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Man Has No Fetters But Those of His Own Ignorance, and Nothing But His Own Intelligence Will Liberate Him From Them

To think in the old ruts is to remain in the old conditions.

To think expansively is to grow endlessly in the direction of freedom and happiness.

Death is not growth. It solves no problem.

Man at this time is all that his animal progenitors are, and more. The strength of muscle which they exhibited, finds its expression in him, in his brain and not in his muscle. The quality of every faculty they possessed is condensed in his brain; in ceasing to become animal, and in becoming more and more man, the attributes that expressed themselves in the body of animals express themselves with ten-fold more force in the brain of the man.

In fact, the process of growth has been a process of brain making. The awakening of life from the inertia that holds it obedient to that downward attraction, called the law of gravitation, has been one steady advancement of all things toward brain; toward the power to think; toward the freedom that thought alone can insure; toward the conquest of environment that thought alone can master.

I am not making an exaggerated statement when I say that the road of life, the road of progress, is from a belief in that inert substance we call matter, to a belief in mind.

This inert substance we call matter, and which is under the (so-called) law of gravitation, is, in point of absolute truth, all mind or brain or thought; but it is unawakened mind, and, therefore, unconscious or "dead" mind; mind whose powers are latent or unexpressed.

The steady effort of the ages has been to liberate this substance from its unconscious obedience to the law of gravitation—the law of the dead to the dead—by awakening it to a consciousness of its power to think; thus demonstrating to it that it is mind, living and active and free, subject to the Principle of Attraction only.

I cannot repeat too often the great fact that there is no dead matter; that there is no death in the universe; that what is called dead matter is unawakened mind; that every atom in the world is mind, either awakened to a sense of its own power, or holding its power in the unconsciousness of latency. It is on this mighty truth that man's salvation depends.

What we call matter is the recognition of something. Every atom of it is a magnet. A magnet is that which recognizes the Principle of Attraction within itself.' If the recognition is so feeble that it yields obedience only to that comparatively unintelligent force expressed in bulk and weight, it recognizes bulk and weight, and yields its recognition to it, and is then said to be under the law of gravitation.

But no matter what it recognizes, the fact that it recognizes anything at all proves that it is mind. 'Dead matter cannot recognize. Recognition is a faculty of mind.

The law of being, the Principle of Attraction, exists. No one knows anything about it except that it exists.

It is that unseen principle running through all things, and to whose power man can add nothing. It is unchangeable. Our recognition or comprehension of it changes constantly, but it never changes.

All nature, with man at its head, is the recognition or the comprehension of this principle. Not a perfect recognition or comprehension of it—it can never be perfectly comprehended—but a partial and constantly improving and' growing comprehension of it.

Men call this Law of Attraction God; but the word is unscientific and misleading. Substitute the word "law" for "God," in Pope's lines, and they would explain all. "The universe is one stupendous whole whose body nature is, and law the soul."

As our bodies are the perception, or the understanding, or the recognition of our spirits, so is all nature the perception, or the understanding, or the recognition of this infinite spirit—the unseen life principle which I call the Law of Attraction or the law of being.

Understanding, recognition, the power to perceive, does not belong to anything but mind; therefore, all visible things are mind; no matter how apparently dead this substance called matter may seem, the Law of Attraction is latent in it, and in the farther process of evolution it will recognize the fact, thus proving that it is mind.

And mind, no matter how crude it may be, is one form of brain, out of which the higher or governing brain proceeds; the brain which begets the intelligent will; whose mandate governs the entire body.

It may be said that nature is all brain, ranging numberless degrees from coarse to fine, from the crudest substance to the highest thought, as water ranges from solid ice to the invisible gas generated by steam.

That wonderfully volatile fluid we call electricity is, in its own way, a certain form, and a very vital form, of recognition of the Law of Attraction, and is, therefore, mind, brain, intelligence or thought.

Nature, being in all particulars the recognition of that vital principle called the Law of Attraction, it will be seen that she is all mind, whose power to grow lies in her continued power to think more intelligently than she has previously thought.

Our visible world has now thought itself up to its present position, which is a higher point of intelligence than it has ever before reached. From the fiery mass that it was in our first knowledge of it, where the Law of Attraction between the atoms seemed so feeble in its power, because so little recognized, that it appeared to be rather a law of repulsion, on up through every grade of ripening recognition of the law, with its consequent forms of greater intelligence—we have come to this, our present plane of thought.

And right here, in spite of our past record, with its unflagging development in every direction, there are thousands of our people who affirm that the world has ceased growing.

Or, rather, I may say, there are tens of thousands—nay, millions, who do not know that the whole visible world is a growth in the understanding of the law of being; who do not believe it; and who are, therefore, unprepared to accept the statement that its position in growth is still in infancy, and that its power to keep on growing is endless.

But, whether they accept it or not, it is true; and no truth even approaching the glory of this truth has ever been announced before.

The visible world grows by its acquisition of intelligence, or rather, by its development put of itself of more and more power to recognize the unfailing, the infinite possibilities of the Principle of Attraction, which is the law of being.

Thus, the potency of mind increases daily, and as it increases its environments give way, and happiness and freedom come more readily within its grasp.

The idea that the race has achieved even a minimum of the power that is in store for it is absurd.

The idea that the race must continue to wear its fetters because they are ''God-imposed'' is still more absurd.

Man has no fetters but those of his own ignorance, and nothing but intelligence will liberate him from such fetters.

You may take from him every visible environment; you may heap him with wealth; you may place him in high position; but, unless he has come into the saving knowledge which an intellectual perception of his own boundless resources yields him, he is not free. Ignorance still holds him and will pull him down to old age, feebleness and the grave.

And what but these—old age, feebleness and the grave—are our real fetters? What have we gained, though we conquer everything else, and these remain? It may be that the spirit survives the body, as Spiritualism believes it has demonstrated; but even in this case, a man's sphere of activities is removed from his workshop, the earth; and his death is a break in what should be an unbroken line of growth.

I do not believe that true, healthy growth can proceed through the tortuous weakness of old age, decrepitude and death. True intelligence, the farther recognition of the Law, which alone is growth, is not in these conditions. Nothing is in these conditions but the denial or the non-recognition of the Law; which is a slipping back from a certain condition of incarnate intelligence into a condition of ignorance, wherein the previous condition of intelligence, the incarnate condition of it, is denied or cancelled.

Even in this denial or cancellation of the previous condition, it may be that the spirit survives, and I believe that it does; but I do not believe that the person has gained by the change; indeed, I feel certain that he has lost; and, though the loss may not be irreparable, yet it is a mighty loss and ought to be avoided.

And it can be avoided.

If I did not know that the loss of the body—which is the condensed bulk of the man's beliefs—could be avoided, I would never have written so much as the first line of this book.

But I do know it.

I have frequently been asked to establish this statement by 'producing an instance in which someone had conquered death.

There was a time when there was no animal life on this planet at all; did the fact that there was none then form a true basis of belief that there would never be any?

Because the cave-dwellers had never produced a Plato, was that a valid reason for supposing there would never be one?

Those who are limited to a belief that the race is ripe, and that there will be no farther development than there has already been, are in no condition either to deny or affirm the statements I am prepared to make on this subject. They do not know that the race is a growth. They have never examined its past history; this history that began millions of years before it actually appeared in its present form; and their opinions, as weighed against the opinion of one who has learned the situation by heart, are absolutely worthless.

I have studied this matter of race growth for many years. I began to be the race's champion and defender when a child. I was scarcely out of my teens before a burning sense of disgust for the foolish and false theologies of the day took possession of me. I knew that we were not willful sinners against a higher power, but simply ignorant children feeling our way through intellectual darkness, and stumbling at every step. Without knowing it, having no positive information by which to bolster up my belief on this subject, I simply held to it because it was part of me, and I could no more get rid of it than I could get rid of my head. It became the dominant force of my existence, and the chief source of my vitality. In the midst of sickness, it kept me whole; in positions that would have been death to another, I was unscathed.

In point of fact, it was nothing more than a larger seeing, a deeper recognition of the Life Principle, than that possessed by the average person.

Having more life, I felt more life, and death seemed farther away and more indefinite to me than to others.

As I grew older, the possibility of avoiding it entirely began to take form in my intelligence. It was not that I feared death, for it never seemed sufficiently real to fear. The idea of overcoming it came to me as a part of my growth,, in which it seemed better to acquiesce consciously, so that I might thereby note every step of its progress. Naturally observant and introspective, I was curious about it; all my interest was aroused and something firmer than interest; a deep-seated determination to carry the thing through to success became a fixed factor of my mind.

It is strange how, by simply holding an idea or belief, it aggregates to itself certain mental building material, until it stands impregnable and apparently deathless. This is now the condition of my belief in the possibility of immortality in the flesh. I have not read books, I have not sought outside of myself for reasons to strengthen my position; I have held to it simply because it has held to me; and out of my own organism has been unfolded the course of reasoning by which I have demonstrated its truth to myself. I believe in it as firmly as I believe in my personal presence in this room; and the world is going to believe it before many years shall pass.

It is true that the spirit of Malthus is widespread at this stage of human development, and questions are frequent as to what will become of the earth's overflowing population if immortality in the flesh should become possible. The natural Malthusian is one who has not penetrated even to the slightest degree into the realm of the ideal, where alone immortality in the flesh can become possible. He does not know that life, when lifted from its belief in the deadness of matter, enters the thought realm, in which the supply is equal to the demand.

But this is so. As soon as a man steps up from a belief in matter as dead substance, and perceives that all is life, and that every form of life is on the wing, as it were, from lower to higher, and that there is no stagnation possible to growth—he will then know that the earth will not be overcrowded by a too rapidly accumulating population.

The old saying that "there is room at the top" applies here. The pioneers in civilization or in thought always find themselves rather lonesome than otherwise. The space outside the herds is unlimited. Especially is this true in the realm of thought; the realm of the ideal, which we are now on the verge of entering.

It is true that the world would soon become overcrowded, if people should keep producing children who would never die, unless some way should be provided for them to leave the earth.

But the entire range of creation is open to man, and there is nothing but his ignorance of his own powers and privileges that will keep him in one place.

It is true that no God will ever interfere in his behalf to lift him into more enlarged spheres of activity; but no God will ever prohibit him from lifting himself into these spheres.

Indeed, such lifting is correlated to the man's lifted and enlarged thought. As the man expands in his thought life, he will be met by more expansive conditions; and the possibility of fettering him to one point in the universe will cease. It is by thought expansion that a man's fetters fall from him.

Thought is the conqueror of everything that hampers and hinds. It cannot make even the smallest conquest over its surroundings, that it does not come at once into relation with external conditions better suited to its enlarged sense of freedom.

Indeed, it almost seems as if these freer conditions constantly pressed in on the thought of the race, as if consciously resolved to be recognized.

The croakers of the world cried out that the coal beds were becoming exhausted, and that the race was doomed in consequence. A wider range of thought was correlated by the substance of electricity, and the world came out of its nervous chill on the subject of coal.

Because balloons have proved a failure, does anyone suppose that the air will never be navigated? Even if gas and machinery fail to accomplish this thing, there is a power latent in man's organism that will do it; namely, the power of thought, to which all substances are negative.

Immortality in the flesh would be neither possible nor desirable if man were to remain the helpless and ignorant creature that he now is.

It would not be desirable because the universe can furnish no excuse for the perpetuation of ignorance. It would not be possible, because ignorance is death already; at least, it is the nearest approach to death that life renders possible.

To keep the race forever alive in its present animalized condition, would be to perpetuate ignorance; to keep it as a stagnant pool in the heart of universal progression; and this could not be. Perpetual change is the order of life. He who catches on to higher thought and holds it with a faith so firm that it crystallizes into belief, is on the upward move, where higher influences meet him, and fix his thought in tangible substance.

He who turns from his higher thought, doubting its practicability, pinches himself into constantly lowering conditions, until ho is pinched out. There is progression for the one, and, at least, a temporary retrogression for the other; but there is no standing still. Therefore, immortality in the present status of universal race thought here in this world is not possible now.

But the dawn of it is here. The beginning of that credence in the human ideal, which alone will usher it in, is here. It is here for no less a reason than because woman, with her strongly intuitional nature, has come to the front. Woman has brought the morning of a new era with her; and, as her feet obtain firmer standing in the slushy quagmire of the world's present condition of thought, the morning of her day will brighten into the full splendor of a noon, that will arrest and hold the entire interest of the millions of dying souls about us.

This much is already accomplished. The beginning of the dawn is here. Universal thought has begun to move. A ripple runs along the full length of its connected links, even though it is only the few who stand in the front that are capable of seeing the light that shines so brightly ahead.

If this movement had to be confined to our earth, as the Malthusians all must imagine, then its scope would be so small as to furnish a reason for their doubts. But, because man's growth is limitless—and by his ever increasing power of thought I know that his growth is limitless—the fact shadows forth the possibility of his leaving the earth when lie shall have learned how to do so.

More than this. In the economy of nature the time will come when generation will lose itself in regeneration.

Conditions adapt themselves to each other. When one thread is spun out, there is another thread waiting there to meet the outstretched hand of him who has resolved to go ahead. To him who is not so resolved, and who does not know his power to go on, though the thread is there, it is not there for him, because he does not see it. And so he falls, not because life was lacking, but because the individual intelligence with which he should have grasped it was wanting.

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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.
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