Neville Goddard: New Thought pioneer

Neville Goddard, New Thought pioneer and teacherOnly very recently I have appreciated and enjoyed checking out the teachings of Neville Goddard, which are essentially a poetic conveyance of New Thought teachings: the deep spiritual message which many believe to be the properly understood purpose and interpretation of the Bible as well as other religions. (The adjective spiritual is crucial in the previous sentence, since Neville’s message was certainly not religious in any traditional sense of the word.)

The message of Neville is a New Thought paradigm which just so happens to use Christian terminology and references. This is merely the author’s preference and does not indicate traditional Christian views or beliefs in any sense, as Neville was a New Thought pioneer and not a Christian author or teacher. NOTE: As most are not familiar with New Thought spirituality, the spiritual movement is described in more detail below, using the words of William James.

Neville’s central themes remind me quite a bit of another excellent spiritual teacher and New Thought pioneer who also preferred to stick with Christian terminology: Emmet Fox. The New Thought teachings of Neville and Fox are in stark contrast to old-school Protestant Christianity, often characterized by traditional dogma, literal interpretation of the Bible, centered in churches split up into denominations, the belief in a literal heaven and hell, a real devil or Satan, Noah’s ark, a global flood, etc.

For the sake of comparison — and a quick understanding for anyone reading this — here’s another quick and simple illustration to compare the two worldviews: New Thought is to Fundamentalist Christianity as the Unity Church[1] is to the Southern Baptist church.

books by Neville Goddard, New Thought pioneer and teacherIn other words, New Thought spirituality — including the teachings of Neville Goddard and Emmet Fox — has little to do with Christianity as it is commonly understood, and is completely unrelated to today’s far right Christian fundamentalism. (In the case of doubt, a quick bit of brief web research into the New Thought movement will show this to be true.)

One difference in these two worldviews is that, in New Thought, true divine power is seen to be within us; it does not come from any external being or source (as is the traditional religious viewpoint of God, sitting on his throne way up above the sky in heaven). As Neville Goddard likes to say, God is the imagination of man.

Eckhart Tolle is one of the most famous and influential New Thought teachers, especially after a big boost from Oprah — but uses virtually no religious terminology. Wayne Dyer is one of my favorite New Thought teachers; he frequently references Christian, Taoist, Buddhist, Hindu, and many other religious and spiritual traditions.

There are quite a few other New Thought writers and teachers.

New Thought holds no religion to be fundamentally true to the exclusion of any other religion(s). New Thought properly implies, if not outright conveys, the fact that…

The practical aspects of all religions are in amazing harmony: the source of an amazing, unifying, reassuring bliss!

[ Indeed, spiritual truth is almost TOO simple to grasp!! ]

Wayne Dyer on the PBS set of Wishes FulfilledIt doesn’t take much reading to see that perhaps Neville’s favorite hook is the word imagination! To Neville, human imagination is God; God is literally the imagination of man. Neville stresses that one of the main reasons mankind has been so slow to catch on to the real message of Christianitythe true spiritual (not religious) message — is that man has wrongly interpreted Bible stories, including the Immaculate Conception and the virgin birth, as history and biography while failing to understand the metaphorical meanings of these teaching stories.

Wayne Dyer on the PBS set of Wishes FulfilledOne of the beautiful aspects of New Thought is that the terminology of any major religion can be used to describe it — without changing the inherent meaning! Such a concept may seem impossible until one truly sees and accepts that the practical aspects of world religion and spiritual practices are in harmony. This is among the highest of realizations.

I first heard of Neville Goddard when his The Power of Imagination book was praised by Wayne Dyer in his PBS talk Wishes Fulfilled.

William James describes New Thought

Those of us with significant twelve-step experience and understanding have probably read The Varieties of Religious Experience — the fantastic book by William James, which described the New Thought movement as follows:

… for the sake of having a brief designation, I will give the title of the "Mind-cure movement." There are various sects of this "New Thought," to use another of the names by which it calls itself; but their agreements are so profound that their differences may be neglected for my present purpose, and I will treat the movement, without apology, as if it were a simple thing.

It is an optimistic scheme of life, with both a speculative and a practical side. In its gradual development during the last quarter of a century, it has taken up into itself a number of contributory elements, and it must now be reckoned with as a genuine religious power. It has reached the stage, for example, when the demand for its literature is great enough for insincere stuff, mechanically produced for the market, to be to a certain extent supplied by publishers – a phenomenon never observed, I imagine, until a religion has got well past its earliest insecure beginnings.

One of the doctrinal sources of Mind-cure is the four Gospels; another is Emersonianism or New England transcendentalism; another is Berkeleyan idealism; another is spiritism[2], with its messages of "law" and "progress" and "development"; another the optimistic popular science evolutionism of which I have recently spoken; and, finally, Hinduism has contributed a strain. But the most characteristic feature of the mind-cure movement is an inspiration much more direct. The leaders in this faith have had an intuitive belief in the all-saving power of healthy-minded attitudes as such, in the conquering efficacy of courage, hope, and trust, and a correlative contempt for doubt, fear, worry, and all nervously precautionary states of mind. Their belief has in a general way been corroborated by the practical experience of their disciples; and this experience forms to-day a mass imposing in amount. (Source: New Thought – Wikipedia)

NOTES

[1] Unity Church

The Unity Church is not the same as the Unitarian Church, even though they sound so much alike and are often confused; however, in comparison to most modern Christian denominations (e.g., Southern Baptist, Church of Christ, Presbyterian, Methodist, etc.), Unity and Unitarian are certainly much more alike than different with regard to their tolerance of diverse beliefs, their overall encouragement and support of religious pluralism, etc.

Unity Church basics:

Spiritual seekers often say that finding Unity is like coming home. Unity is an open-minded, accepting spiritual community that honors all paths to God and helps people discover and live their spiritual potential and purpose.

A positive alternative to negative religion, Unity seeks to apply the teachings of Jesus as well as other spiritual masters. Unity affirms the power of prayer and helps people experience a stronger connection with God every day. (Source: About Unity: Practical Teachings

[2] Spiritism

Actually, the most basic belief regarding spiritualism is that humans possess an eternal spirit which goes on after our physical demise. Despite being a common, standard belief in most religions and spiritual paths, it nevertheless falls into the category of the supernatural; therefore, it is not a belief on which this blogger makes any judgment, either way. Like every other human, I simply do not know the answers to supernatural questions and I’m perfectly willing to admit as much.

You won’t see spiritism (e.g., the belief that mediums can communicate with spirits, et al) being peddled here. If the ability of mediums to talk to the dead happens to be a part of modern New Thought beliefs, then it is a part to which I do not subscribe.

And that’s perfectly fine. Remaining true to the Jeffersonian spirit of deciding upon one’s spiritual/religious beliefs for oneself, I do not automatically accept any teachings — even the teachings of New Thought.

I have yet to meet an organized religion or system of belief with which I agree completely.

Notable quotes from Neville Goddard from Awakened Imagination

Coming later…

Resources: Neville Goddard

  1. Real Neville
  2. Neville Goddard audio downloads for sale – Large collection
  3. Neville Lecture Hall: Preserving Neville’s Words and Wisdom — Sometimes we look for answers on the outside, not knowing the answers all lie within our imagination’s grasp now. Many look for power on the outside when The Power resides within themselves – always. Take a risk on yourself and explore the inside of You through Neville Goddard’s lectures in written and audio formats now…
  4. God’s Promise To Man – Neville Goddard 2-08-1963
  5. Neville Goddard books online – Steve Palina
  6. Awakened Imagination, by Neville Goddard – Archive.org
  7. As you have heard, this morning’s subject is “Awakened Imagination” – RealNeville.com

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It is the underlying message that’s of critical importance.

Miguel Ruiz, for example — though not officially characterized as a New Thought teacher — promotes views that mesh rather nicely with New Thought. The terminology favored by Ruiz comes from the Toltec wisdom tradition of Central America, yet the message is basically the same.

It is a fundamentally critical — or critically fundamental :) — point that seems to be somehow missed by Bible literalists, even today.

If you miss it now, perhaps you will get it later.

This post was started on Thursday, April 12, 2012
Major updates re: the central themes/messages of Neville Goddard: Friday, November 02, 2012

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