.

In the person of Warren Felt Evans (1817–1889) we find ‘the first real philosopher of New
Thought’ who ‘was advancing Eastern ideas’ (Laughlin 1998:75). Anderson and
Whitehouse (1995:21) regard him as ‘the first person to write books for what would become
New Thought’.7 Braden (1963:89) calls Evans the pioneer writer of New Thought. And
Charles Fillmore (Anderson and Whitehouse 1995:22) considers Evans’s works ‘the most
complete of all metaphysical compilations’. This Methodist minister, psychotherapist and
healer, who was cured by Quimby and became one of his devoted students, was
recognised in particular for his contribution to the philosophical and theological
development of New Thought and was considered the most influential literary figure in its
early period. But in the New Thoughters’ endeavour to develop a popular and practical
religion, they abandoned any attempt to develop an academic profile – in other words, they
forgot all about Evans.

Evans states the influence, directly or indirectly, of the other religions of the world on the
leaders of this movement when he identifies the essential teaching and ideas of Christianity
with Oriental thought, particularly Hinduism and Buddhism (apart from Platonism, Hermetic
Philosophy and the Kabala). Teahan (1979:64) concludes the list of those who have
influenced Evans with names and movements such as Swedenborg, Philosophical
Idealism, Mysticism, Modern Science and what he termed ‘Esoteric Christianity’. Other
significant leaders and individuals include Julius and Annetta Dresser, Ursula Gestefeld,

Annie Rix Militz, Elizabeth Towne, Horatio Dresser, Thomas Troward, Emmet Fox (whose
religious thought and contributions will be discussed in detail), Joel Goldsmith and Ralph
Waldo Trine.

3.2.2 Founders/leaders of organisational movements

Quimby and Evans, as well as many other founders of movements, were not interested in
forming an organised movement. But their students, usually healed by them, started to
teach and preach their methods, and through their devotion and eagerness to spread this
teaching, formal organisations started to develop.

This short overview of the leaders of organisational New Thought movements includes
Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910), who was first to organise a healing ministry. The Christian
Science church was founded and formally established in 1879 by Eddy. Out of the incident
of Eddy’s healing ‘grew one of America’s major religious denominations, which is
represented around the world’ (Sadleir 1992:74). In Gage Chapel’s8 article ‘Christian
Science and America’s tradition of Philosophical Idealism’ (1996:39), he writes about the
considerable public controversy that Christian Science evoked. But despite sustained
attacks by the established churches, the medical profession and popular writers, Mary
Baker Eddy’s Christian Science continued to prosper, and became a major indigenous
religious denomination. Although many were attracted to her and her teachings, her rigid
rule, her claims to divinity and her reputation for greed and self-glorification became
intolerable to some of her followers and the students who left her joined forces in the
general New Thought movement. Even before 1900 Christian Science and New Thought
had split into two streams.

Emma Curtis Hopkins (1853–1925)9 was one of the students who left Eddy in 1885. She is
hailed as the ‘teacher of teachers’, ‘the mother of New Thought’, ‘the great influence’, a
‘prophetess of her age’, a ‘genuine mystic’, the ‘founder of New Thought’, the ‘forgotten
founder’, the ‘ultimate new thought mystic’ and the ‘grand lady of new thought’. For Melton

(1995:5, 33; 1996:13) Hopkins ‘was the founder of the first feminist religious movement
independent of Protestantism in American history’; he believes that ‘every major New
Thought organization in existence today traces its roots directly to Hopkins’s teaching
work’; and that ‘though there were many who influenced the development of New Thought
… Hopkins stands above them all as the founder of the movement’; she was ‘the fountain
from which the New Thought movement flowed’. On the other hand, Anderson (1997a:5)
accredits Hopkins with being ‘a spiritual giant’ and ‘the New Thought movement as it
actually developed stands in large measure on her shoulders’, but he still believes that ‘she
stands on the shoulders of Quimby’.

Through her universal and inclusive teachings, including the major religions of the world as
well as Eastern thought, Hopkins attracted those students who were no longer satisfied
with orthodox religions. Although she did not claim that any thought was original to her, she
knew that her idea of God was a basic ingredient of all religions and philosophies
(Anderson 1981:57). For her ‘the truth is that Good is God and God is omnipresent and
omnipotent, thus the Good is omnipresent. If the Good is omnipresent, the evil is nowhere
present and there is no apartness’, and this formed the basis of her healing therapy
(Hopkins [sa]:39).

Hopkins was the first to educate ministers and to have them ordained. She was known as
the first woman to ordain women and referred to God as ‘motherhood’, because she
believed in the Oneness of God and saw no distinction of sex in God. Her organisational
strategies were carried on by her students and gave rise to the great movements of New
Thought: Divine Science (Cramer and Brooks), Unity (the Fillmores) and Religious Science
(Holmes). Someone once wrote that ‘she is undoubtedly the most successful teacher in the
world’ and that ‘never before on this planet were such words of burning truth so eloquently
spoken through woman’ (Larson 1987:144–145).

In the persons of Melinda Cramer (died 1907) and Nona L Brooks (1861–1945), the third-
largest New Thought group, the Divine Science movement, took form (in 1898). After these
two women had a ‘divine’ healing, they began to study this method and later became
teachers and healers in their own right. Brooks and her two sisters laid the foundation for
the institutional establishment of Divine Science, while Cramer was responsible for the
organisational input. The omnipresence of God is the basic principle of Divine Science.

God is everywhere and for this reason human beings must be divine and partake of his
nature. The term ‘science’ is used frequently in New Thought, and Divine Science stresses
the close relationship between science and the Christ religion. It is Divine Science because
it is based on the omnipresence of God and proves by the law of expression that, innately,
a person can be only what God really is.

The Unity School of Christianity, which is regarded as the largest and most successful of
the New Thought groups, came into being (1889) after both of its founders, Myrtle (1845–
1931) and Charles (1854–1948) Fillmore, experienced healings. Unity’s statements can be
summarised briefly as ‘Ultimate Reality is God/Good; Humanity is divine; Mind is primary
and causative; Freedom of individuals (in matters of faith and expression); Christianity (the
acceptance of spiritually interpreted Christian doctrine as normative)’ (deChant 1991b:30–

Ernest Holmes (1887–1960) began his movement, Religious Science (1927), after his
studies with Hopkins. His classic textbook, The science of mind (1926), is considered one
of the ‘most thorough and comprehensive texts on spiritual healing ever produced’
(deChant 1992[Class5]:7). Holmes (1938:31) does not claim any special revelations for his
movement, but he does admit that ‘the intelligent law of creative force may consciously be
directed and definitely used’, as the ‘greatest discovery of all time’. From 1954 Religious
Science has been represented by two groups, namely the United Church of Religious
Science and Religious Science International.



In an ongoing debate, the contemporary scholars of New Thought continue to do battle

regarding the philosophy and theology of this movement. Traditionally, the two main
emphases of the different thought and practice in New Thought seem to be practical
healing and an ideology or theology (Idealism) that explains the sources of healing power.
In his paper ‘New horizons in New Thought: doing theology in a new thought situation’,
deChant (1995:150–151) argues for the value of theology in New Thought. He is convinced
that it is a necessary step in New Thought’s development ‘as a mature form of human
religiosity’. It is not enough for New Thought to merely have a practical theology, as it does

not include the entire theological system. Therefore it only ‘leads to contradictions, and
contradictions lead to weakness in a religion’ – a total schism. He is positive that New
Thought can change the world as it was meant to do, but in order to fulfil this mission it has
to embrace a full theological system.

A formal theology ‘is the discipline through which a religion rationally reflects on itself and
responsibly addresses its needs and questions. Its method is rational and systematic self-
reflection. Its motive is the drive for survival and the quest for maturity in a religion through
continuity with its past and continent self-modification in terms of the present and the
future’. But theology, God talk, is not just another academic discipline, it is also ‘a cultural
event occurring whenever religion speaks about itself’ (deChant 1995:132). Dell deChant
(1998b:205) defines ‘religion’ as ‘the voice of faith, but theology gives the voice range,
accessibility, and coherence’. He believes that New Thought has the voice, but that it lacks
the range, the accessibility and the coherence.10

In this role of both academic discipline and an ongoing cultural event, deChant (1995:133–
137) recognises theology as ‘a process rather than a finished product’. For him it is always
in conversation. And it is this dialectic dimension of theology that New Thought currently
lacks. New Thought’s theology is considered practical and fundamental. It is talking about
God, but it does so without a great deal of reflection and with very little dialectical
sophistication. The lack of cultural sophistication is in the areas of higher education, the
media and politics/government. This to deChant is fundamentally a doctrinal dilemma. Fox
(1944:28–29), on the other hand, believed back in the 1940s that New Thought had always
been a practical movement and ‘has stood for healing, and in this respect gradually
separated itself from those who were primarily concerned with philosophical speculation’.

Although Anderson (1996:107) appreciates William James’s remarks about the uniqueness
of Early New Thought, he would like to add the philosophical distinctiveness of New
Thought that he feels James failed to realise. This distinctiveness is not merely of its
metaphysics, but of the blending of metaphysics and its method. He believes that ‘the
foundations for New Thought’s metaphysical-methodological uniqueness were laid by
Quimby and Evans’.

Recognising New Thought’s uniqueness because of its blend of theory and practice,
Anderson (1996:111–113) suggests that ‘New Thought has become a practical success
and a theoretical failure’ and that ‘the prevalent forms of New Thought metaphysics are
antiquated’. The metaphysical alternative that was adopted by New Thought was Idealism,
‘which maintains that everything is spiritual or mental’. Anderson (1998:23) states in his
article ‘Pluralistic Idealism: only mind, many minds’ that ‘the central philosophical
foundation for the New Thought movement as well as for any other metaphysical religion is
idealism’. He does mention, however, that there is more than one type of Idealism.
deChant (1998b:195–196) reminds his readers of the success of New Thought in bringing
its ‘new gospel of its new faith to a young but developing American culture’. It was
‘America’s middle class’ that ‘found something of value in this new faith which proclaimed
that God was wholly good, evil was only error, ultimate reality was Mind, and one’s life and
one’s world were predicated on one’s thoughts. This was religious idealism packaged for
popular consumption, a gospel of infinite possibilities capable of mass production.’ He feels
that it was New Thought’s idealistic faith (pragmatic science) that gave the movement its

In an earlier writing, deChant (1991a:71) defines Idealism as ‘a philosophic position,

expressed in various ways, to various ends, with varying degrees of complexity, that holds
the highest reality and the foundation of existence itself is mental. Mind, consciousness,
ideas, and thoughts are the basis of reality and the causal force(s) behind material objects,
events and conditions.’ He declares that Idealism is the ‘key ideological premise if not the
very foundation of New Thought’.

Bringing into focus the whole debate over Idealism as the foundation of New Thought (as
supported by Anderson and deChant), Laughlin (1997:113) wonders why J Stillson Judah11
‘didn’t notice that fact in his thorough and excellent chapter on the movement, but rather
identified New Thought with pantheism and monism, neither of which is necessarily
idealistic’. He stretches his curiosity by wondering ‘if idealism is the essential philosophical
basis of New Thought, it is even more curious that the wide-ranging “Declaration of
Principles” of the International New Thought Alliance12 does not even mention, much less
endorse, idealism’ (Laughlin 1997:120–121)! Both Smith and Laughlin realise that New
Thought’s single philosophical tradition, Idealism, sadly and ironically ‘fails to provide a
theoretical basis for the kind of mental healing that has been a staple of the movement

from the outset’. He and Smith agree that ‘idealism simply does not and, cannot provide an
adequate conceptual framework for the very practice that defined the New Thought
movement from the days of Quimby, Hopkins, and the other founders of the tradition,
namely, mental healing’ (Laughlin 1999:142).

Laughlin (1999:144–145) shares Wilber’s13 appreciation of Idealism when it integrated spirit

and evolution in such a convincing way ‘by recognizing that evolution is simply Spirit-in-
Action, or “God in the making”’. The one crippling inadequacy that Wilber feels brought
Idealism tumbling down is that ‘it possessed no yoga – that is, no tried and tested (spiritual)
practice for reliably reproducing the transpersonal and superconscious insights that formed
the very core of the great Idealist vision’. Wilber believes that Idealism and Whitehead’s
philosophy are ‘grounded in rationality rather than in spirituality’ for both of them lack ‘yoga,
[or any] spiritual discipline or practice to provide the data for his [Whitehead’s] clever
musings, which remain, therefore, ingenious, but idle speculations of pure reason’.
Whitehouse (1999:157) recognises that the Idealism that was prevalent in the nineteenth
century had fallen out of favour. However, it remains widely popular in New Thought

Anderson (1996:113–115) considers that New Thought’s task is to become more fully
metaphysical and his suggestion for such a reinvigoration is what he terms Process
Philosophy (or Process Theology, or even Process Thought, depending on the context).
The purpose of this thought is to ‘understand as fully as possible the nature of process,
which is “the creative advance into novelty’’’. ‘The production of the novel, the newly
satisfying, is the thrust of all creation’ and ‘we must be new moment by moment’. He is
convinced that ‘New Thought never need fear extinction if it remains new, needed, and
best’, and that Process Thought ‘most adequately understands the nature of the creative

In an article titled ‘Towards a sustainable metaphysic of faith’, Arthur Preston Smith14

(1999:104–105) explains and outlines Whitehead’s philosophy as an alternative to
Idealism, and explains why New Thought should consider including Whitehead’s model in
its teachings. Whitehead’s Process Model, an ontology of experience, could benefit New
Thought, should the latter reinterpret God as ‘Experience’, rather than ‘Mind’ or
‘Consciousness’. Whitehead’s metaphysic is useful to Smith as it addresses the concepts

of mind-body interaction and causation. This metaphysic is both sustainable and optimistic,
whereas the idealist model may be optimistic, but not sustainable. This philosophy, which
is highly complex, has at its heart the ontological doctrine of pan-psychism (according to
William James), or pan-experientialism (according to David Griffin) According to pan-
experientialism the universe is viewed as alive. It consists of experiences of experiencing
entities. Everything consists of entities that have some subjectivity and self-determination.

The other two key concepts in Whitehead’s philosophy are ‘prehension’ and ‘actual
occasion’. Smith’s (1999:107–108) understanding of Whitehead’s ‘actual occasion’ is that it
is a moment or an instant in experience that includes the development and completion of a
definite feeling. ‘Prehension’ is to feel or to be affected by something. He states that in
each actual occasion is the unification of various prehensions into a final complex feeling or
satisfaction (in the sense of a feeling of some level of value). An occasion first exists as a
subject, during which it prehends prior occasions (physical) and prior possibilities
(conceptual). Then it unifies them into a single feeling of satisfaction. This subject then
becomes an object for subsequent occasions and in that sense lives forever. Or,
expressed in another way, the subject (occasion) through feeling becomes the object for
another occasion. This subject’s nature moves forward in time, and it continues to exist
forever as an object for subsequent occasions, which is phrased by Whitehead as
‘objective immortality’.

Whitehouse (1999:157–158) observes that the constructive post-modern

philosophers (Whitehead, Hartshorne and Griffen) ‘have totally discredited both
dualism and materialism, and shown that some traditional forms of idealism have
serious philosophical flaws as well’. Therefore she advocates a ‘mediation, a
synergy of old dualistic beliefs and old pantheistic/idealistic beliefs that overcomes
the philosophical errors in each while preserving what is of value in both’, as pointed
out by Stephen Covey’s15 interdependency.

This process of mediating came into prominence in 1828 when Karl Christian
Friedrich Krause combined the best of traditional theism and pantheism into a new
creation, termed ‘panentheism’. It can be defined as the ‘notion that all is in God and
God is in all; in other words, that the universe is God’s body’, or ‘that God and we

are a one made up of many’ (Anderson 1997b:83). Anderson (1997b:84) considers

panentheism ‘a logical and powerful central position for New Thought to take in
assuming its leadership role for spirituality in the twenty-first century. Indeed, it is
the only position that even attempts to synergize both theistic and pantheistic
approaches, to create a metaphysical middleway’.

Anderson (1997b:88–89) created his own formula (although it is the result of the thinking of
some great minds) for panENtheism: past + divinely given possibilities + free choice = new
creation. He feels that this claim is what metaphysics are all about. And as process thought
and personalism meet in panentheism, this forms ‘a middle way where we can all come
together and move forward together under the guidance of the God whose name is love’.
Whitehouse supports this, advocating that the old static Substance New Thought should be
updated to this Process New Thought. When the substructure of New Thought’s practices
has been worked on, then truly it will remain ‘the religion of healthy-mindedness’ (William
James) as it affirms the freedom of belief of each person and its boundaries are

Smith (1999:120–123) believes that Process Philosophy, particularly that of Whitehead’s

model, is unique and New Thought can benefit from it. First it offers a better theory of mind-
matter interaction through pan-experientialism than through the theories of dualism,
materialism or even idealism. In pan-experientialism the whole is not reduced to one of its
parts, but ‘it seeks to incorporate both wholes into a larger one’ or one can say it takes on
‘the role of aspects or attributes of something that is both mental and physical’. As the
theories of causation and creativity are important for the theory of mind-body interaction,
one must begin to think ‘in terms of processes and events, ie, the way things come to be’.
Whitehead’s uniqueness then lies ‘in explaining the influence of causes as part of the
effect’s creation, or coming to be’.

Laughlin (2000:138) thinks that ‘the belief that idealism is the philosophical foundation of
New Thought is a false assumption’ and he offers his ‘Oriental-style neutral monism as an
equally valid and in many ways better alternative to idealism’. He remarks that the early
New Thoughters were ‘attracted to the religions and philosophies of the East primarily
because of the monistic view of Ultimate Reality they found there’. Although the Western

world would term it ‘pantheism’, it is nevertheless more accurately phrased as a specific

type of ‘monism’ (Laughlin 1997:116–117). This Ultimate Reality, Universal Absolute and
Supreme Power, Presence, or Principle of Eastern Thought resonates well with ‘New
Thought’s foundational theology, which posited a single God abiding within the universe
and people, all of which were treated more like expressions of an immanent divinity than as
a heavenly deity’s creations’. As Laughlin (1997:117) has stated: ‘It is not surprising, then,
that the earliest founders of the New Thought movement, like their Eastern counterparts,
found themselves preferring both neutral and impersonal appellations for “God” – such as
“Power”, “Principle”, “Presence”, and “Wisdom” – to the much more personal references
being commonly used in mainstream Christianity (eg “Father”, “Lord”, “King”).’

Of course the term ‘monism’ can be used in different ways. Laughlin (1997:121–123)
identifies the two most obvious understandings. The first refers to idealistic monism, ‘which
holds that the one constituent of reality is Mind or Spirit’, and the second to materialistic
monism, ‘which says that it is Matter’. It is then clear to the student how New Thought has
found its identification with idealistic monism. On the other hand, Laughlin reminds us that
there are more types of monism. He introduces one other viable option, namely neutral
monism. Apparently William James first coined the term ‘to connote the idea that the
fundamental reality is neither Matter nor Mind, but some neutral element or “stuff” so basic
that no definite characteristics can be attributed to it’.

Laughlin (1997:123–124) observes that the Declaration of Principles of the International

New Thought Alliance describes God as ‘Divine Perfection’, as well as ‘Universal Wisdom,
Love, Life, Truth, Power, Peace, Beauty and Joy’.16 These expressions are beliefs about
and experiences of God and do not state that God is these things. So Laughlin points out
the obvious ‘relevance of neutral monism to New Thought’ and, like its Oriental
counterparts, ‘New Thought has a basic theology that focuses on God as the single
immanent Source and Basis of all reality’.

He stresses the challenge of Eastern thought to New Thought when he writes that ‘the
Eastern traditions may well press New Thought beyond familiar and comfortable
conceptual boundaries and into new territories hitherto unknown, unexplored, and perhaps
even unimagined’. He states: ‘To most Westerners, the prospect of viewing God, not only
as a non-personal Something, but indeed as a formless Nothing, might seem at worst an

utterly and hopelessly abstract and nonsensical view, and at best a negative, cold,
puzzling, and totally unsatisfying way to comprehend Divinity’. For him the ‘philosophical
language and concepts associated with neutral monism in Eastern religions are derived
from and rooted in the sublime unitive bliss of the most profound and moving of mystical
experiences’, as well as the ‘deep appreciation for silence as the purest language of the
spirit’ 17 (Laughlin 1997:124–125). From this study Laughlin (1997:126) suggests that

… a recognition of the implicit metaphysics of New Thought as monism, coupled with a realization that
that monism may be interpreted as either Western idealistic monism or Eastern neutral monism, may
just give both of the historic dynamics of New Thought – rationalism and mysticism – their due. It would
also leave room in the movement for those students of Truth who find personal language about God
appropriate and for those far more comfortable with non-impersonal imagery.

From 1910 interest in Eastern religious thought waned noticeably. Apparently Dresser
‘rejected Indian religious and philosophical notions’ and both Jackson18 (1996:171) and
Laughlin (1998:77) consider this the moment in New Thought’s history that interest in
Eastern thought stopped. It is unfortunate, comments Laughlin (1997:120), that ‘Dresser’s
devaluation and dismissal of what he took to be Hinduism deprived New Thought of a most
fertile and promising metaphysical framework, within which the movement might have
produced substantial theoretical activity and at least one sound theological model’. He
reckons that Anderson,19 whom he regards as ‘not only the premier philosopher of New
Thought today, but the world’s foremost authority on Horatio Dresser’, shares the same
‘negative views of Hinduism’ as his predecessor (Laughlin 1998:79). He is therefore even
more convinced that the Oriental philosophical systems so appreciated by New Thought’s
founders can still ‘present valuable resources for the clarification and articulation of New
Thought principles, not the least of which are a philosophical method and metaphysical
model virtually unknown in the Western philosophical tradition. Eastern religions and
philosophies thus hold tremendous promise and potential for the restoration of the New
Thought movement’s philosophical and theological dimension’ (Laughlin 1997:115).20

Laughlin (2000:145–146) proposes a philosophical and theological foundation for

discussions within the New Thought community. At first he reminds New Thoughters to
‘recapture the broad scope that Warren Felt Evans exhibited throughout his career’. This
includes the importance of giving attention to metaphysics in the philosophical sense, as
well as some serious reading of the great philosophers.21 As a second point he feels that

one should ‘give a fair hearing to Oriental religions on their own terms’ and he reminds one
that the early founders of the movement ‘knew instinctively that Eastern monism had
something special and unique to offer New Thought’. Third, he believes that ‘it is time to
narrow whatever attention we continue to give to idealism to those thinkers who must
impressed Evans and no doubt others of his contemporary New Thought pioneers’. He
singles out Hegel as ‘the greatest of the so-called Absolute Idealists’.

Although Masao Abe (one of the premier Zen philosophers of the late twentieth century,
and quoted by Laughlin 2000:147) finds Hegel’s ‘understanding of Nothingness inadequate
and wanting’, he ‘clearly recognizes the value of Hegel’s Absolute Idealism as a
philosophical bridge between West and East’. Laughlin too feels that this recognition of
Hegel’s work can ‘lead our movement to its own mystical roots as well’. And as Ken Wilber
(as quoted by Laughlin 2000:147–148) summarises:

Hegel’s Idealism winds up being a dead-end in this regard, because of its lack of a yoga or spiritual
discipline to underpin it. But Hegel’s thought is nevertheless quite useful in setting up the kind of
dialogue with Eastern thought that Masao Abe values. Hegel might in fact open the way to
philosophical traditions that know intimately the spiritual practices and techniques that are so woefully
lacking and desperately needed in New Thought circles.

And, lastly, advising an openness to current philosophical movements, findings and trends,
he suggests that New Thought entertains ‘the possibility that a newly-defined philosophy of
materialism could have something important to say to the movement’. With the coming of
new physics, quantum physics and even cognitive sciences, matter is now defined as
energy, and ‘materialism isn’t what it used to be’. Laughlin (2000:148) regards philosophy
of mind (previously known as philosophy of language), as the present ‘cutting-edge’
philosophy, with its central issue ‘the relationship between the mind and the body’.

Laughlin (1999:146) seems to send everyone who may be interested in the mind’s healing
powers to the East. He considers the Eastern healing powers so effective, because ‘they
are grounded in philosophies that, unlike those of the West, are inherently spiritual, and
that therefore view the body-mind relationship in a spiritual context’. He reminds his
readers that the East understands ‘spirit to be a deeper aspect than mind; and they see
mind and body both as expressions of that deeper, non-dual spirit, which provides the

crucial and unifying connection that has made Eastern healing arts so demonstrably
effective for so many people for so many centuries’.

If it is true, according to Laughlin (2000:144, 149), that ‘New Thought can no longer afford
to restrict their philosophical purview to idealism alone’, and that the restriction of a
religious movement to one philosophy is to ‘reify, stagnate, and ultimately kill it’, then
maybe it is time that the Andersons and Laughlins sit together and re-create a suitable,
workable and mind-shifting ‘new’ ‘thought’ for the New Thought movement. As Laughlin
(2000:150) has stated, ‘We have gone a long way toward putting the thought back into
New Thought. It is now time to pay attention to the new.’

Noting Laughlin’s (1997:128) suggestion that the Oriental roots in New Thought’s
fundamental philosophical foundation should be acknowledged, he concludes: ‘New
Thought might once again find itself poised, at the beginning of a new century, to build an
evermore urgently needed bridge of understanding and ecumenism between the religions
and worldviews and peoples of a profoundly multicultural and pluralistic world – one that is
still hungering and thirsting for New Thought about Ancient Truth.’


1 The books by Braden and Larson, as general introductions to New Thought, present a wealth of
material. However, today Dell deChant (1995:2) considers Braden’s text long out of date and ‘somewhat
out of focus’. Gordon Melton (1995:36) found Larson’s attempt to upgrade Braden inadequate. I did not
refer to Horatio Dresser (1919), who wrote the first, and for a very long period of time the only, written
history of New Thought.

2 C Alan Anderson is professor emeritus of philosophy and religion at Curry College, in Milton,
Massachusetts. After earning degrees in political science, law and education, he received a PhD degree
in philosophy from Boston University, with his doctoral dissertation, ‘Horatio W Dresser and the
philosophy of New Thought’. He is the co-founder of the Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religion,
and a member of its board.

Deborah G Whitehouse, PhD, is a member of the faculty at Curry College in Massachusetts. She serves
on the board of directors of the International New Thought Alliance and is the editor of New Thought

3 Dell deChant is the editor of JSSMR (Journal of the Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religion). He is
an instructor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Religious Studies at the
University of South Florida.

4 J Gordon Melton is the founder and director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa
Barbara, California, and a research specialist with the Department of Religious Studies at the University
of California, Santa Barbara.

5 Paul A Laughlin is professor and chair of the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Otterbein
College, Westerville, Ohio. He has earned a BA in Classics from the University of Cincinnati and MDiv
and PhD degrees from Emory University.

6 Robert Winterhalter is the president of SSMR (Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religion). He has
written extensively on the Bible and New Thought methods of scriptural exegesis.

7 Evans’s first book was The mental cure, published in 1869 (Anderson and Whitehouse 1995:21).

8 Gage Chapel, PhD, is associate professor in the Greenspun School of Communication at the University
of Nevada, Las Vegas, and was a member of the board of directors of the SSMR.

9 It has been noted that biographical data on Emma Curtis Hopkins is remarkably inconsistent. This
includes significant dates such as her birth. I have come across the following dates as given for date of

Anderson (1981:6): 1853–1925

Anderson and Whitehouse (1995:23): 1853–1925
deChant (1991a: 69): 1853–1925
deChant (1992:1): 1849–1925
Larson (1987[1897]: 143): 1855–1925
Melton (1995:5): 1849–1925

10. ‘It lacks the range, in that it tends to talk only to itself and not to other faiths and other social institutions.
It lacks the accessibility, in that it is not fully educated about either itself or the greater culture to which it
might speak and with which it might communicate. Finally, New Thought lacks coherence for it does not
know its past, its traditions, its normative teachings, or the cultural horizons within which it functions as a
religion’ (deChant 1998b:205).

11. J Stillson Judah, The history and philosophy of the Metaphysical Movements in America, Philadelphia:
The Westminster Press, 1967.

12. The International New Thought Alliance (INTA) was founded in 1914. It is a loose association of New
Thought churches, diverse religious groups and individuals and is considered the most important attempt
to assemble all of New Thought under a single umbrella. With its headquarters located in Mesa, Arizona
since 1974, and with Rev Blaine Mays as its president, it publishes the quarterly periodical, New

13. Laughlin regards Ken Wilber as ‘the most brilliant and wide-ranging synthetic thinker working in the field
of spirituality today, possessing the mind of a genius coupled with the soul of a mystic’ (Laughlin

14. Arthur Preston Smith, PhD, did doctoral studies at Claremont University. Other institutions at which he
studied include Yale and California State University at Sacramento.

15. Stephen R Covey explains the maturity continuum where we move from dependence to independence
and eventually into interdependence. ‘Interdependence is the paradigm of we – we can do it; we can
cooperate; we can combine our talents and abilities and create something greater together.
Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest
success. As an interdependent person, I have the opportunity to share myself deeply, meaningfully, with

others, and I have access to the vast resources and potential of other human beings’ (Covey 1992:49–

16. INTA’s Declaration of Principles (as given in 2000):

1 We affirm God as Mind, Infinite Being, Spirit, Ultimate Reality.

2 We affirm that God, the Good, is supreme, universal, and everlasting.

3 We affirm the unity of God and humanity, in that the divine nature dwells within and expresses
through each of us, by means of our acceptance of it, as health, supply, wisdom, love, life, truth,
power, beauty, and peace.

4 We affirm the power of prayer and the capacity of each person to have mystical experience with
God, and to enjoy the grace of God.

5 We affirm the freedom of all persons as to beliefs, and we honor the diversity of humanity by
being open and affirming of all persons, affirming the dignity of human beings as founded on the
presence of God within them, and, therefore, the principle of democracy.

6 We affirm that we are all spiritual beings, dwelling in a spiritual universe that is governed by
spiritual law; and that in alignment with spiritual law, we can heal, prosper, and harmonize.

7 We affirm that our mental states are carried forward into manifestation and become our
experience in daily living.

8 We affirm the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven here and now.

9 We affirm expression of the highest spiritual principles in loving one another unconditionally,
promoting the highest good for all, teaching and healing one another, ministering to one another,
and living together in peace, in accordance with the teachings of Jesus and other enlightened

10 We affirm our evolving awareness of the nature of reality and our willingness to refine our beliefs
accordingly’ (quoted in New Thought 85(1)(2001):19).

17. Laughlin’s statement that ‘New Thought may come to a new appreciation of ‘The Silence’, seems to be
confirmed by the lack of discipline within many New Thought circles when it comes to practising silence.
I became aware of the powerful and forceful (at times even very boisterous) way of praying, yes, as well
as its success (of course), but seldom experienced the silence (as known, understood and practised
within the Eastern thought) within these circles.

18. Carl T Jackson, PhD, is professor of history at the University of Texas at El Paso.

19. Laughlin (1998:84) stated that Anderson’s ‘erroneous caricature of Hinduism and his consequent
allegations of its supposed shortcomings are always in support of his own vigorous presentation of
Western panentheistic process philosophy as, in effect, the only real avenue of promise now available
for future New Thought metaphysics’. Anderson (1988:161) reacted to this sharp ‘criticism’ and in one
place he remarked that ‘any religion or philosophy can learn something from any other religion or
philosophy’; that ‘obviously, no one could embrace all the conflicting religious approaches that have
enriched and cursed humankind over the centuries’ (Anderson 1998:155); and ‘however, whether one
arrives at a position by way of the East or the West makes no difference with regard to the truth of the
position’ (Anderson 1998:149).

20. On a more personal note, it was this Eastern spirituality and yoga philosophy that attracted the writer to
and supported an understanding of the New Thought teaching.

21. Evans’ own understanding of idealism was shaped by the thoughts and writings of Berkeley, Fichte,
Hegel and Schelling. His interest in a number of diverse sources includes those of current Western
philosophies as well as Hindu monism (Laughlin 2000:146).



Both Emmet Fox and Ken Wilber have the means to weave together the insights of many
disciplines into a practical tool that can help others to see the world as a whole. This insight
helps people to be liberated from their narrow and limited perspectives. In an attempt to
summarise Wilber’s revolutionary thoughts (as in Sex, ecology, spirituality: the spirit of
evolution, Up from Eden and A theory of everything), which is a challenge in itself, this chapter
will focus only on an analysis of his thinking as far as it has a bearing on New Thought and
Emmet Fox’s religious thinking. It therefore provides a theoretical framework for reading,
understanding and interpreting Fox’s teaching.


‘It’s a strange world’, Wilber comments. Just as ‘evolution became conscious of itself’, it
simultaneously started ‘working to engineer its own extinction’ (Wilber 1995:3). Today’s
fractured worldview is one that separates and divides everything – a world of dualism. To heal
such a worldview is to replace it with one that honours the entire web of life and its

The new system sciences are about wholeness and connectedness, whereas the essence of
the modern systems sciences is growth and evolvement of these wholes. The three great
realms of evolution have been termed differently throughout time and Wilber refers to them as
the physiosphere (matter), biosphere (life) and noosphere (mind). Historically these three
great domains ‘were one continuous and interrelated manifestation of Spirit, one great chain of
being, that reached in a perfectly unbroken or uninterrupted fashion from matter to life to mind
to soul to spirit’ (Wilber 1995:8). This All, the Kosmos (a Greek word meaning ‘the patterned

Whole of all existence, including the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual realms’),
according to Wilber (2001:xi–xii), is a real theory of everything. But ‘Kosmos’ was reduced to
‘cosmos’, where body, mind, soul and spirit were reduced to matter alone – a very scientific
materialism. With this, the great chain of being began to fall apart.

It has been said that the sciences are ‘shot through with the notion of hierarchy’ and although
viewed as undesirable, ‘hierarchy seems to be everywhere’. The opponents of hierarchy
maintain ‘that all hierarchies involve a ranking or dominating judgment that oppresses other
values and the individuals who hold them, and that a linking or nonranking model of reality is
not only more accurate’, but also ‘kinder and gentler and more just’ (Wilber 1995:15). The
opponents then propose what they call ‘the notion of heterarchy’ where ‘rule or governance is
established by a pluralistic and egalitarian interplay of all parties’. In a ‘hierarchy, rule or
governance is established by a set of priorities that establish those things that are more
important and those that are less’. On one side one has the egalitarians with their views of ‘all
creatures as equal nodes in the web of life’ and on the other are the sciences of wholeness
and connectedness that maintain ‘that you cannot have wholeness without hierarchy’. It
seems then that ‘hierarchy’ and ‘wholeness’ are ‘two names for the same thing’ and Wilber
(1995:16) shows that this is ‘a colossal semantic confusion’. He reminds his readers of the
actual meaning of the word ‘hierarchy’, where ‘hiero-’ means ‘sacred’ or ‘holy’ and ‘-arch’
means ‘governance’ or ‘rule’ – sacred governance or governing one’s life by spiritual powers.
This type of hierarchy was ranked, because ‘each successive order was more inclusive and
more encompassing and in that sense ‘higher’, but not more important or greater, as that
would indicate judgement.1 According to systems theory, then, ‘a hierarchy is simply a ranking
of orders of events according to their holistic capacity. In any developmental sequence, what
is whole at one stage becomes a part of a larger whole at the next stage.’

The term ‘holon’ was coined by Arthur Koestler as that ‘being a whole in one context is
simultaneously a part in another’ (Wilber 1995:18). Not only is the whole more than the sum of
its parts, but the whole can also determine the function of the different parts. When it is said
that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’, the ‘greater’ means ‘hierarchy’, according
to Wilber (1995:18). Within the three great domains there is no hierarchy of one that is greater

or more important than the other; it is rather a ranking of orders of events according to their
holistic capacity. For in any developmental sequence, what is whole at one stage becomes a
part of a larger whole at the next stage. Hegel (in Wilber 1995:21) states that ‘each stage is
adequate and valuable, but each deeper or higher stage is more adequate and, in that sense
only, more valuable’. Wilber agrees with Koestler that the correct word for ‘hierarchy’ is
actually ‘holarchy’, and he uses the terms interchangeably.

Everything within in the Kosmos constitutes holons. As Wilber would say, holons all the way
up and holons all the way down. Should one destroy any holon, one destroys all the holons
above it, but none below it. For example, should a molecule have been destroyed, the
potential cell is also destroyed, but not the atom below. The moment that any part of any
whole is repressed, it becomes pathological – sick. It then affects all the parts with which it is
linked. When beings think they are only the whole, they begin to dominate and oppress others.
On the other hand, when they think they are nothing more than mere mortals, they never
reach their divine potentials. This is when the human turns pathological or becomes sick. It
has been said before that humans are ‘cross-man’ – both hu-man and divine.2 The growth or
development of this being then lies within the union of these two aspects, which is considered
the healing process or becoming whole again.

Convinced that ‘reality is not composed of things or processes; it is not composed of atoms or
quarks; it is not composed of wholes nor does it have any parts’. Rather, it is composed of
‘whole/parts, or holons’, Wilber (1995:32–78) offers the following twenty basic tenets
(condensed into twelve). They act as a conclusion of the common patterns of existence that
are operative within the physiosphere, the biosphere and the noosphere.

• Reality as a whole is not composed of things or processes, but of holons. This observation
leads to what Wilber terms the ‘pure groundless Emptiness, or radically nondual Spirit’. He
prefers to refer to the ‘sum total of events in the universe not as the “Whole” (which implies
the ultimate priority of wholeness over partness) but as “the All” (which is the sum total of

• Holons display four fundamental capacities: self-preservation, self-adaptation, self-

transcendence and self-dissolution.

: The wholeness aspect of a holon is displayed in its capacity to preserve the

autonomous and coherent patterns it exhibits.

: The partness aspect of a holon is displayed in its capacity to accommodate, to register

other holons, to fit into its existing environment.

: Self-transcendence means that ‘the universe has an intrinsic capacity to go beyond

what went before’. It is linked to the example that when ‘two hydrogen atoms are
brought together with an oxygen atom, then a water molecule is the result’. This
transformation is the creative process.

: Self-dissolution means that holons, which were built up (through vertical self-
transformation), can also break down. The constant tension between these forces
can lead to forms of pathology.

• Holons emerge. ‘Owing to the self-transcendent capacity of holons, new holons

emerge’ and an element of surprise is always involved.

• Holons emerge holarchically. ‘That is, hierarchically’, as Wilber puts it. As each deeper
or higher holon embraces its junior predecessors (an atom includes particles and a
molecule consists of atoms and particles, but not vice versa), it adds its own new and
more encompassing pattern or wholeness to the existing one.

• Each emergent holon transcends but includes its predecessor(s). In this case ‘it
preserves the previous holons themselves but negates their separateness or
isolatedness or aloneness. It preserves their being but negates their partiality or

• The lower sets the possibilities of the higher; the higher sets the probabilities of the
lower. Whenever a higher level of creativity emerges, it ‘goes beyond (but includes) the
givens of the previous level’. ‘However, even though a higher level “goes beyond” a
lower level, it does not violate the laws or the patterns of the lower level. It cannot be
reduced to the lower level; it cannot be determined by the lower level; but neither can it
ignore the lower level’. In other words ‘a lower sets the possibilities, or the large
framework, within which the higher will have to operate, but to which it is not confined’.

• The number of levels which a hierarchy comprises determines whether it is ‘shallow’ or

‘deep’; and the number of holons on any given level we shall call its ‘span’. When there
were only atoms in the universe and not yet molecules, it could be said that ‘atoms had
a small depth (3) but an enormous span, stretching, we presume, throughout the
existent universe and numbering in the megazillions (thus, depth = 3, span = zillions).
When molecules first emerged, they had a greater depth, a depth of four, but initially a
very small span. The greater the vertical dimension of a holon (the more levels it
contains), then the greater the depth of that holon; and the more holons on that level,
the wider its span.’

• Each successive level of evolution produces greater depth and less span. ‘The number
of wholes will always be less than the number of parts, indefinitely. Thus, greater depth
always means less span, in relation to a holon’s predecessor(s)’. And the greater the
depth of a holon, the greater its degree of consciousness, because ‘the spectrum of
evolution is a spectrum of consciousness’ and ‘a spiritual dimension is built into the
very fabric, the very depth, of the Kosmos’. The two scales are the vertical one of deep
versus shallow, and the horizontal one of wide versus narrow. Agency (self-
preservation) and communion (self-accommodation) refer to changes in the horizontal
dimension. Self-transcendence and self-dissolution refer to changes in the vertical
dimension. Wilber refers to the changes in the horizontal dimension as ‘translation’, and
those in the vertical dimension as ‘transformation’. Thus, in transformation (or self-
transcendence), whole new worlds of translation disclose themselves. These ‘new
worlds’ are not physically located someplace else; they exist simply as a deeper

perception (or deeper registration) of the available stimuli in this world. Translation is a
change in surface structures (horizontal) … [and it] shuffles parts … [whereas]
transformation is a change in deep structures (vertical) … [and it] produces wholes.

• Destroy any type of holon, and you will destroy all of the holons above it and none of
the holons below it. Within a holistic sequence, ‘each member includes its
predecessor(s) but not vice versa, and thus each successive member is indeed more
encompassing (or more holistic)’. For example, if all the molecules in the universe are
destroyed, then all the cells will be destroyed too, as the cells contain the molecules.
But the atoms and particles will not be destroyed. It is also true that the more
fundamental a holon is, the less significant it is, and vice versa. ‘The less depth a holon
has, the more fundamental it is to the Kosmos, because it is a component of so many
other holons.’ In other words, without this fundamental ‘ingredient’ or ‘building block’,
the other holons could not function. So

less depth means more fundamental [and] the less significant it is to the Kosmos, because it embraces
(as its own components) so little of the Kosmos. On the other hand, the greater the depth, or the
greater the particular wholeness of a holon, then the less fundamental it is, because fewer other
holons depend on it for their own existence … [and] the more significant [it is].

• Holarchies co-evolve. ‘Holons do not evolve alone, because there are no alone holons
(there are only fields within fields within fields)’. Co-evolution means ‘that the “unit” of
evolution is not an isolated holon (individual molecule or plant or animal) but a holon
plus its inseparable environment’.

• The micro is in relational exchange with the macro at all levels of its depth . ‘… as
holons evolve, each layer of depth continues to exist in (and depend upon) a network of
relationships with other holons at the same level of structural organization.’ Wilber
refers to this as ‘same-level relational exchange’ and ‘every holon maintains its
existence through relational exchanges with same-depth holons in the social (or macro)

• Evolution has directionality. Evolution has already been marked by creative emergence,
symmetry breaks, self-transcendence, increasing depth, and now one can add
increasing complexity, differentiation, variety and organisation.

Noting that ‘the Great Chain of Being was a Great Holarchy of Being – with each link being an
intrinsic whole that was simultaneously a part of a larger whole – and the entire series nested
in Spirit’ (Wilber 1995:31), it reminds us of the symbology that a chain is as strong as its
weakest link, hence there is no purpose in judgement for reasons of supremacy.


‘Mankind [said Plotinus] is poised midway between the gods and the beasts.’ Thus half beast
and half god, ‘humankind is an essentially tragic figure with a beautifully optimistic future – if it
can survive the transition’ (Wilber 1981:xix). And the story of humankind’s soul at the moment
is somewhere between the beasts and the gods. Traditionally history was seen as ‘the
unfolding of a pact between God and man, a movement ultimately to bring man and God
together’. Wilber (1981:3, 9) sees it as ‘the story of the unfolding of the relationship between
man and the ultimate Whole. It is going, not toward a final judgment, but toward that ultimate

The path of transcendence ‘follows what is called the “Great Chain of Being”’. And it starts at
the lowest rung, so to speak, and moves itself upward from there. Wilber explains this in a
simplified diagram,3 which he calls ‘the ground unconscious’ or ‘the great chain of being’.
Using a circle to demonstrate his point, he divides it into three sectors, namely the
Subconscious (pre-personal), the Self-Conscious (personal) and the Superconscious
(transpersonal). The average level of consciousness includes the first four levels, namely
Nature, Body, Early Mind and Advanced Mind, whereas the most advanced level of
consciousness refers to the Psychic, the Subtle, the Causal and the Ultimate. Evolution or
growth moves through these eight levels from the physical to the spiritual.

For a complete exposition of Wilber’s eight levels within the great chain of being, see Up from
Eden: a transpersonal view of human evolution (Wilber 1981). The following points act as a
brief summary of each level.

• Level 1 Nature. It is also referred to as the physical nature and lower life forms, the
pleromatic, material, uroboric-reptilian and archaic forms. This level reminds one of the
kundalini, the serpent energy lying asleep at the base of the spine, waiting to be aroused
and then to coil up through the different chakras toward higher levels. Even within this
ancient stage of humankind’s development, all the higher states were already present as
its potential, although unconscious.

• Level 2 Body. Within this level the forms include the highest bodily life forms, especially
typhonic and magical (the symbol of half man and half serpent and where the self is
separated from the natural world, but still ‘magically intermingled with it’). As humans
emerged from the uroboric state, they ‘were beginning to awaken to their own separate
existence, with all the potentials and all the perils therein’ – they were awakened to their
vulnerability, their finiteness and their incompleteness. In order to live with this situation,
man began to defend his increasingly separate self and tried to make it appear stable,
permanent, enduring, immortal and cosmocentric.

• Level 3 Early Mind. This is a phase that contains terms such as verbal, mythical,
membership, paleological and bicameral. As humanity continued its awakening, the next
step from a magical-typhonic consciousness was mythic-membership consciousness, and
farming was the most obvious effect or vehicle of this deeper transformation in structures
of consciousness. Language was the vehicle of this new consciousness.

Because language transcends the present, the new self could transcend the body. Because language
transcends the given, the new self could see into tomorrow. Because language embodies mental goals
and futures, the new self could delay and channel its bodily desires. And finally, because language could
transcend the physical, it could represent physical goods with mental symbols.

• Level 4 Advanced Mind. This next level refers to the rational, mental-egoic and self-
reflexive phases and can be divided into the low egoic period, followed by the middle
egoic, and then high egoic periods. Then follows the battle between the hero myths and
the great mother myths. Instead of embracing and integrating the previous myths, the new
myths repressed them with disastrous results. In this, the Western ego ‘demonstrated not
just an awakened assertiveness, but a blind arrogance’.

• Level 5 Psychic. This level is called Nirmanakaya. It is also referred to as the shamanistic
trance and includes concepts such as shakti, psychic capacities, the elemental forces
(nature gods and goddesses), emotional-sexual transmutation, body ecstasy, kundalini,
and hatha yoga. With the rise of consciousness from its lowest point of descent (root
chakra) to the sixth chakra, the emphasis is on body and bodily energies. There has been
a definite move from body to mind, from earth to heaven, from darkness to light and from
matriarchy to patriarchy.

• Level 6 Subtle. Known as Sambhogakaya, it refers to angelic and archetypal visions and
the saintly. It mentions the one God/dess, the Creator of all lower realms, shabd yoga,
savikalpa samadhi and saguna Brahman. Here the emphasis is on the subtle realm of light
and audible illuminations and subtle sounds. The Great Goddess from level 5 has now
given way to God the Father in this level. However, there is still a remnant of dualism, the
one of subject and object, one of Creator and creature. It is the one god4 who is
worshipped … Our Father who art in Heaven.

• Level 7 Causal. The level of Dharmakaya relates to the unmanifest Void, Empty Ground,
the Godhead; the identity of soul and God, transcendence of subject-object duality,
coalescence of human and divine; jnana yoga, nirvikalpa samadhi, nirguna Brahman. The
emphasis is upon transcending all of the foregoing by uprooting the separate-self sense
altogether. Within this level the soul does not commune or worship with the oneness any
more, it now becomes the oneness. There is no dualistic nature of God and me, but here
God and soul are identical. It is to reach beyond God. I and the Father are one. In other
words, ‘to reach Godhead, one must go beyond God altogether’. When Jesus moved from

Sambhogakaya (level 6 – dualism – Our Father who art in Heaven) to Dharmakaya (level 7
– oneness – I and my Father are one), he was crucified because it was considered
blasphemous. In the early Christian Gnostic texts (Pagels 1981:xix), Monoimus, a Gnostic
teacher, said: ‘Abandon the search for God and the creation and other matters of similar
sort. Look for him by taking yourself as the starting point. Learn who it is within you … If
you carefully investigate these matters you will find him in yourself’. To know the self is to
know God ...5

• Level 8 Ultimate. This last level, the absolute, the Svabhavikakaya, is viewed together with
the previous level. Wilber (1981:263) labels it ‘level 7/8, Atman, Godhead – which is both
One and Many, Source and Suchness, Only and All’. It includes concepts such as the
‘culmination of Dharmakaya religion; identity of manifest and unmanifest, or identity of the
entire World Process and the Void; perfect and radical transcendence into and as ultimate
Consciousness as Such, or absolute Brahman-Atman; sahaja yoga, bhava samadhi’.

Wilber (1981:263) does distinguish between level 7 and level 8 in that the level 7 ‘is the
asymptotic limit of the spectrum of consciousness’ and level 8 is ‘the always prior and present
ground of every level of the spectrum’. Level 7 is ‘the Source of all levels’, whereas level 8 is
‘the Suchness of all levels’. The causal is ‘the highest of all levels’ and the ultimate is ‘the
Condition of all levels’.

The first three general domains were those of matter (nature), life (body) and mind (early and
advanced). The next domain is the domain of the soul (including the psychic, known as nature
mysticism, and the subtle, known as deity mysticism), and its first rule is that it is
transpersonal. As Emerson puts it, ‘[t]he soul knows no persons’ (in Wilber 1995:279–280).
The answer to who or what observes the individual self, according to Emerson, is the soul. It is
as if

a light shines through us upon things. That which observes or witnesses the self, the person, is precisely to
that degree free of the self, the person, and through that opening comes pouring the light and power of a
Self, a Soul, that, as Emerson puts it, ‘would make our knees bend. To emphasize that the Soul, the

‘aboriginal Self’, is common in and to all beings, Emerson often refers to it as the ‘Over-Soul’, one and the
same in all of us, in all beings as such (Wilber 1995:280–283).

At the psychic level ‘the universalizing and global tendencies or reason and vision-logic come
to fruition in a direct experience of a truly universal Self, common in and to all beings’. Then at
the subtle level, ‘this process of ‘interiorization’ or ‘within-and-beyond’ intensifies – a new
transcendence with a new depth, a new embrace, a higher consciousness, a wider identity –
and the soul and God enter an even deeper interior marriage, which discloses at its summit a
divine union of Soul and Spirit, a union prior to any of its manifestations as matter or life or
mind, a union that outshines any conceivable nature, here or anywhere else’ (Wilber
1995:292, 293).

The following domain is the one of spirit (including the causal, also known as the formless
mysticism and the ultimate, the non-dual mysticism). From the previous level, the subtle,
where the soul and God were united, one now transcends all of this, into a pure formless
awareness within the causal – the Supreme Identity of Godhead. Meister Eckart expresses it
as ‘I find in this breakthrough that God and I are one and the same’ (in Wilber 1995:301). In
this formless and silent awareness, one ‘does not see the Godhead, for one is the Godhead,
and knows it from within, self-felt, and not from without, as an object’. Arriving at pure
Emptiness and the whole Kosmos, the ultimate stage, it is not-two (non-dual), but Absolute
Consciousness. ‘Brahman is the World’ and ‘all this world is Brahman’. ‘When all things are
nothing but God, there are then no things, and no God, but only this’ (Wilber 1995:309).

Is there a final omega point? Are we rushing towards the end of history? As Wilber (1995:311,
315) has stated, ‘no holon rests happy short of finding its own immediately deeper context, its
own omega point, which means that each holon rushes to the End of its own History’. He

Uncreate Spirit, the causal unmanifest, is the nature and condition, the source and support, of this and
every moment of evolution. It does not enter the stream of time at a beginning or exit at the end. It upholds
all times and supports all places, with no partiality at all, and thus exerts neither push nor pull on history.
As the utterly Formless, it does not enter the stream of form at any point. The Formless, in other words, is

indeed an ultimate Omega, an ultimate End, but an End that is never reached in the world of form. Forms
continue endlessly, ceaselessly, holarchically forever’.

The higher evolutionary religion, the one in which one finds Nothing and All Things, has never
took official root in the West. This Nothingness, the Void, does not mean a transcendent
vacuum – it means seamless, not featureless; it transcends but includes all manifestation. The
West, Christianity in large, could not accept this notion, as it sounded blasphemous, even
devilish. The politically motivated individuals of that time, the early bishops and banker-priests,
also realised that a God beyond God meant an end to their power, which was based on God
number one … thus no more business! So Orthodox Western religion stopped at level 6, while
the higher levels were entertained by the East (Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Neo-

The becoming of a person, as seen through the above stages of the great chain of being,
includes the material body (level 1) which is exercised in labour; the pranic body (level 2),
which is exercised in breath, sex, and feeling; the verbal-membership mind (level 3), which is
exercised in communication; the ego (level 4), which is exercised in mutual personal
recognition and exchange of esteem; the soul (levels 5 and 6), which is exercised in psychic
and subtle transcendence; the spirit (levels 7 and 9), which is exercised in absolute absorption
in Atman. It is clear that the higher rests upon the lower, but the higher is not caused by or
constituted by the lower. ‘The higher does not come from the lower, it comes from the ground
unconscious via the lower.’ It is also true that ‘because the higher does transcend the lower,
the higher can “repress” the lower’. On the other hand ‘the lower can “infect” the higher’ by
erupting and therefore disrupting the higher functioning, as well as passing on its own
distortions to the higher (Wilber 1981:274).

We are not only moving toward the ultimate Wholeness, ‘we also emerged from it, and,
paradoxically, in its embrace we always remain’. In other words, ‘history is the narrative of
man’s relationship to his own deepest Nature, played out in time, but grounded in eternity’.
Wilber then states that at the very base of humankind’s consciousness lies the ultimate
Wholeness. However, this truth has not yet been consciously realised by the majority and
therefore we are always seeking it out there as something ‘other’. This ‘Other’ ‘is ever-present,

but unrealized; it is given, but rarely discovered; it is the Nature of human beings, but lies, as it
were, asleep in the depths of the soul’. The basic Nature of human beings is an ultimate
Wholeness, also known by the names Atman, or Buddha Nature, or Tao, or Spirit, or
Consciousness, and even, but less frequently, used because of its loaded connotations, God
(Wilber 1981:14–15).

It is when we discover our deepest Nature and realise that it is one with the All, that we will be
relieved of the burdens of time, anxiety, worry and fear of death. It is within this discovery of
the Wholeness that we transcend. It is when one forgets one’s true self, the Atman, within this
search for transcendence that it results in forced symbolic substitutes such as sex, food,
money, fame, knowledge and power. These substitutes are referred to as the Atman project.
And ultimately the Atman project is the substitute for Atman itself. ‘Until the final resurrection
of the true Self in superconsciousness, then, the false, individual, and separate-self sense is
faced with two major drives; the perpetuation of its own existence (Eros) and the avoidance of
all that threatens its dissolution’ (Thanatos). These positive and negative sides of the Atman
project represent life and death.


The ultimate nature of reality is Wholeness, or sunyata, ‘voidness’, ‘emptiness’ or

‘nothingness’. To repress this Wholeness, or set up a boundary or barrier between a separate
self and the Wholeness requires a constant expenditure of energy. As a function of this
boundary, Eros and Thanatos came into being. Eros is ‘the desire to recapture that prior
Wholeness which was “lost” when the boundary between self and other was constructed’. In
failing to unite these opposites, Eros is driven to find symbolic substitutes for the lost Whole. It
is a hunger that can never be satisfied.

Thanatos, on the other hand, is ‘the power of sunyata, the power and push to transcend
illusory boundaries, but it appears, to a self that will not surrender its boundaries, as a threat of
literal death and physical mortality’ (Wilber 1981:157, 158). In reaching this boundary, which is
Thanatos, one has the choice of either submitting to it (being transcended), ‘or one will have to

find something else to do with that “death wish” – one will have to find substitute sacrifices’6
(Wilber 1981:158).

As long as this separate-self sense exists, the more it represses death and its terror. On the
other hand, to transcend the death terror, one must transcend the self.

That is, there is nothing the separate self can do to actually get rid of death terror, since the separate self is
that death terror – they come into existence together and they only disappear together. The only thing the
separate self can do with death is deny it, repress it, dilute it. Only in the superconscious All, in actual
transcendence, is the death terror uprooted, because the separate self is uprooted as well (Wilber

The desire to have more life (Eros) ‘is driven by the correct intuition that in reality one is the
All. But, when applied to the separate self, the intuition that one is the All is perverted into the
desire to individually possess the All. In place of being everything, one merely desires to have
everything. That is the basis of all substitute gratifications, and that is the insatiable thirst lying
in the heart of all separate selves’. Wilber states that ‘the denial of death’ in the same way is

based upon the correct intuition that one’s prior Nature is indeed timeless, eternal, immortal beyond
history. But when that intuition of timelessness is applied to the separate self, it is perverted into the desire
to simply live forever, to go on going on, to avoid death everlastingly. Instead of being timeless in
transcendence, one merely substitutes the desire to live forever. In place of eternity one substitutes death
denial and immortality strivings (Wilber 1981:63).

As the Atman-Spirit, one is timeless, for there is no past, no future, and no time. So in denying
death, one is demanding a future. This separate self is creating a picture of time where it can
continue forever. And ‘time is not merely a denial of eternity [it is] a substitute for eternity, for it
allows one the illusion of continuing and continuing and continuing … It is a form of the Atman
project, of substituting a pretend everlastingness for the reality of the timeless Present. And as
long as there is a separate self, it needs time …’ (Wilber 1981:64–65)

With every transformation up the ladder of consciousness there is the choice of further
transformations, or an individual ‘continues to translate both his self and his world according to
the basic structures of that level’. In other words, ‘translation is a change in surface structures’

or the ‘moving around on one floor’. Transformation, on the other hand, results in changing
deep structures, or ‘is moving to a different floor altogether’. Translation’s purpose is to
‘maintain the given level of the self system’ or to hold it stable and its aim is ‘to ensure that
Eros outweighs Thanatos – that Life wins out over Death’ (Wilber 1981:77–78). When
‘Thanatos exceeds Eros, translation fails and transformation ensues. As one floor “dies”, a
different floor emerges.’ This transformation can be toward higher structures or lower
structures, progressive or regressive.

The shaman was considered the first great voyager into realms of the superconscious. The
true shamanistic experience gives us insight into the processes of translation and
transformation. It does not produce a breakdown to lower states, but an actual breakthrough
to higher modes of being, resulting in ‘greater physical stamina and vitality of spirit. The
shaman is the man who knows and remembers, that is, who understands the mysteries of life
and death.’ The shaman’s transformation entails ‘nothing less than the death and
transcendence of the separate-self sense. Death, Thanatos, Shiva, and Sunyata – the very
thing all separate selves are dedicated to resist, the very thing that translation is geared to
avoid, the very thing that freezes cold the heart of mortal beings – just that is what the shaman
accepts and passes through.’ The experience is that ‘Thanatos exceeds Eros, crisis ensues,
mere translation ceases, and transformation to higher orders of consciousness results … The
shaman is the man … who understands the mysteries of life and death’ (Wilber 1981:79–82).


How did we fall from Source? In the big play of events we can imagine Spirit temporarily
‘forgetting’ itself by throwing itself outward as far as possible, and thus ‘losing’ itself in
successively lower levels. Each level then is created by a forgetting of its senior level, so that
ultimately all levels are created by a forgetting of Spirit. This ‘downward’ movement, whereby
‘Spirit’ ‘playfully loses and forgets itself in successively lower levels, is called involution’ 7
(Wilber 1981:317). We are reminded that Spirit is not lost at each level, just forgotten.8

This forgetting of the previous level leads to the ultimate forgetting of Source itself and results
in separation from the Godhead and the creation of a separate-self consciousness. Wilber
(1981:317) puts it concisely by remarking that

in ‘involution’, each level is (1) a successive ‘moving away’ from Godhead, (2) a successive lessening of
consciousness, (3) a successive forgetting or amnesis, (4) a successive stepping down of Spirit, (5) a
successive increasing of alienation, separation, dismemberment, and fragmentation, (6) a successive
objectification, projection, and dualism.

So once involution is completed, then evolution can begin. Wilber (1981:320) refers to this
explosive limit of involution as the Big Bang – a point where ‘matter was flung into existence
out of its senior dimensions, or, ultimately, out of Spirit’. The former is the enfolding of the
higher into the lower, whilst the latter is the unfolding of the higher from the lower. Stated
otherwise, the higher is already in existence within the Ursprung as its own potential; however,
when it emerges, it has to pass ‘through’ the lower and not ‘from’ the lower.9

The one feature of the evolution process was its holistic growth. As Jan Smuts (1987:86, 99)
has stated, and as referred to by Wilber, ‘Wholeness is the most characteristic expression of
the nature of the universe in its forward movement in time. It marks the line of evolutionary
progress. And Holism is the inner driving force behind that progress.’ He states that the whole
is in the parts and the parts are in the whole and that they influence and determine each other
throughout the evolutionary process.

In further comparisons between involution and evolution, ‘involution proceeded by successive

separations and dismemberments’, whereas evolution ‘proceeds by successive unifications
and higher-order wholes’. And whereas ‘involution proceeded by successive forgetting or
amnesis, evolution proceeds by successive remembering … Evolution is holistic, because “to
evolve” is simply to re-member that which was dis-membered, to unify that which was
separated, to recollect that which was dispersed. Evolution is the re-membering …’ (Wilber
1981:321). It is not an accident or a fortunate chance, but it is labouring toward Spirit and is
driven by Spirit itself.

We are not transforming into higher levels, according to Wilber (1981:323–324), because as
long as ‘the death of that level’s self-sense was not accepted, then consciousness remained
stuck at that level. And because the self is stuck to that level, identified exclusively with that
level, it then defends that level against death, against transcendence, against transformation.’
He then asks: ‘Why, then, does the self-sense not relinquish its present level, accept its death,
and thus rise to the next higher level of consciousness, ultimately to find true Spiritual
Eternity’? His answer is that ‘the lower is created (in involution, and recreated moment to
moment) as a substitute gratification for the higher, and ultimately, for Atman itself. The self
does not relinquish the lower, so as to find the higher, because it thinks the lower is already
the higher.’ When the self at any level accepts the death of the lower, then it could differentiate
itself from it, and thus transcend it – and so proceeds evolution, the remembering more and
more, unifying more and more, transcending more and more, dying to more and more. ‘When
all deaths have been died, the result is only God.’

Schelling (in Wilber 1981:325–326) maintained that ‘history is an epic composed in the mind
of God. Its two main parts are: first, that which depicts the departure of humanity from its
centre (Spirit) up to its furthest point of alienation from this centre (the movement of
involution), and secondly, that which depicts the return (evolution).’

What Wilber and others are stating has been confirmed in Eastern traditions, as well as by
cultures, tribes and groups such as the Native Americans, to which Roy Littlesun belongs.
These statements were already revealed in shamanism for example. Roy Littlesun (2003:53),
using the symbol of the romantic heart,10 illustrates the processes of involution and evolution
by first focusing on the bottom point of the heart. This represents the Ultimate (Spirit). Then
there is a movement away from this point – alienation and forgetting (involution). When the
two sides of the ‘heart’ reach its extremes, it remembers and actually pulls in and returns to
oneness (evolution). It is a process of involution, then evolution and maybe involution again –
forever expanding? Although Wilber does not mention the possibility of multiple cycles of
these processes, the writer is nevertheless convinced that there has been more than one
cycle of involution and evolution and that this is not the last one either. This idea of
continuation finds resonance in the traditional prophecies of the Hopi people of the American

South-West. They believe that ‘the human race has passed through three stages of life since
its origin’ (Kaiser 1991:41). The first of these worlds was destroyed by fire, the second by ice
and the third by a flood. The destruction of these worlds is the reason that a periodic
purification and renewal of the world appear necessary. Some scholars and Hopi prophets
believe that this world, the fourth one, will be the last world as the number 4 is a sacred
number. The majority take the view that there will be a fifth world and even more, hereby
supporting the continuation of cycle upon cycle.

One of Wilber’s (1995:107–111) concerns is that theorists looked at the universe from the
outside. ‘They are all the outward forms of evolution, and not one of them represents how
evolution looks from the inside, how the individual holons feel and perceive and cognize the
world at various stages.’ Knowing oneself may lead to knowing the interior of other holons,
which are now part of the self. ‘But I can know the outer world because the outer world is
already in me, and I can know me. All knowledge of other is simply a different degree of self-
knowledge, since self and other are of the same fabric, and speak softly to each other at any
moment that one listens. The greater the depth of evolution, the greater the degree of
consciousness.’ The within of things is known by many theorists as consciousness. Different
names have been given with slightly different meanings. Wilber refers to the within of things as
consciousness (depth), and the without of things as form (surface).

It is also true that any evolution brings with it new and emergent possibilities and therefore
new and potential pathologies because revolution always comes from the within and manifests
itself in the without. If any level turns pathological (becomes sick through daily choices and
actions), then it risks destroying its divine potential.

Involution, the ‘illusionary separation of all things from Godhead’, is the theological fall (not
that it prevents enlightenment, but marks the initial illusory separation of all things from God),
whereas evolution, the awakening and re-membering of the Ultimate, is the scientific fall. It
was when self-conscious beings awoke to ‘their vulnerability, separation, alienation, and
mortality’ that this led to the final emergence from Eden. On the other hand, ‘that which
prevents the return to God is not God’s creation per se but mankind’s ignorance of only God’

(Wilber 1981:326–327). Referring to original sin, Wilber argues that it is not something that the
separate-self sense ‘does’. It ‘is’ the separate-self sense, period. Another point to ponder is
‘this world is not a sin; forgetting that “this world” is the radiance and Goodness of Spirit –
there is the sin’ (Wilber 1995:329). ‘Sin’ for Plotinus (in Wilber 1995:338) ‘is not a “no” but a
“not yet” – we have “not yet” realized our true potentials, and so we are given to “sin”. Sin is
thus overcome not by a new belief but a new growth. An acorn is not a sin; it is simply not yet
an oak.’

Plotinus then states that ‘those who would find an “other world” apart from “this world” have
missed the whole point. There is no “this world” or “other world” – it is all a matter of one’s
perception. There is not even any “going up” or “coming down”. No movement in space takes
place. Spirit and Soul are everywhere and nowhere. We are in “Heaven” whenever “we in
heart and mind remember God”; we are “immersed in Matter” whenever we forget God. Same
place, different perception.’ As mentioned by Plotinus, ‘we will arrive at the All without change
of place’ (in Wilber 1995:343). Fox shares this sentiment when he reminds his readers that
‘you do not “meet God” on the next plane any more than you do on this plane. God is
everywhere. Of course, He is fully present on the next plane just as He is on this plane …’
(Fox 1979a:211). God is no more in heaven than he is on earth. The sentiment is that you
either know him or you have forgotten, but you need not go anywhere to find him.

‘The Great Dualism of all dualisms’ as Wilber (1995:345–347) has suggested, ‘is between “this
world” and an “other world”. Reality – the “real world” – is neither this world nor the other
world.’ Wilber suggests that one should remember the following when one entertains the idea
of Reality: ‘The One is the Good to which all things aspire. The One is the Goodness from
which all things flow. The Absolute is the Nondual Ground of both the One and the Many.’
Reality is not the summit (or omega), or the source (or alpha), but it is Suchness. According to
Wilber, the West has produced ‘two utterly irreconcilable Gods’.

The ascending God that takes all things back to the One [and] the descending God that delights in the
diversity of the Many. The Ascending program demanded a withdrawal from all ‘attachment to creatures’. It
recommended ascetic, sometimes harsh discipline, always orientated toward a withdrawal of attention from
the senses, from the body, form the earth, and above all from sexuality … This ‘oneness strategy’ was

introspective and highly introverted. [The Descending program on the other hand] summoned men and
women to participate, in some finite measure, in the creative passion of God, and to collaborate
consciously in the processes by which the diversity of things, is achieved. It placed the active life above
contemplation. It was altogether extroverted (Wilber 1995:356, 363).

Plato (in Wilber 1995:320, 326) echoes this thinking and his two movements can be
summarised as ‘a descent of the One into the world of the Many – Spirit immanent in the
world’; and an ‘ascent from the Many to the One – Spirit transcendent to the world’. Wilber
interprets Plato’s final stance as that ‘Spirit is more perfect in the world than out of it’. Having
integrated the path of Ascent with the path of Descent, he gave equal emphasis to the One
and the Many. Or in Wilber’s words, ‘flee the Many, find the One; having found the One,
embrace the Many as the One. The way up is the way down.’

In conclusion, Wilber (1995:327) summarises it as follows:

The path of Ascent is the path of the Good; the path of Descent is the path of Goodness. The Many
returning to and embracing the One is Good, and is known as wisdom; the One returning to and embracing
the Many is Goodness, and is known as compassion. Wisdom knows that behind the Many is the One
[and] compassion knows that the One is the Many … the integration of Ascent and Descent is the union of
wisdom (which sees that Many is One) and compassion (which sees that One is Many).


It has been suggested to us that ‘recollection (or remembrance of Source) is thus the path of
Return, the path of Ascent’. This recollection, also known as ‘mindfulness’, ‘is the beginning of
virtually all paths of contemplation, the aim of which is the remembering that one’s true nature
is Buddha-nature, that Atman is Brahman. Enlightenment or awakening (bodhi, moksha) is not
a bringing into being of that which was not, but a realizing of that which always already is.’
Huang Po said: ‘Do not pretend that by meditation you are going to become Buddha, you have
always been Buddha but have forgotten that simple fact’ (Wilber 1995:329).

If one has forgotten (become pathological), or become stuck on any level, a peak experience
can help one to disidentify with the present stage and move to the next stage in one’s

development. Meditation is such a skill. It is considered a peak experience of the higher levels
that assists humanity in its awakening to these levels. Thus Wilber (2001:139) regards it as
‘an important part of a truly integral practice’. He also views meditation as ‘an absolute ethical
imperative, a new categorical imperative’. This tool is instrumental in assisting a person who is
willing to accept the death of its present level to differentiate from that level, and thus
transcend the mental-egoic structure, and to arrive at an exalted plane of consciousness
(Wilber 1981:340–341). He also removes the skeleton from the closet by telling people that
there is nothing occult or ‘spooky’, let along psychotic, about true meditation. Actually, to
further the evolution of humanity, meditation is of critical importance. ‘The Christ’ (1986:7,104)
reminds humanity that ‘meditation is connection to the original Source ... to God’s frequency’.
It is like building ‘a bridge from your heart to the soul energy created by God’.

Whereas many theorists regard meditation as an escape and egocentric, even narcissistic,
Wilber (1995:256–257) believes that ‘the more one can go within, or the more one can
introspect and reflect on one’s self, then the more detached from that self one can become,
the more one can rise above that self’s limited perspective, and so the less narcissistic or less
egocentric one becomes’. Put differently, ‘the more one goes within, the more one goes
beyond, and the more one can thus embrace a deeper identity with a wider perspective’. And
this is what meditation is. It ‘involves yet a further going within, and thus a further going
beyond’. And ‘every within turns us out into more of the Kosmos’.

It is true that there are objections to transpersonal experiences and that insights during
meditation are considered merely subjective. In addition, it cannot be publicly validated.
Another objection is ‘that mystical or contemplative experiences, because they cannot be put
into plain language, or into any language for that matter, are therefore not epistemologically
grounded, are not “real knowledge”.’ Wilber (1995:266) argues that ‘direct spiritual experience
is simply the higher reaches of the Upper-Left quadrant … [still to be discussed] and those
experiences are as real as any other direct experiences, and they can be as easily shared (or
distorted) as any other experiential knowledge’. It is indeed a challenge to rationally explain a
spiritual occurrence, as one’s ‘this-worldly’ experience cannot yet accommodate one’s next
‘other-worldly’ phase. It is like an atom, which cannot yet get excited, or comprehend the life of

a cell, although it has the potential within it. Note too that this ‘other world’ is not located
elsewhere in physical space-time, but here, in deeper perceptions of this world.

When one explains a transpersonal statement to someone for the first time, Wilber, quite
humorously, reminds us that you may get ‘that deer-caught-in-the-headlights blank stare’, or
‘And did we forget to take our Prozac today?’ If one is not willing and able to actually
experience these developments, then these transpersonal experiences remain an invisible
other world. One cannot philosophise over them. One has to test them by taking up the
experimental method of contemplative awareness, developing the requisite cognitive tools and
then directly looking for oneself. Emerson (in Wilber 1995:268) states that ‘what we are, that
only can we see’. Wilber uses the example of the familiar Oriental concept of ‘Emptiness’.
People there, having had the experience, know the meaning of the word. However, for
someone in the West this may bring about a blank stare, unless, of course, this individual had
the same experience. One can explain the Buddha nature to someone, write about it, talk
about it, theorise and philosophise over it, but one cannot run around trying to catch the
Buddha in order to show it and prove it valid. Ultimately, if you want to know it, you have to do

A thought that does come to mind is that it is difficult and even confusing to have any
discussion of any nature, as one always has to define a concept or has to make sure that all
involved share the same understanding of it. The question that arises is why we don’t just
‘shut up’ and move or transcend into a sphere or dimension where things need not be proved,
investigated or even dissected, but where things are known? Is this what we are aspiring
towards? Is this the level of consciousness awaiting us when we have mastered the
transformation of this level, or is this too a ‘cop-out’?



These words immediately call up the question of attempting the impossible. Wilber (2001:xii)
himself says that this is a task beyond any single human mind – a task that is inherently
undoable – it is like the unreachable pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. In attempting a
theory of everything, he believes that ‘a little bit of wholeness is better than none at all, and an
integral vision offers considerably more wholeness than the slice-and-dice alternatives’. Such
an integral vision – or a genuine theory of everything –

attempts to include matter, body, mind, soul, and spirit as they appear in self, culture, and nature. A vision
that attempts to be comprehensive, balanced, inclusive. A vision that therefore embraces science, art, and
morals; that equally includes disciplines from physics to spirituality, biology to aesthetics, sociology to
contemplative prayer; that shows up in integral politics, integral medicine, integral business, integral
spirituality .... (Wilber 2001:xii).

The word ‘integral’, which means to integrate, to bring together, to join, to link, to embrace, is
not seen in the sense of uniformity, but in the sense of ‘unity-in-diversity, shared
commonalities along with our wonderful differences’. In searching for an integral culture,
Wilber looked at the waves of existence as explained by developmental and integral
psychology. From these it is clear that the ‘growth and development of the mind’ is seen ‘as a
series of unfolding stages or waves’. One of these models is Clare Graves’ spiral dynamics
(carried forward and refined by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan – both were involved in
discussions that led to the end of apartheid in South Africa). What Wilber (2001:5–6) is

is that the psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating spiraling process
marked by progressive subordination of older, lower-order behavior systems to newer, higher-order
systems as an individual’s existential problems change. Each successive stage, wave, or level of existence
is a state through which people pass on their way to other states of being. When the human is centralized
in one state of existence, he or she has a psychology which is particular to that state. His or her feelings,
motivations, ethics and values, biochemistry, degree of neurological activation, learning system, belief
systems, conception of mental health, ideas as to what mental illness is and how it should be treated,
conceptions of and preferences for management, education, economics, and political theory and practice
are all appropriate to that state.

Within this model (spiral dynamics),12 eight major ‘levels or waves of human existence’ are
outlined. These stages are called ‘memes’, ‘a basic stage of development that can be
expressed in any activity’. They are not rigid, but ‘flowing waves, with much overlap and
interweaving, resulting in a meshwork or dynamic spiral of consciousness unfolding’ (Wilber
2001:7). A brief description follows of the eight levels, their qualities, the percentage of the
world population at each wave, as well as some examples of where each level can be found
within groups, and the percentage of social power held by each:

1. Beige: Archaic-Instinctual. Survival Sense – sharpen instincts and innate senses. At

this level of basic survival, food, water, warmth, sex and safety have priority. The
distinct self is barely awakened or sustained. It forms into survival bands.
Approximately 0.1 per cent of the adult population is represented (first human
societies, newborn infants, senile elderly, mentally ill, street people, starving
masses, shell shock); this group holds 0 per cent of the social power.

2. Purple: Magical-Animistic. Kin Spirits – seek harmony and safety in a mysterious

world. Animistic thinking and magical spirits (good and bad) that swarm the earth
leaving blessings, curses and spells, determine events and form ethnic tribes. Here
the spirits exist in ancestors and bond the tribe. Ten per cent of the population is
indicated (belief in voodoo-like curses, blood oaths, family rituals, magical ethnic
beliefs and superstitions, strong in third world settings, gangs, athletic teams); 1 per
cent of the power is represented.

3. Red: Magical-Mythic. Power Gods – express impulsively, break free, be strong. The
emergence of a self distinct from the tribe is experienced in powerful, impulsive,
egocentric and heroic ways. The typical magical-mythic spirits, dragons and beasts,
as well as the archetypal gods and goddesses, are to be found here. This meme is
about power and glory. It is the basis of feudal empires and it points to 20 per cent
of the population (the ‘terrible twos’, rebellious youth, feudal kingdoms, villains, gang
leaders, soldiers, wild rock stars); this group represents 5 per cent of the power.

4. Blue: Mythic Order. Truth Force – find purpose, bring order, insure future. The
meaning of life is determined by an all-powerful Other or Order that enforces a code
of conduct upon its followers with either severe repercussions or positive rewards.
This is the basis of ancient nations with the emphasis on law and order and just one
right way. Forty per cent of the population is specified (Puritan America, Confucian
China, Dickensian England, Singaporean discipline, totalitarianism, patriotism,
religious fundamentalism); this group has 30 per cent of the social power.

5. Orange: Scientific Achievement. Strive Drive – analyse and strategise to prosper. In

this meme where everything is oriented towards materialistic gain and individualistic
truth, the basis is formed for the development of corporate states. It is characterised
by 30 per cent of the population (The Enlightenment, Wall Street, colonialism,
materialism, secular humanism, liberal self-interest, middle class emergence,
cosmetic and fashion industry); 50 per cent of the power is owned by this group.

6. Green: The Sensitive Self. Human Bond – explore inner self, equalise others. Here
the human spirit is freed from dogma and greed, and there is a shift in
consciousness towards feelings of caring, warmth, sensitivity and cherishing. Being
against hierarchy and emphasising dialogue and relationships, it becomes the basis
of value communities. It is egalitarian, pluralistic, diverse, multiculturalistic and has
relativistic value systems. Ten per cent of the population is represented
(postmodernism, humanistic psychology, liberation theology, Green Peace,
ecofeminism, human rights issues); 15 per cent of the power is reflected.

7. Yellow: Integrative. Flex Flow – integrate and align systems. As a second-tier

awareness, the emphasis is on flexibility, spontaneity and functionality. Pluralism is
shifted into integralism and relativism into holism. Knowledge and competency
supersede power, status or group sensitivity. Only 1 per cent of the population is
indicated; this group embodies 5 per cent of the power.

8. Turquoise: Holistic. Whole View – synergise and macro-manage. This is another

second-tier consciousness and here a ‘grand unification’ (theory of everything)
becomes possible as multiple levels are interwoven into one conscious system. The
emergence of a new spirituality is often the result. A mere 0.1 per cent of the
population is involved; 1 per cent of the power belongs to this group.

9. Coral: Integral-Holonic. This meme has been included to show its slowly emerging

The first six levels (beige, purple, red, blue, orange and green) are subsistent levels marked
by first-tier thinking. Within these levels the memes cannot fully appreciate the existence of
other levels. First-tier thinking is pluralistic, relativistic, subjective and this leads to narcissism,
an ‘excessive interest in one’s own self, importance, abilities, etc; egocentrism’ (Wilber
2001:17). With a revolutionary shift in consciousness, ‘being-levels’ emerge with second-tier
thinking (yellow and turquoise). Because of this integralistic and holistic approach, second-tier
thinking appreciates all others as part of the whole. This leads to an increase in

For a human to develop, a decrease in narcissism, and an increase in consciousness must

take place. Carol Gilligan (in Wilber 2001:19–22) gives three stages through which one
moves: the selfish stage (pre-conventional or egocentric or ‘me’); then the care stage
(conventional or sociocentric or ‘us’) and then the universal care stage (post-conventional or
worldcentric or ‘all of us’). In this development, one moves from the egocentric, through the
ethnocentric, to the worldcentric stage, each time decreasing in narcissism and increasing in
consciousness. This is a spiral of compassion moving from an egocentric self to a
compassionate self – operating by mutual recognition and respect. As one moves up the
ladder of hierarchies, one is looking for a development that is envelopment. ‘Each successive
wave “transcends and includes” – transcends its own narrowness to include others.’ This is
called a ‘nested’ hierarchy or ‘growth’ hierarchy or even an ‘actualisation’ hierarchy. These
differ from ‘dominator hierarchies’, which lead to oppression. The theory of spiral dynamics
adds that ‘all of this becomes increasingly conscious at second tier level’ (Wilber 2001:25–26).

Something that blocks the way to an integral embrace is Boomeritis. It is defined as ‘that
strange mixture of very high cognitive capacity infected with rather low emotional narcissism’.

The factors that facilitate personal transformation are fulfilment, dissonance, insight and
opening. First, an individual has to fulfil the basic tasks of any given level or stage. Once the
individual has completed that basic task, he or she will be ready to move on. The next stage,
dissonance, means that a person must be dissatisfied with the present level, be willing to let
go of it, to die to it, before transformation to the next level can take place. This shift brings the
necessary insight into the situation and finally there is an opening to the next wave of
consciousness. To bring all of this about, one needs an integral vision, as well as an integral
practice (Wilber 2001:34–36).

In evolution there are four strands, the individual, the social, the interior and the exterior. The
exterior of the individual holon includes the development from a particle to a human. The
exterior of the social holon is the process from superclusters to groups/families and nations.
The interior development of the individual holon stretches from prehension to concepts. And
the interior development of social holons includes the vegetative to archaic and through to the
mental. Because holons share common exteriors, they share common interiors (or
worldspaces). It is not merely about ‘I’ any more, but about how ‘we’ feel.

At this stage Wilber introduces the four quadrants13 in which he places all the matters that
were discussed above. His model is divided into two upper quadrants, representing the
individual holons, whilst the lower two sectors, represent the social holons. The right-hand
path is the exterior, which can be seen. The reply to the question of ‘What does it do?’ is that it
seeks explanations. The left-hand path is the interior, which must be interpreted. The
response to the question of ‘What does it mean?’ is that it seeks to understand. The left-hand
and the right-hand paths are both needed for a balanced or ‘all-quadrant’ view. Wilber states
clearly that every holon has the four aspects or four dimensions or four quadrants (interior-
individual; exterior-individual; interior-social; exterior-social) within it. The gross reductionists
reduced everything to the upper-right quadrant and then continued within that quadrant to
reduce the higher-order systems down to the atomic or sub-atomic particles. This is a purely

materialistic, mechanistic and atomistic view. On the other hand there are the ‘flatland holists’,
the systems theorists and the structural/functionalists. They reduced everything in the left-
hand quadrant to the right-hand sector. Although this method is not as ‘gross’ as the previous
one, they are exemplars of subtle reductionism. This ‘ended up being a divisive and dualistic

To summarise Wilber’s example, UL (upper-left) is the interior-individual, the intentional, and

represents the subjective truthfulness. It is about the ‘I’, which includes the self and
consciousness. Altered states can also be placed here. This section includes first- and
second-tier thinking, starting at instinctual and ending in the holistic self; UR (upper-right), the
exterior-individual, the behavioural, is the objective truth. It is the domain of ‘IT’ and relates to
the brain and organism. It stretches from organic states to the neocortex and beyond; LL
(lower-left) is the interior-collective, the cultural, and refers to intersubjective justness. ‘WE’
dominates this sector and includes culture and worldview. The concepts of premodern,
modern and postmodern are nested in this quadrant; LR (lower-right), the exterior-collective
and social, relates to interobjective functional fit. This is the field of ‘ITS’ and refers to the
social system and environment. The development from foraging through horticultural,
agrarian, industrial to informational belongs in this category. The Big Three represents the
right-hand side with the ‘IT’-language; the upper-left quadrant with the ‘I’-language and the
lower-left with the ‘WE’-language. ‘We are inescapably situated in relation to the Big Three,
each of which has its own validity claim and its own standards, and none of which can be
reduced to the others’ (Wilber 1995:145).

Wilber (2001:103) believes that:

One of the greatest problems and constant dangers faced by humanity is simply this: the Right-Hand
quadrants are all material, and once a material entity has been produced, it can be used by individuals who
are at virtually any level of interior development. For example, the atomic bomb is the product of formal-
operational thinking (orange), but once it exists, it can be used by individuals at lower levels of
development, even though those levels could not themselves produce the bomb. Nobody at a worldcentric
level of moral consciousness would happily unleash the atomic bomb, but somebody at a preconventional,
red-meme, egocentric level would quite cheerily bomb the hell of pretty much anybody who got in its way.

A lack of integral development may mean the end of humanity. In asking how human souls
can be changed, Wilber (2001:106) suggests that ‘you have to go where law can’t get you ...
You have to go, that is, to the interior quadrants and the growth of the soul, the growth of
wisdom, the growth of consciousness, an interior growth in the Left-Hand quadrants that will
keep pace with the growth in Right-Hand technologies.’ The integral transformative practice
suggests that the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual waves must all be experienced
within the Self (I), Culture (WE) and within Nature (IT). Take the Self as an example. First
within the physical, the individual can include activities such as weightlifting, diet, jogging and
yoga. In the emotional field, one can engage in qi gong, counselling and psychotherapy. The
mental level can participate in disciplines such as affirmation and visualisation. And lastly,
within the spiritual dimensions, meditation and contemplative prayer can be practised (Wilber

In creating a theory of everything, one has to create a holistic indexing system, and the above
example should include all the maps that would embrace all-quadrants, all-levels and all-lines.
These maps will help us to ‘open our minds, and thus our hearts, to a more inclusive and
compassionate embrace of the Kosmos and all of its inhabitants’. As Wilber (2001:111–112)
states, there is not just one level of reality with the other views all being primitive and incorrect
versions of that one level. ‘Each of those views is a correct view of a lower yet fundamentally
important level of reality, not an incorrect view of the one real level.’

During one’s development, a person can experience an altered state of consciousness or a

peak experience of the higher realms (including psychic, subtle, causal and non-dual levels) at
almost any stage – meaning at purple, red, blue, orange, green, or yellow levels. Such a
person would interpret these higher experiences in the terms of the level at which the person
currently resides. And this calls for cross-level combinatorial analyses. This provides us with a
grid of over two-dozen very real – and very different – types of spiritual experience. As we all
start at level 1 (square 1 or at the beige meme), we will all experience everything, and
because of this, there is no reason for judgement. Wherever most of humankind are at present
(knowingly at the lower levels), there seems to be the real activities.


For over a thousand years, roughly from the time of Augustine to Copernicus, the mythic-
rational structure emphasised the ascending current where the ‘great omega point was
promised’, but never delivered. This left the West with ‘a truly peculiar spiritual hunger, a
hunger found nowhere else, really, with quite the same sort of desperate face’. Then there
was a change to the Path of Descent and ‘instead of an infinite above, the West pitched its
attention to an infinite ahead’ (Wilber 1995:409–410).

Wilber (1995:415) continues in this vein: ‘after more than two millennia, it had finally come to
this: the path of liberation ended up the sin of pride. The Great Chain, the map of what we
could become, became a map of what we should not even try. The Great Chain was used to
deny the Great Chain. The way out of the Cave was used to imprison men and women in it.’ It
was only when half of the story became the ‘whole’ story that the nightmare known as
modernity was birthed.

There is at least an optimistic tone in Wilber’s prediction regarding the level of development
within humanity. The consciousness of today’s beings has at least started to look toward the
superconscious future. However, and here one finds a note of despair, he thinks they are very
far from arriving, but nonetheless it is a beginning. Some individuals have started off with their
‘learner’s permit’, reading, studying, writing and attending classes, and others have at least
begun to put all of this into practice. Although he regards the growth as nowhere near the
Millennium, he is encouraged by the glimmerings of a New Age. For him it would constitute a
real New Age ‘if everybody truly evolved to a mature, rational, and responsible ego, capable of
freely participating in the open exchange of mutual self-esteem’ (Wilber 1981:349).

For Wilber (2001:140) it is not about accepting someone else’s theory, or belief. He is saying:

Here are some of the many important facets of this extraordinary Kosmos; have you thought about
including them in your own worldview? Everybody is right. More specifically, everybody – including me –
has some important piece of truth, and all of those pieces need to be honored, cherished, and included in a
more gracious, spacious, and compassionate embrace, a genuine Theory of Everything.

Within the great chain of being, humanity is aiming to reach the ultimate, the Emptiness.

Emptiness is neither a Whole nor a Part nor a Whole/Part. Emptiness is the reality of which all wholes and
all parts are simply manifestations. In Emptiness I do not become Whole, nor do I realize that I am merely
a Part of some Great Big Whole. Rather, in Emptiness I become the opening or clearing in which all
wholes and all parts arise eternally. Emptiness, and Emptiness alone, redeems all IOUs. In Emptiness
alone, my debt is paid to the Kosmos, because in Emptiness, I-I am the Kosmos. Redemption of debt,
erasure of guilt, a balancing of the Kosmic books, a release from transfinite insanity. Not in Emptiness, but
as Emptiness, I am released from the fate of a never-ending addition of parts, and I stand free as the
Sources and Suchness of the glorious display. [And] as Plotinus knew and Nagarjuna taught: always and
always, the other world is this world rightly seen (Wilber 1995:505–506).

Ken Wilber (1981:xvi–xvii) reminds his readers that

we are part and parcel of a single and all-encompassing evolutionary current that is itself Spirit-in-action,
the mode and manner of Spirit’s creation, and thus is always going beyond what went before – that leaps,
not crawls, to new plateaus of truth, only to leap again, dying and being reborn with each new quantum
lurch, and often stumbling and bruising its metaphysical knees, yet always getting right back up and
jumping yet again. One and the same current moves throughout the All.

Even although Wilber stated repeatedly that an attempt towards a theory of everything is
actually impossible, he made an impressive contribution to such a comprehensive view. He
brought to light all the various theories of the different ages and, without forcing anyone to
accept his theory, made scholars and readers aware of the enormous scope of life, the great
chain of being. He challenges adherents of various worldviews to relate to the possibility of an
encompassing vision.

His conclusion to A theory of everything acts now as a closure to his work and thought within
this study:

And then the true Mystery yields itself, the face of Spirit secretly smiles, the Sun rises in your very own
heart and the Earth becomes your very own body, galaxies rush through your veins while the stars light up
the neurons of your night, and never again will you search for a mere theory of that which is actually your
own Original Face (Wilber 2001:141).


1 According to Aboriginal wisdom, the mutant world’s hierarchy operates as a triangle, with one person at
the top and the others supporting him, below. This, they believe, results in unhealthy competition and
supremacy. The Aboriginal race ‘has always operated more on the scale of a flat puzzle instead of a
triangle’. They feel ‘that everyone fits into the puzzle and that everyone is a vital part of it. Without any
one person we would be incomplete.’ As everyone is important to them, they take turns in leading and
then again in following. For ‘one is not better than the other. There is a time and place for both’ (Morgan

2 In The sky people, Brinsley Le Poer Trench (1960:23–49) stresses the difference between the two
creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2. In Genesis 1, God (Elohim) created man in his own image: ‘male and
female created he them’. These beings are called the Sons of God or they are referred to as the galactic
races (those from the sky). This represents the divine nature of man. In Genesis 2, Lord God (Jehovah
Elohim) formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostril the breath of life; and man
became a living soul. These beings, referred to as Jehovah’s Adam, were called hu-man and they had an
earth-animal chemical body. This mingling of the two types indicates the conflict within man as we are
partly from the stars and the Elohim and partly from the earth and the Jehovah. In other words, man is
divine and human. Indeed, a cross-man.

3 See appendix A for a diagram of the great chain of being.

4 The monotheistic religion of Moses, the God of Israel.

5 Vera Stanley Alder (1979:76), author of From the mundane to the magnificent, was told by her teacher,
Raphael, that: ‘To be a god one has first to know oneself as a god and then to behave as one!’

6 Murder is a form of substitute sacrifice or substitute transcendence. As Wilber explains, it is the deepest
wish of the self to ‘kill itself’ for that will bring about transformation, but in failing to do this act, a substitute
is found and killed instead. Killing another is to buy time for the separated self. And underneath the killing
act lies the real desire to be transformed. Murder is thus delaying the process of the separated self’s own
death and thereby its freedom.

7 Although she uses different terminology to describe the processes of involution and evolution, Patricia
Diane Cota-Robles (1997:15) echoes the sentiments of Ken Wilber. She reminds her readers:

The only reason we believe that other people know more than we do is because we have
forgotten who we are. We look at our limited fear-based human egos, and we think that distorted
fragment of our outer personality is our total Being. In reality we are ALL magnificent,
multifaceted, multidimensional reflections of our Father-Mother God … We already have within
us all of the knowledge, skill, talent, courage and strength to succeed God Victoriously … We are
Gods and Goddesses standing on the threshold of the greatest leap in consciousness ever
experienced in ANY System of Worlds.

She admits that the reasons that we have forgotten all of this are complex. However, we agreed to an
experiment and have acquired many ‘vehicles’ in the ‘dropping down from there to here’. She gives a
unique, detailed and mind-challenging explanation of the whole involution process. In short, she explains
involution as ‘energy flowing from the Heart of God through our Heart Flames into the physical world of
form’. In other words, involution is a flow from Ultimate Spirit into physical and material form, every time
forgetting our true divine potential. Then, ‘Cosmic Law dictates through the Law of the Circle that once
the energy has reached its final destination in the physical plane, it must return to its Source’. And this is
the process of evolution (Cota-Robles 1997:81–82). As this is a critical moment in the history of our
evolution, she agrees that it is imperative that we should remember who we are, so that we can
accomplish what we have come to earth to do.

8 Virginia Essene, who transcribed the notes from the Master known as ‘The Christ’ (1986:158), published
as New Teachings for an Awakening Humanity, states that when we only lived in God’s mind, all things
were known to us and by us. It was only after the descent into materiality that we were no longer
connected in the same way. ‘The Christ’ then reminds humanity that the Fall was actually a ‘detour out of
communication and direct awareness of all that is known to the Creator’.

9 See appendix B for a sketch of the processes of involution and evolution.

10 See appendix C for a sketch and explanation of Roy Littlesun’s heart/love symbol.

11 Traces of this thinking can be found in the early chapters of the Old Testament with its many gods,
proceeding to the one god and eventually ending up in the New Testament with the one and only god in
the person of Jesus.

12 See appendix D for this diagram. It is an adaptation (compiled by the writer for easy reference) of
Wilber’s spiral of development.

13 See appendix E for the all-four-quadrant diagram.




In the previous two chapters the viewpoints of Emmet Fox and Ken Wilber were discussed
independently. This chapter attempts to combine their belief systems by interpreting Fox’s
religious thinking within and against Wilber’s full-spectrum approach. Wilber presents us with a
four-quadrant model, but the quadrants are all integrated in a theory of everything. ‘Everything’
implies an integral vision. He states that ‘individual or subjective consciousness does not exist
in a vacuum’ and ‘no subject is an island unto itself’ (Wilber 2001:49). This integrative model
then provides the larger framework within which Fox’s ideas on creative mind, prayer,
meditation and healing will be discussed.

Wilber (2001:49–50) is aware that researchers today tend to reduce one quadrant to another.
For example, the ‘extraordinary amount of research into the organic brain states and their
relation to consciousness’ resulted in the reductionism of upper-left consciousness into upper-
right brain mechanisms. This ‘reduces “I” experiences to “It” systems, and denies the
phenomenal realities of the interior domains altogether’. Such action can be avoided if one
takes the all-quadrant, all-level approach. This entails that ‘all four quadrants, with all their
realities, mutually interact and evolve – they “tetra-interact” and “tetra-evolve” – and a more
integral approach is sensitive to those richly textured patterns of infinite interaction’ (Wilber
2001:52). In such an ‘all-quadrant, all-level’ approach, all of the waves of existence (from body
to mind to soul to spirit) are honoured as they unfold in self, culture and nature. Wilber refers
to this model as ‘holonic’. In a previous chapter we learned that ‘a holon is a whole that is a
part of other wholes’ and that ‘reality is composed of neither wholes nor parts, but whole/parts,
or holons’ (Wilber 2001:52).

Emmet Fox’s approach seems to be already a holonic one. He does not separate body, mind,
soul and spirit, but sees them as one unified aspect of being. A point we have to bear in mind
is whether Fox’s religious thinking acknowledges Wilber’s individual quadrant approach, or
whether it has reduced everything to the upper-left quadrant of Wilber’s integral vision? If this
is correct, then Fox is ‘guilty’ of the same approach as those orthodox researchers who
devastate the integral links with their reductionism of everything else to the upper-right

In this work it becomes a challenge to view Fox’s thoughts against the model that Wilber
suggests. Fox does not make clear distinctions between the quadrants, but explains and
interprets everything as existing and belonging to the upper-left quadrant. He has already
meshed everything together into a tight and complete product. To examine Fox’s thoughts, the
approach would nevertheless be to focus on the four quadrants and their individual qualities
(as explained by Wilber), and then to place Fox’s method, as a product of integration, within
this model.


As a reminder of what was discussed in chapter 4, the following summary emphasises the
qualities and properties of Wilber’s upper-right quadrant. This quadrant represents the exterior
structure in which everything is viewed objectively and scientifically. Physics, biology,
physiology, biochemistry and the brain are just some of the disciplines that belong to this
sector. In this corner of the model, things can be seen – it is exterior. One can look at it and
monologically describe what one sees. Because it can be seen, one can ask ‘What does it

‘With reference to human beings, this quadrant is the one emphasized by behaviorism.
Behavior can be seen, it is empirical’ (Wilber 1995:121). Behaviourism is concerned with
propositional truth. To the statement that it is raining outside (‘a proposition about an objective
state of affairs’), one can walk outside and determine whether this statement is true. If

everyone agrees, it is said that ‘it is propositionally true that it is raining outside’. The validity
criterion is one of truth (Wilber 1995:136).

In spite of being a trained electrical engineer, Emmet Fox hardly, if ever, gave thought to the
objective and scientific upper-right quadrant. It appears that he totally ignores that section of
life. However, from his teachings it is obvious that he does not disregard the importance of the
upper-right quadrant in life, but that he initiates his approach from the upper-left. To him
everything starts with God, or a thought: ‘when once you have put God first, your life will
become simpler and quieter, but in the true sense, richer and infinitely more worth while’ (Fox
1979a:119). Everything scientific and researchable under the microscope is part of the greater
whole to Fox. He does not see it in different and separate fragments, but rather as a complete
harmony of body, mind and soul. Whether the absence of upper-right quadrant qualities is a
failure in the methodology of Fox, or a blessing will be discussed in subsequent chapters.


This space involves the individual interior, which seeks to understand. It represents the
subjective truthfulness and includes the self and consciousness. Altered states can be placed
here. This quadrant

actually contains a full spectrum of levels (or waves of development – stretching from matter to body to
mind to soul to spirit; or again, from archaic to magic to mythic to rational to integral to transpersonal, not
as discrete platforms but as overlapping waves); many different streams (or lines of development – the
different modules, dimensions, or areas of development – including cognitive, moral, affective, linguistic,
kinesthetic, somatic, interpersonal, etc); different states of consciousness (including waking, dreaming,
sleeping, altered, non-ordinary, and meditative); and different types of consciousness (or possible
orientations at every level, including personality types and different gender styles) – resulting in a richly
textured, holodynamic, integral view of consciousness’ (Wilber 2001:42–43).

Whereas the right-half can be described because it can be seen, the entire left-side, which
cannot be seen with the naked eye, must be interpreted. It always asks, ‘What does it mean?’
and attempts to arrive at understandings that would be mutual.

Wilber emphasises the importance of the notion of sincerity in investigating the upper-left
quadrant. One can only reach an understanding of depth within another via interpreting what
that person tells you in a dialogue. There is always the possibility of one lying to another.
Therefore the validity criterion in the upper-left is not so much truth as truthfulness, or
sincerity. ‘The question here is not “Is it raining outside?” The question here is: “When I tell
you it is raining outside, am I telling you the truth or am I lying? Or perhaps self-deceived? Am
I being truthful and sincere, or deceitful and insincere?”’ (Wilber 1995:136) This is then a
matter of subjective truthfulness and can only be assessed in dialogical interpretation.

Returning to the notion of sincerity and the possibility of lying to oneself and others, one
arrives at what Wilber (1995:135) terms the ‘sciences of depth, such as psychoanalysis’. It is
true that a person not only translates what he or she perceives, but that he or she can also
mistranslate. The sum total of all mistranslations becomes the unconscious or the shadow part
of one’s life – the lying to oneself. A good therapist would be able to identify mistranslations
and through therapy begin to retranslate those mistranslated feelings. The patient on the other
hand begins to realise that feelings of sadness for example ‘were actually insincere; I was
lying to myself in order to hide the worse pain of rage at a loved one; I deliberately (but
“unconsciously”) misinterpreted my feelings in order to protect myself (“defense
mechanisms”). My shadow is the locus of my insincerity, my misinterpretation of my own
depth …’ (Wilber 1995:135–136). Misinterpretation of depth within oneself leads, more often
than not, to the misinterpretation of depth within others. To resolve this lack of understanding,
Wilber suggests that one has to ‘reread the text of my own feelings, locate the source of my
insincerity, and reinterpret my own depth more faithfully, with the help, usually, of somebody
who has seen the mistranslation before and can help interpret me to myself. The issues are
meaning, interpretation, and sincerity (or its lack)’ (Wilber 1995:136).

It appears from this study that Emmet Fox grasped the understanding of this inner depth of the
left-side. He would sensibly assist a client or patient to reinterpret a physical illness or disease
(which he considers a lie), so that a healing could occur. It was noted previously that when a
patient came to see him about a sore throat (she was a singer), he asked her why she had not
forgiven her parents. This person suffered the consequences of a misinterpretation and

through dialogue and proper guidance, arrived at the truth and experienced the resultant
healing. It is therefore clear that Fox does not ignore the upper-right aspects, but directs the
attention back to the upper-left, which he believes, is the beginning of everything. ‘The
thought’s the thing’ (Gaze 1968:92).


That each holon actually consists of the qualities of all four quadrants can be seen through the
example of a ‘thought’ that occurs to one. The ‘thought that occurred to me’ has upper-left and
upper-right qualities. The ‘thought’, a mind activity, is a typical upper-left function. The mind is
the interior, but the brain, the vehicle for the mind-activity, is an exterior objective organ –
upper-right. When someone has a thought ‘there is a change in brain physiology, a change
that can be described in completely objective terms (it-language): there was a release of
norepinephrine between the neural synapses in the frontal cortex, accompanied by high-
amplitude beta waves … and so on’ (Wilber 1995:133).

Wilber’s (1995:122–123) statement that ‘every exterior has an interior’ and that ‘every point on
the upper half of the diagram has a corresponding point on the lower half (so that all four
quadrants have corresponding points with each other)’, is in agreement with Emmet Fox’s
teachings. Fox states in his writings that we create our own world by the way we are thinking.
The creative power of the universe is thought. It is of great importance to him that his readers
understand the power of thought and how important it is to purify it first. In other words, ‘we
are transformed by the renewing of our minds’.

Fox (1979b:21, 23) reminds everyone that ‘thought is the only cause’ and ‘[w]hatever you
experience in your life is really but the outpicturing of your own thoughts and beliefs’. What
one believes and understands in the inner is what one experiences in the outer. ‘There is no
cause-and-effect from the outer to the outer; it is always from the inner to the outer’ (Fox
1984:76). Wilber’s (1995:548) description is that ‘the Left-hand dimension does not emerge

from the Right-hand dimension, but rather goes with it, as the within, the interior of the
exterior, at every stage’. He acknowledges that ‘forms of consciousness do indeed emerge (as
forms of matter do), but consciousness itself is simply alongside all along, as the interior of
whatever form is there (from the moment of creation)’. Elsewhere he states that the ‘within of
things is consciousness, the without of things is form’ (Wilber 1995:111).

‘Man is not limited by his environment. He creates his environment by his beliefs and feelings.
To suppose otherwise is like thinking that “the tail can wag the dog”’ (Fox 1984:12). Fox then
illustrates this point when he states that

the truth is that your outer conditions – your environment – are the expression of your mentality, and
nothing more. They are not cause; they are effect. They do not come first; they follow after. You are not
happy because you are well. You are well because you are happy. You do not have faith because things
are going well. They are going well because you have faith.

So the secret of life is to control one’s mental states, for if one can do this, the rest will follow.

The word ‘within’ means thought and the word ‘without’ or ‘outside’ refers to the expression or
the manifestation. So when we say ‘as within, so without’, we are really saying that ‘as we
think, so do we express’. This phrase is similar to the more concrete saying that ‘the body is
but the reflection of the soul’. In other words, whatever we harbour within ourselves will
become the manifestation in our outer lives. We can only express what is already within. That
is why one cannot be peaceful, if peace is not already within one. As Fox would state: ‘You
cannot radiate anything from the outside. To radiate any quality, that quality must be within
yourself’. Our results fail when we try to radiate something that we do not possess already
(Fox 1992: 37, 55–56).

He then states: ‘Your destiny depends entirely upon your own mental conduct. It is the
thoughts that you allow yourself to dwell upon all day long that make your mentality what it is,
and your circumstances are made by your mentality’ (Fox 1979b:82). He makes it very clear
that it is useless to try to improve the outer things without changing our own mentality. He
explains this basic concept by telling the parable of the deaf man who went to Carnegie Hall to
listen to a Kreisler recital. From the first seat the man occupied, he could not hear a thing. He

moved from the front to the back, to a balcony, and even among the orchestra, but he still
could not hear anything. He blamed this disability on the acoustics of the building and finally
decided that Kreisler could not play at all.

This story illustrates how we are always looking for the fault out there and never in ourselves.
The inability to hear did not lie in any of the outer things, but within the deafness of the person
himself. ‘We see inharmony because of a spiritual lack within ourselves. As we gain greater
spiritual understanding, the true Nature of Being opens up’ (Fox 1984:9). In other words, ‘If
you want anything to happen, you must bring about a change in your own mental outlook,
whereupon your outer experience will automatically change to correspond’ (Fox 1979b:45).

Fox links this process of thinking to the biblical aphorism ‘that as a man thinketh in his heart,
so he is’. To determine what our beliefs are, we have to watch what we are doing. If we are
not happy with our actions, we have to change our beliefs. A belief that does not bring about
harmony and satisfaction must be wrong. So change it and experience the results. The crux of
the matter is ‘Change your mind about it and keep it changed’. So many metaphysical
students decide to change their minds about something or someone that they do not like;
however, they are not committed to keeping them changed. It is the keeping up of the
changed thought that is difficult. Practising vigilance and determination brings about the
desired manifestation and is worth the while (Fox 1979b:166). Wolhorn (1977:19) states that
Fox, in a spiritual outburst, cited Jesus as the authority for a complete spiritual change: ‘You
must be born again.’

It is well known that change is the law of growth and that growth is the law of life. Without
change there is no growth, only death. Fox reminds his readers not to be afraid of change, as
that means doubting the providency of God. He urges his scholars to embrace change in
every phase of their lives, to insist that it is going to turn out for the better, for if ‘I see the
Angel of God in every change’, it will (Fox 1979b:127). It is true that although one knows about
the great law that ‘like produces like, good produces good, evil follows evil’ or that ‘what we
sow in thought we reap in experience’, it still seems that many people are as foolish in their
thinking as those who would consider putting water in the petrol tank of their cars, or broken

glass in their food. It is like creating the great rubber law, which is an attempt to manipulate life
into one’s own obscure ways. However, should the student arrive at the point where he or she
can join the audience and watch him- or herself on the stage of life, it is then that he or she
can decide to change any of the unlikable actions he or she is observing. Fox regards this as
one of the greatest steps forward.

When we entertain negative thoughts of hatred, criticism or fear, we are building these
emotions into our consciousness and soon they will manifest in our bodies as an ache, a pain
or even a disease. They may also appear in our business as anxiety or even failure and will
creep into all aspects of our lives. The remedy is ‘Divine Love’. Fox (1992:63) states that if we
can fill our hearts with Divine Love, which sees only beauty and truth in every situation, then
we will truly express these qualities within our lives. When we see sickness or deprivation, we
often judge by appearances and conclude that these things are real. We are reminded to
‘judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment’ (John 7:24). Fox says
that ‘judging righteous judgment’ comes from

right thinking, and right thinking gives no power to anything but God, and therefore can produce nothing
but good. So when we judge righteously we know that, as real as sickness and lack may seem they are but
the appearance and not the truth. These negative things have no real substance except that which you
give them by your mental support. So long as you accept them at their face value, they have become very
real for you, and you must suffer with them until you have changed your mind concerning them. So the first
step in overcoming them is to remove the mental prop that you have given them by believing in them (Fox

This manifestation is what Wilber considers the misinterpretation and mistranslation of depth –
lying to oneself and others. It is the same as having a worried thought. It is only there because
one believes in its existence. Fox (1979a:178–179) relates this to the bogeyman of one’s
childhood. In the mind of the child the bogeyman existed and lived under the stairs, and
scared the daylights out of the child. With spiritual growing up one realises that the bogeyman
existed only through one’s thinking.

Thoughts are living things and positive thoughts produce positive, harmonious conditions,
whereas negative thoughts produce fear and limitation. Another New Thoughter, Raymond

Holliwell ([sa]:1–5), in a class series called ‘The fundamentals’, explained the process in which
a thing can become an actual thought. In one of the lessons, titled ‘Three minds’, he states
that the cerebrum in the brain represents the objective mind, or the conscious mind. This mind
is the director of the voluntary nervous system and the organiser of the body. The cerebellum
is the subjective mind or the subconscious mind and is the director of the involuntary nervous
system and it builds the body. The medulla characterises the superconscious mind, which is
the seat of the spirit in the physical body. It entertains the highest vibration and is the link
between the physical and the spiritual. One could also say it is the means through which spirit
contacts the body, or the seat of all spiritual activity. Wilber (1995:546) states that
‘consciousness is not inside the brain, and not outside it either. It cuts at right angles to all
that, and moves in the dimension of interiority, which is not found or measure in terms of
physical form, and therefore moves wherever it likes without ever leaving the brain because it
was never in the brain to begin with (and never apart from it either).’

Because the body cannot feel any pain, feeling or sensation, the mind moves all bodily
functions. It is well known that with anaesthetics the mind withdraws and there is no feeling, or
pain. When the objective mind (the voluntary system) entertains all kinds of thoughts, it acts
upon the subjective mind (involuntary system) and produces a specific manifestation. If the
thought is one of fear, it will interfere with the rhythmic flow of life and will cause disease.

Both the cerebrum and the cerebellum are provided with a network of nerves that direct every
action in detail. In explaining this process, Holliwell states that when the objective mind (the
will) controls the subjective mind (the creative force), then a new creation is possible. In other
words, when the objective mind (the voluntary system) exercises will or authority over the
subconscious mind (the involuntary system), then thoughts become things. Fox (1994:69)
states that there is no difference between the thing and the thought of the thing and that the
actual truth is that ‘things are thoughts’.

Fox (1984:108–109) advises us not to ‘tear away people’s crutches’, for when they are no
longer needed, they will fall away. In other words, do not fight your problems, for then you are
building into your consciousness the very thing you are giving power. Rather build the

opposite of the so-called problem into your consciousness, for only then will the undesirable
thing fall away by itself. Fox explains that no negative thought or false suggestion can ever do
one any harm, unless one accepts it. If we don’t, then it has no power over us. If we do, then it
does. The slang expression that states that ‘you must have what it takes’ is a further reminder
that we can do anything, have anything, be anything, if we have the consciousness of it. One
can only be prosperous if one entertains the consciousness of prosperity. Through our free
will, we can all develop a certain kind of consciousness, which will bring forth the
manifestation. If one can only remember that one has nothing to deal with but one’s own
thoughts, then one will be able to overcome any difficulty.

Emmet Fox was once challenged by a person who regarded affirmations as lies. He said it is a
lie to confirm health when your body is not whole and complete. Fox (1979b:187–188)
reminds us about the laws of the mind and how it works. One should ‘build in thought the
conditions that will later come into manifestation on the physical plane’, like an architect
drawing the plans for what would be built on the empty plot. His drawings are not lies. He is
creating the blueprint for what is to manifest. And this blueprint is ‘Holiness unto the Lord’, the
master keywords to our lives, according to Fox. For they state clearly that ‘there is nothing in
existence but the self-expression of God – that and nothing more’. This results in the
understanding that every one of us is then a manifestation of God, and therefore we are
perfect, beautiful and harmonious. Although the limited human mind may have a problem
accepting this, it is nevertheless the truth of being (Fox 1992:32–33).

In accordance with Wilber’s (1995:583) line of thinking, ‘Spirit transcends and includes the
world’ – it is everything. It ‘transcends, in the sense that it is prior to the world, prior to the Big
Bang, prior to any manifestation’ and it ‘includes, in the sense that the world is not other to
Spirit, form is not other to Emptiness. Manifestation is not “apart from” Spirit but an activity of
Spirit: the evolving Kosmos is Spirit-in-action.’

Fox (1992:20) is very clear when he states that ‘everything will not be all right unless you think
rightly. Thinking rightly, of course, means putting God into all your affairs.’ He also reminds us
that ‘cheap optimism is never spiritual’, because to pretend that living in a shack is living in a

palace is to be ‘Pollyanna’. It is important to give one’s assent only to truth: ‘When you give
your mental assent to any idea, good or bad, you associate yourself with that idea and you
incorporate it into your consciousness – to the extent that you realize it’ (Fox 1979c:166).

Fox (1993:103, 106) often refers to tall-minded thinking. It means the mind that is in tune with
the infinite – it is when we remember the power of the miracle – it is the one that sees the
problem as a challenge and not as a barrier. He defines tall-minded thinking as the ‘uplifted
consciousness that rises above the level of lack and knows that the power to solve the
problem or create the new thing is coming from God, and that there is no limit to what God can
do’. A miracle technique is not about making something happen, but about uncovering the
good that already exists in the mind of God – it is the unveiling of the existing truth.

Evil, or error, as Fox likes to describe it, is only a false belief and has no power apart from the
power we give it by believing in it. It is this belief in our separation from God that Fox labels
evil. Echoing Fox, Colin C Tipping (2000:47), another author in the New Thought mould,
states that the thought of our separation from the Divine Source got us into judgement, guilt,
fear and shame. This false belief centres our attention on limitation, disease and difficulties
and keeps us in bondage to these things. To be healed of this error, one has to unthink the
error by knowing the truth. We are reminded not to dig up old grievances or mistakes or even
rehearse them in our minds, for then we would be robbing a grave. ‘Let the corpses alone’,
says Fox (1984:101).

According to Fox (1984:21–29) seven great mental laws govern all thinking. The first one is
the law of substitution. It suggests that we can only get rid of a thought by replacing it with
another. When we think about something, we give it power and that is all we are able to think
of. To change the thought, we cannot just drop it, we have to find something greater, better or
more uplifting to entertain our thoughts.

The second is the law of relaxation. ‘In all mental working effort defeats itself. The more effort
you make, the less will your result be.’ This seems to be the opposite of what one experiences
on the physical plane, because the harder one works and the more effort that goes into a

project, the greater the result. However, on the mental plane the mind stops working creatively
whenever there is any build-up of tension. Fox’s advice to us in mental work is to ‘be relaxed,
gentle, and unhurried for effort defeats itself’.

The law of subconscious activity is the third great mental law. Whenever we give an order, the
subconscious will do the work. When the subconscious mind accepts an idea, it immediately
tries to put it into effect. To bring the manifestation about, it will use whatever is available –
knowledge, mental powers, energy of the race mind and the laws of nature. This law works for
good and bad ideas.

The fourth is the law of practice. The familiar proverb that ‘practice makes perfect’ is one of
the great laws of human nature. Intelligent practice leads to greater proficiency. In
metaphysics ‘thought control is entirely a matter of intelligent practice’ and that is why Fox
summarised true religion as the ‘Practice of the Presence of God’.

The two factors take fifth place. Just as a bird needs both of its wings to fly, so every thought
consists of knowledge and feeling. However, it is the feeling nature that gives power to a
thought. Whether the knowledge is right or wrong is not important, it is the feeling behind the
concept that determines the manifestation in one’s life. That is why negative feelings can be
destructive, and feelings of goodness and peace can bring about healing. Whatever we
believe in will be our manifestation. That is why it is so important to accept only the truth within
every experience. Jesus emphasised this by reminding us to ‘know the Truth’, as ‘the Truth
will set you free’.

In sixth position is What you think upon grows. In Philippians 4:8 it is written that ‘whatever is
true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is
admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things’. This is good
advice as ‘whatever you allow to occupy your mind you magnify in your own life’, says Fox.
This is also true of allowing one’s thoughts to dwell on the positive things in life – this too will

The law of forgiveness is the seventh and last of the great mental laws. Fox states that ‘it is an
unbreakable mental law that you have to forgive others if you want to demonstrate over your
difficulties and to make any real spiritual progress’. This is such an important law that all
spiritual teachers are still teaching it. The effect of the forgiving act is especially beneficial to
the one who does the forgiving. To entertain thoughts of resentment, condemnation and anger
is to allow your soul to rot. For no matter how well we disguise these emotions, because
thoughts have such a strong emotional content, should one entertain them (in this case,
negative thoughts), they will manifest. To forgive does not mean that you have to like what
happened to you – but merely to wish the person or incident well. Fox says that if we stop
rehearsing the deed in our minds, we may even begin to forget the ordeal as well.

Patricia Diane Cota-Robles (1989:226–227), the president of the non-profit educational

organisation The New Age Study of Humanity’s Purpose, Inc, echoes Fox’s sentiments, and
states that, ‘Forgiveness is a way of correcting our misunderstandings.’ It is not a question of ‘I
will Forgive you IF or WHEN’, but rather, ‘I will Forgive you because I must, if I ever hope to
Live fully and Happily again’. She says that the reason for forgiving is that ‘the price we pay for
not Forgiving is too great’. She reminds us that ‘it is the forgiver who is freed in forgiving’.

Tipping, in his book Radical forgiveness: making room for the miracle (2000), comments that
every time we forgive, we shift energy. To be able to radically forgive, one must be willing to
see the perfection within the so-called bad situation. One must be willing to consider the soul
agreements between people in any situation, and when one understands this, forgiveness will
be a natural result. Fox (1979a:265) makes similar statements in order to bring to the attention
of readers that nothing ever happens by chance, or that there is no such thing as luck. One of
the most valuable lessons, for those who are willing to listen, is that no one has ever done us
any harm of any kind; that at a certain time, consciously or unconsciously, we have created
every condition in our lives, whether desirable or undesirable; that we, and we alone, have
ordered the goods and now we have received them; that ‘every seed must inevitably bring
forth after its own kind, and thought is the seed of destiny’. The good news is that life need not
be a battlefield, and that we can change the condition of our lives by thinking right, good and
truthful thoughts in order to have a life of such glorious manifestations.

It is interesting to refer here to a parallel to New Thought from the world of primal, shamanic
religion. According to Aboriginal wisdom, when one judges, one is automatically setting
oneself up for the other half of the equation, which is forgiveness. ‘When you judge, you
ultimately spend equal time, moment for moment, in forgiving.’ The Aborigines were taught to
observe instead, because through observation you do not require the step of forgiveness. This
method acknowledges all people as Forever souls on their journey through the school of
human experience. They also acknowledge that each soul possesses the gift of free will and
freedom of choice. ‘In other words, people different from yourself are not wrong. They are just
making different spiritual choices’ (Morgan 1998:179).

Fox (1979d:102–103, 106) states that thought has no power whatever unless it is
accompanied by feeling. The thought with the most feeling will be our demonstration in life.
When there is knowledge, fortified by feeling, then one has success in prayer. Gregg Braden,
a former earth science expert and senior computer systems designer, combines research in
quantum physics with the works of the prophet Isaiah and the ancient Essenes. In The Isaiah
effect: decoding the lost science of prayer and prophecy (2000), he stresses this point and
endorses Fox’s reasoning that we may change the outcome of our future through the choices
that we make in each moment of the present. To change the conditions of our outer world, we
are invited to become the conditions of our desire from within, and this is done through prayer.
To have success in prayer, he suggests that one should marry one’s feeling world with one’s
thinking world.

One of Fox’s (1979a:188–198) most popular writings is the Seven day mental diet. To
illustrate how important our thoughts are to healthy, happy and successful outcomes in our
lives, he links them to a diet. As the experts have already proven, we become what we eat.
The same is true in our spiritual lives. Whatever the mind thinks on, we will become (the
interrelatedness of the upper-left and the upper-right). So it is true that we choose the
condition of our lives by choosing the thoughts upon which we allow our minds to dwell.
‘Thought is the real causative force in life’ and ‘if you change your mind your conditions must
change too’. Therefore our mental diets are becoming very important in order to have a
‘healthy’ life. This Fox calls the Great Cosmic Law. To have more happy and worthwhile

demonstrations, one has to train oneself to choose the subject of one’s thinking at any time.
As in a physical diet, one has to get oneself into the habit of thought selection and thought
control. And again as in a diet, this will be very difficult in the beginning; however,
perseverance will bring about stunning results.

Fox is known for his practical approach in teaching and therefore he advises his readers to go
on a mental diet for seven days in order to create a new foundation or habit, which in turn will
bring forth the desired results. In this week one does not try to change conditions, because we
cannot, but one learns to apply the law and the conditions will change spontaneously. Our
prescription for the seven days is not to ‘allow yourself to dwell for a single moment on any
kind of negative thought’. Under no circumstances are we allowed to entertain any negative
thoughts – only positive, constructive and optimistic ones. It becomes as tough and
challenging as any diet in life. Although a week is long, as Fox would admit, he assures us of
extraordinary changes for the better and, as he states, a week will be enough to create this
habit of positive thinking. The importance of such a mental diet is elaborated on by Fox as the
most strenuous exercise we will ever undertake. To illustrate his point he states that any
physical fasting would be child’s play in comparison, and even the most exhausting form of
army gymnastics or training would be mild in comparison with this undertaking. So one needs
to think about it seriously before starting. But once we decide to start, we have to stay on this
diet for seven days so that we have a period of ‘unbroken mental discipline in order to get the
mind definitely bent in a new direction once and for all’. If we encounter any lapses or we feel
like dropping out, we have to stop for a while and then start all over again.

The practical and caring Fox does give some guidelines so that one understands this process.
By negative thinking he means any kind of limitation or pessimistic thinking about oneself or
about someone else. These include thought of failure, disappointment, trouble, criticism,
jealousy, condemnation of self or others, sickness, accident or any fear. This does not mean
that such thoughts would not come up in our thinking throughout the course of a day, because
they will, but it is more important not to dwell on them or entertain their existence. This type of
discipline will eventually provide the transformation we are seeking. If a negative thought
should enter one’s mind, turn it out, or choose to think of God instead. Fox uses the example

of a man sitting by a fire when a red-hot cinder falls on his sleeve. The immediate action of
knocking it off brings no damage to the sleeve. However, if it were left there, even for a
moment, it would have caused great damage. So it is with a negative thought.

Should we encounter the daily doses of negative thought, whether produced by our own
minds, or through the media, in conversation with friends, or in the workplace, the challenge is
not to accept these destructive thoughts – not to give them any power – and in doing so it
would not upset our mental diet. Even if we come upon an accident or are greeted by a wave
of pessimistic and negative thought, we would not accept it at face value. As one cannot avoid
such contact all together, one can take a little extra discipline. Fox also reminds us that when
we begin such a major transformational exercise in our lives, it can bring about all sorts of
difficulties, which seem to rock the very foundations of our existence. Nevertheless, do not
stop. On the contrary, continue, as dwelling on these troubles will only throw us off the diet.
Fox’s remedy is not ‘to deny that your world is rocking in appearance, but to refuse to take the
appearance for the reality’. And as a last word, he suggests we do not tell anyone about this
diet until we’ve completed it successfully.

Norman Vincent Peale, the man through whose ministry essentially New Thought ideas and
techniques have been become most widely known in America and a Reformed Church
minister who acknowledged his debt to New Thought, reaffirms the concepts that Fox is
sharing. His book The power of positive thinking is evidence of the popularity of this theme at
a certain time in our history. And he quotes William James again, who said ‘human beings can
alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind’. In a chapter titled ‘You are what you think’,
he states that our ‘thoughts have power’. The secret to a happier and more fulfilled life lies in
the attempt to get rid of old and negative thoughts, and fill one’s mind with new and positive
ones (Peale 1971:154, 157, 168). Dr Frederick Bailes (1970:160), known for his book Your
mind can heal you, expresses over and over again the cardinal New Thought postulation that
there is ‘nothing to be healed but a false belief’. In his book Hidden power for human problems
he offers many practical techniques and treatments to assist humanity through this healing

What Fox and other New Thought students call the power of thought, Torkom Saraydarian
calls synthesis. He states that the education of the New Age will be based on the keynote of
synthesis. ‘Students will be challenged [he says] to think in terms of the whole, in relation to all
that exists. They will be taught that all that they think, speak and do affects the whole’ (Torkom
1983:24). In support of this line of thinking Robert Bitzer (1974:29), once the minister of
Hollywood Church of Religious Science in Los Angeles, states: ‘What we think about we
energize with the power of our thought, for energy follows thought. Whatever attracts our
attention will become energized, for thought is energy in action.’

Miller (1997:100) maintains ‘that history portrays the evolution of thought’ and that many
authors agree that ‘what marks the present age is the self-awareness of the evolutionary
process’. Thus, the key is that of ‘mind being aware of its own evolution’. According to Miller
(1997:100–101), Alfred North Whitehead describes ‘reality as a process in the context of
consciousness’. De Chardin also states that ‘the mind undergoes transitions until it becomes
self-conscious of its own evolution’. Humanity is entering a new evolutionary stage and as a
result the mind too is expanding. Quantum physics has already stated that energy is the
nature of reality (Einstein’s E = mc2) or that matter is energy, and has proved that observation
alters reality. Braden (2000:177–178) refers to physicist Niels Bohr’s Copenhagen View theory
in which ‘an observer of any event becomes part of the event, just by the act of observing’. For
in the world of atoms, observation takes on a greater significance as ‘atom-sized objects are
disturbed by any attempt to observe them’. And idealists maintain that energy is in essence,
mind or consciousness.

From Dr Ian Stevenson’s1 (Miller 1997:102, 104, 106–109) work it is obvious that ‘the mind
can cause radical changes in the body’ and this is evident in stigmata (birthmarks and birth
defects). Hypnosis itself has confirmed the power of the mind. The connection between
memory from a previous life and birthmarks in a present life is a further suggestion of ‘the
power of mind over body and the ability of “disembodied”’ consciousness to affect and to exist
independently of the physical body’. In essence it is what New Thought has always
entertained, which is that ‘our essential nature is consciousness’, or, as St Teresa of Avila has
said, ‘After you die, you wear what you are.’ Research into near-death experiences has shown

that ‘consciousness is not bound by body, space, or time’ and that ‘God is understood
differently’. Traditional references to God are seen almost as denials of the unlimited
immensity of God. Consciousness too has changed and some who have had such
experiences find, for example, new tolerance of others. One such subject has indicated the
power of positive thought and the vibrational energy of words. Her words, ‘There is power in
our thoughts’ and that ‘We created our surroundings by the thought we think’, are evidence of
the future of Idealism as entertained by New Thought.

In Fox’s uncomplicated manner of speech, he comments that the type of thought that we allow
to become habitual will eventually find expression on the plane of action. And one can
summarise this discussion with his words: ‘Your free will lies in the directing of your attention.
Whatever you steadfastly direct your attention to will come into your life and dominate it’ (Fox


Prayer, meditation and healing are so closely related that one cannot be separated from the
others. Both Fox and Wilber refer to these practices as vitally important in the evolutionary
process of the human, as well as an absolute ethical imperative. These tendencies, typical of
the upper-left quadrant, are so integrated and part of the upper-right quadrant that it is
impossible to divide them. One has its result within the other. Whereas Emmet Fox is
passionate about prayer, Wilber hardly refers to it. On the other hand, although Fox mentions
meditation, it is not a term that he uses often. However, we will notice that his definition of
meditation is exactly the same as the meaning of his scientific prayer. Wilber again regards
meditation as the tool that moves one toward the transcendent realms. In analysing and
interpreting Fox’s thought on these subjects, one will establish its place within the all-quadrant
model. Fox believes that prayer solves any problem and that it changes the quality of the soul.
He says that it is better to have a personal healing and thereby to know the truth than to have
only a formal intellectual answer to it, which anyway is only another intelligent explanation
among the many other doctrines. One can modernise his feelings by stating that one should

not just ‘talk’ one’s philosophy or belief, but ‘walk’ it. The practical experience of a
demonstration or healing is far more worth in gold than a mere theory about it.

The New Thought movement has been synonymous with healing. As stated in an earlier
chapter, many of the forerunners and founders of this movement experienced a healing
themselves, or were healers in their organisations. The long list includes names such as
Mesmer, Emerson, Quimby, Evans, Eddy, Hopkins, Cramer, Brooks and the Fillmores.

Although there will be comparisons with other healers and their methods, this section will
concentrate on Fox’s understanding of prayer, meditation and healing and the way in which he
used them within his model of teaching. Fox frequently reminds his students and readers to be
active in the processes of prayer and healing, as this would bring about greater spiritual
insight and understanding. He used to say: ‘Do not waste time trying to answer theoretical or
doctrinal questions [as] any such answer will be but another intellectual theory’ (Fox
1984:153). Clearly Fox focused on the practical implications of prayer and healing rather than
the philosophical tendency.

In chapter 2 reference was made to Fox’s natural healing powers as a child. At the age of
eighteen he began his interest in the process of healing in earnest. Although he used the
laying on of hands as a method of healing when he was still a young boy, later he preferred to
use scientific prayer as a technique. He was always willing to pray with and for his students.
Prayer was a daily activity in his life and whenever there was a need or an opportunity, Fox
would stop what he was doing and pray. The Wolhorns remembered many such incidents
during their travels with Fox.

5.4.1 Prayer and meditation

In reading Fox’s material, one encounters the words ‘prayer’, ‘scientific prayer’, ‘affirmations’,
‘demonstrations’ and ‘treatment’. These are often used interchangeably and can be confusing
to the newcomer. To differentiate them, a short definition of each will be given, followed by an
explanation. Fox states that prayer is thinking about God. The opposite is then also true, for

when one is thinking of one’s problems and troubles, one is not praying. Scientific prayer is
termed the Practice of the Presence of God – the great deliverer (James and Cramer
1957:218–219). This technique helps one to see God where the problem seems to be (that is,
to see God instead of the problem). Treatment, or ‘Spiritual treatment’, as it is often referred
to, ‘is really knowing the Truth about a given condition’ (Fox 1979b:130). An affirmation is the
principle of positive suggestion, and not merely the repetition of a phrase. Fox (1984:130)
states: ‘An affirmation is often helpful as a memorandum of what you are to believe, but it is
the change in your process of thinking from error to Truth that brings the demonstration.’ A
demonstration is the outcome of or answer to the treatment, prayer or affirmation. One is
always demonstrating in accordance with one’s inner convictions. According to the idealist
model, the effect of one’s thoughts on one’s experiences is direct and immediate. Smith
(1999:123) avers: ‘A good treatment will therefore produce an immediate demonstration.’
When a difficulty has been solved, or a lack is satisfactorily filled by prayer or spiritual
treatment, it is called a demonstration, because it demonstrates the law of universal harmony.
Technically, the change in one’s consciousness is the ‘demonstration’, and the change seen in
the outer picture is called the ‘sign’ (Fox 1994:34, 41).

Fox differentiates three degrees of intensity in prayer. The first is audible treatment, which is to
pray aloud. The second is meditation, which involves systematically thinking about God,
recognising his presence where the trouble seems to be. The last is contemplation, where the
thought and the thinker become one and there is a vivid realisation of truth. This arrangement
reminds one of Wilber’s great chain of being, where meditation follows through level 5
(psychic), level 6 (subtle), level 7 (causal) and onto level 8 (ultimate). This is the process
where in meditation the soul transcends the mind and then the spirit transcends the soul ... a
progress until one reaches the highest level known as Atman or Spirit or the ultimate Whole.2
Wilber has also referred to the process of dualism and separation within the subtle level (also
known as Sambhogakaya) where the one god is worshipped as Our Father who art in
Heaven. Then there is a shift in development within the causal level (the level of Dharmakaya)
in which the separation is healed and god and the soul are identical ... I and the Father are
one. Patanjali (in Prabhavananda and Isherwood 1960:128) agrees when he states that ‘Pure
mind and the Atman are the same’.

According to Fox (1984:179) there is not merely one form of prayer – there are many.
‘Scientific prayer, or treatment, consists in getting the problem out of your mind by realizing
the omnipresence of God, and it is by far the most efficient form of prayer – if you can use it.’
Thanksgiving is also a very powerful form of prayer, for it means ‘sending thoughts of love and
gratitude to the Giver of every good gift’ (Fox 1993:142). Fox’s passion for prayer and his
belief in the power of prayer are evident throughout his writings. He cannot remind his readers
enough that ‘prayer does change things’ and ‘miracles can and do happen as the result of
prayer’ (Fox 1979b:224). In other words, ‘prayer will do anything and bring about any good if
we can get high enough in consciousness’ (Fox 1993:88). One begins to understand why Fox
regards prayer as the only thing that matters. It improves a person and his or her conditions;
he or she gains a better knowledge of God and it is the only action that makes things different
as it changes the quality of the soul, which again determines one’s destination. By the mere
act of praying, one is already different from the way one was prior to this act, and therefore all
our subsequent activities will be different too.

Alder (2000:17, 20), who made some extraordinary journeys on the etheric plane, reaffirms
this: ‘In meditation we are offering ourselves utterly to the spiritual or higher world’, and ‘If the
focus is on the highest good and the highest achievement possible, the whole tone and
vibration of the person is gradually raised – that is to say that all the atoms in body, emotions
and mind are stepped up to ever higher rates of vibration. This is the process of
transmutation.’ Wilber states that when one begins to practise meditation, translation
(becoming stuck on one level or being pathological) ceases, and transformation (shifting to the
next level or being healed) starts.

Fox recommends certain prayers and scripture readings to assist the student to see the
Presence of God where the trouble seems to be. These exercises do not merely give one the
courage to meet the trouble; they change the trouble into harmony. Psalm 23 is to be used
when one needs something of importance, or for protection. Psalm 91 can be read when one
feels a sense of danger or apprehension. When seemingly unmovable difficulties beset one,
Daniel 6 will help. Hebrew 2 is the chapter for handling doubts and discouragement. James 1
is considered profound, very practical and rather personal. Packed with psychology and

metaphysics, it is a course of instruction in itself. For a song of thanksgiving for prayer that has
been answered, read Exodus 15. The golden gate, 1 Corinthians 13, is the shortest cut to
health, harmony and success, according to Fox (1984:144).

Fox provides seven points that are given as guidelines (1984:119):

• When praying, plug into the Power House.

• Daily prayer becomes a habit that again becomes an unbreakable lifeline.

• The strongest prayer of all is an unselfish visit with God.

• Quit praying when it becomes a duty or a burden.

• Do not pray whilst the mind is worrying – rather browse through an inspirational book.

• Be receptive to God – do not always tell, listen too.

• Pray gently – never rush the Lord.

Prayer works by changing the subconscious part of the mind, thereby wiping out all the fear
and false ideas. It changes one’s mentality, which is within, and then the healing appears in
the outer picture. A spiritual treatment can assist with this process as it involves the change of
mind. ‘When the mind changes [says Fox] the outer expression must change to correspond.’
And this echoes Paul’s words that ‘we are transformed by the renewing of our minds’ (Fox
1979b:84). (Section 5.3 above explains the power of the mind and its effects on one’s outer
lives.) Throughout Fox’s writings one is reminded about this inexhaustible source of power
that is within one, if only one could contact it. This is the power that brings about change,
healing, direction and miracles. Fox declares that this is the power that ‘can bring you out of
the land of Egypt into the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey. It can give you peace of
mind, and, above all, it can give you direct knowledge of God’ (Fox 1984:1).

Fox’s sentiments and those of New Thought in general find parallels in popular philosophies
with Eastern roots. That the practice of meditation brings about a change in one’s

development is also acknowledged by Ram Dass for example. These changes, he says, must
be seen as signposts along the way, for ‘meditation changes how you do whatever you do’
(Ram Dass 1978:135). In reminding his students never to rush these changes, for they will
come naturally, he quotes Shunryu Suzuki (in Ram Dass 1978:105), who said: ‘After you have
practiced for a while, you will realize that it is not possible to make rapid, extraordinary
progress. Even though you try very hard, the progress you make is always little by little.’

Gregg Braden (2000:148) endorses Fox’s view: ‘To change the conditions of our outer world,
we are invited to actually become the conditions of our desire from within’. He recalls the
wisdom of the Essene masters: ‘While we may force the outward appearance of peace upon a
people or a nation, it is the underlying thinking that must change to create a true and lasting
peace’ (Braden 2000:148). Ancient traditions, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, suggest that the
effect of prayer comes from something other than the words of the prayer themselves, and
Fox avers that when one prays or does a treatment, the thought, and not the actual words, is
important. As Braden has discovered, it is all in the feeling, for feeling is the prayer. And when
we pray, we must feel our prayer. Fox also stated that the thought has no power whatever,
unless it is accompanied by feeling. As Braden comments, too much dissection of any living
thing will lead to its death. If one takes a rose apart, petal by petal, weighing and measuring it,
one may end up with interesting information, but will no longer have a rose. So instead of
being too analytical, feel and experience the moment. The significance of such an event is
expressed by Frankl (1984:104) as ‘What you have experienced, no power on earth can take
from you.’

According to New Thought, in bringing about a permanent and positive demonstration, one
needs to feel the Truth so strongly that the error picture naturally fades out of our
consciousness. It is of no use doing treatments if this is only a pious formality. Many students
verbalise a spiritual truth, hoping it will undo the problem. However, their tone of voice, as well
as their entertaining the so-called evil deeds of the ‘enemy’, is still very prominent in their line
of thought. And the most dominant thought will prevail. To shift one’s perspective of life is to
feel that the miracle has already happened and the prayer has been answered.

To understand the workings and dynamics of prayer, Braden begins with the explanation of a
‘choice point’. This is the term given by physicist Hugh Everett III to a moment in time where
the course of an event may be changed into a window of opportunity. ‘A choice point occurs
when conditions appear that create a path between the present course of events and a new
course leading to new outcomes. The choice point is like a bridge making it possible to begin
one path and change course to experience the outcome of a new path’ (Braden 2000:100).

New Thought thinkers seek an alliance with contemporary physics, interpreting it as

confirming New Thought postulates. For example, just as physicists now believe that matter is
made of many short bursts of energy and that the space between these bursts provides one
with an opportunity to choose an existing outcome, so the Essene philosophy reminds us that
‘in the moment betwixt the breathing in and the breathing out is hidden all the mysteries’
(Braden 2000:101). These moments of silence are opportunities to ‘jump’ from one possibility
to another. It is also important to understand that in the New Thought paradigm creation is
already complete. Nothing needs to be added or created. One should only give thanks for the
opportunity to choose the creation one would like to experience. It is knowing that we are
already connected with the All. Smuts (1987:344), in his idea of ‘holism’,3 sees the nature of
the universe as a ‘slowly, but in ever-increasing measure, to attain wholeness, fullness,
blessedness’. This interconnectedness is stressed by De Chardin (1959:36) when he
observes the decisive moment when a thinking being whose scales have fallen from his eyes,
‘discovers that he is not an isolated unit lost in the cosmic solitudes’, but realises that ‘a
universal will to live converges and is hominised4 in him’.

It is in the ability to see perfection or the truth in a so-called evil situation that prayer becomes
powerful and the situation changes. This potential is linked to the symbolism of a seed, which
within itself carries wholeness and completeness. All it needs are the right conditions to
blossom. Gregg Braden (2000:182) believes that within the presence of prayer our divine
possibility blossoms. Fox (1992:44) would say that to have the best results in prayer one
should not try to do anything, but simply ‘see God doing them’. This is to see the perfection
within any situation and to say, like the Essenes, that ‘we are already healed’ (Braden
2000:201). Healers have stated that ‘In true prayer our thinking is an awareness that we are

part of the Divine Universe’ (Peterson 1986:218). Emerson (still regarded by some New
Thoughters as the Father of New Thought), also focused on the oneness with the Over-Soul
rather than on the illness of his patients.

New Thought attitudes find confirmation in the related views of diverse authors, Eastern and
Western, verifying a point of convergence in contemporary spirituality. For example, Swami
Narayani’s (1992:16 March) book Within and beyond is a reminder to its readers of the
importance of meditation – going deep within, so that you can go beyond. For this experience,
she says, one does not ‘need a Church, Ashram or Temple. You do not need anything
because you have everything and that Essence of what you are pours into your home.’ Along
the same lines of realising one’s true wholeness or divine nature, ‘The Christ’ – the biblical
Jesus as channelled through Virginia Essene (1986:94) – states that one begins one’s
meditation by ‘acknowledging that you are of the Christ Consciousness’. For in such a
moment one touches upon one’s true identity. Likewise, popular author Lawrence LeShan
(1974:1) relates the story of a man who answered the question about why we meditate as ‘It’s
like coming home’. He then states: ‘We meditate to find, to recover, to come back to
something of ourselves we once dimly and unknowingly had and have lost without knowing
what it was or where or when we lost it.’

Knowing that all possibilities have been created, prayer then opens the door to these
outcomes. It is a question of what one chooses. As Frankl (1984:86,154) reminds us ‘there
were always choices to make’ and ‘every human being has the freedom to change at any
instant’. Fox seems to share this line of thought when he encourages his readers to choose to
lift their consciousness above the level where they encountered the problem. He believes that
this is the reason that Jesus could heal the sick. He could raise his consciousness above the
picture of disease that the person presented. For us to have the same experience, we have to
positively and consciously withdraw our attention from the problem and for that moment focus
it on the Presence of God.

Wilber enters into a very interesting discussion regarding the practice of voodoo and magic in
the earlier stages of the great chain of being model. We moderns are mostly familiar with the

example of pins being stuck into a doll effigy, thereby affecting a change in the actual person.
It ‘worked’ because ‘to the magical mentality, the doll and the person are one, not symbolical’
(Wilber 1996:50). Does this ‘mentality’ not remind us of Jesus’ saying that I and the Father are
one? Is this not perhaps the reason that he performed miracles and others lack the ability? He
knew the connectedness between himself and his Father – he knew it as the truth of his being
and not just symbolically.

According to the New Thought paradigm we moderns learn through the process of symbology
rather than the process of knowing, identifying and believing, and perhaps that is the reason
that we cannot perform those types of miracle any more. It is said that we can move
mountains, but we lack that ability because we do not know that we have that power. Could it
be that there is no ‘primitive’ state at all, but only in the mind or understanding of us moderns?
Tylor (in Wilber 1996:51) states that: ‘Man, in a low stage of culture, very commonly believes
that between the object and the image of it there is a real connexion.’ The question is, was it a
‘low stage of culture’, or quite an advanced stage, perhaps? Wilber (1996:52–53) addresses
this crucial point by stating

It is not so much that magic is a hallucinatory or primitive misperception of an otherwise clear and distinct
reality, but rather that magic is a more or less correct perception of a primitive and lower level of reality. It
is not a distorted perception of a higher reality, but a correct perception of a lower reality.

The similarities between New Thought and shamanism seem apparent. One might ask
whether we have mistaken first and primary with primitive and lower? Is it possible that faith
healing and the healing of the early shamans was not primitive, but that they had made the
connection between themselves and their inherit power as Atman, and therefore performed
miraculous healings? Freud (in Wilber 1996:54) also touched on this when he stated: ‘What
once dominated waking life, while the mind was still young and incompetent, seems now to
have been banished into the night.’ He is referring to we moderns having ‘lost’ the touch of
waking magic and experiencing it now only in the dream-state. Then Wilber (1996:56) asks: ‘In
the midst of all that emotional magic, were any actual psychic feats performed?’ Wilber thinks
that Freud and others have confused magic (his level 2) with psychic (his level 5).

Has there been confusion – misinterpretation – or is this stage (Wilber’s level 2) the potential
within man of his higher abilities? Because many did not realise this potential at this level, this
does not make it primitive or lower, but rather then, as described, magical.5 Wilber (1996:58)

Thus, already, we see the importance of differentiating between average-mode consciousness and most
advanced consciousness, for, as early as typhonic times, certain exceptionally evolved individuals had
already moved quite beyond the average mode. Confusing these two modes – in this case, confusing
magic and psychic – has had the most regrettable consequences.

According to Fox, knowing and realising that one is the Power, God or Atman (I and the
Father are one) is the miracle. It is this realisation of God that leads to healing.

In his usual down-to-earth, practical manner, Fox (1994:149–150) offers the following
guidelines in order to obtain a demonstration or solution to a problem through scientific prayer:

• Be quiet for a few moments by yourself.

• Begin to think about God. Remind yourself of his Nature (anything you can remember
about him (for example God is Love, God has all power) or read a passage from the

• Don’t think about your problem, only about God – in other words, don’t try to solve the
problem, rather become interested in thinking of the Nature of God.

• Then claim the thing that you need (a healing or some particular good that you lack) –
claim it quietly and confidently knowing that you are entitled to it.

• Then give thanks for the accomplished fact, as you have already received it.

• Do not discuss your treatment with anyone.

• Do not be tense or hurried for it only delays the demonstration.

This method reminds one of Gregg Braden’s (2000:166) prayer experiences with David, a
Native American Indian and friend, who remembers what his elders passed on to him.
According to them, the secret of prayer is ‘that when we ask for something, we acknowledge

what we do not have. Continuing to ask only gives power to what has never come to pass.’
Fox would advise us not to think of the problem, as thinking of it only enhances it, and the
dominant thought will prevail. This advice, in the form of the golden key, becomes a powerful
tool for students so that they can practise the Presence of God in any situation. And this is the
reason that David did not pray ‘for’ rain, but would just ‘pray rain’.

Thought, emotion and feeling are the components of the lost mode of prayer, according to
Braden. This knowledge of the Essene philosophy brings great insight into the understanding
of the workings of prayer. ‘Emotion’ is ‘the source of power that drives us forward toward our
goals in life’ and its energy fuels our thoughts and makes them real, whereas ‘thought’ is the
‘guidance system that directs our emotion’. ‘Feeling’ is ‘the union of the two’ and the key to
prayer (Braden 2002:149–150). When our thoughts are directed and fuelled by our emotions,
then a feeling is created, and when this feeling is strong enough, the prayer is answered or is
successful. To demonstrate this statement, Braden (2000:152–154) offers the results of a
survey (with the three ingredients of ‘thought’, ‘emotion’ and ‘feeling’) in which prayer does not
work. When asked what people pray for most, the answer was ‘more money’ – the thoughts
were ‘not having enough’ or ‘we need more’. The fuel that drives this thought is ‘fear’, and that
is the emotion. When one unites the thought of ‘not having enough money’ with the emotion of
‘fear’, one arrives at the feeling of responses like ‘yuck’ or ‘crummy’, as Braden’s results
proved. Through further investigation one arrives at feelings of unworthiness. If ‘feeling’ is
prayer, one can now understand why some prayers remain unanswered.

Fox (1984:79) warns us against neutralising our prayers and affirmations ‘by saying the right
thing, and doing the wrong thing’. So often people affirm both harmony and disharmony, and
then they wonder why confusion is the manifestation. Fox reminds us that we cannot think
positively at one time and then an hour later think negatively again, or believe that our
meditation is beautiful and then moments later we talk trouble again. No demonstration can
come from ‘treating both ways’.

To create the right or most powerful feeling, Fox (1979a:112) advises his students to work with
what he calls ‘treatment’. It is ‘a technical term that many of us use for prayer that is directed

to the overcoming of a specific, practical difficulty’. To do a treatment ‘you recollect and realize
the Truth about God until you have brought about a change in your own consciousness,
whereupon, as a result of this change in yourself, the outer things completely change too’.
This does not mean that one merely gains more courage to meet one’s difficulties. It means a
total change in consciousness that transforms the so-called difficulty into a divine potential.
Like David’s prayer (above), one should not focus on the problem (the drought), but pray the
solution (rain), and in doing this he began with the feeling of gratitude for all. In other words,
he knew he was part of a greater whole and that in that wholeness lays all the possibilities. His
sense of how rain feels and smells began the change in vibration, which again resulted in the
successful completion of the demonstration – it rained!

To the question of how a treatment is done, Fox stresses that it is change in feeling and
conviction that matters, rather than merely repeating words. He reiterates that ‘prayer means
prayer, not just a general, vague recognition of God, which means very little indeed.
Treatment means definite affirmations, definite rehearsal of the great Truth of Being, definite
seeking and searching for God’ (Fox 1941a:10).

However, he is very clear that in an emergency, repeating just one word or a single phrase is
better than nothing. This repetition of one word (a name of God or a spiritual phrase) is known
as a mantra. Using a mantra is an effective way of concentrating one’s mind, for it allows one
to connect with the sacred. Once again, New Thought seems to converge with classical Indian
thought, particularly Yoga and Vedanta. But, like Fox, Patanjali (in Prabhavananda and
Isherwood 1960:39) warns against the mere repetition of God’s name. He feels it is insufficient
and that one must also meditate on its meaning. However, he agrees that ‘the one process
follows naturally upon the other’ and ‘if we persevere in our repetition, it will lead us inevitably
into meditation’. Srimad Bhagavatam (in Ram Dass 1978:78) suggests: ‘Worship me in the
symbols and images which remind thee of me.’ To his mind, there is no right or wrong
treatment, for ‘whatever will raise your consciousness from the lower level of trouble to the
higher level of freedom is a treatment’. Ram Dass (1978:46–47) also acknowledges that there
is a wide range of possibilities and suggests that one experiments ‘until you find one that
seems right for you’.

Certain affirmations of truth are sufficient, such as ‘I am surrounded by the Love and Peace of
God’, and ‘Divine Intelligence opens my way’. Some devoted and regular prayers often use
merely the ‘feeling out for God’ method, which is consciousness in thought rather than
formulating words. One could also read something from an inspirational book, such as the
Bible, which is full of beautiful and powerful treatments and prayers. In other words, anything
that will assist one to shift some energy from the problem to the highest thought is helpful (Fox
1979d:113). Herbert Benson (1976:121–122), author of The relaxation response, also refers
to the importance of creating within the wandering mind the ‘deepest silence in the depth of
yourself’. He says: ‘The repetition of words of praise to God is a form of prayer called Prayer
of the Heart or Prayer of Jesus.’ The philosophical basis for this prayer can be traced back to
the Greeks and involves repeating the words ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me’.

Fox remarks that when we pray, we so often outline the desired manifestation and that can
lead to great disappointment or even failure of prayer. Because of a particular outline, we may
miss the answer completely. On the other hand, he is clear in his advice that one should claim
the thing that one needs and know that one is entitled to it. This seems to be a contradiction.
From Fox’s writings I have come to the conclusion that, according to him, when someone
prays for a specific outcome, but is still feeling the fear or entertaining the problem, then one is
limiting the power of God, and this leads to failure in prayer. On the other hand, taking one’s
mind off the problem and thinking of God as greater than any problem we could ever face
allows this power to manifest in our lives. There is a subtle line between praying with fear and
praying with the conviction that we are worthy of it all.

The lost mode of prayer that Braden (2000:173) claims to have discovered is presented as a
new faith. It means ‘our acceptance of our power as a directive force in creation’. This means
that one must know one’s divine power and potential, and realise its creative power in one’s
life. Fox reminds us to claim spiritual dominion, to expect our prayers to be answered, and to
act as though we expected it. Having faith is directly linked to the purification of our thoughts.
To the question ‘Why prayer’, Braden (2000:180–182) replied: ‘Prayer is to us, as water is to
the seed of a plant.’ He explains that we are like seeds. We come into this world whole and
complete unto ourselves, carrying the seed of something even greater. Our time with one

another, in the presence of life’s challenges, awakens within us the greatest possibilities of
love and compassion. It is in the presence of prayer that we blossom to fulfil our potential.
Following the same theme, Fox likened healing to a bulb being planted and the patient waiting
for it to bloom in its own season, in its own ways and from within. Healing is thus a process
and he reminds us to allow the process, as the expectant waiting is part of the growth.

Besides the proven fact that religious prayer elicits a desired physiological response, Benson
(1976:165), whose meditative techniques are in accordance with New Thought thinking,
believes that ‘these age-old prayers are one way to remedy an inner incompleteness and to
reduce inner discord’. To prepare for prayers of inward recollections, the true language of the
heart, he suggests concentrated thought on God only. ‘One must achieve a passive attitude
by dwelling upon an object. It is necessary to have the heart free itself and become joyous in
order to prevent thoughts from intruding’ (Benson 1976:115). To attain this mental state, he
recommends the words of religious prayers.

According to Braden, the question is often raised about the time frame between a prayer or
treatment and the actual demonstration. People have a tendency to measure the success or
failure of a prayer in terms of the immediate manifestation or lack of it in terms of seconds,
hours, days or years. In the example of David’s prayer, no time frame was placed on the
outcome of his communion with the forces of nature when he ‘prayed rain’. Through his prayer
he ‘shared a sacred moment with the powers of creation, planted the seed of a possibility’ and
gave ‘thanks for his opportunity to choose a new outcome’ (Braden 2000:171). He knew his
prayer was only a possibility and that the effect might not immediately be visible to our eyes.

It was noted earlier that according to the idealist model, the effect of one’s thoughts on one’s
experiences is direct and immediate. Although Smith (1999:123–124), a New Thought scholar,
believed that a good treatment would bring about an immediate demonstration, he found the
relationship between his treatment and demonstration ‘was neither immediate nor linear’
because ‘things do not respond to thinking in the same way thoughts do’. In explaining the
relationship between one’s present thought and one’s future experience, Smith interprets
Whitehead as suggesting that there is a ‘ripple effect, a whole series of causal events’ as well

as subjection to outside interference, ‘which makes the results even more unpredictable’.
Likewise, Braden (2000:177–178) refers to Niels Bohr’s Copenhagen View, where it is
‘postulated that the observer of any event becomes part of the event, just by the act of
observing’. Fox also advises his readers never to hurry or rush a treatment or prayer, for this
can delay its demonstration. On the other hand, he is confident that prayer does change
things and that prayer is answered because God is principle. But the demonstration depends
on the quality of thought that realises the presence of God. There is no mystery to any healing
for Fox, as he believes anyone can heal him- or herself.

If you can realize the Presence of God where previously you were thinking of a damaged organ, for
instance, the organ in question will begin to heal. It makes no difference whether you are working for
yourself or for someone else, or how far away the other person may be; the law is the same … The
realization of God is, of course, a matter of degree. With a sufficient degree of realization the healing will
be instantaneous. With a less degree it will follow a little later … Such a treatment may take only a few
seconds, or it may take quite a long time, according to the temperament of the worker, and the particular
conditions of the case; but it is not the time that counts, it is the degree of realization attained’ (Fox
1984:126, 1968:109).

What if the demonstration were immediate but unseen or unnoticeable to our physical reality?
Could it be that a demonstration will always follow, but in its own time (which is really no
time)? Did the precursors of New Thought (as referred to in chapter 3) know this and therefore
they proclaimed a demonstration to follow immediately after a treatment? Because we do not
see the demonstration in the ways we expected, does this mean that it did not happen? In a
New Thought perspective, this could be the reason that so many patients are disappointed or
even disillusioned with a healer, treatment or prayer. Did the method fail them? Could it be
that the healing did take place (for example on soul level), but the actual demonstration, the
cure, did not follow in our physical framework of time? In a New Thought perception, the
difference between a healing and a cure may be postulated. A healing takes place on a
spiritual level, whereas the cure, the demonstration, is a physical manifestation. In many
cases patients can be healed (spiritually); however, they do not immediately experience the
cure in their physical beings, which are limited to linear time. This is the interplay between the
upper-left and upper-right quadrants. The healing is taking place in the upper-left section,

whereas the demonstration, the actual cure, can be scientifically and objectively analysed
within the right-hand-side.

The golden key, probably the best known and most widely read of Fox’s (1979a:136–138)
works is an example of scientific prayer, and summarises this discussion of prayer: ‘Scientific
Prayer will enable you, sooner or later, to get yourself, or anyone else, out of any difficulty on
the face of the earth. It is the Golden Key to harmony and happiness’. He has condensed this
essay into a few pages and it is a practical recipe for getting out of trouble. He states that
‘nothing but practical work in your own consciousness’ will get one out of any difficulty. We are
advised to read these words several times and then to do exactly what they ask us to, and
through our persistence we will overcome anything that troubles us.

Because God is omnipotent, and humankind – every person – is in God’s image and likeness,
one has dominion over all things. This power is the golden key to happiness and it is in our
own hands. Fox states that ‘in Scientific Prayer it is God who works, and not you, and so your
particular limitations or weaknesses are of no account in the process. You are only the
channel through which the Divine action takes place, and your treatment will really be just the
getting of yourself out of the way.’ Although it may sound as if Fox is contradicting himself by
separating God and human beings – ‘God works and not you’ – we know from all his writings
that this is not the case. ‘God’ is the Presence within all of us and so in essence it is this
higher consciousness of ourselves, the Christ within, that gets us out of trouble. However, the
idea of ‘someone’ or ‘something’ assisting one in one’s greatest moment of despair, according
to New Thought testimony, is very inspiring and uplifting. This essay in New Thought
experience has helped many people to become more aware of their inner power, God, and to
take responsibility for their own actions. To use the method in the golden key, according to
Fox (1979a:138), does not require any special skills or views on religion. One merely needs
an open mind and sufficient faith to at least try the experiment. ‘Stop thinking about the
difficulty, whatever it is, and think about God instead.’ The object of this exercise is to ‘drive
the thought of the difficulty right out of your consciousness, for a few moments at least,
substituting for it the thought of God’. This statement is in accordance with Fox’s definition of

meditation, which involves thinking systematically about God and recognising God’s presence
where there seems to be trouble.

To return to an Indian counterpart, Swami Venkatesananda’s (1982:315, 328) thinking

corresponds with this when he suggests that one must not merely think about God, but see
God. Thinking of God or about God is just ‘a description of it’ and ‘the description is a shadow,
not the substance’. He reminds his readers about his teacher’s (Sivananda) meditation, which
was one of ‘who sees God or the Self in all, and all in God or the Self’. Thinking of God for Fox
is like entertaining the mind with divine things. It is a technique that will eventually lead to
‘see[ing] God doing them’, and arriving at the awareness that I am the Divine (Fox 1992:44).

A generation later, New Thought exponent Peter Russell (1998:115–116) states that
‘meditation techniques shift the attention away from the world of the senses – the world we
once thought would bring us peace of mind – and turn the attention inward, toward our inner
essence’, and this seems to correspond to Fox’s golden key method – stop thinking about the
problem, and think about God. Fox (1979a:139) recommends the use of the golden key in
other difficult situations or for a troubled person. You then think, ‘Now I am going to “Golden
Key” John, or Mary, or that threatened danger; then proceed to drive all thought of John, or
Mary, or the danger right out of your mind, replacing it by the thought of God’. Through this
method, one is not interfering in another person’s life, or trying to seek to influence his or her
conduct in any way, but preventing him or her from injuring or annoying one, and thereby both
benefit from the exercise.

He knows that it may be very difficult for a troubled person to think about something as
beautiful, sacred and powerful as God, and not about the throbbing issue at hand.
Nevertheless, he encourages his readers to persist in repeating a statement of absolute Truth
that appeals to one, such as ‘There is no power but God, or I am the child of God, filled and
surrounded by the perfect peace of God, or God is Love, or God is guiding me now, or
perhaps best and simplest of all, just God is with me’. The minute one begins to do this, the
treatment has begun to ‘take’ and the demonstration will follow soon (Fox 1979a:136–149).

Charles Bowness (1971:63), who wrote a concise practice on meditation and whose teaching
resonates with that of New Thought, reminds his readers that meditation is not a religion, or
‘something merely to be preserved in books, or a subject to be studied from a historical or
literary point of view. Meditation is to be studied, and more to be practised, and above all to be
realized. Self-realization is its ultimate goal.’ When Ram Dass (1978:34) remarks that
‘meditation is work’, he means that one needs discipline to persist when the going gets rough
or uncertain and that one needs faith to stick it out to the end.

Like Wilber, who said that meditation is not something ‘spooky’, Easwaran (1980:9–10), an
Indian meditation teacher in the West, believes that it has nothing to do with the occult, or
making one’s mind blank or being in a state of hypnosis. ‘It is, rather, [he says] a systematic
technique for taking hold of and concentrating to the utmost degree our latent mental power. It
consists in training the mind, especially attention and the will, so that we can set forth from the
surface level of consciousness and journey into the very depths.’ It is to rediscover who we
are, and it confirms Fox’s sentiment about prayer and meditation.

Applying essentially New Thought insights, Time Magazine (27 October 2003:43) demystifies
meditation as something that ‘is neither mystical nor mysterious’, but a practice that can be
done by everyone. This popular article focused mainly on the psychological and physiological
benefits of meditation (boosting the immune system, reducing stress, controlling the pain of
chronic illnesses, and resetting the brain, to mention a few). Once again the relationship
between the interior (left) and the exterior (right) is emphasised. All of the above are true, but
what the article neglects to mention is the New Thought insistence that when these difficulties
are out of the way, one arrives at a point in one’s evolution where the thought is purely on the
divine or the wholeness, that which we are. In such a moment humanity can make a
conscious shift, transforming and transcending to higher realms. And meditation can help one
to arrive at this point in consciousness. Wilber (1996:265), in his theory of consciousness,
agrees that meditation moves a person of today who is in level 4 (Advanced Mind) into level 5
(Psychic), then into level 6 (Subtle) and lastly onto levels 7 and 8 (Causal and Ultimate).

Salter (2003:51), a former counterintelligence agent with expertise in radar and electronics,
stated that we, as spiritual beings, ‘must develop our space-time ability and direct our
evolution’, for no one can save us from ourselves. ‘We must do it from within’ and human
beings are now breaking through. The knowledge that thought can create (energy following
thought) can be realised through the practice of ‘consciously combining body, mind and spirit
through meditation, prayer, mantras, chants, Sun dance and the drum. It is all within the
heart.’ Peter Russell (1998:115), who has degrees in theoretical physics, psychology and
computer science (and whom Ken Wilber views as masterfully balancing ecological doom with
spiritual renaissance), affirms the aim of meditation – know thyself. ‘You are free to know the
underlying Self.’ Knowing oneself at the deepest level is to know God. Whereas Orthodox
Jews and Christians insist on separating humanity from its creator, some Gnostics stated:
‘Self-knowledge is knowledge of God; the self and the divine are identical (Pagels 1981:xix).
Establishing a link with The Gospel according to Thomas, it states: ‘The Kingdom is within you
and it is without you. If you know yourselves, then you will be known and you will know that
you are the sons of the Living Father’ (Guillaumont et al 1959:3). The above quotations,
although diverse in their fields of specialisation, clearly substantiate New Thought thinking on

To return to the discussion of what meditation is not, it is believed that some effort is better
than none whatsoever. Some teachers and practitioners of meditation ask whether meditation
can become a trap? Or, like Wilber, inquire whether meditation is narcissistic and withdrawn?
In other words, can meditation, as a method of spiritual realisation and liberation, become an
attachment? Ram Dass (1978:144–145) believes that ‘all methods are traps’ and that one can
become attached to any method. On the other hand, he advises one to go deeply into it,
working with a method, until one becomes entrapped. The use of any method will determine
whether one is entrapped or liberated from it. ‘The game isn’t to become a method groupie,
but to transcend method.’ Even someone such as Krishnamurti (also an Eastern thinker with
whom New Thought sought rapport) questions the liberation effect of meditation. Although
Ram Dass (1978:145) feels that it would be better to bypass all methods, he realises that
‘there are few of us capable of such a leap of consciousness’ and that ‘the rest of us need
methods. These are traps through which we set ourselves free.’ Wilber’s (1995:257) reply is

that meditation is not narcissistic or withdrawn, but is part of the evolutionary process. It is
‘one of the single strongest antidotes to egocentrism and narcissism’.

Essentially, Wilber and Fox both state that meditation is the realisation of one’s wholeness or
divine nature. It is in rediscovering one’s wholeness that one transcends. For one is not only
moving towards this ultimate wholeness, one emerged from it and has always been embraced
by it. (As Wilber would iterate, holons all the way up and holons all the way down – no
separation, but one continuous chain of being.) Shabistari (in Ram Dass 1978:213) relates to
this by pronouncing: ‘There is no real coming and going. For what is going but coming?’ Thus
awakening or transcending is not bringing into being of that which was not, but a remembering
and realisation of that which has always been. When a mind is so focused on this wholeness
(according to Wilber) or God (according to Fox), the miracle or demonstration takes place.

5.4.2 Healing

Healing is to know life more correctly, says Fox. According to yoga philosophy: ‘Health is
nothing else than a life under natural conditions’ (Yesudian and Haich 1976:29). And therefore
to be healthy is a duty.

Deepak Chopra (1990:3, 5), who contributed a great deal to the holistic paradigm in emerging
contemporary spirituality, explains perfect health as a place in every person that is free from
disease, a place where we do not even entertain the possibility of limitations. The first secret
of perfect health is ‘that you have to choose it. You can only be as healthy as you think it is
possible to be.’ He then states that to have better health, one needs a new kind of knowledge,
which would have to be based on a deeper concept of life. According to Ayurveda,6 the
knowledge of lifespan, ‘the mind exerts the deepest influence on the body, and freedom from
sickness depends upon contacting our own awareness, bringing it into balance, and then
extending that balance to the body. This state of balanced awareness, more than any kind of
physical immunity, creates a higher state of health’ (Chopra 1990:6).

Evelyn Monahan, a metaphysician, also emphasises the power of the mind. Through the
healing techniques maintained and taught by New Thought, she healed herself of epilepsy,
blindness and paralysis by using her mind as an all-powerful force in living life free of pain,
illness and worry. The secret of a happy and healthy life is to ‘never allow yourself to dwell on
negative thoughts’ (Monahan 1975:19). The miracle power of metaphysical healing is already
within one from birth. The special area where the power of the healing lies is within the
energised mind and that is how the mind has the power to affect the body. Louise L Hay, the
best-selling author of You can heal your life, was healed of terminal cancer through
understanding the workings of the mind. Her key message is that ‘if we are willing to do the
mental work, almost anything can be healed’. ‘No matter what the problem is, our experiences
are just outer effects of inner thoughts’, and ‘thoughts can be changed’ (Hay 1984:11).7 Since
we choose our thoughts, we can decide to un-think them.

All of this and more confirms Fox’s thoughts on the subject, as discussed above and in other
chapters. Again, the links between Westerners such as Fox and Wilber and Eastern religious
philosophy are apparent. Yoga teachings, for example, also stress that ‘the prevention and
healing of disease must therefore begin in the mind’ (Yesudian and Haich 1976:42). This is
the role of the interrelationship of mind and body (left and right; interior and exterior). Hatha
Yoga bases its system on this relationship and develops, in parallel, the individual’s abilities
and physical health. From the very start this system eliminates the mistake from which a great
deal of occidental medical science seems to be suffering, namely

that of healing the disease instead of the patient! Hatha Yoga teaches: Inasmuch as we ourselves have
caused our sicknesses, we must heal our abused body ourselves! The teacher – whom Indian Yogis call
‘Guru’ – helps us find the cause, but we must attain health by our own efforts. Hatha Yoga teaches us how
to keep order among the forces which animate our body and – in cases we have sinned against our health
through unnatural living – how we can restore our physical wellbeing again.

One of the helpful hints for Yoga pupils is: ‘Never allow a grudge, hate, contempt, greed,
jealousy, or other base instinct to touch your mind. Such emotions set up dangerous currents,
poison mind and body, and the result is sickness’ (Yesudian and Haich 1976:177–178).

Physician Bernie Siegel (1986:149–150), who believes that a patient’s attitude to life shapes
its quantity and quality, shares Fox’s ideas in The golden key by stating first of all that ‘prayer
is talking; meditation is listening’. ‘Actually it’s a method by which we can temporarily stop
listening to the pressures and distractions of everyday life and thereby are able to
acknowledge other things – our deeper thoughts and feelings, the products of our
unconscious mind, the peace of pure consciousness, and spiritual awareness.’ He knows of
‘no other single activity that by itself can produce such a great improvement in the quality of
life’. Knowing that we prepare our future by what we think and do each day, he recommends
that his patients keep a diary of their thoughts. ‘When you suffer a misfortune, you are faced
with the choice of what to do with it. You can wring good from it, or more pain. The ability to
see something good in adversity is perhaps the central trait needed by patients’ (Siegel
1986:198). This statement reminds us of logotherapist Viktor Frankl’s (1984:11, 88) famous
saying: ‘To live is to suffer; to survive is to find meaning in the suffering.’ Elsewhere he
phrased it: ‘If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering.’ And
he quotes Nietzsche’s wise words that ‘He who has a “why” to live for can bear almost any
“how”’ (Frankl 1984:126).

To teach the mind to go beyond the ‘noise’ of thought to a region that is silent, peaceful and
whole, Chopra suggests transcendental meditation, which literally means to ‘go beyond’.
‘Although meditation has been wrapped in an aura of mysticism for many centuries, at its
heart lies this extremely practical and unmystical process of transcending. It is the surest way
to open a channel of healing in the mind’ (Chopra 1990:124). Over the ages mystical traditions
have valued the spiritual qualities of man over the physical. Emphasis was placed on
transcending the physical, as the body seems to have been at odds with the spirit. A war
between the body and soul was then in place and at all costs one had to purify the soul in
order to achieve enlightenment. In the traditional view of physics, these transcendent
philosophies seem dubious. According to New Age physician Larry Dossey (1982:198–199),
they seem to violate Godel’s8 theorem, which tells us ‘that there isn’t any way we can think our
way out of these things, no matter how hard we try’. Bell’s9 theorem, which suggests a kind of
‘superdeterminism’ – that ‘everything seems determined, and there is nothing to be done
about it’ – brings a sense of despair to some people. And then there is determinism, which

suggests ‘that I am embedded in this world, this universe, that I am stuck in it, that I cannot
possibly get out, that what I think and do and struggle against makes absolutely no difference
at all’. These ideas have given rise to a burdensome sense of defeat and do not correspond
with metaphysical teaching, as expressed by Fox, which offers guidelines on how to transcend
and transform one’s situation.

Dossey (1982:197), continuing the attempt to reconcile new physics and spirituality, remarks
that in Zen Buddhism, where students are challenged with the possibility that their
predicaments may be illusory, they are taught ‘that true understanding is not to be achieved
with the rational mind’. Dossey (1982:197) suggests that the famous Zen koans, or puzzles,
that are given to students to solve, thereby assisting them to reach enlightenment, ‘are perfect
examples of Godel’s theorem in action – the discursive mind, thinking about itself, frustrating
itself in its incessant attempt to figure things out’. In his attempt to provide an answer or to
offer a solution to this, he states:

Perhaps the spiritual goal of transcending the physical can be rethought. Our greatest spiritual
achievement may lay in total integration of the spiritual and the physical – in realizing that the spiritual and
the physical are not two aspects of us, but one. Perhaps the ultimate spiritual goal is to transcend ‘nothing’,
but to realize the oneness of our own being, which ‘is implied by Godel’ (Dossey 1982:197).

It has been proven by modern physics, argues Dossey, that the traditional or classical
modelling is now outdated. It has become a great hindrance to the eternal spiritual goal, which
incorporates the sense of unity and belonging that is ‘at the heart of the mystical experiences
of practically every culture that has left any written record of its spiritual tradition’ (Dossey

Mixing science and spiritual values is an abomination of the highest order, according to some
critics of the new religious paradigm exemplified by Fox. A dispassionate and value-free
science may be a traditional ideal. Dossey then states:

But one must design one's philosophy along the lines of some physics, be it modern physics, classical
physics, or physics of a different kind. One cannot employ ‘no’ physics at all. It may be a part of the
scientific philosophy to say that scientific and spiritual values should not be mixed, but that in itself is not a

scientific statement. As Huston Smith (in Dossey) has pointed out, it is a statement about science, but it is
not science.

Expressing the emerging holistic view in which ‘nature’ and ‘supernature’ are integrated,
Dossey (1982:199)10 said: ‘Probably the most compelling reason why most scientists resist
mixing scientific and spiritual values is simply the fear that other scientists would think poorly
of them if they did. Perhaps the view of Einstein is to be preferred: “Science without religion is
lame; religion without science is blind”.’

Writing early in the twentieth century and anticipating much of what was to emerge, Smuts
(1987:270, 267) understands that ‘the universe is but one Substance, of which both the
physical and mental series are particular and related modes of activity’. They are
interdependent. The effort of dividing and separating body and mind forms ‘the very source of
the evils we are trying to counter and combat’. The holistic universe, according to Smuts
(1987:345), is a process of ‘the rise and self-perfection of wholes in the Whole’, for
‘Wholeness, healing, holiness’ are all expressions and ideas springing from the same root.

An esoteric viewpoint on the ideas about spirit and matter, or body and soul, is proposed by
Mike and Nancy Samuels, spiritual healers who advocate the use of visualisation in healing

This mystical tradition (relative to healing) permeated the thoughts of Hermetic philosophers in Egypt,
Platonic Philosophers in Greece, Sufis in Persia, and Buddhists and Hindus in India and the Orient. In the
Middle Ages in Europe it expressed itself in the mysticism of Christian Gnostics, Jewish Kabbalists, and
secret occult societies like the Rosicrucians … These philosophies believed in the primacy of spirit over
matter, of mind over body; they believed that matter is a manifestation of spirit. They believed that
visualizations manifest themselves as health or disease in the physical body’ (Peterson 1986:221).11

The Western esoteric and the Eastern traditions seem to fit with shamanism. The Aborigines
know the power of thought in healing a disease and have successfully used the method of the
laying on of hands. Contemporary South African shaman Credo Mutwa (1996:206) explains
that according to African belief ‘certain diseases are alive and that if you show fear of them,
then these diseases will devour you’.

To close this discussion of science and spirituality, we turn again to Dossey (1982:201), who
maintains: ‘Science and myth, like lion and lamb, may one day lie together in peace. Then we
shall find ourselves free of the terrible historic necessity of having to mythologize the unity of
the universe.’ He quotes Coleridge, who said, ‘What if you slept, and what if in your sleep you
dreamed, and what if in your dream you went to heaven and there plucked a strange and
beautiful flower, and what if when you awoke you had the flower in your hand? Ah, what
then?’ In Coleridge’s rose is the aliveness of both myth and unity.

To be healthy is to remember one’s true nature, which is spirit. Stubbs (1993:97), another
expert who combined computer science and engineering with studies in metaphysics, asks:
‘Why am I not fully in contact with Spirit already, if my true nature is Spirit?’ The answer has
been dealt with. We have forgotten who we are, and we have been trying to remember who
we are ever since. It is this ‘forgetting’ that led to the idea of separation, which again resulted
in sickness, or, as Wilber stated, turned pathological – the lower can affect the higher. In
Stubbs’s (1993:x) expression, ‘the realm of Spirit is not something apart from us. We are not
separate. Spirit is not something we have. It is what we are ...’ Thus to ascend, according to
Stubbs, is to change the frequency of one’s energy. Wilber refers to this shift as
transformation – a moving up along the great chain of being, and Fox pronounces this a

Prayer, meditation and healing, as seen in the converging streams of holistic thought, are truly
interconnected, each forming part of the next whole, which is a part again of the following one.
Because of this perfectly unbroken or uninterrupted chain from matter to life, to mind, to soul
and lastly, to spirit, it should be honoured and respected. This is the healing. Fox (1968:102)
explains healing as ‘an educational process and healing of the body is in reality the healing of
thought’. Thus healing originates with a pure thought (divine thought), which is the going within
(meditation). As each stage in evolution involves a new emergence, a new depth, a new inner-
ness, each within-ness would lead to a beyond-ness, a transcendence of a greater embrace
(the manifestation or healing) – Wilber’s growth and evolution.

Expanding on the aforementioned line of thought, ‘the interiority of one stage is taken into the
interiority of the next, and thus becomes an external form within that interiority’ (Wilber
1995:547). Having declared that the within of things is depth and the without is surface, Wilber
(1995:111) determines that ‘all surfaces are surfaces of depth, which means all forms are
forms of consciousness’. For Wilber there is no lower limit to holons, as all is consciousness. If
he comes to this conclusion, then it appears that Fox has always entertained this knowingness
in stating that everything is thought, consciousness or God.

Fox’s teachings give the impression that he reduces everything to the upper-left sector.
However, I believe that he departs from a holonic, all-quadrant, all-level approach, such as
Wilber presents to the world. Although the approaches of Fox and Wilber may differ to a large
extent, they advocate the same underlying belief and arrive at a similar conclusion. It is this
methodology that makes Fox a unique individual with an acceptable and workable teaching –
even for today. Throughout Wilber’s work, he acknowledges that there could be second-tier
thinking or a shamanic moment at any level within the great chain of being model. Genuine
spirituality or an enlightened moment can occur at any time, for true spirituality is not bound to
time or space. He does not consider spirituality a product of the past; neither does he regard
figures such as the Christs, Krishnas or Buddhas as characters of the past. He remarks that
‘they cannot be explained as an inheritance from the past; they are strange Attractors lying in
our future, omega points that have not been collectively manifested anywhere in the past, but
are nonetheless available to each and every individual as structural potentials’ (Wilber

On the assumption that the holistic paradigm is the religious wave of the future, a figure such
as Fox would not seem to belong in the past either, but his religious thinking is encompassing
the whole and is available as a potential for any seeker on the path of the infinite way.


1 Dr Ian Stevenson’s latest research, published earlier this year in two books, a two-thousand page, two-
volume work entitled Reincarnation and biology: a contribution to the etiology of birthmarks and birth
defects, and a summary of that work, entitled Where reincarnation and biology intersect, gives extensive
evidence that in the cases that he studied the uniqueness of birthmarks and birth defects of the subject’s
physical body ‘may derive’ from the consciousness of a previous personality’ (Miller 1997:102–103).

2 God-within-the-creature is known in the Sanskrit language as the Atman or Purusha, the real Self.
Patanjali (in Prabhavananda and Isherwood 1960:12, 15) states: ‘When the lake of the mind becomes
clear and still, man knows himself as he really is, always was and always will be. He knows that he is the

3 ‘Holism’ ‘is a tendency towards unity, a blending and ordering of multiple elements into new unities’.
Smuts (1987:86, 232) then explains that the ‘the whole is in the parts and the parts are in the whole and
this synthesis of whole and parts is reflected in the holistic character of the functions of the parts as well
as of the whole’. Ken Wilber supports this statement by explaining the term ‘holon’ as something that is
simultaneously a whole and a part – what is a whole now was at one time a part.

4 De Chardin (1959:180, 182–183) has coined this term (French), and defined it: ‘Hominisation can be
accepted in the first place as the individual and instantaneous leap from instinct to thought, but it is also,
in a wider sense, the progressive phyletic spiritualisation in human civilisation of all the forces contained
in the animal world.’ Elsewhere he states: ‘With hominisation, we have the beginning of a new age. The
earth “gets a new skin”. Better still, it finds its soul.’

5 Alder (2000:102) believes that primitive man was well aware of his inherent powers. ‘He was naturally
and involuntarily “psychic” and telepathic and intuitive’ and ‘the worlds of the inner dimensions held a
paramount place in his life’. Credo Mutwa, well-known Zulu author and custodian of their traditions, artist,
master storyteller, medicine-man and high sanusi, and also someone whose viewpoints are contested
among black scholars, relates how his great-great-grandfathers used to speak to animals and trees and
even sang to their corn and other products. This type of action was ‘once despised by missionaries when
they saw Africans practising it, which they contemptuously called “a native superstition”’ (Mutwa
1996:16). In Song of the stars: the lore of a Zulu shaman, he gives his readers an insight into the ancient
old knowledge of his people, which, at one stage, was considered primitive. He tells the story of his

grandfather, who reminded him about that there is ‘a huge unseen lake somewhere in the spirit world
where all the knowledge of the universe – past, present, and future – is to be found’. As knowledge lives
within this lake, ‘you must never never again say that you do not know something. You must just ask the
lake, the unseen lake, to provide you with the knowledge that you seek. You are a Child of God, you
were created by God’ (Mutwa 1996:14). Religious orthodoxy was also held responsible for categorising
the Aborigine’s sacred knowledge and healing methods as evil, even black magic. It is this ignorance of
the modern world that has labelled original and sacred knowledge primitive practices. To progress
through the levels within (Wilber’s) great chain of being, ‘the shackles of orthodoxy’ must ‘be lifted’, for
‘ignorance, misunderstanding and fear – for which orthodoxy can be held responsible – have impeded
investigation’ (Havecker 1991:16).

6 The word Ayurveda ‘comes from two Sanskrit root words, Ayus, or “life”, and Veda, meaning “knowledge”
or “science”. Therefore, Ayurveda is usually translated as “the science of life”. An alternate and more
precise reading would be “the knowledge of life span”’ (Chopra 1990:6).

7 Louise Hay (1984:76–77) quotes one of Emmet Fox’s exercises for dissolving resentment. She states
that it always works. She writes: ‘He recommends that you sit quietly, close your eyes and allow your
mind and body to relax. Then imagine yourself sitting in a darkened theatre, and in front of you is a small
stage. On that stage place the person you resent the most. It could be past or present, living or dead.
When you see this person clearly, visualize good things happening to this person. Things that would be
meaningful to them. See them smiling and happy. Hold this image for a few minutes, then let it fade

8 See Dossey (1982) for more information on and New Thought-inspired interpretation of the theorems of
Kurt Gödel, an Austrian mathematician.

9 For an appropriation of John S Bell’s theorem, the physicist who first proposed it in 1964, see Dossey

10 New Thought thinker Tony Stubbs (1993:39), in An ascension handbook, describes the ‘war’ between
science and religion. He writes: ‘It’s often been said that science and religion are like two railroad trains
moving in the same direction on parallel tracks, with religion looking for the Thinker and science looking
for the Thought. They will soon come to a switch where the two tracks become one. What will happen?
There could be a terrible wreck or they could realize that the Thinker and the Thought are one.’ Credo
Mutwa (1996:202) shares this sentiment when he recalls the breaking away of science from religion. This
trying of science ‘to go it alone’ resulted in the ‘breaking away from the hand of God’ and ‘is what has
brought our mankind to the brink of disaster today because for many, many years religion and science

had gone hand and hand like lovers’. He then says: ‘I think it’s high time that science was brought back
into the realm of the spiritual so that it would wear the blanket and feel the caress of spirituality and have
a reverence for the world and all that dwell in it.’

11 On the topic of spiritual healing and from the viewpoint of the esotericist, Alice Bailey’s book, Esoteric
healing, is regarded by some as ‘the most comprehensive and advanced writing available’ today
(Peterson 1986:221).



In the previous chapter the upper half of Wilber’s full-spectrum approach was discussed. This
included the individual holons. The upper-right represents the exterior, whereas the upper-left
signifies the interior. The lower half of this model covers the social or communal holons and is
about a ‘worldview’ or, as Wilber (1995:120) termed it, ‘a common worldspace’ – the
collective. Both of these lower levels have an interior (the lower-left) and an exterior (the
lower-right) and are plural. Shared worldviews do exist, ‘and these shared worldviews are
simply the inside feel of a social holon, the inside space of collective awareness at a particular
level of development; it is not just how “I” feel, it is how “we” feel’ (Wilber 1995:121).

Within such a shared worldview, people are faced with similar experiences. Individually, and
certainly collectively too, people share ideas about the concept of God and world religious
teachers such as Jesus (chapter 6). Another shared interest is the issue of death and dying.
To understand the social and cultural aspects of some of these collective challenges, Fox’s
religious thoughts on death, dying, reincarnation, the end times (chapter 7), and his method of
biblical interpretation (chapter 8) will be discussed within Wilber’s four-quadrant model.


All four quadrants are inextricably intermeshed. The example of a thought was used in an
earlier chapter to demonstrate the interplay and correlation that are involved between the
upper-left (thinking) and the upper-right (actual brain activity). When I share the meaning of
my thought with you now, it becomes a shared cultural worldspace (lower-left). As Wilber
(1995:137) states, the meaning of one’s thought ‘is itself sustained by a whole network of
background practices and norms and linguistic structures existing in our shared culture’. And

this shared cultural worldspace is necessary for the communication of any meaning at all.
Thus the question is not one of truth (upper-right) or even truthfulness (upper-left), but of
‘cultural fit, of the appropriateness or justness or “fitness” of my meanings and values with the
culture that helps to produce them’. It is a question of whether ‘I am intersubjectively in tune,
appropriately meshed with the cultural worldspace that allows subjects and objects to arise in
the first place’ (Wilber 1995:137–138). One’s meanings and values are not reducible to this
cultural fitness, but they do depend on its background. The criterion for validity in the lower-left
quadrant is ‘whether you and I can come to mutual understanding with each other. Not
objective, not subjective, but intersubjective’ (Wilber 1995:138).

Wilber includes certain patterns in consciousness that are shared by those who are ‘in’ a
particular culture or subculture: shared values, perceptions, worldviews, semantic habitats,
cultural practices, intersubjective moral and ethical understanding, interpretative
understandings, collective and group identities. This quadrant does not refer to ‘I’ or ‘it’, but to
‘we’, for ‘we’ have to come to a mutual understanding. With regard to humans, the lower-left
quadrant, which studies the shared interior meanings that constitute the worldview of social or
communal holons, runs from archaic to magic to mythic and to the mental.


Just as the consciousness of the mind produced a thought, which had an objective and
scientific reaction within the brain, so cultural perceptions have objective correlates that can
be empirically detected. The lower-right quadrant is thus about cultural patterns, which are
registered in exterior, material and observable social behaviours. In other words, ‘all the
physical components of a social action system, all the aspects of a social system that can be
seen empirically or monologically’ belong within the lower-right quadrant. These include ‘food
production, transportation systems, written records, school buildings, geopolitical structures,
behavioral actions of groups, written legal codes, architectural styles and the buildings
themselves, types of technology, linguistic structures in their exterior aspects (written or
spoken signifiers), economic forces of production and distribution’ (Wilber 1995:138).

Within this sector, ‘the criterion is not the truth of objects’ (upper-right), or ‘the truthfulness of
subjects’ (upper-left), or ‘the mesh of intersubjective understanding and meaning’ (lower-left),
‘but rather the functional fit or the interobjective mesh of social systems’ (lower-right) (Wilber
1995: 138–139). The exterior forms of the social holon run ‘from the Big Bang to superclusters
to galaxies to stars to planets to (on Earth) the Gaia system to ecosystems to societies with
division of labor to groups/families … With reference to humans, this quadrant then runs from
kinship tribes to villages to nation-states to global world-system’ (Wilber 1995:123). Like the
upper-right, this quadrant can be seen, and it represents all the exterior forms of social
systems – forms that are empirical and behavioural.

As in the upper half of the model, the two dimensions of the lower half are in intimate
interaction and correlation with each other. However, neither can be reduced to the other. In
emphasising the correlation and differences between the two sections, Wilber uses the
example of a person who visits another country but does not understand its language. He then
becomes part of the country’s social system and hears the vibrational tones of its language
(lower-right), but he is not part of its culture – the words and tones of the spoken language
have no meaning for him. He cannot understand a word (lower-left). Thus, ‘You are in the
social system, but you are not in the worldview, you are not in the culture. You hear only the
exteriors, you do not understand the interior meaning. All the social signifiers impinge on you,
but none of the cultural signifieds come up. You are an insider to the social system but an
outsider to the culture’ (Wilber 1995:125).

In the following review of the lower halves of the all-quadrant model, the arrogance and
thoughtlessness of reductionism can be seen in which one aspect of the whole is singled out
from its broader context. The opposite view is also accentuated in which the importance of
correlation, mutual honour and respect among all quadrants (or holons) is acknowledged.
Emmet Fox does not explicitly consider these individual quadrants; neither does he describe
his teaching according to them. However, his interpretation of concepts such as God, Jesus,
the Christ, his biblical exegesis, his insight into death and the end times, as well as his views
on social activities such as attending church, tithing and dying, are already meshed into one

stream of thought. The following subdivisions will examine his religious thinking with reference
to these quadrants.


The opening words of Wilber’s (1996:3) Up from Eden: a transpersonal view of human
evolution state: ‘Nothing can stay long removed from God’, and ‘history is the story of men and
women’s love affair with the Divine’. ‘Traditionally [he continues] the great problem with
viewing history in theological terms has been not a confusion as to what history is, but a
confusion as to what God might be.’ In finding the meaning of history, one assumes a pointing
at something ‘other’ than itself, and this ‘great Other’, Wilber (1996:3) says, ‘has often been
assumed to be God, or Spirit, or the Ultimate’. This ultimate wholeness lies at the base of
humanity’s consciousness; however, it is not consciously realised by the vast majority and
thus became an ‘Other’. It is not an ontological Other, as Wilber (1996:14) would maintain.
‘Rather, it is a psychological Other – it is ever-present, but unrealized; it is given, but rarely
discovered; it is the Nature of human beings, but lies, as it were, asleep in the depths of the

Addressing the matter of why humans need visible god figures, Wilber answers that they have
forgotten that they themselves are Atman. To return to the discussion of Wilber’s great chain
of being model (see chapter 4), in it he reminds his readers of the evolutionary process in
consciousness. This refers in particular to the shift from the subtle realm (the Sambhogakaya
– level 6), with its one God with whom one can commune through sacrificial awareness, to the
causal realm (the Dharmakaya – level 7 and beyond), where the path of transcendence goes
even further and one does not merely commune with the oneness, but one actually becomes
that oneness.

A further reminder of this debate is the reference to the one God (monotheism), where the
belief is that it is ‘our Father who art in Heaven’, over against the next consciousness of

knowing that ‘I and the Father are One’. This one God of the subtle realm (or level 6) is what
Valentinus 1 refers to as ‘master, king, lord, creator, and judge’, whereas the God of the causal
realm (level 7) is seen as ‘the ultimate source of all being – the depth’ (Pagels 1981:38).
Wilber agrees with the distinction between the two gods. The first is the creator God of the
subtle level – the demiurgos,2 who is a lesser divine being, and the God of Israel, the God of
Moses, the God the Father, the lord and creator who gives the law and passes judgement on
those who violate it. And the second is the void-source God of the causal level – recognising
this ‘true source of divine power – namely, “the depth” of all being’ – is what gnosis is all
about. To achieve this level of consciousness (level 7) is to go beyond God the creator (the
god of level 6, the god that makes false claims to power, such as ‘I am God, and there is no
other’). Valentinus states that: ‘Whoever has come to know that source simultaneously comes
to know himself and discovers his spiritual origin: he has come to know his true Father and
Mother’ (Pagels 1981:44).

This going ‘beyond’ is to find the nothing as well as all things of levels 7 and 8 – not that the
void is featureless, rather seamless; it transcends but includes all manifestation. Behmen (in
Wilber 1996:259) expresses it as: ‘Whosoever finds it finds All Things. It hath been the
Beginning of All Things; it is also the End of All Things. All Things are from it, and in it, and by
it. If thou findest it thou comest into that ground from whence All Things are proceeded, and
wherein they subsist.’

Bearing in mind that the Big Three (I – art, We – morals and It – science) of the all-quadrant
model split into separate paths, unable to find a way of integration, the left-hand paths (the
subjective and moral spheres of the interior) and the right-hand paths (the objective and
empirical exteriors) all pursued their own courses in isolation. Although each path made its
own unique discoveries, they never seemed to communicate with one another. This resulted
in The Big Three being reduced to The Big One. In other words, the interior paths (I and We)
were decreased to the exterior one (It).

Industrialisation and capitalism were some of the reasons given for the flattening or collapse of
the Kosmos. Nevertheless, ‘The vertical and horizontal holarchy of depth and span was

ditched in favor of merely a horizontal holarchy of span alone’. ‘Depths that required
interpretation were largely ignored in favor of the interlocking surfaces that can simply be seen
(empiric-analytic) – valueless surfaces that could be patiently, persistently, accurately
mapped: on the other side of the objective strainer, the world appeared only as a great
interlocking order of sensory surfaces, empirical forms’ (Wilber 1995:418). Thus the great
chain was tipped onto its side – ‘an infinite within and beyond was ditched in favor of an
infinite in front of and ahead, and the West began to scratch that itch in earnest’ (Wilber

This all started when the Ascending Ideal was promised in the West. It was presented like the
omega point, but it never delivered. Thus a spiritual hunger remained. Then the Age of
Reason went over to the Path of Descent, where one has a visible God, an itch that can be
scratched. And this is how the infinite above became the infinite ahead – the God of the right-
path was born (an exterior and scientific approach). As the higher ascent or transcendence
became impossible, even a sin of pride and considered a crime, the Descent God became
increasingly prominent. This ultimately led to the empirical flatland interlocking of surfaces,
exteriors and right-hand components. With modernity and postmodernity came the challenge
of the integration of The Big Three (the interior or subjective worlds and the exterior or
objective worlds – or the integration of the noosphere or ego and the biosphere or eco). The
interior maps provided by the idealists3 were available for this return process.

Wilber believes that the modern and postmodern mind had and still has two choices:
remaining at a mythical level of development (ascent); or evolving to rationality (descent).
Finding solutions to Gaia’s major problem, ‘lack of mutual understanding and mutual
agreement in the noosphere’, is to focus on the interior. ‘The real problem is how to get people
to internally transform from egocentric to sociocentric to worldcentric consciousness, which is
the only stance that can grasp the global dimensions of the problem in the first place, and thus
the only stance that can freely, even eagerly, embrace global solutions’ (Wilber 1995:513–

Then, after two thousand years, says Wilber (1995:521), the ascenders (ego) and the
descenders (eco) are still at each other’s throats – ‘each still claiming to be the Whole, each
still accusing the other of Evil, each perpetrating the same fractured insanity it despises in the
other’. On the other hand, all the basics are already in existence. The roads (present but
untravelled; paths cut clear but not chosen) are open to us. The question is whether we can
embrace these roots. Can we say, ‘My me is God’ (like Saint Catherine) and ‘See! I am God!
See! I am in all things! See! I do all things (according to Dame Julian)? Then, ‘this Earth
becomes a blessed being, and every I becomes a God, and every We becomes God’s
sincerest worship, and every It becomes God’s most gracious temple’ (Wilber 1995:523). It is
true that evolution stops for nobody, as each stage passes into a larger tomorrow.

Theology, which is God-talk, is not just another academic discipline, it is a cultural event, and
therefore necessitates an explanation within these quadrants. The concept of ‘God’, and the
subsequent discussion about it, is of course far more complex, for ‘it carries many meanings’
(Krüger 1989:1). We make our own conceptions of God. New Thought scholars Anderson and
Whitehouse (1995:39) state that we believe that God has made us in his image. Taking this
one step further, they suggest that, ‘at least in a tiny way, we also help to make God what he
is’. Because there are so many kinds of god, they ask which one we believe in, for ‘one cannot
consistently believe in all the conceptions of God that are available’ (Anderson and
Whitehouse 1995:39). They remind us that our ideas about God have evolved and expanded
over time: from the concept of many gods to the one God, then to a transcendent God,
followed by the belief in the immanent nature of God. This continued into the concepts of
pantheism (all is God) and panentheism (all is in God).

Anderson (1991:6–8) offers the student a scheme of various breeds of God, as well as the
competing conceptions of God’s nature.4 It includes The Archaic Terrorer, ‘who is capricious
power’ (the atheist’s favourite); The Yapping Heel-Nipper, ‘who is judgmental, ethically
demanding, insensitive’ (primitive theism: ID-God); The Purebred High-Nosed, ‘who remains
aloof’ (classical theism: OU-God); The World-Woofer, ‘who is everything, yet nothing that we
can know’ (pantheism: IUD-God); and The Mixed Breed, ‘who puts it all together’
(panentheism: IOUD-God). It is this last breed that we will focus on.

Paradigm shifts throughout history have included the important revolutions of one’s
understanding and ways of living. It is interesting to mention in part Huston Smith’s (in
Anderson and Whitehouse 1995:89) summarised version of the various worldviews, including
the Christian, the modern and postmodern aspects. The way of salvation, in the Christian
view, does not lie ‘in conquering nature but in following the commandments that God has
revealed to us. The path to human fulfilment [according to the modern view] consists primarily
in discovering the laws of nature, utilizing them where it is possible, and complying with them
where it is not.’ The postmodern view maintains that: ‘Perhaps there is no way of salvation or
fulfilment, except for our own idiosyncratic satisfactions in the midst of a world of intellectual
deconstruction.’ This resulted in Smith’s observation: ‘For twenty-five hundred years
philosophers have argued over which metaphysical system is true. For them to agree that
none is, is a new departure.’

What are the alternatives to postmodernism? Anderson and Whitehouse suggest

primordialism or perennialism and process philosophy. These authors refer to Ken Wilber as
‘a noted expositor of primordialism’ where the paradoxicality of the ultimate is emphasised.
Primordialism claims that the ultimate is impersonal. The ultimate reality for this perennial
philosophy is The World-Woofer, where there is nothing but God, or all is God (pantheism).
The problem with this view is that it robs one of one’s realities of existence as part of the
whole (Anderson and Whitehouse 1995:89–91).

The second alternative to postmodernism is process thought or positive postmodernism,

where the interrelatedness of everything in the universe is highlighted. This is seen as an
alternative to the primordial tradition. Anderson and Whitehouse (1995:94) base process
philosophy on certain facts:

(1) the world is changing, developing; (2) everything is related to everything else; (3) we can live only in the
moment, and have to deal with everything in little chunks of time and space. If we also believe (4) that
there is a divine guiding intelligence that enters our lives, and that (5) memories and other influences from
the past play important roles in contributing to what we are …

This process is sometimes called panexperientialism because of the emphasis on experiences

as the only reality. ‘What we call things are really collections of momentarily existing
experiences.’ Its proponents also state that: ‘All past experiences are present in every new
experience, though some are far more relevant and in effect more powerful than others’
(Anderson and Whitehouse 1995:94–95). This line of thinking seems to point towards Ken
Wilber’s holonic ladder of consciousness. The idea that all later experiences are aware of all
previous experiences, which New Thought refers to as the law of mind, or the law of cause
and effect, or merely as karma, is a reflection of Wilber’s lower holons, which, because they
become part of the next whole, can affect that level – even pathologically infect it.

In clarifying the conceptions of God, the theistic God is the personal God who has created the
world separately from himself. ‘God and the world are distinct. One is the Creator; the other,
his radically contingent and dependent creation’ (Krüger 1989:91). In pantheism ‘all is God’.
This undivided and omnipresent God seems to individualise himself as one, a meaningless
claim according to Anderson. If God is present everywhere, then where does this leave the
individual with his or her interaction, growth and existence? One still comes across a
separation between creator and creature. Does one find a parallel to this in Wilber’s level 6
with it’s ‘our Father who art in Heaven?’

The concept of panentheism affirms that ‘all is in God and God is in all’. Matthew Fox
(1988:50), former Roman Catholic and Episcopalian priest, as well as a mystic, elaborates:
‘Divinity is not outside us. We are in God and God is in us.’ He utilises the symbol of a droplet.
‘When a drop is merged into the ocean, how is it to be seen as distinct? When the ocean is
submerged in the drop, who can say what is what?’ This panentheism is expressed by Krüger
(1989:2) as ‘God’s organic involvedness in the world’ and according to Anderson (1997b:83)
‘God and we are a one made up of many’.5 Whereas there was a remnant of dualism in
pantheism, panentheism ‘melts the dualism of inside and outside’, according to Matthew Fox
(1988:57). ‘Like fish in water and the water in the fish, creation is in God and God is in

creation.’ This statement seems to correspond with Wilber’s level 7 where ‘I and the Father
are one’.

The affirmation that there is only one power and one presence prompted Anderson and
Whitehouse (1995:98–99) to challenge New Thoughters to make this statement from a
panentheistic perspective. In other words, it implies that ‘the whole and the part are present in
each other’ and that ‘all unity is a unification of the many’. Once again there is an illustration of
Wilber’s worldview, which honours the web of life – not a hierarchy where the one is greater or
more important than the other, but a holarchy of holons.

To conclude this discussion we return to Anderson’s (1997b:84–85) philosophy. He associates

the words ‘process’ and ‘personalism’ with panentheism. First, ‘process’ ‘holds that reality is
activity, energy, experience’: it is dynamic and in constant change. Second, ‘personalism’
‘considers personality the supreme value and the key to the meaning of reality’ – this person is
a self, which is an experience. God is such a person – ‘not a human being, but a person. It is
personality that makes him meaningfully God, the ultimate unity’ (Anderson 1984:88).
Whereas God represents the complete person, we are the fragmentary ones. ‘In emphasizing
the personality of God we affirm, not the likeness of God to man, but rather the likeness of
man to God.’ That ‘complete and perfect personality can be found only in the Infinite and
Absolute Being’ (Anderson and Whitehouse 1995:93).

All of this has to do with love, because it is also process-relational. This concept emphasises
that ‘nothing exists in isolation’, but all is in relation to one another. Because to love requires at
least two, to love completely, an ‘other’ is needed and this ‘other’ ‘is within God, yet never
separated from God, never identical with God’ (Anderson 1997b:86–87). The ‘other’ is another
perspective and not identical with something, for then it is the something. To return to Wilber’s
chain of thought, the part is a part of the whole – and although a part, it is yet not separated
from it. But this part that had become the whole (which is a part again of the higher or next
whole) is not identical to the whole. It shares sameness, although it is simultaneously different.
The more fundamental and less significant holon (lower rung of the ladder) becomes the less

fundamental and more significant holon (higher rung of the ladder) as it transforms and
ascends in evolution.

Horatio W Dresser (in Anderson 1997b:93) expands on the idea of oneness: ‘the idea that we
are one with God in the sense that there is nothing of us that is not God’. Dresser’s approach
does not embrace pantheism, but states that the oneness of life ‘is the truth that God lives with
us, in every moment of existence, in every experience, every sorrow and every struggle’. Thus
man is not divine and God is not the sole reality ‘in’ the self. He affirms ‘that Man then is not
“one with” God, but … may be led into unison or conjunction with the Lord … by the operation
of the Divine love and wisdom through (not as) us’. Dresser’s argument is thus not merely
about God (pantheism), it is about God, the universe and man (panentheism). Therefore it
includes both the part and the whole – it is the synergy between the two – then there is ‘yoga’,
the union.

6.3.1 To define God

Emmet Fox, like so many others, is aware of the difficulty of discussing a concept such as
‘God’. However, he believes that one can gain insight into and understanding of the nature of
God. ‘God is infinite, but we, as human beings, while we cannot of course grasp the Infinite,
can yet acquaint ourselves with many different aspects or attributes of His nature’ (Fox
1994:117). It is like visiting the Capitol building in Washington – one knows that one cannot
possibly see it all at once, ‘but that does not mean that you cannot become very well
acquainted with it’ (Fox 1994:116). In attempting to understand the concept of ‘God’, he
approaches it in the same manner as the building. To him, the only way of approaching God is
through prayer, which is thinking of God.

To capture the nature of God is impossible. Fox (1979d:63) stated that ‘God is infinite and you
cannot define God’, just as Spinoza said that ‘to define God is to deny Him’. Emerson (in

Paramananda 1985:52) remarks that man, at some point in his life, may be aware of the pure
nature; however ‘language cannot paint it with his colors. It is too subtle. It is indefinable,
immeasurable.’ Ramdas (1974:245), in conversation with some students, told them: ‘Friends,
Ramdas cannot prove to you by mere arguments the existence of God, nobody can. Ramdas
from his own experience can boldly assert that there is God. Until you yourself get the
experience, it is natural that you should deny Him.’ Emerson (in Paramananda 1985:46)
confirms this continuous search for an explanation of God and soul. Like Ramdas, he believes
that those who have experienced the light, such as the sages and mystics, still ‘cannot reveal
it to others who have not the same light. Every man’s words who speaks from that life must
sound vain to those who do not dwell in the same thought on their own part.’

Blavatsky reflects on the restricted ways in which those with limited senses attempt to
comprehend something that is infinite. She remembers ‘the difficulty of finding terms to
describe, and to distinguish between, abstract metaphysical facts or differences’. She is also
aware that we ‘give names to things according to the appearances they assume for ourselves
… yet we recognize fully that our perception of such things does not do them justice’
(Blavatsky 1952a:126). Charles Fillmore also acknowledges that the One, the origin of
everything, is known by various names. He is not so concerned with the various labels that are
applied to God, but ‘the important consideration is a right concept of its character’ (Fillmore

6.3.2 The personal God

Theologies are thus attempts to discover and explain this nature of God. Emmet Fox
(1992:64) does not perceive of God in a physical sense as a venerable sort of person sitting
on some distant throne in the skies ‘meting out punishment or favors as He saw fit’. Neither
does this God have a face like a person (even if the Psalmist says ‘Seek ye my face’). Nor
does he believe that the earlier cultures thought of ‘God as a kind of great spirit dwelling
perhaps in a lofty mountain’. Instead, God is ‘pure Spirit, Infinite Creative Life, Infinite Mind,
Infinite Intelligence, God is pure, unconditioned Being’ (Fox 1979d:64).

Although Fox believes in a personal God, this is not a person in the anthropomorphic sense of
the way, for no finite person could have created the boundless universe, only a God who has
every quality of personality except its limitation. Ernest Holmes, who started the New Thought
movement known as Religious Science in 1927, supports the idea of the ‘personalness’ of
God. He states that ‘personality cannot emerge from a principle which does not contain the
inherent possibility of personality’ and adds that ‘spiritual evolution should make the Infinite not
more distant; but more intimate’ (Holmes 1938:89). Emmet Fox is also aware of the practical
difficulty in finding a suitable pronoun with which to discuss God. The words ‘he’ and ‘him’ are
misleading as they suggest that God is a man or something of male origin. On the other hand,
calling God ‘she’ or ‘her’ is just as misleading. And to use the word ‘it’ is absurd, for the word
seems to lack reverence and suggests an inanimate and unintelligent object. Fox (1994:116)
refers to God in the masculine gender, but he asks the reader to bear in mind that these
references to God as ‘he’ or ‘him’ constitute ‘an unavoidable makeshift and that the reader
must correct his/her thought accordingly’.

There is an absence of feminine symbolism for God in Judaism, Christianity and Islam – a
‘striking contrast to the world’s other religious traditions’ (Pagels 1981:57). In texts discovered
at Nag Hammadi, the Gnostic sources use sexual symbolism to describe God. However,
‘instead of describing a monistic and masculine God, many of these texts speak of God as a
dyad who embraces both masculine and feminine elements’ (Pagels 1981:58).6 ‘Esotericism,
pure and simple’, on the other hand, ‘speaks of no personal God’ and therefore its proponents
are regarded as atheists. Then again,

… in reality, Occult Philosophy, as a whole, is based absolutely on the ubiquitous presence of God, the
Absolute Deity: and if IT Itself is not speculated upon, as being too sacred and yet incomprehensible as a
Unit to the finite intellect, yet the entire Philosophy is based upon Its Divine Powers as being the Source of
all that breathes and lives and has existence (Blavatsky 1952d:462).

Fox contemplates the God-concept in a very personal way. To him ‘God is your best friend.
God is always present, and you can always turn to Him for help and guidance; and He never
fails’ (Fox 1984:148). No matter what happens in life,

God can heal you. God is stronger than anything ‘awful’. God will always ‘be in business’. If the burdens of
the world become too much to bear, then ‘Leave something to God. After all, it is He who is responsible for
the world, and not you’ (Fox 1979b:90, 105–106).

From another perspective Fox stresses that:

We are what we are because of the thoughts we habitually think, for these are the beginning of expression
or manifestation in our lives. Therefore if we choose to think God-thoughts – positive, constructive, creative
thoughts – we will express health, harmony, and prosperity in our lives’ (Fox 1992:70).

Other reminders of this line of thought are, for example, that we create our worlds through our
thinking; that healing manifests when one unthinks the error by knowing the Truth; that to
change the outcome of one’s experiences, one has to change the cause, which is the mind;
that if you want anything to happen, you must bring about a change in your own mental
outlook, whereupon your outer experience will automatically change to correspond; and that
one’s destiny depends entirely on one’s own mental conduct.

The previous two paragraphs express two distinct views regarding Fox’s thoughts on the
concept of God – or at least that is the impression he gives. This seems to be a paradox in
Fox’s thinking. On the one hand, he states that man does not need to do a thing, as God is his
helper and the one that will provide everything and anything. Then, on the other hand, he
emphasises the power of thought, which the individual brings about through a positive choice,
and the manifestation of a miraculous healing of such an action. In another example Fox
(1992:88) states that: ‘As children of the Most High we have a divine heritage and therefore a
right to expect that God will take care of us in every way. We should expect him to heal us
when we are sick, to furnish us with abundance when we are in need, and to bring us peace
and harmony when we are filled with fear.’ This statement leaves one with the impression that
there is a god out there (transcendent and separated from us), but one with whom we share a
personal bond (his children) and therefore we have the right to expect his intervention in our
lives. Then again, we hear Fox enthusiastically stating the power of thought, which brings
about the manifestation (the individual’s responsibility) – the idea that God is not someone out
there who bestows upon us any goodness, for goodness is already within us as part of our

divine origin (immanent and at-one-with us). Is Fox contradicting himself, or are these so-
called differences part of his method of teaching?

Although at times it seems that Fox may be taking this personal concept of God too far, one
does arrive at the conclusion that this may be a deliberate choice on his part. In other words,
he uses well-known terminology (more traditional), something his readers of that time could
identify with, and simultaneously he introduces another perspective to his students. Yes, God
is your Father and he will help you in any situation, if you only ask, but remember, you, as a
divine being already enjoy the power because of this relationship and whatever you think, you
will manifest.

According to my interpretation, whenever Fox uses the word ‘God’, he really means the ‘inner
self’, or the ‘Christ-within’, or the ‘word/thought’. (‘In the beginning was the Word, and the
Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ (John 1:1)). Consequently, when one thinks of
God, which is prayer, it really means that one becomes aware of one’s divine power and
inheritance, and therefore one can begin to entertain divine and good thoughts, and thus the
manifestation (the answering of prayer) will be positive and good.

If God is first cause, then it is correct to say that God is always there: however, not as an
entity, but as an essence. And if everything begins with thought, then the logical conclusion is
that when one changes one’s thinking or one’s cause, then God will be the demonstration.
That’s why it seems to us that God has done it (pantheistic: God is all). However, in
retrospect, it is not God who is doing anything. This divine intervention (God is helping or
saving me) is the direct result of me taking control of my thoughts, my actions and myself.
When an individual realises his or her divine power, then, according to Fox, one is at-one with
God (panentheistic: all is in God and God is in all). In that case, this thought or realisation
brings about the healing. It is thus true according to some of Fox’s statements that one has
the power to heal oneself or to change the reality of one’s world. And for Fox this can only
happen through the divine (which everyone is), which he calls ‘God’. In conclusion Fox gives
the impression that he is contradicting himself. However, from further insights into his teaching

and religious thinking, it appears that he brilliantly interweaves these two evidently opposing
thoughts. Then again, it is the same thing to him – this ‘thought’ and ‘God’.7

Other New Thought leaders reveal the same response. According to the principles of Divine
Science (considered the third largest New Thought group), God is universal mind ‘and man’ is
‘a thought in that eternal Mind’ (James and Cramer 1957:40). It is this thinking mind or God
that creates through the actual word or thought, according to Holmes. Charles Fillmore
(1949:93) expresses his opinion as ‘God is Mind, and man made in the image and likeness of
God is Mind, because there is but one Mind, and that the Mind of God’. Emerson (in
Paramananda 1985:14) maintains this line of thought: ‘There is one mind common to all
individual men.’ New Thoughters believe that if everything is from one mind, and one is a
creation of that mind, whatever is true of the whole (God) must then also be true of its parts
(humankind). This idea directs the argument about our own importance as God
manifestations. ‘We should understand that we are not separate or insignificant but the vital,
important, integral parts of a mighty whole. Man is not a thing of small beginning but of infinite
beginnings’ (Fillmore 1949:61, 136). James and Cramer (1957:44) declare that ‘I am because
God is’ and therefore ‘I cannot be something that my source is not’. Judge Thomas Troward
(1917:55), British New Thought leader,8 states it differently: ‘We cannot express powers which
we do not possess.’ This line of reasoning leads Fox to the statements that, as with all in New
Thought, one can be transformed by renewing one’s mind and the individual is responsible for
the outcome of his or her life.

6.3.3 The seven main aspects of God

We cannot begin to grasp the idea of an infinite being; nevertheless we can acquaint
ourselves with the many different aspects or attributes of his nature. Fox (1994:118–141) has
chosen seven aspects (below) to describe God’s nature. He feels these are the most
important and that all the others are built up of combinations of them. They also answer the
questions most frequently asked by individuals seeking spiritual guidance: What is God like?
How are we to think about God? What is his nature? What is his character? Where is he? Can
we really contact him, and if so, how?

The first main aspect is Life . God is Life and life is existence or being. Joy is one of the
highest expressions of God as Life – it is a mix between life and love. The realisation of one’s
divine heritage brings about the experience of joy and healing. Acknowledging divine life
within a person is a wonderful healing method.

The second aspect of God is Truth. God is Truth – absolute and unchanging. Truth is the
great healer as knowing the truth of any situation will heal it.

The third aspect of God is Love. God is Love – this is the most important one for us to
practise. There is no condition that enough love will not heal (1 John 4:16 and John 13:35).
You cannot love completely if you fear. When you love enough, from the inside, you can heal
any situation. Fox says that if you love God more than your sickness, then you are healed. If
you have love in your heart, you can heal others by speaking the word once. Fox advises
people to protect their own rights, to take wise steps in dealing with criminals and other
delinquents, to regret or condemn an action or a wrong, but never to hate or condemn the
wrongdoer. In protecting one’s rights, it must always be in a spirit of divine love. Knowing that
love heals and that fear and condemnation damage and destroy, Fox suggests daily love
treatments. These involve watching one’s thoughts, tongue and deeds, so that nothing
contrary to love finds expression there.

The fourth aspect is Intelligence. God is Intelligence. In an intelligent universe there is no

disharmony, as all ideas must work together for the common good of all. This intelligent
aspect of God is important in its relation to the health of the body. The creation of the body is
an act of intelligence; however, the carnal mind considers its limitations, which result in early
decay and even death. To pray, or think about God, a certain amount of intelligence and
knowledge is required. The seven aspects of God help man to attain this, which again can
help one to think ‘rightly’ about his nature and to overcome these limitations.

The fifth aspect is Soul. God is Soul. This means he is able to individualise (undivided) himself
without, so to speak, breaking himself into parts. As God can individualise himself as man,
man is really an individualisation of God. Because God can do this, he is nevertheless in no

way separate. Matter can be divided, not God – he can only be individualised. Fox believes
that this way of thinking of God can be quite new to many people, and suggests that they think
it over until they understand it. Our real self, the Christ-within, the I Am, or that divine spark, is
an individualisation of God. It is said that ‘you are the presence of God at the point where you
are’. This does not mean that man is an absurd little personal God – just an individualisation of
the one and only God (John 10:34). Man cannot be separated from God in reality, but he can
be separated in human belief. When the belief in separation occurs, the belief in death follows
in greater or lesser degree.

The sixth aspect is Spirit. God is Spirit (John 4:24). Spirit is that which cannot be destroyed,
damaged or hurt, or degraded or soiled in any way. Spirit is the opposite of matter, which can
deteriorate. Spirit is substance. Because spirit was never born and can never die, so it is with
our true selves. We are eternal, divine, unchanging spirit in our true nature. The universe, too,
is spiritual, but we see it in a limited way as matter. Distortion (including damage, decay, sin,
sickness and death) arises from our seeing things wrongly – like looking at the street and
passers-by through fluted glass. Everything seems to be distorted, but we know that it is the
type of window that makes it so. This false or distorted vision about life and death is what the
Bible refers to as the carnal mind. When something is beautiful, it is not the matter that is
beautiful, but the spirit shining through. If the veil of distortion is thin, the object can be seen
more clearly and is therefore more beautiful. If the veil is thick, the inner beauty becomes

Fox knows that many people will not be able to grasp and understand this way of thinking and
he encourages them by suggesting that they should ignore the facts for a while. In the
meantime they can at least try to practise some of the exercises. He knows that when they
experience a demonstration, they will look at the whole process in a different light and it will
not be so different or challenging any more.

The seventh aspect is Principle. God is Principle. According to Fox, this aspect is the least
understood by people. He gives many examples to explain what principle means. One is that
matter expands when heated; another that the angles of any triangle always add up to 180o.

These principles were true a billion years ago, and still are. They cannot change, because a
principle cannot change – it is always true to its essence. And therefore God is principle of
perfect harmony and cannot change. We experience problems in life because we have tuned
out from God or the divine principle of our being. However, if something is principle, it stays
unchanged – forever!

Fox also provides advice on the use of the various aspects of God for certain circumstances
for which one would like to do a treatment. He believes that if one is aware of the various
aspects and their corresponding power, our demonstrations from scientific prayer could be
much clearer and more fulfilling. He reminds us that God is all of these aspects all the time.
Like a rose, which has colour, weighs a number of grams, and has a certain shape and
fragrance – the rose is all of these all the time. So it is with the nature of God. Fox emphasises
three of these attributes of God: God as Soul – he individualised himself as man, but is not
separate from him; God as Spirit – the one that cannot be destroyed; and God as Principle –
the unchangeable. This line of thinking is similar to the idea that all things are interrelated and
that there is a fundamental unity behind the various forms in the world of the senses. It is also
a recurrent theme in the Eastern religions, both the mystics and esotericists express it, it is
suggested in the Bible (‘He in whom we live and move and have our being’) and in the
Kabbalistic concept of En-Sof (out of whom all creation is projected), as well as other ancient
writings of wisdom. What is more, it has been made very popular by modern physics.

Fritjof Capra (1980:69, 189), the modern research physicist who links modern physics and
Eastern mysticism, recapitulates the physicist’s approach:

All particles can be transmuted into other particles; they can be created from energy and can vanish into
energy. In this world, classical concepts like ‘elementary particle’, ‘material substance’, or ‘isolated object’
have lost their meaning; the whole universe appears as a dynamic web of inseparable energy patterns.

The particles of the subatomic world are not only active in the sense of moving around very fast; they
themselves are processes! The existence of matter and its activity cannot be separated. They are but
different aspects of the same space-time reality.

His observation that ‘material objects are not distinct entities, but are inseparably linked to

their environment; that their properties can only be understood in terms of their interaction with
the rest of the world’ (Capra 1980:195) is a reflection of Fox’s (1979a:72) statement that ‘God
always acts through us by changing our consciousness’ and ‘that God never does anything to
us, or for us, but always through us’. This concept appears to confirm some panentheistic
thinking on Fox’s part.

God’s attributes can only be known and experienced in their interaction with man. They may
take on different forms for different people, but, as Emerson affirms, ‘the act of seeing and the
thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object are one’. Elsewhere he
states: ‘Essence, or God, is not a relation or a part, but the whole’ (in Paramananda 1985:40,
48). Blavatsky (1952a:125, 320) believes that when things (such as hydrogen and oxygen) are
in union (forming water), then the parts ceased to exist on one level as they became
something else. Yet they have not ceased to be, for ‘they must be there all the while’. She also
describes the ‘one indivisible and absolute Omniscience and Intelligence in the Universe’ as it
‘thrills throughout every atom and infinitesimal point of the whole Kosmos, which has no

6.3.4 The names of God

Shifting the subject matter for a moment to the various names of/for God, Fox states that a
name means the nature or character of someone or something. To know the name of God is
to empower an individual, for the ‘knowing’ is the identification of the true nature of God, and
the more one knows the nature of God, the more one will understand one’s own true nature.

Fox states that God is the creator and the beginning of everything and all things that exist are
his expressions. He then remarks that ‘in Bible idiom the word “God” does not always stand
for God in the sense of the Universal Creator. It may mean your own Indwelling Christ, or True
Self, which, of course, is the Presence of God at the point where you are, for in your True Self
you are an individualization of God’ (Fox 1994:50–51) and this permits one to share in this

It is rather obvious that Fox does not have a specific theology. However, he does make a
distinction between the names Jehovah and Elohim. He states that when the Bible speaks of
the ‘Lord’, it means one’s concept or idea of God and not necessarily God as he really is.9 It is
his notion that the key to the name of the Lord is to be found ‘in what we call Jehovah, the
personalized God of the Old Testament’. It is here, he says, that one gets ‘a sense of God
expressing Himself as Man’. In other words, the ‘pure, unconditioned Being – I AM THAT I AM
– has now become differentiated as men and women’ (Fox 1993:208). It seems that the ‘One’
became the ‘many’ or the ‘separated’. The word ‘Elohim’ (or simply ‘God’), on the other hand,
is used when he is referring to the true God.

Others also believe that Jehovah is the God of Israel. Dr Jim J Hurtak (1996:581), social
scientist and futurist, comparative religionist, archaeologist, philosopher and author, as well as
founder and president of the Academy for Future Science, maintains that it is ‘the Greek
accepted form of the revealed God of Our Father Universe; Ye-ho-wah is the manifested
embodiment of YHWH to be known and loved as “the Sovereign Lord” directing the programs
of salvation in our universe’. Jehovah is regarded ‘as one of the Elohim’ (Blavatsky 1952c:85),
‘a family or even a race of Gods’, but certainly not and ‘nowhere pretends to be, and nowhere
is pretended to be the Universal Spirit’, as Le Poer Trench (1960:29, 31)10 states.

Blavatsky (1952b:187) points out that those nations that accused the ancient sages of
superstition ‘accept to this day as their one living and infinite God, the anthropomorphic
“Jehovah” of the Jews’. In an argument with those who accuse the esotericists of ‘believing in
operating “Gods” and “Spirits” while rejecting a personal God’, Blavatsky (1952b:215) says ‘we
answer to the Theists and Monotheists: Admit that your Jehovah is one of the Elohim, and we
are ready to recognize him. Make of him, as you do, the Infinite, the ONE and the Eternal God,
and we will never accept him in this character’.11

‘Elohim’ means ‘gods’, the plural form. However, it is not clear from Fox’s writings whether he
ever regarded ‘Elohim’ as being plural in form or as indicating many gods. According to his
writings, ‘Elohim’ refers to what he terms the true God. The following people in their
arguments all share the same objective, that of referring to Elohim in the plural form. Brinsley

Le Poer Trench (1960:27) points out that the Hebrew version of the Old Testament ‘uses the
word Elohim instead of God in Genesis, and that Elohim means Gods’.12 Blavatsky
(1952d:198), too, insists on the Elohim being plural (seven in number): ‘In the first chapter of
Genesis the word “God” represents the Elohim – Gods in the plural, not one God.’

Hurtak (1996:573) defines ‘Elohim’ as ‘the plural splendor of the Creator God … for it is the
“Creator Gods” who have created the world by the will of Yahweh’. He has also ascertained
that this name in its plural form appears frequently (over 2 500 times) in the Old Testament.
Another interesting remark from Hurtak (1996:573–574) is that Elohim is used for the higher
creation and it was ‘only after Enoch as a “father” gave birth “in time” (Gen 5:21), and “walked
with the true God” (Gen 5:22) that the Hebrew expression ha-Elohim, however, is introduced
in the Bible, as applying to the revealed Creator Divinity behind the veils of creation’. Could
this be a reflection of Fox’s true God (Elohim) that became the Lord (Jehovah), man’s concept
of God – the individualised and personalised God? It seems possible that through translations
(faulty ones, according to Blavatsky), we have arrived at different and even diverse
interpretations and therefore numerous perspectives. Possibly Fox shared a similar view to
that communicated by ‘The Christ’ (1986:33): ‘Many of your holy books and written scriptures
tell you that there is an omniscient, omnipresent, and ever expanding force, source, or energy
which is called by many names in many languages. “God” will do.’

Fox stated previously that God, the I AM THAT I AM, was differentiated into men and women. I
AM is the lost word and secret Name of God in us. It is our ‘true identity’; our ‘real name’; it is
‘Divine Spirit’, which is our ‘real eternal self’; it ‘was never born and will never die’ (Fox
1993:209, 213). Knowing this final name of God, says Fox, is what gives one power, because
it identifies one with the true nature of God. He remarks that a statement such as I AM elicits
the question, I am what? This requires a qualification, and when one completes the sentence,
one limits it. An answer such as ‘I am a man’ ‘means you are not a woman’ and such
qualifications ‘limit the expression in one way or another’ (Fox 1993:209–210). However, the
qualification of I AM THAT I AM does not limit any expression. It states the absolute … God!
Fox (1993:210) maintains that ‘God is unlimited, I AM THAT I AM, unexpressed, creative
power, Divine Mind waiting for expression’ and man is God’s expression. It is man’s oneness

with the divine that empowers a person and allows one to attach the I AM to all the attributes
of God (such as freedom, joy, health, success and abundance). I AM always connects one
with divine power because we are the I AM of the I AM THAT I AM. ‘It is the presence of God in
you. It insures that you can go direct to God, that you do not need any intermediary’ (Fox
1993:210). This last statement relates well to an earlier observation in which Wilber
distinguishes between the God of the subtle realm with whom one can bargain for one’s
salvation, and the God of the causal realm where all communication is transcended, for one
actually becomes that oneness.

Fox then points out that the name ‘Jehovah’ was given to the people and was later written
down in the Bible as a reminder of our oneness with God and that he is always present and of
assistance. ‘It is the knowledge that the love of God shines through and says, “I am your God
and you are my people. I AM THAT I AM but you are I AM, my beloved son in whom I am well
pleased”.’ In a closer look at this remark, as well as interpreting Fox’s thought, I obtain the
impression that if God had only said, ‘ I AM God’, it would indicate a pantheistic belief (God is
all). But because God said, ‘I AM THAT I AM’, and if the last ‘ I AM’ points to man, then it looks
more like a panentheistic point of view – not only God, but God is all, and all is God – the
interaction between God and The All. Hurtak (1996:572–573) also refers to this sacred union
or interplay between the divine identity and the individual identity as the I AM THAT I AM. It is
the ‘balance between the human/God partnership [or the] covenant between the human self
and the Christed Overself, and a knowing of one’s true identity, one’s destiny, and the keys to
the higher thresholds’.

On the other hand, Fox (1984:228–229) understands pantheism as giving ‘the outer world a
separate and substantial existence and says that it is part of God – including all the evil and
cruelty to be found in it’. This, he states, is not metaphysics. He continues: ‘The truth is that
God is the only Presence and the only Power, that He is entirely good, that evil is a false belief
about the Truth; and that the outer world is the out-picturing of our own minds.’ I assume Fox
means that pantheism includes in God all the bad of the outer world as well. And this is not
what he teaches. He insists that God is The All, but not separate from the world, for man is the
I AM of God and therefore part of the greater whole. It is because man is the individualised

expression of God that man is in essence also of this nature. I admit that it looks as if my
interpretation of Fox is more panentheistic than what he says himself – unless of course the
panentheistic view has been his intention all along?

Fox repeats that by using I AM one is bringing the power of God into one’s life. What one
brings will depend on how one uses the I AM. If one affirms that ‘I AM sick’, then disease or
bad health would be the demonstration. However, if one declares ‘I AM Mary Jones, the
Christ’,13 then an identification of oneself with the Eternal and the good is taking place. He
encourages his readers, even if it may sound a little strange to them, to affirm over and over
again their true nature rather than focus on the problem. He concludes by highlighting that ‘I
AM THAT I AM is the Great Name, and I AM is the greatest name short of that (Fox 1993:214).

6.3.5 A jealous God?

Addressing the matter of God being a jealous God, or a God that punishes and threatens
people, Fox is convinced that God does none of these things, for God is Love. A verse such
as ‘The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart’ becomes confusing to one who believes in a loving
and trusting God. If God does not bring these things upon people, then ‘punishment is the
natural result of thinking wrongly, acting wrongly – perhaps not intentionally, maybe through
ignorance – and the law carries it out’ (Fox 1979d:71). ‘The Christ’ (1986:170) agrees that
‘God does not punish.’ ‘You punish yourselves by non-loving behavior, dear ones.’ Elsewhere
Fox (1993:170) maintains that suffering in life is the natural working out of the law that ‘for
every action there is a corresponding reaction’. He suggests that we replace the word ‘Lord’
with ‘law’, for that is what is meant, and one will realise that God cannot do anything to
anyone, but our wrong thinking will bring about the necessary result for that is the law. Neither
can God be jealous, but the Bible uses words that we as humans can relate to.

Fox also believes that through orthodox theology we made idolatrous images of ourselves and
then called them God. He refers to instances in the Bible when God changed His mind, or was
disappointed, or wanted to test someone’s faith. If ‘the true God is infinite and unchanging
Good’, these things cannot ‘be really true of God’ (Fox 1984:78). Fox interprets Abraham’s

willingness to sacrifice Isaac, not as God testing his faith, but as being ‘Abraham’s idea of God
that led him to prepare to kill Isaac, and it was his higher self, his indwelling Christ, that saved
him from that tragedy’. Similarly, in the story of the flood: ‘It was the wickedness of mankind in
the antediluvian world that brought on the flood as a natural consequence, just as the fears,
hatreds, jealousies, and greed of mankind over the many years have brought on the present
war’ (Fox 1984:78).

Commenting on whether trouble and suffering are the will of God, Fox (1979b:9) insists that
the will of God for us is life, health, happiness and true self-expression and it is only in
connection with these things that we can say ‘Thy will be done’.

6.3.6 Closing thoughts on God

To conclude, Fox builds his whole understanding of metaphysics on certain basic principles.
One of these principles is that ‘God as Cause is perfect, that he individualizes Himself as man,
and that man by the exercise of his free will, can create or think good or evil’. Thinking good
thoughts would naturally lead to harmony with divine law and the result would be good. On the
other hand, if man were to think erroneous thoughts, he would limit himself as an expression
of God, and so would experience evil. To explain the nature of man and how he can change,
Fox comments that ‘good, which is the expression of God, is unchanging and eternal; whereas
error thoughts, though they cause pain and suffering for the moment, have no true substance
(or to use a technical term, “reality”), and therefore can be destroyed, or made to cease to
exist’. Fox, through the correct use of metaphysical science, does not deny the existence of
the physical world, but feels that it teaches us that our understanding of it is limited, faulty and
changing. He believes that it is our duty to work on our own consciousness ‘until we produce a
correct understanding which will mean for us the end of sin, sickness, and death’ (Fox

To return to Wilber’s holonic structure, one may ask, ‘Where is God?’ Is he more fundamental
and less significant or less fundamental and more significant? Does he fit into the lower or the
upper parts of this holarchy? Or is he the holarchy itself? If God fits into any specific part –

let’s say he is the fundamental building block of the universe – and is then taken away, all the
other levels ‘above’ it will also cease to exist. On the other hand, if God is the basis of all, then
there is no existence above or besides this, anyway. From a superficial glance, Fox’s religious
thinking about God does not fit into any of the quadrants in Wilber’s four-quadrant model.
However, these quadrants are not isolated portions of a greater whole, but, as Wilber has
repeatedly stated, form an interconnected web, integrated into a theory of everything.
Nonetheless, all four of the quadrants are present within Fox’s concept of God.

To return to Wilber’s example of a visitor to another country (above), hearing a concept about
God (lower-right) does not necessarily mean that it is understood in its original sense (lower-
left). In other words, one could be part of a social system and its beliefs, and still be an
outsider to its culture and its true meaning. Wilber explained that the ultimate wholeness lies
at the base of humanity’s consciousness, but because we do not understand it, or have not
consciously realised it, it becomes something ‘outside’ us – an ‘Other’. That is why, he says,
humanity needs an external or exterior and visible God to worship.

Fox and Wilber agree on the differentiation between the creator God, the God of Israel or
Jehovah, and the void-source God, or Elohim. God, to Fox, is everything all the time. Fox
separates God into various aspects and attributes (cf 6.3.3), which may even appear
contradictory at times, but he sees God as all the parts coming together into the One.

It appears that Fox’s thinking about God – the Elohim, the true God – fits into the upper-left
quadrant. The upper-right, with its exterior and analytical approach, is where Fox’s true God is
becoming the personalised God of the Old Testament, Jehovah. The social system in which
he finds himself believes that God is male, the only God, a transcendent God separated from
humanity and a father God doing things for his beloved children. In trying to fit into the exterior
social quadrant of the lower-right, he shapes his terminology and his viewpoint. However, it
does not mean that his students and readers have come to terms with his thoughts as he
understands them. In the lower-left corner he shares his thoughts in order to achieve mutual
understanding and reflection. He is explaining the interior concepts of a personal God, as well

as the power that everyone possesses, because the I AM of a person is divine. The knowledge
that I AM divine (the interior), according to Fox, leads to the manifestation (the exterior).

When the interiors (upper-left and lower-left) of the four-quadrant model co-exist, then the
demonstration takes place within the exteriors (upper-right and lower-right). In other words,
when a thought (upper-left) is explained in order to gain mutual understanding (lower-left),
then the answering of prayer becomes significantly noticeable as the actual healing within the
exterior quadrants. This is how a thought becomes a thing. This is probably the reason that
Fox (1944:28–29) is not so concerned about the immediate understanding of all the facts, or
with philosophical speculation,14 as he maintains. He is aware that once the thought of God is
manifested as a unique experience about God, the individual parts will interconnect into the
greater whole and, as Wilber proclaims, one then moves up the holonic ladder of

In my opinion Fox shuttles, knowingly or unknowingly, between the concepts of pantheism and
panentheism. His writings are predominantly of a ‘God is all’ nature, although there is
adequate substantiation of the thinking ‘God is all and all is God’. The latter is represented
most closely in his declaration of I AM THAT I AM. Here, the divine and the human are
integrated in an interesting and dynamic web of co-creation. This line of thought is typical of
the early New Thoughters. They seem very pantheistic in their descriptions of God, but they
regularly cross over into panentheism. Whether they were aware of the precise and
philosophic division and discussion between these two concepts is debateable. Then again,
this idea of God in all and all in God appears to have been the thought of the day in any case.
Although the term ‘panentheism’ did not appear in the writings of these early New Thought
leaders, they agree that ‘God is in us as we are in God’ (Holmes 1938:87) and according to
Divine Science ‘I in God and God in me’, as well as ‘God-Mind includes you and me’ (James
and Cramer 1957:51, 63). Fox mostly uses a more traditional and very personal terminology to
discuss the concept of ‘God’. Then again, he skilfully introduces his readers to an ‘other’
perspective. He constantly plants the seeds for thinking in a new way about existing views. His

ability to be instrumental in the transformation of one level of consciousness into the next
designates him a bridge-builder.


Emmet Fox declares that Jesus was the most misunderstood man of his time. Actually, the
very existence of Jesus seems debateable. Because the discourse over the Jesus Christ story
continues, and consensus over this issue is still a point in the future, this discussion will focus
briefly on the differences between the titles and teachings of Jesus and Christ and Fox’s
interpretations and beliefs. (His beliefs will become clearer in the chapter on biblical exegesis.)
Ken Wilber’s evolutionary model, as well as the thoughts of some prominent New Thought
scholars, will provide the framework for Fox’s religious thinking.

Lloyd M Graham, the author of the controversial book Deceptions and myths of the Bible
(subtitled Is the Holy Bible holy? Is it the Word of God?), pleads for a metaphysical revolution
that will change humanity inwardly and, according to him, it will not be a religious revolution,
but ‘the return of the wisdom-knowledge of the cosmos’, which will bring that ‘new dimension
of consciousness and right orientation with Reality’ so long denied by religion. ‘The latter
[religion] we know, is sacred to millions, but it’s the sacred that’s blinding us. Criticism, we
know, is shocking to millions, but “a shock upon our minds is long overdue”’, according to Max
Frankel (in Graham 1979:436). Matthew Fox too calls for a much-needed paradigm shift within
religion and theology – a movement away from anthropocentrism back to the Cosmic Christ.
‘The quest for the historical Jesus has dominated christological studies for two centuries’, but
this happened at the expense of the Cosmic Christ (Fox 1988:78).

Ken Wilber (1995:179) noticed a general progress on all levels of his great chain of being
model. Particularly with humanity’s consciousness having reached level 4, egoic-rational (he
places it from the middle of the first millennium BCE to about the sixteenth century), there was
a new type of ‘looking within’. The emphasis shifted from ‘What is there to know?’ to ‘How can
I know it?’ The common theme was ‘look within’. This was the fundamental message of Jesus
of Nazareth: ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is within.’ 15 Emmet Fox agrees that human destiny has

turned a corner. The vast political upheavals of his time are indications of ‘the change in the
race mentality’ and the readiness for the second coming of the Christ, which is the day that
one obtains one’s ‘own personal, living, divine contact with God’ (Fox 1993:186–187).

To return to the great chain of being (chapter 4), Ken Wilber reminds us of the evolutionary
advance of Christ’s revelation that ‘I and the Father are One’. This was the shift from level 6,
the subtle Sambhogakaya level, to level 7, the causal Dharmakaya level. He also refers to the
sameness within the Upanishads of ‘Thou art That’, which indicates that ‘you and God are
ultimately one’ (Wilber 1996:255–256). Christ, who faced the old Mosaic law of the external
One God of the Sambhogakaya level, challenged it, and therefore was crucified, because
‘you, being a man, make yourself out God’. Wilber 1996:256) explains:

That is, he was crucified because he dared to evolve from the Sambhogakaya – where the subject-object
dualism remains in a subtle form, and where therefore the dualism between Creator and creature remains
in a subtle form – to the Dharmakaya – where subject and object reduce to prior oneness, and where
therefore God and soul reduce to prior Godhead, or the Void of the Supreme Identity.

Wilber (1995:172–173) contends that

in each epoch, the most advanced mode of the time – in a very small number of individuals existing in
relational exchange in microcommunities (lodges, academies, sanghas) of the similarly depthed – began to
penetrate not only into higher modes of ordinary cognition (the Aristotles of the time) but also into
genuinely transcendental, transpersonal, mystical stages of awareness (the Buddhas of the time).

Thus, in level 2, the magical, the most advanced mode seems to have been in the psychic,
level 5, resulting in a couple of shamans or pioneers of yogic awareness; when the
consciousness advanced to level 3, the mythological, the higher perception came from level 6,
the subtle, with some saints; and when it reached level 4, the mental-egoic, the highest
awareness came from level 7, the causal, represented by some sages. However, the average
mode of the mythological epoch did not reach these more advanced levels. For this level of
consciousness myths were still interpreted as concrete-literal. For example, Moses actually
did part the Red Sea, a historical fact. Culturally (lower-left), one’s belief systems were
determined by the norm of the day.

With the expansion of consciousness, when humanity moved into Wilber’s level 4, rationality
meant that one could now reflect on one’s own thoughts and patterns of behaviour. For the
first time in this evolutionary process one could seek viable reasons for one’s beliefs. For
example, did Moses part the Red Sea? Why should I believe this? Or what does ‘parted the
Red Sea’ mean? Questioning the validity and historicity of myths led to a clash between myth
and newly emerging reason. This resulted in the rationalisation of myths, and this is why
Wilber called this level mythic-rational. Historically, at the same time, the social level (lower-
right) developed from tribal villages into empires and finally emerged into nations and states. It
was this progress that altered the consciousness into one of ‘looking within’.

Wilber (1995:253) regards Christ and other spiritual figures not as ‘figures of the past’, but
‘figures of the future’. He maintains that

they cannot be explained as an inheritance from the past; they are strange Attractors lying in our future,
omega points that have not been collectively manifested anywhere in the past, but are nonetheless
available to each and every individual as structural potentials, as future structures attempting to come
down, not past structures struggling to come up.

Few individuals managed to go beyond the magic, mythic and rational eras into the
transrational and transpersonal domains. Those such as Christ (Buddha and Patanjali for
example), whose transrational teachings were about ‘the release from individuality’, were
sadly snapped up by the masses and interpreted within the magic, mythic and egoic terms as
‘the salvation of the individual soul’, a ‘grotesque notion’ (Wilber 1995:265).

One must bear in mind a very important and significant statement that Wilber (1995:329)
made earlier: ‘This world is not a sin; forgetting that “this world” is the radiance and Goodness
of Spirit – there is the sin.’ It is thus the recollection, the remembrance of source and that
one’s true nature is divine that brings about enlightenment. Wilber (1995:329) insists that
‘enlightenment or awakening (bodhi, moksha) is not a bringing into being of that which was
not, but a realizing of that which always already is’. This, to him, is what Christ meant when he
said ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’

6.4.1 Jesus and Christ: the human and the divine

Wilber’s last statement that one’s true nature is divine has provided ongoing debate among
many academics. It is also an avowal with which most New Thought and mystical scholars
agree. Another major point of discussion, especially as expressed in esoteric writings, is the
belief that ‘in the life and person of Jesus Christ two distinct and different individuals are
involved’. One is the historical Jesus, ‘an initiate of high spiritual development who was born in
Bethlehem and grew to manhood’, whereas the other entered the story with Jesus’ baptism by
John, when evidently ‘Jesus allowed his body to be used by the Christ, the Teacher of Angels
and Men’ to carry out his mission on earth (Peterson 1986:153). Emmet Fox states that the
Christ is not Jesus, but Jesus expressed the Christ more fully than anyone else. The Christ is
the active presence of God, the incarnation of God in living men and women. ‘In the history of
all races’, Fox (1993:188) says, ‘The Cosmic Christ has incarnated in man – Buddha, Moses,
Elijah, and in many other leaders and teachers, but never to the degree the Christ manifested
in Jesus.’ The reason he gives is that Jesus, more than any other, had made himself aware of
the Christ power.

Phineas Parkhurst Quimby makes the distinction that ‘Jesus was a carpenter’, whereas ‘Christ
is God’. He also comments that: ‘The inner man is Christ’ (or the spiritual man). Thus he says:
‘Jesus was the name of a man and Christ was the Truth’, and it indicates ‘All One’ (Hawkins
1984:33, 42). Emmet Fox believes that Jesus’ life is a dramatisation of the Christed soul, the
soul that has chosen the spiritual path, just as everything in the Bible and within one’s own life
is a dramatisation of one’s soul. For this reason, he argues, Jesus’ life has many diagrams for
living within it.

Fox (1993:143) maintains that Jesus was God, but he always adds that ‘so are we’. ‘The
totality of God could not be limited in a human form. Jesus was the expression of God, the
individualization of God, just like each one of us is.’ He then remarks that although Jesus was
God, he was not infinite spirit. This statement leads one to enquire whether Fox makes a
distinction between God and infinite spirit. Is infinite spirit superior to the concept of God?
Throughout Fox’s writings he is of the firm belief that God is infinite spirit, the One that cannot

be destroyed, that God is principle, the unchangeable. It seems that Fox reserves the concept
of ‘infinite spirit’ for the highest possible thought about God, and uses the concept of God
whenever a person is involved – God individualising himself as man. He demonstrates the
difference between Jesus, who ‘knew he was God’ and us, who ‘only hope and vaguely
believe we are, but we do not know’. For when we know, ‘then we shall be able to do the
works that Jesus did, as he promised we should’ (Fox 1993:143–144).

Yogi Ramachakara also believes that Jesus’ consciousness prior to his birth was of a more
profound and divine nature. This yogi and mystic highlights the mystery of the life of Jesus,
which ‘forms the subject of some important inner Teachings of the Mystic Fraternities and
Occult Brotherhoods’. These mysteries include his virgin birth, a soul ‘fresh from the hand of
the Creator’, ‘free from taint’, and ‘not bound by the Karma of previous incarnations’
(Ramachakara 1935:183). To fulfil his role and purpose on earth, a world-saviour, Jesus had
to enter the karmic circle of humanity. Jesus was indeed different from other souls for, ‘being a
free soul animated by Pure Spirit, Jesus was A GOD – not a man, although inhabiting the
fleshly garments of humanity’. Ramachakara (1935:186) then points out Jesus’ superior power
and that he was ‘Pure Spirit incarnate in human form, with all the powers of a God. Although
of course subordinate in expression to the Absolute – the Great Spirit of Spirit – he was in his
essential nature the same in substance. Truly, as he himself said, ‘I and the Father are One’.
Such a God could not raise the consciousness of the world from the outside. To perform his
work, he had to place himself within the ‘Circle of Influence’ – he entered into the earth’s
karma. His knowledge of his real self, the God Within, which was within him and all men, gave
him the strength and the courage to overcome the temptations of the earth-things.

Fox (1979b:6) insists that the more we focus and dwell on this perfection – ‘each one of us
has a Divine Self which is spiritual and perfect’, the ‘true man’, the ‘Christ within’ – the more
outer appearances improve. Elsewhere he refers to the mystics, who testify ‘that when any
man or woman gets a larger concept of God, then his or her personal affairs will change for
the better, far better than it was possible to imagine’ (Fox 1993:187). The expression ‘saluting
the Christ in him’ is precisely the same as ‘judge not according to appearances but judge
righteous judgment’, says Fox, and therefore he advises one always to look for the divine in

other people, especially if there is an inharmonious condition. Quimby (in Hawkins 1984:22)
also believes that one’s divine nature gives one dominion and ‘if this law could be understood,
it would rid us of all evil beliefs that are bound in the natural or carnal man’.

New Thought teaching in general supports these ideas. Divine Science teaches that Jesus
was completely aware of the truth, for the knowledge of his divine origin made him declare
that ‘I and my Father are one’, and ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life’. If all is indeed spirit,
then man and God cannot be separated. ‘Our divine nature – our real Self – is the Christ our
hope of glory’, maintains Divine Science. ‘Just as Jesus became the Christ, so this is the
latent possibility and destiny for the individual – each one will become Christed’ (James and
Cramer 1957:73, 116). Emerson (1926:207) reminds us: ‘Ineffable is the union of man and
God in every act of the soul. The simplest person who in his integrity worships God, becomes
God.’ Quimby (in Seale 1986:83) regards Christ as ‘the God in man’. Emma Curtis Hopkins,
former student of Mary Baker Eddy and hailed as the ‘Mother of New Thought’, states that one
arrives at the Good/God by the Jesus Christ method only. ‘The Jesus Christ method is the
Truth method. Jesus Christ means Truth. It is God. It is all the God there is. It is Principle –
high Principle.’ And when one unites with this power, with God, it is like being married to it.
She states: ‘Jesus Christ was married to God in that He was united to His understanding’
(Hopkins [sa]:25, 70–71). Ernest Holmes (1938:485) comments: ‘The inner Spirit, which is
God, bears witness to the divine fact that we are the sons of God, the children of the Most
High. As sons of God, we are heirs to the heaven of reality; joint heirs with Christ.’

Jesus has been acknowledged as Saviour (Fox). Wilber (1996:256) describes him as ‘a true
Spiritual Guide helping all to become sons and daughters of God’. The Gnostics believed that
Jesus came as a guide to open access to spiritual understanding rather than to save one from
sin. His role was that of teacher, revealer and spiritual master. Troward (1915:136) recognises
Christ as ‘the Mediator between God and Man, not by the arbitrary fiat of a capricious Deity,
but by a logical law of sequence which solves the problem of making extremes meet, so that
the Son of Man is also the Son of God’ and this allows everyone to receive the power ‘to
become ourselves sons of God’. This, to Troward, is ‘the dénouement of the Creative Process
in the Individual’. ‘Jesus Christ is called the Mediator of the New Covenant’, comments

Hopkins ([sa]:92–93), ‘because He teaches that by His principle we have an easy yoke and a
light burden.’ ‘New Thought’, say Anderson and Whitehouse (1995:45), ‘sees Jesus as a role
model, the wayshower, our elder brother.’

Most scholars confirm repeatedly that we humans, like Jesus, are made in the image and
likeness of our creator. ‘This is our great hope’, maintain New Thoughters Anderson and
Whitehouse (1995:45), ‘that we can emulate him because we are like him in kind, if not in
degree.’ He himself told us: ‘Greater works than these shall (ye) do’ (John 14:12)’. In the
Gnostic gospels, this thought is reaffirmed, that whoever ‘have drunk from the bubbling stream
which I have measure out’, says Jesus, ‘He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am;
I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him’ (Pagels
1981:xx). Jesus, having obtained this power, accepted his Christhood and lived as the Christ,
but nevertheless stated, according to Divine Science, that he fully understood that ‘he had no
special power; that all are Sons of God and that the same power which he used is available to
all’ (James and Cramer 1957:140).

6.4.2 The Jesus Christ teaching

Fox (1979c:73), and many like-minded thinkers, sums up the whole of Jesus Christ’s teaching
in these words: ‘For behold the Kingdom of God is within you.’ This is the concurrent theme of
the Gnostic gospels. As cited above (5.4.1), The Gospel according to Thomas (1959:3)
declares that ‘the Kingdom is within you and it is without you.’ Thus, the kingdom of God is not
a specific place and must not be interpreted in literal terms. With this statement Jesus taught
humanity the nature of God and thereby one’s own nature. Consequently Fox regards Jesus
Christ as the most important figure to have ever appeared in the history of mankind and
through his life and death, as well as his teachings, to have influenced the course of human
history more than any other.

‘It is of no use to preach to me from without’, says Emerson (1926:203–204). ‘I can do that too
easily myself. Jesus speaks always from within, and in a degree that transcends all others. In
that is the miracle. That includes the miracle.’ Jesus made it quite clear that many still did not

understand the inner teachings that he brought and taught.

And when He was alone, they that were about Him with the twelve asked of Him the parables. And He said
unto them, ‘Unto you is given the mystery of the kingdom of God; but unto them that are without, all things
are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not
understand’ (Ramacharaka 1935:212).

It was a great calamity, says Yogi Ramacharaka, when the church departed from these inner
teachings, an error from which the church is still suffering. Well-known occultist Eliphias Levi
(in Ramacharaka 1935:222) said:

A great misfortune befell Christianity. The betrayal of the Mysteries by the false Gnostics – for the
Gnostics, that is, those who know, were the Initiates of primitive Christianity – caused the Gnosis to be
rejected, and alienated the Church from the supreme truths of the Kabbala, which contains all the secrets
of transcendental theology.

Fox (1942:5) too reminds New Thought teachers not to come ‘between the individual soul and
God’. In other words, they should not commit the age-old mistake of organised religion, in
which the material channel (the teacher, the dogma or the church) gradually takes the place of
the ‘individual divine contact’. Fox (1993:183, 185) emphasises that Jesus never wanted his
followers to worship his personality, for ‘as long as people looked to a person or an institution,
a man or a church, they were missing the divine thing within themselves’. He repeatedly
stressed that ‘each one must get his own contact with God’. All the great teachers in all
branches of knowledge, including Jesus, have said ‘Don’t rely on me, rely on the teaching’
(Fox 1993:184). Anderson and Whitehouse (1995:45) also remind their readers not merely to
believe in Jesus, as the traditional churches taught, but to believe Jesus. In other words,
‘believe what the man said and to try it out for yourself’.

Quimby (in Seale 1986:132) states that ‘Jesus tried to establish the kingdom of truth in man so
that men could teach it, but man was not developed enough to receive it’. This seems to be
the reason that Jesus never answered the disciples directly. He always pointed them in the
direction of self-discovery by asking questions or making a so-called contradictory statement.
For example, when Jesus was asked, ‘Who are you?’ he answered, ‘You do not realize who I
am from what I say to you.’ When they asked him to show them the place of life, he responded

with: ‘Every one (of you) who has known himself has seen it.’ The disciple of the Gnostics
‘learns what he needs to know by himself in meditative silence’ (Pagels 1981:158). To the
Gnostics, Jesus’ role, although one of teacher and spiritual master, is only a provisional
measure, for once the disciple comes into his awakening, he and his teacher become one.
This is what Emerson (1926:109) understood when he informed his readers:

He teaches who gives, and he learns who receives. There is no teaching until the pupil is brought into the
same state or principle in which you are; a transfusion takes place; he is you and you are he; then is a
teaching, and by no unfriendly chance or bad company can he ever quite lose the benefit.

Emerson (1926:105) expresses this same idea in a different way: ‘Our eyes are holden that
we cannot see things that stare us in the face, until the hour arrives when the mind is ripened
– then we behold them, and the time when we saw them not is like a dream.’

According to Fox, the message of the whole Bible is summed up in the single phrase, ‘As you
believe, so shall it be done unto you.’ He refers to Jesus’ belief in eternal life and his
resurrecting demonstration. He also reminds his readers that Jesus said ‘and greater works
than these shall ye do’. We have not yet performed these miracles, says Fox (1939:18),
because we do not believe. These ‘greater works’ will be done when we believe, ‘not as a
limited personality, but we believe we can do it in virtue of our oneness with God’. And this to
Fox is the New Thought message.


In bringing this chapter on the social-cultural quadrants to a close, two concepts should be
mentioned, namely Emmet Fox’s thoughts on church and structure; and the spiritual practice
of tithing. Although these perceptions will not be dealt with extensively, they complete the
picture of Fox’s religious thoughts.

6.5.1 Church and structure

Fox (1979a:129) is clear that organised religion breeds grave dangers and that the

accumulation of property, which is ‘an evil which overtakes almost every well organized
church sooner or later’, is so powerful and subtle that it excludes anyone from participation
who does not agree with its ways. In an interpretation of the Book of Isaiah, Fox reminds his
readers that when they are successful in prayer, in other words, when they are conscious of
the presence of God, the ‘way’ becomes a ‘highway’. This implies that every person can use a
highway – it is for all – and not the exclusive right of any group or organisation. Most religious
movements, especially the older and greater ones, taught about the path and how to enter
onto it. ‘But’, says Fox (1979a:129), it is ‘treated, not as a highway, but as a private road
fenced in by themselves, to the gates of which they alone held the keys’. If one focuses on this
exclusiveness and forgets that the path is a highway, then we are in danger of repeating the
old mistakes.

The only right way or religion to follow is to consciously know your own indwelling Lord. Fox is
aware of the numerous church leaders who, exploiting their own personalities, discourage
their students from going elsewhere for enlightenment or help. ‘What is this but the jealousy of
the petty tradesman who warns a doubtful customer of the danger he runs in going to the shop
next door’ (Fox 1979a:143). He believes that this loyalty to something other than God is
blocking the avenue of truth. He also regards the building up of vested interests in wealthy
organisations, or the exploitation by individuals of their own personalities as grave dangers to
true religion. The danger that an organised church is facing is development into an industry
that concentrates more on the ranking, filing and providing a living for a number of officials,
creating a tradition of loyalty to an organisation, rather than loyalty to the truth or to one’s own
soul. Fox (1979a:143) therefore reminds his readers that ‘you absolutely owe no loyalty
whatever to anything or anyone but your own soul and to the furtherance of its spiritual
development’. He was not a man to build structures around his teachings or himself and he
often encouraged his congregations to seek truth wherever they could get it. He believed that:
‘The history of orthodox Christianity is largely made up on attempts to enforce all sorts of
external observances upon the people’, whereas Jesus made a special point of discouraging
emphasis on outer observances (Fox 1979c:75). Could this way of thinking reflect on Wilber’s
four quadrant model? In this model he often referred to one being part of a social system and
at the same time excluded from the cultural arena. It thus appears that the actual physical and

theological structure of the church, which teaches concepts, dogmas and philosophies, is part
of the social system (lower-right), while the inner meanings, which are totally ignored,
misinterpreted or even rejected because of a lack of true understanding, result in not being
part of the culture (lower-left).

6.5.2 Tithing

Fox decided to address the issue of tithing because of the number of inquiries about it, not to
mention the apparent confusion in people’s minds. The practice of tithing has been a life-long
habit with many truth students and is prescribed in numerous places in the Bible: ‘Bring the
whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the
Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much
blessing that you will not have room enough for it’ (Malachi 3:10). ‘A tithe of everything from
the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the
Lord’ (Leviticus 27:30). ‘Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops;
then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine’
(Proverbs 3:9–10). ‘Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken
together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be
measured to you’ (Luke 6:38).

Dorothy Elder (1992:21), student of metaphysical and mystical philosophies, as well as a New
Thought adherent, defines tithing as ‘giving one tenth of one’s income to the source of one’s
spiritual good’. This definition is confirmed by New Thought minister Margaret Stevens 16
(1982:68): ‘Giving ten percent to God’s work is called tithing.’ Elder and Stevens are in
agreement that the tithe should go to a person or organisation through which one’s good
comes. Robert Schuller, well-known Reformed Church minister and one of the strongest
sources of New Thought principles outside the movement itself, admits that tithing ten per cent
off the top of his salary cheque to give to God was the third most important decision in his life.
He challenges everyone to try it, for he believes that it transformed his life and his destiny. ‘A
tithe is not a debt we owe [he argues] it is a fertile seed we sow’ (Schuller 1983:317). Fox
maintains that the truth about tithing is that those who set aside ten per cent of their net

incomes to the service of God – not with the primary motive of getting, but simply because
they feel that it is right to do it – find that their prosperity increases by leaps and bounds, until
all fear of poverty disappears.

There is consensus among New Thought believers over the principle behind prosperity: ‘There
is just one basic substance, which is God, who is both the substance itself and the Source of
that substance’ (Stevens 1982:67). This realisation that God is the source of all one’s good,
maintains Fox, is the spiritual way to understand tithing. William Warch, another New
Thoughter, remarks that acknowledgement of God as the only source ‘must be accompanied
by an outer action, that of tithing’ (Warch 1990:96), for it involves one in commitment to God.

Og Mandino (1981:67), known by millions of readers for his best-selling book The greatest
salesman in the world, stresses some New Thought principles in becoming successful. These
include the concept that ‘what you plant now, you will harvest later’. This sentiment is shared
by Fox (1994:159): ‘whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap; and that no man
escapes the Law’, and by Ernest Holmes (1983a:89), who insists: ‘We cannot avoid the Law
so we may as well learn how to use It in the right way. The Law so works that as we believe
so we shall experience.’

Fox reminds his readers that there is not the least obligation upon anyone to tithe at all until he
or she reaches the state of consciousness when he or she prefers to do so. He actually feels
that it is better not to give until one is ready. ‘To give grudgingly or with misgivings from a
supposed sense of duty is really to give from a sense of fear, and no prosperity ever came out
of fear’ (Fox 1994:157). On the other hand, the payment of a tithe is an extremely efficient act
of faith. He highlights a common trend among students, who in pressing times feel that it is
impossible for them to tithe, but they propose to do so as soon as circumstances improve.
This is to miss the point, argues Fox (1994:157–158), for ‘the greater the present necessity,
the greater the need for tithing, for we know that the present difficulties can only be due to
one’s mental attitude and that circumstances cannot improve until there is a change in the
mental attitude’. Appreciating New Thought’s emphasis on the dominant characteristic of God
as mind, thinking or thought is the key to attaining success in life. Mandino (1981:78)

maintains: ‘The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, or a hell of
heaven’, and this is ‘the greatest success in the world’.

Consciousness of prosperity in New Thought ‘has to do with believing in an abundant universe

with plenty for all’, whereas ‘lack and limitation are simply indications of our limited
perspective’ (Anderson and Whitehouse 1995:129–130). Emmet Fox (1979c:325) explains
that there is no limit to divine abundance, for ‘the only limit is the limit of our capacity to
receive’. For example, he continues, there are billions upon billions of gallons of water in the
ocean. However, the amount that one can carry away will depend upon the size of the

In closing, tithing, according to Fox, does not include general charity or material giving.
Tithing, and prosperity, is indeed a natural outflow of the cosmic law that what we give out, we
shall receive back. Again the concept of ‘tithing’ can be divided into the left and right sectors of
Wilber’s model. The question is whether the affirmation of God as the source of everything is
the inner (left) spiritual way of understanding a concept such as tithing, and whether the actual
giving or paying of the tithe represents the outer demonstration of this inner belief? New
Thoughters agree on the inner knowing (God is source) and the actual outer action, they call
tithing. If this argument is acceptable, it is in accordance with the previous example that one
can be part of a social system (lower-right) and perform the outer action of tithing. On the
other hand, this does not indicate the true and spiritual (lower-left), as well as inner
understanding of the process itself. To give because it is expected because of a dogma or
social system’s belief is to mock the inner meaning. As New Thoughters, and Fox in particular
have stated repeatedly, tithing becomes the outer and measurable act of an inner and spiritual


1 Valentinus (c140) was a Gnostic teacher and poet who travelled from Egypt to teach in Rome. He claimed to
have learned Paul’s secret teaching from one of his own disciples (Pagels 1981:16, 18).

2 ‘Demiurgos’ is the Greek term for ‘creator’. It suggests a lesser divine being who serves as the instrument of
the higher powers. ‘It is not God’, he explains, ‘but the demiurge who reigns as king and lord, who acts as a
military commander, who gives the law and judges those who violate it – in short, he is the “God of Israel”’
(Pagels 1981:44).

3 Wilber (1995:506) recognises the idealist movement as ‘the last great attempt to introduce true Ascent and,
most important, to integrate it believably with true Descent – the Ego and the Eco both taken up, preserved
and negated, honored and released, in all-encompassing Spirit’. The thrust of the Idealist movement can be
summarised as

a. an intuition of the transpersonal domain expressed in vision-logic. As vision-logic, it was a

developmental evolution beyond simple formal operational rationality, a move beyond
instrumental and ego-centered rationality (Verstand) into dialogical, dialectical, intersubjective
reason (Vernunft), carrying with it a unifying of opposites and a reconciliation of fragments. As
holoarchic vision-logic, it saw neither isolated wholes nor abandoned parts: each stage of
development was a whole/part that preserved and negated its predecessors.

b. It points out ‘since every holon is simultaneously both a subholon and a superholon, then all
agency is always agency-in-communion’. Thus, ‘nothing is lost, all is preserved’ (Wilber
1995:507). The first collapse of this movement was the ‘failure to develop any truly injunctive
practices’. In other words, there were ‘no yoga, no contemplative practices, no meditative
paradigms, no experimental methodology to reproduce in consciousness the transpersonal
insights of its founders. The great Idealist systems were mistaken for metaphysics.’

c. The second failure was that the intuitions and insights (its major driving force) ‘burdened Reason
with a task it could never carry’. As with Hegel, ‘the transpersonal and transrational Spirit
becomes wholly identified with vision-logic or mature Reason, which condemns Reason to
collapsing under a weight it could never carry’ (Wilber 1995:509).

4 I – Inside, immanent; O – Outside, transcendent; U – Upstairs, inactive, changeless, eternal; D – Downstairs,

active, growing, temporal.

5 The wisdom of Swami Shankarananda was revealed when one of the Ashramites dropped a cup, which
shattered. To this, Swamiji responded with a glint in his eye, saying, ‘The One has become the many’ (A
tribute to Swami Shankarananda 2001:2).

6 Teachers of Gnostism disagreed on the meaning of words. Some insisted that ‘divine is to be considered
masculofeminine – the ‘great male-female power”’. Others claimed that the terms were meant ‘only as
metaphors, since, in reality, the divine is neither male nor female’. Then a third group suggests that one can
describe ‘the primal Source in either masculine or feminine terms, depending on which aspect one intends to
stress’ (Pagels 1981:61).

7 The Gnostics are in accord with this belief when they state that ‘self-knowledge is knowledge of God; the self
and the divine are identical’ and ‘to know oneself, at the deepest level, is simultaneously to know God’
(Pagels 1981:xix). This thought is confirmed by Emerson and the teachings of the Vedas, which state that
‘Man is the reflection of God; but the reflection cannot exist without the object reflected; so man must know
what God is, if he would know himself’ (Paramananda 1985:49–50).

8 Judge Thomas Troward, one of the most outstanding British New Thought leaders, spent most of his active
career in India and the latter part of it as a judge in what is now Pakistan. He valued the teachings of
Emerson highly and he was influential in shaping the thinking of Ernest Holmes.

9 Fox (1994:71) uses the text of Exodus 10:1, where the Lord has hardened Pharaoh’s heart, as an example.
He suggests it was ‘Pharaoh’s own (mistaken) idea of God’ that ‘hardened his heart, not that the true God did

10 Brinsley Le Poer Trench, former editor of the popular aviation magazine Flying Saucer Review and author of
The sky people, believes that the visitors to this planet in Atlantean and biblical times are with us today. The
distinctive approach of someone such as Le Poer Trench challenges established traditions. Besides
providing the reader with a wider perspective, he introduces another dimension that is still unheard of and

11 Blavatsky (1952b:215–216) continues this line of reasoning: ‘Of tribal Gods there were many; the One
Universal Deity is a principle, an abstract Root-Idea, which has nought to do with the unclean work of finite
form. We do not worship the Gods, we only honour Them, as beings superior to ourselves. In this we obey

the Mosaic injunction, while Christians disobey their Bible – missionaries foremost of all. ‘Thou shalt not
revile the Gods’, says one of them – Jehovah – in Exodus xxii,28; but at the same time in verse 20 it is
commanded: ‘He that sacrificeth to any God, save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed’. Now in
the original texts it is not ‘God’ but Elohim – and we challenge contradiction – and Jehovah is one of the
Elohim, as proved by his own words in Genesis iii,22, when “the Lord God said: Behold the Man is become
as one of us’’.’

12 Brinsley Le Poer Trench (1960:27, 31) points out that references to the ‘gods’ can still be found in the King
James version of the Bible. In Genesis 1:26: ‘Let us make man in our image’; Genesis 3:22: ‘Behold, the man
is become as one of us’; Genesis 11:7: ‘Let us go down, and there confound their language’; 1 Samuel 4:8:
‘Woe unto us ! Who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods ? These are the Gods …’.

13 The Supreme Master Ching Hai said in her address to the 1999 Parliament of the World’s Religions that we
are from God and therefore we must have the same surname. We have just forgotten our family name and
heritage. We should introduce ourselves as ‘Hi, I am Mary GOD’ and not Mary Jones (to use Fox’s example).

14 ‘Theoretical knowledge’, says Emerson (in Paramananda 1985:56), ‘is not dependable knowledge’, and
‘intellectual knowledge leads us into an ever-increasing tangle of diversity; while direct vision always
simplifies and leads to fundamental unity’. Evelyn Underhill (1937:51–52) sums it up by stating: ‘So, while we
must avoid too much indefiniteness and abstraction on one hand, we must also avoid hard and fast
definitions on the other hand. For no words in our human language are adequate or accurate when applied to
spiritual realities; and it is the saints and not the sceptics who have most insisted on this. “No knowledge of
God which we get in this life is true knowledge,” says St John of the Cross. It is always confused, imperfect,
oblique. Were it otherwise, it would not be knowledge of God.’

15 Wilber (1995:179) summarises the essential message of Gautama the Buddha: ‘Don’t worry about gods,
goddesses, spirits, the afterlife, any of that – rather, look very carefully at the nature of your own subject, your
own self, and try to penetrate to the bottom of that, for if enlightenment exists, it lies through an
understanding of (and going beyond) the subject itself.’ Wilber states that this is indeed ‘radically, radically

16 Dr Margaret Stevens, previously from the Santa Anita Church in Arcadia, Los Angeles, in association with Dr
June Jones, the leader of the Association of Creative Thought in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, formulated a
course for young New Thought students from South Africa to attend. It was through this agreement that many
South Africans, including myself, received ordination into the New Thought movement.



In this chapter the discussion of Emmet Fox’s religious thought continues against the social
and cultural background of Wilber’s four-quadrant model (as in chapter 6). Since the two lower
halves of the model, the lower-left and the lower-right, suggest shared experiences, it
necessitates a look into one of the most universal phenomena, death and dying. An extremely
searching question is why some people seem to have everything in this life, wealth, health,
success, happiness and longevity, and others have to suffer poverty, disease, handicaps,
undeserved failure or even death immediately after birth? Why should this be, we ask, if God
is indeed a God of Love, one who is just and powerful? Emmet Fox assures us that in order to
provide meaningful answers to this daunting question one should note that men and women
are not born free and equal, but are created free and equal, which is quite a different thing.
Because they are not born free and equal, they start this life like horses in a handicap race:
‘no two bearing an equal burden’ (Fox 1979a:234). As a further explanation he suggests that
we look into the possibility that this life we are living is not the only life we have had. According
to him, we have lived many lives before, and whatever we thought, said or did in those
existences, whether good or bad, finds its natural outcome in this life. Whatever we have sown
in our previous lives, we are reaping in this present one.

The concept of immortality, or existence after physical death, as well as the prediction of
radical changes to occur in humanity’s future, is common to all the major religions. It is also
being explored with significant results by the larger scientific community of today. A topic of
such magnitude needs proper investigation and discussion. However, in this chapter, the
focus will be mainly on Emmet Fox’s religious thinking regarding concepts such as death,
dying, reincarnation and the end times. His line of thought will be compared to other religious


In the East the process of dying and the death of a human being are freely acknowledged (not
shunned and dreaded) and are profound experiences. Tibet’s famous poet saint, Milarepa (in
Sogyal 1998:12), says, ‘My religion is to live – and die – without regret … This thing called
“corpse” we dread so much is living with us here and now.’ Although death is a mystery, there
are two things one can be sure about: ‘It is absolutely certain that we will die, and it is
uncertain when or how we will die’ (Sogyal 1998:15). By implication Fox agrees
wholeheartedly with Eastern thought and believes that there is no death.

7.1.1 Death defined

Although they may be expressed, phrased or interpreted differently, it seems that many
religious teachings share comparable insights into the concept of life after death. When a
‘person seems to die’, Fox (1979a:202) remarks, ‘all that happens is that he leaves his body
here and goes over onto the next plane, otherwise unchanged. He falls asleep here to wake
up on the other side minus his physical body (which was probably more or less damaged) but
enriched with the knowledge that he has not really died.’ New Thought in general changes the
term ‘death’ to expressions such as ‘transition’ or ‘the soul has gone on to the next

As an example of topical discussions, Dr Raymond Moody, a Georgian physician, gives

evidence in his well-known book Life after life of near-death experiences, as well as many
accounts of those who were diagnosed as clinically dead, only to be resuscitated to this
reality. In the cases he researched the subjects clearly remember their existence in the other
realms. Moody (1977:89-90) says that all the people he interviewed expressed ‘the thought
that [they are] no longer afraid of death’ and ‘that now the state of death itself is no longer
forbidding to them’. Those people who had near-death experiences used analogies such as
‘transition from one state to another, or as an entry into a higher state of consciousness or of
being’ to describe the actual process of dying. Some compared it to a ‘homecoming’, whereas
others likened it to other psychologically positive states, for example ‘to awakening, to

graduating, and to escape from jail’ (Moody 1977:92). To these people the survival of bodily
death is not an abstract possibility, but a fact of experience.

Although Fox repeatedly states that there is no death, he is aware of the fear of it. This fear in
people is partly a ‘fear of the unknown, and partly as the result of false teaching’ (Fox
1979c:171). Sogyal, Buddhist master and author of The Tibetan book of living and dying, is
someone who plays a special role in Buddhism, both in the West and in the East. His teaching
has been embraced by those in the West and by New Thought in general.1 Sogyal (1998:15)
believes that the fear of death arises from deep down where one knows that one ‘cannot avoid
facing death forever’.

For New Thought forerunner Phineas Parkhurst Quimby2 (in Seale 1986:93), the fear of death
disappears if one is ‘acquainted with this mesmerized self and its superior spiritual powers’. It
is only when one ‘does not yet know his Other and Real Self’ that a person dreads death, for
such an individual still identifies with his body (Seale 1986:100).

In chapter 4.3 the concepts ‘Thanatos’ and ‘Eros’ were discussed. Ken Wilber (1981:61)
commented that:

Man’s prior Nature is Spirit, the ultimate Whole, but until he discovers that Wholeness, he remains an
alienated fragment, a separate self, and that separate self necessarily is faced with an awareness of death
and the terror of death.

It was forgetting one’s true self, the Atman, that brought about the search for substitutes, the
Atman Project. With each emergence from the uroboric stage up the great chain of being, ‘the
new and higher self expressed new and higher needs, faced new and higher forms of death,
and thus demanded new and higher death denials and self-preservations’ (Wilber 1981:71). In
every stage there was a substitute to deal with the fear of death. In the magical stage certain
rites were performed on the death of a person to ward off death in those living. In the mythic
stage the belief in a God became that of the saviour and the conqueror of death. And for the
rationalist, the question about death is never asked. The one who does ask, ‘Is there any
meaning in my life which will not be destroyed by the inevitable death awaiting me’, is the ‘soul
that is much too awake. It is a soul on the brink of the transpersonal’ (Wilber 1995:263–264).

Wilber frequently pointed out that the very thing (Thanatos) that can assist humanity to be
transformed into the next level of evolution is the thing that one fears. This is the reason that
everything is done to stay alive (Eros). It takes the breaking down of boundaries that were
created between self and an other, the actual dying to one level of consciousness, to
transform a being up the ladder of evolution. It is literally the collapse of one floor and the
emerging of another. This happens when Thanatos outweighs Eros. The opposite reaction,
the effort to beat death, results in what Wilber calls translation. This only brings about
stagnation on one level and prevents one from merging with ultimate wholeness, the Atman.
According to Douglas Baker (1995:20), a qualified medical practitioner, an occultist with more
than forty years’ experience, and someone who indirectly bears witness to New Thought
teaching, Christianity has done its work well in preaching ‘the existence of heaven so that
everyone wants to go there, but nobody wants to die’. First one hears that one is born into sin
and then one hears about death, hell and purgatory. No wonder that death is feared.

7.1.2 The next world

To the question of where the next world is, Fox answers that it is neither up there, nor down
here, but all around us. There is not just one etheric plane, but many, each vibrating at its own
density and all interpenetrating one another. They do not interfere with one another, just as
the various radio stations do not interfere with one another’s broadcasting. The American Hopi
Indians also believe in a life after death. Corresponding in essence to Fox’s thought, ‘their
afterlife’, is a kind of mirror image of our world, and is ‘based in every sense on the principle of
opposites’ (Kaiser 1991:29). In other words, if it is summer on the earth, it is winter in the
underworld; if someone dies on earth, another is born in the underworld. It is this
interdependence or interconnectedness of all living things that (as we shall discuss later)
enables one to communicate with those in the next life.

To explain the process of death itself, Fox insists that we must understand that we possess
two bodies. One is physical and can be seen, whereas the other is etheric and cannot be seen
by most, because of its finer vibrations. The best way to explain the simultaneous existence of
these bodies is to state that the etheric body does not surround the physical, but

interpenetrates it, as air fills a sponge. Baker agrees implicitly with this description and
suggests that the etheric body is a much subtler structure that is made of subatomic particles
and is to be found in all living things. He perceives the etheric body as a physiological unit,
‘the vehicle which vitalises man’s physical organs’ through the intake of prana or life force
(Baker 1995:29). In the waking state, Fox declares, these two bodies are interpenetrated, but
when one goes to sleep, the etheric slips out of the physical and takes with it the
consciousness. Although this etheric body ‘is composed of several different ethers of different
densities’, Fox (1979a:203) treats it as one. This is the same with the physical body, which is
composed of fluids, solids, gases and organs, but which we refer to as a body, a unit.

The etheric body, which is the repository of all our thoughts and feelings, includes what we call
the conscious and subconscious minds. It is also what the psychologist refers to as the
psyche and we call our human personality. This is the reason that the personality survives the
physical death of the body, as it is not attached to it. Fox shares a very interesting and
valuable piece of information that is important in understanding the process of death: there is
no sensation in the physical body. When we think we have a pain in the physical body, that
pain is actually in the etheric counterpart, and that is why anaesthesia is possible. When the
etheric body leaves the physical body, it is still connected by an ‘etheric ligament’, which
referred to in the Bible as the silver cord. This cord can stretch very far, and in some spiritually
developed people it can extend into the next plane and even beyond. The only ‘difference
between normal sleep, and anaesthesia, and the various kinds of trance3 is a question of how
much of the etheric goes out at a particular time’ (Fox 1979a:203).

Death, according to Fox, is the cutting of the silver cord, the connection between the physical
and the etheric bodies. The break in this association indicates the end of our earthly life. When
this cord is severed, a person is cut off from his or her physical body and declared dead. This
person falls into a kind of deep sleep, which can last for days or even weeks. During this
period, the etheric body (the person itself) passes over into the next plane, where in due
course it will wake up and his or her new life will then begin. New Thought exponent,
counsellor and licensed hypnotherapist Dr Joshua David Stone believes that the deceased
loses both the physical and the etheric bodies after death. Afterwards, the deceased takes on

either the average astral body, the mental body, or, for the initiate, even the Buddhic or
glorified Lightbody. Fox also states that the etheric body is not a homogeneous thing, but is
composed of several different ethers and densities. Fox nevertheless treats it as one body.

Just before the moment we call death, our whole past life flashes by as if we were watching a
movie. During this time, it is recorded, it then becomes clear what one’s blueprint was for that
specific life and how one has attained its fulfilment. This can be very distressful to a soul who
has missed the chances offered in life. Fox points out that this can either be an awe-inspiring
experience or a terrible one to witness. In Scripture the ‘Judgment Books’ refer to ‘the
unfolding of the subconscious mind’ (Fox 1979a:206).

To the question of where we go after our physical death and whom we mingle with, Fox
shares very definite and profound insights. It is not by chance or luck that we find ourselves in
any specific surroundings, but

You will go to the sort of place, and be among the sort of people for whom you have prepared yourself by
your habitual thinking and your mode of living while on this earth. No one ‘sends’ you anywhere. You
naturally gravitate to the place where you belong. You have built up a certain character, that is, a certain
mentality, by your years of thinking, speaking and acting on this plane. That is the kind of person you are at
the moment, and you find yourself in conditions corresponding to your personality (Fox 1979a:209).

He reminds his readers that ‘death makes positively no change in you; you are just the same
person that you were before it happened. You have full memory and you remember the
general events of your life just as well, and often somewhat better, than you did toward the
end of your life here’ (Fox 1979a:209). So what is true on this plane is true on the other
planes. Birds of a feather still flock together.

On waking up in the next plane, the so-called dead person recognises certain familiar aspects
in the world about him or her. However, there are also distinct differences. Even if one died as
a sick and old person, when one wakes up in the other dimension, Fox suggests, one takes on
a healthy and youthful body. What we consider an elderly person is only a person with a
mature mind whose body is beginning to decay. On the other side one takes on a body as if
one were in the prime of one’s life. As one can then see one’s etheric body, it becomes as

substantial as the old physical body seemed. Another difference concerns the four dimensions
in the other world, as opposed to the three in the physical world. This fourth dimension has
often been referred to as heaven, but that is not correct, insists Fox (1979a:207), because
Heaven ‘is a world of infinite dimension’. Since many people work diligently through their
challenges in the physical reality, they move over in a more enlightened state and they often
regard this next plane as Heaven. But the next plane is not the conscious presence of God. It
is only a limited etheric world – less limited than the earth, but as prone to discord and decay.
The only difference is that decay sets in faster than it would on a three-dimensional level and
so it seems to a newcomer to be the perfect world. Fox (1979a:211) clearly brings to any
confused mind the truth that

You do not ‘meet God’ on the next plane any more than you do on this plane. God is everywhere. Of
course, He is fully present on the next plane just as He is on this plane; but there as here, He is to be
contacted only in one’s own consciousness by some form of prayer or spiritual treatment. Heaven is that
perfect state of consciousness in which one is in full realization of the Divine Presence.

In accordance with Fox’s thought, New Thoughter Dorothy Elder (1992:27) claims that the
Kingdom of Heaven is within, it is a statement of mind, and ‘you do not have to die to go
there’. On this ‘heavenly’ plane there is no limitation or evil, or decay of any kind. If one can
attain such a consciousness, one has completed the existence on the etheric planes, just as
we completed our physical existence on earth through the process of death, and one
continues directly into the realms we call Heaven. Fox states that Moses, Enoch, Elijah and
others all overcame the sense of separation from God and dematerialised themselves into this
eternal state of freedom.

Fox (1979a:212) admits that there are ‘some very unpleasant localities in the next world’, but
the average person, who may give in to temptation under severe pressure, does not go there.
These are the dwelling places of those individuals who deliberately lived their lives in the
wrong way, and who have occupied their minds with evil, hatred, deceit or sensuality while still
on earth. The orthodox preachers referred to these locations as ‘hell’, but, according to Fox,
hell is not a place of ever-lasting vindictive punishment, because no one ‘sends’ anyone there.
These are the surroundings the delinquents had chosen when they opted for the lower in
preference to the higher, and they will stay there until they see the error of their ways and

experience sufficient change. In line with New Thought, Elder regards hell as a figure of
speech that ‘refers to the suffering an individual may have over some error’ – ‘the absence of
Good’ – for ‘a loving God could not condemn anyone to such suffering forever’ (Elder

The person who benefits least from the changeover is the one who is materially and physically
minded. People who are interested only in food, money, possessions and worldly success find
themselves in a rather stranded position in the other life, as these things have no meaning
there. The addict and the sensualist experience their ‘punishment’, which is really only the
natural consequence of the behaviour in this life. Ultimately they realise that they cannot
satisfy their addictions in the next life, as they do not have physical bodies to gratify. In a way
this becomes a living hell. So we continue to reap what we have sown, whether in this life or in
those beyond. Stone (1994:88) too describes hell as ‘most definitely a state of mind’. Like
certain metaphysicians, he identifies it as a location, but not as a place where one will burn
forever, should one not accept Jesus Christ as one’s saviour, as the fundamentalist religions
describe it. He expands on this idea (which is also expressed in New Thought teaching):
‘People are in hell when they are run by the negative ego, by material and astral desire, and
hence are cut off from their own souls.’

A very interesting and even amusing event, according to Fox, which is often the theme of
modern movies, is the revelation that immediately after physical death, a person lingers in full
consciousness. For example, a man who has died in an accident often does not realise what
has happened to him, although he can see it from the etheric body. In full consciousness, he
can rush home to tell his wife. His etheric body can move instantaneously over and through
any object, although he is not always aware of these newfound abilities. At home he reaches
out to his wife, but she, still in the physical body, cannot hear or see him. However, if his
thought and intent were strong enough, she would probably report to friends that ‘my husband
appeared to me for a moment at the time he was killed’ or ‘I knew that something had
happened to my husband long before I got the news’ (Fox 1979a:219).

In certain cases a dead person can become what we call ‘earth-bound’, which means that he

or she remains attached to the earth plane for an indefinite length of time, being unable to go
on. This is usually a person who is emotionally so attached to this world, or someone or
something, that he or she cannot slip into the coma that helps one across. To prevent this
delay in one’s journey, Fox (1979a:221–222) advises that one should ‘not allow any one thing
in the world to monopolize your attention to the exclusion of all other interests’. This correlates
with the Eastern virtue of detachment, namely ‘a keen, intelligent interest in the things which
are with us while they are with us, with complete readiness to pass on to new things when the
signal comes’. Of course one can pray for those who have passed on, realising peace of mind,
freedom, and understanding for such a person, and reminding such a being that God is Life,
and Intelligence, and Love. This is an excellent practice and a sacred duty, confirms Fox.

One will also encounter different sounds and colours in the after-life, and probably the most
startling change is that thought reading is the normal means of communication. No longer can
one hide behind pretences. What you see is what you are. There are also many locations and
conditions to live in, and this corresponds very much to the different countries, cities, societies
and cultures on earth. For many people the idea of there being no family life on the next plane
may be disturbing. However, there is no need for family life there as we have understood and
experienced it here on earth, which was only a temporary arrangement for this existence.
Whoever we had a strong emotional bond with on earth, whether one of love or hate, will
come into our experience again in the after-life, but this time as a friend or a close associate.
That is why Fox so strongly impresses on the minds of his readers and students that it is very
important to complete cycles of relationships through forgiveness before one has to encounter
them again on another level and in another form. Strong bonds of mutual love will always
attract one another in the after-life.

Another topic of great controversy is whether one can communicate with the so-called dead or
not. Fox mentions the extremists whose dogmatic answer that it is absolutely impossible to do
so, whereas the enthusiasts claim that the deceased communicate with them and direct their
actions regularly. Fox (1979a:227) argues that ‘communication does occasionally take place,
but that it is far rarer than most believers in it suppose, and … it is always accomplished with
considerable difficulty and uncertainty’. Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science, believes

in communication with the deceased, but he urges his students to distinguish between a
psychic’s picture of such a person and the real situation. It is absurd, he declares ‘to suppose
that we can compel the attention of anyone out of the flesh, any more than one in it’. If we
could, he asks, ‘what would we hope to gain? People out of the flesh know no more than they
did when in the body’ (Holmes 1938:380).

A truly spiritual mode of communication, Fox proposes, is to sit down quietly and remind
oneself that the one God is omnipresent, to reflect that one’s real self is in the presence of
God, and so is the divine spark of a loved one in the next phase. Although a direct message
may not come through, one becomes aware of a sense of communication. This awareness of
the presence of God is prayer and true communication. As a result, Fox (1979a:175) does
believe that communication takes place, ‘but that the wise dead understand the necessity of
our exercising our own power of choice and do not intrude. But they do often come to our aid.’

Native people, especially those of the Aboriginal tradition, whose viewpoints are apparently
similar to New Thought, strongly believe in communication with the deceased. The wirinun or
medicine-man of Aboriginal culture receives special training in extra-sensory perception,
which allows him to visit in person the realms of those who have passed on from the physical
world. He then communicates with the deceased and receives guidance for his tribe. Another
method of contacting other realms is through the hypersensitivity of the nerves – changing
one’s vibratory level to match that of the next level. It allows the person to move out of his or
her physical body and to participate in the other world. Here he or she can remain as long as
he or she can hold the vibratory rate firmly. Another group, the Hopi, believe that ‘people are
able to receive messages from other realms of existence via the spiritual links that connect all
living things’ (Kaiser 1991:19). This is possible because of the interdependence or
interconnectedness of all living things, every separate form being part of a greater whole (as
Ken Wilber teaches). Thus, the dead have not passed away forever, but can be contacted and
reached by the living.

7.1.3 The bardo experience


Bardo, a Tibetan word that simply means a ‘transition’ or a gap between the completion of one
situation and the onset of another, is explained by Joe Fisher (1988:111) as ‘the plane of
consciousness between lives’ – that realm that lies beyond our conscious understanding.
Fisher, a reporter and author, delves deep into Tibetan knowledge of death and dying, a
teaching that is in line with general New Thought. The experiences of the psychic territory that
one enters on leaving the physical body have been recorded by Tibetan scribes, and this
guidebook, known today as The Tibetan book of the dead (Bardo Thodol),

has been recited into the ears of the dying and the deceased in hope of steering the liberated soul across
the ‘dangerous ambush’ of the bardo (literally, bar, ‘in between’; do, ‘island’) and away from the necessity
of rebirth (Fisher 1988:111).

To return to an Eastern counterpart, Sogyal distinguishes four bardos: the natural bardo of this
life (one’s lifespan from birth to death); the painful bardo of dying (this lasts from the onset of
dying until the moment of death itself); the luminous bardo of dharmata (this is the after-death
phase); and the karmic bardo of becoming (this is the gap until the next/new birth). He regards
the bardos as ‘gaps or periods in which the possibility of awakening is particularly present’.
These ‘gaps’ or opportunities to embrace liberation are available throughout life and death.
The bardo teachings then become a ‘key or tool that enables us to discover and recognize
them, and to make the fullest possible use of them’ (Sogyal 1998:104). These teachings
inform us of moments when the mind is exceptionally free and powerful – much more than at
any other stage – and one of these significant moments is at death. Death, then, is an
opportunity for liberation. This way of perceiving and understanding the process of dying and
death encapsulates the difference in opinion between the East and West.

Although references to the word ‘bardo’, as well as this interpretation of it, are absent from
New Thought literature, New Thought teaching does embrace the concept of continuation of
the soul after death. Detailed explanations of the actual process of dying and the immediate
moments and days following this transition are not explicitly explained or dealt with. The
conviction of New Thoughters ‘that there is no death’ (Holmes 1983b:90) and that ‘Jesus
brought to light the truth that immortality is man’s nature’ (James and Cramer 1957:143) had
become sufficient evidence for a belief system that supports eternality, immortality and

continuity of the soul beyond physical death.

Joshua David Stone’s (1994:79) explanation of the bardo, ‘the three days that follow the actual
death experience of the physical body’, comes from the teachings of the ascended masters
Kuthumi and Djwhal Khul4. It reminds us that death ‘is life’s greatest challenge and its greatest
spiritual test and initiation’. As a result, there is an art to dying and those who are uninformed
miss the greatest opportunity of their lives, for ‘every soul extension, whether prepared or not,
will face the transformation called death’. The science of bardo5 deals with the three days that
follow the actual death experience of the physical body. Although Fox (1979c:171) does not
explain his reasons for advising people to wait at least three days before cremating or burying
the deceased, he acknowledges this period as ‘a state of unconsciousness’, a time period
between the actual death of a person and his or her awakening into the next world.

Fox (1979a:223–224) regards the burial customs of the present world as pagan survivals.
That Christians, who believe in the immortality of a soul, will treat a dead body as sacred
seems to him to be neither logical nor intelligent. He states that there is nothing sacred about
a dead body. It is a worn-out garment and ‘should be disposed of in as cleanly and
expeditious a manner as possible, and that is all’ – one of respect and not reverence. ‘[T]he
beauty of a beautiful body comes from the soul that shines through it, and does not lie in the
body itself.’ Fox regards cremation as the proper way to dispose of a dead body because ‘fire
is cleanly, purifying, and respectful’. Djwhal Khul, the ascended master whom Stone’s wife,
Terri Sue Stone, channels, also strongly recommends cremation over burial: ‘It hastens the
release of the subtle vehicles from the etheric body’, which takes place within a few hours,
rather than a few days. In addition, ‘it purifies the astral plane; it stops the downward-moving
tendency of desire; it prevents the poisoning of the Earth’. He refers to cemeteries as
‘unhealthy psychic spots’ (Stone 1994:77).

Fox also insists that the ashes should not be preserved because ‘only a morbid satisfaction
can come from keeping these gruesome relics’. Neither should one erect a monument of any
kind, because ‘to erect a monument over a cast-off body is just as unreasonable as it would
be for you to bury an old suit of clothes and then put a monument over that’. Visiting

gravesites should also be avoided, as the deceased is not there. One should rather honour
the memory of a loved one by placing flowers in one’s own home or next to a photograph of
this person, but this too should not become an everyday practice. The ‘wearing of mourning’,
(wearing something black) for the sake of the deceased, is not advisable, as the person is
very much alive. To keep a room ‘just as he left it’ or to retain other personal things of the
deceased is considered wrong and even pagan, especially if it is done in a sentimental or
morbid spirit. Of course, discrimination will be needed in what to keep and what to dispose of
in order make way for the living present. Fox, although he feels very strongly about these
instructions, advises us to ‘go along’ with the wishes of older relatives and family when the
above ways cannot or will not be executed (Fox 1979a:224–225).

‘Excessive grief is to be deprecated’, Fox (1979a:220) remarks, as it is bad for both parties.
The so-called dead are very sensitive to our thoughts for a considerable time after their
graduation, and our grief saddens them and prevents them from focusing their attention on the
new life they have started. We should remember that when there was a link of love, we will
definitely meet again, and nothing good or beautiful or true can ever be lost. Another point of
concern for loving survivors is that sometimes the body of the one passing over seems to
undergo violent twitching and contortions. One need not be distressed about such a purely
reflex action, as the patient is totally unaware of it, and is slipping gently and comfortably into
the next phase.

The subject of suicide is dealt with concisely. Fox (1979a:226) regards conscious and
intentional self-destruction as ‘a crime severely punished by Nature’ for it is ‘a refusal to meet
the problems of life’. The deceased apparently will not meet friends on the other side and will
find themselves lonely and unhappy in a confused mental state. Of course they can be greatly
helped by prayer, as they ultimately have to face all over again the precise problem that they
ran away from.

Stone’s (1994:91) impression of suicide shows a direct connection with New Thought and
endorses Fox’s thinking: ‘It is against universal law to take one’s own life.’ Such people take
their existing consciousness with them and the same lessons must still be learned after death,

so ‘he really hasn’t escaped very much by checking out’. Patricia Diane Cota-Robles
(1993:165), whose teaching resonates with that of Fox and New Thought in general, through
her research into the ‘realms of truth’ came to the understanding ‘that suicide is the only way
we leave the physical realm prematurely’. Such a soul, on arriving in the hereafter, is
immediately shown the results of his or her life on earth and the opportunities that were
missed because of the sudden interruption. Although the lessons that were overlooked must
now be learned at the inner levels, the soul is not in a material body, which makes the anguish
and despair worse. In this world there is no sleep and no escape from one’s thoughts. One is
therefore confronted all the time with a specific issue. To return to an Eastern adherent and
one who supports these theories, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche states: ‘When a person commits
suicide, the consciousness has no choice but to follow its negative karma, and it may well
happen that a harmful spirit will seize and possess its life force’ (Sogyal 1998:376). He
suggests that in such cases a powerful master must be called upon to perform special rituals
and ceremonies to free the dead person’s consciousness.

7.1.4 Preparation for life here-after

The locations in the next phase are really only the out-picturings of the subject’s own thoughts.
These places, Fox points out, also exist on this plane and we know them as countries, cities,
houses and rooms. The main differences are that the next plane has an extra dimension and
one experiences a thing instantaneously because of the absence of inertia. Although one will
also encounter different sounds and colours in the after-life, probably the most startling
change (as stated above) is that thought reading is the normal means of communication. ‘On
the other side your thoughts are demonstrated immediately’ (here Fox (1979a:210) confirms
New Thought teaching) and it does not take as long as on earth to manifest. That souls
immediately experience what they are thinking can be rather confusing at first. Because the
etheric body becomes to them as real as the physical body was on earth, they are rather
disconcerted when it constantly and immediately submits to the moulding of their thoughts. No
longer can one hide behind any pretence. What you see is what you are.

Material possessions and wealth have no value on the next plane as thought is immediately

demonstrated, so there is no need to purchase anything. Think it, and you’ve got it. However,
the mental and spiritual wealth that one accumulated while in the third dimension
accompanies one to the next world. It does not matter in which world one found oneself, if a
person can clearly conceive and truly understand anything, he or she will bring it into
manifestation in his or her life. On earth the process of manifestation is just so much slower
than in the other world. It therefore takes great control and practice to make sure that one
thinks what it is that one wants to experience. Habitual negative thinking while on earth does
not make this process any easier. That is why it is so important to entertain only holy and
positive thoughts while still in the physical dimension.

The teaching about the power of thought in Aboriginal initiation ceremonies accords strongly
with New Thought principles, although New Thought does not refer to it directly. Aboriginal
thought states that although the lower levels in the Dowie, spirit world, are very similar to
those in the physical world, ‘the Dowie dimension, however, is thought built’ (Havecker
1991:65). Yet another statement from the Eastern world that parallels New Thought is
Buddhism’s revolutionary insight that ‘life and death are in the mind, and nowhere else’. It also
reveals the mind ‘as the universal basis of experience – the creator of happiness and the
creator of suffering, the creator of what we call life and what we call death’ (Sogyal 1998:46).
To the question whether there is something one can depend on that does survive what we call
death, the answer is the truth of the changeless, deathless, unending nature of mind – a total
agreement between New Thought, Fox in particular, and Eastern teaching.

To prepare oneself for the next world is to live correctly today. This includes leading ‘a clean,
honest life, embodying in your conduct the highest that you know at the time’; being useful to
others; and learning about the truth of being and the nature of God (Fox 1979a:228). It matters
little what roles one takes on for one’s performance on the stage, for it is not about the role, it
is about the acting. Understanding the omnipresence of God and the power of thought are the
two supreme lessons that are set for this school and experience. Returning to the concept of
watching a play-back of one’s life while dying and realising immediately one’s shortcomings
reminds Brenda Johnston, New Age exponent who shares insights from the masters, as well
as personal experiences, of her seer friend’s response. Referring to this notion, he said, ‘I

don’t want this to happen … So I am going to do the very best I can in this life to serve and
share my knowledge’ (Johnston [sa]).

Fox (1979a:228) argues: ‘Your business is to live here in this world while you are here; to face
up to your problems here and to try to solve them; and to live in the next world when you get
there.’ If it is true that ‘where you go when you die is determined by the last thought in your
mind before death’ – that at the time of death one is attracted like a magnet to the level of
consciousness one has achieved – then it is important to strive to gain as much spiritual
growth, understanding, and realisation of God in order to achieve the highest possible passing
(Stone 1994:73).

Fox and New Thought in general teach that we have always been spirit and never separated
from the source. Not even death can rob a person of that birthright. In other words, if one
understands the spiritual make-up of a being while living in the material world, one can already
benefit from the power of thought, if it is wisely applied, and this becomes more apparent in
the after-world. It is thus understandable that Fox and others underline the importance of the
control of one’s mind and thoughts, for they know that miracles can be demonstrated.
Reaching the fourth dimension, however, is not the end of this evolutionary process of a soul
in its journey to realisation of God. Once a soul has developed sufficiently both mentally and
spiritually on the fourth dimension, it will graduate to the next phase, which is the fifth
dimension, and onto even higher planes, where the etheric vibrations are far less limited than
the lower planes.

New Thoughter Ervin Seale (1986:99) concludes: ‘In terms of our true self, we are not born
and we shall never cease to be. This means that we are now in eternity, the life that does not
change.’ Ernest Holmes (1938:388) again prepares, not to die, but to live: ‘The thought of
death should slip from our consciousness altogether … and when this great event of the soul
takes place, it should be beautiful, sublime … a glorious experience.’



The Dalai Lama, in the preface of The case for reincarnation (Fisher 1983), reminds readers
that: ‘Reincarnation is not exclusively a Buddhist or Hindu concept, but is a part of the history
of human origin. It stands as a proof of the mindstream’s capacity to retain knowledge of
physical, vocal, and mental activities.’ This idea ‘is related to the theory of interdependent
origination and to the law of cause and effect’ (Fisher 1988:7).

Fox’s religious thinking regarding death, dying and reincarnation resonates with most other
religious thinking, particularly the Eastern philosophies. Herman Wolhorn links Fox’s exquisite
knowledge and inspiration partly to his understanding of the concept of reincarnation – in other
words, one had many experiences in the past. He also includes pure inspiration: ‘Inspiration
gives anyone who seeks it in any particular field to which he gives his attention, knowledge
and information that no one else has’ (Wolhorn 1977:101). Like Fox, Wolhorn believes that
there is only one source, and that is divine mind. All inspiration and knowledge originate from
this source and Fox devoted the greater part of his lifetime to the search for facets of truth,
which culminated in unveiling some of these mysteries to humankind. That there is no death,
according to Fox, means that one has access to this source all the time.

Although a foreign concept to many in the West, as well as one of the major differences
between Eastern and Western philosophies, the idea of reincarnation is reaching much wider
recognition. When we arrive as a new-born baby, Fox remarks, we are unconscious at first,
and then we take our first breath and become conscious, with which our earthly journey has
begun. This continues until we are ready to move into the next phase, after which we
experience another birth, but this time into a world very different from the one we were
accustomed to. Thus, the process of reincarnation continues as a part of a greater
evolutionary whole, or, as Holmes (1938:371) points out, ‘making life a continuous stream of
self-conscious expression’.

7.2.1 Immortality

Immortality or existence after physical death is a common belief among major religions and is
significantly explored and researched by the scientific community. New Thoughters and those

who follow the same line of reasoning are convinced that there is immortality and that what we
have accomplished until now is merely a part of all that we will do. The principle of immortality
posits that human beings are limitless God-beings. Therefore, insists Holmes (1938:372),
‘Death cannot rob him of anything if he be immortal.’

If one adds together reincarnation and karma (the two concepts still to be discussed), the
result is immortality. A person is made up of ‘matter and spirit, of form and soul, of self and
higher Self’, but on death casts off matter, form and self, while spirit, soul and higher self
remain, always immortal, ‘but still in the process of growth and unfoldment’ (Baker 1995:64).

7.2.2 The doctrine of reincarnation

Reincarnation, also known by terms such as ‘reproduction’, ‘counterfesance’, and

‘metempsychosis’, refers to the reappearance on earth of the same individual, time after time.
It is believed that the roots of this teaching are deeply imbedded in religions – that is, in the
inner teachings or esoteric phase of all religious systems (Christian and other fundamental
occult doctrines). Yogi Ramacharaka (1935:225), whose teaching reaffirms New Thought
beliefs, declares that ‘the doctrine of Re-birth is the only one that is in full accord with the
Christian conception of ultimate justice and “fairness”.’

Although the idea of reincarnation and karma as spiritual truth could involve an important
revelation for many, this does not necessarily imply that it is accepted by all metaphysical
philosophies. The Western world is regarded as being ignorant about the topic of
reincarnation. Mystic and contemporary scholars agree that references to reincarnation were
left out of the Bible.6 Fox also believes that reincarnation is not taught directly in the Bible, but
is referred to obliquely. Yogi Ramacharaka (1935:231–232) develops this thought:

While the majority of modern Christians bitterly oppose the idea that the doctrine of Metempsychosis ever
formed any part of the Christian Doctrine, and prefer to regard it as a ‘heathenish’ teaching, still the fact
remains that the careful and unprejudiced student will find indisputable evidence in the writings of the Early
Christian Fathers pointing surely to the conclusion that the doctrine of Metempsychosis was believed and
taught in the Inner Circle of the Early Church.

Russell Chandler (1988:267), on the other hand, quotes evangelical Christian John Snyder,
who stated that biblical evidence for reincarnation ‘is merely the product of wishful thinking
and faulty literary criticism’. He also refers to Mark Albrecht’s remark that although the ideas of
karma and reincarnation are believed in Eastern, Gnostic and occult traditions, the Bible never
mentions them, but refers instead to resurrection. Chandler, a veteran journalist and religious
writer, regards resurrection as the Christian’s answer to Job’s (14:14) question, ‘If a man dies,
will he live again?’ He concludes that ‘reincarnation is incompatible with resurrection. They
cannot both be true, despite efforts to synthesize or harmonize the two’ (Chandler 1988:268–
269). His validation for this remark lies in the historical evidences for the resurrection of Jesus,
which he considers are ‘far superior to those advanced for the theory of reincarnation’.

One of the most popular biblical references to reincarnation is Matthew 16:13–17, where
Jesus asked his disciples who the people (as well as the disciples) thought the Son of Man
was? In their answers they referred to John the Baptist, Elijah and Jeremiah, and Simon Peter
revealed that, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ In Matthew 11:11–15 John the
Baptist is considered a reincarnation of the Old Testament prophet Elijah or Elias (the Greek
form). This idea is expanded in Matthew 17:10–13. John 9:1–3 tells a story of a blind man that
indicates a belief in reincarnation. When the disciples asked Jesus who was responsible for
this ‘sin’ (blindness), Jesus replied, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this
happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.’ Another example of declaring
pre-existence before physical birth is found in John 3:13, where Jesus states, ‘No one has
ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven.’ The prediction of the return of
the prophet Elijah is found in Malachi 4. That God knew Jeremiah before he was born is
referred to in Jeremiah 1:5. Jesus affirmed his own pre-existence with the words ‘before
Abraham was born, I am’ (John 8:58). As the most-cited New Age text to ‘contain “vestiges” of
reincarnationism’ Chandler (1988:267) suggests John 3:3, ‘I tell you the truth, unless a man is
born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ In his opinion Jesus’ explanation indicates a
spiritual birth and does not imply reincarnation. Another text that (he believes) rules out the
idea of reincarnation is Hebrews 9:27, where it is stated that ‘man is destined to die once, and
after that to face judgment’. Of course, the argument that the Bible cannot be wrenched out of
context to defend reincarnation applies to the converse.

Although The Aquarian gospel of Jesus the Christ (transcribed from the Akashic Records in
the nineteenth century by Levi, a pastor and medical doctor from Belleville, Ohio) cannot be
compared with the more authentic and historical gospels of the Bible, one does come across a
reincarnational passage in which Jesus, after listening to a group of youthful singers and
musicians in Lahore, comments:

These people are not young. A thousand years would not suffice to give them such divine expressiveness,
and such purity of voice and touch. Then thousand years ago these people mastered harmony. In days of
old they trod the busy thoroughfares of life, and caught the melody of birds, and played on harps of perfect
form. And they have come again to learn still other lessons from the varied notes of manifests (chapter
37:13–15) (Levi 1977:76).

The similarities between New Thought and the primal shamanic religion seem evident in the
writings of Zulu shaman Credo Mutwa (1996:201). Mutwa states: ‘We in Africa believe that the
soul goes through a number of incarnations in its development – toward reaching the goal of
maturity.’ He perceives the present human stage as just one of several stages ‘through which
the soul must pass’ in its ‘upward movement through various incarnations’. Mutwa accepts
that there is such a thing as reincarnation. Experiences of possessing knowledge of previous
lives, memories of incidents that do not belong to this reality and knowledge of intimate details
about a stranger are just some things that have happened to him (and others). This belief is
endorsed by the Aboriginal culture. Aborigines perceive ‘the Yowie, or soul, that incarnates in
human form’ as one that ‘has evolved from innumerable lower forms of life, at each step
gaining new experiences which enable it to be attracted to and successfully build about itself a
higher form’ (Havecker 1991:19).

It is important to distinguish between reincarnation – the soul of a human taking on a series of

physical bodies, still in human form, with interspersed periods of withdrawal from physical life
– and the concept of transmigration – the movement or journey of a human soul into other life
forms such as animals. The latter thought is not generally accepted by leading spiritual
thinkers of either East or West, as Elder’s (1992:20) remark reveals: ‘This teaching in Western
metaphysics excludes transmigration of the soul into an animal – only into a human body does
reincarnation apply.’ Whereas the term 'reincarnation' captures the intention of the Hindu view

of life after death, the Buddhist view is more adequately expressed by the term 'rebirth'.
'Reincarnation' implies the continued uninterrupted existence of a substantial 'soul', and
Buddhism has discarded that view.7

On the other hand, Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acarya of the International Society for
Krishna Consciousness, differentiates between the transmigration of souls in animal bodies
and the transmigration of human souls. He states: ‘Animals transmigrate in only one direction
– upward – but human beings can transmigrate to either a higher or a lower form of life.’ The
point of arrival depends on the living entity’s desire. He believes that ‘once you come to the
human form, if you don’t cultivate Krsna consciousness you may return to the body of a cat or
dog’ (Prabhupada 1981:49–50).

Where Credo Mutwa does differ from mainstream New Thought thinking is that he and his
clansmen believe that when people die, they are reborn as animals, trees, bushes or even as
various types of insect – albeit in a different part of the world and at a different time. If they
should be reborn as human again, they are considered lucky.

Huston Smith, scholar, writer and professor emeritus at Syracuse University, USA, discusses
the religions of man. In the chapter on Hinduism he refers to the individual soul or jiva entering
the world mysteriously. These souls ‘begin as the souls of the simplest forms of life, but they
do not vanish with the death of their original bodies’. He and Fox agree that the spirit is not
dependent on its body, just as the body does not depend on its clothes. He quotes the well-
known verse from the Bhagavad-Gita: ‘Worn-out garments are shed by the body; worn-out
bodies are shed by the dweller’ (Smith 1964:67). Confirming this thought, the Bhagavad-Gita

As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth, and then to old age, the
soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.
For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn,
eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain (Prahbupada 1976:24,

Fox does not think that reincarnation is necessary:

We are here on the earth planet to learn certain lessons. We are here to develop spiritually. We are here to
acquire full understanding of and control over our mentality; and this cannot be done in one lifetime.

Many students have asked ‘Why can this not be done in one lifetime?’ Fox replies that the
‘explanation lies in man’s mental laziness and inertia; in his reluctance to change himself
radically, to pull himself out of a rut when once he gets into it, to adopt new ideas and adapt
himself to changing conditions’. It is because of ‘man’s conservatism and tendency to self-
satisfaction and, above all, in his ignorance of his own unlimited potentialities’ (Fox
1979a:240–241). If one objectively observes every phase of life, from the first cry of a new-
born baby to the last sigh of an aged person on his or her deathbed, then one will realise that
every moment is a lesson or a step in the bigger picture of a life. And every step is really like
one lifetime. To learn to walk, to speak, and even to write are all natural steps (lives) within a
process. A person literally learns step by step or lifetime by lifetime.

The reason that we do not remember our previous lives is really a blessing in disguise,
according to Fox. It is like nature drawing a veil of forgetfulness over one to hide all knowledge
until one is sufficiently developed to be ready to remember it.8 A person can hardly remember
the earlier days of one’s life, and one can barely handle certain issues from the existent past.
How then will one cope with so many more memories and challenges from other lives?
Obviously these memories could become very destructive to such a person. Some people do
have glimpses from the past, however, and these can be extremely useful. It is said that ‘the
whole history of all your past lives is stored away in the deeper levels of your subconscious,
and thus it is that your mentality today – and consequently your destiny – is the logical
outcome of all the lives that you have lived up to the present’ (Fox 1979a:247).

Many questions have been raised about whether we chose our parents, and why we were
born into a specific family? Fox (1979a:247) states we did not choose our parents, but that
‘each one of us is born into the conditions which exactly fit his soul at the time of incarnation’
and ‘we go to the parents whose nature and conditions correspond with the state of the soul
when it incarnates’. This statement is precisely what many modern students refer to as

‘choosing our parents’. Fox describes the process as a soul in full consciousness in the etheric
realms, who remembers the main events in the previous life, waiting for the moment of
conception to attach itself to a fertilised cell. At that moment it loses consciousness and moves
into a coma, from which it begins to emerge and remember at the moment of birth again. From
the moment of conception the subconscious mind is active and is busy building the new body
for the journey ahead. In other words, it is the ‘baby’s own subconscious that builds its body in
the uterus, and it builds it in its own image and likeness – that is why our bodies express the
things that are in the soul’, for ‘our environment is always but the outpicturing of our soul’ (Fox
1979a:248). It is important to note that no one has sent or selected us but, because like
attracts like, our mature soul will find its ideal place at the time, which will also provide the
opportunity it needs to develop still further its good qualities and overcome its weaknesses, if it
so desires. Even if a child seems out of place in a certain family, or grows apart from them in
later life, the original and underlying likeness attracted the soul for that experience.

The statement that there is no such thing as heredity may come as a surprise to many, but
one has to understand that ‘no one ever “inherits” anything from his parents or his ancestors’.
If a soul joins a family with, say, tuberculosis, this soul potentially already had these
conditions. The circumstances of the family then produce an opportunity to break with such an
unhealthy cycle, if the soul so chooses this time. The soul may not even have any of the
family’s conditions, but will be attracted to it because of other similarities and challenges. Fox
(1979a:252) summarises this process: ‘So you yourself are your own ancestors, and at some
time or other you have produced your own personal character; and all your external conditions
arise out of that.’ This New Thought understanding is expanded in Divine Science’s statement
that one’s only heredity is pure inheritance, for there is only One God and Father of all. ‘When
we know how to claim being “heirs of God” we shall know our true inheritance. This is the truth
that makes us free’ (James and Cramer 1959:149). ‘Differences in talent, like differences in
opportunity, are the result of our activities in other lives’, comments Fox (1979a:253, 254), and
there is no reason to be stupidly proud or stupidly ashamed of one’s parents or family. One
should make the most of life and one’s talents without ‘either sighing for the impossible or
fleeing from the inevitable’.

A world of inequality with contrasts between poor and wealthy, sick and healthy, right and
wrong, happiness and sorrow or suffering does not harmonise with an all-loving and caring
God. Unless one believes that this life is not the only life, but a part of a greater evolutionary
whole, the suffering does not make any sense. The theory of reincarnation ‘enables a man
rationally to believe in Divine justice’, declares Yogi Ramacharaka (1935:225). Fox agrees that
through reincarnation the soul obtains all kinds of experiences by playing all kinds of role in
the great human drama. It offers one a logical and satisfactory explanation of what is
happening in one’s lives and in the world. He nevertheless encourages his readers to be part
of the world, but not from the world. One has to incorporate one’s spiritual understanding into
the practical life one is living in this existence, always mindful of the presence of God.

Anderson encapsulates New Thought beliefs by emphasising the importance of living life to
the fullest each moment, and not waiting for a reincarnational opportunity to improve it. ‘Let us
all do as vigorously and constructively as we can to make this indispensable moment as
beautiful as possible’, he insists. He encourages his readers to think of themselves as new
each moment, and ‘having the special perspectives provided by your past momentary selves,
you are believing in what could be called momentary reincarnation. You constantly are being
reborn to great new possibilities’ (Anderson 1991:53). As with Ken Wilber’s great chain of
being, Anderson sees that ‘you are essential to the whole of things. You here now are an
essential link in God’s great chain of becoming’ (Anderson 1991:53).

The Bible does not refer to reincarnation in any definite way. Fox (1979a:239) explains that
‘the Bible teaches us to concentrate on the task of achieving our reunion with God’. It teaches
us to seek actively to liberate ourselves from all limitations. Surely Fox must have been aware
that the Bible purposefully left out the references to reincarnation, unless his statement directs
the mindfulness of the student to living life fully in the present moment. The Bhagavad-Gita
underlines this thought: ‘The wise, engaged in devotional service, take refuge in the Lord and
free themselves from the cycle of birth and death by renouncing the fruits of action in the
material world. In this way they can attain that state beyond all miseries’ (Prabhupada
1976:36). Russell Chandler (1988:268), in asking why the church did not suppress
reincarnation, answers that the church did not need to, for ‘the theory wasn’t a serious option

in Christian belief’.

To the question of whether it is absolutely necessary to come back, Fox answers, no. If the
first time around, a person could live a life that concentrated only on the presence of God, it
would not be necessary to come back. However, we can scarcely do this in one life, and
therefore we grow in stages until we eventually ‘grow up’ spiritually. Charles Fillmore
(1981:166) maintains: ‘Reincarnation will continue until the ego awakens to the Christ Mind
and through it builds an imperishable body.’ He also believes that reincarnation ‘is not an aid
to spiritual growth, but merely a makeshift until full Truth is discerned’.

It was stated previously that those who can perform magic have the power to ward off the
death of those still living and the return of the deceased spirit. This statement is the closest
that Wilber comes to the idea of reincarnation. He did not discuss reincarnation in the sources
I consulted, and therefore one questions the place of reincarnation within his great chain of
being. When one dies, does one transcend and integrate all of what was? Does it shift one
into a higher, deeper and more significant level, regardless of one’s spiritual and mental
development? In other words because one dies, does this consequentially shift one higher
and deeper? Wilber argued that transformation (Thanatos outweighing Eros) can be
regressive, progressive or transcendent. And if any part of any whole is repressed, it becomes
pathological and affects all the parts with which it is linked. This seems to endorse the belief in
karma (what one sows, one will reap), and to determine whether a soul moves on or is stuck
on any specific level (reincarnating to that level to complete the lesson).

An important aspect of the doctrine of reincarnation, and the reason that it is exceedingly
unpalatable to many people, is that it makes a person directly responsible for his or her
present condition. Many dislike having to face this responsibility, and some prefer to blame
God, their parents, or the existing political system for making them what they are. According to
the aphorisms of Patanjali, another Eastern counterpart who is in accord with New Thought
principles, the doctrine of reincarnation

implies a profoundly optimistic belief in the justice and order of the universe. If it is we – and not God, or
our parents, or our fellow men – who have made our present predicament, then it is we who can change it.

We have no excuse for self-pity and no reason for despair. We are not helplessly doomed. We are under
no mysterious prenatal curse (in Prabhavananda and Isherwood 1960:76).

Esotericist Blavatsky (1952d:82) comments on the idea of reincarnation: ‘Man must, in short,
know who he was, before he arrives at knowing what he is.’

7.2.3 Karma

The cosmic law clearly determines that like attracts like, or, as Jesus’ teaching emphasised,
that what you sow, you will reap. This great law of cause and effect is seldom understood.
This law works in two ways – if one sows good or bad, little or a great deal, one will reap the
results according to those measures. In the East this law of cause and effect is known as

The concept of karma (intentional action), which, according to Krüger (1991:182), was
adapted by the Buddha, is echoed in the knowing ‘that the moral quality of one’s life
determines one’s fate in the next life’. Sogyal (1998:92) regards karma as that, ‘whatever we
do, with our body, speech, or mind, will have a corresponding result. Each action, even the
smallest, is pregnant with its consequences.’ Thus, a little poison can cause death, just as a
tiny seed can become a huge tree. Karma cannot decay or disappear. It resides within one
until the conditions are right for its manifestation, even if it occurs in another life. He also
declares that karma is a satisfying explanation for extraordinary differences between people.
There is no such thing as ‘by chance’ or ‘good luck’. The Buddha said, ‘What you are is what
you have been, what you will be is what you do now’ (in Sogyal 1998:93). Smith agrees with
other scholars that the parallel to karma in Western religions is found in the sowing and
reaping concept. However, he believes that in the East this understanding is ‘absolutely
binding and brooking no exceptions’ (Smith 1964:68). This law of cause and effect, or karma,
is what Ken Wilber proposes with his four-quadrant model. Every interior, however confused
or serene, has its manifestation or result in the exterior.

‘Karma is not punishment’, insists Fox (1979a:260–261), it ‘is really the perfect opportunity
that ever-kindly nature gives us to acquire just the knowledge and experience that we need.’

He considers it unfortunate that people talk about ‘bad karma’, for karma is neither good nor
bad. It is the result of one’s thoughts, deeds and actions – ‘by their fruit you will recognize
them’ (Matthew 7:16). Fox (1979a:262) then tries to make his point as clear as possible by
stating ‘that there is nothing fatalistic about the Law of Karma. You have free will – not
omnipotence, but always a choice within reasonable limits – and always you can choose the
higher or the lower’. Sogyal (1998:95) does not regard karma as fatalistic, or predetermined.
‘Karma means our ability to create and to change. It is creative because we can determine
how and why we act.’ New Thought teaches that we can change at any given moment. One of
the psychological corollaries of the idea of karma commits the believer who understands it to
complete personal responsibility. Each person is totally responsible for his or her actions,
whereas most people in the West prefer to project their shortcomings and difficulties outside
themselves. Nevertheless, karma teaches that by making the best use of whatever talents one
has, one can attain even greater ones. The opposite is also true. Fox (1979a:263–264)
concludes his thoughts on karma by affirming that ‘you do not have to accept any set of
conditions or any kind of karma if you will rise above it in consciousness’, for ‘any difficulty,
any dilemma, can be surmounted by whole-hearted prayer’.

Regarding the law of cause and effect, Fox (1979b:21) is adamant that ‘it is your habitual
mental conduct that weaves the pattern of your destiny for you’. Therefore no one can keep
another out of his or her kingdom, or put him or her in there, for ‘the story of your life is really
the story of the relations between yourself and God’. That every seed must inevitably bring
forth after its own kind is the essence of the law of cause and effect, or sowing and reaping,
and ‘thought is the seed of destiny’ (Fox 1979a:265), just as enlightenment is an evolutionary

7.2.4 Liberation from the cycle of rebirth

‘Ultimately, all karma’, comments Swami Prabhupada (1981:109), ‘whether good or bad, is
unfavorable, for it binds us to the material world.’ The Bhagavad-Gita reinforces this
statement: ‘Those who are not faithful on the path of devotional service, O killer of the
enemies, cannot achieve Me. Therefore, they come back to birth and death in this material

world’ (Prabhupada 1976:152).

In Krüger’s (1991:105) interpretation of Buddhism, ‘rebirth was the presupposed background

to the teaching of liberation, rather than its focus’, for ‘the focus was liberation here and now’.
This confirms the general religious thought of Fox and others. A life lived fully in the
consciousness of God has no fear of life or death, ‘because God is All, and God is Good’ (Fox
1979a:230). Liberation from the wheel of karma is available to anyone who chooses at any
given moment to rise above any ordeal in consciousness. Such a person enjoys total freedom.

Austrian teacher, philosopher and founder of anthroposophy, Rudolf Steiner finds a parallel in
New Thought when he states that a person and the physical world had a spiritual, and not a
material, origin, and that both have a spiritual destiny. Referring to reincarnation he

It is a quite wrong approach to the subject to speak about it as if it were merely a matter of repeated earth-
lives, [for reincarnation is seen] as a great rhythm of being, through which man, as a spirit-being, passes
continually from a spirit-existence to a physical one, and back again, in a gradual ascent of spiritual
evolution (in Shepherd 1955:125).

Psychotherapist M Scott Peck (1978:263), in his best-selling book The road less traveled,
matches this thought by highlighting that ‘spiritual growth is the evolution of an individual’ and
that ‘our lifetime offers us unlimited opportunities for spiritual growth until the end’.

Aware of the vastness of such a topic as life after death, Fox (1979a:230) included a footnote:

I would impress upon readers of this essay that no written description can really do justice to the subject. It
can but hint and suggest the truth. However correct the itinerary of a journey may be, it is likely to seem
somewhat dry and unattractive when read, since the beauty and joy of the new adventure must evade the
written word. This essay, of course, describes the experiences of the soul between incarnations.


It is interesting to note how Fox, in the early 1900s (1933), engaged himself in thoughts about

the end times. Even at that time he spoke of the end of an age and the dawning of a new one.
He challenged his listeners by reminding them that the old ways of thinking had come to an
end, and that one would have to adapt oneself to a completely new outlook on life. To him,
this newness was not merely rearranging old ideas into new patterns; it meant a complete
change in all of our fundamental values, a completely new way of looking at all human
problems – in fact a new age. A great deal of written material has appeared over the years
regarding the quest of the New Age and the debate still continues. This section will comment
briefly on Emmet Fox’s ideas of the end times, and provide a sketch of the various periods or
ages in general.

Humanity, finding itself on the threshold of a new age, is again ready to receive a new
teaching. Fox is adamant that the time has arrived when humanity has to drop the old narrow
concepts about God and embrace a revolutionary new concept of humanity’s relationship with
God. Fox’s reaction to the complaints of churchmen about empty pews on a Sunday is that the
old theological sanctions, which once meant so much, are no longer taken seriously by the
masses. He quotes Jan Christian Smuts: ‘Humanity has once more struck its tents, and is
again on the march’ (Fox 1994:95). The transformation of humanity during the emergence of
the New Age has always been the central idea. ‘Only through a new mind can humanity
remake itself, and the potential for such a new mind is natural’, comments Marilyn Ferguson
(1980:45), a leading New Age theoretician. The notion that one is spiritually free, the steward
of one’s own evolution, and that humankind may choose to awaken to its true nature, thereby
achieving a new dimension of mind, is in accordance with general New Thought belief.

Although there are significant similarities between New Thought and the New Age, there are
also prominent differences. However, this religious movement has entered a promising new
age, a period in which humankind will face major transformations and changes. The ‘new’ of
New Thought, according to its adherents, is expressed in Romans 12:2, ‘Be ye transformed by
the renewing of your mind.’ This principle inspires New Thoughters to approach the
challenging changes of a new age with empowerment and responsibility.

Fox has pointed out that the history of humankind proceeds through the unfolding of distinct

periods or ages. Each of these periods has its own characteristics, has provided humanity with
lessons and challenges, is fundamentally different in every aspect from its predecessor, and is
not a mere improvement on or expansion of it, and each age lasts for about two thousand
years (to be precise, 2 150 years). The last age brought Western Christian civilisation, as it
was known, but it has now fulfilled its mission and is drawing to a close, with a new age
already upon us, says Fox. Actually, the predicted new age has already materialised.9

He explains all of this by means of the zodiac. He does not suggest that one has to have an
understanding of astronomy, but he considers it necessary that one should know the natural
processes of the earth and its cycles.10 Fox acknowledges the place of astrology, as it will
always play a part in the effort to understand the larger universal spirituality. The zodiac, with
its twelve signs, reveals the destiny of humankind and symbolises the most fundamental thing
in the nature of people. ‘It is nothing less than the key to the history of the Human Race, of the
psychology of the individual man, and of his regeneration or spiritual salvation’ (Fox 1994:96).
The Bible, which Fox regards as the great fountain of truth, has the zodiac running through it
from beginning to end.11

Fox reminded us that in the New Age (The Aquarian Age), everything is going to change and
be new – even our politics, ecclesiastical institutions, relationships, and methods of doing our
daily work. Radical changes will occur and for the better. New Age adherent Patricia Diane
Cota-Robles (1997:30) echoes Fox’s sentiments by emphasising the significance of each new
age, because over the two thousand year cycle it ‘creates a major shift of energy, vibration
and consciousness on Earth’. The effects of such a brand new force field are truly awesome.

The exact time of the beginning of an age is still a matter of disagreement among
astronomers, New Thought and New Age writers. It is generally accepted that the sun entered
the zodiacal sign Taurus in the days of the historical Adam, heralding the beginning of the
Taurian Age. When the sun entered the sign of Aries, beginning the Arian Age, it was linked
with the life of Abraham in the Old Testament. Fox regards each age as an opportunity for a
lesson to be learned. According to him each of these ages had its own teacher who came to
teach a particular lesson. Thus the teacher of the Arian Age was Abraham, who raised the

standard of the One God. This age was a tremendous step forward in the history of humanity,
who came from a religious background of idol worshipping. It is known symbolically as the Age
of the Ram or Sheep, and Fox frequently comments that throughout the Bible sheep are used
to symbolise thoughts. The symbolic link between watching one’s thoughts and the shepherd
watching over his sheep is a clear indication of the Arian lesson working itself out in the radical
thought – ‘For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he’ (Proverbs 23:7).

At the time of the rise of the Roman Empire the sun entered the sign Pisces, also known as
the Fishes, and this announced the Piscean Age. Fox (1994:107) refers to this period as ‘the
epoch of orthodox Christianity’. The great teacher and leader of that age was, of course,
Jesus Christ, referred to in the early days of Christianity as the fish. The sign of the fish and its
element, water, were emphasised during this time. Because Jesus was making fishers of men,
the disciples became known as fishermen, just as the Old Testament leaders were shepherds.
The fish as the symbol of wisdom becomes ‘the technical term for the knowledge of the
Allness of God and of the power of prayer’ (Fox 1994:108).

The Age of Aquarius followed the Piscean Age, symbolised by a man carrying a pitcher of
water in his right hand. According to The Aquarian gospel of Jesus the Christ (chapter 157,
verses 29–30) Jesus referred to the beginning of this Age in these words:

And then the man who bears the pitcher will walk forth across an arc of heaven; the sign and signet of the
son of man will stand forth in the eastern sky. The wise will then lift up their heads and know that the
redemption of the earth is near (Levi 1977:229).

Fox refers to the man with the water jar as the gardener. It will be the gardener’s job to unite
mentally the lessons of the previous two ages. He mentions that the stage has been reached
where the lesson about the need for thought control has been learned, and the wisdom has
been contacted and appreciated. In other words, he insists that the conscious and the
subconscious minds stand almost precisely in the relationship of gardener and garden. Thus,
the gardener sows the seed in the soil that is ready prepared, waters it, but leaves it to nature
to make it grow. He compares this symbol to what happens in spiritual treatment or scientific
prayer, where ‘we speak the Word, but we leave it to the Divine Power to make the
demonstration’ or ‘I have planted; Apollos watered; but God gave the increase’. The dominant

note of this New Age, observes Fox (1994 :109), ‘is to be Spiritual development and Spiritual

When asked about the great teacher and prophet of the Aquarian Age, Fox (1994:110) insists
that it ‘is not to be any man or woman, or any textbook, or any organization, but the Indwelling
Christ, that each individual is to find and contact for himself’. After thousands of years of
upward striving, humanity is ready to do without any idol or personal prophet, but to contact
the Living God at first hand for themselves. This is the age when the multitudes of people are
approaching an advanced stage of spiritual consciousness. Jesus himself, observes Fox, said
that unless he went away, the Holy Spirit couldn’t come. This statement was to assist
humanity to become detached from a personality and to find the infinite, incorporeal God for
themselves. Each one must now become the captain of an own soul and the autocrat of an
own life, taking responsibility for an own life and its outcome.

The real significance of the zodiac, which permeates all human culture, is that it gives
humanity an opportunity to learn about God. Fox maintains that the twelve signs of the zodiac
present everyone with the opportunity of knowing God in twelve different ways. This
observation is closely linked to the question of the real reason for humankind being on the
earth. There is no doubt in Fox’s (1994:97–98) mind that ‘that we are here to learn the Truth of
Being. That we are here to become self-conscious, self-governed entities, focal points of the
Divine Mind, each expressing God in a new way.’ Knowledge of the zodiac provides this

Although Ken Wilber does not refer to the various ages or even the zodiac, his writings
indicate an understanding of evolutionary progress. The various levels, stages and waves of
human existence remind us of the ages of the zodiac. Wilber’s models also postulate a
movement upwards on the ladder of hierarchy, and one that not only moves toward the
ultimate wholeness, but also emerges from it. This movement or evolutionary shift, as it
transcends each successive wave or stage, includes the previous one. It is this integral
development, a combination of the left-hand and right-hand quadrants that indicates the end
of one stage and the beginning of another. Each teacher from the various periods in the

zodiac presented humankind with a new consciousness, and Fox has stated that the new
teacher of the Aquarian Age will be the individual’s indwelling Christ. This is indicative of
Wilber’s (1981:349) idea of what a real New Age would be ‘if everybody truly evolved to a
mature, rational, and responsible ego, capable of freely participating in the open exchange of
mutual self-esteem’.

Fox also contemplates the idea of a bigger universe and other life forms scattered throughout
the universe. He predicts that soon, in the new age, we will come to the understanding that
God is the God of the universe and of many other races and that this earth is not an island
unto itself.12 Fox (1979a:200–201) has no fear of death: ‘The same God is on the other side of
the grave as on this side.’ In other words, ‘there is no death! Our stars go down to rise upon
some fairer shore.’

The underlying foundation of Fox’s thinking, and of those who are in accord with New Thought
teaching, is the power of the mind. (This methodology was discussed in detail in earlier
chapters.) A natural conclusion is that a new age, or a new world, is really a new mind, for
deep change in a person or an institution comes from within. A reminder comes from General
Smuts, who points to a whole-making principle in mind itself. As living matter evolves to higher
and higher levels, so does mind, for mind is inherent in matter. He describes a universe that is
becoming ever more conscious. Ken Wilber (1995:43) also underlines personal involvement:
‘In the self-organization paradigm, evolution is the result of self-transcendence at all levels.’
This line of thinking corresponds with New Age headliner Marilyn Ferguson (1980:29), who
maintains: ‘Human nature is neither good nor bad but open to continuous transformation and
transcendence. It has only to discover itself.’ Wilber (1995:375) also mentions a profound truth
in human development, that ‘one can fully transcend any level only if one fully honors it first.
Otherwise one’s “development” is simply a reaction to, a reaction against, the preceding level,
and thus one remains stuck to it with the energy of disapproval.’

Russell Chandler warns readers that dangers lurk in many forms and to be suspicious of any
therapy, course or teaching that manipulates energy, deprecates the value of the mind or
critical thinking that cannot provide solid evidence or evaluation, and that is based on ‘secret’

knowledge revealed only to an inner elite. Fox, on the other hand, tells his readers that there
is nothing to fear as the coming changes bring about a certain amount of disturbance and
temporary chaos. He foresees the human race emerging with flying colours, purified,
strengthened and emancipated. He is nevertheless aware of the personal challenges ahead,
as well as the negative mental attitude of some people that could jeopardise their protection
and leave them open to further negative consequences. One’s personal fate, he declares,
depends on one thing only, and that is ‘the condition in which you keep your consciousness’. If
one’s consciousness is one of goodwill towards all, exercising an attitude of mental peace and
no hostile thoughts for others, then one will be safe. ‘The only real protection in any kind of
danger is the knowledge of Scientific Prayer, or the Practice of the Presence of God’ (Fox

Fox reminds his readers that the world will not come to an end and that the human race is not
doomed. It is going through difficult and changing times, but humanity has gone through
challenging periods before and has come through them triumphantly. He knows this because
he believes that ‘the captain is on the bridge’. For him, God is still in business and he advises
one to ‘realize the Presence of God where trouble seems to be, to do your nearest duty to the
very best of your ability; and to keep an even mind until the storm is over’ (Fox 1984:32).


1 Sogyal was a guest speaker at the conference of the Association of Global New Thought in Palm
Springs, California in 2000.

2 Quimby did not think of death as others did. ‘By a mesmerized subject I can prove that there is no death
as it is understood by all Christians’, he writes. He suggests that ‘every person has two identities: one
called the natural man and the other the real man or God or Wisdom’. Through a technique called
mesmerism or hypnosis, as it later became known, it was proved to him ‘that an individual can act with all
his usual faculties entirely independent of the body’. His understanding of a person’s two identities
resulted in his teaching ‘that there is another self, a superior self, that does not die with the body because
it is not dependent upon the body’ (Seale 1986:36–37, 93–94).

3 Fox gives the following scriptural references for the word ‘trance’: Numbers 24:4, Acts 10:10, 11:5 and

4 Dr Joshua David Stone, New Thought exponent, counsellor and licensed hypnotherapist, in his book The
complete ascension manual: how to achieve ascension in this lifetime (1994), devotes a chapter to
explaining the cosmic hierarchy with the evolutionary stages of the soul’s journey back to the Godhead.
An adept who has passed the sixth initiation, which leads to resurrection or ascension, has his or her
vehicles completely transformed into light. Such an ascended master now has the choice of remaining in
service on the physical plane or of returning to the spiritual world. Ascended masters Kuthumi and Djwhal
Khul assist humanity from the spiritual realms and teach through the method of channelling.

5 Stone maintains that the three days following death, the bardo, can become the greatest opportunity for
the dying person. The first phase allows the person to merge with the light of God, a very important and
significant moment for a soul. However, because of ignorance of the dying process, many do not realise
that they should merge with this light. This is either because of religious notions or because of the fear of
the light itself; being too heavily drugged by medical doctors; for some who only knew a materialistic life,
the idea of God is the furthest thing on their minds; and others are too concerned about their family and
estates. If this first opportunity was missed, the soul will be given a second chance to merge with the
light, though this time the light is toned down and is not as bright as before. This is still a very important
phase, which could even now result in liberation from the wheel of birth. If both of the previous stages
were missed, the soul enters a three-day period of reviewing his or her life. This is often referred to as

the ‘valley of judgement’ – not judgement in the ego sense of the word, but looking at one’s life with
clearer spiritual insight that may have been available while on earth. It is a unique time, a spiritual test,
for it allows a person to improve, to set the records straight, or to change any negativity into a positive
outcome for the next existence.

6 A meeting of the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 AD. Russell Chandler, on the other hand,
believes that this council did not consider reincarnation, as it was of no great concern to the early church
fathers. He admits, however, that the council rejected the idea of the pre-existence of the soul (a view
held by church theologian Origen).

7 J S Krüger brings the scholar’s attention to the difference between the Buddhist terminology of rebirth
and the Hindu view of transmigration. ‘The term reincarnation may be useful to cover both the Buddhist
and the Hindu view’, he remarks, ‘but it is not precise enough to express the Buddhist view.’ He then
suggests that, ‘in early Buddhism there was little or no abstract, speculative interest in rebirth as such’
(Krüger 1991:104–105).

Given the sense of the radical impermanence of all things finite – ‘a human body must vanish’ and ‘my
body falling apart like a decaying cart’ ([sn]1966:13) – well-known author Huston Smith (1964:115)
predicts the Buddha’s answer as ‘No’ to the question ‘Does man continue to exist after death’? Krüger
(1991:105) admits that the Buddha did teach life after death, but ‘in the sense of continuity, not in the
sense of the identity of an imperishable entity’. In Buddhism there is no mention of the imperishable soul
as a spiritual substance that is carried over from life to life. It is consciousness, the fifth aggregate of
which the human personality is temporarily combined, that Krüger regards as the link between lives that
ensures continuity. The other four, ‘form, sensation, perception and emotional and volitional factors’ are
all equally causally conditioned and cease to exist on death. Although consciousness cannot survive by
itself as a changeless entity or permanent substance – for it ‘remains dependent on the physical factors’
– it is instrumental in bringing forth ‘the new personality, in conjunction with a new body’ (Krüger

8 New Ager and New Thought advocate Patricia Diane Cota-Robles (1997:5) explains that when a person
enters into embodiment, ‘the Band of Forgetfulness was placed about our brows’, so that the pain of
separation, despair and hopelessness on earth could be felt and experienced as part of humanity’s
evolution and the healing of miscreated energies. Forgetting about former embodiments gave a person a
clean start, so to speak. However, without remembering the past, this current horrendous life does not
make sense to one.

9 These times of ever-expanding vistas were prophesised by Grey Eagle (in Kotzé 1995:xi): ‘The drums of

the thoughts have been beating hard and the message has gone out from the gathering places all over
the world. The time for you, human race, has come to go home. The long road ends.’

10 According to The Aquarian gospel of Jesus the Christ, astronomers suggest that the sun and its planets
revolve around a larger central sun, which requires something less than 26 000 years (some indicate a
period of 24 000 years) to make one revolution. The orbit of the sun is called the zodiac, which again is
divided into 12 signs, familiarly known as Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio,
Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. It thus takes the solar system a little more than 2 100 years
to pass through one of these signs, and the period that the earth is held in the embrace of a particular
constellation is called an age. A New Age begins when the earth moves from the force field of one
constellation into the force field of the next constellation in its counter- clockwise journey.

11 Fox (1994:96–97) refers to the following examples as reminders that the zodiac features in the Bible and
is found all over the world, among all races, and in all ages: the twelve sons of Jacob and the twelve
tribes of the Old Testament; the twelve disciples of the New Testament; excavations among the most
ancient ruins in Asia have revealed representations of the zodiac; it was known among the Egyptians and
the Chaldeans; it was engraved on the temples of Greece and Rome; the American aborigines in Mexico
and Peru were acquainted with it; Chinese records refer to it; Pythagoras taught it; it turned up on
forgotten islands in the Pacific; and it is to be found in medieval cathedrals (the great circle at
Stonehenge is really a type of zodiac).

12 Brinsley Le Poer Trench, author of The sky people (1960), frequently refers to the people coming from
the sky as visitors to the planet earth in order to mingle with the mortals. He believes that these sky
people are showing humanity the way to raise and realise its true galactic status, and that it is man’s
destiny to live among the stars, enjoying the fellowship and respect of his fellow godlike galactic beings.
Once again, a perspective like this adds a different dimension to New Thought as it not only challenges
its traditional thought, but also introduces new perspectives.



Countless people regard the Bible as a sacred book. For some, however, it became little more
than a dust collector on a shelf. It is said of Emmet Fox that he changed this for many people.
Herman Wolhorn (1977:54) comments that although ‘in time the many healings and the down-
to-earth yet highly spiritual instruction of Emmet Fox will be forgotten’, a ‘lasting tribute to his
work, a golden key to those yet unborn’, will be ‘his unveiling of the Bible’. He was known for his
ability to awaken his listeners to the immense and practical value of the Bible in their lives.
Wilhorn himself regards the Bible as the grand diagram of man’s destiny. Then again, Fox is not
the only one to have been inspired by this book. Any religious script of this magnitude is part of
a shared social and cultural viewpoint (the lower half of Wilber’s four-quadrant model), for it
creates the fundamental and foundational value system of a religious group within any specific
culture or society. In this chapter Fox’s method of biblical exegesis will be the focus and
exemplar of such a common shared experience.

Among academic scholars, interpretation of the Bible is of cardinal importance, for it is believed
that a wrong method of biblical interpretation may lead to a false notion of the message of the
Bible. Fox’s method, or lack of it, will be discussed, and compared with New Thought teachings
in general.


As scholarly debates over the correct method of biblical interpretation continue, the question is
raised whether biblical exegesis has vanished from the New Thought tradition. New Thoughter
and academic Dell deChant believes that New Thought has forgotten its unique historical
tradition of exegesis, which is the allegorical method, and that readers are more familiar with the
term ‘metaphysical’, as New Thought’s name for biblical interpretation. But this term can be

philosophically and theologically ambiguous. deChant (1994:2) maintains that the basis of New
Thought’s metaphysics is a ‘philosophical/theological system known as Idealism – the system
that recognizes the primacy of Mind’ and that its method of biblical interpretation is ‘Idealistic
allegorical exegesis’.

In tracing the origins of the term ‘metaphysics’ as applied to metaphysical religious groups,
Anderson considers Mary Baker Eddy the starting point, followed by Emma Curtis Hopkins. Both
New Thought women established metaphysical colleges and their metaphysics propose that
which is above and away from the physical, the Divine Mind. Anderson (2000:108–109) also
refers to Charles Fillmore (co-founder of Unity School of Christianity) and Ernest Holmes
(founder of Religious Science) as New Thoughters who use the term ‘metaphysics’ to suggest
‘clear understanding of the realm of ideas and their legitimate expression’ and ‘intelligent forces
latent in the human mind’. Anderson (2000:112, 121) also comes to the conclusion that there is
‘little or no justification’ for the belief that ‘New Thought has any prevalent metaphysics’ and that
since the passing of Thomas Troward in 1916 (the most outstanding figure in the development of
New Thought in England) there had been ‘no one who might reasonably be considered a
metaphysician in the philosophical sense’. Paul Laughlin, an academic, has also joined in the
debate. Like Anderson and deChant, he does not believe that Idealism is the philosophical
foundation of New Thought. (His specific views on the topic were discussed in chapter 3.3.)

To return to the allegorical method of biblical interpretation of New Thought, deChant maintains
that its historical roots go back as far as Philo and Origen. Allegorical interpretation of Scripture
became a tool that revealed a higher meaning behind the literal reading of Scripture. Origen
distinguished three levels of understanding Scripture: the historical or literal, the moral or ethical,
and the mystical or allegorical. Ken Wilber (1995:397) remarks that both Origen and Philo
conceived the allegorical method as a solution ‘that would henceforth be used whenever
mythology needed to be both negated and preserved’. ‘The brilliance of this scheme is that “the
myth” can be made to say whatever it is necessary to make it say, quite regardless of how its
originators actually meant it’. Charles Throckmorton (2000:52), a New Thought minister, confirms
this: ‘Historically, allegorical methods applied to biblical exegesis lack consistency, and the
allegories often reflect the theological biases of the exegete.’ Not only has this method of

interpretation been referred to as ‘fanciful, assuming that the allegorist can make any passage
mean whatever she or he wants it to mean (eisegesis), leading to moral relativism’, but in many
schools of thought it has been regarded as an erroneous method of interpretation. Ignoring what
stands in the text and focusing on what one can read into it, this method of interpretation has
lead to the utmost subjectivity, and therefore is completely unacceptable to many scholars.

Fox’s hermeneutics do not seem to be articulated in academic and philosophical terms, but in
symbolic interpretation that bears a close resemblance to existentialist Rudolf Bultman’s (1880–
1976) thinking. The existential reading is heir to the great Neoplatonic tradition in Christianity,
extending from Plotinus over Eriugena, Schelling and others, to Emerson into New Thought.


Dell deChant (1998a:64) suggests that basic exegesis should ask general questions about the
text’s ‘(a) historical period; (b) material environment; (c) genre; (d) primary language; (e)
relationship with other texts; (f) edition; (g) author(s) and editor(s); (h) public function (religious,
political, ideological, etc)’. Fox believes that the Bible must be unveiled, as it is written in symbol
and allegory. But in terms of the above list, it is clear that Fox certainly did not do exegesis.

If Fox did not do exegesis (as suggested above), and did not have a theology, then what made
him such a popular teacher and so widely read? deChant’s (2002) impression is that ‘Fox’s
thought represents a popular theology – a theology for a popular culture’. He states that Fox is
pretty much mainstream New Thought. He regards his biblical work as traditional New Thought
metaphysical: ‘a blend of allegorical (symbolic interpretation) and popular psychology’. Although
Fox was not particular deep in his exegetical attempt, according to some, he was a genius at
making interpretations relevant to his readers. Hence, according to deChant (2002), Fox has a
‘popular theology and popular allegorical interpretation’.

According to Emmet Fox the object of the Bible is to teach psychology and metaphysics (or
spiritual truth) in order to know how to live correctly. Allegories and parables are used because
they allow everyone to receive the teaching at their own point of development. He maintains that

‘if the Bible is to be of any use, these parables must be interpreted spiritually’ (Fox 1994:32).
This spiritual interpretation is the fundamental thought in Fox’s method of interpretation. He
recognises the Bible as the most precious possession of the human race for it contains the key
to life, which includes health, freedom and prosperity. It meets all on their own level and brings
them to their understanding of God. In his words, ‘it has a solution for every problem’ (Fox
1984:81). His zeal for the Bible as spiritual truth is confirmed in his statement that it gives ‘direct
teaching about God, as clear and precise as any book on philosophy that ever was written’. He
acknowledges the historical narrative and biographical nature of the Bible, believing that it
contains unmatched collections of essays and treatises on the nature of God, the nature of man,
the powers of the soul, and the meaning of life. Fox is convinced that it is ‘in its prayers and
treatments that the Bible is transcendent’ for it goes ‘right down to the depths of the human soul,
meeting every need that can arise, and providing for every possible temperament and any
conceivable contingency – in fact they [prayers and treatments] cater to all sorts and conditions
of men’ (Fox 1979a:69–70).

He further reveals the significance of the Bible by accepting that the characters demonstrate
certain states of mind that could and do happen to people today. Every incident signifies
something that can happen to us. Every name in the Bible has a meaning, for it represents an
idea of a person and that person’s life. The geography of the Bible is significant too, as it
represents certain states of consciousness. Numbers are used to convey definite ideas and
principles. The letters of the Hebrew alphabet are particularly significant and have a symbolic
meaning that runs through Scripture. To Fox, the Bible, although a story about people who lived
thousands of years ago, is nevertheless a story for everyone today, ‘because the Bible is the
Book of Every man’. He adds: ‘If I had my way, I would have all Bibles published with this
phrase printed in large letters on the outside cover: THIS MEANS ME ’ (Fox 1993:77). But Fox
never loses sight of the fundamental thread of the inner and spiritual meaning of the Bible. He
maintains that the Bible uses outer concrete things to express inner, subjective or abstract ideas
as its method of imparting its teaching. Those who reject it as absolute nonsense, because it
cannot be true, and those who accept it at face value, true or not, whether it makes sense or
not, are all missing the point, according to Fox – he believes that the Bible is an allegory.

Fox reminds his readers that the Bible is not primarily intended to teach history, or biography, or
natural science, although it contains a great collection of literary masterpieces, both in prose
and poetry. It is intended to teach psychology and metaphysics. It deals primarily with states of
mind and the laws of mental activity. Each of the principal characters in the Bible represents a
state of mind, and the events that happen to them illustrate the consequences of entertaining
such states of mind. It is in understanding this spiritual key to the Bible that a person’s
consciousness changes for the better, and Fox remarks that this raising of consciousness
makes the higher revelation possible to us. New Thoughter Charles Fillmore ([sa]:73–74)
agrees with this line of thought. ‘Above all, the Bible explains the spiritual character of man and
the laws governing his relation to God. These are symbolically set down as states of
consciousness, illustrated by parables and allegories.’ Thomas Troward (1917:208) adds that
‘we learn that the interpretation of it is not to be found in learned commentaries, but in

Even though Fox emphasises the importance of symbols, parables and allegories within the
Bible, he does not believe that the Bible is a book of predictions. As he often posits, the Bible,
an ancient and Oriental book, compiled for a population living in different conditions and with
different needs, is a great vortex through which wonderful spiritual power flows into the soul of
the individual who reads it with understanding. It contains a wealth of pure history, but deals
primarily with spiritual things that cannot be fully stated in limited language. There are three
basic meanings to every passage in the Bible, Fox maintains. The first is the historical fact or
bare statement; the secondary meaning lies imprisoned within the statement; and the third
meaning brings about the change in the soul when the spiritual significance is really obtained
and understood. It is in the secondary meaning, the inner meaning, that Fox finds the diagrams
for living and where symbology transcends language. ‘There is nothing in the world more
thrilling than the Bible, particularly our Bible in English’, says Fox (1979d:15). He states that:
‘There is no literature in the world which comes within a thousand miles of it for literary power,
for graphic presentation, for dramatic expression, for knowledge of human nature, and for
human psychology, as it is the fashion at the moment, to call it.’ He regards the Authorized
Version, the King James Version, as the best; however, he does mention that there are
mistakes in it.

For greater understanding of the Bible, Emmet Fox lists eleven keywords that that in his opinion
will not only open up the Bible, but will open up one’s life as well.

Fear: It is said in Psalm 111:10 and Proverbs 1:7 that fear of God is the beginning of wisdom
and knowledge. According to Fox, fear is entirely evil and ‘we have nothing to fear but fear’. Fox
interprets fear of God as reverence for God. And reverence for God is the beginning of wisdom.

Wrath: For many students of metaphysics, the wrath of God poses a problem as they learn of a
loving God. Fox’s explanation is that the word ‘wrath’ in the Bible really means great activity. This
activity is the confused stage prior to the moment of order. He uses the example of total disorder
as in spring cleaning, or the ‘getting worse’ stage before the actual healing. To him, this so-called
chaos or crisis is the wrath of God.

I Am That I Am: As one of the principal terms for God in the Bible, it ‘means unconditioned Being
… the great Creative Power that is unlimited. It is an attempt – and a very successful one – to
express, as far as language can, the infinity of God’ (Fox 1984:60).

Salvation: To Fox this word means perfect health, harmony and freedom.

Wicked: Occurring more than three hundred times in the Bible, the word ‘wicked’ means
‘bewitched’ or ‘under a spell’. As Fox has so often stated, the ‘Law of Being is perfect harmony,
and that truth never changes’. He reminds us that man often uses his free will to think wrongly
about these truths and in so doing begins to believe that these false conditions are real. This is
what it means to be bewitched or to live under the spell of this illusion. To break this spell of a
wrong impression, one has to turn to God and ‘know instead that God is all Power, infinite
Intelligence, and boundless Love’ (Fox 1984:64–65).

Judgment: Fox does not see judgment as a great trial at the end of times, but a process that
goes on every day. This means deciding on the truth or falsity of any thought. ‘To accept evil at
its face value is to judge wrongly; To decline to believe in evil, and to affirm the good is righteous
judgment’. He explains Jesus’ saying ‘Judge not that ye be not judged’ cogently when he states

that ‘to condemn our brother out of hand instead of seeing the Christ within him is to put
ourselves in danger, because we are making a reality of those appearances in him, and
whatever we make real we must demonstrate in our own lives’ (Fox 1984:66).

Heathens, enemies, strangers: ‘These mean your own negative thoughts’, says Fox, and not
other human beings. ‘Wrong thoughts are heathens because they do not know God. They are
strangers to your real self, and, of course, they are the only enemies that you can have. All such
enemies are to be destroyed, not by wrestling with them which only gives them power, but by
righteous judgment – refusing to believe in them. God is the only Presence and the only Power’
(Fox 1984:67).

Christ: This word, which is a title, not a proper name, comes from a Greek word meaning
‘anointed or consecrated’ and it ‘corresponds somewhat to the Hebrew term Messiah, and to the
oriental word Buddha’. The Greek word ‘Jesus’, which was translated from the Hebrew ‘Joshua’
means ‘God is salvation’. This is what Fox calls the golden key, in other words, ‘the realization of
God is our salvation’. He defines The Christ as ‘the spiritual Truth about any person, situation, or
thing’ and ‘when you realize the spiritual Truth about any problem you are lifting up the Christ in
consciousness, and the healing follows’ (Fox 1984:68).

Repentance: This means ‘to change one’s mind concerning something’. So when a person
realises the wrong ways of his or her life, and chooses to change it for the better, then he or she
has repented. Repentance is very important for any spiritual progress, and for the forgiveness of
sin. When John the Baptist said: ‘Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’, it meant that
‘you should change your thought and know that the Presence of God is where you are’ (Fox

Vengeance: Fox (1984:71) interprets the word ‘vengeance’ as ‘vindication’. It stands for the
vindication of Truth against the challenge or accusation of fear and misunderstanding’. Knowing
that the real nature of being is perfect, people still accept mistaken ideas about the truth and then
have to live in their bondage. When they turn to God and realise the truth, then the truth and
God’s goodness are vindicated once more.

Life: ‘Life’ in the Bible refers to those periods of feeling free, useful and joyous, without
consciousness of fear or doubt.


Emmet Fox has a wealth of biblical interpretations.1 He was particularly famous for his symbolic
interpretation and understanding of the Bible in such books as The Sermon on the Mount and
The Ten Commandments. It was his down-to-earth, direct, forthright approach to biblical
interpretation, his warmth and deep sincerity towards people, as well as his optimism and total
belief in the Gospel and its workability, that made his message always ‘right now’, affirms New
Thought author Charles Braden (1963:355) – a religion ‘for here and now – and people needed
just that’.

8.3.1 The Sermon on the Mount

The Sermon on the Mount2 in the New Testament Book of Matthew is ‘an almost perfect
codification of the Jesus Christ religion’, according to Fox (1938:16). It is considered one of the
greatest pieces of writing in existence and forms the heart of Christian teaching. Norman
Vincent Peale 3 (1956:7) remarks: ‘Of all the millions of words produced, of all the ideas ever
expressed’, the words of the Sermon on the Mount ‘are supreme in style and truth’ and have
exercised ‘more creative influence for good than anything ever written or spoken’. Swami
Prabhavananda4 (1964:9,13) regards the Sermon on the Mount as ‘the essence of Christ’s
gospel’ and ‘a practical programme of daily living and conduct’. Along with other scholars,
Swami Prabhavananda and New Thought follower Dorothy Elder insist that the Sermon on the
Mount and the Beatitudes in particular were intended for Jesus’ disciples only, as their hearts
were prepared to receive them, and not for multitudes.

Fox’s belief in the essential truth regarding the nature of man finds a counterpart in Indian
teachings in the knowledge that ‘man’s real nature is divine’ (Prahavananda 1964:9); that a
person ‘is essentially spiritual and eternal’ and that the only real goal of human life is to unfold
and manifest that divinity (Fox 1938:4). A fundamental idea in Fox’s teaching is that ‘the Truth
turns out to be nothing less than the amazing but undeniable fact that the whole outer world is
amenable to man’s thought and that he has dominion over it when he knows it’. In other words,
the whole of one’s life experience is only the outer expression of one’s inner thought. He also
maintains that ‘we have free will, but our free will lies in our choice of thought’ (Fox 1938:13–

Fox’s focus on the inner teachings of Jesus and the Bible corresponds generally with the
mystical approach to Scripture. Both approaches emphasise the importance of interpreting and
understanding these truths with the heart and not the intellect; ‘the letter killeth, but the spirit
giveth life’. It was in the attempt to reduce the mystical content of teachings so that they justified
prevailing opinions that the keys to Scriptures were lost. It is the truth or spiritual key that
unlocks the mystery of the Bible and Fox regards the Sermon on the Mount as a golden key to
successful living. Norman Vincent Peale considers the style and organisation of the Sermon on
the Mount a work of genius. It deals with the profoundest of all truth in the simplest manner. He
shares Fox’s sentiments that: ‘It does not depend for scholarly reputation upon complicated
reasoning, heavy sentence structure, and an air of intellectual sophistication’ (Peale 1956:9).
Fox insists that Jesus taught no theology whatsoever and that his teachings were entirely
spiritual or metaphysical. He believes that historical Christianity, which was concerned with
theological and doctrinal questions, had no part in the Gospel teaching. It is these simple and
profound truths, taught in the spiritual gospel of the Sermon on the Mount, that lead serious
students to liberation, purification of their hearts, and the truth of God fully revealed within them.

The Beatitudes, or blessed statements, form the prelude to the Sermon on the Mount and they
constitute one of the best-known sections in the Bible. Fox refers to the Beatitudes as a prose
poem in eight verses that summarises the whole of Christian teaching. ‘It is a spiritual, more
than a literary synopsis’, he observes, and it summarises the spirit of the teaching rather than
the letter. This format ‘is highly characteristic of the Old Oriental mode of approach to a religious

and philosophical teaching, and it naturally recalls the Eight-fold Path of Buddhism, the Ten
Commandments of Moses, and other such compact groupings of ideas’ (Fox 1938:19). This
statement reveals that Fox had a very wide framework of reference. Mystic Manly P Hall, whose
teaching is in accordance with Fox and New Thought in general, founds doctrinal parallels to the
Beatitudes in the religions of the East and in the ethical codes of the philosophical systems of
the Greeks and Egyptians.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3)

This Beatitude has been interpreted in various ways from indicating spiritual poverty to the
importance of being humble and renouncing the vainglorious and petty ambitions of this world,
and letting go of all pride in one’s intellect. Fox understands ‘the poor in spirit’ as having emptied
yourself of all desire to exercise personal self-will, ‘to have renounced all preconceived opinions
in the whole-hearted search for God. It means to be willing to set aside your present habits of
thought, your present views and prejudices, your present way of life if necessary; to jettison, in
fact, anything and everything that can stand in the way of your finding God’ (Fox 1938:22). In
other words, there should be nothing (poor) but God (Kingdom of Heaven). This is the
fundamental truth or spiritual key that a person is essentially spiritual and eternal.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4)

It has often been said that people do not learn by spiritual unfolding, but by painful experience.
Fox considers such trouble and suffering extremely useful, as eventually it can become a
blessing in disguise for through mourning one will be comforted. It is this feeling of spiritual
deprivation within a person that Elder links to a mystic’s experience of the ‘dark night of the soul’
– a period of seeming separation from the Source.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5)

The word ‘meek’ does not have any of the modern English meanings, such as submissive,
servile, low and unpretentious, but should be interpreted for its technical use in the text, says Fox
(1938:30–31), who interprets it as ‘a combination of open-mindedness, faith in God, and the
realization that the Will of God for us is always something joyous and interesting and vital’. Its
true significance is a mental attitude, one of obedience or willingness to listen and follow the
inner guidance, and this ‘is the Key to Dominion, or success in demonstration’. ‘Earth’, continues
Fox (1938:29), means manifestation, and ‘manifestation or expression is the result of a cause’.
Thus ‘all causation is mental’. If earth means the whole of one’s outer experience, then ‘to inherit
the earth’ means to have dominion over that outer experience.

Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled (Matthew

In this Beatitude the word ‘righteousness’ must be used in a special and definite sense.
‘Righteousness’ does not merely mean correct conduct, ‘but right thinking on all subjects, in
every department of life’ (Fox 1938:33). Other scholars agree that the fourth Beatitude highlights
the great law of the universe – ‘that what you think in your mind you will produce in your
experience. As within, so without’ (Fox 1938:33). It is about the desire to realise God fully, to
concentrate mindfully upon him, and ultimately to find one’s own divinity in the silence.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy (Matthew 5:7)

As a summary of the law of life, Fox insists that this Beatitude should be applied to the realm of
thought – one should be merciful in one’s thoughts. It also endorses the law of cause and effect,
or the law of karma, even the golden rule. ‘Because in deed and in truth we are all one,
component parts of the living garment of God’, affirms Fox (1938:38), and therefore merciful in
our mental judgements of others, we will have the same merciful benefits in our own lives. ‘To be
merciful is one of the conditions necessary before we can receive the truth of God’, and for that
reason thoughts of envy, jealousy and even hatred towards another should be erased by an
opposite wave of thought – ‘If we want to find God, we have to become God-like in mercy’
(Prabhavananda 1964:24–25).

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8)

Fox points out that this is not seeing God in the ordinary physical sense of the word, but
apprehending Truth as it really is. Scriptures of the world have proclaimed the truth that God
exists and that the purpose of one’s life is to know him. Fox (1938:41) suggests that people must
recognise God as the only real Cause, Presence and Power, ‘not merely in a theoretical or
formal way, but practically, and specifically, and whole-heartedly, in all their thoughts, and words,
and actions’; and ‘in every nook and corner of their lives and mentalities’. Such devotion to God
creates the pure in heart. Another method that results in this purity is to learn that purity and
divinity are basically one’s nature. The word ‘heart’, says Fox (1938:42), stands for ‘that part of
man’s mentality which modern psychology knows under the name of the ‘subconscious mind’’:
‘as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he’. Not only should one know this, it must also be
registered within the subconscious (in the heart), and then the outer reality can really change,
and one can be a divine creature (and see God), as Fox would teach.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God (Matthew 5:9)

This is a practical lesson in the art of prayer. Fox (1938:43) regards prayer as ‘the only thing that
changes one’s character’. It is such a radical change that he reminds his students that Jesus
refers to it as being ‘born again’. To bring about this new reaction, a person must have a sense
of serenity, peace. Swami Prabhavananda (1964:28) echoes Fox’s sentiments: ‘We cannot bring
peace until we have realized our oneness with God and with all beings.’

Blessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of
heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner
of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward
in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you (Matthew 5:10–12)

Here Fox differs from other scholars in his interpretation. The classical interpretation is that those
saints and teachers who were persecuted for their religious beliefs would be blessed for their
courageous efforts. Fox (1938:49) affirms that one can envy them for the moral and spiritual
heights that they attained, but ‘there is no virtue in martyrdom’. ‘Nothing can come into our

experience unless it finds something in us with which it is attuned; and so, to have trouble and
difficulty is only a sign that our own mentality needs clearing up; for what you see at any time is
nothing but your own concept.’ According to his understanding the source of any persecution ‘is
none other than our own selves’. It is this tussle with one’s lower self that persecutes one, but
Fox considers this an extremely fortunate or blessed condition, ‘for it is in such moments that we
are really advancing’ (Fox 1938:47–48).

Fox’s unshakable belief in the power of thought, that what you think in your mind you will
produce in your experience, is the golden key, or golden thread that runs throughout the
Beatitudes. He has pointed out repeatedly that the vital bearing of the principles covered in the
Beatitudes lies in their application to the realm of thought. He clearly interprets each of these
statements from a personal and inner perspective and always applies it to the individual and his
or her divine consciousness at any given time. This belief in the power of thought is not only
evident in Fox’s interpretation, but is the foundational concept in the Dhammapada, the Buddhist
Book of Proverbs. In its opening line the Dhammapada states: ‘All that we are is the result of
what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts’ (Müller

Fox’s reading of the Beatitudes apparently brings him close to the Dhammapada. It also shows
that he does not read the Bible from a narrow Christian point of view, for his interpretation
reveals the possibility of a more universal truth. Although he suggests a literal interpretation for
those for whom this works, he indicates that as a person evolves, so his or her interpretation of
the truth opens into a greater universalism. From the many comparisons with other texts and
religious philosophies, it seems that the Beatitudes portray a general way of life and do not
belong exclusively to the Christian tradition. Christianity is just one doctrine among many;
however, Fox regards Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount as a life-altering experience.
That we have free will and that our free will lies in our choice, says Fox, is demonstrated by
Jesus Christ. He summed up this truth, taught it thoroughly, surmounted every sort of limitation to
which humankind is subject, and through his resurrection from death he ‘performed a work of
unique and incalculable value to the race, and is therefore justly entitled the Saviour of the world’
(Fox 1938:15).

8.3.2 The Ten Commandments

Emmet Fox regards this section as one of the most important parts of the Bible, for it sums up
the whole Bible teaching as it instructs one about the laws of life. In applying these laws, he
says, we have dominion over everything. The account appears in the book of Exodus, which
means ‘to exit’, and is therefore appropriate as a means of getting out of trouble. New Thought
exponent Dr Ervin Seale (1976:14) reaffirms that the Ten Commandments give us the assurance
that ‘there is always something that can be done about every problem, and that no man is ever
without hope or without resources’.

Fox’s interpretation begins with the story of Moses, the receiver of the Ten Commandments.
Moses, who was drifting in a basket on the river, was found by the pharaoh’s daughter, who then
gave the baby to his own mother to be nursed. Metaphysically, remarks Fox, we all become the
pharaoh’s daughter when we discover the truth – the spiritual idea – and like all babies, this
discovery needs to be nursed by our daily prayers and meditations.

The meanings of names in the Bible are always tools for interpreting the stories. This, and other
examples where a deeper meaning is indicated, points towards an esoteric background.5 Moses
means ‘drawn out of the water’, and water represents the ‘human mind or personality – our
emotional nature’, while Egypt stands for ‘limitation and a lack of faith in God’. In order to know
ourselves, we have to find God. Moses did this by going into the wilderness, where he married
one of the priest’s daughters. These seven daughters represent the seven main aspects of God:
Life, Truth, Love, Intelligence, Soul, Spirit and Principle. Marriage has always been the symbol of
union between God and man. Once Moses was whole again, he could return and lead his people
out of bondage, meaning that once we are reunited with God, our troubled and limited thoughts
can be freed (Fox 1979d:28–31).

Ervin Seale also realises that the Ten Commandments can be read on several levels, depending
on the level of consciousness and understanding of the individual. There are those who only

know and live by outer laws and regulations, whereas others, who have discovered the power
within them, accept the spiritual responsibility for their actions. They will see the Ten
Commandments not as restraints on their conduct, but as prescriptions for their thinking. ‘This is
the spiritual understanding of the Ten Commandments; it is also a scientific understanding,
because it can be applied in daily life’ (Seale 1976:19).

First Commandment: I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt,
out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me

Fox refers to this commandment as ‘I Am That I Am’, for it explains the nature of God, which is
not human, but pure Spirit, Infinite Creative Life, Infinite Mind, Infinite Intelligence. This pure,
unconditioned Being cannot be defined within the limited human language. Fox notes that ‘I Am’
is one’s true being. It is our real nature, which is the Presence of God in us. So, if one says ‘I am
this or that, or I cannot do this’, one is limiting this Divine Presence, and therefore is entertaining
other gods. But limited and negative thoughts will bring about a limitation in our demonstrations.
One should remember the nature of one’s being and confess that all the time, rather than
focusing on those thoughts that will divert us from our goal. When the ‘I Am That I Am’ (God)
spoke to Moses from the burning bush, it was the Presence of God (I Am) within Moses that
addressed the personality of Moses (Fox 1979d:53–64).

Second Commandment: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image … for I the Lord thy
God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and
fourth generation of them that hate me …

Whenever we give power to anything but God, we are making that thing into a graven image, a
pocket god that we take out at will and that becomes the focus of our attention. This graven
image can even be a favourite disease that we affectionately refer to as ‘my rheumatism’,
comments Fox. This wrong thinking will bring about its own punishment, as the law will always
carry it out – producing after its kind. God is not a jealous God; however, it is explained in this
limited language so that we understand that when we give power to anything other than God, we
lose it altogether. Ervin Seale (1976:65) expresses this idea as: ‘Therefore, when any human

mind sets up a concept, a theory or an opinion about causation being outside itself, it is guilty of
worshipping a false god’.

The thought of ‘visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth
generation’ has frightened many people. People often refer to this text when they want to explain
a hereditary disease. The truth is that ‘no children are ever punished for the sins of their fathers
or anyone else. We are never punished by or for anything except our own mistakes in the
present or the past, perhaps the distant past’. We do not inherit any disease from our family, but
a certain type of ailment may run in certain families and, like attracting like, someone in such a
family may develop a similar condition. The ancestors are ourselves of yesterday, and the
children and grandchildren are ourselves today and tomorrow. So whatever we do and think
today will become our experience in the future (Fox 1979d:67–77).

Third Commandment: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will
not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain

It does not matter what name we give God, for ‘the real name of God for you is your idea of God’
and you cannot have that in vain. Our idea of God determines the outcome of our whole life,
declares Fox. It always works out for us in accordance with our belief. A limited idea of God will
definitely bring about a limited demonstration and therefore we cannot afford, so to speak, to
take the name in vain. Fox refers to this commandment as ‘Thoughts are things’, knowing that
whatever we entertain in our minds about the nature of God will be what we experience and
demonstrate in our daily lives (Fox 1979d:46–52).

Seale (1976:82), in line with Fox’s thinking, expresses this as ‘man is a result of what is in his
mind. Mind is always measuring, defining, thinking and choosing what it shall experience.’ He
interprets taking the name of God in vain as having a limited thought, for ‘[w]hen a person falls
down in his mind before difficult conditions or situations [such a person is taking the Name in
vain] he is misusing the marvellous powers of being and awareness, and thus limiting his
progress in life’.

Fourth Commandment: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy …


This commandment instructs us to seek the presence of God everywhere and every day – not
just on the Sabbath. God did not make the world in six days and then rested on the seventh. Fox
states that the seven days of creation are allegorical. However, to have a full demonstration, we
need to ‘let go’ of the effort. In other words, we need time to allow the demonstration to come to
fruition. Fox’s motto is ‘Do the work, and then allow it to happen’. This is the meaning of keeping
the Sabbath – it is understanding that God is present everywhere and every moment is sacred
and holy (Fox 1979d:126–142).

Fifth Commandment: Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land
which the Lord thy God giveth thee

Respecting our parents is only one aspect of this commandment. The metaphysics describes
polarity, which is the motive power of the universe. Fox maintains that ‘father’ represents the
knowing nature, whereas ‘mother’ means the feeling nature. It is only when our knowledge is
accompanied by a strong feeling that the demonstration comes about. Thought has no power
unless it is charged with feeling. We will only demonstrate in life, or have success in prayer, if we
strongly entertain a specific truth.

Sixth Commandment: Thou shalt not kill

Knowing that no one can kill from the outside, whether it is our business, our reputation or our
peace of mind, is to be freed from being the victim of experiences. Fox (1979d:89) calls this
commandment ‘expressing what you are’. When we express our true divine natures, nothing can
touch us or affect us from the outside. However, we are always trying to kill our true nature, for
we are so easily affected by the outside world. The good news is that we cannot kill or destroy
what is divine.

Seale (1976:133) states that: ‘To kill means to remove from consciousness’. In other words, ‘If a
mind becomes angry, it kills reason and good sense. If a mind becomes fearful, it kills courage
and confidence. When a mind is jealous and vengeful, it is strangling hope and destroying faith.
When a mind turns to bitterness, it has pulled down the shades on vision and is blindly bent on
its own destruction.’ He reminds his readers: ‘There is nothing and no one in the sensible world

who can hurt you without your permission. Therefore, there is nothing in the created world to
fear’ (Seale 1976:137).

It is interesting to note the Eastern6 sentiments on this commandment, because, for some, ‘Thou
shalt not kill’, involves a vegetarian diet. Supreme Master Ching Hai (1999:56) is adamant that
this commandment covers all aspects of life – human and animal. She links the killing of anything
or anyone to the law of karma. When you kill ‘in order to satisfy your desire for meat, you incur a
karmic debt, and this debt must eventually be repaid’. Fox does not touch on this subject, for he
insists that the Bible, and in this case, the Ten Commandments, must be interpreted from an
inner, metaphysical and spiritual level. Is his limited approach to a topic of this nature (one that is
important to the Eastern mind) a weakness or even a lack of exegesis and theology, or is he so
focused and convinced about his belief structure that this so-called narrow-minded methodology
becomes his practical and very efficient tool of teaching?

Seventh Commandment: Thou shalt not commit adultery

A synonym for idolatry was the word ‘adultery’ and they were used interchangeably. The worship
of false gods was described as adultery. The fundamental idea behind this commandment is to
have one God, insists Fox.

Eighth Commandment: Thou shalt not steal

Fox (1979d:42–45) terms this commandment ‘by right of consciousness’. He explains that there
is one great fundamental law, the law of being: ‘whatever comes to you, whatever happens to
you, whatever surrounds you, will be in accordance with your consciousness, and nothing else;
that whatever is in your consciousness must happen, no matter who tries to stop it; and whatever
is not in your consciousness cannot happen’. In other words, one cannot steal! Stealing is trying
to get something for which we do not have the consciousness. And if we don’t have it, we cannot
steal it. When we do have the consciousness, then no one can steal anything from us either –
they can only transfer some items from our home to another, but what is ours by consciousness
can never be lost.

Ninth Commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour

To Fox, this means that we cannot permanently bear false witness, for our true witness is the full
expression of God in us. We are divine beings, spiritual and perfect. And when we are true to
ourselves, we cannot be false to someone else, for we always express what we are. We cannot
be one thing and express another. When we bear true witness to our neighbour of what we really
are, we also change that person, for when one goes through the generation of the soul, everyone
benefits from it to some extent.

Tenth Commandment: Thou shalt not covet … anything that is thy neighbour’s

‘Coveting affects the soul of man’, Fox states, for it means that we do not understand the law of
being, which is that ‘whatever you are getting or lacking is the outpicturing and expression of
your consciousness’. To want something from another is to deny our own contact with God,
because God’s supply is infinite. This commandment links strongly with the sixth (Thou shalt not
commit adultery) as well as with first (Thou shalt have no other gods before me). ‘Coveting and
adultery are really bound together because coveting is disloyalty to God and so, in the Old
Testament sense, is adultery; and when the Bible says not to commit adultery, it means not to
worship some other God.’ ‘If you think you can only get what your neighbour has by taking it from
him, you are worshipping a false God’ (Fox 1979d:123–125).

In conclusion to the commandments, Fox (1979d:146) considers them a summary of the thought
that every problem has a solution, for there is always a solution, and ‘always the solution is to
turn from the outer to the inner’.

8.3.3 The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer (discussed in Fox’s Power through constructive thinking and The Sermon on
the Mount), probably the best-known and most often quoted words attributed to Jesus, is the
common denominator of all the Christian churches, comments Fox. This is another of his well-
known biblical interpretation. To truly understand this prayer, one should realise that it is a
carefully constructed organic whole, a compact formula for the development of the soul. The

person who uses it will certainly experience a real change of soul. This is what is meant by ‘being
born again’. This carefully designed prayer works on a superficial level for the more simple-
minded, and for the more materially minded, but also provides more advanced spiritual levels of
insight and understanding. It has come down through the ages uncorrupted and unspoiled.
Although this prayer is generally supposed to have been revealed by Jesus for the use of his
disciples and followers, Manly P Hall believes that the Lord’s Prayer may have been derived from
older Jewish prayers, and that what it contains is consistent with the Rabbinical tradition.7 Hall
(1951:142) informs his readers that the Lord’s Prayer will have richer meaning for us if we
interpret it mystically and not literally, for ‘after all, it is the spirit and not the letter which brings
the Comforter’ (the Holy Spirit).

The Lord’s Prayer comprises seven clauses, a structure that is characteristic of the Oriental
tradition and that symbolises individual completeness and the perfection of the individual soul. In
its completeness it contains everything necessary for the nourishment of the soul, and to Fox this
is of fundamental importance.

Our Father: The salutation ‘fixes clearly and distinctly the nature and character of God. It sums
up the Truth of Being. It tells all that man needs to know about God, and about himself, and
about his neighbor’ (Fox 1979a:15–16). It clearly states the relationship between God and man
as that of father and child. If God, the father, is Divine Spirit, then the child, the offspring, is
essentially Divine Spirit too. The word ‘our’ states the truth of fellowship of man that ‘all men are
indeed brethren, the children of one Father’ and no race is superior to another (Fox 1979a:18).

Which art in heaven: These words describe the nature of God, and the nature means that God is
in heaven. The word ‘heaven’ stands for God or Cause. In other words, God is first Cause, the
Absolute. Humankind living on earth represents the manifestation, and therefore man must
manifest ‘or express God’ at all times and under all conditions. Fox understands that God and
man have their own role in the scheme of things, but ‘although they are One, they are not one-
and-the-same.’ That is why it is stated that God is in heaven (Fox 1979a:19–20). ‘Heaven [in a
New Thought interpretation] alludes to one’s state of mind, and earth is the manifestation of that
state. As in mind, so in manifestation’ (Anderson and Whitehouse 1995:78). Mystically, ‘heaven

is experienced as a condition of union with the divine nature’, and ‘The Father in heaven is the
divine power residing in the divine state’, according to Hall (1951:143).

Hallowed be thy name: To know the name of God is to know the nature of God (above). In this
prayer the name of God is ‘hallowed’. In Old English ‘hallowed’ has the same meaning as ‘holy’,
‘whole’, ‘wholesome’, and ‘heal’, or ‘healed’ (Fox 1979a:21). If the nature of God is holy and
whole, then a person, as an offspring of God, must also be holy and whole in nature for ‘an effect
must be similar in its nature to its cause’. His nature being altogether good, God cannot bring
forth sickness, accidents or even death. Mysticism, as expressed by Manly P Hall (1951:144),
states that ‘we can only honor which we have known inwardly’. In other words ‘the true name can
be spoken only by those who have experienced the substance of Divinity’.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven: Humankind, being the
manifestation of God, or an individualised consciousness of the Good, has to express the Divine
Nature, which is from Heaven, here on earth where we are living our reality. ‘Thy kingdom come’
is to make manifest more and more of God’s ideas upon this plane. It is to allow the All
Goodness to express itself on all levels. ‘Thy will be done’ is to keep to the purity of nature as
much as possible. For if one can let the will of the Divine manifest, one will stay in perfect
harmony with its nature. And this perfection, this harmony, joy and freedom, must become
evident on earth.

Give us this day our daily bread: If God is our Father, and we are his children, then God
becomes the source of all our supply, Fox reassures us. ‘Bread’ symbolises all that one requires
for a healthy, happy, free and harmonious life. To receive substance from the All Good every day
is to be injected with the Divine. This means a life lived in purity. The source of all our supply is
the one unchangeable Spirit, and not one’s employer or investments. To realise the Presence of
God, declares Fox, is to have daily bread. This means we link direct to the source and are
nurtured in all ways through the source. Bread is food of the soul. This nourishment from Spirit
must take place daily, as we are living in the here and now. To store food is to believe in
privation, or a fear that there may not be enough, but if God is our source, we will never lack

Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us: Fox (1979a:31) regards
this clause as the turning point of the prayer. He states that ‘the forgiveness of sins is the central
problem of life. Sin is a sense of separation from God, and it is the major tragedy of human
experience.’ When we are separated from our Source, we become disconnected from others. In
other words, we then deny the first two words of the prayer ‘Our Father’, which indicated our
oneness with the Source and with one another.8 There is no progress in life without this
connection. Jesus knew the beliefs of people in independent and separate existence and
therefore he made very sure that there is no continuation without healing this sin. To be whole
and complete one must ‘extend forgiveness to everyone to whom we possibly owe forgiveness,
namely to anyone whom we think can have injured us in any way’ (Fox 1979a:33). Without this,
the prayer becomes a vain repetition of words. Fox makes us aware that we cannot say ‘forgive
me my trespasses and I will try to forgive others’ or ‘I will see if it can be done’. Jesus ‘obliges us
to declare that we have actually forgiven, and forgiven all, and he makes our claim to our own
forgiveness to depend upon that’. He raises the question of who is there who has grace enough
to say his or her prayers at all who does not long for the forgiveness or cancellation of his or her
own mistakes and faults? Who would be so insane as to endeavour to seek the Kingdom of God
without desiring to be relieved of his or her own sense of guilt? No one, answers Fox. And so we
see that we are trapped in the inescapable position that we cannot demand our own release
before we have released another. This explanation reminds us of the Dhammapada, which
states that the evildoer mourns and suffers in this world as well as the next, and therefore hatred
can only be ended by love.

Patricia Diane Cota-Robles (1989:227), whose teaching resonates with that of New Thought,
said: ‘It is not, “I will Forgive you IF or WHEN”, but rather, “I will Forgive you because I must, if I
ever hope to Live fully and Happily again’’.’ Asked why one should forgive others, she replied:
‘We Forgive because the price we pay for not Forgiving is too great.’ Fox (1979a:34–35) shares
these sentiments. He reminds his readers that ‘we have got to forgive’, as hurt, injury and
disappointment sink into our subconscious, and there they cause ‘inflamed and festering
wounds, and there is only one remedy – they have to be plucked out and thrown away. And the
one and only way to do that is by forgiveness.’ ‘There is no escape from this, and so forgiveness

there must be, no matter how deeply we may have been injured, or how terribly we have
suffered. It must be done.’

When asked why our prayers are not always answered, Fox urged us to check for any
unforgiven people or issues in our lives. If one still holds a grudge against anyone or anything,
then the manifestation will be blocked from flowing freely into our existence. Fox’s direct way of
expression leaves no stone unturned. He affirms that: ‘Setting others free means setting yourself
free, because resentment is really a form of attachment.’ He explains: ‘It is a cosmic truth that it
takes two to make a prisoner; the prisoner – and a gaoler.’ So when you bear a ‘resentment
against anyone, you are bound to that person by a cosmic link, a real, though mental chain. You
are tied by a cosmic tie to the thing that you hate.’ Fox then asks whether we want to be in prison
with the very person or thing that we feel has injured us? If our answer is ‘no’, then we have to
cut the link and set ourselves and the so-called enemy free. Hall (1951:149), in keeping with this
line of thought, remarks: ‘We can never have peace in our own hearts while we resent the
actions of those around us. In revenging ourselves upon them, we destroy our own security.’ Fox
is aware that many people have tried to forgive, because they understand the reasoning behind
this act, but they have been so deeply injured that they find the act of forgiveness impossible. His
advice is to begin with the essential willingness to forgive and he reminds them that this does not
mean that we have to compel ourselves to like the enemy.

Fox (1979a:38–39) provides his readers with a simple method of forgiving as a practical
application of his experience. It starts with quiet time by oneself. You can repeat a prayer or
treatment that appeals to you, or maybe read an inspirational text. When you are ready, you say
‘I fully and freely forgive X (mentioning the name of the offender); I loose him and let him go. I
completely forgive the whole business in question. As far as I am concerned, it is finished
forever. I cast the burden of resentment upon the Christ within me. He is free now, and I am free
too. I wish him well in every phase of his life. That incident is finished. The Christ Truth has set
us both free. I thank God.’ If the memory of the incident should come up again, then just bless
the person and dismiss the thought. Keep on doing this until you find yourself ‘cleared of all
resentment and condemnation, and the effect upon your happiness, your bodily health, and your
general life will be nothing less than revolutionary’.

Lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil: This clause has caused difficulty because
many believers feel that God cannot lead anyone into temptation and that it is not part of his
nature. For this reason, there have been many attempts to change the words, as many could not
identify with them. Fox feels that this prayer, even in the English language, gives us a perfect
sense of the true inner meaning. He reminds us that this prayer ‘covers the whole of the spiritual
life’ and is a ‘complete manual for the development of the soul’. Those evolving along the
spiritual path do become more sensitive in all ways, and therefore become ‘susceptible to forms
of temptation that simply do not beset those at an earlier stage’ of their spiritual development.
These temptations include spiritual pride, self-glorification and even material gain. Knowing that
these temptations are real on our journey, Fox believes that Jesus included these words so that
we can pray ‘that we may not have to meet anything that is too much for us at the present level
of our understanding’ (Fox 1979a:40–42).

Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever: This clause, although an
excellent affirmation, does not really form part of the prayer. It states the ‘truth of the
Omnipresence and the Allness of God’. The ‘kingdom’ refers to ‘all creation, on every plane, for
that is the Presence of God – God as manifestation or expression’. The ‘power’ suggests the
Power of God. This is to acknowledge it as the very power or force working through us. When we
realise the Omnipresence of God, every sorrow will be turned into joy, age into youth and
dullness into light and life. And this is the ‘glory’ of God (Fox 1979a:42–43).

Fox is aware that in recent years the Lord’s Prayer has been rewritten in the affirmative form.
Divine Science believes that ‘through prayer we become more conscious of what we are, of what
God knows us to be, His own image and likeness’. The affirmative prayer that Divine Science
uses is patterned after the Lord’s Prayer, but is written in the present tense, for it is believed that
Jesus spoke it in his native language, Aramaic, which had neither past nor future tense. Saying it
in this way one finds no pleading, but rather an affirmation of truth and in a powerful way it
emphasises oneness with God. It reads:

Our Father which art in heaven,


Hallowed is Thy name.

Thy kingdom is come; Thy will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

Thou givest us this day our daily bread:

Thou forgivest us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Thou leadest us not into temptation but dost deliver us from all evil:

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen (James and Cramer 1957:82–83).

Like all great statements, this prayer is simple and profound. Fox, and those who support his
thinking, is convinced that if it is taken literally, its deeper significance can be missed. Its
meaning is revealed to those who practise spiritual disciplines. In a brief form it gives the
principles upon which a holy life must be based.

8.3.4 The Good Shepherd

Fox considers Psalm 23 a spiritual treatment in the form of a poem. He advises his readers to
read this meditation through several times, dwelling on each statement and endeavouring to
realise the significance of what one is reading.

Verse 1a The Lord is my Shepherd

‘Lord’ means God, which is one’s own knowledge of Truth and is the Presence of God within a
person. This indwelling Christ is one’s shepherd. Thus as the shepherd looks after his sheep, so
the Lord will take care of his people as they seek him through this meditation.

Verse 1b I shall not want

In fully believing and accepting this statement, a person cannot be afraid of anything; neither will
he or she want for any good thing.

Verse 2a He maketh me to lie down in green pastures


The green pastures symbolise an abundance of good things in life, and they become the
possession of a person, as he or she is made to lie down there. It is not a temporary
arrangement, but is one’s forever.

Verse 2b He leadeth me beside the still waters

Water symbolises the soul and to lead a person beside the still waters means that the Presence
of God in one makes one’s soul peaceful. Once the soul is at rest and at peace, the
demonstration is to follow and that person will know that his or her prayers will be answered.

Verse 3a He restoreth my soul

Fox (1979a:48) regards this phrase as ‘my promise of complete salvation’. At this point, he says,
the prayer is answered and peace is filling the soul. For if one thought oneself separated from
the Source, then that is what one would experience. ‘Restoring my soul’ brings one back to the
original divine understanding and guarantees freedom in perfect health, happiness and

Verse 3b He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake

‘Righteousness’ means right thinking, whereas all evil is wrong thinking. The Good Shepherd in a
being, the Christ within that person, leads one on the path of right thinking. Because ‘the name’
of anything in the Bible refers to its nature or character, one knows that the nature of God is ‘all-
powerful, omnipresent good, boundless love’ and that is what one now manifests in life (Fox

Verse 4a Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou
art with me

‘The shadow of death’ refers to a false belief in death as a reality. Knowing that God is life, a
person also knows that death is just the seeming loss of the Presence of God. This
understanding sets one free from any fear of the false beliefs.

Verse 4b Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me

The rod and the staff represent ‘thy law’, and that can never change. So, one can go forth in this
meditation, knowing that one’s word will not return void to one, because that which is forever is
the comforter.

Verse 5a Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies

This statement acknowledges that enemies are your own thoughts in the form of fears and
doubts, and as you face them, they lose their power over you.

Verse 5b Thou anointest my head with oil

‘Oil’ in the Bible always represents gladness, praise and thanksgiving. Thus to be ‘anointed with
oil’ is a symbol of consecration. To be consecrated as the perfect child of God, a person is filled
with praise and thanksgiving for overcoming his or her present difficulties.

Verse 5c My cup runneth over

‘This is an additional assurance of the thoroughness and fullness of my demonstration’

pronounces Fox (1979a:50). When someone allows the Good Shepherd, the Christ within you, to
lead you, your life is not merely filled with the good, but it overflows with demonstrations.

Verse 6a Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life

Fox (1979a:50), knowing that ‘every good prayer should finish with thanksgiving and a
declaration of faith’, accepts the ‘accomplished fact’ and claims it.

Verse 6b And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever

As a child of God, one will dwell in the Lord’s house forever. This means a person will always
enjoy the presence and the power of the Lord in his or her life.

As an experimental extension and application of Fox’s hermeneutical method, I have attempted

to rewrite this psalm according to Fox’s method. This is how it reads (my version is written in

The Lord is my shepherd

: The Presence of God is my protection

I shall not want

: There is nothing to fear

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures

: Abundance is mine forever

He leadeth me beside the still waters

: My soul is peaceful

He restoreth my soul

: I am beginning to remember and to understand who I am

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake

: I am thinking right thoughts for my nature is all-powerful, omnipresent good and boundless love

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me

: In the Presence of God there is no death and no separation from this Source

Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me

: The unchangeable law, the Presence of God, is always with me

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies

: I am facing my own thoughts and fears in the Presence of God

Thou anointest my head with oil

: As I remember that I’m a child of God, I am filled with praise and thanksgiving

My cup runneth over

: I fully manifest and demonstrate my true nature

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life

: I claim my good

I will dwell in the house of the lord for ever

: I am always in the Presence of God


Emmet Fox prefers and uses the allegorical method for his biblical exegesis. He is fixed in his
opinion ‘that all the doctrines and theologies of the churches are human inventions built up by
their authors out of their own mentalities, and foisted upon the Bible from the outside’ (Fox
1938:3). He also declares: ‘There is absolutely no system of theology or doctrine to be found
in the Bible; it simply is not there’ (Fox 1938:3).

Does an allegorical method of interpretation actually become an aid to someone who uses it,
to defend and justify his or her point of departure regarding understanding and interpreting
Scripture? A piece of Scripture, which is very old and was written in an unfamiliar language for
a different culture and historical period, may perhaps best be dealt with allegorically. If no one
has the final say or the ultimate theory of everything, as Wilber postulated, then Fox, who did
not concern himself with an intellectual and academic discourse, could be acknowledged for
his intuitive (like the Transcendentalists) method of finding the most applicable spiritual
interpretation from a text and then living accordingly.

Peterson, another author in the New Thought mould, agrees with Fox’s philosophy. He believes
that the dilemma faced by Christians and Jews in relating certain biblical accounts to the
discoveries of science ‘may be resolved when the possibility that some scriptural writing is
symbolic or allegorical is taken into account’ (Peterson 1986:178). In his opinion a strict literal
belief in some particular translation of the Bible, without recognising some form of allegorical
interpretation limits the ever-unfolding Truth.

Wilber (2001:132) enters into this debate with his spiral of development model, in which he
posits that ‘a person at almost any stage of typical development (eg purple, red, blue, orange,
green, yellow) can have an altered state of consciousness or a peak experience of any of the
higher realms (psychic, subtle, causal, non-dual). The person then interprets these higher

experiences in the terms of the level at which the person presently resides. This calls for cross-
level combinatorial analyses; for example, a person at blue can peak experience psychic,
subtle, causal, nondual; so can orange, green, and so on. This gives us a grid of over two-
dozen very real – and very different – types of spiritual experiences.’ With this observation
Wilber recognised the many different possibilities when it comes to interpretations. He also
emphasises that such temporary states should become enduring realisations in which a ‘person
will have to grow and develop through the spiral and into these higher realms as a permanent
realization, and not merely as a temporary or nonordinary state: passing states must become
permanent traits’ (Wilber 2001:181). It is important to Fox that people should occasionally
paraphrase the most familiar texts of Scripture in their own language, for this will assist them to
clarify the teaching according to their understanding and at the level of their consciousness at
any given time. Unless such an endeavour becomes permanent, as Wilber has stated, in the
sense that it changes one’s life forever, an important aspect can be overlooked.

Wilber (2001:133) explains this. A cross-level analysis becomes crucial in asking ‘What level is
the spiritual experience coming from, and what level is doing the interpreting’? If someone at
level 4 – he uses the word ‘chakra’ – believes that only chakra 1 is real, one arrives at, for
example, rational philosophy of materialism (as with Hobbes or Marx). If at this same level
(chakra 4) one believes the emotional-sexual dimension is most crucial, one gets a Freud, or if
chakra 3 is emphasised, one can get an Adler, and so on. It is also true that level 4 can look
above itself and can think about higher and transrational domains without actually transforming
to those higher domains. This is when we get various mental philosophies about spirituality,
according to Wilber. For example, when chakra 4 aims at chakra 6, one gets rational deism and
when chakra 4 aims at level 5, one arrives at rational systems theory, taking Gaia as Spirit, and
so on. This thinking is all coming from level 4, as the subject contemplating these thoughts, is
still from that level of consciousness. Noticing that most religious beliefs are from the purple, red
and blue tiers (second and third chakras), it constitutes around 70 per cent of the world’s
population. ‘But’, Wilber (2001:182) states, ‘narrow religious belief is one thing; deep spiritual
experiences are another.’ ‘This is why the worldviews from those higher levels can only be seen
from those higher levels.’ There is a sharp distinction between being at, say, chakra 3 and

having a temporary experience of a higher level, and being directly at a higher level at that time.
One’s interpretation of the worldview will change dramatically according to each level.

Wilber also addresses the dilemma of different interpretations that become increasingly
challenging, as indicated above. One example is found in the battle of transcendence where
Moses had to bring a higher consciousness from the Sambhogakaya realm (level 6) down to
pagan worshippers in the Nirmanakaya realm (level 5). In another well-known example, Jesus’
insight of causal level 7 (Dharmakaya) that ‘I and my father are one’ was not appreciated or
understood by the lower subtle realm (level 6), where the consciousness was held and believed
of ‘Our father which art in heaven’.

These examples refocus attention on the importance of one’s level of consciousness at any
point in time. They also underline the difficulty of judging any one person’s method of
interpretation or understanding of knowledge. Having said this, it would be difficult to estimate
where Fox and his religious thinking would be placed on this ladder of evolution into. Having
recognised the value of Fox’s universal approach (and esoteric) to biblical interpretation, it
seems that he is teaching from a level where he actually resides. In other words, according to
Wilber’s structure, it does not seem as if he is on a particular level, and having a temporary
experience of a higher level, but that he is directly at the higher level.


1 Other detailed biblical exegesis includes the following texts: The secret place – Psalm 91; Be still –
Psalm 46; Light and salvation – Psalm 27; The everlasting gates – Psalm 24; Daniel in the Lion’s den –
Book of Daniel; The Garden of Allah – Isaiah 35 (Fox 1979); Your wrestling angel – Genesis 32; The
balanced soul – Genesis 35; Turning the tide of trouble – Genesis 6; The called, the chosen, and the

faithful – Genesis 46; The fourth man – Daniel 3; War in Heaven – Revelation 12; Can the stars help
you? – Judges 4, 5; How to un-worry – Job; Shipwreck – Acts 27 (Fox 1993).

2 Also the title of one of Fox’s books, published in 1938.

3 A Reformed Church minister, who acknowledged in writing his debt to New Thought as the source of his
positive thinking.

4 A disciple, teacher and counsellor of Vedanta (the philosophy taught by the Vedas, India’s most ancient
scriptures) and someone in whose teaching Fox and New Thought find support.

5 The following sources can be consulted for information on esotericism: Faivre, A and Needleman J (eds)
1992. Modern esoteric spirituality. London: SCM; Faivre, A 1994. Access to Western esotericism. New
York: State University of New York Press; Faivre, A 2000. Theosophy, imagination, tradition: studies in
Western esotericism. New York: State University of New York Press; Hanegraaf, W J 1996. New Age
religion And Western culture: esotericism in the mirror of secular thought. Leiden: Brill.

6 To be initiated by The Supreme Master Ching Hai (she was a speaker at the 1999 Parliament of the
World’s Religions in Cape Town, South Africa), one has to keep the five precepts: ‘Refrain from taking
the life of sentient beings (the keeping of this precept requires a vegan or lacto-vegetarian diet); Refrain
from speaking what is not true; Refrain from taking what is not offered; Refrain from sexual misconduct;
Refrain from the use of intoxicants’ (Ching Hai 1999:54). This line of thinking, as well as the whole
concept of the Ten Commandments strikes a chord with the teaching of Raja Yoga.

To reach the realisation of God, the student needs to ascend the Yogic ladder by practising eight steps: ‘1)
Yama (restraints); 2) Niyama (religious observances); 3) Asana (posture); 4) Pranayama (control of
breath); 5) Pratyahara (abstraction or withdrawal of the senses); 6). Dharana (concentration); 7) Dhyana
(meditation); 8) Samadhi (the Superconscious State)’ (Swami Sivananda 1982:5).

The first restraint, Ahimsa (Yama), is non-injury, and means causing no pain to any creature, in any way, at
any time, in thought, word and deed – thus giving up eating meat also falls under Ahimsa, because it
involves cruelty.

7. A copy of a Jewish prayer (a reprint from Reverend John Gregorie – London, 1685):

Our Father which art in heaven, be gracious to us, O Lord our God;

Hallowed be thy name, and let the remembrance of thee be glorified in heaven above, and upon
earth here below.

Let thy kingdom reign over us, now and forever.

Thy holy men of old said, Remit and forgive unto all men whatsoever they have done against me.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil thing. For thine is the kingdom, and thou
shalt reign in glory, for ever and for evermore (Hall 1951:135).

8. The interconnectedness between Creator and creature and the emphasis on their oneness are illustrated in
the following prayer, which is a new way of saying the Lord’s Prayer. Barbara Marx Hubbard, New
Thoughter, futurist, public speaker and social innovator, believes that through a series of deep personal
encounters, she experienced the Christ as a living Presence directing her to write down guidelines for the
great transition to universal life. When the Christ gives his power to those who are ready to receive it, to be
joint heirs with him, she writes, he asks them to pray the following prayer with him:

Our Creator which art in Heaven,

Hallowed be our name,

Our Kingdom is come,

Our Will is done,

On Earth as it is in Heaven.

In marrying me, you take on my name. Your name is the name of God. Your power is the power of
God. Your Kingdom is come, your will is done. You and I are one as my Father and I are one. The
separation is over. Thank God. Amen (Hubbard 1993:226).

And to those who are attracted to the future, with a belief in things yet unseen, they are invited to say the

Our Creator who art in Heaven,

Hallowed be your name.

Your Kingdom come,

Your Will be done,

On Earth as it is in Heaven.

I do willingly commit myself to the fulfilment of your design.

Your will and mine are one.

I will go the Whole Way without arrogance.


I will move beyond the limits of the creature/human plane.

I know in my soul that more is to come.

I know I am to be a guide to my brothers and sisters on Earth,

As we move through the passage of transformation.

I promise to prepare myself and all others who desire everlasting life.

I believe that the God-conscious will evolve.

I promise to be a beacon of light for myself and all others who

choose to evolve from Adam to Christ (Hubbard 1993:141).




This thesis set out to understand Emmet Fox’s religious thought. The aim was to determine
whether his teaching has any relevance for today and its significance within the South
African context. Ken Wilber’s theory provided the framework against which Fox’s thought
was critically evaluated and interpreted. To the question whether there is an inner affinity
between New Thought and Wilber’s reflection, the answer is yes. Fox, a precursor of
Wilber, is in line with the model of developing transpersonal religious thinking of the
present, as exemplified by Wilber.

Fox’s appeal lay in his simplicity and forthrightness, and his strength as a preacher and
writer lay in his non-conformist nature. His metaphysical teaching was simple, sincere, well
balanced and practical, and he had great enthusiasm for life, as well as an unshakeable
belief in God as first cause. His advice always came from his own personal experiences
and inspirational insights. His ability to bring ancient symbols and truths right into the field
of every person’s understanding today is the reason that he was also considered one of the
best-known figures in New Thought to have gained recognition outside the movement
(Alcoholics Anonymous used his writings before they developed their own, and his work
was widely read by ministers of all denominations).

Ken Wilber, a contemporary theorist and considered a true philosopher-mystic, provides

the interpretational framework against which Fox’s ideas were discussed. Wilber’s strong
academic argument, with his theoretical framework of integral hermeneutics for humanity’s
all-encompassing evolutionary process that is itself Spirit-in-action, was only briefly looked
into in chapter 4. This study was never intended to compare these two scholars, but to use
Wilber’s theory and models to determine the value of a teaching such as Fox postulates.
One of Wilber’s theoretical models, the great chain of being, indicates the path of
transcendence and explains the evolutionary growth through eight levels from the physical
or lower to the spiritual or higher. In his attempt to formulate a theory of everything, which

even according to him is impossible, he nevertheless believes that a little bit of wholeness
is better than none at all. In looking for an integral culture, Wilber realised that the growth
and development of the mind can be seen as a series of unfolding stages or waves. Within
his model of spiral dynamics, he sketches eight major levels or waves of human existence
(also referred to as memes), flowing into and overlapping one another and resulting in a
meshwork or dynamic spiral of consciousness that unfolds. As a person moves through
these levels, an increase in consciousness and compassion is observed. The four-
quadrant model is an attempt to integrate everything, the physical, emotional, mental and
spiritual waves, into the experiences of the self, culture and within nature. Not one of the
quadrants can be overemphasised as more important or more significant than any of the
others. They form an integrated whole, and only as a whole is it possible to make a shift in
consciousness that again leads to the ascent into a higher realm of understanding.

Wilber is considered one of the most important contemporary theorists regarding religion
today and, seen theoretically, his model is far superior to that of Fox. Within such a large
and inclusive framework of interpretation, Fox’s strong and weak points can be determined.
One such weakness is the lack of structure within Fox’s teaching. On the other hand, Fox
had no intention of constructing a theological, academic and philosophical doctrine, or of
providing his students with a strict and controlled scientific or philosophic view. The
question is whether this lack of structure or doctrine is detrimental to Fox’s religious
thinking within the wider context of humanity’s religious experience, or whether his simple
and practical method of teaching and preaching is his strength and success. He is
remembered for his simple, but not simple-minded manner in which he portrayed the truth
and provided practical and understandable tools to apply these lessons in life. His
audience were not academic or scientific students, but lay people who called out for
assistance and guidance in their relationships, business challenges, ill health and money
matters. He was first a preacher and teacher, and then an author, and therefore he was
known for giving his students and congregants food for their souls. He did this with great
respect and always honoured their religious background. His advice was challenging, but
never foreign to the understanding of his listeners. From analysing his work, ideas and
teaching and comparing them to the thoughts and structures of other scholars in the
religious field, one observes that Fox was a well-educated, well-read, highly intelligent and
very knowledgeable person. It was his choice, then, not to present his teaching within any

structure or doctrine, and this preconceived notion of writing and teaching became one of
his valuable contributions to a world that is in need of spiritual transformation.

According to Fox, doctrines and theologies are human inventions and he is of the opinion
that there is no system of theology or doctrine in the Bible. Present-day New Thought
scholars have arrived at the conclusion that Fox does not have a theology at all. This
statement brings one to the crucial question of whether Fox’s teaching has any significance
or relevancy for today. From this research it is obvious that Fox was, and indeed still is, a
major and important player in the league of religious teaching. While the metaphysical
model of a great religious theorist such as Wilber highlights the little league in which Fox is
playing, it is crucial to affirm that Fox preferred not to teach within any scientific or
academic framework. This refusal to bind himself to any specific religious dogma had
become his foundation of popularity and makes his teaching relevant in the present day.
Against the backdrop of Wilber’s four-quadrant model, Fox’s method of teaching gives the
impression that he ignores the whole and concentrates only on the part, but it is evident
that he has integrated everything he knew and understood (including esoteric, eastern and
universal truths) into a practical and workable teaching. I have the impression that he
formulated his lessons or teaching in such a manner that his students and readers only
received the summary of an intense and very sophisticated research endeavour and line of
thought. Although this method would have been suitable for students or people attending
his church services, the lack of academic discourse and religio-philosophical evaluation
leaves a discernable void in his work, but does not necessarily indicate failure on his part.

Wilber’s theory without a doubt shows the religious thinking of an evolving humanity over a
long period. Presented in this format the line of thinking as well as the progress (or lack of
it) of people in their attempt to rediscover their highest and purest form of being is evident.
It seems that regardless where humanity finds itself at any particular time, evolved or not,
the fundamental truths are necessary at every step of the way. Fox focused on these
fundamental, yet highly significant and important aspects of life. It was this approach to life
that made Fox’s teaching valuable to his audience of that era, a changing American
consciousness, as well as appropriate to a transformational South Africa, and, most of all,
beneficial to every person in his/her inner spiritual journey towards the ultimate truth. That
his methodology was simple, forthright, practical and easy to apply, that he preferred not to

conform to any teaching, or to compare and validate his beliefs against any other existing
philosophy, does not guarantee his success. Neither does it disregard the value of existing
doctrines and schools of thought such as Wilber’s. Fox was indeed aware, informed and
inspired by these truths and philosophies and their influence is reflected all through his

Throughout this study Fox’s underlying religious thought is repeated – that ‘the thought is
the thing’. To him ‘thought’ is the real causative force in life and with this he endorses the
whole of New Thought teaching, which states that ‘whatever the mind can conceive and
believe, it can achieve’ or ‘be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind’. He declares
that there is only one Mind in the universe, Divine Mind, and that we are all
individualisations of that – undivided parts. And this to him is the true meaning of being
created in the image and likeness of God. Everything will not be all right, he says, unless
you think rightly, and thinking rightly, of course, means putting God first in all your affairs.
This line of thinking, that life is consciousness and that mind, ideas and thoughts are the
basis of reality and the causal force(s) behind material objects, events and conditions,
earns Fox, according to deChant, the title of the one who is really expressing the idealistic
basis of New Thought. The debate over whether Idealism is the essential philosophical
basis of New Thought was discussed in chapter 3 and continues among New Thought
scholars. Fox is adamant that thought is the only cause and while thought has its origin
within a person’s consciousness, the actual manifestation or result of it is measurable or
observed in the without (as you believe, so shall it be done unto you).

A similar line of thinking is explained by Wilber in his four-quadrant model. He also states
that the within of things is consciousness and the without of things is form. One is reminded
of his notion that every exterior has an interior, and Wilber acknowledges that although
forms of consciousness do emerge, that consciousness has been around all the time as
the interior of whatever form there is.

An exploration of Emmet Fox’s religious thought regarding creative mind, prayer,

meditation, healing and his understanding of concepts such as God, Jesus Christ, church
and tithing, as well as his views on the process of death and dying, the doctrine of
reincarnation, karma, the end times and finally his method of biblical exegesis reveals the

apparent affinity between Fox and Wilber. Although the intent of this study is not to
compare these scholars, it is interesting and valuable to Fox’s interpretation that they
advocate a similar underlying belief in the holistic Kosmos and the importance of having an
integral vision. They differ in their approach, explanation and application of their
understanding of what truth is, but both acknowledge the evolutionary process of humanity
through the various levels and stages of consciousness, and consider meditation a vitally
important tool in reaching this point of development within a person. Yet again Wilber’s
theoretical framework indicates Fox’s understanding of this process – the sense of
movement, progress and development and that it gives the impression of the individual
spiralling towards his/her destiny, all the time integrating, transforming and ultimately
transcending into a higher level of consciousness.

Fox has a tendency, as stated earlier, to interconnect everything into a tight and complete
product and then to offer it to his students and readers as the truth according to his
understanding. He does not make clear distinctions between the various levels or
quadrants that Wilber explained. Against this theoretical framework it seems that Fox is
guilty of reducing all thought to one quadrant, the upper-left of Wilber’s model. Fox does
state, however, that everything starts with God or a thought, thus having his departure from
the whole in order to arrive at the holonic destiny as encouraged by Wilber. I do not believe
that this lack of discussing and comparing religious thoughts within quadrants suggests a
failure in Fox’s method, nor does it reflect back to the seeming void within his work that
underscored a lack of academic discourse and religio-philosophical evaluation. The latter is
an observation by those who are scientifically inclined, whereas the former, once again,
emphasises Fox’s intent of not upholding any structure. While Wilber advocates an integral
vision in order to correct the flatland consciousness that results from a lack of seeing a
holistic Kosmos or the failure to grasp the entire spiral of development, Fox seems to have
always had such a belief – the whole as point of departure and the whole as place of
arrival. Presenting his belief structure from the whole – God or thought – without giving the
different parts that constitute the whole appears to be the recipe for a religious model that
works in changing times and for a humanity that differs in its choice and preference of
structures. Wilber himself is conscious that any theory is simply the latest attempt by
someone in a long line of holistic visions.

The importance of a model such as Wilber’s becomes imperative in understanding Fox’s

thought on certain religious concepts. Ideas such as creative mind, prayer and meditation
can all be linked to the upper-left quadrant of Wilber’s model, whereas healing, the
demonstration into the outer level, relates to the upper-right. The interconnectedness
between mind (thinking) and the result of it (the actual demonstration) is so tightly woven
within Fox’s model that it is impossible to separate it within the different levels. However, it
can clearly be seen within the upper individual quadrants, as supported by Wilber. The
attempt to explain concepts such as God, Jesus Christ, death and reincarnation is as
difficult as Wilber’s account of someone who visits a foreign country with a foreign
language. In this scenario, although being part of a social system (lower-right), the
individual is never part of that culture (lower-left). It is one thing to hear concepts, theories
and philosophies as presented, preached and taught by any society (lower-right), and it is
something completely different to understand the underlying concept as believed by such a
culture or school of thought (lower-left). Again Fox does not make any clear distinctions
regarding these quadrants and had no intention of doing so either. Wilber’s model merely
underlines Fox’s clear comprehension and insight into these social shared worldviews.

Fox believes that one cannot define God, but that one can gain insight into the nature of
God. It is worth noting that Fox did mention that God has no gender. However, in the time
that he preached and wrote about his religious experiences, he stated that he preferred to
address and refer to God as a male. And he asked his audience to make the necessary
adjustments within their minds when they read and hear his words. According to my
interpretation of Fox’s work, he may be more panentheistic in his understanding of God, for
he insists that God is The All, but not separate from the world, for a person is the I AM of
God and therefore part of the greater whole. I am convinced that concepts such as theism,
pantheism or even panentheism were the least of his concerns. He contemplated God in a
very personal way. In certain instances God took on such a personal role that it appears
that God as the only power does everything for his children, which is acceptable to Fox as
he believes that the children of God have the right to ask for help. God being first cause, it
seems that God is doing everything. Then in the same breath he states that God cannot do
anything for anyone. He emphasises that as a divine being, everyone has the power within
to bring about a positive outcome. It is the moment that a person realises his/her divine
heritage that the change in thought comes about, and this choice, he maintains, is the

responsibility of everyone. In my opinion, whenever Fox uses the word God, he really
means the ‘inner self’, or the ‘Christ-within’, or even the ‘word/thought’.

In the person of Jesus Christ, Fox distinguishes between two individuals: the historical
Jesus, or the human being, and the Christ, or the divine aspect within a person. Both
Wilber and Fox consider Jesus the example that illustrates a person’s true nature – their
divineness. According to Fox, Jesus’ fundamental message is ‘the kingdom of heaven is
within’ and he preferred to convey this message to his students through his sermons and
writings. Although he did have a church, he did not believe in organised religion and he had
no hierarchical structure or complicated organisations. Neither did Fox believe in death.
Dying is just a process of falling asleep in order to wake up on the other side minus a
physical body, but enriched with the knowledge that one has not really died. He is,
however, aware of the fear of death. Wilber affirms this fear of dying as the forgetting of
one’s true self and then the frantic attempt to search for substitutes to avoid facing this final
transition (what he has termed the Atman Project).

Fox supports the idea of an after-life, and the next world, he points out, consists of many
different planes, each vibrating at its own density and all interpenetrating. He insists that
one can prepare for the after-life by living rightly in this life. Fox’s religious thinking
regarding concepts such as reincarnation finds resonance with much other religious
thought, especially the Eastern philosophies. This universal line of thinking is also
observed in his thoughts and insights about the end times, and the structural similarities
between New Thought, Vedanta, Neo-Vedanta and Buddhism deserve further attention. He
demonstrates a knowledgeable insight into the various cycles and ages, as well as a keen
interest in the zodiac and astrology, which is reminiscent of Wilber’s cycles and waves of,
for example, the great chain of being.

Probably the most remarkable feature of his religious thinking is his allegorical
interpretation of the Bible. Dell deChant has referred to this as a popular allegorical
interpretation that was directed at a popular culture. Fox insists that the Bible must be
spiritually interpreted. Whether this insistence, coupled with other features such as the role
of healing in his religious thinking and practice, indicates a relationship with the esoteric
tradition in Western religious history may deserve attention. It has not been addressed in

this study, however. His thoughts on prayer and healing are very much in line with the
esoteric concept in Western Christianity. The metaphysical movement’s emphasis is on
alternative healing methods, which again are based on the idea that healing the body is in
reality healing thought. It has been observed that the concept of esoteric belief is evident in
modern science and physics, Eastern thought, mysticism and within shamanic culture.
Determining the origin of these esoteric aspects warrants extra consideration.

Fox is also known for his ability to bring ancient symbols and truths right into the
experiential field of every person’s understanding today. For example, he would mention
that in the days of Abram the people worshipped palpable idols of wood, stone and metal
and then he would comment that our idols today are more subtle, such as money, power,
pull and position. Through this identification the reader can immediately relate to the
characters in the story and thus the Bible does not remain just an interesting book about
some people’s lives many thousand years ago, but the story of everyone today. This
method makes reading the Bible lively, appropriate and transformational for the student.
Regarding the Bible as the grand diagram of a person’s destiny, he nevertheless disagrees
with many of the more popular and fundamental interpretations. For example, ‘If ye believe
not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins’. He believes that the translators wrongly inserted
the word ‘he’ to complete the sentence grammatically (as it does not appear in the original
text). Fox (1993:211–212) argues that Jesus was not talking about himself in this case and
that it should mean that ‘unless a person believes in the I AM, the Indwelling Christ in every
man, he has misunderstood his relationship to God, and he will die without knowledge of
the Word of Power’. This unwavering passion for the Bible queries his openness to other
interpretations and facts regarding the stories in the Bible. He firmly believes that Moses
took the Israelites dry-shod through the Red Sea, because he believes in the power of
thought. According to his interpretation anything can manifest when you believe in it. He
suggests this type of literal and even biblicistical interpretation, especially if it works for a
person. Then again he is adamant that as a person evolves in his/her spiritual
understanding, the interpretation opens up to a more universal awareness. He insists that
the Bible is written in symbol and allegory and that it teaches psychology and metaphysics.

This popular allegorical method of biblical interpretation confirms the structural link with
what he considers the fundamental belief in life, namely that ‘thought is the thing’.

Emphasising that the Bible must be spiritually interpreted, he refers to the essential
principle that if everything (a name, person or concept) represents a state of mind, then a
changed thought can bring about a higher revelation. He also maintains that the Bible uses
outer concrete things to express inner, subjective or abstract ideas as its method of
imparting its teaching. This to him means that one cannot have the hidden inner or spiritual
meaning without an obvious, physical and visible vehicle (just as a soul needs a body in
this reality). Thus the Divine teaching needs a form or doctrine for its revelation, and this to
him is the Bible or a theology. This concept is reminiscent of Wilber’s four-quadrant model,
in which the inner level is dependent on the outer one for its revelation. Actually all the
levels or quadrants are so integrated that only as a whole do they provide the opportunity
for a shift in consciousness and the ascent into a higher realm of understanding.

According to Fox Jesus did not teach theology, but had a spiritual or metaphysical
approach. He believes that although historical Christianity concerned itself with theological
and doctrinal questions, the teaching in the Gospels did not. Thus, he upholds that ‘there is
absolutely no system of theology or doctrine to be found in the Bible; it simply is not there’
(Fox 1938:3). It can be said that Fox did not have a theology in the sense of a careful,
balanced and elaborate system either. However, if theology is (theo-logos) ‘discourse on
God’, then Fox most certainly had a theology. I think Fox lacked a formal theology in the
sense of a formal academic discipline, where ‘it is God talk of a more careful, deliberate,
and reflective kind than the common sense, popular conversations all of us have engaged
in at one time or another’ (deChant 1995:129). Formal theology, according to deChant
(1995:130), requires ‘systematic consideration, presentation, and disputation of issues
facing a religion; the application and sound (‘scientific’) methods of critical inquiry and
analysis; and the assertion of conclusions that are internally logical, rationally coherent,
and academically supported’.

In looking for reasons for Fox’s religious thinking being such a success, one naturally has
to look at the time and period Fox lived in the United States of America. It is very clear from
an article originally published in 1939, ‘The American spirit’ (the principles underlying the
Constitution), and a lecture delivered in 1932 on ‘The historical destiny of the United
States’ (Fox 1994:166–230), that Fox, besides having been a very patriotic citizen,
discovered a foundation within them for his religious teachings. The historical roots of the

United States, says Fox, can be traced back to the old feudal civilisation of Europe, then
through the Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution and onto the Revolution of the
American Colonists. It was on American soil that humanity was going to take its next great
step, the ground being prepared for a selected group of people from Europe to start afresh
on a new continent. This was the only way for them to ‘be set free from the bondage on
innumerable outworn traditions and habits of thought’ (Fox 1994:204). The next great step
that humanity was about to take on American soil was the emergence of new ideas or
Truth, otherwise termed Divine Science by Fox – in a sense it is primitive Christianity, now
expressed as the doctrine of the Allness and Availability of God to every person all the
time. The Declaration of Independence, which Fox considers one of the most vivid and
colourful documents ever written (for it thrills one with hope, faith and enthusiasm), states
clearly that ‘All men are created equal’ (note, Fox reminds us, that it does not say born
equal, for that is not true); thus all have equality of opportunity and all have the freedom of
growth that belongs to the idea that a person is the image and likeness of God.

The historical destiny of the United States, as termed and believed by Fox, brought forth
this Truth; it produced a nation different from any other existing nation; and it established a
society different from feudalism. This American Dream provided a new attitude to life and a
new order of society. It endorsed equality among all, and equal opportunities, and it
discouraged distinctions and upheld the idea of ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’. Such a
foundation for a free, prosperous, and independent life for everyone, an eagerness to start
afresh with equal opportunities, became the backdrop against which Fox delivered his
teachings. The American people, hungry for spiritual freedom, were ready to hear the
principles of Divine Science, so eloquently and simply explained and taught by Fox. His
popularity at the time lay in his ability to feed a culture and society with his popular biblical
interpretations. Would he have succeeded today? Probably not. The single danger that Fox
predicted for this emerging and powerful nation was internal conflict among its people. With
the 2004 election just completed and the September 11 (2001) ordeal still lingering in the
minds of all Americans, one has reservations about the spirit of the American Constitution
and whether decay or division is not already infiltrating the perfect American Dream. These
occurrences stunned and challenged the simplistic and optimistic consciousness of the
Americans. If this is the case, discord in the land of opportunity, then it seems that a

teaching such as Fox’s would again be ideal for the emerging of a new consciousness.
This type of spiritual insight is of paramount importance for any new beginning for it sets
people free from old dogmas and embraces a new possibility. For this reason I regard
Fox’s religious thought as an important tool in a changing South African environment as
well. After 1994 South Africans were standing at their next step into a new society. For this
reason they had to let go of old and outdated paradigms and limited belief systems. A
religious paradigm such as Fox presented proves to be relevant in bridging the different
cultures, languages, religious beliefs in a country such as South Africa, but particularly in
playing a significant role in assisting a continuously changing spiritually minded population.
Fox’s idea of Scientific Prayer prepares the way for neither running away from troubles nor
fighting them with power, but ‘by turning to God and realizing His ever-presence, to soar
above them into the spiritual plane where there is eternal peace and harmony’ (Fox

Many leaders of New Thought were never affiliated in any way with the three largest
organisations (Unity, Divine Science and Religious Science), for they maintained totally
separate ministries and some had their own schools or centres for teaching ministers,
practitioners, counsellors and laypersons. Such an independent leader was Emmet Fox.
The greatest monuments left to honour him are the mended lives of men and women
everywhere who have found peace of mind, health of body and purposeful living through
his teaching.



4 Advanced Mind

5 Psychic
3 Early Mind -Nirmanakaya

2 Body 6 Subtle
-highest bodily -Sambhogakaya
life forms =SAINTLY

7 Causal

1 Nature -Dharmakaya
-physical nature =SAGELY
and lower life forms

8 Ultimate

5 + 6 = SOUL

7 + 8 = SPIRIT




7 Causal 7 [Causal]

6 Subtle 6 [Subtle]

5 Psychic 5 [Psychic]

4 Higher Mental 4 [Higher Mind]

3 Lower Mental 3 [Lower Mind]

2 Body Nature 2 [Body Nature]

1 Physical Nature 1 [Physical Nature]






Roy Littlesun (2003:53) explains this diagram as follows: ‘What the Oneness (1) contains
we don’t know until it separates itself into opposites. In duality (2) we experience a
temporary world. Here we can encounter conflicts due to the lack of memory that we are
One. Consequently we become Seekers, and when it is time to ‘Re-member’, the opposites
begin to attract one another (3). Although it is inevitable that opposites will come to union
again (4), the question remains HOW ? Will they meet in conflict, or in harmony? This is
what we are facing in today’s world. Change is inevitable – the symbol of love, and the
heart, is a simple Map of Change of our Endless Journey – from Oneness to Oneness
again. When Oneness is attained a new polarity is created (5) which is the force needed to
germinate the next world (6). This polarisation goes on until we have learned what it takes
to forever overcome dualism. This requires one to truly LOVE’.





2nd Tier Thinking Integralistic

7 YELLOW - shift in consciousness

Holistic ALL OF US

6 GREEN (Univ. Caring)




1s t Tier Thinking Relativistic (Caring)

3 RED - subsistent levels




1 BEIGE (Selfish)



UL = Interior Indiv. Exterior Indiv. = UR



LL = Interior Social Exterior Social = LR



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