By Jim Nolan and Katherine Ninos
It was thirty years ago that Quimby College, now Southwestern College, offered its first classes in Alamogordo, New Mexico. So it is fitting that we are taking a retrospective look back and chronicling the history of the school at this time. While some of you may know the College story beginning with Neva Dell Hunter, we have been exploring our early roots and lineage streams, and would like to share with you some of what we have found.
Quimby/Southwestern College has roots in the Perennial Wisdom Traditions (both Eastern and Western), Transpersonal Psychology, the teachings of Rudolf Steiner and Transcendentalism as articulated by Ralph Waldo Emerson. The lineage stream we want to focus on in this piece is that of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, who is recognized as the "Father of New Thought."
Quimby called his work "mind healing," "spiritual healings," "the science of health and happiness" and other terms supporting wholeness as our natural state. Accounts of his teachings and healings in the 19th century were legendary in his native New England. Consistent with variations on "Idealism" (Plato and many others), Quimby believed that what manifests on this physical plane is reflective of, and at the same time one with, a perfect Divinity, which he often called "The Christ." Steiner called this the "Solar Logos." It has been referred to in metaphysics as the "Cosmic Christ" and is seen as the Divine Light within each of us, which is the state of Love. This is New Thought's major contribution in support of spiritual Truth and is often misunderstood by religious systems. This may explain the attraction to New Thought of so many people who consider themselves spiritual, but not necessarily religious.
Quimby believed our natural state and birthright included health and happiness. Over many years of intensive observation and study he came to understand disease as a mis-alignment with our own Divinity and an incorrect understanding or belief about our state or condition. He held that misguided cultural beliefs (what Ernest Holmes would later call "race consciousness") caused or created disease—that minds impacted minds and thoughts influenced thoughts in self and others. So he deduced that disease could be healed with accurate thinking aligned with divinity. As he often said, "The Truth is the cure."
Quimby unintentionally created a long lineage of luminaries including Emma Curtis Hopkins, who taught Ernest Holmes, who in turn went on to found the Church of Religious Science (now the Center for Spiritual Living), the Fillmores, who founded Unity Church, and Malinda Cramer who founded the Divine Science church. Other early names included William Walker Atkinson, Abel Leighton Allen and Florence Scovel Shinn. Modern day "New Thoughters" include Wayne Dyer, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Jean Houston, Eckhart Tolle, Abraham-Hicks, Byron Katie, Andrew Harvey, Deepak Chopra, Matthew Fox, Caroline Myss and Louise Hay. The Association of Global New Thought, the International New Thought Alliance and the Affiliated New Thought Network are all testimony to the impact Quimby has had on modern spirituality and healing traditions.
In the mainstream of modern mental health, cognitive-behavioral therapy, narrative therapy and Positive Psychology owe a significant debt to New Thought, as do many variations on "energy work" and "spiritual healing." While New Thought led to ministry programs in many schools, Southwestern College is unique in applying the core truths of that lineage stream to the healing arts, through Counseling and Art Therapy. One could say that "Transforming Consciousness through Education" is our modern version of "The Truth is the cure."
As educators, we work with the "teacher within" and, as healers, we help people to gain the awareness or consciousness that their nature is essentially Divine and the power to heal is within.
As we reflect on our greater purpose through our mission, we are given at this time to share the importance of the core impulses that provided the original underpinnings of our work. Through this sharing we invite others to experience resonance, and thus community, with Southwestern College.
[Originally published in the Winter 2010 issue of Heartlink of Southwestern College. Republished here by the Phineas Parkhurst Quimby Resource Center with permission. Southwestern College of Santa Fe, New Mexico offers a Master’s Degree in Counseling and a Master’s in Art Therapy / Counseling (the only one in New Mexico), with a strongly holistic emphasis. Visit their web site here.]