As this topic is somewhat unconventional, the author may be pardoned for a few preliminaries that are somewhat personal and explanatory. He has no professional interest along this line, his position being that of an independent investigator and seeker for truth. He does not appear as the advocate of any school, system, or cult, but only as one who, from force of circumstances, has been led to some appreciation of great principles, a knowledge of which the world greatly needs.
A personal experience, some years since, of unusual depth and intensity, involving an application of the new philosophy, was the starting-point of a most thorough, impartial, and conservative investigation which has followed. An intense philosophical desire to probe as deeply as possible, without fear or favor, was awakened. With such a vivid subjective attestation of the power of a law not yet generally recognized, no one possessing any altruistic spirit could quietly settle down to silence, simply because his own immediate personal needs had been satisfied.
The writer has cultivated conservatism, and even incredulity, in forming conclusions regarding the new thought, which are made up from a careful study of its best literature, philosophy, and practical demonstrations. The fact that he has felt impelled to write somewhat upon this much misunderstood subject, as one of its results, has brought an extensive correspondence, in which are included accounts of a great number of personal experiences; and this has aided much in forming conclusions.
The average man would like to get at the plain, unvarnished facts. He desires to find the truth, both for its own sake, and for its possible uses. If there is even a modicum of virtue in the systematic employment of thought energy, either in behalf of another, or in self-application, for the healing of human woes and ills, the world seriously needs such a re-enforcement, and every lover of his kind would welcome it. If, on the other hand, it has no exact basis, its hollowness should be exposed.
An honest and impartial search for truth for its intrinsic value, in any department, is rarely unprofitable. Many of the scientific treasures that have been unearthed in the past, which have greatly enriched human accomplishment, have been found in unexpected, and even familiar places, where multitudes had almost stumbled over them. This has been true in physical, as well as in social, political, and ethical science. When new truth—new only to human appreciation—has been finally interpreted and introduced, everyone wonders that a thing so obviously simple was so long delayed. The apparent slowness, therefore, is not on account of any complexity, but because of general unreadiness.
But truth is, and ever will be, restless until recognized. Each special truth is needed to fill a fitting niche in the greater Unit, and there is discrepancy and incompleteness until it finds its place. When Kepler discovered the law which regulates and adjusts planetary revolution, it was found to be the keystone of an arch of indefinite strength and extent.
Have we in mental therapeutics a great principle, capable of wide application, that is so near that we have looked right through and beyond it? Are there orderly forces in the realm of mind, the utilization of which is more important to mankind than those recently harnessed in the electrical domain?
Admitting that some charlatanism, extravagance, and a spice of disorderly logic have swathed themselves around this new development, it is clearly in the line of legitimate philosophical inquiry, as well as humanitarianism, to find, through impartial research, if it have laws which are of exact definition. We have yet hardly arrived at the threshold of an intelligent understanding of the principles of mental dynamics. We are ever ready to study political, social, moral, and other objective economies exhaustively, but strangely omit that one which is nearest and most vital.
At the present moment, mental, or psycho-therapeutics is almost past that stage of flippant criticism, misapprehension, and prejudice through which all new advances have to make their way. This testing, through adverse criticism, and even ridicule, is not altogether to be deplored, nor is it without real use. It renders a needed service in sweeping off extravagances which always attach themselves to new developments. Only by such a fusing can that which is real be purified of its dross. The residuum of truth has inherent vitality. Fires cannot burn it, nor waters quench its living energy. The struggle through which it passes is educational, both to its assailants and defenders.
Theological, social, economic, and ethical systems become gradually softened towards innovators, and finally coalesce, or at least make terms with them; and the therapeutic and materialistic dogmatisms of the past, which have come down to us, will form no exception to the rule. But nothing is bad. One of the most suggestive lessons of synthetic evolution is, that everything has a use in its place and time. Each system forms a terrace or platform from which men may reach higher.
In every discussion accurate definitions are very important. The broader science of mental and physical healing, through the potencies of mind, is not distinctively Christian Science, or Faith Healing, nor is it merely another therapeutic system added to the various "pathies" now extant. The term Christian Science, though often used in a general sense, properly belongs to, and should be identified only with a single school which takes for its exclusive text-book a work entitled " Science and Health," by Mrs. Mary B. G. Eddy, and the Bible as interpreted through it. This statement is made in an impartial spirit, as a matter of definition, and of simple justice to all concerned. The distinctive philosophy known as Faith Cure is also quite different from the normal and broader principles that are in accord with law. Faith Cure, proper, presumes upon special divine interposition in answer to prayer. This must involve a suspension or violation of orderly law. As a matter of fact, owing to the working of subtle mental forces, many remarkable cures take place under its administration, only the modus operandi being misunderstood. The third radical distinction, as hinted at above, is, that this new philosophy of life—which in its essence is broad, free, and impersonal—is vastly more than merely a new therapeutic competitor, which will strive for a place among existing systems. Its province is quite distinct, and its healing efficacy is only incidental and expressive. Its motive is compliance with orderly law, and it contains no elements which are magical or supernatural. While believing that there are many objective aids to the interpretation of truth, it recognizes no external authority as located in person or textbook. It is a development from within rather than a system; a life rather than a doctrine; a new consciousness rather than a new philosophy; a spiritual optimism rather than a material or pessimistic realism. Its business is to bring inner ideals into outward actualized expression. It has to do with the intuition as well as the intellect, and it recognizes that the inner and real nature of man is in most intimate relation with the Universal Mind and Wholeness. By sympathetic vibration therewith it may, through consciousness, receive inspiration and strength.
Through various subjective colorings, different minds observe in expressive phenomena, occult or miraculous aspects; but when the Established Order is recognized in its higher ranges, there is nothing which is supernormal, supernatural, or super-reasonable. These shadings are entirely due to the low standpoint of the observer.
Following these partial preliminary definitions, a few of the obstacles and current objections may be noted. Truth is eternally complete, but to human consciousness it is incomplete. But every new development only comes into its abiding-place through friction and misapprehension. What there is already occupies all the space, and the newcomer seems to be an intruder. There is "no room in the inn."
The full recognition of mental causation for all outward phenomena will necessitate a re-examination of systems which are dignified by hoary antiquity and eminent respectability. Institutions that have exercised unquestioned authority, that are entrenched behind barriers of intellectual scholasticism, and that possess social and financial supremacy, instinctively feel that their infallibility is called in question. Piles of ponderous, dusty tomes thereby become mere relics of bygone speculation.
But mental causation for physical conditions is in substantial harmony with the highest and best thought of the seers and philosophers, from Plato down to the present time.
Popular prejudice against mental or psycho-therapeutics arises largely from an inability to cognize the factors involved. Prevailing materialism makes it logical to rely upon that which appeals to the senses. A majority are colorblind to the highest order of forces, and forget that even in the external world it is not matter, but the immaterial energy which moulds it, that produces all phenomena. Occidental civilization in its general trend is distinctly external, almost superficial.
Popular misapprehension also arises from the mystical, technical, or dogmatic presentation of principles which, though inherently simple, are made to appear unreasonable, and sometimes fanatical. Although there is truth above reason, as ordinarily" defined, there is none against reason. There is spiritual as well as intellectual commonsense. Extreme statements, even if ideally true, should not be popularly presented in unqualified" form, for they lead to unnecessary antagonism.
Sensational and exaggerated accounts of occasional failures in the new practice are spread broadcast by the daily press, while it is rare that any allusion is made to the numerous cures of those who had previously exhausted the "regular" systems. While thousands of young and robust people die under conventional treatment every week, after short illnesses, no question is raised nor criticism made. If in the beaten track, everything is taken for granted. Everyone has the right to "pass out," if he will only do so according to regulation.
But failures do occur in mental practice. No matter how perfect a principle may be, it cannot have perfect application because of local limitations. The imperfection of the practitioner, and the lack of receptivity in the patient—to say nothing of surrounding antagonistic thought—are limitations.
Many expect sudden and magical improvement, and therefore, being disappointed, abandon the treatment before a sufficient period has elapsed for the legitimate results to appear. Some are unconsciously non-receptive because of a mental resolution that nothing shall in the least disturb their favorite creed, opinion, or philosophy. In this way their door is unwittingly barred against their own improvement. Some are harboring secret sin, or giving place to currents of thought colored with selfishness, envy, sensuality, jealousy, or avarice; and, though unaware of the difficulty, their minds are closed against the truth which could set them free. That which is distorted cannot in a moment become symmetrical, and even after thorough thought reconstruction the body cannot at once fully conform and change its expression. Limitations can be overcome, but patient effort is required. It is easy to float with the tide, but to break away from environment demands courage and persistence. The all-enveloping thought currents are powerful. Even the Great Exemplar in some places "could not do many mighty works" because of prevailing unbelief.
A prevalent distrust of mental practitioners on account of a lack of conventional study, especially in pathology, is quite natural. But sometimes "weak things "confound those which are mighty. A study of pathology is a pursuit of abnormity. If mind be the field of operation, it is evident that it must be kept pure, clean, and entirely free from disorderly and diseased pictures. Thoughts, ideals, and suggestions must all be of health, perfection, and harmony. It is therefore plain that, from the standpoint of mental causation, pathological research would not only be useless, but perhaps harmful. The uniform and only diagnosis of the mental healer must be health, Health, HEALTH, really, potentially, and inwardly, even though not yet outwardly actualized. He may divine the particular location of the lack of wholeness, but all the more he sees and emphasizes the potential and inner perfection of that special part or organ. The patient at length comes into at-one-ment. Thoughts are outlines to be filled in; and they must be drawn upon the lines of the pure, the true, and the beautiful.
There is also some prejudice because a majority of the exponents of mental science belong to the so-called "weaker sex." Generally men are more intellectual, though less intuitive, than women, and they are also much more strongly bound in scholastic and traditional grooves and systems. This is distinctively the woman's age; and what is more natural than that the rosy dawn of new esoteric truth should be soonest recognized by her more sensitive spiritual vision?
If mental and physical deviation from the normal were steadily diminishing under conventional applications, there would be little reason for a search for anything better. On the contrary, we find that disorders are steadily growing more subtle and complex. Specialists grow more numerous, and each finds just what he looks for. Physicians are increasing in number in much greater proportion than the population, and diseases and remedies multiply. The more human abnormity is held up and analyzed, the more its various phases and complications manifest themselves. As our civilization recedes from Nature, and artificialism in all directions grows more pronounced, we become hyper-sensitive to discord and morbidity. Insanity, insomnia, and nervous degeneration are increasingly prevalent; and even the physical senses, more than ever before, require artificial aids and props. We are depending upon the Without rather than the Within.
Why expect new advances in electricity and the physical sciences, and at the same time, in a far more important realm, look for nothing better than the universal discord and disorder of the past?
While dealing with obstacles and objections, we may note an inquiry which is often made, which is, If spiritual development tends towards physical harmony, why do we often see those of beautiful and lovable character in conditions of chronic invalidism? Often because of a false theology, which teaches them that God sends trouble, and that it is their duty to accept and bear it. Again, because of a belief that suffering and disease are normal, therefore irremediable. One may be a model in character and conduct, and still entirely fail to mentally assert a rightful rule over his physical organism. "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he." We often unwittingly create our own limitations, and then with the best of intentions actually consecrate them.
Another assumption is often made that there is a correspondence between food and drugs. Not so. One is normal, the other abnormal; one contains nourishment, the other does not; one furnishes natural material for the life-forces to grasp and build up, the other proposes to alter and correct the life-forces themselves. Can they ever be wrong? They are the divine energy in humanity, and never need correction. This vital force, being immutably accurate, only requires that we remove obstructions and come into at-one-ment with it, in order that it may have free course. No drug by mysterious magic can remove penalty. Food meets a normal demand, not to add more life, but to furnish material for life's outward expression.
Still another question is sometimes put forth, and is often regarded as a poser: What about broken bones? Simply, one should get the best surgeon that is available. Surgery is an exact science, in which there has been great advances in the recent past. The surgeon is a mechanical expert who with skill adjusts the parts, and then the divine recuperative forces vitalize the work. Without these forces all the surgeons in the world could not heal the smallest cut. But, as will be shown later, these forces can be greatly augmented. Aside from accidents, however, there are many "operations" undertaken which in reality are unwise, unnecessary, and hazardous.
We may anticipate one other question that is often asked, which is, In the event of acute and very serious illness, would you rely upon mental forces alone? Under present conditions, no. In desperate cases, where there has been no previous higher mental growth or development, a little time may be necessary. But seeming limitation is entirely local, and does not inhere in the principle itself. Without admitting any healing potency, per se, in the drug, general belief and acceptance have clothed it with some power, both in the conscious and sub-conscious mind. Even a bread-pill, through personal belief, may prove a powerful cathartic; but nothing less than general belief would insure uniform results. Confidence in the remedy and the physician, and the psychological influence of the latter, with surrounding beliefs and acceptances in the thought atmosphere, all together form an important element. It is often admitted that the prescriptions of a practitioner for whom the patient has an aversion, or even a lack of confidence, have little or no power for good. Until there is a more general growth of reliance upon super-sensuous forces, their field will mainly be among those ills which are not immediately of a very decisive nature. This is expedient, not from any fault of the law, but from prevailing materialism, unintelligent criticism, and unjust intolerance. But acute disorder can be approached from both sides; and there is no incongruity in extreme cases in the employment of both material and mental aid, until public opinion has become softened and educated. But absolute prevention, rather than any kind of cure, is the ideal for the future. When men generally learn to make a scientific application of the divine energies that are stored up within—through the creative power of thought—the mental healer will be as thoroughly superfluous as the dispenser of drugs. Having touched upon definitions, obstacles, and objections, we may now come to basic principles.
If primary causes for mental and physical ills are resident in the clay of the body, there is no warrant whatever for healing through mind. If, on the other hand, causative forces are located in the mental realm, there is no logical basis, per se, for anything else.
We are in bondage to the seen, and constantly speak of mere occasions as causes. We conventionally say that the draft caused the cold, the contagion or malaria the fever, or the unfriendly microbe the disease. These are occasions, but not causes. The latter, in every case, is in the subjective condition—sometimes called susceptibility. Occasions are always without; causes within. This is proved by unlike results in different individuals. Ten persons sit in the same draft, are exposed to the same contagion or malaria, or swallow the same microbes. Some will suffer, and perhaps die, while the others go scot-free. This shows that occasions are only opportunities. Owing to general low development, opportunities must often be avoided, but they never become causes. All visible phenomena are symptoms and effects. They have something back of them. To hold bullets and shells responsible for the carnage of a battle, rather than passion and antagonism, is a fair illustration. Before citing specific proofs of mental causation, let us briefly consider the nature of man.
What is he? that is, what is the ego? Is he a bundle of living matter, having a diluted something called soul? or is he soul having material expression? Although he has a theological opinion that he has a soul, he practically feels that he is now body. But he is as much soul as he ever will be. He mistakes, in his consciousness, his own identity, and therefore supposes that he is material in his being. This low standpoint surrounds him with self-made limitations, and fills him with a constant soul-hunger. Materialism is his radical mistake.
No man has ever seen his friend or himself. If soul were only a property of bodily organization, there would be no warrant for existence after the laying aside of the form. There is but one real world for any one, and that is his thought world. This should be intelligently constructed. The king dom of heaven is within, and should be erected upon an exact or scientific basis. Thinking creates its own distinctive environment.
Whether the man or the body be enthroned in the mental realm makes a radical difference. One must rule and the other serve. If the instrument dominate the owner, there is disaster. Inversion is disorderly and destructive. With the man in full command, the body is a graceful complement. If otherwise, it is a tyrant. In the proportion that a spiritual self-consciousness is cultivated, there is a growing sense of command of the visible instrument.
As man truly recognizes himself, assumes the prerogatives of his divine being, and knows that he is a spiritual dynamo, here and now, he wields new forces, and grasps supernal powers and privileges. He comes into at-one-ment with the divine creative principle, and, from a condition of vassalage, finds himself a prince of the realm.
By virtue of his subjective transformation, he establishes new relations with the external domain, and then laws and conditions pay him tribute instead of exacting it. He becomes a spiritual alchemist, and through the alembic of the divinity awakened within him is able to transmute the seeming "common and unclean" into the pure, the ideal, and the God-like. He divines the beneficence of the cosmical economy, and adjusts himself to it. Enlisting all law in his behalf, through an understanding of, and compliance with, its methods, he uses it as though it were his own. He thus reinforces himself with supernal and cosmic energy by conforming to divine plans and specifications.
The visible form is the stereotype plate, cast from the fused, immaterial composition of past mental states. Matter, whether erected into vegetal, animal, or human configurations, is molded and qualified by the soul-forging which goes on within. It is plastic material, having no character of its own; for the identical dust is used over and over again to outwardly express different planes and qualities of life. It is picked up by mind or life, and gradually shaped to perfect conformity.
Material science and materia medico, deal with forms, symptoms, and results. Materialistic evolution does the same. True evolution is entirely in ascending qualities of mind, and these suitably clothe and express themselves visibly. The fleshly form is only the painted canvas of the artist within, who is always busy in translating subjective unseen energy into visible articulation. Owing to the apparent slowness and wonderful complexity of the process, we fail to note the delicate and perfectly adjusted correspondence.
We may now note some illustrations of the power of concentrated thought or suggestion upon bodily conditions. Mental causation is abundantly proved by the well-known effects of fear, anger, envy, anxiety, and the other passions and emotions upon the physical organism. Acute fear will paralyze the nerve-centers, and sometimes turn the hair white in a single night. A mother's milk can be poisoned by a fit of anger. An eminent writer, Dr. Tuke, enumerates as among the direct products of fear—insanity, idiocy, paralysis of various muscles and organs, profuse perspiration, cholerina, jaundice, sudden decay of teeth, fatal anemia, skin diseases, erysipelas, and eczema. Passion, sinful thought, avarice, envy, jealousy, selfishness, all press for external bodily expression. Even false philosophies and limited and untrue concepts of the Deity make their unwholesome influence felt in every bodily tissue. By infallible law mental states are mirrored upon the body; but because the process is gradual and complex, we fail to observe the connection. Mind translates itself into flesh and blood.
What must be the physical result upon humanity of thousands of years of chronic fearing, sinning, selfishness, anxiety, and unnumbered other morbid conditions? These are all the time pulling down the cells and tissues which only divine, harmonious thought can build up. Is it surprising that no one is perfectly healthy? Because of its being common, abnormity is rated as normal, or "natural."
The helpful or depressing influence of mind is present in every function—throbbing in the heart, breathing in the lungs, and weaving its own quality into nutrition, assimilation, sensation, and motion.
It may be objected that children are not responsible thinkers. But they are little sensitive mirrors, in which surrounding thoughts and conditions are reflected and duplicated.
A conscious fear of any specific disease is not necessary to induce it. The trickling rill of conscious thinking has rendered turbid the whole sub-conscious reservoir. The accumulated strands of the unconscious fear of generations have been twisted into the warp and woof of our mentality, and we are on the plane of reciprocity with disease, regardless of the particular form in which it appears. Our door is open to receive it. What is it? A mental specter. A kingly tyrant crowned by our own sensuous beliefs. It has exactly the power that we have conferred upon it. We have galvanized it into life. As a negative condition it is existent, but not as a God-created entity.
Perhaps there are no more significant examples of the power of suggestion in history than those experiences known as stigmatization. Like everything else not superficially evident, it has been rated as "supernatural." The term, as most persons are aware, refers to marks, tattoos, or scars branded upon the body, corresponding to the wounds believed to have been inflicted upon Jesus at the Crucifixion. The graphic realism of art, as employed in the Roman Church, produced vivid mental pictures of the Passion. A crucifix held before the eyes, adored, kissed, and concentrated upon by sensitive and highly wrought natures tended powerfully towards physical out-picturing as a natural result. Such manifestations were denominated miracles.
The first historic example which is beyond a doubt, is that of St. Francis of Assisi (Sept. 15, 1224). While intensely meditating upon the tragedy of Calvary in his cell on Mount Alverno, wounds appeared upon his body. There were five deep scars, those upon the hands and feet having the appearance of nails thrust through, and a severe one in the side which occasionally bled. These facts are attested by his reliable biographers, Thomas of Celano and Bonaventura, and also by Pope Alexander IV., who, with many other witnesses, declare that they had seen them both before and after his death. A similar phenomenon occurred in the next century in the case of St. Catherine of Siena, a sister of the order of St. Dominic. It seems probable that St. Paul's declaration, "I bear in my body the stigmata of Jesus," has the same significance; but of this there is no collateral evidence. Beginning with St. Francis, and coming down to the present time, there are about ninety well-authenticated cases of stigmatization on record, of which eighteen were males, and seventy-two were females. Generally the order of infliction was the same as that recorded of the Crucifixion, the first token being a bloody sweat, followed by scars of the thorny crown, then the hand and foot wounds, that of the side being last.
The stigmatization of the nun Veronica Giuliana (1696) was remarkable. She drew upon a paper an outline of the images which she said had been engraved upon her heart. After her death (1727) a post mortem made by Professor Gentile and Dr. Bordega revealed in deep outlines the cross, scourge, etc., upon the right side of that organ. Other cases are also recorded of heart-marking when no scars appeared upon the surface. In still others, very severe pains were locally experienced without any marks.
A young woman in Saxony (1820) was subject to stigmatic trance. She appeared as if dead on Good Friday, and revived on Easter Sunday.
The stigmata have appeared sometimes in colored circles of various hues, often of blackish gray, and sometimes in rose-colored patches. In many cases the scars, and even the bleeding, would occur on Good Friday, and disappear on the following Easter Sunday. Details might be multiplied. Instances occurring in recent times, minutely recorded, and well known in medical annals, have merely been classed as remarkable or abnormal by conventional science, and thus dismissed. Intelligently to turn such herculean mental forces in the opposite and beneficent direction seems not to have been thought of, because the law of operation was not grasped. Everything strange was thought to be "supernatural," and that was a finality. Stigmatic pains and wounds were superstitiously regarded as special tokens of divine favor. But we now know that to gaze absorbedly upon the placid, beneficent portraiture of the Christ, as represented by some of the modern artistic ideals, would be beautifying and uplifting in the highest degree.
Outcroppings of so-called "miraculous healing" have appeared all through the ages, and still continue at various shrines, and from contact with sacred relics. A notable instance is found in the Bambino (image of the infant Jesus), which is contained in the Church St. Marie in Araceli, Rome. This little bejeweled image is conveyed to the houses of wealthy Roman citizens in cases of dangerous illness, with remarkable results. Numerous cures at Lourdes and Traves, France, are well known and admitted by all who have made any careful investigation. The facts are undoubted, but the philosophy of the process has been mystified and misunderstood.
The possible intensity of mental energy is shown in many of the phenomena of hypnotic suggestion. Red or blistered letters or designs are marked upon the arm of a subject, following the simple tracing of a pencil, or even the finger, under the supposition that it is a hot iron.
The principle of mental causation is widely recognized in an endless variety of phases among barbarous and half-civilized races. Aboriginal tribes are near to nature, and keen in locating causes. Thus, charms, incantations, dances, images, and ceremonies have a wonderful influence for healing. They divert the mind, stimulate the faith, and awaken recuperative forces to action. If baseless superstition can be so efficacious, what is not possible by a judicious use of thought reformation?
But as if to heap up evidence, "Ossa on Pelion," come the latest developments of physical science in confirmation. Recent experiments in the laboratories of psycho-physicists—notably those of Prof. Elmer Gates, formerly of the Smithsonian Institute—chemically demonstrate mental causation. In a recent interview he says:—
"Bad and unpleasant feelings create harmful chemical products in the body which are physically injurious. Good, pleasant, benevolent, and cheerful feelings create beneficial chemical products which are physically healthful. These products may be detected by chemical analysis in the perspiration and secretions of the individual. More than forty of the good, and as many of the bad, have been detected. Suppose half a dozen men in a room. One feels depressed, another remorseful, another ill-tempered, another jealous, another cheerful, another benevolent. Samples of their perspiration are placed in the hands of the psycho-physicist. Under his examination they reveal all these emotional conditions distinctly and unmistakably."
Someone may inquire, What about the observance of hygienic law? Man fails to study the laws of his own being, and gives all his attention to external conditions. He critically analyzes everything in the whole cosmos, except the one thing most important—his own constitution. From the material standpoint, environment seems discouraging, and even hopeless. So soon as one hostile element is vanquished, another, yet more subtle, is found concealed in ambush behind it.
Bacteriology has let loose an infinite host of insidious enemies which threaten us at every vulnerable point. Even nature is interpreted as adverse, and the very elements are thought to be in hostile combination against poor humanity. Human pride flatters itself that the causes of its ills are outside. It would avoid responsibility. Under the influence of an effeminate artificialism, which is really abnormal, we unwittingly link deadly qualities to air, water, climate, fog, heat, cold, cloud, rain, or sunshine, when by concordant vibration on our part they would be friendly and normal. There is no mistake in the cosmic plan. Hygiene builds a great dam to stay the current of threatening evils; but in vain, for it rises and soon flows over. It is built higher, and the leaks patched; but it yields, for its foundation is upon the quicksand.
But it will be urged that hygienic observance is rational, and that experience indorses and enforces compliance with it. Must we not destroy adverse bacteria, and maintain barriers against contagions and epidemics? It is freely admitted that for the present we must observe many of the limitations to which we, and those before us, have yielded allegiance, or as a community suffer the penalties. But the ideal to develop is that of an inner and spiritual armor, as scientific as it is spiritual, that will become an impenetrable shield. The creative forces of thought must be brought under intelligent control, until emancipation from the distortions of sense-perception is accomplished.
Let us now briefly touch upon the practical application of the healing-power of one mind as exerted upon another. The fact that thought vibrations can be projected, and strike unisons in another mind, has been scientifically demonstrated, and few will deny it. Certain persons of highly trained and concentrative power can gradually induce a new quality of consciousness in the receptive mentality of others. A degree of passivity and harmony of purpose in the recipient is necessary. Soon the invalid begins to think differently of himself. The better thought seems to be entirely his own; but in reality he has been assisted. There is no hypnotic imposition, but only the calm, concentrated working of two minds for one result. A re-enforcement, or thought ministration, is sent to where it is most needed. The healer has no power in his own personality; but his projected ideal, for which he is only a kind of channel, is the working force. With a clear and clean mind of his own, he looks through and beyond the adverse external appearances of the other, striving to awaken a perfect ideal that may at length be brought into expression. He penetrates to where influences are radiated outwards. Gradually, visible sequence and manifestation fall into line.
The patient is like a discordant instrument which needs tuning. A successful healer must be an overflowing fountain of love and good-will. He makes ideal conditions present. The patient's mental background is like a sensitive plate, upon which will gradually appear outlines of health and harmony as positively presented.
This is no mere narrow professionalism. All can exert healing influence in some degree. Everyone should project thought-ministrations of wholesome and perfect ideals into other minds. We are thinking, not for ourselves, but for the world. Thoughts are positive forces. Even their unconscious vibrations go out in never-ending waves; but when consciously projected with an aim, their impact upon the resonant strings of other minds stirs them to action. Every ego is a creative center. Not that he forms anew, but brings something of the Universal into manifestation. Thought energy, so cheaply valued and so aimlessly squandered, can be made infinitely more valuable than material treasures. We make ideals our own by holding them; and this both actualizes them and gives them to others. Material ownership has but one objective, but a single ideal can be held by thousands. Every owner, instead of consuming it, only makes it richer, and passes it along.
But turning from the influence of one mind upon another, let us briefly consider self-development. Beginning on the lowest plane, what can one do for one's own physical ailments? Granted, as already shown, the wonderful potency of mental pictures, the amazing importance of intelligent and ideal thinking is at once evident. If thought energy be so great and vital, the most important question for each one is, How can I control and direct it? In every mind there are more or less indefinable fears, specters, imaginings, forebodings, and morbid depressions which we would fain dismiss, but find it impossible. They are the "skeletons in our closets," of whose existence even our most intimate friends are unaware. And now comes the startling knowledge that these mental tenants, besides being generally disagreeable, are actually engaged in pulling down the physical organism. How shall we be rid of them? They cannot be forced out by mere wishing, any more than darkness can be driven from a room. But as light will dissipate darkness, so truth and ideals will displace error. But even in these seeming evils there is a beneficent purpose, when rightly interpreted. They come to goad the consciousness, and make it uncomfortable in the dark, damp basement of its nature, in order that it may be induced to mount to the upper and sunny apartments.
It is the office of pain to disengage the tendrils of our being from negative and material conditions, otherwise we might always remain, and finally become, reconciled to sin and abnormity. The established order wisely provides penalty for arrested development; and when understood it is educational. Conformity to law is the antidote. Thought must be trained and ideals held until they become embodied and expressed. An ideal is a present possession, and by immutable law it seeks to out-picture and actualize itself visibly. Let us illustrate in a simple and practical manner.
Suppose that physical sensation says to one, "You are ill," or "You are very weak." Acquiescence on his part, and that of his friends, is a surrender to the body, a positive servitude. He is no less a vassal because the condition is so common. He should rather turn the thought energy most intensely in the opposite direction. Let him reply mentally, with firm emphasis, "I" (the real ego) "am well." "I am strong." "I am whole." "I am soul." "I rule the body." "I vibrate in unison with the Universal Strength, and open my whole nature to it." Let him repeat and affirm these and similar ideals, even if at first mechanically, and they will gradually change his consciousness concerning himself. He thus triumphs over animal sensation, and assumes the rule of his own rightful kingdom. The principle has endless forms of application which will suggest themselves. Can one do this thoroughly and successfully the first time? Assuredly not. As well ask if a child who is just learning the alphabet can read a poem. All development is a growth. The affirming of ideals should, therefore, begin months before the time of their seeming necessity.
One's ideals are his most intimate companions. They impress their quality upon him far more deeply than do personal friends. Shall they be health, harmony, happiness, love, purity, and strength; or disorder, inharmony, malice, fear, sensuality, and weakness? Choose ye, and they will install themselves in the consciousness. We adopt them, and they mould us.
As a rule, we mentally dwell upon the plane of physical sensation. But such a slavery can be gradually overcome if we will heed the law and firmly hold the ideal.
The great reservoir of sub-conscious mind automatically impresses its quality upon the physical organism. But its contents can be gradually changed by the introduction of the little rill of conscious thought of a different kind.
Let us briefly outline a system which, if persistently followed, will repay one an hundred-fold. Take some available hour each day, and quietly and restfully be alone in the silence. Bar out all current events, anxieties, and sensations, and retire to the inmost sanctuary of soul. Bring in the highest ideals that one wishes embodied, and sit face to face with them. They will increasingly become one's condition, and discords will be displaced. Any wakeful hour at night will also serve an excellent purpose. Besides its restorative potency, it will grow to be a veritable mental and spiritual banquet—the most delightful of all the experiences of life. This is idealism, practically and scientifically applied.
Besides the ideals before suggested, there are some that are greater and more purely spiritual in character, which virtually include all other good things that are below them in grade. We venture to hint at a few: I am one with the Eternal Goodness. I am filled with the Universal Spirit. "In Him we live and move and have our being." I project thought vibrations of love to God and all humanity. All is good. I recognize the divine in me as my real ego. I deny the bondage of matter; I am spirit. I rule. I am pure, strong, well—potentially whole. "All things are yours."
Through concentration these healing and uplifting truths are engraven upon the consciousness in a vastly deeper degree than by mere ordinary surface thinking. The individual not only thinks them, but gives himself to them.
The contemplation of pure and elevating works of art, especially a placid and spiritual type of portraiture, is also very helpful as a prolonged suggestive exercise. In the same way visible mottoes, graphic and positively ideal in character, are excellent to dwell upon. Through the medium of the eye, by exposure, their truth becomes photographed upon the deep living consciousness. We become or grow like what we mentally live with. Shall we choose beauty and wholeness, or deformity and disease? We do not desire suffering and stigmata, but the true, living, joyful, Christly perfection. The results of a six months' trial of pure scientific mental gymnastics will be both a surprise and a delight. It will greatly enrich life, and increase the power of accomplishment upon every plane. It will be a veritable revelation to victims of insomnia, dyspepsia, nervous prostration, and pessimistic depression, not to mention numerous other mental and physical infelicities. It is an accessible realm to rich and poor. It costs only earnest effort.
Let us now note a few of the more distinctive religious aspects of this higher philosophy of life. Historically, it is easy to see that it is in accord with revelation, and with the purest ideals of all religions. While rebuking scholastic and dogmatic systems on the one hand, and pseudo-scientific materialism on the other, it vitalizes and makes practical the principles of the Sermon on the Mount. The healing of today is the same in kind, though probably not equal in degree, to that of tin primitive church. Jesus plainly recognized it as an act within, or a changed consciousness. His definite and repeated explanation was: "Thy faith hath made thee whole." In a pre-eminent degree he could touch the key of that faith, but it did the work. Healing is in accord with spiritual law, which is ever uniformly the same under like conditions. As outward and practical attestation, it ought never to have dropped out of the church. The divine commission to preach the gospel and heal the sick includes two different sides of one whole. By what authority is one declared binding through the ages, and the other ignored? Who will assert that God is capricious, so that a boon for one era should be withdrawn from another? "These signs shall follow them that believe." Are such limited to time, race, or location? As ecclesiasticism and materialism crept into the early church, and it became allied with the state, notably in the time of Constantine, and personal ambitions and worldly policies sapped its vitality, spiritual transparency and brotherly love faded out, and with them went the power, or rather the recognition of the power, to heal.
A normal concept of God as Omnipresent Good strongly aids in producing the expression of health. Seeming ills are not God-created entities, but human perversions and reflected images of subjective states.
Both science and dogmatic theology, not yet recognizing the universal beneficence of law, infer that negative or so-called evil tendencies in man may keep on growing indefinitely. Materialism logically leads to pessimism. But the evolutionary trend is forward. As a disciplinary and educational process, evil, which may be defined as distorted thinking, does continue for a while; but it meets with an ever-increasing friction which the divine beneficence has fixed in the established order. Subjective distortions will at length accomplish their educational purpose. One of the great healing forces is the deep intuitive perception that there is no evil—which includes everything that is called bad—as a universal objective principle, but that it is only a name for views through subjective lenses that are colored and abnormal. It is therefore obvious that the highest ideals are normal and true, and that everything less is in a deep sense untrue.
There is a spiritual, as well as a sensuous, chemistry. The most accurate proportion of material substances must be blended to produce a given compound; so a soul-structure, to be symmetrical, must be as carefully composed. Prophets and poets are becoming expert spiritual chemists; and the true elements of the kingdom of heaven—which is subjective harmony—are being scientifically recognized. Just those constituents that are able to satisfy the universal soul-hunger of humanity will be judiciously sought out, and their combination intelligently provided for.
Scientific idealism is the expert alchemist, whose invaluable services are at the command of every earnest soul. Man is a secondary creator, and a boundless quantity of unmanifested good encompasses him on every side. There is a profusion of health, strength, beauty, opulence, harmony, and courage heaped up about him waiting for appropriation. The higher consciousness is the channel through which they may be embodied. Through positive formative thought we gain the title-deeds to invaluable possessions. With the wand of affirmation we project them into expression and actuality. Vitality is pressing in upon us on every side in the attempt to break through our false limitations. There is no loss and no decay, and every perfection stands patiently waiting for our nod of recognition.
The physicist has ever been searching for the great secret of matter, but it ever eludes pursuit. No scalpel will ever penetrate deeply enough to touch it, nor microscope be powerful enough to bring it into the field of vision. O sensuous man! why continue your quest for the "living among the dead "? Why expect to measure the great overflowing universal vitality with your puny balances and chemical tests? And why expect, through material panaceas, to add to the fullness of that Life which is already universal and omnipresent? Through the magic of your own subjective beliefs and imaginings, sensuous agencies may seem to temporarily serve you, but they can add no new vitality, for they have none. But life is all around us, ready to flow into the manifestation of the sons of God. Truth is everywhere waiting to spring forth into expressive embodiment. Paul was not merely a religionist, but a scientific idealist, when he declared, "All things are yours." As man comes into an intelligent understanding of his equipment of creative power, he will grasp the scepter of his super sensuous sonship and kingship. So far as he has been faithful over a few things, he will become ruler over many. By faith he will be able to remove mountains of doubt and fear, and cast them into the sea of oblivion. Through a knowledge of being, he will subdue kingdoms and work righteousness.
*Substance of a paper read by invitation before the clergymen's "Monday Club" (Unitarian Ministers of Boston and vicinity) at the Channing Building, Boston, Julie 3, 1895.