Chapter 11 – The Will to be Well

Chapter XI
THE WILL TO BE WELL
W. John Murray
The Realm of Reality
Divine Science Publishing Assoc.
New York, 1922.

“There is nothing good or evil save in the will.”
–Epictetus

“The star of the conquered will,
He rises in my breast,
Serene, and resolute, and still,
And calm and self-possessed.”

–Longfellow

[117] Dealing with the will to be well, I am not unmindful of the fact that there are, in the metaphysical world today, many depreciating the use of the will. It is spoken of by some as that which is blind, stubborn and headlong. This is probably because we are apt to look upon only one side of the picture. We are prone to see only the negative aspects of the human will, or perhaps those positive aspects of it which are blind, stubborn and headlong.

But simply because the human will exhibits these peculiarities from time to time, there is no reason for deprecating or abrogating or repudiating it altogether. The human will plays a most [118] important part in the whole scheme of progressive evolution. Indeed, without it there would be no progressive evolution at all. Modern psychology tells us that man ascends through three progressive stages of mental development: the first being that of knowing; the second, feeling; and the third, willing. Man is differentiated from the animals principally, if not entirely, by willing. That is, he is the only animal,–if we are pleased so to term him,–who exercises this divine function in mundane affairs.

The biologist, who observes life on its lowest plane of visible manifestation, credits this life with knowledge, i.e., he says we assume that the protoplasm in the initial cell knows just enough to divide itself, and just enough to increase itself by and through self-division. We also assume that it feels, because there is every evidence of this state of consciousness, in that it feels cold and heat. It responds to one and dies in the presence of the other. The very lowest forms of what we are pleased to call physical life are thus credited with knowing and feeling, but never with willing. Will, as you know, is the exercise of the function of volition, and it is because of this that the will is something that must be exercised, if we would be well.

There is no realm in which the exercise of will is so clearly demonstrated as in art. How oft we read the criticism of a man who knows music technically, but who has no feeling. He is engaged by a daily paper or magazine. His one [119] and only function in life seems to be that of critic. We read his criticisms but they leave us cold and unsympathetic and unresponsive. He knows all the tricks of technique in music, but he has no personal inner feeling. Another person has that inner musical feeling, but lacks technique. Everything he hears in the world of music or sees in the world of art inspires him. The futurist intoxicates him, and he tells of this revolution of art, this new manifestation of music and when we do not enthuse he is astonished. He has feeling but no knowledge, and so he, too, notwithstanding the fact that he is very musical in soul, should not be considered to have the final word. But when the knowing of the critic unites with feeling in the critic, we have a teacher who elevates us.

It is, then, this knowing and feeling in art which gives will to the artist. It is out from this will that there is production and reproduction, because it is worthy of note that the critic is rarely ever a creator. He is, for the most part, when devoid of feeling, a destroyer of hopes and ambitions; he sits in judgment on young artists, often blasts their hopes and ruins their prospects, and all because he knows music, but does not feel it. So it is in the scientific phases of the world. Knowing and feeling must be united with will, else the man who conceives a patent will carry it with him to the grave. He may know a great deal about mechanics and feel the great urge borne in upon him by a hungry world waiting [120] for improvements, but if there be no will, his idea of that opportunity of meeting human need and requirements will be like a stillborn infant, assuming a certain growth, but never breathing itself into visible manifestation.

So it seems that the will is a very, very necessary factor. The trouble with the will does not lie in the will itself. Trouble arises only when the human will would be something of itself and independent of the universal divine will. That is the only mistake the human will ever makes. It is like the human intellect. Both essay to be something of themselves, independent of the great Source of all Intelligence and Wisdom and Love. It is when the will seeks to operate divorced from the Divine Will, which is God, that it becomes arrogant, offensive, brutal and despotic.

I find no one in the metaphysical world, ancient or modern, who lays such tremendous stress on the will as does Jesus of Nazareth, and surely we students of Divine Science can take him at his word. See how he stresses the use of the will. While reading the fifth chapter of John we feel Jesus standing by the pool of Bethesda, the ancient Lourdes, the healing waters, and we find one brought there. Year after year he had been taken there and borne away again with no visible sign of improvement, and his only explanation for it was that when the angel came to trouble the water, there was no one to put him into the pool. And Jesus said, after listening to this, “Wilt thou be made whole?” The man’s view of [121] healing was very circumscribed, as is ours today. We limit it to some particular thing; if not a pool of healing water, it is a glass of hot water in the morning. If it is not one thing, it is another, and always external or mechanical. There he was, waiting for the troubling of the water when, all the while, the great healing, cleansing, purifying, energizing water of life was ready to flow through every artery of his being, to cleanse and purify and invigorate him.

And so Jesus sought to instill into this man’s mind a great truth. But first he must get the man’s consent, or co-operation, for the only way the individual can co-operate with the universe is through the will, and Jesus knew this. “Wilt thou be made whole?” Having once secured the invalid’s will and his co-operation, however unintelligent it was, all that remained for Jesus to do was to say: “Take up thy bed and go thy way.” And the man took up his bed. He was rebuked for carrying it, because the day happened to be Sunday. We are very conventional today, so that we have no criticism to offer of the Jew of yesterday. The point I wish to make is that there is a necessity for the will to be active before the man can be well.

I remember as a young student of Divine Science being called to see what was a very critical, so-called incurable case. All the schools of materia medica had been tried to no avail. Scientists after our own faith had been tried, with no [122] result, save to bring a certain sense of mental comfort and fortitude. This man had fortitude, the kind which says “what can’t be cured must be endured,” but there is nothing that cannot be cured by Christ. This man had reached that place where, after trying all the systems, new, medieval, or ancient, he was bending his head to what he believed to be the inevitable. I was too young in this science to feel that I could do what my predecessors and older confreres had failed to do. Moreover, I was too humble concerning my own knowledge of Divine Science to feel for a single moment that I could succeed where the best practitioners in the field had failed, and there I sat in all humility and in all my self-confessed ignorance of Divine Principle. For a moment I was helpless in the presence of this error. Then it dawned upon me that, since the condition under treatment was an error, and not at all the production of God, that very man in the room with me could, if he wished, exercise dominion over this belief. This idea grew during treatment and for several days, but there was no visible change at all.

He always sat with his face to the window looking out into the street. The door opened from the back into a little hall, so that when I was ushered into his room, it was always to face his back and meet with the words, “Good morning,” but never a move. He was like an ossified thing, which he believed himself to be. I do not [123] know whether it was impatience in me and a certain irritability born of failure up to that point, but I exclaimed to him on the fifth or sixth morning: “Now my dear fellow, it is useless for me to talk to you about Divine Science. You know as much about the letter of it as I do, and we are not making any headway. I am going to treat you this morning and we will spend our time realizing that God is the source of movement. We are going to realize this in our silence, and we will do nothing else, and if we do not do it, it will be useless for me to come tomorrow.”

I was the last hope he had in the world, and perhaps he thought I was arrogating to myself too much personal importance. When our silence was over, we declared: “God is the source of all movement. There is no inaction.” It seems to me that what we affirm in the silence we ought to be able to declare audibly, and in no uncertain tone, so I said: “There is a clock on the mantel-piece to the left and unless you turn to it this morning, I am not coming tomorrow.” As well as he could look out of the corner of his eye, he did so. “I really mean it,” I added; “if God is the source of all movement, there is no time better than the present to put this to a test.” That involved will. Prior to this, the man had known what was right, but was quite unwilling to do anything.

I shall never forget his effort to see that clock. It was like a huge cathedral door that has not been opened in years being swung upon its rusty [124] hinges by the force of great mechanical strength. His neck creaked, just the fraction of an inch at each move. I do not remember how long it took, but he saw the clock and also the door leading into the bathroom on the right. Would all the knowing and feeling in the world have done for that man what knowing and feeling united to will accomplished?

Christ was saying: “Wilt thou be made whole?” He was not saying: “Do you know the truth and feel the force of the truth?” That was taken for granted. The man had been under treatment for years, but he did not will to do anything on his own account, but waited for the practitioner to make his neck swing around comfortably. If the man at the pool of Bethesda had waited to take up his bed and walk, he would be waiting there still, if human life could last so long. The question Christ is asking of you and me today is: “Wilt thou be made whole?” Thousands are asking to be made whole, but are not willing to do anything toward its accomplishment.

I recall a case of so-called genuine locomotor ataxia, which I had quite failed to do anything with, and on which others also had failed. It was the case of a woman who, for eight years, had been confined to her bed. I was called away from that city to a distant town and I turned my practice over to another, including this case, one of the most serious I ever had. And when that other took hold of the case with all of her resoluteness, [125] she decided that knowing and feeling were not quite enough. This sufferer read her Bible, and “Science and Health“, and studied faithfully, but she never moved. The practitioner said to her: “Now, my dear woman, we are going to try different methods, you and I, and we will make the best of the time given to us during Mr. Murray’s absence.”

If I seem to be personal, I am not intentionally so, but I want you to understand how the will to be well must be exercised. She said to the patient: “I am going to treat you this morning with all the understanding that I possess, and ask you to unite with me in prayer to the end that movement, being a spiritual, divine force, manifests itself in every bone, in every muscle, in every nerve and every sinew of your body.” So they prayed and the healer announced: “I am coming to see you tomorrow at 10 o’clock, and I hope you will be sitting in your chair.” She looked up in pitying alarm. It was absurd; she had been years in this condition and was growing worse, instead of better. At 10 o’clock the following morning, the woman was still in bed. “Oh, you are still in bed,” was the healer’s greeting. And the patient looked at her as much as to say: “Where did you think I should be?” “I expected you would be up this morning. I am going to pray for you, and at the close of this treatment I want you to get up.” Fifteen minutes later the practitioner turned to her and said: “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk,” and she looked at [126] her. The woman knew and felt, but she would not will.

Summoning the great burly nurse, the healer said: “Will you see to it that this patient gets up at once?” The nurse walked over from her corner of the room, and as it looked as if she were going to seize the patient violently, the woman indignantly sprang out from the other side of the bed.

You have only to read Dr. A.T. Schofield’s work to see cases illustrative of it operating in the material, physical and medical worlds. Under stress of strong emotion paralytics have jumped from their beds; sufferers from rheumatism have run out from burning buildings and never suffered again from paralysis or rheumatism. What does it prove? Simply that the will, under stress of strong impulse, is almighty. It is a derivative spiritual quality from that universal divine will, which men call God, operating in the human organism, and making for real action where there seems to be inaction, and movement where there seems to be a cessation of movement. All power comes from identifying ourselves with the origin of movement, because will is the cause of all action. You exercise will in order to leave your homes. You exercise it to sit on a chair. Will is the motive power and it is only despicable and imperfect when it thinks it is of itself something. It is grand and glorious when it knows that it is identified with the great operating will of infinite intelligence. It is then the will, co-operating [127] with the divine will, becomes a power of right to liberate men. “Wilt thou be made whole?” said Jesus to the man. “I will.” “Be thou clean.” There was the will of the man to be healed, and the will of the one who could heal to heal, and those two wills, conjoined and brought into immediate spiritual contact with the will of the universe, precipitated what men have since called a miracle.

But there are no miracles. It is not a miracle when you will to touch a button on the wall to bring a light. But suppose you sat in darkness until the end of the year, with all the buttons in the room touchable and you did not will to leave your seat to press one, would you have light? Why should we belittle will, simply because will is occasionally blind and stubborn and headlong? The child has will, but he uses it destructively, is stubborn and self-conceited, and so he can accomplish nothing, because his own will, independent of divine will, leads to self-conceit and personal egotism. But is that any reason why we should set it aside altogether?

Shall we repudiate the energy of electricity simply because tomorrow morning a man may be electrocuted at Sing Sing? Shall we repudiate all electrical energy because one scorches her cambric handkerchief while ironing it? Shall you repudiate the whole thing because of the few erroneous uses of it to which you put it in your ignorance? The Divine Will can never work for us save as [128] we work with ourselves through the exercise of our will in the direction of the Divine Will’s method. God will never do for us, as Judge Troward says, what He can only do through us.

The Universal can do through the individual only through the individual’s willing co-operation. We must will to be well. A man who knew nothing about Divine Science lay in Bellevue Hospital next to a man weighing 200 pounds. He weighed only 135 pounds and the doctor shook his head and said: “My dear fellow, if you are a Protestant, you would better send for your minister, or a Catholic,–for your priest.” The little man realized what the doctor meant and this was his reply: “Doctor, don’t fool yourself. I am not going to die. I have a wife and three children dependent upon me, and my insurance is so small, they could not live a month. Kindly excuse me,–I am going to get well.” He was having the same specific remedies, so-called, that the man in the next cot had been having, but, with all his manifest bulk, the man in the next cot passed away.

What is the average man’s mental picture when he says in sorrow, distress and poverty and pain and unhappiness: “Thy will be done”? It is the picture of one who thinks that God has just “given it to him good,” and he is trying to cultivate as much fortitude as he can. Every day I am brought into contact with so-called incurable diseases in men and women who have been saying all the days of their so-called incurable malady, [129] “Thy will be done,” but all the time they have been thinking it is the will of God that they should be thus afflicted.

What is the will of God? Interpret it as Jesus did. Listen to his marvelous words. Prior to his time there existed the same idea concerning the will of God which exists today. Was a man afflicted? It was the will of God. Did a child die and leave a sorrowing, heart-broken mother? It was the will of God. Did a woman die and leave a man with children that he could not raise morally? It was the will of God. But there came this great and wonderful Teacher, this marvelous Seer of Divine Truth, this man who knew that God alone is. By the exercise of a divinely anointed will to heal humanity, he gathered a little group about him and said in substance: “If a child ask his father for bread, will the father give him a stone? Or if he ask for a fish, will the father give him a serpent, which may look like an eel, for instance? Or for an egg, will the father give him a scorpion, which is formed very much like some eggs? Will the father, when the child asks for some particular benefaction, withhold that, provided it is consistent with his physical, mental and moral requirements?”

And he also said: “If ye, being evil (in the sense that you do not know the eternal law of God), know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give to them that ask Him?” And then he added: [130] “It is not the will of my Father that one of these little ones should perish,” that the child should die; but rather that he should live. And then, speaking of a sinful man, against whom everybody believed that God had a grudge and was awaiting only a favorable opportunity to put out of existence,–Jesus said: “It is not the will of my Father which is in heaven, that the sinner should die, but rather that he should be converted and live.”

What an interpretation to place upon the will of God! And how shall we avail ourselves of it today? By willing to be like Him. First, says modern psychology, comes knowing, then feeling and then volition, or will. We accept these statements that the first activity of the mind is expressed in knowing,–that the child knows by what it is surrounded and then feels an interest and constructs things. And then it begins to will, to construct more things and to use more intelligently such materials as it is surrounded by. In Divine Science, the first thing that we know intellectually is that we are the children of the Lord, that God is the Author of our being and, therefore, our being is spiritual, because God is Spirit. And then, if we grow, we begin to sense this, as the musician feels music, as the artist feels art, in addition to all the things they know about music and art. It becomes an unquestioned idea firmly fixed in our very soul. We know it to be a truth. Shall it rest there? Is there no volition? The will to be well? The will to be [131] pure? We know we are the children of God, and the will comes in to prove it.

To repudiate the little degraded will, because occasionally it is blind and stubborn and ignorant and headlong, is absolutely foolish. “All morality,” said Seneca, “rests upon the exercise of the will.” Where there is no exercise of will, there is no morality. Where there is no exercise of will, there is no health. Where there is no exercise of will, there is no wisdom. Human will is the means by which man turns on the tap which contacts him with the universal will, which is ever seeking to express itself through him, and through his will in terms of life and joy and health and strength.

Oh, let us pray to identify our wills with the great Will of God and say: “Thy Will be done.” But let us know what the Will of God is. Let us think of the interpretation of Jesus. He negates the old idea of the will of God and says it is not the will of God that one of these little ones should perish, but that all should have everlasting life; it is not the will of God that the sinner should die, but become converted and live. It is not the will of God that the sick man should continue to sicken and die. It is the Will of God that all men should be well, but they must will to be well. So let us know that the Divine Will is working in us to will and to do of its good pleasure, and it is the Will of God’s good pleasure to externalize itself in health, strength, joy, gladness, peace, power, plenty and prosperity.

[132] Be still, and know that the Will of God is operating in you, as the blood is flowing through your veins without any personal effort on your part. The blood surges through your arteries and veins, but you must will to move, otherwise you will sit, like the Hindoos, until you atrophy.

Take up your bed and walk. Those of you who are afraid to do something lest it hurt you, do it. That which you fear to do, do. Therein lies demonstration. Do, providing it is right. Did Jesus abrogate will? He said: “My will is to do the will of Him that sent me.” That is precisely what you are to do today and every day.

Chapter 12

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