"Progress, man's distinctive mark alone,
Not God's, and not the beasts': God is, they are;
Man partly is, and wholly hopes to be."
Before attempting to give an outline of the laws of mental healing, it may be well to briefly consider some of the difficulties which are encountered, not only in its practical application, but also in its popular acceptance as a system having a real and scientific basis.
Truth is eternally and unchangeably complete, but to human consciousness it is constantly growing. The only changeable factor related to it, is the ever-expanding capacity of the mind of man for its fuller recognition. Every new development of any importance finally comes into its abiding-place only through friction, misapprehension, and opposition. What there is already occupies all the space, and there is no place for a new-comer, especially if it be a disturber. Over and over again history records the declaration, "There is no room in the inn." Every new development, even in physical science, has had to traverse a thorny path before coming into an assured position; and, in the higher realms of religion, government, jurisprudence, ethics, and economics, each new advancement has been cradled in a manger. The authority and self-sufficiency of existing institutions never leave any corner vacant. While the more impressive examples of this rule are farther back, in the recent past, slavery was declared not only to be right, but to exist by Divine and biblical authority, —and this in the North as well as the South.
It would be illogical to expect any exception to the rule, in the reception of so radical an advance as mental healing—or, more correctly, the recognition of the law of mental causation. It is an intruder. If admitted, its philosophy 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 by-gone speculation.
While mankind generally, as individuals, earnestly desire to find the truth, formulated systems, backed by prestige, literature, and authority are ultra-conservative. They yield not an inch, except by compulsion. When final acceptance becomes imperative, the New—after being freshly christened—is dovetailed in as a part of the Old. You are assured that it is but a slight modification of what was there before, and finally, that they always thought so. A typical example may be noted in the manner in which the medical fraternity has received the phenomena of mesmerism. For several decades it was barred out, not only as useless, but as fraud and delusion. More recently, under the title of hypnotism, or hypnotic suggestion, it was permitted to peep in at the door; and now, rechristened as " psycho-therapeutics," it seems likely to gain a gradual entrance.
While the theory of mental causation for physical disorder fully accords with everything vital and fundamental in religion, considered as a life; is in harmony with all high spiritual philosophy; rebukes materialism, and develops the highest ideal in humanity, yet the fact that it has not been incorporated into ecclesiastical and theological " confessions," causes the church, as an organization, to misunderstand and oppose it. The fact that spiritual healing was regarded by the primitive church as the natural outward attestation of the inner higher life, seems to have no significance to the church of today. When the Founder of Christianity gave his great commission, "Preach the gospel and heal the sick," did he not mean all that he said? Is the power of Truth partial, local, and limited to a single age? If God be infinitely good, unchangeable, and orderly in His manifestations, could He withdraw powers and privileges that had been already bestowed? If divine law is not suspended nor violated, the same "gifts of healing" that have once been exercised must be operative today, under corresponding spiritual conditions. On the divine side, spiritual law must always be uniform, otherwise God's methods would be self-contradictory. Many eminent men of advanced thought in the church who now admit the immutability of law, spiritual as well as material, have apparently failed to observe its logical outcome. It follows that the direct assurance of the Christ that, "These signs shall follow them that believe," either limits true believers to one epoch, or else proves that "works of healing" have a permanent and lawful basis. Does it not appear that worldly policy, intellectual theology, and ceremonialism, as they came into the church in the time of Constantine, extinguished the early, simple, vital, spiritual potency which since that transition has never been fully regained.
Turning to therapeutic systems, mental causation is in substantial harmony with the highest and best thought of the seers and philosophers, from Plato down to the present time. It is only medical science, as it has gradually degenerated into a great drug prescription system, that seeks for primary causation in the inert clay of the body. The wise physician makes a mental, as well as a physical diagnosis and is logically led to the utilization of immaterial forces.
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 color-blind to the highest order of forces, and forget that, even in the external world, it is not matter, but the immaterial energy that moulds it, that produces all phenomena. Occidental civilization in its general trend is distinctively external, almost superficial.
The general identification in the public mind of mental healing with "Faith cure," is another prolific source of misapprehension. While there are many sincere clergymen and laymen who believe in “miraculous" healing in answer to prayer and anointing, simple justice requires that a broad distinction be noted. Faith healing, as generally understood, involves a direct and special interposition on God's part, in response to petition. It implies that He is subject to changeableness and improvement, and that the expected result is an exception to, or reversal of, universal law. On the contrary, mental healing is entirely based upon law, which, though belonging to the higher domain, is orderly and exact. It enjoins human compliance with existing law, already perfect and incapable of improvement. While a vital faith on man's part is a powerful healing element, it should have an intelligent and scientific basis. The divine order cannot be capricious. If God be infinitely and eternally perfect, His part is already complete, and it only remains for man to come into harmony with truth, which is the divine method. Faith healing, defined as a local exceptional action of God, improved and set in motion by petition, is a relic of decaying supernaturalism. It is true, however, that many cases of healing take place among its disciples. Even pure superstition—as illustrated by the result of pilgrimages to shrines and contact with sacred relics—often heals, because, though the modus operandi is misunderstood, it starts into action saving mental and spiritual recuperative forces.
Spiritual healing is beyond ordinary intellectual apprehension. Transcending as it does the plane of the reasoning faculty, it cannot be proved by argumentative logic. It concerns the inner ego, and can only be comprehended by the deeper vision of the intuitional and spiritual nature. There is much objective truth which we are utterly unable to cognize until we have unfolded something of its kind and correspondence within ourselves.
Popular misapprehension also arises from the mystical and technical presentation of psychological 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 common-sense. Extreme statements, even if ideally true, should not be popularly presented in unqualified form, for they lead to unnecessary misunderstanding and antagonism. Those who cannot leap to the climax at one bound, may often be led there by gentle advances. It is not a question as to the existence of truth, but of the unfoldment of the vision to behold it. This view was clearly enunciated by the Christ. He often withheld the highest statements because his hearers were not ready for them, and repeatedly stated that he did so. It is true that larger apprehensions of truth require an increase of fitting terms to represent them, but complex and occult verbosity is to be avoided. If men are unable to reach up to abstractions, instruction must reach down, not by any admixture of error, but by " precept upon precept; line upon line; here a little, and there a little."
The new advance also encounters the usual amount of satire and ridicule which falls to the lot of every radical departure from traditionalism. Homoeopathy passed through all the same phases, but at length fought its way to recognition and standing. Legislative attempts to crush therapeutic progress by the erection of a medical monopoly have been made in several States, but they are so plainly in opposition to the spirit of the age, that they have not proved of much practical account. It is as foolish and tyrannical to erect a monopoly in medicine, as it would be in religion, politics, or ethics. The Presbyterian or Baptist creeds may as well be legally enforced as that of allopathy. Any institution asking for special legal protection cannot seemingly place great reliance upon its own merits. Under our form of government individual liberty, so long as it does not infringe upon that of others, is the chief corner-stone. To impose any special system of therapeutic practice upon an individual is clearly unconstitutional.
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, after short illnesses, every week, no question is raised nor criticism made. No matter what the circumstances may be, if in the "beaten track," everything is taken for granted. Everyone has the right to die, 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. It is not a mere question of swallowing a remedy, but certain ideals must be brought to the front in the minds of both -]\ healer and patient, and there must be positive co-operation. Recovery, as a rule, is progressive growth, and is manifested as the ideal mental conditions gradually gain supremacy. Many expect sudden and magical improvement, and therefore, being disappointed, abandon 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. But every faithful compliance with the laws of healing—laws which are immutable—will have its legitimate effect in the degree that their requirements are complied with, and this can be depended upon. Limitations can be overcome, but patient effort is required. The ocean of thought-atmosphere in which we live is sensuous, and therefore a vast opposing influence—real, though intangible—must be surmounted. It is easy to float with the tide, but to break away from crystallized environment demands courage and persistence. The all-enveloping human thought-currents are powerful. Even the Great Exemplar, in some places, “could not do many mighty works," because of prevailing unbelief.
Many shrink from such a searching inward reconstruction, because they instinctively feel that it will reveal them to themselves. They are willing to look outward, but cannot abide introspection.
A prevalent distrust of mental practitioners on account of their lack of a course of conventional study, especially in pathology, is also quite natural. But it is well to remember that in spiritual discernment and efficiency “God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty." A study of pathology is a pursuit of abnormity. If mind is 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 positively harmful. The uniform and only diagnosis of the mental healer must be 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. He idealizes it as already sound, and holds the thought firmly until the patient 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 and teachers 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. "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God." Human knowledge is largely theoretical and external, but human insight, which is generally more acute in the feminine mentality, is more penetrating and exact. This is distinctively the woman's age, and the world is now beginning to realize the beneficent fruits of her recent development and greater freedom. What more natural than that the rosy dawn of new esoteric truth should soonest be recognized by her more sensitive spiritual vision?
It is unreasonable and unjust to ignore the testimony of hundreds and thousands whose lives have been saved through the rational employment of mental therapeutics. Such testimony is positive in quality, unlimited in quantity, high in character, and its veracity should be unquestioned. There is probably no city or town of any considerable size in the United States where there are not plenty of conclusive examples that can easily be found by any impartial investigator. By a careful and extensive personal investigation we have found that the great majority of those who are engaged in teaching health (a better expression than healing) were formerly confirmed invalids who had exhausted conventional remedies without improvement before resorting to mental treatment. Upon restoration to health they so thoroughly realize the merits of the higher thought, that they feel impelled to communicate it to others. If one has discovered and utilized a great boon, it is both a duty and a privilege to tell the news to suffering humanity. It becomes a "gospel," or good tidings that cannot be suppressed. The allegation sometimes made, that mercenary motives are usually foremost, is both unjust and untrue as applied to the great majority engaged in this profession. Financial considerations, unless entirely subordinate, would be fatal to success in practice.
If disease and abnormity, mental and physical, were in the process of gradual extermination through 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 multiply, and each finds just what he looks for. Not only physicians are increasing in number in much greater proportion than the population, but diseases and remedies are also being multiplied. The more human abnormity is held up and analyzed, the more its various shades, phases, and complications become manifest. 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. These, and other related general tendencies might be elaborated and proved in detail, but being plainly evident it is unnecessary.
Under such conditions, if any new philosophy be presented which claims rationality and beneficence, is it not wise to give it impartial investigation? In the closing decade of the glorious and notable nineteenth century can we afford to copy the intolerance of past periods, and conclude that Truth is a complete and closed revelation? Why expect new advances in electricity and the physical sciences, and at the same time deny that in the far more important realm of man's interior life and nature there is anything better for him than the universal discord and disorder of the past? If but a small part of the claims of advanced mental science be realized, the world greatly needs all it can possibly get. If anything promises to lighten the great aggregation of woe that hangs like a black cloud over the whole human horizon, it should at least be fairly examined and tested before condemnation.