“New thought or idea brings strength o body as well as mind. For this reason,the real, active intellect of the world lives longer. … Increased knowledge of the laws of thought (that great silent force in nature) will, in the future, enable the spirit to use its body, not only in full, but ever-increasing possession of its mental and physical powers.
“People’s bodies decay and lose vigor through thinking continually the same set of thoughts. Thought is food for your spirit as much as is bread food for the body. Old thought is literally old, stale substance or element. It does not properly nourish the spirit. If the spirit is starved, the body will suffer. … If the spirit be sufficiently strong to assert its demands caused by the gnawings of its hunger, there will be perpetual unrest.” ~Prentice Mulford
Since Mulford wrote the quoted text about a hundred years ago, there has been much progress in understanding thought. While much is still unknown, we do know a few things. One is that mental deterioration of the elderly can be slowed down, if not entirely prevented, by continually learning new things and using the brain. Another is that we tend to become stagnant, both physically and mentally, when we stop learning. Mulford says the active intellect lives longer. That is likely true.
More important than the length of life is the quality of it. In the business world, particularly in regard to job interviews, they say that managers must remember that one year of experience ten times over is not the same as ten years of experience. This is something often forgotten in modern interviews. What it means is that even if you have done something for ten years, doesn’t mean you have ten years of learning. You may have learned enough to do the job in one year, then stopped learning. This principle is even more important in life than in job qualifications. New thought means you’re not just recycling old ideas in a new package.
Laws of Thought
Mulford refers to laws of thought, but doesn’t explain further. At least not in this section of his book. We can speculate on what he considered those laws to be, but that would be pointless. While Mulford gives us good advice on many things, he wasn’t a spiritual teacher. He was more interested in the development of the mind and of social responsibility rather than spiritual development. We will look at the laws of thought from both sides.
One law of thought is very simple: thought is energy and energy does work. What thought does is create. Sometimes it creates directly, sometimes indirectly. A direct example would be thinking about a job you want and getting it. Indirect is more complicated. It usually involves more than one person, often many. When many people send out negative thoughts like hatred, fear, and anger, those emotional thoughts provide the energy that feeds storms and natural disasters. It isn’t God punishing people for liking gays. Its people with no control over their thoughts or emotions creating hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, etc.
Another law of thought is that the thoughts of one cannot overcome the opposing thoughts of many others. So you can think all you want that you will live for 500 years, but it won’t happen because everyone else believes that is impossible. One exception is that highly developed spiritual people who know how to use thought can override the random, uncontrolled thoughts of thousands. That is the power of new thought.
Mulford says the body will suffer if the spirit is starved. I would go even further and say both the body and mind suffer when the spirit is not awakened and developed.
The body suffers in that it must consume large amounts of material food in order to stay alive. This gradually rots the body, especially if it is mostly junk food. One who has a fully awakened spirit and soul gets energy from them to provide some of the nourishment the body needs. Those people eat less, not by depriving themselves, but because they simply need less food when they get spiritual energy as well. Some of the Essenes were known to eat only about once a month, and then it was a small meal. We have become too dense in matter to do that, but with many years of development, we can get there again, and beyond. One day we will lose all need for food of matter and just live on spiritual energy.
The mind suffers in that it cannot think well with little spiritual energy. It also tend to get too egotistical without input from the spiritual mind of the soul. When the soul and brain-mind work together, we can make wise decisions. When they don’t, we often make foolish ones. New Thought is about making wise choices.