This piece is the third in a series exploring the traditions and practices of New Thought (aka Science of Mind). The first piece set some historical context for the tradition and the next piece looked at some of the deeper storehouse of riches in the tradition. Each piece stands on it’s own and could be read on its own but reading all them will give the fullest picture.
Through the first two pieces I looked specifically at New Thought through the lens of a kind of modernist and more “lay-oriented” Neoplatonic Hermetic magical process. I defined magic as simply the ability of consciousness (particularly conscious intention) to effect material change and reality. Rather than being involved—as other magical systems are—in very complex ritualistic processes, New Thought offers seemingly simple (but if done right deceptively powerful) processes for co-creating in a magical way with Life.
In this piece, I’m going to deepen that exploration around conscious intentionality and examine how we might actually understand the ability to manifest through the use of imagination and the subtler (or higher) mind. In particular, how might we understand conscious manifestation in light of weird naturalism and ontological flooding, two of the key frames of reference that at the core of this site.
The question then becomes:
What kind of cosmos or Universe must we live in order for the processes of New Thought to be viable?
This question is one that a number of New Thought writers have explored in some depth.
Wallace Wattles, the author of the classic The Science of Getting Rich, writes: “The stuff of which all things are made is made of a substance which thinks, and a thought of form, in this substance, produces the form.”
In the prior piece in this series I referenced the work of New Thought author Prentice Mulford. Mulford speaks directly of The Logos as it was known in the ancient Greek (and Biblical) tradition. The Logos is the Supreme Wisdom or Guiding Intelligence of all Existence. In Christian theology The Logos is The Word (or Reason) of God, the Second Person of The Trinity.
This Divine Wisdom (Sophia) is ultimately transcendental but also immanent to all of creation. Again, to reference The New Testament, Wisdom is also known as The Cosmic Christ—the Divine Intelligence which holds the cosmos in proper order and relationship.
Wattles refers to the Logos as Original and Formless Substance. He calls it a “thinking substance.” Though thinking here should probably be understood more as Consciousness, rather than logical-left brained analytical thought. The Logos is a (Super)Conscious Reality.
Furthermore Wattles states, “Original Substance moves according to its thoughts; every form and process you see in nature is the visible expression of a thought in the Original Substance.”
This view is again classically Neoplatonic emanationist in orientation. The Original Substance is The Logos (or Nous in Neoplatonism) and within The Logos/Nous lies all the cosmic archetypes—“a thought in the Original Substance.” These subtle archetypes of sound, light, color, and sacred geometric form become the templates for “every form and process you see in nature.”
In other words, Wattles argues that a thought (or thought form) placed in this Cosmic Wisdom will eventually bring that form into manifest concrete expression.
To quote Wattles once more:
“There is a thinking stuff [Wisdom] from which all things are made, and which, in its original state, permeates, penetrates the interspaces of The Universe. A thought, in this substance, produces, the thing that is imaged by the thought. Man [sic] can form things in his thought, and, by impressing his thought upon formless substance, can cause the things he thinks about to be created.”
Wattles is saying that by “impressing thought” on the Original Substance-Logos a human is co-creating or co-operating and participating with the development of thoughts in the Divine Intelligence.
The reason a human can do this is because a human being is a conscious being made of the same “thinking Original Substance” and therefore can commune consciously with the Logos-Wisdom-Original Substance.
In Hermetic language, “as above (Original Substance), so below (manifestation).”
What then does Wattles actually mean by “impressing thought onto thinking substance?” How does one do that exactly?
Here we see many of the classic New Thought practices—imagining a situation already as if it were the case; cultivating a burning desire for the realization of one’s deepest desires; expressing gratitude and claiming as already present that which is imaged in the future; feeling oneself already in possession and expression of that which is sought.
All of these (and other similar type practices) are ways to impress conscious intentionality (“thought”) onto, or perhaps better into, The Logos.
Wattles, as well as Napoleon Hill and other classic authors of the New Thought tradition, emphasize the need for creative action in partnership with such visualization and affirmation based processes.
Or as Wattles puts it:
“A man’s way of doing things is the direct result of the way he thinks about things. To do things in a way you want to to do them, you will have to acquire the ability to think the way you want to think.”
By thinking here again please note Wattles means something much deeper than simple linear analytic thought. He is talking about an entire worldview or conception of reality, with its own deep moods, associated feeling states, and mental lens.
Wattles argues that the concrete material realization of such conscious intentions occurs through the regular, everyday process of nature and human society. This point is a crucially important one. In a previous piece I looked at co-creation with the consciousness of Nature, especially through the thought and work of Michaella Small Wright.
The link to this piece is that Small Wright was herself deeply influenced by the co-creative manifestation experience of the Findhorn experiment. Peter Caddy, one of the founders of Findhorn, practiced a very classic New Thought manifestation tradition with group consciousness and intent. We can see in this example then that these co-creative, manifestation techniques can be solely deployed in numerous ways, both collectively as well as more individually.
It’s worth noting that in the Neoplatonism of Plotinus The One emanates first as The Nous (Logos/Supreme Wisdom), and then the next emanation is The World Soul. It’s very intriguing to see then the ways in which Wattles (and also Prentice Mulford especially) emphasize that manifestation must come through The World Soul, aka the consciousness of Earth. The World Soul (Anima Mundi) is a psychic level expression which I’ve covered elsewhere on the site—psychic here being the same root as psi phenomena, pointing once again to the ultimately psi-oriented nature of New Thought tradition.
Wattles further posits that there are two levels (or streams) of such human social expression. One Wattles calls competition, the other creative. Wattles is very clear that the processes contained in his book are not for the competitive plane but for the creative plane only. Contrary to much later prosperity gospel’s argument for strong right wing political libertarian laissez-faire “free market” ends, Wattles was actually a strong social justice advocate from the left.
As Wattles says:
“You must get rid of the thought of competition. You are to create, not to compete for what is already created.”
This view again reveals a kind of magic. It’s about calling upon the ever-bountiful, omni-generative, omni-creative possibilities of Life to bring more into form, not to take from others. This point is an extremely subtle one and we’ll come back to it shortly.
But first, now that we have a clearer sense of how the New Thought writers saw the process themselves, we can come back to the question of how we might understand such processes in light of a more weird naturalist lens. The reason for doing so is that while New Thought generally tried to emphasize pragmatic purposes, there is some metaphysical overhang (Neoplatonic, Hermetic). That metaphysical overhang has its own interpretive biases which may not ultimately be the best way of understanding of what is in fact going on with this process. Weird naturalism recall allows us to maintain the reality of high strange phenomena (e.g. conscious intention manifesting) while not necessarily having to buy into the entire interpretive apparatus of its practitioners.
Is there an alternative interpretive frame that could offer a more streamlined and updated frame of reference to make sense of the data of New Thought process?
I’ll offer a couple possible options (which are not mutually exclusive by the way).
In a previous post I explored Jacques Vallee’s ideas of a physics of information, as opposed to a physics of energy. In Vallee’s research the future is a causal mechanism. The future has impact in the present reality.
The technical term for the future influencing the past is retrocausation. Retrocausation means that the future creates past conditions that create the possibility of the future cause to become. Eric Wargo’s book Time Loops is a fascinating and excellent exploration of this topic. I’ve mentioned Wargo’s book previously in relationship to other high strange phenomena like past life regressions.
In one section of his book Wargo details the case of people claiming that had dreams that predicted the sinking of The Titanic or the destruction of the World Trade Center. What Wargo shows though his meticulous mining of the data is that what in fact is happening is that people had memories of their emotional response to learning the news of an upcoming event. It’s a subtle but crucial difference—one that I’m going to come back around to with New Thought.
The dream was not precognitive in the sense that it “predicted” the future. Rather it was the future causal condition (“learning the news of the tragedy”) coming back into the past, which was that person’s present at the time. Later when the event actually took place they had a deja vu type experience as that had already remembered their emotional response to learning the news in the dream.
The future event creates a condition in the past (the emotional memory of learning the news). The past event (the emotional memory) leaves a residue in the person’s being which at the time of its occurring makes no sense and only comes to make sense later when the event happens and then the person links up their dream/emotional memory with the event itself.
Again the key point to note here in this example is that they didn’t actually in their dreams see the event take place—the ship sinking or the Towers collapsing—but rather they remembered their emotional response to learning the news.
The future event creating its past condition that causes (and only makes sense in light of) the future event is, as Wargo argues, a time loop. The time loop “closes” when the future event takes place. The loop closing shows up in a person’s experience as deja vu or another similar type high strange phenomenon, giving a sense of the radically uncanny nature of life.
Wargo speculates on a number of other high strange phenomena and how a retrocausative framework might help re-interpret their ontological validity (e.g. remote viewing). In that vein, I previously explored how retrocausative factors may help make greater sense of the phenomenon of contact and communication with the dead.
Bringing in the notion of retrocausation to New Thought some very interesting possibilities emerge. The key link here is Wargo’s assertion that what was remembered in those retrocausative dreams was the memory of the future emotional impact or resonance of learning deeply charged news—in those cases of a very disturbing and tragic nature.
But the same could be true of deeply emotionally rich and impactful positive memories. Consider in that light the consistent New Thought practice of creatively imagining oneself in a future state already in possession of the thing desired in one’s manifestation project and in particular deeply feeling the emotional resonance as if it were already present.
For example, if a person wanted to fall in love and meet a prospective future life partner they are to imagine themselves in a state of romance, deep intimacy, and connection. They are to feel the feelings of being in that state as if it is true in the present. Or if the manifestation project were focused on increased vitality and physical health and well being the person similarly imagines and feels into in the present how they will feel bodily when they state is achieved, thereby already tuning into it in the present.
From a retrocausative viewpoint, this practice might be thought of as attempting to initiate a future time loop. That is, the practice of imagining oneself in the future realization of one’s desire is seeking to open a time loop in the future which will then retrocausatively create the past conditions necessary for its own future concrete manifestation.
One piece of evidence to support this hypothesis is the amount of times in personal testimonies of successful conscious manifestation that individuals talk about the material realization of their intended manifestation and at that precise moment getting “goosebumps” or an uncanny sense. It’s an intriguing data point insofar as they experience the emotions they’ve been cultivating the whole time and yet somehow are still surprised by their natural arising. Or the repeated mentions that comes through much of the literature where people talk of synchronicities and the sense of this arising being simultaneously completely due to their hard work and yet also an utterly mysterious sense of destiny or deeper intelligence in Life bringing it to fruition.
Now I want to circle back to Vallee’s physics of information because it gives a greater cosmological context for the reality of retrocausation. For Vallee, in a physics of information all information is considered to be simultaneous and ever-present. It is not linearly constructed in other words. Things like synchronicities, deja vu, and the high strange are for Vallee something like a meaningful hit on the cosmic search engine.
Now when I started the research for these pieces, Vallee’s physics of information popped into my head. I then had my own “synch” in the process of noticing that Vallee himself wrote a blurb for New Thought author Mitch Horowitz’s book, wherein Vallee states explicitly that his future-oriented physics of information could give a scientific basis to the validity of the practices described in the New Thought tradition—exactly what I’ve been arguing in this piece.
It’s also worth noting that Vallee is one of the greatest Ufologists of all time. As I wrote in my piece exploring Universal Basic Income, I believe that the push for UBI at the present moment (“The Great Reset”) is actually a misdirection, an economic limited hangout if you will, to prevent realization of over unity technology and economics. Vallee’s physics of information wherein abundance is inherent and where the future affects the past, has its own demonstration in the UFO Phenomenon. The UFO Phenomenon, whatever else it is, displays “anti-gravitic” and “free energy/over-unity” processes. As I’ve said before, the UFO is literally in that sense the future already existing in the present, just as Vallee’s physics and Wargo’s research shows is the case.
As Vallee showed in his writings, the UFO Phenomenon—again whatever else it may or could be—is a psychic (“psychotronic”) reality. The New Thought process, at its best, is a psi phenomenon. It is using conscious intention to create effects in material reality. The UFO Phenomenon is the same process in reverse; it’s a physical expression/phenomenon that creates psi effects in consciousness.
Wargo, Vallee, and the retrocausative perspective shows how we can re-envision the more Hermetic-magical New Thought practice without necessarily having to hold to a potentially outdated metaphysics of higher planes of reality (a la Neoplatonism).
Along those lines there is one further thinker whose work comes more from a philosophical angle that similarly I believe supports this overall position. That thinker is Alfred North Whitehead, father of process philosophy.
For Whitehead, there are actuals and there are potentials. Actuals are any and all arising phenomena: trees, humans, animals, buildings, works of art, media, etc. Potentials reside in a potentiated future. Whitehead, using more precise philosophical language, would say that whereas actuals exist, potentials subsist.
By subsist Whitehead meant they had ontological validity/reality of a kind, though a different kind than actuals. Existence then is distinct from subsistence and vice versa but both are real and effectual.
The potentials subsist in a future calling into the present. Here we note again the connection to Vallee and Wargo. The future in all these versions has a form of causal reality, though again not of the same kind of causal reality as that of linear concrete time or gross manifest causality, like kicking a rock across a road or throwing a ball or sitting down or hammering a nail. The subsistence of the potentials, the causal reality of the future (co)creating past conditions that create the future outcomes that caused that past conditions which created the future outcome (“time loop”) is a different order of co-creative process.
In Vallee’s terminology it has to do with the physics of information. In Whitehead’s language such manifestation involves the arising of creative novelty and emergence. The kind of causality that takes place in a linear format creates (largely) more of the same. Such causality leads to chains of habituated and conditioned responses, aka karma. It’s only when the future interjects into the past creating the conditions for its own future fulfillment that we get the rise into novelty or creativity, which should remind us of Wallace Wattles’s distinction between riches gained through competition and manual extraction (karmic) versus riches gained through creativity. Recall also that for Wattles only the latter form (the non-competitive, abundant) form legitimately can claim the mantle of the New Thought art (“science”) of conscious manifestation.
In other words, might it be that the New Thought practices and processes allow one to connect into the Whiteheadian potentials of the future that seek to become real in the present? What if the New Thought practices and methods are ways of tapping into Whitehead’s potentials, allowing them to move from potential to more actualized manifest form?
Remember that New Thought authors emphasize practices of imaging a future realized as present as well as decisive action in the physical world as equally important and that it is the combination of those two in tandem that bring manifestation to concrete fruition. Either one by itself is insufficient.
Both creative visualization and the clarified intentional action would point to the pathway of moving a phenomenon from a potential subsisting to an actual existing in the concrete manifest world. It would also explain The New Thought emphasis on abundance—not a cheesy slogan but rather as a very precise and refined ontological argument. Namely when tapping into the domain of potentials subsisting in a possible future that is somehow yet real and effectual in the present, what is brought forth is a truly novel, emergent arising that adds to the overall generatively in life. It brings forth the energy and resources of its own arising. The future creates the past conditions that create the future outcome.
It is precisely in that sense “free energy” or over-unity process of conscious manifestation. In my piece on Universal Basic Income and “Free Energy” I quoted this passage from Aaron Murakami, an advocate for such “free energy” processes:
“We are able to design systems where we contribute a little investment in energy to leverage nature in a way that allows more potential energy from the environment to enter the system and do even more work so that that the total amount of work done is more than what we paid for.”
Murakami’s point is that calling it “free energy” is a bit misleading in that it’s not free energy, rather it is fundamentally abundant energy.
Consider conscious manifestation techniques of the kind we’ve been exploring through New Thought in light of Murakami’s more technological system design perspective.
What if the processes of New Thought are the equivalent in consciousness of designing a system, “where we contribute a little investment in energy to leverage nature in a way that allows more potential energy from the environment to enter the system and do even more work so that that the total amount of work done is more than what we paid for”?
In this comparison, the “little investment” in energy would be the processes of New Thought which are then tapping or leveraging the potential energy from the environment so that it can do even more work than the amount initially invested. And please note, as a potential “sync”, Murakami’s use of the word “investment” in a system designs engineering context when applied to New Thought with its strong financial emphasis.
Note also the direct correspondence between Murakami stating that the energy in nature that would be tapped would be “potential energy” and Whitehead’s description of the subsistence of future “potentials.” Murakami’s potential energy in nature, Whitehead’s subsistence of future potentials, and Vallee & Wargo’s retrocaustive future, all may be various ways of saying the same (or nearly the same) thing.
All of which may be being tapped (“leveraged”) by New Thought processes thereby allowing a different form of abundance (“the total amount of work is more than what was paid for”) to come into concrete material being. That co-creative, manifest abundance could then apply whether the context is financial, psychological flourishing, physical vitality and health, or relational intimacy (or many other potential arenas of conscious manifestation).