THE INTUITIVE METHOD
Horatio W. Dresser
Spiritual Health and Healing
WE have now passed in review the method of denials and found a certain practical value in such denials. We have also found practical utility in the idea that love and wisdom are received by the human spirit through “influx.” In the one case we have guarded against overdoing mere denials, since the ideal is to rise to a higher level of affirmativeness through union with the perfect love which casts out fear. In the other case we have observed that one should not overdo the idea of discrete differences between God and man, since doctrinal qualifications might mean loss of headway. The ideal is, a dynamic attitude making concentration steadily possible. There is a higher or synthetic attitude which includes the truth of the methods which we have been passing in review. This implies the intuitive method which Quimby’s work with the sick disclosed. For many of us this method is still an ideal to grow to through experience. But it is everything to have an ideal.
If mere denial were enough, there would of course be no reason for inquiring into the origin of a man’s trouble. If denials sufficed, all we would need would be a complete set of statements covering all cases. We might then proceed on the same theoretical basis with every person. We would never look to experience, for we would not expect to learn anything from it. We would not reason, having first condemned our God-given reason as foreign to spiritual thought.
If, however, we wish to disabuse a patient’s mind of its errors and their attendant consequences by leading the sufferer out of darkness into a light that abides, we should seek causes and endeavor to make explanations which really explain. For we should be mindful of the fact that an error merely denied may come back, like a mistake in solving a mathematical problem which we do not understand. We know too that a mind which deceives itself by abstract propositions must sooner or later come down to the concrete. A denial used for practical purposes may be very serviceable. But “a philosophy of denial” is false.
The patient is indeed a sufferer from “error.” But the error is that of misinterpretation. There is no more reason for denying the thing interpreted than for denying the existence of an object in the woods mistaken in the dusk for a bear. The courageous thing is to march straight up to the thing, see what it is, see what part of our visual illusion had an objective basis, and what part was attributed to the object by the imagination. Our fear and excitement disappear when we see precisely what is before us, namely, a harmless stump. We have learned something about the tendency of the mind to project its inferences into space. We can no more deny the reality of the external object than that of our own self. The illusion was as real as life itself while it lasted. It would have been a delusion only in case there were no stump or other misinterpreted object.
So in the case of any problem sin, sickness, or trouble: complete freedom is found through the whole truth. The fact that we possess a higher self that is “never sick” is only one of the essential facts. It is a question of the right interpretation to be put upon the experiences of the self in its long progress into spiritual light.
If, for example, I misjudge a painful sensation due to inward pressure which might be explained by indigestion and attribute my pain to a disordered heart, not to a disordered stomach, I proceed to develop my misinterpretation according to my first error. I then entertain corresponding fears and other exciting emotions, enlarging upon my pain and describing my symptoms to other people. This is what Quimby calls “inventing a disease.” But if I had been able to trace the disturbance to its right source, physically speaking, I should at least have avoided the initial error. I might then have proceeded to overcome the disturbance. But my indigestion might have been a mere expression of nervous tension and haste. Behind this there might have been one condition after another. At length I might come to the more interior state which was a prevailing cause of such disabilities. In any case very much depends on the opinion which I associate with my pain. There is a difference between removing the pain for the time being, for instance, by denying its power to cause disease; and endeavoring to live from the higher level so as to avoid all troubles of this sort.
The intuitive method consists in rendering the spirit interiorly open to the inner state in the patient, to discern the actual condition or cause, in contrast with its physical accompaniments. The inner state involves, for example, the person’s attitude toward life, his way of taking events, his type of belief, the influence of his disposition or temperament, the use or misuse of his spiritual power. Inasmuch as no two individuals are alike, it is necessary to gain the intuitive impression in each case. Since the patient’s condition changes under treatment, there is reason for seeking fresh impressions from time to time. The implied conviction on the healer’s part is not merely that he possesses an interior susceptibility to such impressions as experience has tended to make him aware of, but also an interior openness to spiritual guidance. This guidance is an expression of tile Divine wisdom for that occasion and that need.
This way of seeking “the mind of Christ” is different from the one which assumes that we already possess that perfect mind in actuality. For one sees that life is too rich in experiences to permit a knowledge of much of it at a time. There is progressive change. There is experience with its opportunities, the lessons it holds for us. There is also an influx of wisdom to meet the need and an influx of power to overcome the obstacle. In short, there is with the human spirit a movement tending to express itself in “fulness of life.” We are all at some point in recognition of and response to that life–we who have at least learned not to rebel. The question is, What point? What is the next step? What should be the attitude toward the influent Life even now seeking to lead one in that step? For unless there is change at the centre, in the life or conduct, there will be no real change elsewhere–whatever the denials. With the change at the centre, results are sure to follow. Perfect peace will always cast out fear. Light will always dispel darkness,
Nevertheless, the intuitive method implies the same contrast between the higher level and the lower which is noted by those who give allegiance to denials. Were the healer merely to render his mind receptive to another’s atmosphere, he might take on that atmosphere and be unfit for service. While seeking to know how the patient is situated in his darkness, the healer must stand in the light, seeking “the wisdom of the situation.” This wisdom should not merely dispel the temporary darkness but show the patient how to take the next step in spiritual development. It is intuition which yields this illuminating clue. The healer believes this insight to be God-sent, impartial, of the nature of that spiritual truth which sets all men free. The objective is to make the sufferer acquainted with spiritual resources, that he too may seek the inner guidance which applies to the occasion.
To be sure, the best way to accomplish the desired result with the patient, so far as the process known as silent treatment is concerned, is to concentrate upon the Divine ideal, to see the patient in spirit as sound, clean, open, free. Here we have affirmation or suggestion at its best. For the eye must be single to the ideal. There must be no compromise. Concentration is essential to dynamic faith.
But the intuitive healer does not stop there. The conversation which follows the treatment makes plain the causes so as to point the way to permanent freedom. Thus the educational work grows gradually out of the therapeutic work and in the end becomes more important. This involves an explanation of the principles implied in healing. The clue is taken from the actual needs of the patient as intuitively disclosed. The patient is taught to recognize and co-operate with the Divine influent life. He is taught more than mere realization, he is taught how to grow.
If attainment were reduced to mere expression of what is “within,” there would of course be no real place for aspiration. It is a question of pressing forward to the open vision. The right attitude having been attained, one ought in truth to grow into abundance and freedom.
Mere affirmation might suffice if we were all alike, as mere “parts of God” as cogs are parts of a machine. But we are all different, and remarkably so. We not only live a life in the world which distinguishes us from all others, but in the inner sanctuary we are still more unlike. The higher we ascend even to the level of the Divine purpose, the more true this is. The very reason for our being is found in the distinctive end to be achieved by and through us. Each of us has a work to do. The guidances that have come to us from the beginning have been given us for that work. Even our mistakes have taught us lessons. The whole meaning of the activity that stirs within us from stage to stage in life’s journey, and carries us forward from the present into the future, is just here. It is never a mere question of the guidance as such, as an insight pleasant to have, but of its relation to the needs of the hour in our adaptation to the world. Deny the lower half and you have no subject-matter for experience.
All our experiences are fitting us to do our individual work. We may seem far indeed from that work as we plod along, mistaking our bodies for ourselves, regarding heredity and environment as the leading influences which shape us, meanwhile striving as we do for a living amidst materialistic competition. We may seem equally far from spiritual things when we are ill from diseases which appear to be bodily maladies and nothing more. But anon the intuition of some one gifted in spiritual healing may bring us a new insight. We may come to regard the spirit as the real man. We may see that spiritual influences are real causes. We may learn that heredity and influences coming from the world can be thrown off. Then in time we may come to see the meaning of the long years of our bondage, may see that all our experiences can be turned to
The question, Where do we stand? is crucial because the same life which is opposed through ignorance is the Efficiency which will carry us forward to freedom and success. The ideal is to unite with the Divine guidance and move on apace with its rhythms, taking its way for our own, ready to go wherever the leadings shall guide. Each individual must learn this adjustment because no two are alike, no two are placed in precisely the same way. We need the training appropriate to our work.
The advantage of the intuitive mode of statement is that it can be true to all the facts and assign them all to the proper level in such a way as to grant full supremacy to the Divine ideal. Life teaches us that not one step can be omitted. We who are leaders are perfectly aware that this is true. We know that at times we have plodded, at times we have stumbled in the darkness. We learned by doing. We became strong through overcoming never by ignoring. Sometimes we had to pause, look about and get our bearings anew. Life itself developed a kind of composure and strength in us. Life has quickened us to see the whole situation in which we are placed. Its spontaneous deliverances have greatly surpassed all utterances that we deliberately planned for. Why should we ask for anything less for those whose journeyings have not taken them so far?
What we should in fact strive to attain, when we seek to be of the greatest service, is creative insight into native capacities and talents. The overcoming of diseases is incidental to this. The finding of a way out of sin is secondary. The conquering of poverty and bondage to material circumstance is secondary too. The primary consideration is a person’s individuality, the work he can do, the guidance coming directly to him to lead him into that work. To learn this the central state of his life, to see what is in process, what is being disclosed, is to enter sympathetically into his presence as a spirit. Intuitively speaking each of us is being quickened with just the guidance we need, as unaware of it as we may be. The Divine wisdom is latent in the present experience, even in its darkness. This immanent wisdom can be brought to the light. We can be of service in making people aware of this the real life-process. Thus the Divine creative work maybe furthered through us.
We all have something approaching this creative insight in what we call heart-to-heart talks with people when it is given us to say the right word. Nonplused and in eager quest of light, a friend will pour out the heart’s sorrows and disappointments. We as listeners may be puzzled at first, at a loss to know what to say. But presently one statement will throw light on another, more light will begin to came, and we will see that our friend had all the elements of the longed-for wisdom but lacked their uniting clue. We are then led to put two and two together, to point to the end all along implied in the rough journeyings, disclose the Ideal immanent in the actual. Our insight shows the wisdom for the present need. It calls our friend into power by restoring confidence and yielding vision. Very likely at times in the conversation we speak better than we know. Speaking frankly, we tell plain truths, instead of qualifying them by polite language till all their force is gone. These truths stay with the friend and work for good. Then the guidance comes to him directly, perhaps in the silence of the night when the friend sees the wisdom that is above all human advice.
The intuitive healer goes further than this by directly opening his spirit, by talking from spirit to spirit in that language which the heart knows. He could not thus give his spirit to be a means of guidance to another soul if he intruded any abstract theories of his own. He opens his spirit intuitively afresh, never knowing what may come. He is ready for any guidance, old or new, expected or surprising. His own thought or feeling may be a witness of the Spirit, but he does not claim that he himself is infinite Spirit. He seeks reciprocal union with God, not mere blending with Him. He hopes to be a messenger of “the light of Christ in the soul.” He does not pretend to be the Saviour of men. That light is indeed the one which will disperse all darkness, when the right time comes, but it is not a light to be turned on in full force at will as one might illuminate a room by merely pressing a button. The light that shines will be the light needed for the occasion. It will increase and increase without limit.
It once more becomes plain, therefore, that everything depends upon the end we seek, upon what we primarily love. If we still love self and worldly power above the “things of the spirit,” then we attribute our efficiency as healers to Thought, we claim everything for the higher self as one with God or a part of Him, we claim the whole end of the spiritual life as achieved now, and we affirm our self-complacent identity with the Christ. We then proceed from one affirmation to another, according to the need. We enter “the silence” to enjoy its gratifying repose and declare our prosperity. In short, we practically make a god of Thought. But if we have genuine love of the Lord in our hearts, then we attribute the efficiency to the Divine presence as love and wisdom, and in our higher selfhood we aspire, we pray, seeking to he led by the “mind of Christ.” That is, we desire to grow in intuition through response to Divine wisdom, and it would be absurd to try to grow unless we were actually aware of a deficiency. When at last we realize how little insight we possess and how great is the need to grow in intuition, then indeed there is hope for us.
The intuitive method is the larger, inclusive method which we grow into after a time when we realize the limitations of all methods centering about the human self. The whole idea of intuition involves the thought of the Divine presence as its source, the realization that life is a process or growth and that there is need of guidance all the way along. While the human self seems all-sufficient, it seems possible to ignore life or experience as if it were an illusion. Hence we tend to say with the mere abstract theorist, “Man never learns from experience.” But when we return to life and see that man never learned anything whatsoever except through experience, then we begin to acquire that true humility which is the beginning of wisdom, we pray to be rightly led, we accept the dynamic or progressive attitude, casting aside our static abstractions. With this change of heart, a reconstruction of our philosophy follows. Our prayer henceforth is for the wisdom needed for the next step. We have no formula to fit the occasion. We have no cut-and-dried method. We do not crystallize our theory into a thought to be affirmed by all alike at a given hour, throughout the month. But we endeavor to lead all who are responsive to seek that Presence whose wisdom is equal to every occasion, well knowing that no two people have precisely the same needs at the same time. “There is guidance for each one of us, and by lowly listening we shall hear the right word.”
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