The New Philosophy of Health
“An excellent book for those who are uninformed about mental healing”—Charles Fillmore
This book is a reality check for anyone who wants to do spiritual healing. It was written in 1897 and endorsed by Charles Fillmore in the November 1898 issue of Unity. He said,
This attractive little volume contains a clear, practical exposition of “The New Thought” philosophy, and is free from the objectionable doctrines and radical statements which characterize so many books on mental healing. It is recommended as an excellent book to put into the hands of those who are uninformed on this subject, since it appeals strongly to the reason, and is at the same time spiritually stimulating and helpful. (p.232)
New Thought scholar Gary Ward Materra talks about Harriet Bradbury in Women in New Thought.1 He places her along side Emma Curtis Hopkins in exploring the effects of sin on the body:
Significantly, those who were most active in healing spoke the most about the effects of sin on the body. Emma Curtis Hopkins, for example, told her students that the easiest diseases to cure were what she called idiopathic (independent, spontaneous) diseases, caught from interaction with different minds. More difficult, however, were symptomatic diseases, which were caused by “secret sins” of the patient. She encouraged her followers not to lose faith when confronted by the obstacle of sin, but to persevere. Likewise, Harriet Bradbury noted that giving in to sin or evil deadened the life current, “producing morbid conditions that encourage, or often even cause, physical deterioration and disease.”
Leaders like Hopkins and Bradbury did not suggest that evil or sin did not exist but rather that they could be overcome. The challenge New Thought offered, they said, was to be ever more successful in declaring oneself free from whatever pulled one down, like prejudice, ignorance, selfishness, and self-absorption. Most who shared this view did not see their liberation as a process they would finish in this lifetime. Thus Ellen Dyer said that humans must always be conversing with their higher selves to purge themselves of low purposes. Bradbury explicitly warned that just because one had accepted New Thought did not mean that one had become sin-free. Careless talk about human identity with the divine, she explained, sometimes led people to the conclusion that their will had suddenly become the same as the divine will. Even Jesus, as spiritually advanced as he was, Bradbury noted, continually sought “the will of the Father.”
It’s a short book and it won’t take too long for you to understand the “objectionable doctrines and radical statements” that Charles Fillmore was referring to. Gary Ward Materra’s observation about the effect of sin the body can be seen in this statement toward the end of the book:
To heal the body we begin by healing the soul, and therefore it is necessary to cleanse the mind of all unworthy thoughts, and lift the whole being to a higher plane. Something is inharmonious, some part of your life is being lived on a lower plane than your best; all must be brought into perfect accord, and that by raising the lower self, never by lowering the higher.
As I said, this book is a reality check about the spiritual healing. Our job as healers is to raise life to a higher place. There are no shortcuts. I learned a great deal from this short book. It’s available here on TruthUnity with the full text on a single page and a link to download the whole thing as a printable PDF. I hope it is helpful to you in your healing ministry.
April 3, 2022
- Materra, Gary Ward. Women in Early New Thought: Lives and Theology in Transition, From the Civil War to World War I. Dissertation. University of California, Santa Barbara, CA. March 1997.
PHILOSOPHY OF HEALTH
A STUDY OF
The Science of Spiritual Healing
The Philosophy of Life
HARRIET B. BRADBURY
Flows around our incompleteness;
Round our restlessness his rest.
THE PHILOSOPHICAL PUBLISHING CO.
19 Blagden Street, Copley Square 1897
Copyright, 1897, by
Harriet B. Bradbury
P. H. GILSON COMPANY
PRINTERS AND BOOKBINDERS
BOSTON, U. S. A.
Henry S. Tafft,
to whose guidance and assistance I owe my health and a deeper knowledge of the love and care of the Infinite Father,
this little volume
is gratefully inscribed.
This book is not intended as an exhaustive scientific analysis of the principles of mental healing, but rather as a suggestive and helpful guide to seekers after truth who have heretofore been unable to reconcile the extraordinary claims and sometimes fantastic doctrines of the different schools of healing with one another or with reason. The author’s aim has been to reconcile scientific and religious thought upon this subject, and to make plain to both intellectual and spiritual faculties the entire reasonableness of faith in God and dependence upon the divine strength in all the concerns of human life.
It is thought that this presentation of the subject will be of especial value to persons capable of faith, but incapable of exercising it contrary to the dictates of their reason. It aims to cultivate a spirit of charity and unity among all who aspire to walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit, whatever their creed or form of worship. It is not intended to supplant, but simply to lead up to the more profound and extensive works on the same subject.
II. The Recuperative Force . . . .15
III. The Healing of Disease . . .21
IV. Mental Causation......................27
VI. Psychic Powers........................41
VII. A Universal Law.......................47
VIII. The Duty of the Church . . . -55
IX. Occult Phenomena......................62
X. Practical Suggestions for Self-Help . 70
I. The Mental Attitude . . .70
II. Different Cases . . . .78
III. The Example of Jesus . .88
Philosophy is defined as an hypothesis or a system upon which natural effects are explained. There have been systems upon systems of philosophy, representing the efforts of the human mind to account for every natural phenomenon; but they have usually been of no practical benefit except as a consolation or a mental exercise for persons of intellectual taste. In modern times science, with its exact methods and its practical aims, has rather superseded philosophy. Science goes slowly, step by step, “proving all things,” and never building upon a mere hypothesis except tentatively, for the purpose of experiment. She throws out a bridge of guess-work across an otherwise impassable chasm, but does not trust it to carry her weight until she has thoroughly tested it. Things that cannot be thus proved she leaves alone until such time as increased knowledge shall fit her to cope with them. In the light of this distinction the new philosophy might, perhaps, better be called a science, since it employs strictly scientific methods and has tested its hypothesis by so many experiments as to prove its truth as a principle, even while admitting that as a science it is yet in its infancy.
The forces of nature are only beginning to be understood by man, but as soon as the laws that govern them are learned man can begin to utilize them for his own practical benefit, even while their nature remains a mystery to him. Thus electricity, which until within a few years was entirely misunderstood, has been chained and harnessed and forced to work for man, while he is still speculating as to whether it is a fluid, a force, or a spiritual agency. We are beginning to realize that there are forces all about us and within us whose laws we do not yet know well enough to depend upon using them with any certainty of success, and yet the recent unquestionable advance in many departments of science has brought about a receptive state of mind on the part of the public that is most favorable to the acquiring of new knowledge. When the knowledge that is offered us is a matter of such practical concern as our own health, it is impossible that any one should be quite indifferent to it. The enormous increase of nervous disorders and other physical troubles scarcely known a few years ago, outstripping the marvellous advance in medical knowledge, leaves our doctors as unequal to their task of relieving human misery as were the doctors of two centuries ago. Invalids become more numerous, insane hospitals are filled to overflowing, and scarcely any one is free from some more or less crippling infirmity. “What is the matter?” we ask ourselves. Recent investigation has pointed to more hygienic living, and prevention rather than cure of disease. We are told that we should filter and boil the water that we drink, should eat no adulterated food, should exercise regularly in a gymnasium or ride a bicycle; that we should fumigate and disinfect and cleanse, until we come to the conclusion that wealth and leisure are necessary to securing health. Deadly bacilli lurk everywhere; we are beset with foes on every side, and as fast as one is conquered others still more terrible appear. Clearly, we are not exercising our supposed birthright as lords of creation, but bid fair to yield our sovereignty to some microscopic insects that are found, when dissected, to have no brains at all!
The beginning of the new philosophy was in the discovery of mesmerism, or more properly, hypnotism, which opened the way to a vast and hitherto unexplored region, the region of the human mind. About 1840 a watchmaker by the name of P.P. Quimby began to investigate the phenomena of hypnotism, and afterward gave lectures, with experiments in which he showed the extraordinary power of one mind to act upon another. But being a man of originality and a lover of his human brethren, he soon began to try to use his mental power in relieving their physical distresses, thus laying the foundation of the science of mental healing. Yet there is avast difference between these two uses of mental power. Hypnotism is the capricious and arbitrary action of one will upon another, and is often evil in its effects, because it may be used to counteract the natural healthy laws of the divine order of things. For this same reason its power is temporary and limited, for we can transgress nature’s laws with impunity only to a certain limited extent, and there always remains a strong natural tendency to readjustment, ready to act as soon as the opposing force is removed. Mental healing, on the contrary, acts with and not against nature, and therefore its effects are always salutary, and the possibilities open before it in the future are practically unlimited. It acts in such a manner upon the sub-conscious mind, or, in more popular language, upon the nervous system, as to restore the supremacy of that unknown vitalizing force by which all things live.
To explain: we see, for example, a cow drinking from a pool of muddy water; yet the cow receives no injury. This vitalizing force in her is strong enough to cast out the injurious elements in that water, absorbing only what is best suited to the needs of her system. What would happen to us if we should drink such water? We would not want to try it. It is evident, therefore, that the cow has, or at least makes use of, certain physical powers which we do not seem to possess. The new philosophy teaches, or rather, the new science proves, that we have those powers in even greater degree than the lower animals, the only trouble being that we have become unable to use them. It is in the physical realm exactly as in the realm of morals, the brute creation live by instinct in accordance with the laws of nature as operative on their lower plane of existence. Man, if he follows his instincts, unguided by reason and self-control, falls into sin and entails upon himself an endless series of woes, the penalty of broken law. This is well understood in regard to morals, but that the same conditions hold in matters of physical health it remains for the new philosophy to prove. Man is a self-conscious, thinking being, and by virtue of this high prerogative he can conquer the whole earth if only he can at the outset conquer himself. He must bring his whole being, physical as well as moral, into harmony with the divine order, which is health, and then his powers of physical endurance will exceed those of the brutes, and the whole world will lie at his feet.
If every man had to do this for himself, the task would seem hopeless, for in most of us this control of the physical forces is entirely lost; but fortunately for us, one can help another in this matter. The great ocean of life from which every flower and insect draws its being and its health is all about us, omnipresent and omnipotent. The mental healer brings this vitalizing force within our reach, restores its normal action, and health is the result. How this is done, and on what principles it depends, are the subjects to be considered in the following chapters.
THE RECUPERATIVE FORCE.
There is in all forms of organic life, not only the power to live and develop under favorable conditions, but a certain power of resistance to those which are unfavorable, and a recuperative or reconstructive power able to restore normal conditions when these have been disturbed by some accident. This power is so strong in some of the lower forms of life as to be able to restore lost limbs, new ones growing out in place of the old. We say that nature does it. And it is upon nature — “Mother Nature” — that all plants and animals depend for the healing of their infirmities. Animals are seldom sick, but when they are they go away to be alone while nature does her healing work. The cases are rare in which they die from sickness at any age, in their wild state.
But what do we do when we are sick? We make up our minds that we must do something at once to relieve the sickness, which usually means to us the pain; we think of the symptoms to be expected, the suffering, and possible death, and the whole attitude mental and physical becomes one of shrinking and opposition to the very force that is working for our good. For pain is only the friction of the recuperative power at work. Its intensity is doubled and its work retarded when we fear or resist it, whereas, if we could only know how to work with it and encourage it, there is no reason why it should not do as much for us as it does for a dog or a cat. It is the work of this new philosophy to teach that it can be made to do as much and more. Soothing material conditions are a help, and should not be despised. A dog, when sick, does not declare, even by his actions, that he is well, but goes away and lies down quietly. Sometimes he will seek out some particular herb, which instinct teaches him will assist in producing conditions favorable to a cure; but nevertheless it is not the herb that actually rebuilds injured tissues or casts out injurious substances. This is done by the God-given power resident within himself.
We say that it would never do for us to depend exclusively upon our own recuperative powers for restoration from sickness. Very likely we have tried it at some time and found it to be a failure; we only grew worse and worse until we felt obliged to call a doctor. That is very true. We have lost all control of this power, but that does not prove that we cannot regain it. The difference between man and the lower animals is that what they do by instinct or unconsciously, he must do by intelligent, conscious co-operation with law. Man has a soul, and by his soul he must rule or not at all. If he abdicates his throne there is no more pitiable slave than he.
Now, let us consider how this lost dominion may be regained. The mental healer not only temporarily restores the natural conditions but teaches the patient certain of the principles by which he may in future help himself. This instruction, enforced by what the patient has seen in observing his own recovery, is sufficient for a start, and if he will apply himself to study and self-discipline he can in time acquire the much-to-be-desired control over his own health. If one is not sick, but has his attention called to the subject, the same study and self-discipline may fortify him against future dangers.
Let us consider the case of a man with a disease which the doctors do not understand. It is usually such diseases that drive people to the mental healers. He is like an untrained engineer whose engine is entirely beyond his control; he does not know what is the matter with it nor what valve to touch to stop its headlong flight to destruction. The human body is an engine; the man within, the mind or soul, is the engineer. Every function of the body is consciously or unconsciously under the control of the mind. There is a set of nerves whose only business it is to control the circulation of the blood, by carrying to it the commands of the unconscious brain. Sometimes the action is not unconscious, as is seen in the flushing or paling of the face under the influence of certain emotions. Sudden fear may “make the heart stand still.” A sudden shock has been known to cause death, and an instance is recorded of a criminal who, for purposes of experiment, was put to death by the forced action of his own imagination. He was told that he was to be bled to death; a slight scratch was made on his arm, and warm water allowed to drip against it and into a basin beneath. The doctors sat near, talking of the subject and saying from time to time how much longer the man could live. At the appointed time he died, simply because he thought he must. The action of the conscious mind was entirely effective in stopping every vital process going on in that man’s body.
But to return to the case of the man who has applied to a mental healer. What does the healer do to overcome the disease? He first talks quietly with the patient, perhaps introducing the subject of mental healing, and perhaps not; that must depend upon the patient’s receptivity and apparent desire for information. Then he sits silent for a time with eyes covered with his hand. If asked to explain what he does, he will probably answer that it is concentration of thought. If pressed for an explanation of the way in which that can have any effect, what he says will depend upon what school of mental healing he belongs to. This shows that the influence may be exerted without an entire understanding of its nature, for all the explanations given cannot possibly be correct, since they are more or less contradictory. All, however, agree that it all depends upon the fact that there is a Power within and yet above us, which is working constantly for our uplifting. We may call it evolutionary tendency or we may call it God; it is there, and its nature is goodness, truth and love. All life is one, and all life finds its impetus toward development in this great force. The normal tendency is always toward health and virtue, and to oppose that tendency is indeed to “kick against the pricks.” Some sort of opposition to it is the cause of all suffering, both mental and physical. The intensity of the suffering is in direct proportion to the strength of the force working towards restoration, and therefore the intensest suffering may yield most quickly when once the opposition is removed and the force allowed free action. Instantaneous cures are rare, and many require months of treatment, with instruction, that the patient’s mind may be enlisted to work with that of the healer. Opposition is fatal to a cure, and absolute unbelief will prevent it until that unbelief has been in a measure overcome.
THE HEALING OF DISEASE.
The first question to suggest itself when one has grasped the fact that the mind can and should consciously control the body, is, “Why cannot this control be taught better by oral instruction than by a silent concentration of thought?” Oral instruction is indeed a part of the healer’s work, but, strange as it may seem, not the most important part. Many cures are effected with little or no oral instruction. And yet the influence exerted is not hypnotic, for there is no attempt to force the patient’s will or to bring him into a condition of unconsciousness. The healer simply holds in mind with great tenacity for perhaps ten or fifteen minutes an image of the patient as he should be. This image, by the process known as “thought transference,” is impressed upon the sick man’s mind as a possibility, when his own strong desire, seizing it, is able to reproduce it as an actuality. He may be quite unconscious that he has done anything for himself, and when he finds himself well, gives all the credit to the man who, as he thinks, has “healed” him. Yet the change is wrought by no man, but by the great life-giving force which two wills working in harmony have called into perfect action. The sick man could not have done it alone, nor could he have done it simply by “willing” in response to a spoken command from the healer. It is the silent thought, swifter and more powerful than electricity, projected upon the sub-conscious mind of the patient, that works a radical change in his attitude towards the divine power that alone can make him whole.
And now we begin to see the relation of this mental treatment to the so-called faith cures that, well authenticated, come to our notice from time to time. Religion teaches, or tries to teach, entire reliance on a Divine Power, that is able to perform miracles if invoked with faith. Sometimes an invalid of strong religious faith does actually bring into operation this restorative influence, by a deliberate act of the conscious mind, similar to that performed by the healer for a patient who could not do it for himself. The act in this case is based upon belief in the teachings of the Bible, reinforced by spiritual intuition, rather than on scientific knowledge.
As was said in a former chapter, suffering is the friction caused by our opposition to the eternal law of development, trying to realize itself in us. By it we know that something is wrong, and its intensity is the measure of our perception of our wrongness. We are accustomed to speak of certain people as having a great capacity for suffering, and we recognize this as an indication of highly organized life. Of such a person it has been said:
“More pangs he feels in years or months
Than dunce-thronged ages know.”
A highly or delicately organized life is not necessarily a harmonious life. Our lives are lived on different planes, under different conditions and with different responsibilities. Each on its own plane should be harmonious, working out the divine purpose through conscious co-operation with the highest law it can understand. Whatever good one is capable of must cause him suffering until he attains it, or, at least, until he is working with his whole being toward attainment. When that condition is reached, although the desire for higher things is ever growing stronger, there is peace, and there should be health. The only reason that health does not surely come is that we do not know that we can have it.
The cause of sickness is sin. This is a startling statement, and one that calls for explanation. It does not mean that every sickness is a direct “judgment” for some particular act, still less does it mean that the greatest sufferers are the greatest sinners. By environment and by inheritance we have become possessed of illusions, fears, and mistaken desires, that are all reflected upon the body in proportion as we are capable of something better. Sickness comes to give us time to think; it teaches us to think, and often brings about a complete reformation of the inner man. Then, having performed its mission, why does it not go and leave us? One little thing is lacking, Faith — faith in a healing power that can restore us; a faith strong enough to appreciate that power and make it our own. By this is not meant blind belief in any mere doctrine, but absolute scientific knowledge that such a power exists and can be used by us every day, when once we have learned its secret. The question why God should punish us for our ignorance of this truth it is not the purpose of this book to discuss. We are seeking scientific knowledge, and not a solution of the mysteries of God’s dealings with us.
But there are invalids who seem to be only soured by their affliction. Such are failing entirely to learn the lesson that is set before them, and before the bodily healing can begin there must be a spiritual regeneration, including other changes than that from doubt to faith. Some are actually kept in a state of helplessness by nothing but their own anxious or fretful dispositions. The causes are usually, however, too complex to be analyzed at once, and a skilful healer will study them carefully and seek to bring the sufferer to an understanding of them and a determination to overcome them.
The discovery of the law of evolution has been the key to unlock many mysteries. The discovery that man must intelligently co-operate with evolution is unlocking many more. He has always done so to a limited extent since first he recognized the difference between right and wrong and felt instinctively that he must do the right. With the knowledge of good and evil began a conflict, for this knowledge was simply the recognition by man of his power to choose, to co-operate with the divine law or to fight against it. He recognized it first by intuition, and though his standards were low, he probably lived more nearly up to his ideal than do the majority of people at the present day. The development of the reasoning faculty has set men to questioning even the existence of the principle of abstract right, so that although we know more than did our primitive ancestors, and live on a higher plane, our lives are often less harmonious than were theirs. And in proportion as they are inharmonious we suffer, and must suffer until we re-establish our proper relation to the forces that play upon us. Our ideals are sometimes so hidden away in the depths of our consciousness that we think we are doing the best we know how when we really might do a great deal better, and must do a great deal better before harmonious action can be secured. How important, then, is this search after the truth “that shall make us free!” How deeply it concerns every one, even from the most selfish standpoint, to learn the laws of his own being and the secret of governing his own kingdom according to law!
The scientific principle upon which depend the effects noted in the last chapter is known as the law of mental causation. Although not universally accepted as a governing principle by the world at large, or even by the medical profession, recent scientific research is establishing it beyond the possibility of doubt. Tbe most significant of recent biological experiments are those which have been conducted at the Smithsonian Institute with a view to discovering the physical effects of different mental states. They have proved that the different emotions produce immediate chemical changes within the physical organism, and it only remains to continue the investigations to learn just how each habitual emotion is finally reflected upon the outward frame.
But the principle is proved even without these experiments, by the mere possibility of mental healing. If correcting the mental attitude will cure a disease, it follows that to keep the mental attitude always correct will prevent the disease from appearing. Contagion is always with us; those succumb to it who are susceptible to its influence; therefore the first cause of disease is not contagion, but susceptibility. It is in this sense that all disease may be said to originate in the mind, or in other words, to be a result of sin. Sin is not an act, but a mental state that is out of harmony with the divine law. The sins of our fathers are visited upon us, the sins of our neighbors come to us in thought waves that seriously affect our condition; sins of ignorance and sins of mistaken zeal all have their meed of punishment. It comes relentlessly yet beneficently, for in no other way could we be taught our error, or the exceeding sinfulness of sin.
Physicians recognize mental causation more than would appear at first thought. The doctor tells his patient he must have a change of scene, or he must stop worrying, or he must have something to take up his mind. Sometimes the order is for a change of air, which certainly brings with it a change of scene, although that may not be thought of by the patient. Almost every one is ready to say, “The trouble with us is we live too fast,” and because that is a very vague statement almost every one is ready to believe it. “It is not work that kills men, but worry,” is another much-quoted saying, and in the same vague way we all believe it. When a doctor says that it is his patient’s strong constitution, or his great recuperative powers, or his strong desire for health, that enables him to come safely through a crisis, he certainly disclaims for his drugs any inherent healing power. Sometimes a physician is even heard to say that it is only his patient’s faith in him that really does any good. Drugs cannot “make blood” any more than they can make a human being. We may take artificial digestive juices into the stomach to digest our food for us, but just in proportion as the stomach is excused from labor it becomes incapable of exercising its normal function. It should be told that its own juices are sufficient and ordered to secrete them, and if persistently encouraged to do so it will obey.
It has long been a recognized fact that certain flagrant violations of moral law bring disastrous physical consequences, but until recently it has not been understood how directly the effect is due to the depraved mental condition. When we see a face stamped with the signs of intemperance or other egregious sin, we feel repelled at once, not by the physical condition of the victim of self-indulgence, but by the evil soul that looks out of the eyes and speaks in every line and motion of the features. We recognize instinctively and shudder at the telltale marks of sin. And surely will the effect extend beyond appearances and undermine the entire physical constitution directly and unavoidably; the sinful acts are no doubt injurious, but the sinful thought is even more so. The soul is a slave, and the body must become a victim. The cure is to be found, not in medicine, nor even in a more moderate indulgence, but in cleansing the mind by filling it so full of pure and elevating thoughts that the harmful suggestions cannot find a foothold. If one can learn, even theoretically, to hate the evil, he is in a fair way to conquer it and all its physical effects.
On the other hand, to tell an inebriate, or even to make him feel, that he is a hardened sinner, plants the idea so firmly in his mind that it is next to impossible for him to overcome it. In the same way, to believe that we are utterly powerless to control our own digestion, makes us just as powerless as we imagine ourselves. We tell the victim of alcoholism to look to God for help, for it is not His will that any soul should perish, and we assure him that God will hear his prayers and give him strength. But God’s care is exercised continually over our bodies as well as our souls; it is not His will that we should be sick, “but rather that we should turn from our wickedness and live.” Is it, then, consistent to tell the poor, degraded outcast that he can by God’s help rise out of so low a condition, while declaring ourselves unable to control our own condition in so slight a particular as an ordinary cold!
Many writers on this subject maintain that the soul itself is never in need of healing, being made in God’s image, and therefore perfect. Yet Christ, when saying that he came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance, used this very figure: “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” We are, indeed, potentially perfect, because our Father which is in heaven is perfect, and in Him we live and move and have our being; but there is a sense in which we are at liberty to wander far away, like the Prodigal, and it is only as we return repentant and renew our vital union with the infinite Source of Life, that our souls can be said to really partake of the divine wholeness or holiness. It is our earthly surroundings that bring temptation and contamination to the soul, if we yield to them; it is God that makes us perfect, if we yield to Him and let Him mould our thoughts.
The power of well-directed thought energy is immense and immediate. Every one knows that happiness is a great beautifier, and that despondency and anxiety undermine the health. It is also a matter of common observation that intense fear of contagion renders one peculiarly susceptible to its influence. The action of imagination is also more or less understood, but a distinction is maintained between imaginary illness and genuine disease. Yet imaginary ills do exist in a disordered state of the mind; those which show as bodily ailments have simply reached a further development in that they are reflected in bodily conditions. To persuade a person who is suffering from an imaginary ailment that he has no such disease will, of course, cure him; but it is a significant fact that so-called actual disease will disappear under very similar treatment, if persistently and confidently followed.
The careful modern training of nurses discloses the fact that certain women have a special talent for nursing, and this talent when analyzed is found to be chiefly sympathy and tact. It is the mental atmosphere brought by a skilful nurse into the sick-room that makes her presence so great a help. The fears that oppress the nearest relatives have little effect on her, and her training gives her a sense of power that inspires confidence in the mind of the patient. Some people seem to radiate health wherever they go; it is not strange that such persons are always welcome visitors.
We all carry with us our own mental atmosphere. Healthful or morbid, moral or immoral, it goes with us everywhere, and is felt by all with whom we come in contact in proportion to their susceptibility. Spoken words are not necessary to convey a moral contagion. Immorality will contaminate even under the most sanctimonious disguise; the outward sense may be deceived, but the soul, with unerring precision, finds and feels the true character of the influence, and is either instinctively repelled or unwittingly contaminated.
Such is the power of thought, random, careless thought, without purpose or concentration. What then must be the possible power of thought, wisely and harmoniously guided, with a distinct purpose and the added strength given by concentration upon one object! Thoughts are positive, dynamic forces, working either with or in opposition to the moral order of the universe. Thoughts are good angels, created by ourselves to guard and bless us, or evil demons to pursue and torture us and all over whom we have an influence. Thought is the mighty motor that shapes the whole course of human life, with its joys and sorrows, its sickness or its health.
Man has been called a “praying animal,” which is the same thing as saying that he is conscious of being more than an animal. He is conscious of a vital relationship with a being who is pure spirit, on whom he is dependent for his life, and to whom he is responsible for all his actions. Even the grossest materialism or the most utter depravity cannot entirely destroy this inborn consciousness. Modern science, in the first pride of its youth, thought to disprove the existence of all forces not material, and failing in that seemed inclined to deny them because they seemed not to be subject to chemical analysis. Still, men would not abandon their belief in God, and at last a compromise, or an armed truce was agreed upon, science consenting to let religion alone if religion would cease from persecuting her. To the minds of most people the two seemed in irreconcilable conflict, but here and there a hopeful spirit foresaw the day when each should support and supplement the other. No truth can possibly contradict other truth. If God exists and can be approached by man through prayer, that fact deserves to take rank beside other known facts, and all will at last be found to be harmonious.
But what is prayer? It cannot consist in spoken words, except as these are used to give form to a thought. We cannot even come near to another human being if we are lying to him. If he knows that we are lying he will not even imagine that there is any spiritual nearness between us. God is Spirit and He can read our thoughts if He exists at all. If it can be proved that by bringing our thoughts into touch with the great, life-giving Force by which we have come into existence, we can secure answers to our prayers and peace to our souls, it follows that this Force has all the highest attributes that man has ever conceived as belonging to God, that is, that it is more than a force and possesses intelligence and will, goodness and love.
But it has been supposed that proofs were lacking of direct answers to prayer. It requires more than an occasional isolated instance to establish the principle beyond a doubt. Many things can be explained as coincidences and many others as hallucinations which are accepted by the credulous as answers to their prayers. The subject should be taken entirely apart from emotional religion and dogmatic assertion and investigated in the impartial spirit of the earnest seeker after truth. This investigation is now being carried on by a multitude of thinkers the world over; facts are being collected and as fast as possible conclusions are being drawn, which will remove the whole subject from the domain of the empirical, and will in time make clear how far we can control material conditions around us by appeal to the Divine Power, and what are the conditions to be observed in making the appeal. The phenomena of mental, or more properly, spiritual healing abundantly prove that answers to prayer often are secured, for, as will be shown later, the “concentration of thought” of the professional healer is nothing more nor less than prayer. Further on we shall consider the limitations laid uppn human power in this direction, as far as they are understood at present, and the conditions necessary to effective prayer.
Prayer may be defined as the appeal of human thought to the divine. Yet this does not mean calling upon a far-away God who must be importuned to listen. Elijah found God not in the wind, nor the earthquake, nor the fire, but in the “still small voice” in his own soul. Before we can offer one petition, we must enter the “soul silence” where that still, small voice is heard, and there, in the holy of holies within us, attune our minds to God’s will. Then every desire becomes a prayer and we feel conscious that we have been heard. It is evident that in this frame of mind no evil or selfish desire could find expression; therefore, although evil thoughts have a certain degree of power, they are in no sense prayer. Neither is the empty repetition of words prayer. “Words without thoughts never to Heaven go.” True prayer is always concentration of thought in the spirit of prayer. If little is said by mental healers of that indispensable requisite, it is simply because they are reserving that thought to inculcate later, when the patient or pupil has become sufficiently receptive to understand it.
How far prayer can control conditions outside the physical organism is not thoroughly understood. Instances are not wanting of apparent answer to prayers for rain and other blessings, but they are too few to establish a general law. It will readily be understood that since the spirit of prayer is one of desire that something should come into harmony with the Divine Will, an attempted control of the elements involves the supposition that they are sometimes out of harmony with that Will. The question is too subtle to be discussed here, and is besides, not a part of the purpose of this work. It may be said, however, that we can refer to Christ’s miracles, or if he seems not comparable with other men, we can recall his rebuke to Peter, when the latter was unable to walk on the water. “Table-tipping” and other similar phenomena show that there is a power in mind to act upon inanimate things, and it may yet be found that there is another power bearing the same relation to this that mental healing bears to the eccentric and capricious mental action known as hypnotism. Truly, “it doth not yet appear what we shall be.”
It will not seem strange, in view of the facts above noted, that some healers are more successful than others. The most successful healer is the one who can most readily and perfectly enter the soul-silence and send forth with the strongest desire and the most complete confidence his arrow-like thought. For this it is necessary that one should live habitually in the spiritual part of his nature, that he should believe with his whole soul in the divine principle upon which he depends, and also that he should be “an overflowing fountain of love and good will” to all mankind. It is not necessary that he should be highly educated or that he should “understand all mysteries and all knowledge;” in fact, to habitually exercise the mind in attempts to solve intellectual problems makes it more difficult to enter the soul-silence, and may therefore actually detract from a healer’s power.
Another most important factor is a healer’s personality, his power of winning confidence and inspiring faith. The whole object of the mental treatment is to enable the patient’s mind consciously or unconsciously to offer the same prayer in the same spirit, and this object is more readily attained if he understands and can believe through his reason as well as by suggestion. The first thing is to make his “heart right in the sight of God,” and then physical conditions at once begin to conform themselves to the inward harmony.
In view of the recent discoveries in psychological science, one is moved to question what can be the reason that the transcendent powers of the human soul have been so long ignored. Saint Paul gave the answer when he said: “The world by wisdom knew not God.” God-given reason, the attribute which distinguishes man from the brutes is also the faculty by which he chooses whether to be guided by the inner light “which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” or by his own observation of external things. He has chosen the latter, and it has led him into by-paths of materialism where he not only saw no light, but persuaded himself that no light had ever been given him. That special revelations have been vouchsafed to certain men at certain times, subject to no fixed law, is believed by the majority of people, but the belief in even this is often a half-hearted one, owing to its supposed conflict with scientific knowledge. Ancient stories of warnings by dreams, of miraculous healing, and of the immunity from injury by wild beasts of certain saints condemned to be so destroyed are received as of very doubtful authority and as belonging to an age of superstition. True, superstition is common among simple or primitive peoples, but superstition is only one error of the reasoning faculty, the error of tracing effects to the wrong causes, and is not, after all, so fundamental as the modern error of denying the effects, when these can be observed and verified if one will take the necessary trouble.
It has been proved beyond a doubt that telepathic communications are quite possible, even in this age of unbelief, and there can be no question that they were of common occurrence in early times, when men were what is now called superstitious.
It has also been proved by experiments conducted in Paris, that wild beasts will not touch a person under the influence of hypnotism. Religious ecstasy can produce the same effect, and thus we see another miracle explained. Instances might be multiplied of the scientific explanation of wonders that were once believed in, contrary to reason, and that lately have been disbelieved because they seemed to antogonize that most God-like of human faculties. But let us confine ourselves to the questions already suggested. Telepathy plays so important a part in the healing of disease that it may appropriately be discussed here.
Thomas Jay Hudson, in his valuable work entitled “The Law of Psychic Phenomena,” declares that telepathy is the normal means of communication between subjective minds; that it is the chief means of communication among animals, and also that it can be used by man in controlling them. By the subjective mind is meant that part of us which is the seat of the emotions and intuitions, in other words, the soul, as distinguished from the intellectual or objective mind. In animals mental activity is almost wholly subjective, showing itself as instinct, which they never disobey. One cannot reason with an animal, but one may command him, may even control him by a silent effort of will, as is strikingly shown by tamers of wild animals, and by snake charmers. The human soul seems to act directly and with absolute power upon that which in animals corresponds to the soul. This animal soul is not self-conscious, and has, as we have seen, no power of choice between right and wrong, owing to the total absence of the higher reasoning faculty. Telepathic communication, or thought transference, among human beings, can take place consciously only when the intellectual mind is at rest. Certain individuals are said to “always understand each other;” such doubtless have constant unconscious communication, and it is between such persons that conscious telepathic messages are to be expected when the power of perception is sufficiently developed. Thought-transference in the healing of disease is used simply to bring the patient’s mind into the attitude necessary to secure the operation of the healing influences of nature. This can be done at any distance, whether the patient is conscious of what is being done or not, the only obstacle being mental opposition on his part. The faith required is purely subjective, and may be quite unconscious at first, growing gradually in response to repeated suggestions from the healer.
The subjective condition spoken of by writers on psychic phenomena is simply the condition in which the objective mind is quiescent. There are all degrees of this condition, the most perfect being that of sleep. Therefore many healers prefer to treat their patients when the latter are asleep. Hypnotic sleep is in its nature similar to natural sleep, and is also a perfect subjective condition. The spirit of true prayer is always more or less subjective, the body and all outward things being forgotten, while the soul surrenders itself to the highest influences it is capable of receiving. The poet, the artist, and the musical composer in moments of inspiration are in the subjective condition, although the objective mind must seize and interpret the visions that the world may take cognizance of them. When the objective or intellectual faculties work strictly in harmony with the subjective mind, obeying perfectly the commands of the soul, the result is a masterpiece of genius, a picture or a poem that brings directly within our reach the visions of an inspired soul. The ordinary subjective condition is always a healthy condition, one of rest, of recuperation and of inspiration. The eccentricities of genius are due not to over-activity of the subjective mind, but to inability on the part of the objective to work in perfect unison with it. The more of such subjective activity we can have in our mental life the more normal will be our physical life. We all recognize the need of sleep; many also recognize the need of the consolations of religion, and with these two, any one may secure a perfectly healthy physique.
Religion has been greatly undervalued as a means of happiness and health, or worse yet, confounded with religious controversy and bigotry, which are not religion at all, but its very opposite. We are accustomed to sing in a well known hymn that—
“Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,
The Christian’s native air;”
but how seldom we realize the full meaning of this truth! If we were true Christians prayer would indeed be to us our vital breath, and that for the body as well as the soul.
A story is told of a woman who not long ago found herself in danger of nervous prostration, her peace of mind all gone, her whole being swept into the confusing whirl and hurry of life, but who with rare intuitive perception saw that she needed not a doctor but “a closer walk with God.” She left her home and went to a certain religious convention with the determination to regain the beautiful inner life that she had lost. It is needless to say that she was quite successful and returned home free from her harassing nervous symptoms and full of life and peace. To keep this calm through all vicissitudes, daily self-discipline is needed. Time must be given to it, especially at first, and help may be needed from some stronger soul, even though there is no organic disease; but in the end the reward, even from a physical point of view, will amply repay the effort. Life will become calmer, sweeter and more radiantly happy as one learns to give to the higher nature its rightful supremacy.
A UNIVERSAL LAW.
That mental healing is applicable to all diseases the public are slow to believe, yet the very nature of its basis involves that supposition. The force called into action is the same that must always heal any infirmity, if it is healed at all. Medical practitioners seek by artificial excitement to draw the recuperative power to the afflicted part or organ, but often they too recognize the fact that they must “build up the general health” in order to effectually deal with a local trouble.
When a splinter has become imbedded in the finger, no artificial encouragement is needed to make the natural forces concentrate their energy upon the task of forcing out the offending substance. When something injurious has been eaten, these natural forces begin their work upon stomach and bowels, in an effort to rid the system of things that it cannot absorb. When a broken bone has been set, nothing is needed but to wait for nature to heal it. The vital force always goes where it is most needed, if it is given sufficient encouragement, or rather, if it is allowed to have its way. Nothing but our unbelief or our persistence in wrong doing can interfere with this restorative process. Actual experience also justifies the firm belief that all forms of disease can be healed by psychic power. It is sometimes said that the mistakes of healers are due to over-confidence; but this cannot be true, since confidence is the one indispensable requisite to success. It is rather a mistaken application of the principle that is the cause of failure. To tell a patient that he must give up all soothing applications and trust to faith, when he does not possess any faith, is obviously to take away his crutch before he can walk, and is doubtless responsible for many sad catastrophes. It is true that he may possess faith unconsciously, and that the healer’s business is to cultivate it, but this can just as well be done gradually and without a mental shock or danger of the relapses that may come from going too fast.
It is for this reason that the scientific study of the subject and great mental acuteness on the part of the healer are desirable, not because the principle cannot be applied without these, but because the temperament of the patient is so important a factor to be considered and because his present beliefs must hold him for a time, making it impossible for him to do as the healer would like to have him. It is this careful and scientific spirit that gives to mental healing its advantage over the many other methods of cure which apply the same principle under different names.
Faith is the prime essential in all these methods, and at a first glance it appears very strange that the same effects follow, no matter upon what the faith is based. Whether one trusts in the bones of a martyred saint, in the atonement of Christ, or even in the reputation of an individual healer, the results are still the same. The explanation of this apparent anomaly is, however, not far to seek. It is simply this, that they misunderstand themselves; for after all they are all depending in reality on the one Great Power, a mysterious something that they regard with reverent trust and confidence. Strange how little knowledge God requires in those who come to Him for help! No matter how unintelligent or extravagant the belief, if faith is there, the cure will follow. Mental science, Christian science and the hypnotic method in use in France are the only systems that do not demand faith at the outset. This is because they depend upon developing faith by suggestion, and make use of its effects before the patient himself is conscious that he possesses it. These methods therefore avoid the dangers attendant upon over-excitement and the possible reactions after great religious exaltation.
The only obstacle to the perfect working of the law in question is, as has been said, unbelief, either in the patient or in those around him, or possibly in the would-be healer. A thoroughly skilful healer must, therefore, have not only the utmost confidence in the power he invokes, but ability to read the character and thoughts of his patient, that he may influence him in the direction of his greatest need. He must also be able to influence all persons who come in daily contact with the patient, lest their doubts and fears counteract all his beneficent suggestions. This seems like saying that the healer must have almost superhuman powers, yet as a matter of fact, all who successfully employ these methods do possess such powers, while in some they are developed to a most astonishing degree.
For any one to say, “This treatment may help others, but it cannot help me, for I have tried it,” is something like saying, “Doctors can do me no good, for I have tried a doctor.” Or it is like saying, “The law of gravitation applies, I know, to most things, but yonder balloon is certainly an exception.” This philosophy of health is not merely a new kind of medicine that may help one and injure another; it reaches beneath all external conditions and deals with the roots of all physical troubles. The law is as universal as the law of gravitation. We all know that the reason a balloon remains suspended in the air is not because it has no weight, nor even because the gas it contains has no weight, but because the air has more. If one has failed to be cured by prayer, by Christian science, or by mental healing, that only proves that something counteracted the working of the universal law. It is by no means to be inferred that the difficulty must remain a mystery; if one healer has not fathomed it, perhaps another might, or perhaps one might one’s self discover in time where the trouble lay. A bullet imbedded in the flesh, or a broken bone, might be a constant source of irritation to keep the flesh above it from being healed. Evil thoughts, or a certain rigidity, falsely called self-control, can utterly prevent the healing thoughts of trust and confidence from taking root. Doubtless as the science progresses healers will become more expert in diagnosing mental conditions, and more wise in their modes of procedure. Confidence also will be easier to win when the public become more accustomed to thinking of this science as a great principle rather than as a strange manifestation to be neither analyzed nor counted upon with certainty.
Jesus Christ was the Great Healer. It is therefore fitting that we should look to his instructions given to his disciples, for light on this matter. At one time the disciples, having failed in their efforts at healing, came to him privately to ask what was the reason that they had failed. His answer was, “Because of your unbelief.” “Howbeit,” he added, “this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” Spirituality is essential in a healer; the genuine, complete supremacy of the spiritual nature over the animal. This is not a sickly or morbid condition, but the only normal condition for a being who is primarily soul. True spirituality; does not destroy the body nor physical enjoyment, but lifts both into a more healthful atmosphere, where body and soul can work in harmony, and the most supernal divine human powers may be developed. Jesus was not an ascetic. He said: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a man gluttonous, and a winebibber!’” Yet he was the most entirely spiritual being who ever walked the earth; his teachings yet remain an ideal far beyond the reach of the human race which for nineteen centuries has studied them and sought to follow them. But he promised: “Verily, verily, I say unto you: he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”
It is therefore evident that to believe on him is much more than what we ordinarily understand by the expression. It is to follow in his footsteps, to develop soul power by constant intimacy with the divine that is within us; and the evidence of this divine life within will be the ability to “do many mighty works.” The power will not come to any one all at once; to many it will come very slowly indeed; but if we truly desire it with unselfish and eager longing, and strive daily I to attain it, it will surely come, little by little, “first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.”
THE DUTY OF THE CHURCH.
To the general public the different schools or sects who practice spiritual healing seem to make use of the same principles, and in this the general public are more nearly right than the adherents themselves of some of these sects. The history of bigotry and sectarian division in the Church of Christ is not without its parallel among that portion of the church who have revived the methods of healing practised by Christ and the Apostles. “I am of Paul,” “And I of Apollos,” “And I of Cephas,” “And I of Christ,” is still repeated by the different members of Christ’s body, until one is fain to ask with Paul, “Is Christ divided?” When the disciples came to Jesus saying that they had found one casting out devils in his name and had forbidden him “because he followeth not us,” Jesus said, “Forbid him not, for he that is not against us is on our part.”
It is true that the different schools give different explanations of their methods, yet each, except perhaps those who employ hypnotism, claims to heal by the divine power, each claims that a genuine spiritual regeneration is an important part of the healing work, if not an essential to obtaining the result. The chief point of difference is their attitude regarding the faith required. Some say that the patient must have faith at the outset, some that they will teach him faith, and some that he need have no faith at all. This apparent contradiction will be understood when it is remembered that unconscious faith may be developed by thought transference from the healer to the patient. The patient places himself willingly under the healer’s influence, full of desire to be taught, and the healer simply “leads in prayer,” the patient unconsciously following and making the prayer his own. Thus it is that the healer has faith for two, and actually leads his patient to the Divine Fountain of healing, changing his whole mental attitude for the time being. The change cannot but be permanent to some extent, for no one thus healed can fail to be filled with reverence and conscious belief in the divine power. Upon the permanence of this change depends the permanence of the cure and the possibility of self-help for the future. The varying explanations given by healers can make no difference in respect to this. “For whether it is easier, to say thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say arise and walk?” He who said this also recognized the necessity for a permanent spiritual regeneration, when he said to one whom he had healed, “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.”
Any one who has been healed by psychic methods has been lifted temporarily to a higher spiritual plane of living. It is comparatively easy to induce a sick person to lift his thoughts to spiritual things with conscious longing; he is far less satisfied with self than when that self seems to be prospering unchallenged by a shadow of adversity. We all know how when
“The Devil fell sick,
The Devil a monk would be.”
But, the healing once accomplished, is one to be allowed to relapse immediately into his old life? Not unless he wants the former chastisement repeated; the same conduct will certainly bring him again into the same condition if not into a worse one. A larger light always brings larger responsibilities, and should bring also strong enthusiasm to walk according to the larger light. That is what all must do who learn self-help by these methods. The first truth to be accepted is that of our own responsibility for our bodily condition, together with faith that we can always by divine assistance overcome disease. Then begins self-discipline, a long, gradual process of education and growth, whose efficacy is attested by the thousands of men and women who, after coming into the new life, develop a strength, buoyancy and self-poise such as they never knew before. They can do more work, endure more fatigue and loss of sleep, bear bravely the severest trials, and through all keep a youthfulness and sweet content that others well may envy.
The very beginning, however, of this new life is an inner illumination in the light of which soul-life becomes the all important consideration, and all physical or material gain a mere inevitable result of high and holy thinking. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” To be continually “treating one’s self” will not bring this transcendent self-mastery, but to forget self in others, in efforts to help others to a higher life, in the contemplation of pure ideals and in cleansing the heart of even a shadow of low or frivolous thoughts. To learn to love one’s ideals so much that they fill the consciousness and crowd out other thoughts, except when daily duties demand strict attention, this is to “pray without ceasing,” “to live in the world, yet not of it”; this is indeed the life that is “hid with Christ in God.”
It is true that this seems only a description of the ideal we have all held of a perfect Christian life. It is that and nothing more, yet that we have not attained it is evidenced in a thousand ways. The charm and glamour surrounding the history of the early church is due to the fact that then such lives were common; and their power to heal and to defy contagion, together with a perfect contempt of danger and love to all the world, heathen as it then was, made the Christians a perpetual wonder to their neighbors and brought to the church the popularity and power that have well nigh been her ruin. This is but the renaissance of Christianity. Some hold that it is a sign of the speedy coming of Christ, some that he is already here—the Christ-life in the hearts of men.
The Christ-life! How inexpressible in terms of human speech! Self-consciousness lost in the Christ-consciousness; death swallowed up in victory! Human life, after its long estrangement, comes again into vital union with the Infinite Life. Now we can understand the language of the birds and flowers, for now we too live only to express the divine purpose; our wills, once given us, have been surrendered again to him who gave them, and we are become “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” All the infinite treasures of the Father’s house are ours, riches so infinite that all that we can use are as nothing to the unsearchable depth; of riches in store for us, to be taken as we need them day by day.
The strength of the Christ-life is in its repose. It is the strength of nature; the same peaceful, unhurrying strength that blossoms in the rose and waves in the giant branches of the forest trees. It is drawn direct from God, and it grows with the using. It is not only sufficient for the personal wants of its possessor, but it reaches out helping hands to all who need, to all who, leaning on the false strength of self, find all the forces of nature arrayed against them to overthrow them. Its joy is in the blessed vision of the future when all shall “know the Lord;” its sorrow is the sorrow of Christ weeping over Jerusalem, longing to gather her children together “as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wing,—and ye would not.”
The world has need of such lives, consecrated, Christ-like lives, armed with all the resources of modern knowledge and all the fervor of the early Christians. The world is restless, conscious of deep social wrongs and of increasing physical weakness, looking everywhere for some universal panacea, “waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” Oh, what an opportunity for the Church of Christ! What a call, if she can but shake off her lethargy and unbelief! To her keeping have been given the germs of spiritual life, that they might live, though unfruitful, through centuries of materialism and darkness. It is to the Church, not the outward, visible Church, but the true body of heart followers of Christ, that the world must look for help. To them is the promise, “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” And this power shall be sufficient to regenerate society, beginning with the individuals who compose it, leading through their conscious needs to an understanding of needs of which they are yet unconscious, healing at once both soul and body and remaking human life.
Does this seem a new doctrine? Hear the words of Socrates, the wisest of pagan philosophers: “All good and evil here in the body or in human nature originate in the soul, and overflow from thence as from the head into the eyes, and therefore if the head and body are to be well, you must begin by curing the soul; that is the first thing.”
The principles of mental healing furnish a valuable clue in judging of occult phenomena in general. The central principle of this newly-discovered science is the law of mental causation. This law being once established, we must seek for the causes of disease in disordered mental states; and tracing disordered mental states back to their first cause, we find it either in ignorance or in willful violation of the laws of mind. A partial knowledge unwisely applied may become the most prolific of all sources of error and mischief.
That psychic power may be developed to a certain extent, indeed to a remarkable extent, for purposes of mere display, will not be denied by any one who has witnessed the remarkable exhibitions of that power by East Indian adepts or by those who have obtained a knowl-ege of these things from them. That it is actual soul power need not be questioned, although we may see its exhibitors governed by any but spiritual motives, and its effects may prove anything but salutary either upon the performer or upon society at large. This does not militate against the fact that a more or less complete control of the body and of the lower nature by the soul is necessary to the development of that power. A virtue may be cultivated for selfish purposes, the laws of mind may be obeyed in those directions necessary to the production of occult phenomena, while yet the adept is entirely unfit in respect to character to be the possessor of such power over his fellow-men. On the other hand, innocent people having learned certain of these laws, but ignorant of others, may be led to an entire misinterpretation of the results which they themselves are able to produce, and may not only lead others astray, but be drawn themselves into evil practices, nervous derangement or even insanity.
The modern touchstone for good and evil is the test of health. If a practice is conducive to health, both of body and soul, we know that it is in accord with divine law, and right and honorable. If we can trace evil effects to its agency, we know that it is a violation of law. In respect to the occult sciences, we have at the outset strong presumptive evidence against the healthfulness of many of the practices depending upon them, in the fact that among all peoples in the early ages there existed a great fear of the magician, the conjurer, the witch, and all their sinister fraternity. Among the Hebrews the law was very strict against consulting “familiar spirits,” even for purposes apparently most laudable. If it can be proved that unhealthful effects follow these practices today, we shall be able to understand why such laws were enforced and such fears entertained by people whose reasoning powers were undeveloped, but whose intuitions were often far more correct than ours.
A person under the influence of hypnotism may be made to believe that he is George Washington or Henry Clay or any other individual suggested by the hypnotiser. He will assume the character suggested and act out his part with startling accuracy, provided he knows anything about the person mentioned, or indeed if any one present knows anything about him. For hypnotic subjects are capable of mind-reading, as are also persons in a state of trance. A supposed spiritualistic medium always assumes to be someone else, invariably the spirit of some dead person, unless he is made to believe that some one really living is dead. The very possibility of such a mistake constitutes strong proof that the medium is not under the control of spirits, but is merely exercising his own subjective powers, under the delusion that he is the mouthpiece for an intelligence not his own.
The little instrument known as the plan-chette and the similar one called the Ouija board, by means of which messages from the subjective mind are spelled out, while the objective will is entirely unconscious of doing anything to assist in the performance, are supposed by some to be moved by disembodied spirits. When asked, “Who are you that write?” the subjective mind of the operator immediately seeks a name not his own, for the reason that his own objective faculties assure him that they know nothing of this business, and therefore that it cannot be himself. He will assume any name that circumstances t or his own preconceived beliefs may suggest as appropriate, and having assumed the name he will act his part exactly as does the hypnotic subject.
All this evidence would seem to be conclusive against the belief that spirits of the dead actually speak through spiritualistic mediums. Yet there are still multitudes of people who firmly believe that they hold communication with beings of the spirit world. That belief was apparently held by the Hebrews, but the practice was none the less forbidden. True or false, if the practice leads to injurious results it is to be avoided as contrary to divine law. To believe that one is under the control of an intelligence not his own, for whose statements he is in no sense responsible, but must receive as absolute truth, regardless of their moral quality, tends strongly to unsettle moral character, especially as one’s own desires are apt to be reflected in the sayings of the supposed spirit, and excuses for wrongdoing to be insidiously suggested. These suggestions are not then regarded as temptations, but as coming from one who sees no longer “through a glass darkly,” but who is in possession of all truth and whose advice may be safely followed.
Another danger is that one may come to be “haunted” by one or more spirits. The firmer the belief in them the more difficult it becomes to drive them away, and frequently the result is insanity. Since one can avoid such “possession” simply by not believing in it, is it not better not to believe? And since one may control his moral actions and ideals by holding fast a belief in his own responsibility for every suggestion that comes into his mind, is it not better to hold fast to the faith that saves than to turn to a faith that may destroy?
Subtle dangers may also lurk in the practice of hypnotism for amusement. It is quite possible that a person having once assumed a fictitious name in that way, may again assume it without apparent reason. The phenomenon known as dual personality, in which one suddenly loses his consciousness of personal identity and winders away to remain perhaps for years under another name, until something restores the normal consciousness, might easily be traceable to some youthful frolic of this sort.
We know that Christ never made use of his power for mere display, even when such display would have done more than anything else to win adherents to his cause. When he was tempted to cast himself down from a pinnacle of the temple in order to show his power, his answer was, “It is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” The expression “tempting Providence” is common, and contains a mighty truth. To go too far against God’s will must surely bring disaster and punishment. The reason why the world has been denied the general knowledge of the powers of the soul is evidently because mankind were not fit to be the custodians of so dangerous a treasure. If that treasure has been given to us, it behooves us to see that we use it in strict accordance with God’s law, for on even this lofty plane we still find the struggle of good and evil going on.
The East Indian priests possess much knowledge of psychic law that we have not yet attained; but they are generally men of low morality, whose choicest secrets can be bought for money, and whose powers are seldom used for the benefit of suffering humanity. How far the present moral and physical condition of the East Indian people is a result of the character of their priests, or whether they have so degenerated simply as a result of their own sins and because the priests make no effort to uplift them, we may perhaps not be able to discover. But certain it is that their marvellous powers have not raised India out of a fearful condition of disease and degradation. Is it not fair, therefore, to regard as useless, if not worse, these boasted triumphs of occult science, whereby the orderly working of the laws of nature may be overturned and empty wonders be exhibited for no worthy purpose? East Indian science is finding its way into this country, and while no one need regard it with superstitious fear, it would certainly be wise to study carefully its possible effects upon both mind and body before practising, or allowing one’s self to come under the influence of those who practise, what were anciently known as the Black Arts.
PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS FOR SELF-HELP.
I — The Mental Attitude.
About one hundred and fifty years ago Rousseau began preaching his philosophy, the central thought of which was the “return to nature.” He maintained that all social wrongs were the result of man’s artificialism, and he carried his theory to its utmost logical conclusion in denouncing all man-made laws and all the customs that distinguish our complex civilization. He won for a time an enthusiastic following, but he could not regenerate society because of one fundamental error in his premises. The return to nature is the true gospel of hope to the world, but it does not mean the abolition of a lower law until we have learned entire obedience to a higher; it does not mean a return to barbarism, but a continued development in strict accordance with the higher laws that man is learning for the first time to understand. The return to nature is the return of the Prodigal to his Father’s House; it is the liberty of perfect obedience.
A large proportion of Americans whom one meets appear to be in danger of nervous prostration. It is shown in the nervous tension of the muscles, the quick, excited motions and speech, and the general tendency to hurry and bustle. “Americanitis” is the most baffling disease to physicians of all that have yet afflicted humanity. And yet we as Americans do not feel that this is because we are more sinful than other nations; on the contrary, we have a distinct sense of superiority, a consciousness of standing in the fore-front of civilization, and of possessing a truer religious life than any other nation. We are in the fore-front of civilization; we are as a people more humane, more just, more generous than any other. We have reached a plane of living where inharmony is more destructive than it is on any lower plane, because our sensibilities are so much keener, and our horror at wrong or injustice so much deeper than any other people can comprehend. Any one who watches the conduct of our national affairs can see that as a nation we are not living up to the light that is given us, and a very slight investigation of social conditions in our great cities shows even more shockingly how wide a gulf there is between our ideals and real life. To suggest religion as a remedy for these evils seems to many quixotic in the extreme, but this is because religion heretofore has made so little impression on a large proportion of our people. If the Church has been the leaven hid in the national life, its leavening power has not yet shown itself as much as any believer would admit it ought to do.
But suppose we prove the efficacy of a true religious life in overcoming adverse physical conditions, how great an argument to even the most materialistic mind in favor of abandoning all injurious thoughts or habits! Americanitis is a divine warning to Americans that to them are given larger responsibilities than have yet rested upon any people.
Man’s first distinguishing characteristic is self-consciousness, the consciousness of his own free individual will. His one error is in believing that he can live this individual life apart from God. Tennyson sings,
“Our wills are ours, we know not how,
Our wills are ours, to make them thine.”
Knowledge of self is given us that we may lose it in love to the whole human race. Free wills are given us that we may consciously unite our lives with God’s life and make his purpose our purpose and his thoughts our thoughts.
Notice a person whose manner is self-conscious. Is not that person awkward? Notice your own feelings when you cannot sleep. Is not your trouble that you cannot forget yourself? When you are nervous is not the whole trouble that you have lost your oneness with the great, calm life of nature? Self-consciousness has made us men, and now it is threatening to destroy us.
It is difficult for the novice to understand just what is wrong with his mental attitude or how he can himself do anything to correct it. The proper attitude may perhaps be described as mental non-resistance. Emerson touches this principle when he says that if we would cease fighting our evil impulses and devote ourselves to yielding to our good ones, we would find our spiritual growth much more easy and natural. Our great trouble is that we struggle too hard, and there again is shown the injurious effect of self-consciousness. We feel that we must do something ourselves, when God is waiting to do all things for us as soon as we will be quiet. We feel when we pray, that we must induce God to change his attitude towards us, when in reality it is our own attitude that needs to be changed and not his. True prayer is simply an opening of the heart to receive the blessing. Many fervent prayers are offered without an understanding of this truth, and terrible are the disappointments when no answer comes.
To open the heart in this way it is necessary not only to believe and to desire, but to know how to “enter into the closet and shut the door,” that is, to get away from all the noise and confusion of our thoughts and become so receptive that the Holy Spirit can speak to us. This means relaxation of every muscle, nerve and fibre of our being, a resting in the Everlasting Arms with absolute trust, knowing that if we wait and listen we will surely learn the “secret of the Lord.” This may at first seem impossible to a nervous or self-confident person, but it is not impossible to any one. Never mind discouragements, never mind repeated failures; keep it up, day after day not with violent effort, but with quiet persistence, saying over and over some appropriate quotation or some thought of your own — the fewer words the better — and believing all the time that a change will come over your mind and light will be given you. Listen, and soon some helpful thought will flash across your mind. Listen as you would listen for distant music. Do not think because no idea of an intellectual nature comes to you that you have gained nothing; when you have learned to listen, that attitude is at once the prayer and its answer; the physical change within you is as immediate and as unavoidable as that produced by mixing an acid and an alkali. If you can realize such relaxation for one moment, seize upon the condition and try to hold it, rest in it, enjoy it. A beneficial change is going on in your body just as long as you can hold yourself in this absolutely receptive condition. Thoughts on the subject will come after you have known the experience and felt its joy.
To some the understanding of this truth comes as a sudden revelation after months of seeking; to some it comes gradually, but always, when it comes it is the beginning of the healing of both soul and body. Through the help of a healer it may come temporarily without any assistance from the objective faculties, and mental treatment is also of immense value to those who are seeking to apply the principle consciously.
The Society of Silent Unity requires of all its members that at a given hour they “sit in peaceful mind for a short time, and invite in conscious soul-aspiration the presence of the Holy Spirit.” Worship is the conscious harmonizing of one’s thoughts with the Divine. All thoughts that are in perfect harmony with the Divine Will are worship, and all desires that in both their nature and their expression are in such harmony are prayer. Thoughts out of harmony with God’s law are not only not worship, they are positively destructive to soul and body. We may rise by aspiration or we may be driven by suffering to seek the higher, but rise we must, for it is God’s universal law. He will not allow us to utterly destroy ourselves. He will seek us and call to us through suffering, until we hear and heed him. Here or hereafter we may be assured his loving chastisement will find us, and the further we wander from Him the severer lessons are laid up in store for us.
In “Words of Faith” an account was published of a woman who passed through an experience which illustrates this principle, and shows remarkably the power of spiritual intuition to fathom the deepest mysteries of faith. She was for many years an invalid from spinal affection and other diseases. She was often too weak to sit up or even to feed herself, but all the time she felt that underneath were the Everlasting Arms. Then her father died and her home was broken up, but still she trusted, and at that time believed that she fully consecrated herself to her Saviour. Another course of treatment was tried to relieve her sufferings, but they only increased until her life was despaired of. “I put forth every effort and tried all the will power that was possible to get better,” she writes, “but all in vain.” Then for four years her sufferings were indescribable, but all the time she “felt that Jesus held her in his loving embrace, and that he permitted all this in infinite love and infinite wisdom.” Then she prayed to know if God willed that she should be healed by prayer, and at last she “was led to see it was His will for her to seek for healing and to take Jesus as her Great Physician.” The student of mental science can see at once that she had found the whole truth. She “was led to see it was His will.” This was the exact opposite of the state of mind in which she “put forth every effort;” it was a state of perfect trust, and from that time her sufferings became evolutionary and gradually faded away, as she consented that God’s will should be done in her, and trusted his wisdom to do it in-his own way.
II. — Different Cases.
The application of the principles of mental healing may vary widely in different cases. Sometimes relaxation is what is needed, sometimes strong self-assertion; not the assertion of the lower or detached self, but insistence on one’s divine right as a son of God, a positive affirmation of one’s power, in the name of God, to “put to flight the armies of the aliens.” Sometimes it is best to deny the sensation of pain, and set about some work that will help to forget it; at other times it is wiser to leave everything and “enter into thy closet and shut the door.” I shall endeavor in this chapter to explain as clearly as possible the different methods that may be pursued, and the reasons for varying them at different times.
In the first place you must remember that your body is not you; it is a refractory servant that you are seeking to discipline; and, as in military life, he who would be a commander must first learn to obey. You are to bring your soul into entire obedience to the Divine Will, that your body may express God’s ideal of you. If you see something wrong wtih your body, you must conclude that you are not living up to your privileges as a child of God; you must call to mind the fact that you have the whole power of Omnipotence back of you, to work with you as soon as you determine to bring yourself into harmony with the divine order. Your only sin may perhaps be lack of faith, and in this case all that is necessary is to persuade your subconscious mind that it can and must attend to its duty like a faithful steward, and order the affairs of your household according to the law of harmony.
As an illustration let us take the case of a simple headache. A very natural way to deal with it is to ask God to take it away. If it does not go, you must conclude, not that He is unwilling to do that for you, but that in some way you are resisting Him, or your lower self is resisting your higher. Then, perhaps, it would be well to be explicit and say to your brain: “You are not acting in accordance with God’s will; I command you to send the blood away from my head, where I do not need so much, to my hands and feet, which are cold. I insist, in the name of the Divine Will, that you obey.” Say this over and over, believing that it will be effective, and you will soon find your hands and feet growing warm and your head growing cool. Another method is simply to deny that you have any headache; this is the method usually employed by the Christian Scientists. Still another is to say to yourself: “This pain in my head is nothing but the recuperative force at work setting right some disturbance; I will not resist it, nor listen to the complaints of my nerves which tell me that it is not agreeable. It is doing only good, and if I make no resistance it will not be painful.” Remember, the one object is to make yourself believe that the headache is going away. You are practically saying, “Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.” You are removing the resistance which the fear of pain or the doubt of God’s willingness to help you places in the way of the beneficent action of natural law.
Nervousness is a trouble that most of us have to deal with. For habitual nervousness nothing is better than to enter into the silence for fifteen minutes or half an hour twice a day. Fill your mind with God, with thoughts of His immanence, of His enfolding peace, that you know would soothe you if you had it. If other thoughts intrude, drive them away; the interruption will not disturb if it is not more than a few seconds. Return again and again to the thought of God’s presence, until you are able to hold it uninterrupted for ten minutes. Think of it with joy and thankfulness, believing that you will soon gain the victory, and your breath will come deeper and you will feel your whole being expand and glow. A soothing influence will soon steal over you and the nervousness will fade away. Remember, unbelieving prayers will not bring an answer; it is the prayer of acknowledgment, the prayer of thanksgiving, that fills the soul with new life and power.
If the daily cares of life are such as to annoy or harass, this method is the most effective that could be prescribed for teaching yourself to live above them. The strength thus gained will go with you all day, and little worries and annoyances will have no power to fret you. And as “a soft answer turneth away wrath,” your own serenity will be reflected in those around you, and there will be actually fewer annoyances to resist.
It must always be borne in mind that the spiritual side of this matter is after all the most important side. To heal the body we begin by healing the soul, and therefore it is necessary to cleanse the mind of all unworthy thoughts, and lift the whole being to a higher plane. Something is inharmonious, some part of your life is being lived on a lower plane than your best; all must be brought into perfect accord, and that by raising the lower self, never by lowering the higher. The higher self will not be ignored nor debased without constantly increasing protests; you must somehow find out what is wrong and correct it. This does not mean morbid introspection nor gloomy brooding over your faults. The chances are that your greatest fault is one that you cannot see at all, and could not comprehend if it were explained to you. Introspection is not the method of mental healing, but a continued dwelling upon high ideals until the faults die for want of nourishment. The only way to conquer darkness is to let in the light; the only way to see your faults is to get a long way off from them, and then suddenly, sometime, you will see how hideous were the evil things with which you lived, never dreaming that they were evil. I doubt if there is any one who, looking back, will not say of some episode in his life, “What a fool I was!”
To apply this principle practically: recall some moment in your life when you feel that your best self was in the ascendancy, and consider what were the thoughts which occupied you then. How ashamed you feel that those thoughts have been so long forgotten! Try to renew your acquaintance with them and to cultivate a love for them. Dwell upon them frequently, and new meaning and beauty will be given them by your present larger experience; they will grow even dearer to you than they ever were before.
Or, select the one person of your acquaintance whom you most admire, and think with longing of his virtues that you would like to make your own. Thinking of them you will appropriate them, and without making him the poorer you will become richer by your admiration of him. The best example for any one to follow is that of the Christ; but here there is danger of a mere sentimental pleasure in qualities that one thinks were very good in Jesus, but which one really does not want for himself. Do not try to think you admire qualities which you really would not like in a companion. Think honestly, no matter how it shames you to realize the littleness of your ideals. Select some trait of Jesus which you honestly can admire and love, which attracts you strongly to him, and dwell lovingly upon that. Little by little you will come to love still higher traits by the mere force of association. Obtain a photograph of one of Hofmann’s pictures of Christ — Christ and the Rich Ruler or Christ in the Temple, or some other — and place it where the divine face of Christ shall be the first thing you see in the morning. There are many devices which will suggest themselves to the earnest seeker. We all have our own individual needs, and different things may help the same person at different times, according to the mood or to outside circumstances.
But some one may object: “This seems a roundabout way to cure a disease, and certainly it is not at all the same thing as to employ a healer and pay him for his services.” The difference is only apparent, not real. The healer’s mind is influencing your mind all the time, when once you have put yourself under his treatment. If a real newness of life has been kindled in you by him it is the beginning of changes as radical as any you could initiate by the methods here described. Inertia may suggest that to employ a healer would be much easier, and if the trouble is acute or of long standing, or if there is great lack of faith, his services may be indispensable. But even in connection with the treatment of a healer, these suggestions may be followed with great profit. They are intended for all earnest seekers after the truth that maketh free, who are willing to give time and effort to securing a more abundant life. They are intended to show that these blessings are not the exclusive privilege of any one branch of the Church, nor dependent in any way upon the letter of a creed. All followers of Christ may have them. “For every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
Young children may be taught the rudiments of these principles, but with children almost everything depends upon the parents. They are in constant telepathic rapport with the little ones, and whatever is the condition of their minds the children will reflect it. If you do not want your child to have a disease, do not allow yourself to fear it or even to think about it. If your child is sick and you want to help to bring about a speedy recovery, do not allow any fear to enter your mind. Think as you hold your baby in your arms that even so the divine love of the All-Father enfolds you both. Think of this until you seem to see God’s hand in every pang that makes the child cry out, and bend all your energies to soothing and quieting the little frame, that God’s recuperative forces may have free way. This principle may be applied even by those who think their faith unequal to trusting to mental healing alone; it will be found of the greatest service as an aid to the efforts of any physician; it may even be the one thing that turns the scale in favor of life, and saves a home from desolation.
One other thought may be suggested with regard to faith, and upon this I wish to lay especial emphasis. Do not pray with a vague expectation that the answer may come sometime tomorrow. It will begin to come while-you are praying if it is coming at all. “While they are yet speaking, I will hear.” Remember it is the Holy Spirit for which you are asking, and God is only waiting to bestow the blessing until you shall be able to receive it. Pray until you are conscious of the coming answer; pray knowing that it will come; never cease praying until your prayer changes to thanksgiving. When you have learned to send up your prayer in one word of joyful, thankful acknowledgment of God’s power and willingness to help, you will have reached the point where evil will have no power to harm you, because your Defence is ever present and in His strength you are invulnerable. This, then, is the one thought with which to arm yourself: God’s strength, infinite, omnipresent, the same yesterday, today and forever, is yours as soon as you can learn to lean upon it. As soon as you appreciate this fact, life will have new meaning for you, and realization, though it dawn slowly to outward view, will go on and on, becoming more perfect every year, and you will then recall Jesus’ words to Martha: “Said I not unto thee that if thou wouldst believe thou shouldst see the glory of God?”
III. — The Example of Jesus.
The value of frequent seasons of silent prayer in developing strength and vigor of intellect cannot be overestimated. In prayer the soul receives life directly from the Infinite, and the effect upon the mind is even more immediate than upon the body. It has been fully explained elsewhere that prayer is not strenuous petition, but passive receptivity, a “waiting on the Lord.” We do not read that Jesus ever suffered from sickness, but we know that he was accustomed to withdraw frequently into the hill region of Judea for seasons of solitary communion with the Father. When most pressed by the multitude he was apt suddenly to depart as if by an irresistible impulse to be alone. No crowd, no clamor, not even the hot persecution that beset his last days, ever seemed to ruffle his serenity or to shake his calm confidence that the Father’s work was going on in strict accordance with the Father’s will. And he made no secret of the fact that it was by prayer that his strength was fed, and by constant communion with God that he learned the wisdom which he imparted to his disciples.
“There is, there is, a strength that comes to us in solitude, from that shadowy, awful Presence that frivolous crowds repel,” says Hamerton. If Jesus needed to be alone to receive this strength, can we expect to do our best in any line of work while neglecting this most important of all means of growth? We often say we cannot find a moment to be alone; we feel that we are driven from one thing to another, and that all these things are too important to be neglected for such a selfish purpose as solitary meditation. But let us compare our duties for one moment with those of Jesus. Is anything that we have to do as important as was his work of teaching his disciples or even of healing the sick who thronged him? The true reason why we do not take more time for prayer is that we have not the faintest conception of the gain that it would be to ourselves and to others. Too often our prayers are a mere form of words, and we rise from praying no stronger, and, what is worse, not expecting to be any stronger, than before. That is not the kind of prayer that feeds both soul and body with bread from Heaven.
We all expect a poet or an artist to need time for inspiration. But the most commonplace of daily duties can be exalted to the level of poetry if we can have the same inspiration in it. If the work is purely mechanical the inspiration may come in thoughts on other lines, taking our minds from the dreary monotony of our work and lifting us quite out of the treadmill existence that life becomes when the whole mind is absorbed with one uncongenial thought. But if our work involves the least degree of responsibility or the least opportunity for originality, an inspiration may be obtained from prayer that will fit us for the more successful discharge of its peculiar duties. This is not mere sentiment, it is scientific fact.
Take, for example, an ordinary business life. You go to your work in the morning with a weight of anxiety upon you. You are careful and troubled about many things. Something goes wrong in the course of the day, and you lose what little serenity you had; you feel the wear and tear of friction on your whole physical being, and your mind refuses to respond promptly and confidently to the demands made upon it. Your work would not be hard if there were no sense of friction. Now let us consider what is the cause of this friction and how it can be removed. You say your work is complex and the business difficulties and dangers require constant vigilance, as of a man beset by foes on every side, one of whom may strike while he is defending himself from another. There is a sense of confusion, of nervousness, then of fatigue. Are not the operations of your digestive organs complex? Is not the work of the blood complex? building up here, mending there, healing a disorder somewhere else? If you had to attend to all the operations of your physical life and direct them by your conscious mind, what a confusing, worrisome business it would be! But you leave that, you say, to take care of itself. No, your brain is attending to it all; but your brain is fully equal to the task, calmly resting in the consciousness of its own power, and directing all these diverse interests within you as unerringly as Napoleon directed the operations of his army — more so, if you remain in health. Your subconscious mind has a genius for attending to the wants of your body, but genius is simply a capacity for inspiration on certain lines, and you can have a genius for business if you can learn to keep your objective faculties always in good working order, by allowing the subjective their rightful place as coworkers. This is not saying that any one can have a genius for any kind of business, but having chosen a congenial pursuit, anyone can avoid that friction which incapacitates him, by re-enforcing his executive powers in seasons of calm, tranquil out-reaching after the strength that comes through the subjective; that strength which is the inspiration of genius and which in some measure is waiting to bestow itself on every one who seeks it.
The same benefit may come to those whose work is teaching. Here the application seems even easier to understand. In training other minds a most important qualification is the power to trace the mental operations of the pupil, in order to know how to guide the development that one is trying to stimulate. This can be done only by intuitive perception, and the intuitions are never active when the nerves are “all on edge.” A half-hour every morning spent alone in the silence would be worth far more than sleep to a careworn, weary teacher.
In purely intellectual pursuits the wisdom that comes in the silence of the soul is even more earnestly to be sought. St. James says, “If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally.” If this seems an extravagant claim, consider for a moment that every prophet since the world began has obtained his wisdom from this same source. How do we know that right is right and that wrong is hideous? How does the race-consciousness of virtue advance from age to age? It is not by reason; witness the demoralization wrought by atheism, which is the completest triumph of reason over intuition. Try the experiment yourself and you will be aware of a similar advance in your own ideas of right as the years go on. Your intuitions, at first colored more or less by materialistic habits of thought, will grow purer as you invite their frequent presence. When you rise into the atmosphere of prayer or of conscious communion with the Divine, you lay aside selfishness as much as you can, and by aspiring you become more and more capable of leaving self behind and of receiving true inspiration. Moreover, you will be surprised to discover how much more certain you become of the truth of your inspirations. In old times prophets used to say, “Thus saith the Lord.” They had an absolute conviction that the wisdom they had received was from above. In proportion as the message was more lofty than the people had heard before was the certainty in the prophet’s mind that the Lord had spoken. We are so accustomed to trusting reason and so surrounded on all sides with the influence of materialistic thought, that it is seldom now that a voice is raised saying, “Thus saith the Lord.”
But God’s message comes to us, nevertheless; distrusted, cautiously advanced, reasoned about, and whether approved or condemned by reason, having the whole power of Omnipotence behind it to give it influence, because it is true.
Thus it is that the world advances, not by scientific knowledge so much as by a developing race-consciousness, by great thought-waves of aspiration, of enthusiasm, or of compassion; and the leading spirits in this advancement are those enthusiasts who are dead to self-interest, who trust their intuitions and throw the whole weight of their personality into the influence that they exert.
In all this the purest example we have is that of Jesus Christ. Would you be wise? Commune alone with your Heavenly Father as Jesus did. Would you be inspired with new thoughts helpful to your fellow-men? Take time, as Jesus did, from the most pressing duties, to draw from the only true source the inspiration that will certainly be given you if you seek it aright. The time will not be lost; nothing will be neglected in the end, but, on the contrary, more will be accomplished, and as the years go on your work will improve and your whole life will be a far greater success because of your faithfulness in following the example of our Divine Teacher.
SELECTIONS FOR DAILY MEDITATION.
Take one verse and dwell upon it until the thought fills the mind, and all its depth of meaning dawns upon the consciousness.
VERSES FOR CULTIVATING RECEPTIVITY.
Son of man, stand upon thy feet and I will speak unto thee.
Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him.
Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things.
Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
Be still, and know that I am God.
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.
And they shall be all taught of God.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him and he with me.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you and shall be in you.
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
The prayer of faith shall save the sick.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and up-braideth not; and it shall be given him.
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering, for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed.
For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance and my God.
If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
And these signs shall follow them that believe: in my name shall they cast out devils; . . . they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
Nor height nor dppth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you.
Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.
Rest in the Lord, wait patiently for him, and he shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.
Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
Make haste unto me, O God; thou art my help and my deliverer.
Hold thou me up and I shall be safe.
Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
But now, O Lord, thou art our Father; we are the clay and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.
Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
I can of mine own self do nothing; as I hear I judge; and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Fear not, for I am with thee, I have called thee by my name; thou art mine.
I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee.
O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
My mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate upon thee in the night watches.
Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits;
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies.
For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
For our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ,
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.
For behold, the kingdom of heaven is within you.
Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God.
To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes.
And lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.
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Contents The Immanent God; The World of Manifestation; Our Life in Mind; The Meaning of Suffering; Adjustment to Life; Poise; Self-help.
Sixth Edition, 219 pp., $1.50 postpaid.
THE PHILOSOPHICAL PUBLISHING CO.,
19 Blagden Stmt, - - BOSTON, MASS.