"The Best of Prentice Mulford"
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THERE is a gospel older than Christianity, older than Buddhism, older than Brahmanism, older than the classic religions of Greece and Rome, older than the worship of idols and the worship of ancestors. This gospel has been preached under varying forms and names, and with stress laid upon different aspects of its truth and its applicability to differing conditions of civilisation and to the different characters of the peoples to whom the message has been addressed. It is probably as old as the earliest traditions of civilised man, and the preaching of it becomes a periodical necessity through the very evolution and growth of civilisation itself. It acts as an alternative medicine, a corrective of the tendency inherent in civilisation to drift insensibly into channels of artificiality, to substitute the letter for the spirit, the creed for the life, the formula for the thing signified, habit for deliberate conscious action, the cant catchword for the life-giving principle, the spurious imitation for the genuine product. The Gospel to which I allude Is the Gospel of the Return to Nature.
In every generation of the world's history since man was civilised, the realisation of this state has been the dream of a few idealists who saw it existing in the far distant past of the world's history in an allegorical form as the fabled Golden Age sung of by the poets. If it is older than all the religions, it yet takes its place as an essential element of all of them in the first stages of their existence. Jesus Christ struck the keynote in his preaching when he bade his disciples "suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven," and again when he said, "Except ye be born again as a little child ye cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." And the refrain of very many of his injunctions to his disciples was the adoption of what we should now call the Simple Life so much talked about but so little lived in these days of the twentieth century. Buddha gave expression to the same thought and practised it in his renunciation of his princely life and his adoption of the life of the wondering preacher, of the begging friar. The same truth was inculcated in China by Lao-tsze and again to a later age, in France, by Jean Jacques Rousseau in his Social Contract and his Discourse on the Origin of Inequality among Men."
Man is born free, and yet everywhere he is in chains." Such were the opening words of this inspiring message to the Peoples of the Earth. Man is born natural and civilisation makes him artificial. He is born in touch with Nature and life under the open sky and in the green fields. Civilisation draws him to courts and towns. Mankind is born to liberty and equality: civilisation makes him either a tyrant on the one hand or a slave on the other. The thought underlying this gospel, whether preached by Christ or by Rousseau, or today by Edward Carpenter in his Civilisation, its Cause and Cure, contrasted as the characters of the preachers will appear, is essentially the same.
Why were the Scribes and Pharisees hypocrites? Why, except because they had turned from the spirit to the letter, from Nature to artificiality? What was the crime of the French Monarchy but that it fostered and perpetuated unnatural conditions and artificial restrictions which froze the life-blood of the French people? What were the faults which Prentice Mulford saw in American civilisation, if they were not the faults which arise directly from the too rapid growth of the luxuries and so-called advantages which civilisation and commercial development bring in their train, and from the neglect of those forces which are inherent in Nature itself and without which the life-blood of a nation of necessity becomes contaminated and impoverished?
"You are fortunate (writes Prentice Mulford) if you love trees, and especially the wild ones growing where the great Creative Force placed them and independent of man's care. For all things that we call wild or natural are nearer the Infinite Mind than those which have been enslaved, artificialised and hampered by man. Being nearer the Infinite, they have in them the more perfect infinite force and thought. That is why, when you are in the midst of what is wild and natural, where every trace of man's works is left behind, you feel an indescribable exhilaration and freedom that you do not realise elsewhere."
This sentence seems to me to
note of the greatest importance in connection with all these "Return to
Nature" movements in whatever period of the world's history they may
have occurred. It is especially noteworthy how each movement of the
kind has been followed by a
The gospel of Rousseau was preached not to the French nation only. It was preached in France, it is true, but it was preached to mankind at large, and the fact that it was listened to by many nations outside France is more than half the explanation of the triumphs of Napoleon, the heir of the new French Democracy. In the early days of his triumph Napoleon came to the peoples of the other countries of Europe as much in the guise of a deliverer as of a conqueror. The soldiers that fought in the armies against him had heard the message of freedom and equality and were in no mood to contend with its conquering arm. The gospel according to Jean Jacques Rousseau was this life-giving force. Like a tonic breath from the sea, like a draught of champagne, it was at the same time invigorating and intoxicating to its hearers. Prentice Mulford was right, the Gospel of Nature, wherever preached, "has ever made man feel an indescribable exhilaration and freedom."
Where Mulford differed from Rousseau was in seeing more clearly, more spiritually, what the Return to Nature really signified. That it signified the getting in touch once more i: with "the Infinite Force and Mind as expressed by all natural things." This Spirit of Nature, "this Force of the Infinite Mind," was given out, he maintained, by every wild tree, bird, or animal. It was a literal element and force, going to man from tree and from living creature. If you loved Nature, if you loved the trees, you would find them, declared Mulford, responsive to such love.
"You are fortunate (he says) when you grow to a live, tender, earnest love for the wild trees, animals, and birds, and recognise them all as coming from and built of the same mind and spirit as your own, and able also to give you something very valuable in return for the love which you give them. The wild tree is not irresponsive or regardless of a love like that. Such love is not a myth or mere sentiment. It is a literal element and force going from you to the tree. It is felt by the spirit of the tree. You represent a part and belonging of the Infinite Mind. The tree represents another part and belonging of the Infinite Mind. It has its share of life, thought, and intelligence. You have a far greater share, which is to be greater still--and then still greater."
"As the Great Spirit has made all things, is not that All-pervading mind and wisdom in all things? If then we love the trees, the rocks and all things, as the Infinite made them, shall they not in response to our love give us each of their peculiar thought and wisdom? Shall we not draw nearer to God through a love for these expressions of God in the rocks and trees, birds and animals?"
Poets have told us the same story. Sir Walter Scott did so, for instance, in his beautiful lines in "The Lay of the Last Minstrel":-
"Call it not vain. They do not err. Who say that, when the poet dies, Mute Nature mourns her worshipper And celebrates his obsequies; That say mute crag and cavern lone For the departed hard make moan, And rivers teach their rushing wave To murmur dirges o'er his grave."
Wordsworth, too, understood the communion with Nature, as is shown by many of his verses, and most of all by his lines on the vision of the daffodils. The sight of the daffodils dancing by the lake was to him like the midnight dance of fairies or elves on the greensward, instinct with conscious vitality, and the impulse of contagious motion. This picture of the 'daffodils' delight in their own life and beauty recalled itself automatically to the poet's mind, and bade him join them in their fairy revels. No poet could have put the mood of communion with Nature in lines of greater felicity. They are, indeed, well known, but to the lover of Nature they will bear quoting again and again. The poet exclaims:--
" I gazed and gazed, but little thought What joy the show to me had brought. For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood. They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils."
Other poets have voiced the same sense of communion with Nature in varying forms and degrees of intensity. A lesser known one of the present day has claimed poetry as Nature's mouthpiece, and condemned its neglect as a refusal to be brought into touch with Nature's many voices by the most articulate means at its disposal. Take the following verses as an example :-
"If thou disdain the sacred Muse, Beware lest Nature, past recall, Indignant at that crime, refuse Thee entrance to her audience hall. Beware lest sea and sky and all That bears reflection of her face Be blotted with a hueless pall Of unillumined commonplace. Ah! desolate hour when that shall be, When dew and sunlight, rain and wind Shall seem but trivial things to thee, Unloved, unheeded, undivined! Nay, rather let that morning find Thy molten soul exhaled and gone, Than in a living death resigned So darkly still to labour on."
We see that poets galore have voiced this sentiment and have even expressed it like Sir Waiter Scott in the form of a belief in the conscious Life of Nature. Poets live in a world of fancy and imagination. We do not take their statements too literally. It is different when we come to a man who writes essays, which he would have us take as a guide in life, who, in his wildest flights, expects to be taken as intending to convey the full force of what he says, in however spiritual a sense.
You cannot say of the lines of Scott what the great Earl of Chatham said in quite a different connection, that " though poetry they are no fiction." * You feel that Scott was by way of expressing a poetic mood, the literal truth of which he would never dream of substantiating over the dinner table, Prentice Mulford, on the other hand, preached this doctrine as an actual truth to be accepted and acted upon, to be made a basis upon which to erect a practical manual on the subject of how to live most intensely, of how, in short, to be most alive while living. Prentice Mulford, in preaching his gospel, echoed in other words the message proclaimed by the Founder of Christianity: "I have come that ye might have life, and that ye might have it more abundantly."
To Mulford every man is an
psychometrist. The infection of good or evil is all-pervasive.
"If you are very sensitive, and stay in such a room but for a single day, you will feel in some way the depressing effect of such thought, unless you keep very positive to it, and to keep sufficiently positive for twenty-four hours at a time to resist it would be extremely difficult. If you are in any degree weak or ailing you are then most negative or open to the nearest thought- element about you, and will be affected by it, in addition to the wearying mental effect (first mentioned) of any object kept constantly before the eyes.
"It is injurious, then, to be sick, or even wearied, in a room where other people have been sick, or where they have died, because in thought-element all the misery and depression, not only of the sick and dying but of such as gathered there and sympathised with the patient, will be still left in the room, and this is a powerful unseen agent for acting injuriously on the living."
The above quotation is from an essay on " Spells, or the Law of Change"; but our author develops the same idea to a fuller extent in another essay, that on "Positive and Negative Thought," in which he enlarges on the importance of being positive and not negative when surrounded by those who are emitting poisonous thought atmosphere, such as envy, jealousy, cynicism, or despondency. This, he tells us, is as real as an noxious gas and infinitely more dangerous. If you are then in a negative or receptive state you are to all intents and purposes a sponge, absorbing evil influences, the full harm of which may not be realised till days afterwards.
You must know, then, when to be in a positive and when in a negative frame of mind. As a rule you must be positive when you have dealings with the world and negative when you retire within yourself. These conditions inevitably alternate one with another, and the exercise of much positive force will bring about a natural reaction after a certain time. Why, asks Prentice Mulford, did the Christ so often withdraw from the multitude? It was, he avers, because after exercising in some way the immense power of concentrated thought, either by healing or talking, or by giving some proofs of his command over the physical elements, at which times he was positive and expending his forces, he, feeling the negative state coming upon him, left the crowd so that he should not absorb their lower thought.
Prentice Mulford lays great stress on the reality, indeed, substantiality of thought. "As a man thinketh, so is he." "Your spirit," says Mulford, " is a bundle of thought." What you think most of, that is your spirit. " Thought," he says again, " is a substance as much as air, or any other unseen element of which chemistry makes us aware. Strong thought is the same as strong will. Every thought, spoken or unspoken, is a thing as real, though invisible, as water or metal. When you think you work. Every thought represents an outlay of force. If a man thinks murder he actually puts out an element of murder in the air. He sends from him a plan of murder as real as if drawn on paper. If the thought is absorbed by others, it inclines them towards violence, if not murder. If a person is ever thinking of sickness he sends from him the element of sickness. If he thinks of health, strength, and cheerfulness, he sends from him constructions of thought helping others towards health and strength, as well as himself."
In thought every man should look forward and cast the past behind him. " Nature buries its dead as quickly as possible, and gets them out of sight. It is better, however, to say that Nature changes what it has no further use for into other forms of life. The tree produces the new leaf with each return of spring. It will have nothing to do with its dead ones. It treasures up no withered rose leaves to bring back sad remembrance." . . . " Nothing in Nature is at a standstill. A gigantic incomprehensible Wisdom moves all things forward towards greater and higher powers and possibilities. You are included in and are part of this force."
If then, argues Mulford, you do not move forward with the rest of Nature, you will inevitably sink, and rightly sink, into decrepitude and decay. Why are outworn creeds outworn? Simply because they have not changed with the changing thought of man, they have not evolved with the evolution of the race. They have remained behind on a lower plane while man has moved forward to a higher. If you cling to them you cling to what will draw you back and draw you downward. It is the same in business. The business methods of one generation must be changed and modified in order to adapt the business to the conditions and demands of the uprising generation. The "good old times" may have been good in their way, though their goodness is generally exaggerated; but to attempt to revive their ways of thought for the use of later generations is like putting new wine into old bottles.
Prentice Mulford had absorbed among his other ideas the eastern doctrine of metempsychosis. The race had evolved, he held, from the lowest forms. It could, therefore, evolve indefinitely higher. Man, as at present constituted, was not its ultimate aim. The possibilities of human evolution were infinite.
"It is a grand mistake (he
that of supposing that any man or woman is the result of that
If man's power of developing is indefinite it follows, thinks Mulford, that his power of prolonging life is also limitless; i.e. not merely prolonging life under other conditions outside the physical body, but even of prolonging life within the physical body itself. Hence his essay dealing with Immortality in the Flesh--an essay which more than any other has led to Mulford being dubbed a crank and a mad dreamer. " We believe," he writes, "that immortality in the flesh is a possibility, or in other words, that a physical body can be retained so long as the spirit desires its use, and that this body instead of decreasing in strength and vigour as the years go on, will increase and its youth will be perpetual."
There is a Law (says Mulford) of Silent Demand, and silent continuous demand made with concentration of will and thought can obtain whatever it asks for--whatever it claims as its own, in view of the fact that each human being is part of the Infinite Life and has inalienable relationship to the Supreme Power. "There will be built," our author predicts, "in time, an edifice partaking of the nature of a church where all persons of whatever condition, age, nationality, or creed may come to lay their needs before the great Supreme Power and demand of that Power help to supply those needs. It should be a church without sect or creed. It should be open every day during the week and every evening until a reasonable hour. It should be a place of silence for the purpose of silent demand or prayer. It should be a place of earnest demand for permanent good, yet not a place of gloom. A church should be held as a sanctuary for the concentration of the strongest thought power. The strongest thought power is where the motive is the highest. You can get such power by unceasing silent demand of the Supreme Power of which you are a part."
This power of silent demand can be utilised, then, for all purposes. It can be utilised, for instance, to keep the body in health, to make good the wearing away of the tissues, to prevent the ageing and final perishing of the physical body. "The body is continually changing its elements in accordance with the condition of the mind. If it is in certain mental conditions, it is conveying to itself elements of decay, weakness, and physical death. If in another mental condition, it is adding to itself elements of strength and life. That which the spirit takes on in either case is thought or belief. Thoughts and beliefs materialise themselves in flesh and blood. Belief in inevitable decay and death brings from the spirit to the body the elements of decay and death. Belief in the possibility of a constant inflowing to the spirit of life brings life."
These ideas, as I have already suggested, seem fairly far-fetched. But it is a curious fact that science does not appear to reject them quite as decisively as one would have expected. Messrs. Carrington & Meader, in their book on Death, its Causes and Phenomena, which bears very directly on this interesting question, quote the observation of a physician, Dr. William A. Hammond: "There is no physiological reason why man should die," and also Dr. Monroe in his statement that the "human body as a machine is perfect. It is apparently intended to go on forever." And again, they cite the observation of Dr. Thomas J. Allen, who states that "the body is self-renewing and should not therefore wear out by constant disintegration."
The point is not so much perhaps that natural death, as we call it, is unnatural, as that the reason why mankind die after a certain age has never been satisfactorily explained from a medical point of view, and the medical evidence points to the fact not so much that man might conceivably be immortal as that the process of decay might be indefinitely retarded. That, in short, man might live to a far greater age than he does at present.
There is a great deal in Prentice Mulford which seems commonplace enough today. Men of the twentieth century are familiar with his doctrines and his teachings. They have been put forward with a great air of originality by many of his followers, and they have been repeated in various forms and with varying degrees of exaggeration. I doubt, however, if they have ever been put forward so freshly and so forcibly as they were by the pioneer of what we now call the New Thought Movement--Prentice Mulford. There is in no other leader of this New Thought Movement such a sense of the communion with Nature, so fresh and full a recognition of the possibility of utilising Nature's forces for the benefit of body and spirit. For, as I have already explained, Prentice Mulford was, not only the first and greatest of the New Thought teachers, but also par excellence an apostle of the Return to Nature. RALPH SHIRLEY.
THE MATERIAL MIND V. THE
THERE belongs to every human being a higher self and a lower self--a self or mind of the spirit which has been growing for ages, and a self of the body, which is but a thing of yesterday. The higher self is full of prompting idea, suggestion and aspiration. This it receives of the Supreme Power. All this the lower or animal self regards as wild and visionary. The higher self argues possibilities and power for us greater than men and women now possess and enjoy. The lower self says we can only live and exist as men and women have lived and existed before us. The higher self craves freedom from the cumbrousness, the limitations, the pains and disabilities of the body. The lower self says that we are born to them, born to ill, born to suffer, and must suffer as have so many before us. The higher self wants a standard for right and wrong of its own. The lower self says we must accept a standard made for us by others--by general and long-held opinion, belief and prejudice.
"To thine own self be true" is an oft-uttered adage. But to which self? The higher or lower?
You have in a sense two minds--the mind of the body and the mind of the spirit.
Spirit is a force and a mystery. All we know or may ever know of it is that it exists, and is ever working and producing all results in physical things seen of physical sense and many more not so seen.
What is seen, of any object, a tree, an animal, a stone, a man is only a part of that tree, animal, stone, or man. There is a force which for a time binds such objects together in the form you see them. That force is always acting on them to greater or lesser degree. It builds up the flower to its fullest maturity. Its cessation to act on the flower or tree causes what we call decay. It is constantly changing the shape of all forms of what are called organized matter. An animal, a plant, a human being are not in physical shape this month or this year what they will be next month or next year.
This ever-acting, ever-varying force, which lies behind and, in a sense, creates all forms of matter we call Spirit.
To see, reason and judge of life and things in the knowledge of this force makes what is termed the "Spiritual Mind."
We have through knowledge the wonderful power of using or directing this force, when we recognize it, and know that it exists so as to bring us health, happiness and eternal peace of mind. Composed as we are of this force, we are ever attracting more of it to us and making it a part of our being.
With more of this force must come more and more knowledge. At first in our physical existances we allow it to work blindly. Then we are in the ignorance of that condition known as the material mind. But as mind through its growth or increase of this power becomes more and more awakened, it asks: "Why comes so much of pain, grief and disappointment in the physical life?" "Why do we seem born to suffer and decay"
That question is the first awakening cry of the spiritual mind, and an earnest question or demand for knowledge must in time be answered.
The material mind is a part of yourself, which has been appropriated by the body and educated by the body. It is as if you taught a child that the wheels of a steamboat made the boat move, and said nothing of the steam, which gives the real power. Bred in such ignorance, the child, should the wheels stop moving, would look no farther for the cause of their stoppage than to try to find where to repair them, very much as now so many depend entirely on repair of the physical body to ensure its healthy, vigorous movement, never dreaming that the imperfection lies in the real motive power--the mind.
The mind of the body or material mind sees, thinks and judges entirely from the material or physical standpoint. It sees in your own body all there is of you. The spiritual mind sees the body as an instrument for the mind or real self to use in dealing with material things. The material mind sees in the death of the body an end of all there is of you. The spiritual mind sees in the death of the body only the falling off from the spirit of a worn-out instrument. It knows that you exist as before only invisible to the physical eye. The material mind sees your physical strength as coming entirely from your muscles and sinews, and not from source without your body.
It sees in such persuasive power, as you may have with tongue or pen, the only force you possess for dealing with people to accomplish results The spiritual mind will know in time that your thought influences people for or against your interests, though their bodies are thousands of miles distant. The material mind does not regard its thought as an actual element as real as air or water. The spiritual mind knows that every one of its thousand daily secret thoughts are real things acting on the minds of the persons they are sent to. The spiritual mind knows that matter or the material is only an expression of spirit or force; that such matter is ever changing in accordance with the spirit that makes or externalizes itself in the form we call matter, and therefore, if the thought of health, strength and recuperation is constantly held to in the mind, such thought of health, strength and rejuvenation will express itself in the body, making maturity never ceasing, vigour never ending, and the keenness of every physical sense ever increasing.
The material mind thinks matter, or that which is known by our physical senses, to be the largest part of what exists. The spiritual mind regards matter as the coarser or cruder expression of spirit and the smallest part of what really exists. The material mind is made sad at the contemplation of decay. The spiritual mind attaches little importance to decay, knowing in such decay that spirit or the moving force in all things is simply taking the dead body or the rotten tree to pieces, and that it will build them up again as before temporarily into some other new physical form of life and beauty. The mind of the body thinks that its physical senses of seeing, hearing and feeling constitute all the senses you possess. The higher mind or mind of the spirit knows that it possesses other senses akin to those of physical sight and hearing, but more powerful and far reaching.
The mind of the body has been variously termed "the material mind," the "mortal mind " and the "carnal mind." All these refer to the same mind, or, in other words to that part of your real sell which has been educated in error by the body.
If you had been born and bred entirely among people who believed that the earth was a flat surface and did not revolve around the sun, you would in the earlier years of your physical growth believe as they did. Exactly in such fashion do you in your earlier years absorb the thought and belief of those nearest you, who think that the body is all there is of them, and judge of everything by its physical interpretation to them. This makes your material mind.
The material mind seeing, what seems to it, depth, dissolution and decay in all human organization, and ignorant of the fact that the real self or intelligence has in such seeming death only cast off a worn-out envelope, thinks that decay and death is the ultimate of all humanity. For such reason it cannot avoid a gloom or sadness coming of such error, which now pervades so much of human life at present. One result or reaction from such gloom born of hopelessness is a reckless spirit for getting every possible gratification and pleasure, regardless of right and justice so long as the present body lasts. This is a great mistake. All pleasure so gained cannot be lasting. It brings besides a hundredfold more misery and disappointment.
The spiritual mind teaches that pleasure is the great aim of existence. But it points out ways and means for gaining lasting happiness other than those coming of the teaching of the material mind. The spiritual mind, or mind opened to higher and newer forces of life, teaches that there is a law regulating the exercise of every physical sense. When we learn and follow this law, our gratifications and possessions do not prove sources of greater pain than happiness, as they do to so many.
By the spiritual mind is meant a clearer mental sight of things and forces existing both in us and the Universe, and of which the race for the most part has been in total ignorance. We have now but a glimpse of these forces, those of some being relatively a little clearer than those of others. But enough has been shown to convince a few that the real and existing causes for humanity's sickness, sorrow and disappointment have not in the past been seen at all. In other words, the race has been as children, fancying that the miller inside was turning the arms of the windmill, because some person had so told them. So taught their would remain in total ignorance that the wind was the motive power.
This illustration is not at all an overdrawn picture of the existing ignorance which rejects the idea that thought is an element all about us as plentiful as air, and that as blindly directed by individuals and masses of individuals in the domain of material mind or ignorance, it is turning the windmill's arms, sometimes in one direction, sometimes in another; sometimes with good and sometimes with evil results.
A suit of clothes is not the body that wears such suit. Yet the material mind reasons very much in this way. It knows of no such thing as clothing for the spirit, for it does not know that body and spirit are two distinct things. It reasons that the suit of clothing (the body) is all there is of the man or woman. When that man or woman tumbles to pieces through weakness, it sees only the suit of clothes so going to pieces, and all its efforts to make that man or woman stronger are put on the suit instead of making effort to reinforce the power within which has made the suit.
There are probably no two individuals precisely alike as regards the relative condition or action on them of their material and spiritual minds. With some the spiritual seems not at all awakened. With others it has begun to stretch and rub its eyes as a person does on physical awakening, when everything still appears vague and indistinct. Others are more fully awakened. They feel to greater or lesser extent that there are forces belonging to them before unthought of. It is with such that the struggle for mastery between the material and spiritual mind is likely to be most severe, and such struggle for a time is likely to be accompanied by physical disturbance, pain or lack of ease.
The material mind is, until won over and convinced of the truths, constantly received by the spiritual mind at war and in opposition to it The ignorant part of yourself dislikes very much to give up its long accustomed habits of thinking. Its costs a struggle in any case at first to own that we have been mistaken and give up views long held to.
The material mind wants to more on in a rut of life and idea, as it always has done, and as thousands are now doing. It dislikes change more and more as the crust of the old thought held from year to year grows more thickly over it. It wants to live on and on in the house it has inhabited for years; dress in the fashion of the past; go to business and return year in and year out at precisely the same hour. It rejects and despises after a certain age the idea of learning any new accomplishments, such as painting or music, whose greatest use is to divert the mind, rest it, and enable you to live in other departments of being, all this being apart from the pleasure also given you as the mind or spirit teaches the body more and more skill and expertness in the art you pursue.
The material mind sees as the principal use of any art only a means to bring money, and not in such art a means for giving variety to life, dispelling weariness, resting that portion of the mind devoted to other business, improving health and increasing vigour of mind and body. It holds to the idea of being "too old to learn."
This is the condition of so many persons who have arrived at or are past " middle age." They want to "settle down." They accept as inevitable the idea of "growing old." Their material mind tells them that their bodies must gradually weaken, shrink from the fullness and proportion of youth, decay and finally die.
Material minds say this always has been, and therefore always must be. They accept the idea wholly. They say quite unconsciously, "It must be."
To say a thing must be, is the very power that makes it. The material mind then sees the body ever as gradually decaying, even though it dislikes the picture, and puts it out of sight as much as possible. But the idea will recur from time to time as suggested by the death of their contemporaries, and as it does they think " must," and that state of mind indicated by the word "must" will inevitably bring material results in decay.
The spiritual or more enlightened mind says: "If you would help to drive away sickness, turn your thought as much as you can on health, strength and vigour, and on strong, healthy, vigorous material things, such as moving clouds, fresh breezes, the cascade, the ocean surge; on woodland scenes and growing healthy trees; on birds full of life and motion; for in so doing you turn on yourself a real current or this healthy life-giving thought, which is suggested and brought you by the thought of such vigorous, strong material objects.
And above all, try to rely and trust that Supreme Power which formed all these things and far more and which is the endless and inexhaustible part of your higher self or spiritual mind, and as your faith increases in this Power, so will your own power ever increase.
Nonsense! " says the ultra material mind. " If my body is sick, I must have something done to cure that body with things I can see and feel, and that is the only thing to be done. As for thinking, it makes no difference what I think, sick or well."
At present in such a case a mind whose sense of these truths new to it, has just commenced to be awakened, will, in many cases, allow itself to be for a time overpowered and ridiculed out of such an idea by its own material mind or uneducated part of itself; and in this it is very likely to be assisted by other material minds, who have not woke up at all to these truths, and who are temporarily all the stronger through the positiveness of ignorance. These are as people who cannot see as far ahead as one may with a telescope, and who may be perfectly honest in their disbelief regarding what the person with the telescope does see. Though such people do not speak a word or argue against the belief of the partly awakened mind, still their thought acts on such a mind as a bar or blind to these glimpses of the truth.
But when the spiritual mind has once commenced to awaken, nothing can stop its further waking, though the material may for a time retard it.
"Your real self may not at times be where your body is" says the spiritual mind. It is where your mind is--in the store, the office, the workshop, or with some person to whom you are strongly attached, and all of these may be in towns or cities far from the one your body resides in. Your real self moves with inconceivable rapidity as your thought moves. ''Nonsense" says your material mind; "I myself am wherever my body is, and nowhere else"
Many a thought or idea that you reject as visionary, or as a whim or fancy, comes of the prompting of your spiritual mind. It is your material mind that rejects it.
No such idea comes but that there is a truth in it. But that truth we may not be able to carry out to a relative perfection immediately. Two hundred years ago some mind may have seen the use of steam as a motive power. But that motive power could not then have been carried out as it is today. A certain previous growth was necessary--a growth and improvement in the manufacture of iron, in the construction of roads, and in the needs of the people.
But the idea was a truth. Held to by various minds, it has brought steam as a motive power to its present relative perfection. It has struggled against and overcome every argument and obstacle placed in its way by dull, material, plodding minds. When you entertain any idea and say to yourself in substance: "Well, such a thing may be, though I cannot now see it" you remove a great barrier to the carrying out and realization by yourself of the new and strange possibilities in store for you.
The spiritual mind today sees belonging to itself a power for accomplishing any and all results in the physical world, greater than the masses dream of. It sees that as regards life's possibilities we are still in dense ignorance. It sees however, a few things--namely, perfect health, freedom from decay, weakness and death of the body, power of transit, travel and observation independent of the body, and methods for obtaining all needful and desirable material things through the action and working of silent mind or thought, either singly or in co-operation with others.
The condition of mind to be desired is the entire dominancy of the spiritual mind. But this does not imply dominancy or control in any sense of tyrannical mastership of the material mind by the spiritual mind. It does imply that the material mind will be swept away so far as its stubborn resistance and opposition to the promptings of the spiritual are concerned. It implies that the body will become the willing servant, or rather assistant of the spirit. It implies that the material mind will not endeavour to act itself up as the superior when it is only the inferior. It implies that state when the body will gladly lend its co-operation to all the desires of the spiritual mind.
Then all power can be given your spirit. Then no force need be expended in resisting the hostility of the material mind. Then all such force will be used to further our undertakings, to bring us material goods, to raise us higher and higher into realms of power, peace and happiness, to accomplish what now would be called miracles.
Neither the material mind nor the material body is to be won over and merged into the spiritual by any course of severe self censure or self denial, nor self punishment in expiation for sins committed, nor asceticism. That will only make you the more harsh, severe, bigoted and merciless, both to yourself and others. It is out of this perversion of the truth that have arisen such terms as " crucifying the body" and " subjugating the lower or animal mind." It is from this perversion that have come orders and associations of men and women who, going to another extreme, seek holiness in self denial and penance.
"Holiness" implies wholeness, or whole action of the spirit on the body, or perfect control by your spirit over a body, through knowledge and faith in our capacity to draw ever more and more from the Supreme Power.
When you get out of patience with yourself, through the aggressiveness of the material mind, through your frequent slips and falls into your besetting sins through periods of petulance or ill temper, or excess in any direction, you do no good, and only ill in calling or thinking for yourself hard names. You should not call yourself "a vile sinner" anymore than you would call any other person a "vile sinner," If you do, you put out in thought the "vile sinner" and make it temporarily a reality. If in your mental vision you teach yourself that you are "utterly depraved" and a "vile sinner," you are unconsciously making that your ideal, and you will unconsciously grow up to it until the pain and evil coming of such unhealthy growth either makes you turn back or destroys your body, For out of this state of mind, which in the past has been much inculcated, comes harshness, bigotry, lack of charity for others, hard, stern and gloomy and unhealthy views of life, and these mental conditions will surely bring physical disease.
When the material mind is put away, or, in other words, then
become convinced of the existence of these spiritual forces, both in
ourselves, and outside of ourselves, and when we learn to use them
rightly (for we are now and always have been using them in some way),
then to use the words of Paul: " Faith is swallowed up in victory," and
the sting and fear of death is removed. Life becomes then one glorious
advance forward from the pleasure of today to the greater pleasure of
tomorrow, and the phrase "to live" means only to enjoy.
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