THE VALUE OF DENIALS
Horatio W. Dresser
Spiritual Health and Healing
MANY devotees of mental healing believe there is a shortcut to the curing of disease through the practice of denials. The word “denial” is not to be understood in the Christian sense of self- denial, losing the self that one may find it, but in the sense of a declaration that any alleged enemy, error or evil does not exist. The first proposition about life in general is, “All is good,” and the next, “There is no evil.” Radical believers in this method deny even the existence of the body and the natural world. While on the face of it such denials seem absurd, we may well ask ourselves what is the value of this method from a practical point of view.
The theoretical basis of these denials is as follows. Man has two selves or minds, the spirit which is never sick, which never sins or errs; and “mortal mind” or the consciousness of error, the intellect or false mind, always in process of change, essentially external and dependent on information gathered through the physical senses. These senses are discounted as giving misinformation merely, since “there is no intelligence in matter.” It is in this false or mortal mind that all error resides. Disease, being an “error of mind,” its cure consists in denying not only its alleged power over the flesh but even its existence.
The use of denials is that one may realize “our oneness with God.” Otherwise stated, denials are for the sake of affirming the reality of the true self, which is pure spirit, never afraid, never disturbed, never selfish, never at fault. In case of any alleged material force, any cause for fear, any supposed selfishness, one should positively and persistently deny its power, reality or existence. One should deny the existence of all evil because there is but one Power in the universe and that Power is wholly good, and “all is good.” One should deny the reality of all pain, sickness, poverty, old age, suffering, even the reality of death; since these have no existence in Spirit, One ought also to deny the existence of all things which appear to be apart from Spirit, for only Spirit and its manifestations exist. To deny is to efface, blot out the mental pictures, banish the fear, take the life out of adverse suggestions by a counter-suggestion, and overcome all “paralyzing negations.” To deny the evil is to affirm the good. To deny pain and sickness is to affirm health. To deny weakness is to realize strength. To deny poverty is to affirm prosperity.
By denying the reality of what seems to exist to mortal sight one realizes what eternally exists, the unchangeable reality of Spirit. It is all a question of realization, not of growth. There is no evolution or progressive change from lower to higher stages. Man does not learn anything from experience, but already is in deepest truth what he seems to acquire. All ills are imaginary. There is no reason for learning from experience, since man contains all wisdom within. Man already possesses perfect love and peace. Hence he may unqualifiedly say, “I am spirit, perfect, harmonious, wise, in perfect health, in perfect peace.”
Life on this basis would be “the constant recognition throughout the day of the non-reality of the material, knowing that as it is not real, the material man cannot do anything, say anything or think anything; that it is only illusion, appearance having no basis in reality, and that the only thing that takes place is the steady disappearance of this illusionary sense through the action
of God.” “When you see someone in pain, instead of thinking of him as in pain and so increasing it, turn in thought to heaven and realize that there is no such thing as pain there, and then think of the absolute joy, bliss and happiness in that perfect world.”
The first observation to be made is that healers who have adopted these denials have often met with more immediate success than other therapeutists who raise objections to denials on the ground that they are not true. Outwardly such healers are very prosperous. Their business arrangements are uncommonly good. They are highly contented with the commodities and incomes of the material world. Not concerned with the inconsistencies of their several propositions in contrast with their delight in this world’s goods, they concentrate upon those suggestions which bring the most fruitful results. Psychologically speaking there is a great advantage in concentration. To hold absolutely to your point is to succeed where people fail who lose headway when interested in noting what is inconsistent.
We are all placed at times where denials are in order. When face to face with an enemy likely to conquer us if we are not uncommonly skilful and alert, we must resolutely declare that he cannot, must not win. Thus a denial is a psychological device adopted for the time being to get us out of a tight place. A hard-pressed nation may even deny the victories which an enemy is winning, for the sake of keeping up the courage of the people at home. But the question is, What of the day of reckoning? Is it possible to use a denial for the moment, then return to facts and truths? May one adopt denials for the sake of concentration without giving the mind over to extravagances tending toward Oriental pantheism and the relegation of the natural universe to the category of illusion?
It was P. P. Quimby who introduced the distinction between the “scientific man” with the wisdom of Christ to draw upon and the “man of opinions,” always changing, subject to errors, fears, and other false beliefs. Dr. Quimby’s silent realization consisted in making a clear-cut separation between the two minds. All later disciples of the silent method have made an equivalent separation in their own terms. The mind that is swayed by opinions is the “carnal mind,” and to be “carnally minded is death.” It is this carnal-mindedness which Dr. Quimby sought to banish by affirming the reality of the truth which makes men free, the truth we possess when we have the mind of Christ. No one can make much headway in this field without drawing this distinction.
Yet one ought to be intelligent enough to distinguish between opinions and the understanding or intellect. The understanding can be lifted into spiritual light and learn to think truly concerning the information the senses give us and the marvellous universe which God has made. There is no intelligible reason for ignoring the long series of progressive changes from simple to complex, from atom to star, from amoeba to man, filled as this ascent is by the wisdom of God. Our part is to learn the order and beauty, the system and power of this great world of nature as it exists in the divine purpose. Then it is our privilege to learn to live by the divine order in a useful manner, in constancy of health, with steadiness of purpose and productive courage.
Whatever the reason for making denials as psychological aids to concentration, in the long run we are all compelled to meet life as it is on this natural plane. The truth which makes us permanently free is the truth which discloses natural existence as it was meant to be for enlightened man, the existence which makes for freedom and development, for health and happiness here on earth. The real error of our carnal mindedness is that the body is unfriendly, is a source of evil and misery, prone to disease, weakening old age and a lingering death. The truth is that man might live in perfect harmony with natural law, might use the body as an entirely harmonious instrument, might conquer every obstacle in the path. This is essentially a spiritual truth. One needs to lift the mind into spiritual light, to perceive it. For it is the spirit alone which is able to use the body aright. There is no reason to deny anything that God has made. The error to be denied, and that most resolutely, is the old notion that God wants us to be sick, that He inflicts suffering upon us for our discipline. There are, then, denials which are true, and we all need to make them and most affirmatively. Yet all the while the ideal is to rise to the level of affirmations with such strength that we do not need to deny their opposites. “Perfect love casteth out fear.” If you can realize the protecting power of that love, you need not deny the power of the fear. Later, when you are free and strong, you may return and learn the lesson of your fear.
The same is true in the sphere of moral ideals. The more severely pressed the soldier “who fights the good fight” the less reason he has for admitting the power of evil. There can be no such word as fail in the moral world. We declare that all lying, stealing, dishonesty and wrong- doing shall be overcome, and that righteousness shall prevail. Yet after all what is it that calls out a man’s potentialities and makes him a hero in our eyes? Surely not a mere error. It is because he rises to meet a well-nigh insuperable difficulty. We grow strong by meeting opportunities which call us into activity to the full. Sometimes the more valiantly we admit the foe to be conquered the more resolutely we rise to the occasion which “makes the man.”
What the moral soldier affirms is that right is on his side, a right strong enough to conquer any wrong whatsoever. He fights with his spirit. He first conquers the enemy in himself by facing his fears and the possibility of defeat. Then, made alert and aflirmative, he goes forth to meet a danger which no denial can minimize but which must be faced to the end. At every juncture when tempted to weaken, he re-affirms the supremacy of the right and bravely presses forward. He cannot for a moment afford to entertain a weakening idea.
Here we have concentration in high degree. Allowing for different conditions, we may think of this valiant moral attitude as applied in the inner world where it is a question of attaining health or healing others. One ought to be as valiant in holding to the Christ ideal as the moral soldier in fighting on the field of battle. For the healer it is a question of the victorious faith which pushes through to the end and overcomes every obstacle.
It is a help in this connection to distinguish between lower and higher levels of mentality. On the lower level with the “mind of opinions” one sees “in a glass darkly.” One is then subject to mere reports, haunting fears, besetting illusions, misinterpretations. The worst of these is mistaking this body of flesh and blood for oneself. To be thus minded is indeed to be in danger of spiritual death. On the higher level one seeks to think with the mind of Christ, to live in perfect peace and love, realizing that the soul is a “son of Spirit.” The knowledge gained on the higher level is insight “face to face,” a vision in which we see the same things but see them as they are.
To disconnect from the activities of the lower level and open the spirit on the higher is to find oneself in another realm of thought. The change from the one to the other is sufficient in itself to set higher activities in motion. For it is a dynamic change. It opens the spirit to the divine influx of love and wisdom. It is man who makes the change. It is God who “giveth the increase.” Life “on a purely spiritual basis,” then, would be in unison with God, wherever one might be led, whatever the work given our hands to do. When “God and one make a majority” we need no longer deny what is to be overcome. For we now function on the level of constructive forces.
It is plain of course that few of us are open as we might be on the higher level. Most of us are placed where it is better to admit that we are not as responsive as we might be to the incoming divine life, and then ask what needs to be overcome. The whole secret for us to learn is interior openness and responsiveness, recovery of the open vision which will disclose divine truth. In so far as we are open within and the channels of our being are kept open even from the inmost centre to the outermost parts of the body, we are in perfect health, able to function as free spiritual beings.
A denial, then, is a practical device needed when we are not sufficiently affirmative. A man might, for example, deny evil reports concerning himself, defending himself by arguments, until he realizes that no man need contend with unrighteous judgments but may put his whole reliance on what is true. A person may deny the supposed power of an illness that is attacking him, since he is determined to be well. But later he may learn to unite in thought with the power of God making for health. Later still, his ideal may be to live so that he may let all external circumstances take care of themselves in God’s own time. The real point is that external things are occasions simply, while real causes are spiritual. The occasion will make or unmake the man according to his way of meeting it. The opportunity will be a blessing or a curse. Every occasion meant for our betterment may serve to call us into productive activity, if we meet it with wisdom concerning our true place and service in the world. All opportunities are blessings in God’s eyes. We have the power to unite our hearts to make them blessings. Everything depends on becoming affirmative. Our affirmations will become more intelligent as we proceed. What would they be if we habitually had the mind of Christ, instead of fluctuating between things carnal and things spiritual?
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