13. Avoid Extremes.
TO keep a “level head” is as important in the New Thought as elsewhere. Up to this time it has not always been easy to persuade the world that we are not cranky, if, indeed, not actual cranks, but the task is rapidly becoming easier. It is very desirable, however, to show that we are not illogical or dominated by a single idea.
There is no movement, however ideal in itself, which does not attract and take on some elements in which there is “a zeal which is not according to knowledge.” It works out its own cure.
With the mingling of enthusiasts and conservatives, radicals and old fogies, the evolution of truth is hastened. This is true in every system, church, and party, and the New Thought is no exception.
We agree to disagree. It would be as easy for all to look alike as to think alike. We may reason with one who differs from us without condemnation. A long chain of previous causes and conditions beyond his control, in which he is but a link, has made him just what he is. We may criticise ideas rather than personalities.
Some unnecessary prejudice against mental and spiritual healing is aroused by extreme and unwise statements made in good faith but yet unduly idealistic. Great works are possible and lawful, but not yet common.
While the half has not been told of the potential power and value of the new spiritual awakening, yet owing to the local limitations in its application, its possibilities have not yet dawned upon the ordinary observer. Do not antagonize him by extravagant claims for your own system and attacks upon his.
Truth has inherent vitality, while error is self-limited. The light of reality dissolves that which is unreal, and no conflict is necessary. Works and experiences tell a stronger story than words.
The extremes in any movement are often mistakenly thought to be representative. Practical idealism is true, but it cannot fully be understood except from the inside. But the world likes “a sweet reasonable-ness.”
That the primal and root causes—but not always the occasions—of disorder are mental is true, but it does not follow that the body can be greatly changed “while you wait” by a superficial change of mind. Such a claim cheapens a great and deep truth which only is realizable through gradual and persistent soul growth.
Logic is good, but it should not be abused. Because a man can lift three hundred pounds it does not follow that he can lift three thousand, even though the principle be the same.
Laws and principles which abstractly are perfect must find conditions which are not unfavorable for their working and application. The best seed will not germinate in a soil which is utterly destitute of fertility.
To deny the universal principle of growth and progress and arbitrarily insist upon the complete abstract at once or nothing, discourages the seeker for truth. He has not become, but it is inspiring for him to be consciously becoming. This because he has imperfection yet in evidence.
An unfortunate extreme consists in an assumed contempt for reasonable prudence and hygienic observance.
“Eat and drink whatever you please, and do what you please, and all is right provided you think right.” Absurd! No one does think right, and it will require some time for him to think approximately right. Without being in slavery to hygiene, he should, until developed far above the usual average, give it reasonable attention. “To be a law unto himself” lies some distance in the future.
Some are so anxious to “demonstrate,” that they are willing to soak themselves in a rain, unnecessarily, as a testimony. Better leave that to the ducks.
Growth should be normal. While it should be persistent, it must not be forced.
If Paul attained such a spiritual consciousness and control as to render the bite of a viper harmless, it does not follow that a beginner in the new development should cultivate the intimacy of such a reptile. The law may cover full immunity, but only the spiritual expert can grasp and wield it with assured dexterity. In the unbelieving atmosphere of the present age, startling demonstrations are not likely to be more than progressive. Upon the dispensation of a coming spiritual age, that which is partial will give place to the full manifestation. Growth in spiritual power is as gradual and orderly as in the realm of nature.
The idea of “success vibration “ has been overworked in the name of the New Thought. Material prosperity is desirable, and the higher individual development tends to tone up and invigorate every faculty, including the efficient administration of business affairs.
But no one can sit down and think money into his pocket, and another cannot do it for him. If so, success would be so cheap as to have little value. The legitimate New Thought contains wonderful orderly power but no charm or magic. Material advantage must be incidental and subordinate. The law is: Seek first the highest, and that which is lower in rank will be “added,” It is legitimate to “make money” in an honorable way, but it is a degradation to make the new philosophy a money-making scheme.
The New Thought is above and back of what are often designated as moral and social reforms. It occupies the deeper realm of causation, while they mainly deal with surface indications. These are not disparaged, but dynamic power is from the centre. When that is adjusted, all institutions, which relatively occupy the circumference, will naturally fall into line.
The greatest Teacher the world has known directed all His efforts toward the evolution of spiritual character in the individual, well knowing that social, political, and ethical standards would respond. If politics are to be purified, social systems bettered, and popular conditions improved, all can be reached more effectively through the higher life of the individual than in direct surface work. For the latter there always will be an abundance of workers, while for the former, “many are called, but few are chosen.” The body politic is made up of individuals, and no stream can rise higher than its source.
When the New Thought becomes dominant in collective life, all human relations on every plane will be fully reformed. But as a movement it should be kept coherent, well defined and unencumbered. Then will it do its fundamental and transforming work, and all the outward issues which relatively are subordinate will conform in every detail.