Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2018. 182 pp., paper, $16.99.
Mitch Horowitz, a writer, speaker, and TS member, is steeped in the philosophy of New Thought, which holds that thoughts create form; as Horowitz says, “thoughts are causative.” His latest book, The Miracle Club, is what he calls a “guidebook” to New Thought and metaphysics and why it works for those who know how to perform its practices. Horowitz’s book pays “homage” to his New Thought heroes, particularly the mid–twentieth century author and speaker Neville Goddard.
“Thinking in a direct, highly focused, and emotively charged manner expands our capacity to perceive and concretize events,” Horowitz says, “and relates us to the non-tactile field of existence that surpasses ordinarily perceived boundaries of time and thought.”
Thought is “generative” and “must be supplemented by courageous action. Never omit that,” Horowitz emphasizes, adding in a later chapter that “thoughts/ideas must be acted upon or they weaken and die,” which is “tragic.”
Because thoughts are causative, Horowitz tells us that the “true nature of life is to be generative—to be happy, human beings must exercise their fullest range of abilities—including the exertions of outer achievement” (emphasis here and in other quotes his). Again we encounter the “doing” that Horowitz believes is essential to creating our life and fulfilling our wants and desires. “Thought without labor is like faith without works: dead,” writes Horowitz, encouraging the use of the “force” of an “overlooked energy: The power of one deeply felt wish. One finely honed, exclusively focused, deeply felt and passionately felt desire.” You must want it “with your whole soul,” because “what you want is what you get.”
Horowitz explores New Thought’s version of “prosperity theology,” noting that “your creative agency, and the thoughts with which you impress it contribute to the actualized events of your existence—including money.” He questions the Eastern idea of nonattachment and says that no matter what profession or trade we are in, we should want wealth: “You must see wealth as a necessary and vital facet of your life,” he writes. Many modern-day spiritual writers (he names Eckhart Tolle and Michael A. Singer as two of them) “have not provided Westerners with a satisfying response to materialism because it seems to divert the individual from the very direction in which he may find meaning, which is toward the compass point of achievement.”
Horowitz does not define any other types of wealth or achievement other than financial and material, although he does encourage us toward “simplicity of habit and reduction of wants,” noting that “abundance can be a kind of slavery insofar as it feeds and foments . . . the lowest self within us that feeds on habit, consumption, and routine.”
“Methods in Mind Power” is a chapter that teaches us how to create miracles in our lives, and Horowitz give us four practices: affirmation; visualizations, which might attract someone who can help us get what we want (he offers the caveat is that “wanting” some achievement often “breeds impatience”); praying (Horowitz believes in “petitionary” prayer—“asking, even demanding, something specific from God”); and meditation—a practice he says is “vital to any spiritual journey.” But that journey also requires “impassioned commitment” (doing) as well.
Horowitz criticizes what he believes are New Thought’s shortcomings, including its failure to provide a viable “theology of suffering.” But perhaps the real problem with New Thought is that it needs to recover its roots in the Eastern philosophies—Hinduism, Buddhism, the Tao—in order to provide a way for people to live more effortlessly, without the struggle of achieving and gaining material wealth when “do what you love and the money will follow” might be a better path. The strain of forcing the world out there into a mold of what we want it to be is the source of our suffering, said the Buddha.
Horowitz’s guidebook gives us plenty of doing, even though the stillness of nonaction is often the better way. Both, however, can serve us well when used with what the Buddha called “right intention” to serve the higher good.
Clare Goldsberry, of the Phoenix Study Center, is a freelance writer and author of The Teacher Within: Finding and Living Your Personal Truth. Her article “A Stranger No More: A Journey through Mormonism” appeared in the fall 2018 Quest.