Founder of Religious Science
Ernest Holmes [1887-1960]
"There is a power for good in the Universe,
greater than we are, available to everyone,
and we can use it."
Born in 1887 on a small farm in Maine, Ernest Holmes wrote "The Science of Mind" and numerous other books on metaphysics which culminated in his founding of International Religious Science. He also created Religious Science magazine which split into Creative Mind and Science of Mind magazines. Science of Mind has been in continuous publication since 1927. Holmes' Science of Mind teaching is recognized today as one of the leading viewpoints in modern metaphysics uniting people around around the world with its brilliant cosmology. Holmes illuminated humanity's relationship with God and place in the Universe while propounding a positive approach to daily living.
A High School Dropout
Although Holmes was a High School droput at 15. He went on to be one of the foremost philosophers and metaphysicians of the 20th Century. He acquired "the basics" of education in rural schools: grammar school in Lincoln, and Gould's Academy in Bethel, Maine. He once said: "I quit school when I was about 15 and didn't go back except to study public speaking." From 1908 to 1910, working in a store to pay his way, he attended the Leland Powers School of Expression in Boston.
The rest of his prodigious learning came from an insatiable search for what would be most meaningful for any man to know. He was an omnivorous student of and finally an authority on the universal truths and imperishable ideas manifested through the ages of literature, art, science, philosophy and religion. He spent a life-time synthesizing his discoveries. The result: The Science of Mind.
Near the close of his life, he talked to an interviewer about his own beginnings and the beginnings of Religious Science.
Holmes was self educated
Asked about his quitting school at 15, he said. "I didn't want to be taken care of, so l went to work. What I have gathered has been from reading, studying and thinking, working, experiencing. It is a long, laborious, tough method, but it pays off. I don't believe there is a real other method.
"What you will really learn in life will be what you tell yourself, in a language you understand, that you accept...because it is rational enough to accept, and inspirational enough to listen to with feeling....
"From the beginning I was a non-conformist, asking so many questions I drove my relatives crazy." (But he never stopped asking, then or later.) "Fortunately, I was brought up by a mother who refused to have fear taught in her family. New England, theoretically, was pretty strict; but she was a wise woman and she determined we should never be taught there was anything to be afraid of...."
Except for that inner drive to ask questions, he said, "I wasn't strange in any particular way." He saw no visions, had no hallucinations. Even at an early age he started to study Emerson on his own initiative. About Emerson he said: "Studying Emerson was like drinking water to me. I have studied Emerson all my life."
At the Leland Powers School in Boston, some of his fellow students were Christian Scientists; an instructor was a reader in the Mother Church. He became interested in some of their thinking, especially about the healings they believed possible by those who prayed in a certain way. If such things were possible to them, he reasoned, such things must also be possible to others.
Long afterward, he elaborated on this reaction: "Anything anyone has ever done, anybody can do; there can be no secrets in nature. This I have always believed. There is no special providence, no God who says, 'l am going to tell you what I didn't tell any others.'"
He came to California in 1912 on an exploratory visit.
Two years before, his brother Fenwick had sought a warmer climate for reasons of health. He had written Ernest glowing reports about the Los Angeles suburb of Venice, where he had become a "home missionary" and built a small, thriving church.
Ernest, too, liked the climate; he liked "helping out" on Sunday in the church, and he found a job he liked, as purchasing agent for the city of Venice. What he especially liked about the job was that it allowed him plenty of time to study.
He found Los Angeles an exciting place: a growing city of progressive people, in a ferment of expanding their horizons, not only physically, but mentally and spiritually. It was a community of stimulating intellectuals. Anything anyone might want to study was taught there.
He said, many years later: "I began to read and study everything I could get hold of - no one thing. I started from the very beginning with the thought that I didn't want to take one bondage away from myself and create another. I have always been very careful about that.
"We happen to have the most liberal spiritual Movement the world has ever seen, yet it is tied together by the authority of the ages and the highlights of the spiritual evolution of the human race all of which I have become familiar with, over a long period of time, studying it and thinking about it...."
Standing Room Only: A Thing of Destiny
An historical perspective written by Ernest Holmes
I consider Religious Science a thing of destiny or I wouldn't be here. I have given my life to it. I never even made a living out of it, because it doesn't interest me in that way. I think it is a thing of destiny. I believe that the evolutionary process, periodically in history, pushes something forward as a new emergence to meet a new demand.
What I have gathered has been from reading, studying, thinking, and working--it is a long, laborious, tough method, but it pays off. I don't believe there is a real other method. What you will really learn will be what you tell yourself, in a language you understand, you accept--giving yourself a reason that is rational enough to accept, reasonable enough to agree to, inspirational enough to listen to with feeling, profound enough to sink deep, with light enough in it to break away the clouds. Because there is a place where the sun never has stopped shining in everyone's mind, and there is ever a song somewhere and we all have to learn to sing it.
There would be no Religious Science movement had there not at first been a New Thought movement. We are one of the New Thought groups of America, which have come up in the last 60 years and influenced the thought of the world and this country more than any other one single element in it--that is, spiritually, religiously, theologically, and psychologically too. But the New Thought movement itself, which originated in America, had its roots in a very deep antiquity.
We happen to have the most liberal spiritual movement the world has ever seen, and yet it is synthesized and tied together by the authority of the ages and the highlights of the spiritual evolution of the human race, all of which I have been familiar with, since I have spent 50 years studying it and thinking about it.
I was always studying; and since I had to make a living, I took a job as a purchasing agent. A superintendent asked me what all the books that I had around my office were, and I said they were books on philosophy and metaphysics, the occult, New Thought--everything you can think of. He said, "They look interesting to me." I said, "You are an engineer and wouldn't be interested," but he thought he might. He borrowed some of them and after a while he said, "How would you like to come over to my house and I will invite a few people one evening and you can just talk to us?" I said that would be fine--and we did it.
Those were the first talks I ever gave, in two homes. During one of these evenings a lady came to me and said she was at the Metaphysical Library (we used to have a big metaphysical library at 3rd and Broadway, and I used to get books out of it) and she said, "I told the librarian you would come up next Thursday and talk." I said, "Talk on what?" And she said, "Like you talk to us! You are really better than the people we hear up there."
I went, and the librarian said, "You have a class this afternoon at 3 p.m." I said, "I wouldn't know how to teach a class." She informed me I could pay a dollar for the room and charge 25 cents a person to come. I decided to teach Troward. I had read The Edinburgh Lectures. I believe I had 13 in the class and got home with a five-dollar gold piece above my rent. Within two years I was speaking to thousands of people a week and never put a notice in the paper. They just came.
This went on for a number of years, and I thought I would like to see how it worked in other places. For several years I went to Eastern cities and around and discovered that people everywhere wanted it and were ready for it. I had already started on what I consider our great synthesis, putting the thing together. I had a beautiful home here and had made many friends, so I came back to Los Angeles after several years of being out of this local field.
In 1925 we took the little theater which used to be in the Ambassador Hotel. It seated 625 people. We put an ad in the paper and started on a Sunday morning. Within a year the people couldn't get in. Then we took the Ebell Theatre and within a year were turning people away from there. It seated 1,295 people.
Then, because we needed the space, I took the Wiltern Theater, and we turned away many, many hundreds every Sunday. This was during the time of the Depression, and probably many people were looking for help even more than ordinarily. I had a big radio program, too, which was a big help.
I want to go back before this happened. I came back here in 1925, and in 1926 some friends of mine said, "You should organize this." But I said, "No, I don't want to do that; I don't want to start a new religion or be responsible for it; I don't want to tell anyone what to do. I don't know what to do myself, so how can I tell anyone else?" But they argued that this was something they thought valuable and the greatest thing in the world, and they finally convinced me--and we became incorporated as a nonprofit religious and educational organization. It was called the Institute of Religious Science and School of Philosophy.
It wasn't until it had many, many, many branches that I really thought to myself, something is going on here, this really is a thing of destiny; it is really going to become the next spiritual impulsion of the world--and I believe it. I finally came to see that it had to be organized so it wouldn't fall apart. We have a very wonderful organization, democratic; we are governed by a top board of 19 members, seven of whom are elected by the field.
This is a new spiritual impulsion in the world; it has certain objectives in the world, has certain purposes: to teach and to practice, and nothing else. Teach and practice, practice and teach--that is all we have; that is all we are good for; that is all we ever ought to do.
We must bear witness to a spiritual truth which has come down to us through the ages; and if there is any truth, this is it. It is a compilation, a synthesis--a putting together of all the great thoughts. If you take the deep thoughts of the ages--Plato and Moses and Jesus, Buddha, Socrates, Aristotle and Emerson and Plotinus, all of them--you will have to have the greatest teaching the world has.
It is a terrific thing to synthesize the wisdom of the ages. I don't claim to have done it, but we have come nearer doing it than ever has happened before in the history of the world. Therefore, we are beneficiaries of innumerable sources. Those sources we gladly recognize, and we feel very proud and happy we have had sense enough to use them. They must be brought into line--the great philosophical and spiritual truths must be brought into line with the modern metaphysical knowledge of the Law of Mind in action, which the ancients did not understand at all. If they did, they didn't practice it or, as far as I know, teach it. They taught the broad, generalized principles that underlie it and which will explain it--but not in action.
We have launched a movement which is destined--I won't live to see it and don't want to--in the next hundred years to be the great new religious impulsion of our day and of modern times. I am convinced our movement is a thing of destiny.
Now what do we teach? It is very simple: God is all there is. There isn't anything else; there never was and never will be. When the psychological reaction of condemnation is done away with in the world, Hell will have cooled off; the Devil will be out of business; present-day evangelism will have been rolled up like a scroll and numbered with the things that were once thought to be real.
Something new and grand will have appeared. We are the forerunners of a new race of people; we are the arbiters of the fate of unborn generations; we are the custodians of the chalice of truth. But we are not hung on a cross. We have a song to sing; we have a joy to bring to the world, and love and peace and happiness.
I think we should feel as though we are on a mission. Not a mission of sadness to save souls--they are not lost, and if they were, you wouldn't know where to look for them--but a mission that glorifies the soul. Not to find we are here for salvation, but for glorification--the beauty, the wonder, the delight of that Something that sings and sings and sings in the soul of humankind.