Ernest Holmes as a Creation Spirituality Mystic
Dr. Matthew Fox
If Jesus is correct when he says “by their fruits you shall know them,” then Ernest Holmes is a mystic to be admired because of the many fine practitioners and followers of his work that even I have encountered in the and Church of Religious Science over the years. I have often felt a deep connection with persons who live out Homes’ teachings and so I would like here to draw some parallels between his teaching and the tradition of Creation Spirituality which he is clearly a part of and which has occupied me for some thirty-five years of work and research.
1.First is Holmes’ understanding of the spirituality/cosmology connection. His very definition of spirituality is as follows: “Spirituality is a word too often misused. From our viewpoint spirituality is one’s recognition of the Universe as a living Presence of Good, Truth, Beauty, Peace, Power, and Love.” (p.33) Notice how the universe itself plays a central role in his understanding of spirituality. That is creation centered spirituality indeed. And ours is not a neutral universe but a loving one full of goodness (i.e. blessing), truth, beauty and more.
It follows that Holmes demonstrates a keen interest in cosmology as when he says: “The Science of Mind does not deny the physical universe. The objective universe is the Body of God. That body includes our physical being.” (p. 4.) The universe is how we name the divine in the human for “Every man becomes a unique manifestation of the Whole, a microcosm within the Macrocosm; rooted in the Infinite, he personifies it….God incarnate in man.” (p.31) Not only humans manifest Divinity but “everything that exists is a manifestation of the Divine Mind; but the Divine Mind, being inexhaustible and limitless, is never caught in any form; It is merely expressed by that Form. The manifest universe, then, is the Body of God.” (p.87)
Consciousness is a universal phenomenon. “It is enough for the intelligent person to know that the entire planetary system manifests intelligence and organization; that is, it manifests intelligence plus direction, and intelligence plus direction means consciousness.” (108) Another word for such consciousness would be Wisdom!
2. For Holmes, spirituality is about practice, not just theory. He says: “For every science there must be a technique or a way of proving its truth. …We must lay even more stress on the use of the Science of Mind than we do on seeking to establish its Principle….The first thing that any student of this science should do is determine to make daily use of it. In this, as in all other things, we should be practical. Too much study of any principle without making conscious use of it will lead to mere theorizing, and I am sure we all wish practical results.” (pp5f.)
3.Religion and Spirituality are not necessarily identical. Holmes writes: “People are more interested in God than they are in religion, because religion has been more or less mixed up with superstition, theology, and ecclesiasticism”. Holmes criticizes religion for being too small at times, too committed to its tribal gods. “When we use the word “God” or “Spirit” we do not mean a tribal God, but the Supreme Mind and Power back of all created form, the Intelligence which responds to us, the Intelligence which rises through the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms, and blossoms in the human mind as it approaches the conscious recognition that is it one with the Oversoul….The nature of man’s being is God.” (107) Furthermore, religion sometimes succumbs to Bibleolotry and Homes warns us: “The real Bible is inscribed on the walls of our own consciousness which by pure intuition knows that the Universal Intelligence that we call God exits.” (p. 108) And so he instructs his followers that “when people say “that they are not interested in a new religion, be sure to explain to them that you are not offering them a new religion you are merely seeking to give them an interpretation of life.” (110) He believed Science of Mind “does not necessarily create a new religion or sect, for it may be added to any spiritual system of thought since it is a complement to all”. (p.5)
4.Holmes prefers original blessing (goodness) over original sin when he writes: “The Will of God is never toward suffering ….Man must constantly reaffirm his belief in the Infinite Goodness if he expects to exclude the idea of evil from his thought.” (137f.) This is like Julian of Norwich saying “God is goodness” and Meister Eckhart teaching that “whenever we speak of the God of creation we are talking about Goodness.”
Holmes says: “God’s Will is always toward Life and more Life….The Life within you is God; whatever is true of God is true of your Life, since your Life and the Life of God are not two but One…. This Life within you, being God, did not begin and it cannot end; hence you are immortal and eternal…. The God that is within you is Truth, Beauty, Harmony, and Wholeness. Every apparent imperfection from which you suffer is a result of ignorance.” (116f.)
Hildegard of Bingen agrees for she wrote: “God is Life” and Thomas Aquinas said: “God is Life, per se Life.” Holmes adds: “I know there is a Power for Good which is responding to me and bringing into my experience everything that is necessary to my unfoldment….I know there is a Power for Good that enables me to help others and to bless the whole world.” (434)
5. Holmes understands the distinction between Jesus and Christ and teaches the Cosmic Christ when he writes: “The reference to Christ is not to the man Jesus but to the Divine Incarnation in all people.” (154) And again, “every man is an incarnation of God….each man is an individualized center of the Consciousness of the one God….”(90f). Religious Science is dedicated to teaching “an absolute union of man with his Source….The whole process of evolution is a continual process of awakening. It is an understanding of this indwelling union which constitutes the spirit of God.” (p. 96) “Every man is an incarnation of God”—and a unique incarnation.
Holmes cites the “I am” sayings that are attributable to the Christ as being applicable to all of us when he writes:
“I am the Christ dwelling at the center of every soul: human, yet Divine; Infinite, yet flowing through that which is apparently finite…I am the abundance within you….I am the Creativeness within you….I am the Sustainer within you. In the heart of each I live; at the center of all creation I dwell. I fill all space. I am All-in-all, over all, and through all. From the mightiest form to the smallest atom, my presence covers all, pervades all, and animates all.” (131-135)
It follows that the Kingdom of Heaven means the kingdom of Harmony, of Peace, of Joy and of Wholeness. It is an inward Kingdom. “Heaven is not a place but an inward state of consciousness….The Kingdom is not external but within….within the mind.” (92) It follows that “there is a great difference in believing God to be within you or outside you.” (117)
6. Holmes works continually from a perspective of Deep Ecumenism. He cites from that Tao te Ching, the Gita, the Upanishads, Talmud, Koran, Bible, Hermetic philosophy, and more. He says: “All Scriptures declare that man is the spiritual image and likeness of God.” (p. 89) He cites Professor Max Muller affirmatively when he says: “The true religion of the future will be the fulfillment of all the religions of the past….love and embrace what is good in each.” (p. 105) Holmes believes that “All sacred scriptures have proclaimed the Unity of Life; that every man is a center of God Consciousness. This is the meaning of the mystical marriage, or the union of the soul with its Source. Jesus boldly proclaimed that he was One with the Father. This is the basis of all New Thought teaching, the Spiritual Union of all life.” (95)
Curiously, the name of my book on Deep Ecumenism is One River, Many Wells and Holmes invokes a similar imagery when he writes: “In the Colorado Rockies there is a beautiful valley form which many fountains gush forth. Each fountain is different, more water comes from some than from others, but there is only one body of water at a deep, subterranean level which flows through each one of them…. We as individuals each have our own thoughts, feelings, hopes, aspirations, and desires and each is directly and intimately connected with the one Divine Life, energy, and Power. Each of us is a fountain of Life. There is a God-pressure back of each one of us, a Life-force seeking outlet though our thoughts and acts. There are many fountains, many individuals, but only One God-pressure back of all.” (23)
Holmes sees water imagery everywhere. “Throughout the Bible we have this simile of water, typifying the flowing Power of pure Spirit. It is impossible to think of Spirit as being anything solid. It is always fluid….We can hasten the advent of this Good by definitely clarifying our thought and by daily meditating upon the invisible Source, the wellspring of Life within each one of us.” (166) Meister Eckhart also wrote about the Holy Spirit as a “rushing and violent river.”
7. Part of the fluidity of the spirit in us is our Creativity as I point out in my recent book, Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet. Holmes also underscores the power of our creativity when he writes: “The real creative power of the mind is deeper than the intellect. It passes into the realm of feeling and acceptance…. you will frequently find people who have splendid intellects, whose logic is almost perfect, but who seem never to penetrate the deeper mind where the creativity resides…There must be added this deep feeling and conviction that enable one to commune with the Invisible.
As I have so frequently said, the best comparison I can think of is the feeling that an artist has toward beauty, for beauty is an invisible essence, an all-pervading, all-penetrating something that cannot be adequately expressed in words but only in thoughts. It is an inward emotion of the mind which reaches out until it strikes some corresponding chord emanating from the Universe Itself….This is what an artist feels….Perhaps this is the real and true meaning of communion; something beyond prayer as ordinarily thought of; something which cannot be described but can be felt. God does speak to the heart more than to the intellect….” (164f) Holmes connects creativity to Spirit: “We do affirm the Spirit as transcendent, having the ability to create new thoughts while new thoughts create new situations.” (321)
8. Holmes acknowledges our role in combating Evil and how our creativity can contribute to evil or to good. “The whole Divine nature is reproduced in us, but we are ignorant of the fact. Our thought is creative, but in our ignorance we use it destructively. Theology has called this the problem of evil. We call it a misuse of that which is Good….To learn to think in the right manner is to learn to create that which is Good, and which gives complete expression to the self without ever containing anything destructive or negative.” (201)
How do we choose to use our creativity? “These same laws, wrongly used, impose suffering upon us. We can use our minds to be happy or unhappy; we can think peace or confusion; we can be loving and kind, or disagreeable, because we are free.
If we were so created that we did not have this freedom, we should be eternally bound. Life would have no meaning. Everywhere we look in our own lives and the lives of others we see the use and the abuse of this power. For instance, the atomic bomb could destroy civilization, yet atomic energy could run the machinery in the world…We are finally discovering that the very power that makes us sick can heal us, the very things that bind us can free us, and that the imagination we use to destroy our happiness rightly used, could create situations that would make everyone happy. Well, this is the meaning of the serpent and the savior and the great symbol which runs throughout the Bible depicting the right and the wrong way to use the Power which is within us; the Power that is greater than we are.”
Evil is not to be projected onto any particular person or place. “In spiritual mind practice evil is never treated as an entity but as an operation of thought. The practitioner never deals with evil as though it were big or little, and he must be careful not to locate it anywhere, in any person, or any group of persons. It is easy enough to see that the mentality of a practitioner must be kept free from the belief in evil, which unfortunately obsesses most persons’ thoughts much of the time.” (167)
Love overcomes evil. “To understand that Love overcomes both hate and fear is one of the chief requisites of a scientific mental practitioner. Love does not overcome hate and fear by argument or force, but by some subtle Power of transformation, transmutation, sublimation, invisible in its essence but apparent through its act….Love is the victor in every case…. Love sets the captive free.” (331?) At the same time we should not flatter ourselves that we can overcome goodness. “It appears that we have the ability, at least temporarily, to pollute this Stream of Life with the consciousness of hate, despair, or any negative thought which denies its purity. But of course we do not really have the power to destroy, only to mold and remold.” (166)
Much of the cause of evil is fear. “Fear is the great enemy of man”. (376) It is possible for us to catch fear from others “much as we world catch a cold, for we are all unconscious mental, emotional, and spiritual broadcasting stations.” (This is a lot like Rupert Sheldrake’s teachings on morphic resonance.) Holmes continues: “This takes us back to a thought in the Bible which says that a man’s enemies shall be those of his own household, for our real enemies are our fears and phobias, our doubts and uncertainties, our anxieties and our inner conflicts.” (359) Holmes recommends that we learn to “tune in to the Mind of God, which is free from fear and doubt.” We do this by prayer and meditation. “Mental fear is resisted by a whole and happy mind….The quickest and most effective method to get rid of fear is to get quiet and lift up the whole thought in confidence and faith to something bigger than we are. (360f) Ultimately, God should be loved and trusted rather than feared. (364)
9. Celebration of life, wonder and youthfulness are signs of the spirit. Holmes believes that “Youth is not a time of life—it is state of mind. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals.
Whether seventy or sixteen, there should be in every man the love of wonder, the sweet amazement at the stars and the star-like things and thoughts, the undaunted challenge of events, the unfailing childlike appetite for What next?, and joy in the game of life.
You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hopes, as old as your despair.” (177) Meister Eckhart taught that God is “the newest thing in the universe” and therefore the youngest spirit of all. To be God-like is to be young in spirit.
In all these nine ways—and many others—Holmes’ spiritual genius is on a parallel with great creation mystics of the past from Jesus to Hildegard to Aquinas to Eckhart to Julian of Norwich and more. We are blessed to be drinking from his wisdom today and today that wisdom is needed more than ever.