Our Founder

Ernest Holmes ~ What is the Science of Mind?

Ernest Holmes

Ernest Holmes

Our Founder, Ernest Holmes

“There is a power for good in the universe greater than you are—and you can use it.” These words are part of the rich legacy of Ernest Holmes. They are the cornerstone of Religious Science—the culmination of his lifetime of study and contemplation.

Ernest Holmes was born on a small farm near Lincoln, Maine, on January 21, 1887. Ninth of nine sons born to William and Anna Heath Holmes, Ernest was named after a poetic young preacher of that area, Rev. Ernest Shurtleff. Although he dropped out of school at the age of 15, Ernest had an insatiable desire to learn the universal truths and imperishable ideas that manifested through the ages in literature, art, science, philosophy and religion. He spent a lifetime synthesizing his discoveries.

Ernest was deeply influenced by the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the original Transcendentalists whose work impacted the early development of what became known as the New Thought movement. Another source of inspiration was the writing of Thomas Troward, a one-time English judge in Punjab, India. Then, while studying public speaking in Boston, Holmes became interested in the thinking of some of his fellow students who were Christian Scientists. He was especially intrigued by the healings they believed possible as a result of affirmative prayer.

In 1912, Ernest came to California on an exploratory tour and to visit his older brother Fenwicke, who had built a small, thriving church in Venice. Finding the Los Angeles area a place of progressive people, stimulating intellectuals and seekers of truth, Ernest stayed. He took a job as a purchasing agent for the city of Venice, which gave him time for study.

An engineer who frequented Holmes’ purchasing office became curious about his books on philosophy and metaphysics and invited him to his home to talk to a few of his friends. That first talk led to others, in the homes of other friends. Then one evening, a lady informed Ernest that she had told the librarian at the big Metaphysical Library that he would talk there the following Thursday. The hall rented for $1.00 a class, and the admission price per person was 25 cents. He decided to talk on Troward and the Edinburgh Lectures. Enough people showed up that he went home with a $5.00 gold piece after paying his rental.

That was 1916.

Within the next two years, Ernest was speaking to thousands of people a week in Los Angeles. Soon he began traveling around the country, developing a national reputation as a man who stimulated others to think for themselves. Wherever he went, people wanted to hear his message. They were ready for what he had already embarked upon: the great synthesis that would result in the book, The Science of Mind.

Ernest decided to halt his speaking tours and confine his speaking to the Los Angeles in order to complete the book. The Science of Mind was first published in 1926. That same year, far-sighted friends were urging him to form a corporation and organize for the inevitable growth of what he was teaching. They finally convinced him and in February, 1927, the Institute of Religious Science and School of Philosophy was incorporated. Ernest was 40 years old.

It was also in 1927 that the first Religious Science headquarters, including general and practitioner offices, a library and lecture halls, was established at 2511 Wilshire Blvd. And only a few months after the Institute was founded, a monthly magazine, Religious Science, was launched. It has enjoyed continuous publication since the first issue, and lives on today as Science of Mind.

1927 was a special year for Ernest because on October 23 he married Hazel Durkee Foster; they were inseparable for 30 years.

People who were thirsty for knowledge sought out Ernest, and his popularity grew by phenomenal leaps and bounds. In 1926, Ernest started speaking each Sunday morning in a 625-seat theatre at the Ambassador Hotel. A year later, he moved to the Ebell Theatre which seated 1,295. Within a year, even Ebell could not accommodate the crowd. Several more moves were made, and by 1934, Ernest was speaking at the 2,800-seat Wiltern Theatre. Before long, hundreds were being turned away every Sunday for lack of seating.

On April 16, 1935, the organization founded by Ernest Holmes was reincorporated as the Institute of Religious Science and Philosophy. On August 1 of that year, the Institute, having outgrown its quarters on Wilshire, moved to West Sixth Street.

In 1945, in recognition of his book, This Thing Called Life, Ernest was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy by India’s famed Andhra Research University. He also received honorary degrees from what is now the California College of Medicine, University of California at Irvine, and the Foundation Academic University of Spiritual Understanding in Venice, Italy.

In 1949, Ernest began a popular weekly radio program on the Mutual network entitled “This Thing Called Life.” Each Sunday, his opening words were, “There is a power for good in the universe greater than you are—and you can use it.” The growth of the Institute, the demand for edition after edition of his book, The Science of Mind, and the growth of the magazine led to another change of name. In 1954, the Institute of Religious Science became the Church of Religious Science. By then, even Ernest was convinced that the world wanted such a church.

In 1956, a special bequest made possible a half-hour television program, “This Thing Called Life.” For 26 weeks, Ernest was seen and heard by another fascinated audience.

The following spring, he lost his chosen life companion, Hazel. Two years later, on April 7, 1960, Ernest himself made his transition. It had only been four months since he had presided at the dedication of Founder’s Church of Religious Science, adjacent to the United Church Headquarters.

He left no children. But he left humankind an enduring legacy: the way of life he called Religious Science.

In the 1950s, during a period of strong organizational growth, one organization became two. Religious Science International was initiated.

Today, the United Church of Religious Science is a worldwide organization. In 2005, to reflect its desire for accessiblity and ease of communication about its philosophy, the organization adopted the DBA of United Centers for Spiritual Living.

What is the Science of Mind?

-By Ernest Holmes

The Science of Mind that is taught in these lessons is an outgrowth of the spiritual faith which people have had throughout the ages. Before science was conceived the Presence of God was felt. Before ever mental actions or reactions were analyzed history was filled with instances of men and women who had experienced God.

The Science of Mind is comparatively new, but the mental experience of the invisible universe is as old as the history of man. It is new in that for the first time in history we have put together all findings which contribute to the establishment of man’s relationship with the universe, to the end that he may be able to apply his spiritual understanding to the everyday problems of human life.

This science necessarily starts with the proposition that we are living in a spiritual universe whose sole government is one of harmony, and that the use of right ideas is the enforcement of its law.

The Science of Mind is built on the theory that there is One Infinite Mind which of necessity includes all that is, whether it be the intelligence in man, the life in the animal, or the invisible Presence which is God. In it we learn to have a spiritual sense of things. This spiritual sense of things is what is meant by the Consciousness of Christ. To be able to discern the spiritual idea back of its physical symbol is to use the mind that Jesus used.

The Science of Mind is intensely practical because it teaches us how to use the Mind Principle for definite purposes, such as helping those who are sick, impoverished, or unhappy. Each one of us should learn to become a practitioner of this science, a demonstrator of its Principle, a conscious user of its Power. Power already exists, but the existence of Power is of no particular value to us until we use it. We must not only be conscious of Power, but we must be actively conscious of it. This is one of the first lessons we learn in the Science of Mind.

This science is more than mental; it is also spiritual, since we live in a spiritual universe. The Science of Mind declares the Truth about this spiritual universe and it also declares the Truth about false belief, considering everything which is opposed to good as an accumulation of human thought, the collective negative suggestion of the race.

Wrong conditions are resolved into false beliefs, and through the use of right ideas a transformation of thought takes place. We learn to build our ideas upon an affirmative rather than a negative factor. To state the Truth and deny or disregard that which in belief is opposed to it, is to prove that the Principle of the Science of Mind is actual.

The ever increasing thousands of persons who are daily proving this Principle add to our conviction that we are dealing with the most intense reality the human mind has ever conceived. As you will learn later, the practice of this science is the application of a definite technique, the law of right thought, of true spiritual understanding.

How to Begin these Studies

It is necessary to start these studies with the complete conviction that there is such a Principle and that you understand the scientific use and application of it. Conscious knowledge alone gives you the conscious control of the laws of nature. The advance in any science always corresponds to the conscious use made of the laws of nature. There could be no advance in science without such conscious use of nature’s laws.

It would be unwise to approach a study of the Science of Mind with superstition. You must approach it with understanding. Above all, you must approach it with the definite intention in mind of making conscious use of its Principle. You must come to realize at the very start of your inquiry that Mind exists as a Principle in the universe, just as electricity exists as a principle.

Once you understand this it will not be difficult to see that thought is the tool of Mind, that right ideas enforce the Law of Mind; nor will it be difficult to see that physical objects are fundamentally spiritual in their nature, that an objective fact is but a symbol of a subjective or an invisible cause. It certainly follows that if you are to make practical use of the Science of Mind you must be able to convert things into thoughts, and by changing the stream of consciousness produce a corresponding change in an objective situation, whether this be used for helping those who are sick, or to meet any other need.

The question naturally arises whether or not man has a right to use his thought for whatever purpose he wills. The more sincere one is the more likely he is to ask this question. Strangely enough, he would not ask this relative to any other science but would feel that all laws exist to be used, and any sane person would naturally desire to benefit himself and others through the use of nature’s laws. Why should any exception be made to the greatest of all laws – the Law of Mind in action, and the enforcement of this Law through right ideas?

One of our fundamental propositions is that God is all there is. When you say God is all there is, that includes everything, all possibility and all action, for Spirit is the invisible essence and substance of all form. It is impossible to separate the highest use of this science from the most exalted conception of an immanent Spirit, a transcendent Spirit, an available Spirit.

Perhaps one might at first have an aversion to the idea of using spiritual power for material purposes, but in the Science of Mind we discover that there are no final material purposes; that whether life exists in an objective or a subjective state, whether it is visible or invisible, all is Spirit; that Spirit or Intelligence, plus what It does, constitutes the entire universe, including man.

What the Science of Mind Reveals

The Science of Mind reveals that every man is a potential Christ. Every man has inherent God-power within him. And how could this God-power be used other than through his thought? Since it would be impossible for a man to act as an intelligent being unless he could first think, the very idea of man supposes a center of consciousness, a center of thought activity. The Science of Mind reveals that this center of God activity within each one is a complete and a unique manifestation of the Parent Mind; that the Power of God does actually exist in man.

It is a basic proposition in our philosophy that we live in a mental or spiritual universe and that things can be resolved into thoughts. This is the foundation upon which all scientific practice must be established, and when you are able to establish this premise in your own thought, you at once find yourself equipped with an instrument through which you can change your environment.

The Science of Mind does not deny the physical universe. The objective universe is the Body of God. That body includes our physical being. In reality every idea of our physical being is a Divine idea.

The misconception of the spiritual universe causes our universe to appear separated from good, and in fact we experience this separation. But that which is a fact in experience is not necessarily true in principle. Bondage cannot be conceived by the Divine, and yet we all know that bondage is a part of man’s experience.

In trying to seek a solution for this enigma we must either conclude that there is an ultimate good and an ultimate evil in the universe, or we must conclude that there is but one Ultimate, which is good, and that this Ultimate by Its very nature and by our very nature is compelled to appear to each one of us in the form of our belief. If you can accept this proposition it will be easy enough for you to see how it is that false belief binds humanity.

If that which binds is false belief and not the Truth, then you will see why Jesus told us that a knowledge of the Truth would produce freedom. He did not mean that knowledge of the Truth creates freedom, but that knowledge of the Truth makes us free by aligning us with that which was never bound.

Accepting the foregoing conclusions as true it follows that the Divine Creative Principle is already perfect, having neither confusion nor chaos within It. It was, is, and will remain exactly perfect. Our individual universe shall be redeemed from its bondage in such degree as we become actively conscious of the Truth of our being. We must use the Law as a Law of Liberty, else we shall be using It as a law of bondage.

Science of Mind’s Technique

The Science of Mind provides us with a definite technique for the use of this Law and teaches how each one can use It in freeing himself and demonstrating to his complete satisfaction that right ideas, correctly used, can and must produce right conditions.

So far, neither science, revelation, nor philosophy has arrived at any conclusion which could disturb this proposition, and every day the physical sciences are more completely proving that the physical universe in which we live is more like a gigantic thought than anything else. Now if the physical universe, or the cosmos as a whole, is more like a gigantic thought than anything else, it follows that our immediate world is a part of this thought.

How amazed we all should be if we awoke some fine morning, not only with the absolute conviction that this is so, but also with the inner insight which would enable us to see exactly what it means. Then we too should be able to say to the paralyzed man, “stretch forth thine hand!” But before we can do this we must see the principle of freedom instead of the belief in a paralysis of this principle.

The Science of Mind is a reinterpretation of the universe by a process of thought which Jesus used. We learn that there is one body, the body of right ideas. Jesus sensed this Body of God, which includes man’s body, as a perfect, harmonious unit, and he realized that the evil which binds man is not a principle within itself nor a thing of itself, and most certainly not a person, but merely a false system of thought. He understood that his knowledge of good annihilated that which denied good. This fundamental fact he clearly brought out in his teaching; the Truth known is followed by the Truth demonstrated.

The 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. The person who already has the greatest spiritual faith will make the most active demonstrator of Truth. The person who naturally has a spiritual insight or who has already trained himself to have spiritual insight, will more quickly sense the truths which the Science of Mind portrays. He will more quickly lay hold of its technique and more perfectly demonstrate for himself and others that the invisible is the cause of the visible.

Proving the Science of Mind

For every science there must be a technique or a way of proving its truth. Science of itself is a knowledge of laws and principles arid systematic arrangement. And the technique of any science is the way in which we use this knowledge of laws and principles.

Applying this rule, (which is common to all sciences) to the Science of Mind, it naturally follows that if there is such a principle as Universal Mind, and if it does work according to the Law of Cause and effect, and if thought, self-contemplation, or self-knowingness is that which stimulates Its action, then correct thinking can and must produce objective or visible results.

We must lay even more stress on the use of the Science of Mind than we do on seeking to establish its Principle. As a matter of fact its Principle is self-evident; its use is exactly what we make it. And 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.

You are ready to use the Principle governing the Science of Mind the very moment you accept the fact that there is such a principle and that it does operate through your thought. But this seems to be the place where many fall down. They talk so much about the Principle and use It so little. They permit themselves to become confused by the introduction of contradictory ideas. They spend too much time in merely philosophizing, theorizing, speculating, until finally they live in a world of wistful wishing, of day dreams.

You must come to see that the Science of Mind is an actual Principle to be definitely used; that no matter how much good may exist in the universe, only as much good can come to you as you can conceive. Above all things, determine now to use this science. Do not say, “Well, this is but the first lesson and I expect to have understanding enough within a year to use it.” Seize upon whatever facts present themselves to your mind today, begin to use such truth as you grasp out of your first lesson, and before the year is over you will have become an effective practitioner.

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