They Say and Do Not
IN Matthew is written, "Then spake Jesus to the multitudes and to his disciples, The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat: all things therefore whatsoever they bid you, these do and observe: but do not ye after their works; for they say, and do not" (Matt. 23:3). Then Jesus tells how the scribes and the Pharisees put burdens upon the people "grievous to be borne"; how they "make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the chief place at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the salutations in the marketplaces, and to be called of men, Rabbi."
Jesus was giving a lesson on "faith without works," that is, on teaching others without doing ourself; on preaching without practicing; on proclaiming a doctrine that we do not demonstrate. Man takes a lot of credit, frequently, for being good, when he has no real enduring good. He sits in the seat of Moses; he understands the law and lays it down for others, but does not follow it himself. It is quite common to hear Truth students say, "I understand the law but I cannot demonstrate." There is a reason for every failure to demonstrate. It is usually found in too much theory and not enough practice. We cram our intellect with great truths; we see the wonderful possibilities of man; but we do not get down to the simple, everyday application of the rules of thought, word, and act that carry out the law of Being. We are like that friend of Emerson's who, he said, "soared into the empyrean heights, and dived into the unfathomable depths — but never paid cash." We look into the heavens and discern in the earth great possibilities, but do not prove the simple law of life in either.
We will always find the key to every problem in some
mental attitude. The Pharisee assumes that his knowledge of doctrine gives him high rank spiritually. But Jesus taught in this same chapter that, instead of wanting the chief place in the synagogue, we should be willing to take the lowest place, even to become servants. We must be willing to take an humble part, like a child learning his first lesson.
The intellectual man comes to the door of the temple of Truth and asks to be admitted because he writes Ph.D or L.L.D. after his name. Do the diplomas of earthly institutions open the door to spiritual understanding? If anything, they bar the door. It does not make any difference how many diplomas you have; they do not help you the least bit in the understanding of Truth. You can be called "Rabbi" by all the religious people in the world, but it will not help you into spiritual understanding. You may be the highest church dignitary in the whole world and yet be outside the pale of Truth. Some simple peasant may know more about Truth than you know. You may have studied many metaphysical books and yet not know Truth, because you have given more attention to the study than to the lowly work of threshing out your thoughts. To get an understanding of what is taught by Jesus and what is taught in the Bible, one must begin at the very lowest round of the ladder and deal with the simple yes and no of the science of mind.
Many metaphysicians, and often those who think that they are very advanced, are given to this tendency to forge far ahead of their demonstrations. They are talking the highest kind of a philosophy and putting very little of it into practice. Yet these people are not up for condemnation or blame, although in this same chapter, Jesus said, "Woe unto you ... Pharisees!" He said that the Pharisees compassed both "sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is become so, ye make him twofold more a son of hell
than yourselves." People who understand with their heads what they call Truth are, as a rule, very active in making proselytes. A proselyte is one who is converted to believe what you believe. Religious Pharisees seek converts to their particular form of religion. They tell the convert, "You must believe just as I tell you," or "just as it is written in our book," or "just as our teacher teaches." Is this Truth? No. Truth gives everyone freedom. "Where the Spirit of truth is, there is liberty" (II Cor. 3:17). If anyone tries to bind you in Truth, you may know at once that he has not found the real thing. Truth is a universal science, like mathematics. There are many textbooks and teachers, but every student must work out his own problems.
If you are not applying the principles taught in Truth to the problems that come up in your life, it is evident that you do not understand Truth or that you are not using the formative power of thought. If you have not demonstrated, get down onto some low place in the synagogue; find the very lowest seat and get hold of some simple statement, such as, I am Spirit or The kingdom of God is within me. Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21). If the kingdom of God is within you, you should realize it. Will one ever find the kingdom of God in the outer world? Will one ever find it by studying books, even the Bible? I tell you, no. It is not the work of man that brings you into the consciousness of the kingdom but it is the work of Spirit. It is first the work of your own Spirit. And if you want really to get hold of the power that regenerates, get still and feel the working forces of your soul and body.
It is sometimes a little difficult to get people started in this simple way, because the whole race is overeducated in head knowledge. The doctrines of the different religions have been built up in the race thought, and the minds of
most believers are set. If you talk with them, you must discuss your points from the standpoint of their education. So it is a difficult matter to get them off the ecclesiastical high horse that they are riding. As a rule, they think that they know it all. Religious zeal eats up brain tissue, and ministers have nervous prostration like businessmen. "The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up" (Psalms 69:9).
The story goes that a mystic in the old country once had a young man come to him to be instructed in spiritual things. This young man had been taught in the colleges — he was a theological graduate — and the mystic master did not know just how to start him in the simple methods of Truth. The mystic said: "Look at your little finger for one year and then come back to me. This will be your first lesson." The young man went away puzzled but obedient. He began to look at his little finger and study it every day and he found that he could look at it in many ways that he had never thought of before, and the more he looked at it, the more wonders he found in that little finger. At the end of the year, he returned to the master and told what he had discerned in his little finger. The master said: That is a good start. Here is your lesson for another year. Look at your other little finger." These simple lessons continued for seven years. At the end of that time, the young man had learned obedience and concentration and was ready to take up deeper lessons.
When I first began the study of Truth, I found that I could warm my feet by centering my attention in them and affirming that they were warm. This encouraged me to try the same process in other parts of my body, and I found that I could stimulate any function to greater activity by centering my attention in it and silently speaking words expressing increased vigor. Now when my stomach, or any
other organ, fails to work harmoniously, I can soon restore it to its natural state by telling it what to do.
Suppose that I were to say to you, "If you want to get an understanding of the kingdom of God within you, look at your body." You might respond, "I cannot look at my body except with my eyes." Yes, you can. You have eyes that you know not of. Jesus meant this when He said, "Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not?" (Mark 8:18). The sense man sees with the outer lens of the eyes only. There is a deeper sight than this. Your ears listen without, and you hear but the coarse vibrations of matter. The five senses have their spiritual side, and if we will just let go of the outer and enter into the spiritual, a new world will be revealed. Turn your attention within and you will find that Jesus was telling the truth when He said, "The kingdom of God is within you."
But it is necessary to do a little work every day in developing the spiritual side of your being. Do not make it hard, but see how easy it is to think into your body. Not through studying, not through amassing a whole lot of mottoes, or memorizing statements of Truth. Some people in this age have a way of enlarging "their phylacteries." They do not exactly wear Scripture texts on the lapels of their robes, as the old Pharisees did, but they paste them on the wall. "God bless our home" and other mottoes are as thick as daisies in June. Words of Truth are for our education, but before they can quicken us, they must sink back into the spiritual life. There is an inner side to everything, man included.
What we need above all things is to practice concentration; the concentration of thought not upon transitory things, but upon ideas. They are real, and when the mind has grasped them, they manifest ever-increasing power. If there is anything in the external that you want to know about, say to
yourself, "I have that within me as an idea. I have within me, for example, the perfect idea of a healthy body." That is the spiritual body idea that we all inherit as part of His image and likeness. Say, "I am healthy, because I inherit a healthy body from my Father." Another truth is: "My Father is good. I inherit, then, goodness from my Father. Then, I see my mind so filled with the good that evil has no reality to me. Then, I see myself as wise, intelligent, knowing. This I inherit from the all-knowing Mind."
These are a few of the lessons that we have to learn. Just begin saying Truth with your mind and insist upon it. You will demonstrate and you will demonstrate in such a wonderful way that it will surprise you. This is real concentration.
I would not advise anyone to quit all reading and all study, because the mind must be fed from both within and without. However, George Bernard Shaw, said to be the wisest man in Great Britain, wrote to a young author, "Keep away from books and from men who get their ideas from books, and your own books will always be 'fresh.'" You must take your ideas and fructify them and build them into the kingdom of God within you. It is only from the kingdom within us that we shall grow into the perfect race, the new race that is soon to begin to be seen in the earth.
Do not get too far away from the everyday little things. Some people are ridiculing Truth demonstrations. They say, "That might occur in the ordinary everyday life of any man or woman." A woman told about leaving a pair of scissors on the car, and she said that she never found those scissors, but in some unknown way, she had got two other pairs of scissors. She called that a "demonstration." Then someone said that it was not. But it was a demonstration to her, if she thought that it was. If she counted that in her mind
as the work of God, the mind of Spirit in her was strengthened just to that extent. So if you take in all the little things that seem to you to be the work of Spirit, they will prove steppingstones to higher things. You will begin to have results when you believe in the spiritual side of every experience.
Suppose that you get a raise in your salary. You say, "I earned that." Well, how? By giving attention to your business. By being truthful and faithful. What made you truthful and faithful? Spirit, didn't it? Then why not give Spirit credit for it?
Follow back every one of your experiences and you will find that there is a cause; keep following back and you will find that there is a spiritual cause for every result in your life.
Then, we say, if you want a continuous enlargement of your activities, if you want them to be perfect, if you want success along any line, study the spiritual cause. Once you get hold of the spiritual cause, you can increase it and through its increase, you will prosper in every way.
Preceding Entry: The Household of Faith 236-238: How Should We Pray?
Following Entry: The Household of Faith 246-250: Overcoming the Poverty Idea