In the last chapter I referred to the fact that in my search for an escape from death, I kept constantly looking for some person or persons who had gone farther on this line of thought than I had done, and who, therefore, knew more about it. I actually unearthed several fossils, each of whom had some idea to which he was married, and which never expanded beyond its then shape and size. One woman whom I met by appointment, after several quite sensible letters had passed between us, actually told me that she was the Virgin Mary, resurrected and appointed to save the race. Several experiences of this kind threw me back on myself for personal investigation. No one ever called me a fool, even though I made no concealment of my hopes. I talked my ideas to my neighbors, and made many converts among them, and was acknowledged as a leader in thought as far as I was known. People who themselves had quietly cherished the hope I had begun to exploit abroad came long distances to see me and hear what I had to say, and left me entirely convinced of the possibility of the thing, though I frankly admitted that I did not know how it was to be done. I always declared that I was growing up to a knowledge of it, and that nothing in life could stand in the way of my discovering it.
And nothing has done so; and I have discovered it.
Year after year slid by, and found me always a more interested searcher than before. Year after year I was compelled with greater force to abandon all hope of help from other people; I was being turned home toward myself, and at last began to get a growing conviction of the fact that there was no help for me but in myself.
What a revelation this would have been had it come to me suddenly. But it could never have come in this way. It was a matter of brain development, and slow development, at that. How was it possible for a woman whose whole life had been enslaved by service to others, and who was crushed, as such women generally are, to have confidence in her own ideas, and to believe in herself as the discoverer of a truth that would bring salvation; a truth that would light the world with the blessedness of undying hope? It was not in me to think this, nor even to accept the thought when others spoke of it who believed in me. It is true that—led away from all sense of personality when fired by the full scope of the idea— I would talk of it with such vitality as to bring conviction to nearly all who heard me. I talked with great fervor when aroused, but when alone, and the thought came to me that I—poor little I—was really and truly the leader in so tremendous a thing as that which was to conquer death in the bodies of the people, I would shrink from it and reject it; reject the glory of it, even while seeing that it was true, and that every atom of my body and brain was full of such confirmation as I could not wholly disbelieve.
But, though I could not disbelieve it, since it was born in me like the lily in the bulb, and was growing out of me the same as the lily grows out of the bulb, I yet could and did ignore the sense of personality that would have forced the conviction of ownership upon me. I knew that an understanding of how to conquer death was in my grasp, and was unfolding more and more to my perception, but, while I cherished this great fact, I yet kept my thought from dwelling upon its greatness; or rather, perhaps, it was so big that my unaccustomed thought, not yet free from the world's old beliefs in the power of death, could not grasp it.
I think I should have felt more comfortable, under the circumstances, if some other person had been developing the idea, and had been accepting it second hand. I must say of myself that I had no desire to become famous; there were certain things I wanted to do, certain problems I wanted to solve; but it was not for popular applause that I was working. Indeed, I shrunk from notice, and, unless swept to the front by the force of my thought, I was always in the background. As a child, I had shunned attention; I was usually so busy carrying out my own ideas, or thinking my own thoughts, that I wished to be left alone. I am this way even now; I am never lonesome, and I court solitude; but if my solitude is broken in upon by pleasant people, I enjoy their company as much as anyone. I am fond of people. All expressions of life are engaging; but man, who stands at the head and represents the best of everything below him—what shall I say of him? I am not satisfied to say simply that I love him; I see in him such possibilities of unfoldment that I look upon him as the miracle of all time; and he excites my wonder and stimulates my admiration to the highest point of grandeur.
With this feeling about others (I may say all others, since even the most degraded tramp contains the seed of immortal growth) it is no wonder that I turned my thoughts inward upon myself, and began to admit to myself, in spite of my natural timidity, that I, too, was capable of everything that my mind could suggest to me as possible of attaining.
I am sure that no one will look upon this as egotism or vanity, since I did not set myself up above others or value my powers above the powers of others. But I did begin to value my own powers in proportion as I discovered the powers of others; for I could not help seeing that the race is a unit, and that the same law of vital force runs through us all, making us all brothers. And gradually I began to claim my own. I was growing into a proper sense of my own valuation. I was beginning to see such strength in myself that I no longer desired to lean on another; I was approaching a position of individualism: and I say now, and shall prove it further on, that strict individualism is the salvation of every member of the race, and that there is no salvation outside of it. It is individualism that conquers death.
It is the insanity of egotism that causes men to claim that they are the specially endowed messengers of God to a dying world. There are several of these persons who are flourishing in a small way at this time, and making a good living out of their dupes; but their influence is growing more and more limited as the process of individualization in the people goes on. I can readily understand the situation; there having been a time when I myself was so weak in self-confidence that I searched for a leader; but with an understanding of the law, the preposterous claims of these modern Christs became at once apparent. There are others who are yet in the condition that I once was; they are filled with the desire for something different from the old-time ideas about salvation, but have been taught from infancy to regard themselves as "creeping worms of the dust," unworthy of even decent treatment from the hands of the God who is supposed to have created them; they are weak; they must lean; and they lean on any inflated, deluded and deluding creature with sufficient egotism to publish his claims to the world. And so our modern messiahs make their appearance and flourish for a time before their course ends in such characters as Weary Walker and Dusty Rhoades.
My mind being filled with thoughts relating to the subject of conquering death, I soon—without an effort—tested public opinion of a highly cultured order on the subject. I had left California by this time and was living in Chicago and doing editorial work on a paper there. Of course, I found many acquaintances of a very superior degree of mental ability, and we discussed all the leading ideas of the day. My opinions on every subject except that of the conquest of death were kindly accepted by my friends, but they rejected the idea that eternal life could be achieved in this world, and especially at this time. Some of them were willing to accept the theory if its fulfillment could be put off a few hundred or thousand years, but none of them could be induced to consider the possibility of it in the present generation. These were educated people; they were college-bred men, and their minds were stuffed full of what the world calls learning; and "learning" is the fit name for it—it is far from being wisdom.
It was here that I saw the difference between the natural mind and the mind that had been thrown out of its natural direction by filling it with what is called "learning." In my previous association with the people of the little place where I lived, I found many original thinkers and reasoners; minds that were not overcrowded with the rubbish of dead centuries, but fresh and vital and able to do original thinking. These were the minds I impressed with my ideas; and when I contrasted the two different casts of mind as L have described them, I valued book learning less than ever. I had never valued it very highly. I wanted to delve down in the ground; I wanted to get to the root of things and discover the cause of growth. I knew that I must find the law of growth or I would never conquer death.
I have found it, and I shall make the whole thing .so clear in these pages that a child can understand it.
In regard to what I said about the indifference of my book-learned friends to my ideas concerning the conquest of death, I must refer to an experience that seems strange. It only required a slight acquaintance with a man or woman to find out just what reach of mind he or she possessed. In most people I soon came to a mental dead wall beyond which I could not go, and beyond which there would have been no use of going, because there was nothing there. Those persons carried within themselves the stamp of death; they had not advanced far enough in ideal lines of thought to release the dead weight of the old.
But there were other minds into which I could look down and down the perfectly clear depths, and find no obstacle to the upward moving current of life, which has its rise in the beginning of the person's individuality. These persons never rejected a thought because it was new; they were always ready to consider it, and accept it if their reason confirmed it.
From the intellectual capacity of some, when contrasted with this quality of luminosity of others, I perceived that a portion of the race had progressed far enough to throw off the incubus of disease and death, as soon as more knowledge should be evolved on the subject, and that another portion of it had not.
More in this category:« The Effort of Jesus to Overcome Death | The Growth of Public Opinion in the Direction of the Conquest of Death »
More from Helen Wilmans
- Born in 1831 and died in 1907
- Studied under Emma Curtis Hopkins
- Was a journalist and author
- Was active in the Mental Science Movement
- Was charged with postal fraud for healing through mail. Fighting this charged caused her lose most of her fortune.