Is Mental Science Enough?
Susie C. Clark
The Spirit of The New Thought
Edited by Horatio W. Dresser
[Miss Clark, for many years a successful practitioner and author of books on mental healing, is one of those who find intimate relation between the New Thought and the higher phases of spiritualism. As she stands somewhat apart, she ventures freely to express her reaction upon the mental healing movement as a whole. In the following address, delivered in one of the conventions, she indicates possible shortcomings in the typical doctrine, once known as “Mental Science.”]
A perfect unity is possible in a wide diversity of thought, opinion, and method: a unity of purpose, aim, and pleasant comradeship. In differentiation of thought is wealth; conformity breeds stagnation always. The medical regime often counsels a counter-irritant, therefore it is well perhaps that a field-laborer who has been regarded as something of a heretic in strictly metaphysical ranks — a little outside the pale of good and regular standing — should be so kindly welcomed into this noble company of strong, conscientious workers that the depth and sincere fervor of her heresy may be outlined.
Mental Science has a pure and beautiful record as an evangel of freedom and upliftment to the human race. In the few years since this system of pure, strong thinking and righteous living has gained wide acceptance, how many hearts it has blessed; how many minds it has educated and illumined; how many impotent and suffering bodies have its blessed ministrations raised to usefulness and power! And this glorious work has hardly begun. God speed it onward, and bless every one of the noble exponents thereof who marshal under its banners! And, in the fulness of time, may their beneficent eyes be cleared of all astigmatism; for the Mental Scientist of yesterday (we should hardly like to say of today) has too often worn near-sighted glasses, I thus limiting his range of vision.
“All is Mind.” (I quote from a Mental Science writer.) “This is the basis of Mental Science teaching, and proves to be infallible. From it proceed the very issues of life, including health, wealth, and happiness.” Now, shall we accept unquestioned this “infallible” statement? Is Mind the “All” of life or causation; and what is Mind? While we are aware that the metaphysician claims for this affirmation of Being more than the generally accepted definition of mind, which designates it “the intellectual and rational faculty in man; that power which conceives, judges, and reasons”; and that the metaphysician includes in this term the spiritual nature, even the soul, yet mind never can adequately and correctly define or become the vital force and energy, the immortal part of man — that intelligence which, unlike mind, is independent of any mortal existence or embodiment: the spirit.
“The spirit never was born; the soul began to be, never”; while mind is the result of this potential spirit essence breathing upon the material elements of the brain, as it does in the babe, until the mind, with its wondrous power of thought … is gradually evolved: the child’s spirit — its vital spark of Life from the primeval Flame — being the same at every age. That expression of Being, therefore, which we call mind is thus dependent for its existence on the body and belongs to the body; its action is strictly mechanical, and too often material. For while the mind has an inner as well as an outer gate, a diviner part which, aided by another faculty, intuition, may receive messages of supernal wisdom, yet the pendulum of man’s mentality is always apt to sag a little on the external plane.
Mind alone is wholly inadequate to express the idea of an immortal essence. Spirit is the breath of Life, the only reality, the unconquerable power. Mind is dependent upon the senses and outer nature for its excitation and unfoldment. Spirit is always the same, whether seeking expression in form of archangel or man; while Soul, the primal entity, is as unlike Mind as the sun is unlike the bit of glass whence its rays are reflected. “Soul does not, like mind, depend upon matter — does not, like the spirit, diffuse life through matter — but it is the uncreated perfection of being. The soul is God in us.” The mind and the soul are not even close friends. For atheists and materialists who reason exclusively from the mind usually, if not always, ignore the verity of an immortal soul.
Does this not prove the inadequacy of our “All is Mind” statement? Does it not suggest that while a growth from the old race-error of a belief of life in matter, and of physical causation, is a most necessary and encouraging stepping-stone in human progress, the close adherents of such theory have withdrawn only one step from the physical plane to the mental, and there are many spiritual heights beyond that await our advancing feet, from whose altitude our mental state will then be a purified, illumined reflection of the spiritual grasp and unfoldment — as a strong, healthy body is the reflection of an enlightened mind? As the eye is the material lens of the mind, so the mind is but a lens projected by the spirit for use on this plane of existence. “The mind is but the trestleboard, on which the spirit with electric pen carves out its plan.” Thoughts, verily, are “things,” or, better, forces — the causative energies that materialize all things; but the brain is always acted upon: never does it act per se.* (*The statement that “thoughts are things” was made popular by Prentice Mulford, author of various booklets once widely read. -Ed.) Thought is really spirit-vibration moving the brain to action. Then does it not follow, fellow-workers, that to take up the thought of a patient does not reach the plane of causation? The brain does not create or produce thought, but reflects the intelligence of the spirit — sometimes its own incarnate spirit, often also that of spirit excarnate.* (*Miss Clark finds truth in the idea of spirit obsession.— Ed.)
There is always a cause back of mind. The spirit when using its spiritual form has its own eyes and ears and feelers — invisible antennae, which are quite independent of mental action. In retreating one step from the physical plane, let us take another and a higher step also, since all one-idea systems fall to the ground sooner or later — as they should — or, better, yield of their harvest and fruitage to enrich a broader, grander successor. The soul has other avenues of manifestation than the mind. Shall we allow its expression to be narrow and one-sided; shall we fail to use our valuable and practical psychic powers in conjunction with mental attributes? Psyche clearly means soul; and are we not a race of souls? Then is there any discredit in using our soul-powers? Yet the very word “psychic” is tabooed as something uncanny. Some of our best metaphysical authorities — teachers and authors of our literature — have counseled pupils to have nothing to do with the psychic plane, as it tends to “unbalance the mind.” Poor, defenseless Mind — this Mind which is “All”! impotent soul, which can only guard its purity and safety by burying part of its talents in disuse! Yet it has sometimes been noticed that, when the mind of the patient is particularly unbalanced, the psychic healer is best qualified to diagnose and meet his need.
There is another modern school of thought, which may have gone, I admit, to the other extreme and overcultivated the psychic plane to the neglect of mental and spiritual unfoldment; but, remember, worthy confreres — when you state upon your program that this metaphysical expression of Truth is “the grandest movement of modern times” — that the mighty wave that swept over the world with the “dawning light” of 1848 has made your own position possible. And it is a movement that, by the way, like John Brown’s soul, is still “marching on.” It was the first movement since the apostolic age to incorporate healing as an expression and a part of its religion; it is the true mother of all modem schools of healing, or reform — even though children sometimes outgrow and even disown their parents or outstep them in practicalization of advanced thought.* (*What Miss Clark here states is true of spiritualism, the movement to which she refers, but the mental healing movement in general had an independent origin in the work of P. P. Quimby.— Ed.) But the blows of persecution, obloquy, and scorn, with which an ignorant world always meets any message that comes to bless it, fell not first upon your shoulders. There have been martyrs for Truth’s sake, bearing another name, who have made the path easier for your valiant feet to tread; and they have left a wealth of experience, of spiritual discovery, which it is not wise carelessly to ignore, whose appropriation and application in the practical work of healing, as in the broader field of teaching the word of an all-inclusive Truth, would greatly enhance the power and usefulness of the worker — would open a new world (the real world): a new realm of causation to his spiritual discernment. Not all is Mind; spiritual unfoldment never can be gained on the mental plane.
We have another cornerstone: “All is good; there is no evil.” How do we know that all is good, since we can know nothing except by contrast — through antagonism of ideals? If we tasted only sugar, how could we know sweetness? If there never had been pain, how could we realize immunity therefrom; how claim the possession, thank God, of perfect health ? If there were no error to be overcome, no so-called sin in the world, the moral element would be lacking, however upright the conduct. It is only under the polishing-wheel that the diamond reveals its brilliancy. Man is allowed to suffer from the violation of law (which we call sin) in order that he may gain knowledge, not only of those laws, but of a power within himself to overcome — a power that is one with Omnipotence and makes of him a co-worker with the Infinite plan and purpose: a god in embryo. All the promises are given to him that overcometh. Then how can we gain the palm, the robe, the new name, the privilege to “go no more out” into earthly embodiment, if there is no evil, nothing to overcome, no chance to win the victor’s crown? Even the Christs are perfected through suffering. Not that there is an absolute element of evil, even though we recognize it on the plane of existence; for that which seems such to the finite mind is not evil in the realm of the Infinite. Like the green apple, it represents the best possible condition before ripeness obtains. But in the moral realm there must be a shadow; and if there must be a seeming evil to test the efficacy of good, then there must be in the existence of error a divine purpose that should command our recognition and respect.
Can you not imagine an archangel so pure and exalted in celestial realms, so yearning over those mortals now slowly climbing toward the height he has won, that he would voluntarily decide to descend and become the shadow of the One Great Light, which none might perceive but for the dark background his Christly sacrifice would provide? Thus reads the legend of Lucifer, the fallen star, a personality so erroneously maligned because Isaiah, by bold metaphor, addressed the king of Babylon thus: “How art thou fallen from heaven, Lucifer, son of the morning”; whereupon Tertullian and Gregory the Great fastened upon the conclusion that “Satan” was meant by Lucifer — a mistake perpetuated and immortalized by Milton in his “Paradise Lost.” But Lucifer is properly the designation of the morning star, the Light-bearer, and this is what so-called evil is — the Light-bringer, the Light-producer after the conflict is past; therefore, in the final analysis, all is Good. When once the Light is perceived, all shadow of human ignorance is replaced by knowledge, bondage by freedom, temptation by victory. The mission of the Christ was not to bear the responsibility of our sins and errors for us, but to increase our responsibility by showing us the possibility and power of conquest. We are to conquer the world and its unripeness, not to flee from it or deny it away by denying the existence of error. It is not necessary to sacrifice one’s common sense to become a metaphysician — or a psycho-physician, which is a better word to represent an all-inclusive work. Then —
“Shake bands with pain, give greetings unto grief —
Those angels in disguise; and thy glad soul
From height to height, from star to shining star,
Shall climb and claim blest immortality.”
— an immortality to be consciously entered upon, now and here.
It is always what a healer is in spiritual consciousness and soul-Unfoldment that decides his power, rather than anything he does, or says, or thinks and believes. The mind has indeed power to cure or to kill; but to work solely on mental levels, to search for and try to “take up the right thought” as an antidote to that particular phase of wrong thought which the patient is holding, is not far removed from the attempt of the medicine man to decide on just the right composition of drugs to hit a certain form of disorder.
Mind-healing, while most beneficent and valuable, is always limited; there are some cases that cannot be reached through vibrations caused by the strongest and most enlightened thought. The work of the enfranchised spirit is boundless, since the truly spiritual healer annuls, so far as possible, his own personality and mentality and serves as effortless transmitter of the healing influx that Sows from the Great Spirit alone — thus reaching the fainting spirit of the patient, binding it back again in strong reunion with its Source, divorcement from which is the only cause of all illness, or prostration: the human sense of separateness from that Divine Energy, that all-pervasive Life which we call God. The healer never heals: the patient regains his birthright.
“I and my Father are one.” This is the only infallible panacea for all suffering and unrest. I, the minute spark, am enkindled from that quenchless Flame whence Life is born. Disease cannot assail one whose feet are planted on this rock, who feels momently the incoming of this mighty tide, who has gained the consciousness of impregnable divine union — the pattern set for us by the Christ: “I and my Father are one.” With this conscious at-one-ment, there would be small need of hunting for jealousies, anger, or other mental foibles, which are causative and undeniably create bodily conditions; but thought is only the ripple on the surface of the vast ocean of Ideas innate in the soul.
Is, then, Mental Science enough? Is any one translation of truth enough while a broader, clearer interpretation of Deity’s mighty message is possible? No Mental Scientist is content to linger in the light of this rosy dawn while the effulgence of cloudless noon beckons him onward. We must outgrow labels and narrow classifications — be broadly open to every message of Wisdom, even if it come from a source toward which our attitude has been hitherto one of prejudice, misunderstanding and scorn. Truth-seekers should be eager to catch its every accent, should be hospitable to its every phase — receptive to all. The different pathways to the goal are all necessary and full of beautiful altruistic service to humanity. But let us make those paths broad, open to every avenue of truth, radiant with the light of inspiration, by which a grand, comprehensive development shall be insured for each individual worker.
My prayer would voice the fearless sentiment of one of our nation’s heroes: “Give me liberty” — the “broadest freedom to grow in every direction, to use my spiritual eyes and ears, to unfold and wield each psychic gift and attribute; I might even claim the blessed privilege to co-operate in my efforts for humanity with wise, grand souls no longer fettered by the flesh, as are we; then give me this “liberty or give me death. If this be treason” — if this be heresy — “make the most of it.”* (*All New Thought leaders would accept the “heresy.” -Ed.)
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The Spirit of The New Thought
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