“Above all, NEW THOUGHT, has failed to develop a theology of suffering. It has failed to take seriously gaps and inconsistencies in its ideas” – Mitch Horowitz (The Miracle Club)
And with that the philosophical shots were fired! So goes Mitch Horowitz’s THE MIRACLE CLUB as it pummels into the New Thought reformation via it’s systematic demolition. New Thought, that “crooked cartoon of material-driven self-improvement” we in the metaphysical communities have come to regard it as. But what happened to New Thought? What’s so irksome about positive-mind-metaphysics anyway?
The Death Knell of New Thought
There’s been quite a looming apathy applied to most positive-power practitioners, especially within this past decade or two. Whether too rudimentary for the esotericists and occultists, too material driven for spiritualists, too desperate, too middle-America, too “woo”– Mind metaphysics, and with that, the New Thought movement, has always been a battleground of contemplative contention between seekers of all sorts.
Probably because there hasn’t been a New Thought text to appease both nascent and adept seekers alike. The Kybalion would come close, as it stands the test of time as a touchstone for many beginning esotericists, however, academic occultists are dismayed by the work’s controversial creation, dishonest origin and dramatic “woo-woo” prose that seems to patronize its influenced sources such as The Corpus Hermeticum. (Read a fantastic article about the texts that influenced the Kybalion by Reverend Erik).
Mitch Horowitz himself seems to be behind a forthcoming film about the Kybalion. But I digress…
Think and Grow Rich has suffered the death of over-exposure, rotting away on the bookshelves in Barnes & Noble graveyards (or Uncle Andy’s garage)–largely thrown aside as “baby food” for those interested in the “real stuff.” I’m certain that, for a time, it had been as prevalent in American homes as the TV Guide.
Purchase The Corpus Heremeticum / The Kybalion / Think & Grow Rich via Amazon
Then, well, there’s The Secret. A hodge-podged New Thought Cliff’s Notes for “achievers on the go.” And it went. The Secret quickly became cannon fodder for mind metaphysics’ loudest critics: it would prove the New Thought’s worst intentions to be wholly true, that it’s soley a material-minded. Not only was The Secret simultaneously adored by every middle-class suburbanite with fleeting interests in whatever brought more abundance in their already abundant lives– it was pummeled by everyone else, and rightly so. It would go on to epitomize the low-end of mind-metaphysics–unearned confidence and esteem for those interested in attaining that vapid material wealth, without much thought, just obsession, really. I would consider the Secret, it’s skyrocketing popularity, it’s unanswered questions and hollowed applications to be the death knell of New Thought.
New Thought, thought to be doomed only to survive via the pearly white screams of ever-revolving, clean-cut hype beasts in pastel polos running around Marriott Hotel conference rooms (or YouTube) for eternity. Free to fade away without shame in it’s newfound life full of corporate vim and vigor as it helps Big Businesses become Bigger Businesses. What was once the working man’s tale of persevering the ghetto-of-the-mind was now a critic’s “egregore”, a cartoon of itself–sold like time-shares with garnish ticket prices to the hollow elite…
Mighty questions are left unanswered to those that peddle the “positive mind.” Especially during these modern times… as what good is positive thinking when the somatic means, the forces above and around you–outside of yourself– such as oppressive governments, illness and/or tragedy–befalls you?
The MIRACLE CLUB’s CALL TO ARMS
I believe inspiration comes from everywhere, and most of the time for us lower-class folk, it’s not from academically “preferred” sources, sometimes, and to most, it’s from things that reach over the intellectual divide and into the hearts of the lower class. That said, if the Kybalion or Think & Grow Rich is your metaphysical core, then I have nothing but respect for you and your journey.
I have run across the aforementioned New Thought “After Thought” (or judgement) throughout my life as a seeker. The Power of Positive Thinking was either too low class or too hoity-toity for my contradictory youth between the lower-class machismo barrios in the southwest and my father’s woo-woo crowd in Los Angeles where I was reared amongst New Thought’s most radically charged and under-sung luminaries.
The title of my metaphysics and art podcast, PRAGMAGICK, is lifted directly from a personally revered text from my childhood, a childhood spent on Aquarian Conspiracy author Marilyn Ferguson’s compound. PragMagic was the collection of the New Thought “zine,” The Brain Mind Bulletin– a formative text that would instill in me a deep devotion to the power of the mind… so why haven’t you heard of it?
Why has “The Secret” become both the poster book and metaphysical epithet for the simple and weak-willed? A multitude of reasons come to mind, but none so glaringly obvious than comparing the intentions between say, The Secret, and Mitch Horowitz’s The Miracle Club.
As a matter of fact, The Miracle Club is a call-to-arms to the mangled remains of New Thought– immediately establishing its criticism of some contemporary New Thoughters:
“…New Thought writers, who make needlessly ponderous (and unverifiable) claims that we exit at the perfectly appointed moment (have they ever visited a cancer ward?), or that all health is subjected to one Mental Super Law, which is ours to wield like a potter’s wheel…is unsupportable.” (P. 23)
“…We must improve the intellectual tenor of New Thought–and avoid leaning on catechism when topics of tragedy or injustice arise.” (P. 105)
It’s with those meditations, specifically on mind-metaphysics’ materialism or disregard for tragedy / mental health, that have become the brightest additions from The Miracle Club’s New Thought shake-up. These universal measures, along with “the power of service” (as it pertains to materialism) had largely been left unexplored in “self-help”. This is obviously as a marketing means to sell books– the exact reason New Thought was left to the material fringes.
It’s assumed that the audience isn’t interested in the responsibility (or consideration) that comes with the “positive power,” nor must they muddle their message with quandaries over the limits of one’s control vs. the multitude of outside forces that hinder (or excel) our desires.
Mind-metaphysics and it’s past paragons would lead you to believe that these forces are controlled by your whims alone. These tragedies being a direct result of your causal thoughts and nothing else as you invited this abuse and victimhood (at the hands of another person). Or you allowed the cancer to permeate due to negative thoughts because you didn’t believe in remission enough. It gets dark, and Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret (whom I believe Horowitz is referring to below), is no stranger to blaming the tragedy befalling a practitioner solely their thoughts:
“Some New Thought enthusiasts still resort to a victim-blaming card, claiming, covertly or blatantly, that someone who is sick or has suffered catastrophe wasn’t being ‘just right’ with his or her thought vibes or affirmative prayers.” (P. 05)
Horowitz takes his honorable diligence to involve these unseen forces and their expectant integration in our daily lives. But none are so personally impactful and revolutionary for a former practitioner of New Thought methods that has long suffered with a major “Positive Thinking” caveat: Brain Chemistry.
And what good is positive thinking when I’m at the mercy of my brain chemistry?
MENTAL HEALTH & MIND-METAPHYSICS
Hell, what good is positive thinking when you have absolutely no control over your brain chemistry such as the folks diagnosed with mental disorders? Early on, Horowitz makes it clear that “Positive Thinking,” much like his book, should be an addendum or addition to the healthy trajectory of weathering life’s uh-oh’s-
“My recommendation is to use the best in allopathic medicine, pharmaceuticals, validated alternative therapies, and palliative care–along with prayer, meditation, visualization, and affirmation” (P. 25)
I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder the same year family moved out-of-state. I was left to my own devices to finish high-school, work full-time and rent rooms with strangers. Timing did not afford me the weight, the severity of the diagnosis. It was quickly swept under the rug as I was far more preoccupied with trying to juggle the stillborn adulthood I had manifested. That would become the single most detrimental (and most formative) year of my life. Soon, I would learn to weather my “disorder” via metaphysical books and magickal processes such as Chaos Magick.
I would somehow deal with my obscenely manic episodes and they’re torrid tundras of despair without professional, nor pharmaceutical, assistance for most of my twenties. Instead I would envelop myself, obsessively, in artistic works and with little to no regard for responsibilities. And I was emboldened to not seek help as it was my fault for my reality– I created it, didn’t I? Or better yet, everyone would come around and see the need for my “mastery” and forgive my wild abandon… a gross misuse of mind-metaphysics and one that begs another dour meditation on dark intentions of its use. But that should be another book entirely.
Those wildnerness years were peppered with deep metaphysical and philosophical exploration; I would and could corrupt enough of what I read to allow me the abandon, the where-with-all, to back-up my testing of limits and consequences. I was a real asshole, and I had various philosophical texts to show that my decisions were intellectually sound– some of these very texts would be considered New Thought scripture. However, none of which urged or understood the work I had to put in to survive my own chemistry and it’s inadvertent corruption of my reality.
I wonder how drastically my metaphysical development would have altered had I read The Miracle Club early on.
Horowitz weaves the tale of Emily Grossman, an “extraordinary mental health professional” who was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder who, through Tony Robbins’ New Thought book “Awaken the Giant Within” and Buddhism, lead Grossman to explore the possibilities of mental health treatment. The story exposed Horowitz’s spectrum of health benefits, whether minuscule or major, positive-thinking could incite change of any positive sort. It’s a revelatory moment for New Thought as a movement; finally, the methods and their expectations can be elevated to concern general health, not just lucky charms and super-stardom:
“We may be unable to see, describe, or fully identify these other spheres of existence–but their impact is palpably felt in our lives, as they were in Emily’s.” (P. 56)
The Miracle Club could be the tie that binds. I think the book has managed to encapsulate the whim and wonder of the best of New Thought’s predecessors, with the impetus of responsibility, service and health so sorely missed, into a personable and powerful primer. The Miracle Club seems engineered to reach across the aisle of class or status–poised to confirm affirmations from both nascent and adept seekers alike. Maybe it’s too engineered at times. There’s as a lot is riding on this New Thought addendum, and it seems consciously aware of that, but to knock a metaphysics book for being too serviceable would be a ridiculous gripe.
Though, The Miracle Club, at times, can bee a little too full of protein-heavy psychic snacks–packaged so small and neat– that readers can’t help but voraciously spoon through, leaving some of the flavors to be forgotten– or perhaps that was engineered for repeated reading… either way, Horowitz’s prowess as a publisher of esotericism is bright as it is methodical.
The Miracle Club has already taken the reins to become the King James-ified scripture for the modern reformation of the New Thought movement. Therefore, I feel that the book requires a bit more girth, specifically when it comes to the applied methods or systems. However, this Positive-Power-Primer is already tasked with providing so much, and it delivers what it intends. By god, man, it’s only the second Horowitz-penned book on the subject (The other: One Simple Idea), and I truly hope it isn’t his last.
Something tells me The Miracle Club was strategically poised to be the positive-thinking movement’s palette cleanser and refresher course, the movement’s deep breath, right before the full-blown revival.
Who knows, maybe Inner Traditions is road-testing Horowitz for a full-on New Thought reboot, complete with a modernized edition of Think & Grow Rich… I wouldn’t put it past publishers to smell the money– self-help has always been a lucrative business. And who wouldn’t want that for Horowitz? Horrowitz has proven himself the most poised, down-to-earth, humble and honest… with shades of rocknroll, a perfect ensemble for the movement’s much needed “non-prophet™”. Only time will tell how Horowitz handles the energetic path of the self-help luminary he, most assuredly, deserves.
Personally, I hope Horowitz keeps poking and prodding, deconstructing and revitalizing these concepts for years to come. Especially as these methods could benefit the disaffected, distraught and downtrodden…keep fighting for the desperate, up the metaphysical punks and all that the Miracle Club has shown possible.
Let’s leave the reboots for Hollywood, shall we? Let’s call New Thought something, well, new?
Oh, and one last thing:
“I personally know of cases where the [mental health] treatment itself became unnecessary, or was more efficacious than expected, because improvement was in process following the patient’s commitment and before the start date…” (P.4)
Well, just so happens that I was able to get my proverbial shit together. It took years of utilizing everything from the “power of service,” magick and positive-mind metaphysics, all in conjunction with mental health treatment. I am now able to say that treatment has been wholly excised, as are the copious medications needed for bipolar disorder as I am, well, put together enough to go mentally “commando.” So please, add me to that list, will ya?
(Revel Rosz 1/09/19)
This article was prompted by THE DISRUPTION GENERATOR, an oracular, divinatory card system illustrated by Eric J. Millar for WE THE HALLOWED. I will release the full “automatic writing” in a separate post. STAY TUNED.