HOW TO DEMONSTRATE
Horatio W. Dresser
Spiritual Health and Healing
To demonstrate is to establish in outward expression. It is to prove, verify, know for ourselves. Its basis is either a principle which we understand and wish to exemplify, or an item of faith which we simply take on trust and hope to understand when we have proved it. Demonstration is commonly regarded as the test every individual must meet. For we have ceased to believe in teachings which bear no consequences in actual life, and it is the test which the individual makes that shows whether a belief is workable. To verify for ourselves we must come down to the concrete and observe the results in daily experience. Moreover, “the laborer is worthy of his hire,” each man ought to show by the rewards or consequences which follow that his work is in accord with the spiritual law. Since there is a boundless source upon which to draw, we show our relation to it when the results prove the law of abundance.
The reason some people fail to demonstrate is not then hard to find. They fail because their theories are too abstract, too remote from life; because they do not understand practical life well enough to know where to begin with a need immediately at hand.
The idea prevails, for example, that by holding in mind the right thought it is possible for anyone to “attract” all the conditions he desires. The thought or formula repeatedly affirmed is supposed to act like a magic influence to draw what is desired. In this way we can not only gain health without working in any other way to secure it, but win prosperity merely because we want it. Prosperity, in fact, becomes a direct object of pursuit, like a hobby. To “affirm abundance” is forthwith to gain it. One may, it is said, direct affirmative thoughts to people of wealth and draw money or other possessions from them, one may picture desired possessions and study mental influences tending to enlist the help of people who can open the way to secure these possessions. In short, to demonstrate is to procure what you want through suggestion. The principle of “mental attraction” discloses the royal road to success. The ability to “demonstrate supply” is the test of one’s real power. Prosperity is a sign of salvation.
From a spiritual point of view this is contrary to order. If the laborer is “worthy of his hire,” the way to prove worthy is first to do some work which merits reward according to value rendered. Therefore, first serve, first live by the spiritual law, labor for and love the more truly your fellow men. If you have greater needs and require additional resources, more co-workers, more money: then give more freely, express yourself more fully, make manifest your faith through actual service. If certain kinds of spiritual work bring greater results and you are prompted to enlarge your sphere of usefulness, consecrate yourself anew to these opportunities. Begin at the centre, not on the circumference. Do not follow the inverted order by first seeking “things” that “the kingdom” may be added, but seek first the kingdom of God and find a place to serve in a work which is making for the fuller realization of that kingdom here on earth. It is not a question of personal influence at all, since one has no desire to “attract” things from people by any insidious process. It is not primarily a question of affirmation, since affirmation must be followed by work entitling one to its rewards. Nor is it essentially a matter of attraction, as if one’s inner fitness had nothing to do with circumstances. There is indeed correspondence between inward need and outward supply, but this attraction is by spiritual law, not by caprice. The prime consideration is service which prepares the way for more favorable conditions as rapidly as the soul becomes worthy. It is Divine law which presides over the selection of conditions, not our own desire.
If we begin by affirming all perfection as present with us now, denying that man ever learns or gains anything by experience, ignoring nature and making light of natural law, we put ourselves into an artificial world of thought remote from life as whole-hearted people know it. Affirming perfection in the abstract, claiming for ourselves what is true of God only, we then wonder why health, freedom and, prosperity do not come our way. It is very difficult for anybody, however wise, to teach us anything while we remain in this theoretical position; for we have cut ourselves off from all sources of knowledge. Where all is claimed as accomplished and perfect now, there is of course nothing to be desired, nothing to do; hence nothing comes to us with life in it.
A return to natural conditions is devoutly to be desired for all who have isolated themselves from growth through experience. There may be other and more direct means of quickening us than through the slowly moving processes of our understanding. But not even intuition or “revelation” gives us sure knowledge “out of hand.” Any principle offered us as truth becomes true for us only when we have proved it by experience. That is precisely what we mean by “demonstration.” We do not really know until we have lived. Actual life is likely to be different from our expectations. We need the open mind. It is detrimental to be tied to a theory which is like an anchor to windward.
Since there is order or sequence in all things, no one can really make a leap beyond the conditions which the soul needs, whatever illusions to the contrary there may be. Since there is correspondence between inner and outer conditions, what the soul really attracts is what is needed. The law of change is from within outward, not to conditions created in imagination by ignoring natural law and the spiritual ideal, but to circumstances essential to inner development. We cannot “demonstrate over” nature, although we may seem to, for example, when we steadily reduce the amount of food, rest and sleep we take with the assumption that these matters depend solely on our thought about them. We cannot change one hair white or black in the actual world to be faced and understood. Our road lies through the conditions which people ignore when they indulge in abstract affirmations. There is no such thing as evasion in the moral realm. Action and reaction are still equal. No alleged royal road can compare with the one which is disclosed when we frankly acknowledge actual motives and seek God’s help for real needs.
True demonstration is never the result of self-assertion. It is only in part a consequence of consciously chosen ends. More truly, it is a cooperative result, involving experiences we did not foresee and a wisdom greater than our own. It comes from inner adjustment and willingness to let Life have its way through us. Any prayer we may utter in our effort to attain it should include the Christian qualification, “Thy will, not mine, be done.”
Our actual spiritual state is a condition, not a theory. We need not fear to look at things as they seem to be. True courage is not afraid of illusions, shadows or errors. We may look with open eye straight through any “claim” that besets us, noting its sources and associations, its hold upon us, and the point of contact which made our servitude possible. It is truth that sets men free, not the assertion of freedom when we dare not look at our own past lest we enter into it again. We are never really free until we understand, and when the vision comes the clouds clear away by themselves. We are then in the position of the one who, mistaking a stump for a bear in the dark forest, has marched up to the harmless thing and found out that it is merely a stump. What we need is the right interpretation of things as they are.
On the other hand, it is as easy to fail to demonstrate by being too much absorbed in mere conditions and processes. If some overdo the matter in one direction by ignoring the conditions of spiritual development, others go to the extreme in the opposite direction by analyzing too much and becoming enveloped in details. The newer methods of healing are, on the whole, a reaction against the old-time introspection with its emphasis on our sins and the need for acknowledging our errors and mistakes. The reaction is a sound one and has come to stay. What we now need is primary emphasis on the Spirit which accomplishes, with willingness to learn the essential lessons of life while not dwelling too long on mere details.
To demonstrate is to disconnect our attention from mere processes and unite in consciousness with the higher level of life, give our thought to the Spirit. To demonstrate is to turn about and become affirmative in every respect in which our attitude is still negative. When we are determinately positive we may learn the lessons of past experience without entering into details and conditions. There are times for looking back to learn and times when we should cut free as if the past had never existed.
To demonstrate one should not attempt to overcome everything at once. Sufficient unto the day is the problem we can best begin to solve today. When we give our attention to that, concentrating our efforts upon the immediate practical need, we find that demonstration means, grounding things ideal in things actual. To demonstrate is to be specific, concrete, definite. Hence we make progress toward the perfect demonstration when we limit our interests and our thoughts, with one central purpose before us, with the eye single to truth. Thus a man begins to demonstrate in earnest when he dares to stand for what he believes is true in an actual instance relating him with his fellow men today, although what he believes may not be popular and what he does may require great courage.
Frequently, our efforts fall short because we indulge in so many aspirations in various directions that we make headway in none. Here is a man, for example, who is high-strung, nervous, intense and emotional in great degree. He never permits anyone to pass him, he rushes when he works, eats with nervous haste, and writes with restless rapidity. His good resolutions lead to nothing. He affirms his general “oneness with God” to little effect. He receives treatment from an abstractionist healer, but nothing comes of it. At last he takes himself in the act, resolve to master one habit at a time, and begins by practising upon his handwriting, making each stroke of the pen with moderation, concentrating his attention upon the actual movements of his hand. The result is a pleasure he has never before experienced in his life, a sense of power in doing something with inner control. He sees at last what poise is, not as an assumed state, but one that a person can grow into throughout one’s life, a state that is gradually developed through performing activities with inner control and concentration. He now makes steady headway because he is taking over a habit which hitherto simply swept him forward to do its restless bidding. So any of us might make headway if we would resolutely face something to be conquered by meeting it with a consciousness of what it is in us that wins all victories.
To adapt oneself to Life’s way instead of trying to find a short cut of our own, is to realize anew that all real efficiency is from God. Both the driving force (love) and the directing force (wisdom) are from Him. What we ought to demonstrate is the Divine image and likeness, not the psychological presentment which gratifies our vanity. We wish, if our desires have really become spiritual, to find God’s way and walk in it wherever it may lead, whether the vicissitudes of the path are what we prefer or not. We do not know ourselves in entirety yet. We are not aware of all the conditions to be met or all the elements to be overcome. We should not then claim to know the appropriate times and seasons. As human beings we are not managers of the conditions which best develop the soul. We are not here to dictate terms. At best we trust our guide may find us ready, when Wisdom speaks, when Love impels. What must be “demonstrated over” is our selfishness or self-love, and the victory over self is won only through heavenly aid.
Hence the power of the Spirit is the only real power that demonstrates. If our spirit bears witness together with the Holy Spirit that these heavenly things are true, so that we will to follow in the Spirit’s way, then what comes by way of proof is sign and symbol of what has been divinely wrought in us. The “signs following,” the first-fruits which show what went before, are needed to teach us the law of perfect demonstration; because only when spiritual realities have been ultimated or expressed do they become complete. The power which seemed to be in the human will alone, or in the Spirit welcomed in reverential receptivity, was in neither exclusively. The human spirit had to be willing. God had to be at hand. But the Spirit’s might is seen when God and man in union conquer outward circumstances through inward victory. The full truth is never seen till the thing is done. The abundant life is the life of full practical realization in the flesh, in natural things. “By their fruits ye shall know them.”
If I am still minded to ask, How then shall I demonstrate? the answer is not, that I must wait until God does His part. Mere watchful waiting may be as far from the right attitude as the old-time attitude of Christian resignation. The spiritual law is that I should act from God’s power “as if” that power were my own. Unless I make the effort, unless I put forth the energy to conquer something that is before me, such as a tendency to drive forward with restless energy, I do not put myself in line with the Life that is here to win the victory. My part is to show that I am ready to take the practical initiative, and follow up my prayers with deeds done.
Let us make the matter simple. Here is a day when one feels an inward need. There is a difficulty to be overcome, a problem to be solved, or someone to be helped. Let me then go apart by myself and seek the quiet sanctuary of the Spirit once more. “Be still, and know that I am God,” I say to myself, with the realization that God is present like an Over-soul to guide and illumine me. May I trust in Him so that my mind shall be “stayed” upon His wisdom. May I be at peace so that some measure of His peace shall touch my spirit with tranquility. Then may I see the way in the special direction in which I need light.
What I affirm as true, now, is the God-ward part of my life, the perfect peace in which the Father can keep me, the infinite wisdom adequate to meet all occasions, the perfect love which casts out all fear. If I did not lack this peace there would be no reason for seeking it. If I realized all wisdom I should have no problem to bring forward for solution. If perfect love controlled my heart I should not have “one fear to conquer each day.” Inevitably then I must take an attitude in my quest for help which admits a lack, with humility or readiness enough to make me receptive. Since the Father already knows the way whereon I should walk, since He has provided for every need, my part is to listen and make myself ready in the secret place that I may receive what the Father has provided.
What I must do, therefore, in order to demonstrate is to put out of the way whatever thought, attitude of will, emotion, habit, deed or mode of conduct there may be that interferes with the coming of what the Father has provided. Then when my thinking, my willing and my conduct follow the spiritual order, I may indeed make use of my imaging power, my affirmations and all the rest of my psychological equipment, to foster the things of the Spirit. The hard part for most of us is to attain the spiritual order. We want things to come in our way and when we want them. We would like to sail serenely down the stream of time with everything that could gratify human desire floating to us out of the air, while we smilingly discourse on the success of our demonstrations. But that is not the order of things in the spiritual life. Interiorly we have only what we deserve. What we now possess came to us in relation to what we were. We tried “to get” rather than to give. We worked hard to accumulate possessions and now we propose to enjoy them. We looked out for Number One. At first thought these new teachings about suggestion and the subconscious mind seem to afford a still more successful way of putting self first. But sober second thought shows that in all things there reigns a spiritual law such that we need to seek the Spirit first, we need to give, to be, to make manifest. When we have made the great effort, that is, in the overcoming of self and self-love, we shall find that matters are righting themselves and seeking new positions in relation to the new inner centre of equilibrium.
The new teaching of our time shows how to begin more immediately where beginnings are effective, that is, with ourselves. No one who sincerely wishes to live by the spiritual law will find himself without guidance. There is always something at hand to begin upon. There is always some word of wisdom we can begin to apply. To demonstrate is to begin. To begin is to find the little becoming more. “God helps those who help·themselves.” And this deeper self-helpfulness means in the language of the new philosophy of healing a growing recognition on our part of “the Science of the Christ.”
To be prepared to demonstrate in the most successful way, therefore, we need to be as well equipped as we can in knowledge of what we have defined in the foregoing chapters as “the priceless possession.” There should no longer be any theoretical barrier which keeps us from looking directly to the supreme sources of life and wisdom. There is in very truth a spiritual science which we may all begin to apply, to verify for ourselves. There is for all an ideal of Christian living which is workable here and now. This science we may adopt and practise as a science which is true in its own right over and above or apart from any particular interpretation of the Gospels that may be espoused by a given sect. Hence it is well to carry the inquiry into this science far enough to have a practical way of thinking about the human Jesus and the resurrection or glorification, always keeping in mind that from the point of view of spiritual health and healing these are practical, not theological, matters.
That is to say, nearly everyone who owns allegiance to a sect or denomination of the Christian Church is likely to take exception to the distinction drawn between “the Christ” as considered above, Chap. III, and “the human Jesus,” when it is a question of theology. Some will prefer the teaching of the Episcopal Church, hence will emphasize the Pauline Epistles, and will speak of “our Lord.” Others will reinterpret what follows so that the human Jesus will become “the Lord.” Still others will prefer the title of “the Son of God.” We plead for the direct reading of the Gospels themselves as guides to practical life and spiritual healing, since this distinction between Jesus and the Christ has proved so helpful. Each reader will then be free in other connections to reinterpret as he chooses. For the present we are concerned with the gospel of healing. The acknowledgment of the Lord should bring this practical realization. To demonstrate in Christian terms is thus to carry our idealism concerning the Christ into the ultimate. To demonstrate is to see that regeneration of some sort should follow. Hence we need to carry our practical thought through to the end.
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