In the dislodgment and defeat of a strong foe, through military strategy, the most decisive results are often gained through a movement known as outflanking. Whether the antagonist be real or seeming, material or mental, the front he presents is always formidable. There his entrenchments are the strongest and in that direction his heaviest guns are mounted and trained. But often, by a flank movement, a weak side is disclosed, and complete capture and defeat are made possible with a comparatively small expenditure. Taking the principle as outlined, let us attempt to lift it, no less concretely, into the esoteric and spiritual realm. But preliminary to tracing its relative parallelism, we may note an extreme position that perhaps is too prevalent among exponents of the New Thought. In our emphasized loyalty to the basic principle of mental causation for personal physical expression, which, per se, cannot be questioned, we possibly have overlooked the important, even if subordinate, suggestive influence of bodily correspondence and sensation. Some advise that sensory messages and experiences be ignored; but may it not be wiser to study their laws, and through their teaching to exercise guidance and control? The reflex influence of physical suggestion upon the mind and consciousness must be taken into account, and any philosophy that entirely ignores this factor is deficient.
Suppose that the sensory nerves report to the ego: "You have a headache." From the metaphysical standpoint it is regarded as regular, ideally to deny the same, and so by direct mental effort to dominate the intruder and cast it out. But perhaps that cannot be done at once, and the reflex impression of the physical experience lingers, and through suggestion persistently lends to the mind its own quality. The pain gives its testimony for a purpose; in other words, the body with its lessons forms an important part of our normal educational training on this plane of expression. The physical organism is the testing-ground and gymnasium for soul development. There has been an inclination among some of the disciples of the New Thought to become imbued with the extravagances of an extreme sect in the denial of the educational uses and even validity of the material body. Nothing exists in vain. Consistent loyalty to all fundamental metaphysical principles is clearly compatible with the admission of the wonderful reciprocity between the soul and its expression. The relation is indispensable to both. The great Unit of Truth is not one-sided, but is formed of truths in normal proportion. The materialist and the spiritual extremist represent the rigidity of opposite poles, while the warm, golden zone of rational and harmonious relativity is spread out between them. An all-around viewpoint is indispensable, for extremists only recognize things that are in their own direction. With these preliminary generalizations, we are led to the specific heart of the topic in question.
It is a psycho-physical law that human thought, when centered upon any particular organ, member, or section of the material organism, sets up an increased local circulation and activity, which in quality will be correspondential. It has often been demonstrated that, in greater or less degree, one may warm his feet on a cold day by persistently centering his thought upon them. It is well known that during sleep, while the brain is comparatively quiescent, a lessened proportion of the circulation is drawn in that direction. But far more delicate experiments in the laboratory show the exactitude of the law. Exhaustive tests indicate that an increased fullness of the vital fluid invariably follows the track of the movable center of consciousness. Emotions and propensities in the mind, when active, stimulate and quicken the various physical relations through which they function, and the latter send back their sensory note of reply. How shall this fact be utilized? Can a harmful activity be diverted and turned in a new direction? How shall the mind and body be trained to aid each other instead of being at odds? Can a flank movement through the physical, or an alliance with it, be made practically useful in the expulsion of inharmony from both? It is certainly desirable to have a cooperation of the spiritual, mental and physical forces, rather than to have the latter in opposition to the first two. The flank movement, then, through which disorderly foes of all grades may be more readily defeated, consists in the utilization of the physical mechanism as an efficient even if subordinate ally.
Coming into closer limits, we advance from the general physiology toward the center—to that wonderful section, the brain. Within this fertile domain the mind, or rather the man, functions directly and qualitatively. Disregarding the theoretical details of phrenology, we are aware, in general, that the brain-cells located in the crown of the head function for the moral and spiritual faculties. These include faith, hope, courage, harmony, with an implied recognition of life and strength in the Unseen. Wide observation also indicates that those negative qualities and emotions, among which are fear, anger, inharmony, depression, selfishness and materialism, function and have their correspondence in those groups of cells that range lower down in the brain structure. Without denying that this subordinate domain, when normal, has legitimate use and place, the fact remains that with the vast majority it has become disproportionately active, congested and dominant. It has usurped the main current of human consciousness. Too small a portion of human thought is of the ideal quality. In physical terms, the lower groups of brain-cells are over-stimulated. So long as this continues, reflex action tends to promote and accentuate the disproportion, which already is abnormal. It may be likened to a machine working in the wrong direction.
Suppose one makes an effort to send thought in a new and higher direction. He finds it is not easy because the higher related functioning power is feeble. It has not, in the past, received its due need of nourishment and invigoration. Then comes the necessity for the real cooperative process. If, as before noted, the concentration of positive thought locally induces an increased activity, why not give the neglected brain-cells in the coronal region their due? Send them the wholesome tonic of a good supply of thick, rich blood through the means of a localized consciousness. Thus they may become fertile and vigorous functioning-ground for the highest soul forces, and concordant reciprocity will result. On the other hand, the diversion will relieve and lighten the congested and overwrought groups of the lower and unspiritual sections. With physical inflammation relieved and circulation equalized, even though the process seem mechanical, the reflex character of the sensory reports to headquarters will be changed. Concretely to accomplish this, one should consciously center the thought in the upper brain-cells, and to aid he should think for the time being that his thought is located there. This will not be easy at first, but may increasingly become a thought habit. When exercised, it should produce a glow and conscious thrill in the region indicated. After it is clearly localized, the highest spiritual quality—which may be described as communion with the Universal—may mingle and fill it to perfect proportion. Among the favoring conditions for inducing the desired result may be mentioned general passivity and full physical relaxation, with slow, deep breathing. Like an unstrung instrument, there must be an absence of all tension.
By way of a general deduction from the specific activity outlined above, it follows that the consciousness should pay proportionate visits to its various physical apartments and not remain unduly in any one of them. If a part of the many beautiful corridors of the temple of the body are never swept clean by the freshening presence of the spiritual executive, vigor diminishes and opacity becomes dense. If the ego domicile mainly in the lower functioning brain cells, spiritual elasticity is lost and a cramped rigidity follows. We should, therefore, occasionally make a triumphant entry into the various geographical provinces of our physical kingdom, carrying inspiration, encouragement and renewal. All will learn to welcome our coming.
The sanctum sanctorum of the seen form is the coronal section, and all its equipments are in accord with its high-altar service. Here every correspondential feature is congenial. "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help." The 'cities of the plain "are the abodes of inharmony, disorder and animalism. Our complex nature contains so much subtle analogy that even spatial altitude lends some inspiration. When Jesus was about to give utterance to the Beatitudes, "he went up into a mountain; and when he was set, his disciples came unto him." Again, speaking from the viewpoint of the Christ, Jesus said: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up." The evolutionary trend of humanity is not merely onward; it is upward.
Gain the cooperation of the seen and unseen with the force of their vital correspondence! The figure of the Supreme Ideal—the subjective Christ—has been carved by the aspiring soul during its loftiest flights; and there it stands in regal beauty upon its pedestal. Come up, O Consciousness, from the dust and grime and sweat of the lowlands, at favorable intervals, and sit down in its presence! Gain there a residence, and feel its transforming power!