THE HIGHER POWERS OF MIND AND SPIRIT
BY RALPH WALDO TRINE
AUTHOR OF "IN TUNE WITH THE INFINITE," ETC.
LONDON G. BELL AND SONS, LTD. 1933
First published May 1918 Reprinted November 1918. Reprinted 1919, 1923, 1927, 1933.
PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY ROBERT MACLEHOSE AND CO. LTD. THE UNIVERSITY PRESS, GLASGOW
We are all dwellers in two kingdoms, the inner kingdom, the kingdom of the mind and spirit, and the outer kingdom, that of the body and the physical universe about us. In the former, the kingdom of the unseen, lie the silent, subtle forces that are continually determining, and with exact precision, the conditions of the latter.
To strike the right balance in life is one of the supreme essentials of all successful living. We must work, for we must have bread. We require other things than bread. They are not only valuable, comfortable, but necessary. It is a dumb, stolid being, however, who does not realize that life consists of more than these. They spell mere existence, not abundance, fullness of life.
We can become so absorbed in making a living that we have no time for living. To be capable and efficient in one's work is a splendid thing; but efficiency can be made a great mechanical device that robs life of far more than it returns it. A nation can become so possessed, and even obsessed, with the idea of power and grandeur through efficiency and organisation, that it becomes a great machine and robs its people of the finer fruits of life that spring from a wisely subordinated and coordinated individuality. Here again it is the wise balance that determines all.
Our prevailing thoughts and emotions determine, and with absolute accuracy, the prevailing conditions of our outward, material life, and likewise the prevailing conditions of our bodily life. Would we have any conditions different in the latter we must then make the necessary changes in the former. The silent, subtle forces of mind and spirit, ceaselessly at work, are continually moulding these outward and these bodily conditions.
He makes a fundamental error who thinks that these are mere sentimental things in life, vague and intangible. They are, as great numbers are now realising, the great and elemental things in life, the only things that in the end really count. The normal man or woman can never find real and abiding satisfaction in the mere possessions, the mere accessories of life. There is an eternal something within that forbids it. That is the reason why, of late years, so many of our big men of affairs, so many in various public walks in life, likewise many women of splendid equipment and with large possessions, have been and are turning so eagerly to the very things we are considering. To be a mere huckster, many of our big men are finding, cannot bring satisfaction, even though his operations run into millions in the year.
And happy is the young man or the young woman who, while the bulk of life still lies ahead, realises that it is the things of the mind and the spirit—the fundamental things in life—that really count; that here lie the forces that are to be understood and to be used in moulding the everyday conditions and affairs of life; that the springs of life are all from within, that as is the inner so always and inevitably will be the outer.
To present certain facts that may be conducive to the realisation of this more abundant life is the author's purpose and plan.
R. W. T.
Sunnybrae Farm, Croton-on-Hudson, New York.
I. The Silent, Subtle Building Forces of Mind and Spirit 9
II. Soul, Mind, Body—The Subconscious Mind That Interrelates Them 19
III. The Way Mind Through the Subconscious Mind Builds Body 37
IV. The Powerful Aid of the Mind in Rebuilding Body—How Body Helps Mind 50
V. Thought as a Force in Daily Living 63
VI. Jesus the Supreme Exponent of the Inner Forces and Powers: His People's Religion and Their Condition 76
VII. The Divine Rule in the Mind and Heart: The Unessentials We Drop—The Spirit Abides 89
VIII. If We Seek the Essence of His Revelation, and the Purpose of His Life 113
IX. His Purpose of Lifting Up, Energising, Beautifying, and Saving the Entire Life: The Saving of the Soul is Secondary; but Follows 140
X. Some Methods of Attainment 152
XI. Some Methods of Expression 173
XII. The World War—Its Meaning and Its Lessons for Us 191
XIII. Our Sole Agency of International Peace, and International Concord 213
XIV. The World's Balance-wheel 231
THE HIGHER POWERS
MIND AND SPIRIT
THE SILENT, SUBTLE BUILDING FORCES OF MIND AND SPIRIT
There are moments in the lives of all of us when we catch glimpses of a life—our life—that is infinitely beyond the life we are now living. We realise that we are living below our possibilities. We long for the realisation of the life that we feel should be.
Instinctively we perceive that there are within us powers and forces that we are making but inadequate use of, and others that we are scarcely using at all. Practical metaphysics, a more simplified and concrete psychology, well-known laws of mental and spiritual science, confirm us in this conclusion.
Our own William James, he who so splendidly related psychology, philosophy, and even religion, to life in a supreme degree, honoured his calling and did a tremendous service for all mankind, when he so clearly developed the fact that we have within us powers and forces that we are making all too little use of—that we have within us great reservoirs of power that we have as yet scarcely tapped.
The men and the women who are awake to these inner helps—these directing, moulding, and sustaining powers and forces that belong to the realm of mind and spirit—are never to be found among those who ask: Is life worth the living? For them life has been multiplied two, ten, a hundred fold.
It is not ordinarily because we are not interested in these things, for instinctively we feel them of value; and furthermore our observations and experiences confirm us in this thought. The pressing cares of the everyday life—in the great bulk of cases, the bread and butter problem of life, which is after all the problem of ninety-nine out of every hundred—all seem to conspire to keep us from giving the time and attention to them that we feel we should give them. But we lose thereby tremendous helps to the daily living.
Through the body and its avenues of sense, we are intimately related to the physical universe about us. Through the soul and spirit we are related to the Infinite Power that is the animating, the sustaining force—the Life Force—of all objective material forms. It is through the medium of the mind that we are able consciously to relate the two. Through it we are able to realise the laws that underlie the workings of the spirit, and to open ourselves that they may become the dominating forces of our lives.
There is a divine current that will bear us with peace and safety on its bosom if we are wise and diligent enough to find it and go with it. Battling against the current is always hard and uncertain. Going with the current lightens the labours of the journey. Instead of being continually uncertain and even exhausted in the mere efforts of getting through, we have time for the enjoyments along the way, as well as the ability to call a word of cheer or to lend a hand to the neighbour, also on the way.
The natural, normal life is by a law divine under the guidance of the spirit. It is only when we fail to seek and to follow this guidance, or when we deliberately take ourselves from under its influence, that uncertainties arise, legitimate longings go unfulfilled, and that violated laws bring their penalties.
It is well that we remember always that violated law carries with it its own penalty. The Supreme Intelligence—God, if you please—does not punish. He works through the channel of great immutable systems of law. It is ours to find these laws. That is what mind, intelligence, is for. Knowing them we can then obey them and reap the beneficent results that are always a part of their fulfilment; knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or unintentionally, we can fail to observe them, we can violate them, and suffer the results, or even be broken by them.
Life is not so complex if we do not so continually persist in making it so. Supreme Intelligence, creative Power works only through law. Science and religion are but different approaches to our understanding of the law. When both are real, they supplement one another and their findings are identical.
The old Hebrew prophets, through the channel of the spirit, perceived and enunciated some wonderful laws of the natural and normal life—that are now being confirmed by well-established laws of mental and spiritual science—and that are now producing these identical results in the lives of great numbers among us today, when they said: "And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand and when ye turn to the left."
And again: "The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you." "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee." "The Lord in the midst of thee is mighty." "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." "Thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field, and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee." "Commit thy way unto the Lord: trust also in him and he shall bring it to pass." Now these formulations all mean something of a very definite nature, or, they mean nothing at all. If they are actual expressions of fact, they are governed by certain definite and immutable laws.
These men gave us, however, no knowledge of the laws underlying the workings of these inner forces and powers; they perhaps had no such knowledge themselves. They were intuitive perceptions of truth on their part. The scientific spirit of this, our age, was entirely unknown to them. The growth of the race in the meantime, the development of the scientific spirit in the pursuit and the finding of truth, makes us infinitely beyond them in some things, while in others they were far ahead of us. But this fact remains, and this is the important fact: If these things were actual facts in the lives of these early Hebrew prophets, they are then actual facts in our lives right now, today; or, if not actual facts, then they are facts that still lie in the realm of the potential, only waiting to be brought into the realm of the actual.
These were not unusual men in the sense that the Infinite Power, God, if you please, could or did speak to them alone. They are types, they are examples of how any man or any woman, through desire and through will, can open himself or herself to the leadings of Divine Wisdom, and have actualised in his or her life an ever-growing sense of Divine Power. For truly "God is the same yesterday, and today, and forever." His laws are unchanging as well as immutable.
None of these men taught, then, how to recognise the Divine Voice within, nor how to become continually growing embodiments of the Divine Power. They gave us perhaps, though, all they were able to give. Then came Jesus, the successor of this long line of illustrious Hebrew prophets, with a greater aptitude for the things of the spirit—the supreme embodiment of Divine realisation and revelation. With a greater knowledge of truth than they, he did greater things than they.
He not only did these works, but he showed how he did them. He not only revealed the Way, but so earnestly and so diligently he implored his hearers to follow the Way. He makes known the secret of his insight and his power: "The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." Again, "I can of my own self do nothing." And he then speaks of his purpose, his aim: "I am come that ye might have life, and that ye might have it more abundantly." A little later he adds: "The works that I do ye shall do also." Now again, these things mean something of a very definite nature, or they mean nothing at all.
The works done, the results achieved by Jesus' own immediate disciples and followers, and in turn their followers, as well as in the early church for close to two hundred years after his time, all attest the truth of his teaching and demonstrate unmistakably the results that follow.
Down through the intervening centuries, the teachings, the lives and the works of various seers, sages, and mystics, within the church and out of the church, have likewise attested the truth of his teachings. The bulk of the Christian world, however, since the third century, has been so concerned with various theories and teachings concerning Jesus, that it has missed almost completely the real vital and vitalising teachings of Jesus.
We have not been taught primarily to follow his injunctions, and to apply the truths that he revealed to the problems of our everyday living. Within the last two score of years or a little more, however, there has been a great going back directly to the teachings of Jesus, and a determination to prove their truth and to make effective their assurances. Also various laws in the realm of Mental and Spiritual Science have become clearly established and clearly formulated, that confirm all his fundamental teachings.
There are now definite and well-defined laws in relation to thought as a force, and the methods as to how it determines our material and bodily conditions. There are now certain well-defined laws pertaining to the subconscious mind, its ceaseless building activities, how it always takes its direction from the active, thinking mind, and how through this channel we may connect ourselves with reservoirs of power, so to speak, in an intelligent and effective manner.
There are now well-understood laws underlying mental suggestion, whereby it can be made a tremendous source of power in our own lives, and can likewise be made an effective agency in arousing the motive powers of another for his or her healing, habit-forming, character-building. There are likewise well-established facts not only as to the value, but the absolute need of periods of meditation and quiet, alone with the Source of our being, stilling the outer bodily senses, and fulfilling the conditions whereby the Voice of the Spirit can speak to us and through us, and the power of the Spirit can manifest in and through us.
A nation is great only as its people are great. Its people are great in the degree that they strike the balance between the life of the mind and the spirit—all the finer forces and emotions of life—and their outer business organisation and activities. When the latter become excessive, when they grow at the expense of the former, then the inevitable decay sets in, that spells the doom of that nation, and its time is tolled off in exactly the same manner, and under the same law, as has that of all the other nations before it that sought to reverse the Divine order of life.
The human soul and its welfare is the highest business that any state can give its attention to. To recognise or to fail to recognise the value of the human soul in other nations, determines its real greatness and grandeur, or its self-complacent but essential vacuity. It is possible for a nation, through subtle delusions, to get such an attack of the big head that it bends over backwards, and it is liable, in this exposed position, to get a thrust in its vitals.
To be carried too far along the road of efficiency, big business, expansion, world power, domination, at the expense of the great spiritual verities, the fundamental humanities of national life, that make for the real life and welfare of its people, and that give also its true and just relations with other nations and their people, is both dangerous and in the end suicidal—it can end in nothing but loss and eventual disaster. A silent revolution of thought is taking place in the minds of the people of all nations at this time, and will continue for some years to come. A stock-taking period in which tremendous revaluations are under way, is on. It is becoming clear-cut and decisive.
SOUL, MIND, BODY—THE SUBCONSCIOUS MIND THAT INTERRELATES THEM
There is a notable twofold characteristic of this our age—we might almost say: of this our generation. It is on the one hand a tremendously far-reaching interest in the deeper spiritual realities of life, in the things of the mind and the Spirit. On the other hand, there is a materialism that is apparent to all, likewise far-reaching. We are witnessing the two moving along, apparently at least, side by side.
There are those who believe that out of the latter the former is arising, that we are witnessing another great step forward on the part of the human race—a new era or age, so to speak. There are many things that would indicate this to be a fact. The fact that the material alone does not satisfy, and that from the very constitution of the human mind and soul, it cannot satisfy, may be a fundamental reason for this.
It may be also that as we are apprehending, to a degree never equalled in the world's history, the finer forces in nature, and are using them in a very practical and useful way in the affairs and the activities of the daily life, we are also and perhaps in a more pronounced degree, realising, understanding, and using the finer, the higher insights and forces, and therefore powers, of mind, of spirit, and of body.
I think there is a twofold reason for this widespread and rapidly increasing interest. A new psychology, or perhaps it were better to say, some new and more fully established laws of psychology, pertaining to the realm of the subconscious mind, its nature, and its peculiar activities and powers, has brought us another agency in life of tremendous significance and of far-reaching practical use.
Another reason is that the revelation and the religion of Jesus the Christ is witnessing a new birth, as it were. We are finding at last an entirely new content in his teachings, as well as in his life. We are dropping our interest in those phases of a Christianity that he probably never taught, and that we have many reasons now to believe he never even thought—things that were added long years after his time.
We are conscious, however, as never before, that that wonderful revelation, those wonderful teachings, and above all that wonderful life, have a content that can, that does, inspire, lift up, and make more effective, more powerful, more successful, and more happy, the life of every man and every woman who will accept, who will appropriate, who will live his teachings.
Look at it, however we will, this it is that accounts for the vast number of earnest, thoughtful, forward looking men and women who are passing over, and in many cases are passing from, traditional Christianity, and who either of their own initiative, or under other leadership, are going back to those simple, direct, God-impelling teachings of the Great Master. They are finding salvation in his teachings and his example, where they never could find it in various phases of the traditional teachings about him.
It is interesting to realise, and it seems almost strange that this new finding in psychology, and that this new and vital content in Christianity, have come about at almost identically the same time. Yet it is not strange, for the one but serves to demonstrate in a concrete and understandable manner the fundamental and essential principles of the other. Many of the Master's teachings of the inner life, teachings of "the Kingdom," given so far ahead of his time that the people in general, and in many instances even his disciples, were incapable of fully comprehending and understanding them, are now being confirmed and further elucidated by clearly defined laws of psychology.
Speculation and belief are giving way to a greater knowledge of law. The supernatural recedes into the background as we delve deeper into the supernormal. The unusual loses its miraculous element as we gain knowledge of the law whereby the thing is done. We are realising that no miracle has ever been performed in the world's history that was not through the understanding and the use of Law.
Jesus did unusual things; but he did them because of his unusual understanding of the law through which they could be done. He would not have us believe otherwise. To do so would be a distinct contradiction of the whole tenor of his teachings and his injunctions. Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free, was his own admonition. It was the great and passionate longing of his master heart that the people to whom he came, grasp the interior meanings of his teachings. How many times he felt the necessity of rebuking even his disciples for dragging his teachings down through their material interpretations. As some of the very truths that he taught are now corroborated and more fully understood, and in some cases amplified by well-established laws of psychology, mystery recedes into the background.
We are reconstructing a more natural, a more sane, a more common-sense portrait of the Master. "It is the spirit that quickeneth," said he; "the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." Shall we recall again in this connection: "I am come that ye might have life and that ye might have it more abundantly"? When, therefore, we take him at his word, and listen intently to his words, and not so much to the words of others about him; when we place our emphasis upon the fundamental spiritual truths that he revealed and that he pleaded so earnestly to be taken in the simple, direct way in which he taught them, we are finding that the religion of the Christ means a clearer and healthier understanding of life and its problems through a greater knowledge of the elemental forces and laws of life.
Ignorance enchains and enslaves. Truth—which is but another way of saying a clear and definite knowledge of Law, the elemental laws of soul, of mind, and body, and of the universe about us—brings freedom. Jesus revealed essentially a spiritual philosophy of life. His whole revelation pertained to the essential divinity of the human soul and the great gains that would follow the realisation of this fact. His whole teaching revolved continually around his own expression, used again and again, the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven, and which he so distinctly stated was an inner state or consciousness or realisation. Something not to be found outside of oneself but to be found only within.
We make a great error to regard man as merely a duality—mind and body. Man is a trinity,—soul, mind, and body, each with its own functions,—and it is the right coordinating of these that makes the truly efficient and eventually the perfect life. Anything less is always one-sided and we may say, continually out of gear. It is essential to a correct understanding, and therefore for any adequate use of the potential powers and forces of the inner life, to realise this.
It is the physical body that relates us to the physical universe about us, that in which we find ourselves in this present form of existence. But the body, wondrous as it is in its functions and its mechanism, is not the life. It has no life and no power in itself. It is of the earth, earthy. Every particle of it has come from the earth through the food we eat in combination with the air we breathe and the water we drink, and every part of it in time will go back to the earth. It is the house we inhabit while here.
We can make it a hovel or a mansion; we can make it even a pig-sty or a temple, according as the soul, the real self, chooses to function through it. We should make it servant, but through ignorance of the real powers within, we can permit it to become master. "Know ye not," said the Great Apostle to the Gentiles, "that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?"
The soul is the self, the soul made in the image of Eternal Divine Life, which, as Jesus said, is Spirit. The essential reality of the soul is Spirit. Spirit—Being—is one and indivisible, manifesting itself, however, in individual forms in existence. Divine Being and the human soul are therefore in essence the same, the same in quality. Their difference, which, however, is very great—though less in some cases than in others—is a difference in degree.
Divine Being is the cosmic force, the essential essence, the Life therefore of all there is in existence. The soul is individual personal existence. The soul while in this form of existence manifests, functions through the channel of a material body. It is the mind that relates the two. It is through the medium of the mind that the two must be coordinated. The soul, the self, while in this form of existence, must have a body through which to function. The body, on the other hand, to reach and to maintain its highest state, must be continually infused with the life force of the soul. The life force of the soul is Spirit. If spirit, then essentially one with Infinite Divine Spirit, for spirit, Being, is one.
The embodied soul finds itself the tenant of a material body in a material universe, and according to a plan as yet, at least, beyond our human understanding, whatever may be our thoughts, our theories regarding it. The whole order of life as we see it, all the world of Nature about us, and we must believe the order of human life, is a gradual evolving from the lower to the higher, from the cruder to the finer. The purpose of life is unquestionably unfoldment, growth, advancement—likewise the evolving from the lower and the coarser to the higher and the finer.
The higher insights and powers of the soul, always potential within, become of value only as they are realised and used. Evolution implies always involution. The substance of all we shall ever attain or be, is within us now, waiting for realisation and thereby expression. The soul carries its own keys to all wisdom and to all valuable and usable power.
It was that highly illumined seer, Emanuel Swedenborg, who said: "Every created thing is in itself inanimate and dead, but it is animated and caused to live by this, that the Divine is in it and that it exists in and from the Divine." Again: "The universal end of creation is that there should be an external union of the Creator with the created universe; and this would not be possible unless there were beings in whom His Divine might be present as if in itself; thus in whom it might dwell and abide. To be His abode, they must receive His love and wisdom by a power which seems to be their own; thus, must lift themselves up to the Creator as if by their own power, and unite themselves with Him. Without this mutual action no union would be possible." And again: "Every one who duly considers the matter may know that the body does not think, because it is material, but the soul, because it is spiritual. All the rational life, therefore, which appears in the body belongs to the spirit, for the matter of the body is annexed, and, as it were, joined to the spirit, in order that the latter may live and perform uses in the natural world.... Since everything which lives in the body, and acts and feels by virtue of that life, belongs to the spirit alone, it follows that the spirit is the real man; or, what comes to the same thing, man himself is a spirit, in a form similar to that of his body."
Spirit being the real man, it follows that the great, central fact of all experience, of all human life, is the coming into a conscious, vital realisation of our source, of our real being, in other words, of our essential oneness with the spirit of Infinite Life and Power—the source of all life and all power. We need not look for outside help when we have within us waiting to be realised, and thereby actualised, this Divine birthright.
Browning was prophet as well as poet when in "Paracelsus" he said:
Truth is within ourselves; it takes no rise From outward things, whate'er you may believe. There is an inmost centre in us all, Where truth abides in fulness; and around Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in, This perfect, clear perception—which is truth. A baffling and perverting carnal mesh Binds it, and makes all error: and, to know Rather consists in opening out a way Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape, Than in effecting entry for a light Supposed to be without.
How strangely similar in meaning it seems to that saying of an earlier prophet, Isaiah: "And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand and when ye turn to the left."
All great educators are men of great vision. It was Dr. Hiram Corson who said: "It is what man draws up from his sub-self which is of prime importance in his true education, not what is put into him. It is the occasional uprising of our sub-selves that causes us, at times, to feel that we are greater than we know." A new psychology, spiritual science, a more commonsense interpretation of the great revelation of the Christ of Nazareth, all combine to enable us to make this occasional uprising our natural and normal state.
No man has probably influenced the educational thought and practice of the entire world more than Friedrich Froebel. In that great book of his, "The Education of Man," he bases his entire system upon the following, which constitutes the opening of its first chapter: "In all things there lives and reigns an eternal law. This all-controlling law is necessarily based on an all-pervading, energetic, living, self-conscious, and hence eternal, Unity.... This Unity is God. All things have come from the Divine Unity, from God, and have their origin in the Divine Unity, in God alone. God is the sole source of all things. All things live and have their being in and through the Divine Unity, in and through God. All things are only through the divine effluence that lives in them. The divine effluence that lives in each thing is the essence of each thing.
"It is the destiny and life work of all things to unfold their essence, hence their divine being, and, therefore, the Divine Unity itself—to reveal God in their external and transient being. It is the special destiny and life work of man, as an intelligent and rational being, to become fully, vividly, conscious of this essence of the divine effluence in him, and therefore of God.
"The precept for life in general and for every one is: Exhibit only thy spiritual, thy life, in the external, and by means of the external in thy actions, and observe the requirements of thy inner being and its nature."
Here is not only an undying basis for all real education, but also the basis of all true religion, as well as the basis of all ideal philosophy. Yes, there could be no evolution, unless the essence of all to be evolved, unfolded, were already involved in the human soul. To follow the higher leadings of the soul, which is so constituted that it is the inlet, and as a consequence the outlet of Divine Spirit, Creative Energy, the real source of all wisdom and power; to project its leadings into every phase of material activity and endeavour, constitutes the ideal life. It was Emerson who said: "Every soul is not only the inlet, but may become the outlet of all there is in God." To keep this inlet open, so as not to shut out the Divine inflow, is the secret of all higher achievement, as well as attainment.
There is a wood separated by a single open field from my house. In it, halfway down a little hillside, there was some years ago a spring. It was at one time walled up with rather large loose stone—some three feet across at the top. In following a vaguely defined trail through the wood one day in the early spring, a trail at one time evidently considerably used, it led me to this spot. I looked at the stone enclosure, partly moss-grown. I wondered why, although the ground was wet around it, there was no water in or running from what had evidently been at one time a well-used spring.
A few days later when the early summer work was better under way, I took an implement or two over, and half scratching, half digging inside the little wall, I found layer after layer of dead leaves and sediment, dead leaves and sediment. Presently water became evident, and a little later it began to rise within the wall. In a short time there was nearly three feet of water. It was cloudy, no bottom could be seen. I sat down and waited for it to settle.
Presently I discerned a ledge bottom and the side against the hill was also ledge. On this side, close to the bottom, I caught that peculiar movement of little particles of silvery sand, and looking more closely I could see a cleft in the rock where the water came gushing and bubbling in. Soon the entire spring became clear as crystal, and the water finding evidently its old outlet, made its way down the little hillside. I was soon able to trace and to uncover its course as it made its way to the level place below.
As the summer went on I found myself going to the spot again and again. Flowers that I found in no other part of the wood, before the autumn came were blooming along the little watercourse. Birds in abundance came to drink and to bathe. Several times I have found the half-tame deer there. Twice we were but thirty to forty paces apart. They have watched my approach, and as I stopped, have gone on with their drinking, evidently unafraid—as if it were likewise their possession. And so it is.
After spending a most valuable hour or two in the quiet there one afternoon, I could not help but wonder as I walked home whether perchance the spring may not be actually happy in being able to resume its life, to fulfil, so to speak, its destiny; happy also in the service it renders flowers and the living wild things—happy in the service it renders even me. I am doubly happy and a hundred times repaid in the little help I gave it. It needed help, to enable it effectively to keep connection with its source. As it became gradually shut off from this, it weakened, became then stagnant, and finally it ceased its active life.
Containing a fundamental truth deeper perhaps than we realise, are these words of that gifted seer, Emanuel Swedenborg: "There is only one Fountain of Life, and the life of man is a stream therefrom, which if it were not continually replenished from its source would instantly cease to flow." And likewise these: "Those who think in the light of interior reason can see that all things are connected by intermediate links with the First Cause, and that whatever is not maintained in that connection must cease to exist."
There is a mystic force that transcends any powers of the intellect or of the body, that becomes manifest and operative in the life of man when this God-consciousness becomes awakened and permeates his entire being. Failure to realise and to keep in constant communion with our Source is what causes fears, forebodings, worry, inharmony, conflict, conflict that downs us many times in mind, in spirit, in body—failure to follow that Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world, failure to hear and to heed that Voice of the soul, that speaks continually clearer as we accustom ourselves to listen to and to heed it, failure to follow those intuitions with which the soul, every soul, is endowed, and that lead us aright and that become clearer in their leadings as we follow them. It is this guidance and this sustaining power that all great souls fall back upon in times of great crises.
This single stanza by Edwin Markham voices the poet's inspiration:
At the heart of the cyclone tearing the sky, And flinging the clouds and the towers by, Is a place of central calm; So, here in the roar of mortal things I have a place where my spirit sings, In the hollow of God's palm.
"That the Divine Life and Energy actually lives in us," was the philosopher Fichte's reply to the proposition—"the profoundest knowledge that man can attain." And speaking of the man to whom this becomes a real, vital, conscious realisation, he said: "His whole existence flows forth, softly and gently, from his Inward Being, and issues out into Reality without difficulty or hindrance."
There are certain faculties that we have that are not a part of the active thinking mind; they seem to be no part of what we might term our conscious intelligence. They transcend any possible activities of our regular mental processes, and they are in some ways independent of them. Through some avenue, suggestions, intuitions of truth, intuitions of occurrences of which through the thinking mind we could know nothing, are at times borne in upon us; they flash into our consciousness, as we say, quite independent of any mental action on our part, and sometimes when we are thinking of something quite foreign to that which comes to, that which "impresses" us.
This seems to indicate a source of knowledge, a faculty that is distinct from, but that acts in various ways in conjunction with, the active thinking mind. It performs likewise certain very definite and distinct functions in connection with the body. It is this that is called the subconscious mind—by some the superconscious or the supernormal mind, by others the subliminal self.
Just what the subconscious mind is no man knows. It is easier to define its functions and to describe its activities than it is to state in exact terms what it is. It is similar in this respect to the physical force—if it be a physical force—electricity. It is only of late years that we know anything of electricity at all. Today we know a great deal of its nature and the laws of its action. No man living can tell exactly what electricity is. We are nevertheless making wonderful practical applications of it. We are learning more about it continually. Some day we may know what it actually is.
The fact that the subconscious mind seems to function in a realm apart from anything that has to do with our conscious mental processes, and also that it has some definite functions as both directing and building functions to perform in connection with the body, and that it is at the same time subject to suggestion and direction from the active thinking mind, would indicate that it may be the true connecting link, the medium of exchange, between the soul and the body, the connector of the spiritual and the material so far as man is concerned.
THE WAY MIND THROUGH THE SUBCONSCIOUS MIND BUILDS BODY
When one says that he numbers among his acquaintances some who are as old at sixty as some others are at eighty, he but gives expression to a fact that has become the common possession of many. I have known those who at fifty-five and sixty were to all intents and purposes really older, more decrepit, and rapidly growing still more decrepit both in mind and body, than many another at seventy and seventy-five and even at eighty.
History, then, is replete with instances, memorable instances, of people, both men and women, who have accomplished things at an age—who have even begun and carried through to successful completion things at an age that would seem to thousands of others, in the captivity of age, with their backs to the future, ridiculous even to think of accomplishing, much less of beginning. On account of a certain law that has always seemed to me to exist and that I am now firmly convinced is very exact in its workings, I have been interested in talking with various ones and in getting together various facts relative to this great discrepancy in the ages of these two classes of "old" people.
Within the year I called upon a friend whom, on account of living in a different portion of the country, I hadn't seen for nearly ten years. Conversation revealed to me the fact that he was then in his eighty-eighth year. I could notice scarcely a change in his appearance, walk, voice, and spirit. We talked at length upon the various, so-called, periods of life. He told me that about the only difference that he noticed in himself as compared with his middle life was that now when he goes out to work in his garden, and among his trees, bushes, and vines—and he has had many for many years—he finds that he is quite ready to quit and to come in at the end of about two hours, and sometimes a little sooner, when formerly he could work regularly without fatigue for the entire half day. In other words, he has not the same degree of endurance that he once had.
Among others, there comes to mind in this connection another who is a little under seventy. It chances to be a woman. She is bent and decrepit and growing more so by very fixed stages each twelvemonth. I have known her for over a dozen years. At the time when I first knew her she was scarcely fifty-eight, she was already bent and walked with an uncertain, almost faltering tread. The dominant note of her personality was then as now, but more so now, fear for the present, fear for the future, a dwelling continually on her ills, her misfortunes, her symptoms, her approaching and increasing helplessness.
Such cases I have observed again and again; so have all who are at all interested in life and in its forces and its problems. What is the cause of this almost world-wide difference in these two lives? In this case it is as clear as day—the mental characteristics and the mental habits of each.
In the first case, here was one who early got a little philosophy into his life and then more as the years passed. He early realised that in himself his good or his ill fortune lay; that the mental attitude we take toward anything determines to a great extent our power in connection with it, as well as its effects upon us. He grew to love his work and he did it daily, but never under high pressure. He was therefore benefited by it. His face was always to the future, even as it is today. This he made one of the fundamental rules of his life. He was helped in this, he told me in substance, by an early faith which with the passing of the years has ripened with him into a demonstrable conviction—that there is a Spirit of Infinite Life back of all, working in love in and through the lives of all, and that in the degree that we realise it as the one Supreme Source of our lives, and when through desire and will, which is through the channel of our thoughts, we open our lives so that this Higher Power can work definitely in and through us, and then go about and do our daily work without fears or forebodings, the passing of the years sees only the highest good entering into our lives.
In the case of the other one whom we have mentioned, a repetition seems scarcely necessary. Suffice it to say that the common expression on the part of those who know her—I have heard it numbers of times—is: "What a blessing it will be to herself and to others when she has gone!"
A very general rule with but few exceptions can be laid down as follows: The body ordinarily looks as old as the mind thinks and feels.
Shakespeare anticipated by many years the best psychology of the times when he said: "It is the mind that makes the body rich."
It seems to me that our great problem, or rather our chief concern, should not be so much how to stay young in the sense of possessing all the attributes of youth, for the passing of the years does bring changes, but how to pass gracefully, and even magnificently, and with undiminished vigour from youth to middle age, and then how to carry that middle age into approaching old age, with a great deal more of the vigour and the outlook of middle life than we ordinarily do.
The mental as well as the physical helps that are now in the possession of this our generation, are capable of working a revolution in the lives of many who are or who may become sufficiently awake to them, so that with them there will not be that—shall we say—immature passing from middle life into a broken, purposeless, decrepit, and sunless, and one might almost say, soulless old age.
It seems too bad that so many among us just at the time that they have become of most use to themselves, their families, and to the world, should suddenly halt and then continue in broken health, and in so many cases lie down and die. Increasing numbers of thinking people the world over are now, as never before, finding that this is not necessary, that something is at fault, that that fault is in ourselves. If so, then reversely, the remedy lies in ourselves, in our own hands, so to speak.
In order to actualise and to live this better type of life we have got to live better from both sides, both the mental and the physical, this with all due respect to Shakespeare and to all modern mental scientists.
The body itself, what we term the physical body, whatever may be the facts regarding a finer spiritual body within it all the time giving form to and animating and directing all its movements, is of material origin, and derives its sustenance from the food we take, from the air we breathe, the water we drink. In this sense it is from the earth, and when we are through with it, it will go back to the earth.
The body, however, is not the Life; it is merely the material agency that enables the Life to manifest in a material universe for a certain, though not necessarily a given, period of time. It is the Life, or the Soul, or the Personality that uses, and that in using shapes and moulds, the body and that also determines its strength or its weakness. When this is separated from the body, the body at once becomes a cold, inert mass, commencing immediately to decompose into the constituent material elements that composed it—literally going back to the earth and the elements whence it came.
It is through the instrumentality or the agency of thought that the Life, the Self, uses, and manifests through, the body. Again, while it is true that the food that is taken and assimilated nourishes, sustains and builds the body, it is also true that the condition and the operation of the mind through the avenue of thought determines into what shape or form the body is so builded. So in this sense it is true that mind builds body; it is the agency, the force that determines the shaping of the material elements.
Here is a wall being built. Bricks are the material used in its construction. We do not say that the bricks are building the wall; we say that the mason is building it, as is the case. He is using the material that is supplied him, in this case bricks, giving form and structure in a definite, methodical manner. Again, back of the mason is his mind, acting through the channel of his thought, that is directing his hands and all his movements. Without this guiding, directing force no wall could take shape, even if millions of bricks were delivered upon the scene.
So it is with the body. We take the food, the water, we breathe the air; but this is all and always acted upon by a higher force. Thus it is that mind builds body, the same as in every department of our being it is the great builder. Our thoughts shape and determine our features, our walk, the posture of our bodies, our voices; they determine the effectiveness of our mental and our physical activities, as well as all our relations with and influence or effects upon others.
You say: "I admit the operation of and even in certain cases the power of thought, also that at times it has an influence upon our general feelings, but I do not admit that it can have any direct influence upon the body." Here is one who has allowed herself to be long given to grief, abnormally so—notice her lowered physical condition, her lack of vitality. The New York papers within the past twelve months recorded the case of a young lady in New Jersey who, from constant grieving over the death of her mother, died, fell dead, within a week.
A man is handed a telegram. He is eating and enjoying his dinner. He reads the contents of the message. Almost immediately afterward, his body is a-tremble, his face either reddens or grows "ashy white," his appetite is gone; such is the effect of the mind upon the stomach that it literally refuses the food; if forced upon it, it may reject it entirely.
A message is delivered to a lady. She is in a genial, happy mood. Her face whitens; she trembles and her body falls to the ground in a faint, temporarily helpless, apparently lifeless. Such are the intimate relations between the mind and the body. Raise a cry of fire in a crowded theatre. It may be a false alarm. There are among the audience those who become seemingly palsied, powerless to move. It is the state of the mind, and within several seconds, that has determined the state of these bodies. Such are examples of the wonderfully quick influence of the mind on the body.
Great stress, or anxiety, or fear, may in two weeks' or even in two days' time so work its ravages that the person looks ten years or even twenty years older. A person has been long given to worry, or perhaps to worry in extreme form though not so long—a well-defined case of indigestion and general stomach trouble, with a generally lowered and sluggish vitality, has become pronounced and fixed.
Any type of thought that prevails in our mental lives will in time produce its correspondences in our physical lives. As we understand better these laws of correspondences, we will be more careful as to the types of thoughts and emotions we consciously, or unwittingly, entertain and live with. The great bulk of all diseases, we will find, as we are continually finding more and more, are in the mind before being in the body, or are generated in the body through certain states and conditions of mind.
The present state and condition of the body have been produced primarily by the thoughts that have been taken by the conscious mind into the subconscious, that is so intimately related to and that directs all the subconscious and involuntary functions of the body. Says one: It may be true that the mind has had certain effects upon the body; but to be able consciously to affect the body through the mind is impossible and even unthinkable, for the body is a solid, fixed, material form.
We must get over the idea, as we quickly will, if we study into the matter, that the body, in fact anything that we call material and solid, is really solid. Even in the case of a piece of material as "solid" as a bar of steel, the atoms forming the molecules are in continual action each in conjunction with its neighbour. In the last analysis the body is composed of cells—cells of bone, vital organ, flesh, sinew. In the body the cells are continually changing, forming and reforming. Death would quickly take place were this not true. Nature is giving us a new body practically every year.
There are very few elements, cells, in the body of today that were there a year ago. The rapidity with which a cut or wound on the body is replaced by healthy tissue, the rapidity with which it heals, is an illustration of this. One "touches" himself in shaving. In a week, sometimes in less than a week, if the blood and the cell structure be particularly healthy, there is no trace of the cut, the formation of new cell tissue has completely repaired it. Through the formation of new cell structure the life-force within, acting through the blood, is able to rebuild and repair, if not too much interfered with, very rapidly. The reason, we may say almost the sole reason, that surgery has made such great advances during the past few years, so much greater correspondingly than medicine, is on account of a knowledge of the importance of and the use of antiseptics—keeping the wound clean and entirely free from all extraneous matter.
So then, the greater portion of the body is really new, therefore young, in that it is almost entirely this year's growth. Newness of form is continually being produced in the body by virtue of this process of perpetual renewal that is continually going on, and the new cells and tissues are just as new as is the new leaf that comes forth in the springtime to take the place of and to perform the same functions as the one that was thrown off by the tree last autumn.
The skin renews itself through the casting off of used cells (those that have already performed their functions) most rapidly, taking but a few weeks. The muscles, the vital organs, the entire arterial system, the brain and the nervous system all take longer, but all are practically renewed within a year, some in much less time. Then comes the bony structure, taking the longest, varying, we are told, from seven and eight months to a year, in unusual cases fourteen months and longer.
It is, then, through this process of cell formation that the physical body has been built up, and through the same process that it is continually renewing itself. It is not therefore at any time or at any age a solid fixed mass or material, but a structure in a continually changing fluid form. It is therefore easy to see how we have it in our power, when we are once awake to the relations between the conscious mind and the subconscious—and it in turn in its relations to the various involuntary and vital functions of the body—to determine to a great extent how the body shall be built or how it shall be rebuilt.
Mentally to live in any state or attitude of mind is to take that state or condition into the subconscious. The subconscious mind does and always will produce in the body after its own kind. It is through this law that we externalise and become in body what we live in our minds. If we have predominating visions of and harbour thoughts of old age and weakness, this state, with all its attendant circumstances, will become externalised in our bodies far more quickly than if we entertain thoughts and visions of a different type. Said Archdeacon Wilberforce in a notable address in Westminster Abbey some time ago: "The recent researches of scientific men, endorsed by experiments in the Salpetriere in Paris, have drawn attention to the intensely creative power of suggestions made by the conscious mind to the subconscious mind."
THE POWERFUL AID OF THE MIND IN REBUILDING BODY—HOW BODY HELPS MIND
"The body looks," some one has said, "as old as the mind feels." By virtue of a great mental law and at the same time chemical law we are well within the realm of truth when we say: The body ordinarily is as old as the mind feels.
Every living organism is continually going through two processes: it is continually dying, and continually being renewed through the operation and the power of the Life Force within it. In the human body it is through the instrumentality of the cell that this process is going on. The cell is the ultimate constituent in the formation and in the life of tissue, fibre, tendon, bone, muscle, brain, nerve system, vital organ. It is the instrumentality that Nature, as we say, uses to do her work.
The cell is formed; it does its work; it serves its purpose and dies; and all the while new cells are being formed to take its place. This process of new cell formation is going on in the body of each of us much more rapidly and uniformly than we think. Science has demonstrated the fact that there are very few cells in the body today that were there twelve months ago. The form of the body remains practically the same; but its constituent elements are in a constant state of change. The body, therefore, is continually changing; it is never in a fixed state in the sense of being a solid, but is always in a changing, fluid state. It is being continually remade.
It is the Life, or the Life Force within, acting under the direction and guidance of the subconscious or subjective mind that is the agency through which this continually new cell-formation process is going on. The subconscious mind is, nevertheless, always subject to suggestions and impressions that are conveyed to it by the conscious or sense mind; and here lies the great fact, the one all-important fact for us so far as desirable or undesirable, so far as healthy or unhealthy, so far as normal or aging body-building is concerned.
That we have it in our power to determine our physical and bodily conditions to a far greater extent than we do is an undeniable fact. That we have it in our power to determine and to dictate the conditions of "old age" to a marvellous degree is also an undeniable fact—if we are sufficiently keen and sufficiently awake to begin early enough.
If any arbitrary divisions of the various periods of life were allowable, I should make the enumeration as follows: Youth, barring the period of babyhood, to forty-five; middle age, forty-five to sixty; approaching age, sixty to seventy-five; old age, seventy-five to ninety-five and a hundred.
That great army of people who "age" long before their time, that likewise great army of both men and women who along about middle age, say from forty-five to sixty, break and, as we say, all of a sudden go to pieces, and many die, just at the period when they should be in the prime of life, in the full vigour of manhood and womanhood and of greatest value to themselves, to their families, and to the world, is something that is contrary to nature, and is one of the pitiable conditions of our time. A greater knowledge, a little foresight, a little care in time could prevent this in the great majority of cases, in ninety cases out of every hundred, without question.
Abounding health and strength—wholeness—is the natural law of the body. The Life Force of the body, acting always under the direction of the subconscious mind, will build, and always does build, healthily and normally, unless too much interfered with. It is this that determines the type of the cell structure that is continually being built into the body from the available portions of the food that we take to give nourishment to the body. It is affected for good or for bad, helped or hindered, in its operation by the type of conscious thought that is directed toward it, and that it is always influenced by.
Of great suggestive value is the following by an able writer and practitioner:
"God has managed, and perpetually manages, to insert into our nature a tendency toward health, and against the unnatural condition which we call disease. When our flesh receives a wound, a strange nursing and healing process is immediately commenced to repair the injury. So in all diseases, organic or functional, this mysterious healing power sets itself to work at once to triumph over the morbid condition.... Cannot this healing process be greatly accelerated by a voluntary and conscious action of the mind, assisted, if need be, by some other person? I unhesitatingly affirm, from experience and observation, that it can. By some volitional, mental effort and process of thought, this sanative colatus, or healing power which God has given to our physiological organism, may be greatly quickened and intensified in its action upon the body. Here is the secret philosophy of the cures effected by Jesus Christ.... There is a law of the action of mind on the body that is no more an impenetrable mystery than the law of gravitation. It can be understood and acted upon in the cure of disease as well as any other law of nature."
If, then, it be possible through this process to change physical conditions in the body even after they have taken form and have become fixed, as we say, isn't it possible even more easily to determine the type of cell structure that is grown in the first place?
The ablest minds in the world have thought and are thinking that if we could find a way of preventing the hardening of the cells of the system, producing in turn hardened arteries and what is meant by the general term "ossification," that the process of aging, growing old, could be greatly retarded, and that the condition of perpetual youth that we seem to catch glimpses of in rare individuals here and there could be made a more common occurrence than we find it today.
The cause of ossification is partly mental, partly physical, and in connection with them both are hereditary influences and conditions that have to be taken into consideration.
Shall we look for a moment to the first? The food that is taken into the system, or the available portions of the food, is the building material; but the mind is always the builder.
There are, then, two realms of mind, the conscious and the subconscious. Another way of expressing it would be to say that mind functions through two avenues—the avenue of the conscious and the avenue of the subconscious. The conscious is the thinking mind; the subconscious is the doing mind. The conscious is the sense mind, it comes in contact with and is acted upon through the avenue of the five senses. The subconscious is that quiet, finer, all-permeating inner mind or force that guides all the inner functions, the life functions of the body, and that watches over and keeps them going even when we are utterly unconscious in sleep. The conscious suggests and gives directions; the subconscious receives and carries into operation the suggestions that are received.
The thoughts, ideas, and even beliefs and emotions of the conscious mind are the seeds that are taken in by the subconscious and that in this great realm of causation will germinate and produce of their own kind. The chemical activities that go on in the process of cell formation in the body are all under the influence, the domination of this great all-permeating subconscious, or subjective realm within us.
In that able work, "The Laws of Psychic Phenomena," Dr. Thomas J. Hudson lays down this proposition: "That the subjective mind is constantly amenable to control by suggestion." It is easy, when we once understand and appreciate this great fact, to see how the body builds, or rather is built, for health and strength, or for disease and weakness; for youth and vigour, or for premature ossification and age. It is easy, then, to see how we can have a hand in, in brief can have the controlling hand in, building either the one or the other.
It is in the province of the intelligent man or woman to take hold of the wheel, so to speak, and to determine as an intelligent human being should, what condition or conditions shall be given birth and form to and be externalised in the body.
A noted thinker and writer has said: "Whatever the mind is set upon, or whatever it keeps most in view, that it is bringing to it, and the continual thought or imagining must at last take form and shape in the world of seen and tangible things."
And now, to be as concrete as possible, we have these facts: The body is continually changing in that it is continually throwing out and off, used cells, and continually building new cells to take their places. This process, as well as all the inner functions of the body, is governed and guarded by the subconscious realm of our being. The subconscious can do and does do whatever it is actually directed to do by the conscious, thinking mind. "We must be careful on what we allow our minds to dwell," said Sir John Lubbock, "the soul is dyed by its thoughts."
If we believe ourselves subject to weakness, decay, infirmity, when we should be "whole," the subconscious mind seizes upon the pattern that is sent it and builds cell structure accordingly. This is one great reason why one who is, as we say, chronically thinking and talking of his ailments and symptoms, who is complaining and fearing, is never well.
To see one's self, to believe, and therefore to picture one's self in mind as strong, healthy, active, well, is to furnish a pattern, is to give suggestion and therefore direction to the subconscious so that it will build cell tissue having the stamp and the force of healthy, vital, active life, which in turn means abounding health and strength.
So, likewise, at about the time that "old age" is supposed ordinarily to begin, when it is believed in and looked for by those about us and those who act in accordance with this thought, if we fall into this same mental drift, we furnish the subconscious the pattern that it will inevitably build bodily conditions in accordance with. We will then find the ordinarily understood marks and conditions of old age creeping upon us, and we will become subject to their influences in every department of our being. Whatever is thus pictured in the mind and lived in, the Life Force will produce.
To remain young in mind, in spirit, in feeling, is to remain young in body. Growing old at the period or age at which so many grow old, is to a great extent a matter of habit.
To think health and strength, to see ourselves continually growing in this condition, is to set into operation the subtlest dynamic force for the externalisation of these conditions in the body that can be even conceived of. If one's bodily condition, through abnormal, false mental and emotional habits, has become abnormal and diseased, this same attitude of mind, of spirit, of imagery, is to set into operation a subtle and powerful corrective agency that, if persisted in, will inevitably tend to bring normal, healthy conditions to the front again.
True, if these abnormal, diseased conditions have been helped on or have been induced by wrong physical habits, by the violation of physical laws, this violation must cease. But combine the two, and then give the body the care that it requires in a moderate amount of simple, wholesome food, regular cleansing to assist it in the elimination of impurities and of used cell structure that is being regularly cast off, an abundance of pure air and of moderate exercise, and a change amounting almost to a miracle can be wrought—it may be, indeed, what many people of olden time would have termed a miracle.
The mind thus becomes "a silent, transforming, sanative energy" of great potency and power. That it can be so used is attested by the fact of the large numbers, and the rapidly increasing numbers, all about us who are so using it. This is what many people all over our country are doing today, with the results that, by a great elemental law—Divine Law if you choose—many are curing themselves of various diseases, many are exchanging weakness and impotence for strength and power, many are ceasing, comparatively speaking, are politely refusing, to grow old.
Thought is a force, subtle and powerful, and it tends inevitably to produce of its kind.
In forestalling "old age," at least old age of the decrepit type, it is the period of middle life where the greatest care is to be employed. If, at about the time "old age" is supposed ordinarily to begin, the "turn" at middle life or a little later, we would stop to consider what this period really means, that it means with both men and women a period of life where some simple readjustments are to be made, a period of a little rest, a little letting up, a temporary getting back to the playtime of earlier years and a bringing of these characteristics back into life again, then a complete letting-up would not be demanded by nature a little later, as it is demanded in such a lamentably large number of cases at the present time.
So in a definite, deliberate way, youth should be blended into the middle life, and the resultant should be a force that will stretch middle life for an indefinite period into the future.
And what an opportunity is here for mothers, at about the time that the children have grown, and some or all even have "flown"! Of course, Mother shouldn't go and get foolish, she shouldn't go cavorting around in a sixteen-year-old hat, when the hat of the thirty-five-year-old would undoubtedly suit her better; but she should rejoice that the golden period of life is still before her. Now she has leisure to do many of those things that she has so long wanted to do.
The world's rich field of literature is before her; the line of study or work she has longed to pursue, she bringing to it a better equipped mind and experience than she has ever had before. There is also an interest in the life and welfare of her community, in civic, public welfare lines that the present and the quick-coming time before us along women's enfranchisement lines, along women's commonsense equality lines, is making her a responsible and full sharer in. And how much more valuable she makes herself, also, to her children, as well as to her community, inspiring in them greater confidence, respect, and admiration than if she allows herself to be pushed into the background by her own weak and false thoughts of herself, or by the equally foolish thoughts of her children in that she is now, or is at any time, to become a back number.
Life, as long as we are here, should mean continuous unfoldment, advancement, and this is undoubtedly the purpose of life; but age-producing forces and agencies mean deterioration, as opposed to growth and unfoldment. They ossify, weaken, stiffen, deaden, both mentally and physically. For him or her who yearns to stay young, the coming of the years does not mean or bring abandonment of hope or of happiness or of activity. It means comparative vigour combined with continually larger experience, and therefore even more usefulness, and hence pleasure and happiness.
Praise also to those who do not allow any one or any number of occurrences in life to sour their nature, rob them of their faith, or cripple their energies for the enjoyment of the fullest in life while here. It's those people who never allow themselves in spirit to be downed, no matter what their individual problems, surroundings, or conditions may be, but who chronically bob up serenely who, after all, are the masters of life, and who are likewise the strength-givers and the helpers of others. There are multitudes in the world today, there are readers of this volume, who could add a dozen or a score of years—teeming, healthy years—to their lives by a process of self-examination, a mental housecleaning, and a reconstructed, positive, commanding type of thought.
Tennyson was prophet when he sang:
Cleave then to the sunnier side of doubt, And cling to Faith beyond the forms of Faith! She reels not in the storm of warring words, She brightens at the clash of "Yes" and "No," She sees the Best that glimmers through the Worst, She feels the sun is hid but for a night, She spies the summer through the winter bud, She tastes the fruit before the blossom falls, She hears the lark within the songless egg, She finds the fountain where they wailed "mirage."
THOUGHT AS A FORCE IN DAILY LIVING
Some years ago an experience was told to me that has been the cause of many interesting observations since. It was related by a man living in one of our noted university towns in the Middle West. He was a well-known lecture manager, having had charge of many lecture tours for John B. Gough, Henry Ward Beecher, and others of like standing. He himself was a man of splendid character, was of a sensitive organism, as we say, and had always taken considerable interest in the powers and forces pertaining to the inner life.
As a young man he had left home, and during a portion of his first year away he had found employment on a Mississippi steamboat. One day in going down the river, while he was crossing the deck, a sudden stinging sensation seized him in the head, and instantly vivid thoughts of his mother, back at the old home, flashed into his mind. This was followed by a feeling of depression during the remainder of the day. The occurrence was so unusual and the impression of it was so strong that he made an account of it in his diary.
Some time later, on returning home, he was met in the yard by his mother. She was wearing a thin cap on her head which he had never seen her wear before. He remarked in regard to it. She raised the cap and doing so revealed the remains of a long ugly gash on the side of her head. She then said that some months before, naming the time, she had gone into the back yard and had picked up a heavy crooked stick having a sharp end, to throw it out of the way, and in throwing it, it had struck a wire clothesline immediately above her head and had rebounded with such force that it had given her the deep scalp wound of which she was speaking. On unpacking his bag he looked into his diary and found that the time she had mentioned corresponded exactly with the strange and unusual occurrence to himself as they were floating down the Mississippi.
The mother and son were very near one to the other, close in their sympathies, and there can be but little doubt that the thoughts of the mother as she was struck went out, and perhaps went strongly out, to her boy who was now away from home. He, being sensitively organised and intimately related to her in thought, and alone at the time, undoubtedly got, if not her thought, at least the effects of her thought, as it went out to him under these peculiar and tense conditions.
There are scores if not hundreds of occurrences of a more or less similar nature that have occurred in the lives of others, many of them well authenticated. How many of us, even, have had the experience of suddenly thinking of a friend of whom we have not thought for weeks or months, and then entirely unexpectedly meeting or hearing from this same friend. How many have had the experience of writing a friend, one who has not been written to or heard from for a long time, and within a day or two getting a letter from that friend—the letters "crossing," as we are accustomed to say. There are many other experiences or facts of a similar nature, and many of them exceedingly interesting, that could be related did space permit. These all indicate to me that thoughts are not mere indefinite things but that thoughts are forces, that they go out, and that every distinct, clear-cut thought has, or may have, an influence of some type.
Thought transference, which is now unquestionably an established fact, notwithstanding much chicanery that is still to be found in connection with it, is undoubtedly to be explained through the fact that thoughts are forces. A positive mind through practice, at first with very simple beginnings, gives form to a thought that another mind open and receptive to it—and sufficiently attuned to the other mind—is able to receive.
Wireless telegraphy, as a science, has been known but a comparatively short time. The laws underlying it have been in the universe perhaps, or undoubtedly, always. It is only lately that the mind of man has been able to apprehend them, and has been able to construct instruments in accordance with these laws. We are now able, through a knowledge of the laws of vibration and by using the right sending and receiving instruments, to send actual messages many hundreds of miles directly through the ether and without the more clumsy accessories of poles and wires. This much of it we know—there is perhaps even more yet to be known.
We may find, as I am inclined to think we shall find, that thought is a form of vibration. When a thought is born in the brain, it goes out just as a sound wave goes out, and transmits itself through the ether, making its impressions upon other minds that are in a sufficiently sensitive state to receive it; this in addition to the effects that various types of thoughts have upon the various bodily functions of the one with whom they take origin.
We are, by virtue of the laws of evolution, constantly apprehending the finer forces of nature—the tallow-dip, the candle, the oil lamp, years later a more refined type of oil, gas, electricity, the latest tungsten lights, radium—and we may be still only at the beginnings. Our finest electric lights of today may seem—will seem—crude and the quality of their light even more crude, twenty years hence, even less. Many other examples of our gradual passing from the coarser to the finer in connection with the laws and forces of nature occur readily to the minds of us all.
The present great interest on the part of thinking men and women everywhere, in addition to the more particular studies, experiments, and observations of men such as Sir Oliver Lodge, Sir William Ramsay, and others, in the powers and forces pertaining to the inner life is an indication that we have reached a time when we are making great strides along these lines. Some of our greatest scientists are thinking that we are on the eve of some almost startling glimpses into these finer realms. My own belief is that we are likewise on the eve of apprehending the more precise nature of thought as a force, the methods of its workings, and the law underlying its more intimate and everyday uses.
Of one thing we can rest assured; nothing in the universe, nothing in connection with human life is outside of the Realm of Law. The elemental law of Cause and Effect is absolute in its workings. One of the great laws pertaining to human life is: As is the inner, so always and inevitably is the outer—Cause, Effect. Our thoughts and emotions are the silent, subtle forces that are constantly externalising themselves in kindred forms in our outward material world. Like creates like, and like attracts like. As is our prevailing type of thought, so is our prevailing type and our condition of life.
The type of thought we entertain has its effect upon our energies and to a great extent upon our bodily conditions and states. Strong, clear-cut, positive, hopeful thought has a stimulating and life-giving effect upon one's outlook, energies, and activities; and upon all bodily functions and powers. A falling state of the mind induces a chronically gloomy outlook and produces inevitably a falling condition of the body. The mind grows, moreover, into the likeness of the thoughts one most habitually entertains and lives with. Every thought reproduces of its kind.
Says an authoritative writer in dealing more particularly with the effects of certain types of thoughts and emotions upon bodily conditions: "Out of our own experience we know that anger, fear, worry, hate, revenge, avarice, grief, in fact all negative and low emotions, produce weakness and disturbance not only in the mind but in the body as well. It has been proved that they actually generate poisons in the body, they depress the circulation; they change the quality of the blood, making it less vital; they affect the great nerve centres and thus partially paralyse the very seat of the bodily activities. On the other hand, faith, hope, love, forgiveness, joy, and peace, all such emotions are positive and uplifting, and so act on the body as to restore and maintain harmony and actually to stimulate the circulation and nutrition."
The one who does not allow himself to be influenced or controlled by fears or forebodings is the one who ordinarily does not yield to discouragements. He it is who is using the positive, success-bringing types of thought that are continually working for him for the accomplishment of his ends. The things that he sees in the ideal, his strong, positive, and therefore creative type of thought, is continually helping to actualise in the realm of the real.
We sometimes speak lightly of ideas, but this world would be indeed a sorry place in which to live were it not for ideas—and were it not for ideals. Every piece of mechanism that has ever been built, if we trace back far enough, was first merely an idea in some man's or woman's mind. Every structure or edifice that has ever been reared had form first in this same immaterial realm. So every great undertaking of whatever nature had its inception, its origin, in the realm of the immaterial—at least as we at present call it—before it was embodied and stood forth in material form.
It is well, then, that we have our ideas and our ideals. It is well, even, to build castles in the air, if we follow these up and give them material clothing or structure, so that they become castles on the ground. Occasionally it is true that these may shrink or, rather, may change their form and become cabins; but many times we find that an expanded vision and an expanded experience lead us to a knowledge of the fact that, so far as happiness and satisfaction are concerned, the contents of a cabin may outweigh many times those of the castle.
Successful men and women are almost invariably those possessing to a supreme degree the element of faith. Faith, absolute, unconquerable faith, is one of the essential concomitants, therefore one of the great secrets of success. We must realise, and especially valuable is it for young men and women to realise, that one carries his success or his failure with him, that it does not depend upon outside conditions. There are some that no circumstances or combinations of circumstances can thwart or keep down. Let circumstance seem to thwart or circumvent them in one direction, and almost instantly they are going forward along another direction. Circumstance is kept busy keeping up with them. When she meets such, after a few trials, she apparently decides to give up and turn her attention to those of the less positive, the less forceful, therefore the less determined, types of mind and of life. Circumstance has received some hard knocks from men and women of this type. She has grown naturally timid and will always back down whenever she recognises a mind, and therefore a life, of sufficient force.
To make the best of whatever present conditions are, to form and clearly to see one's ideal, though it may seem far distant and almost impossible, to believe in it, and to believe in one's ability to actualise it—this is the first essential. Not, then, to sit and idly fold the hands, expecting it to actualise itself, but to take hold of the first thing that offers itself to do,—that lies sufficiently along the way,—to do this faithfully, believing, knowing, that it is but the step that will lead to the next best thing, and this to the next; this is the second and the completing stage of all accomplishment.
We speak of fate many times as if it were something foreign to or outside of ourselves, forgetting that fate awaits always our own conditions. A man decides his own fate through the types of thoughts he entertains and gives a dominating influence in his life. He sits at the helm of his thought world and, guiding, decides his own fate, or, through negative, vacillating, and therefore weakening thought, he drifts, and fate decides him. Fate is not something that takes form and dominates us irrespective of any say on our own part. Through a knowledge and an intelligent and determined use of the silent but ever-working power of thought we either condition circumstances, or, lacking this knowledge or failing to apply it, we accept the role of a conditioned circumstance. It is a help sometimes to realise and to voice with Henley:
Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul.
The thoughts that we entertain not only determine the conditions of our own immediate lives, but they influence, perhaps in a much more subtle manner than most of us realise, our relations with and our influence upon those with whom we associate or even come into contact. All are influenced, even though unconsciously, by them.
Thoughts of good will, sympathy, magnanimity, good cheer—in brief, all thoughts emanating from a spirit of love—are felt in their positive, warming, and stimulating influences by others; they inspire in turn the same types of thoughts and feelings in them, and they come back to us laden with their ennobling, stimulating, pleasure-bringing influences.
Thoughts of envy, or malice, or hatred, or ill will are likewise felt by others. They are influenced adversely by them. They inspire either the same types of thoughts and emotions in them; or they produce in them a certain type of antagonistic feeling that has the tendency to neutralise and, if continued for a sufficient length of time, deaden sympathy and thereby all friendly relations.
We have heard much of "personal magnetism." Careful analysis will, I think, reveal the fact that the one who has to any marked degree the element of personal magnetism is one of the large-hearted, magnanimous, cheer-bringing, unself-centred types, whose positive thought forces are being continually felt by others, and are continually inspiring and calling forth from others these same splendid attributes. I have yet to find any one, man or woman, of the opposite habits and, therefore, trend of mind and heart who has had or who has even to the slightest perceptible degree the quality that we ordinarily think of when we use the term "personal magnetism."
If one would have friends he or she must be a friend, must radiate habitually friendly, helpful thoughts, good will, love. The one who doesn't cultivate the hopeful, cheerful, uncomplaining, good-will attitude toward life and toward others becomes a drag, making life harder for others as well as for one's self.
Ordinarily we find in people the qualities we are mostly looking for, or the qualities that our own prevailing characteristics call forth. The larger the nature, the less critical and cynical it is, the more it is given to looking for the best and the highest in others, and the less, therefore, is it given to gossip.
It was Jeremy Bentham who said: "In order to love mankind, we must not expect too much of them." And Goethe had a still deeper vision when he said: "Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though it were his own."
The chief characteristic of the gossip is that he or she prefers to live in the low-lying miasmic strata of life, revelling in the negatives of life and taking joy in finding and peddling about the findings that he or she naturally makes there. The larger natures see the good and sympathise with the weaknesses and the frailties of others. They realise also that it is so consummately inconsistent—many times even humorously inconsistent—for one also with weaknesses, frailties, and faults, though perhaps of a little different character, to sit in judgment of another. Gossip concerning the errors or shortcomings of another is judging another. The one who is himself perfect is the one who has the right to judge another. By a strange law, however, though by a natural law, we find, as we understand life in its fundamentals better, such a person is seldom if ever given to judging, much less to gossip.
Life becomes rich and expansive through sympathy, good will, and good cheer; not through cynicism or criticism. That splendid little poem of but a single stanza by Edwin Markham, "Outwitted," points after all to one of life's fundamentals:
He drew a circle that shut me out— Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout, But Love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle that took him in!
JESUS THE SUPREME EXPONENT OF THE INNER FORCES AND POWERS: HIS PEOPLE'S RELIGION AND THEIR CONDITION
In order to have any true or adequate understanding of what the real revelation and teachings of Jesus were, two things must be borne in mind. It is necessary in the first place, not only to have a knowledge of, but always to bear in mind the method, the medium through which the account of his life has come down to us. Again, before the real content and significance of Jesus' revelation and teachings can be intelligently understood, it is necessary that we have a knowledge of the conditions of the time in which he lived and of the people to whom he spoke, to whom his revelation was made.
To any one who has even a rudimentary knowledge of the former, it becomes apparent at once that no single saying or statement of Jesus can be taken to indicate either his revelation or his purpose. These must be made to depend upon not any single statement or saying of his own, much less anything reported about him by another; but it must be made to depend rather upon the whole tenor of his teachings.
Jesus put nothing in writing. There was no one immediately at hand to make a record of any of his teachings or any of his acts. It is now well known that no one of the gospels was written by an immediate hearer, by an eye-witness.
The Gospel of Mark, the oldest gospel, or in other words the one written nearest to Jesus' time, was written some forty years after he had finished his work. Matthew and Luke, taken to a great extent from the Gospel of Mark, supplemented by one or two additional sources, were written many years after. The Gospel of John was not written until after the beginning of the second century after Christ. These four sets of chronicles, called the Gospels, written independently one of another, were then collected many years after their authors were dead, and still a great deal later were brought together into a single book.
The following concise statement by Professor Henry Drummond throws much light upon the way the New Testament portions of our Bible took form: "The Bible is not a book; it is a library. It consists of sixty-six books. It is a great convenience, but in some respects a great misfortune, that these books have always been bound up together and given out as one book to the world, when they are not; because that has led to endless mistakes in theology and practical life. These books, which make up this library, written at intervals of hundreds of years, were collected after the last of the writers was dead—long after—by human hands. Where were the books? Take the New Testament. There were four lives of Christ. One was in Rome; one was in Southern Italy; one was in Palestine; one in Asia Minor. There were twenty-one letters. Five were in Greece and Macedonia; five in Asia; one in Rome. The rest were in the pockets of private individuals. Theophilus had Acts. They were collected undesignedly. In the third century the New Testament consisted of the following books: The four Gospels, Acts, thirteen letters of Paul, I John, I Peter; and, in addition, the Epistles of Barnabas and Hermas. This was not called the New Testament, but the Christian Library. Then these last books were discarded. They ceased to be regarded as upon the same level as the others. In the fourth century the canon was closed—that is to say, a list was made up of the books which were to be regarded as canonical. And then long after that they were stitched together and made up into one book—hundreds of years after that. Who made up the complete list? It was never formally made up. The bishops of the different churches would draw up a list each of the books that they thought ought to be put into this Testament. The churches also would give their opinions. Sometimes councils would meet and talk it over—discuss it. Scholars like Jerome would investigate the authenticity of the different documents, and there came to be a general consensus of the churches on the matter."
Jesus spoke in his own native language, the Aramaic. His sayings were then rendered into Greek, and, as is well known by all well-versed Biblical scholars, it was not an especially high order of Greek. The New Testament scriptures including the four gospels, were then many hundreds of years afterwards translated from the Greek into our modern languages—English, German, French, Swedish, or whatever the language of the particular translation may be. Those who know anything of the matter of translation know how difficult it is to render the exact meanings of any statements or writing into another language. The rendering of a single word may sometimes mean, or rather may make a great difference in the thought of the one giving the utterance. How much greater is this liability when the thing thus rendered is twice removed from its original source and form!
The original manuscripts had no punctuation and no verse divisions; these were all arbitrarily supplied by the translators later on. It is also a well-established fact on the part of leading Biblical scholars that through the centuries there have been various interpolations in the New Testament scriptures, both by way of omissions and additions.
Reference is made to these various facts in connection with the sayings and the teachings of Jesus and the methods and the media through which they have come down to us, to show how impossible it would be to base Jesus' revelation or purpose upon any single utterance made or purported to be made by him—to indicate, in other words, that to get at his real message, his real teachings, and his real purpose, we must find the binding thread if possible, the reiterated statement, the repeated purpose that makes them throb with the living element.
Again, no intelligent understanding of Jesus' revelation or ministry can be had without a knowledge of the conditions of the time, and of the people to whom his revelation was made, among whom he lived and worked; for his ministry had in connection with it both a time element and an eternal element. There are two things that must be noted, the moral and religious condition of the people; and, again, their economic and political status.
The Jewish people had been preeminently a religious people. But a great change had taken place. Religion was at its lowest ebb. Its spirit was well-nigh dead, and in its place there had gradually come into being a Pharisaic legalism—a religion of form, ceremony. An extensive system of ecclesiastical tradition, ecclesiastical law and observances, which had gradually robbed the people of all their former spirit of religion, had been gradually built up by those in ecclesiastical authority.
The voice of that illustrious line of Hebrew prophets had ceased to speak. It was close to two hundred years since the voice of a living prophet had been heard. Tradition had taken its place. It took the form: Moses hath said; It has been said of old; The prophet hath said. The scribe was the keeper of the ecclesiastical law. The lawyer was its interpreter.
The Pharisees had gradually elevated themselves into an ecclesiastical hierarchy who were the custodians of the law and religion. They had come to regard themselves as especially favoured, a privileged class—not only the custodians but the dispensers of all religious knowledge—and therefore of religion. The people, in their estimation, were of a lower intellectual and religious order, possessing no capabilities in connection with religion or morals, dependent therefore upon their superiors in these matters.
This state of affairs that had gradually come about was productive of two noticeable results: a religious starvation and stagnation on the part of the great mass of the people on the one hand, and the creation of a haughty, self-righteous and domineering ecclesiastical hierarchy on the other. In order for a clear understanding of some of Jesus' sayings and teachings, some of which constitute a very vital part of his ministry, it is necessary to understand clearly what this condition was.
Another important fact that sheds much light upon the nature of the ministry of Jesus is to be found, as has already been intimated, in the political and the economic condition of the people of the time. The Jewish nation had been subjugated and were under the domination of Rome. Rome in connection with Israel, as in connection with all conquered peoples, was a hard master. Taxes and tribute, tribute and taxes, could almost be said to be descriptive of her administration of affairs.
She was already in her degenerate stage. Never perhaps in the history of the world had men been so ruled by selfishness, greed, military power and domination, and the pomp and display of material wealth. Luxury, indulgence, over-indulgence, vice. The inevitable concomitant followed—a continually increasing moral and physical degeneration. An increasing luxury and indulgence called for an increasing means to satisfy them. Messengers were sent and additional tribute was levied. Pontius Pilate was the Roman administrative head or governor in Judea at the time. Tiberius Caesar was the Roman Emperor.
Rome at this time consisted of a few thousand nobles and people of station—freemen—and hundreds of thousands of slaves. Even her campaigns in time became virtual raids for plunder. She conquered—and she plundered those whom she conquered. Great numbers from among the conquered peoples were regularly taken to Rome and sold into slavery. Judea had not escaped this. Thousands of her best people had been transported to Rome and sold into slavery. It was never known where the blow would fall next; what homes would be desolated and both sons and daughters sent away into slavery. No section, no family could feel any sense of security. A feeling of fear, a sense of desolation pervaded everywhere.
There was a tradition, which had grown into a well-defined belief, that a Deliverer would be sent them, that they would be delivered out of the hands of their enemies and that their oppressors would in turn be brought to grief. There was also in the section round about Judaea a belief, which had grown until it had become well-nigh universal, that the end of the world, or the end of the age, was speedily coming, that then there would be an end of all earthly government and that the reign of Jehovah—the kingdom of God—would be established. These two beliefs went hand in hand. They were kept continually before the people, and now and then received a fresh impetus by the appearance of a new prophet or a new teacher, whom the people went gladly out to hear. Of this kind was John, the son of a priest, later called John the Baptist.
After his period of preparation, he came out of the wilderness of Judaea, and in the region about the Jordan with great power and persuasiveness, according to the accounts, he gave utterance to the message: Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Forsake all earthly things; they will be of avail but a very short time now, turn ye from them and prepare yourselves for the coming of the Kingdom of God. The old things will speedily pass away; all things will become new. Many went out to hear him and were powerfully appealed to by the earnest, rugged utterances of this new preacher of righteousness and repentance.