The Laws of Divine Healing
The Spirit of The New Thought
Edited by Horatio W. Dresser
[Reprinted from Nautilus, Holyoke, Mass., 1914.]
To call a process divine is tacitly to admit that in some respects it eludes the finest analysis. Yet this should not keep us from the effort to learn whatever can be known. We say that love is divine, but we endeavor to grow in appreciation of its beauty and its power, and to understand its influence in human life. The universe is in the profoundest sense a manifestation or product of the Divine mind, replete with purposes that surpass our knowledge; yet we do not hesitate to study it with the conviction that our own reason is akin to this mind and these purposes. Since God is the ultimate life of all processes, there is a sense in which every investigation is a quest for the divine, whatever we may say for short when we speak as if nature were a power in itself. To assign all supremacy to God is to start aright, and to bear in mind the relativity of things human and natural. Hence one employs the adjective “divine” not for the sake of making special claims but rather to disclaim special knowledge, intimating that far beyond there lie the depths of the “unspeakable wisdom and knowledge of God.”
From a once prevalent point of view, whatever is divine was long ago revealed once for all; hence the day of wonders and immediate evidences of the divine presence has forever gone from the world. This meant that a particular interpretation put upon the Bible was final. But this has never been proved. The simplest of spiritually-minded men may at any time discern a truth which has escaped the ecclesiastics. If the Bible contains divine truth this truth is in part concealed, since the mere letter is often obscure and conflicting. If it contains divine truth its wisdom is universal, and we may expect to discover its meaning to the end of time. If the truth in the Bible is from the same source as the universe at large, the chief value of the Bible may be said to be its power to explain the principles manifested in the universe and written in the minds of men. Hence one who really possesses the clue should be able to discern the divine truth everywhere. Thus nature at any point is an earnest of the divine, for him who has eyes. The laws of God are written in nature’s events, and man as an interpreter is in no sense alien to the processes he would understand. The truer the insight the less is one dependent on authorities or books, the more time and thought may be given to actual life today, in contrast with the study of history. Time brings changes, and unless we are open to the living event we may miss the divine message to our age. It is more important to live deeply in the present than to know the past.
History shows that new events are readily declared to be miracles by those who are ignorant of the laws implied in them. The more intelligent men become the less they believe in miracles. Today we seldom hear them mentioned, for we have grown accustomed to the thought of law. Yet we may well bear in mind the fact that in every field of knowledge familiar to us there were pioneers whose first works seemed magical. Many of us are still dwellers in that vague realm where wonders seem possible. There are “signs and wonders” which even the wisest have not yet explained. We may well try to penetrate behind the myth or credulous belief to the core of fact, and press forward to the time when the true explanation shall appear. It is important, too, to keep our minds open to recurrences of events which were once pronounced miracles because produced by some pioneer or prophet. To allege that “the day of miracles is past” is to close the door even to the inner core of reality concealed within the so-called miracle.
He who starts with a dogmatic or historic judgment concerning spiritual works is likely to turn to his age with disparagement on his lips. Equipped as he believes himself to be with the right theology and the true distinction between divine “miracles” and the ordinary deeds of men, he believes himself able to discern all the truth there is in a new work, say of healing, wrought today. The probability is that he does not see the new happening in its true light at all.
Truly to estimate the recent occurrence one must first ask: What has happened; what are the facts? The next step is to ask, How can the facts best be explained? In the quest for an adequate explanation one may well consult the wise books of the ages, while also seeking the aid of the most thoughtful people today.
Let us frankly admit that works of healing are susceptible of many explanations, and that each of us may seem to have the right explanation simply because our view of the matter harmonizes with what we have previously believed. If we are to seek an explanation which may rightfully be called divine, we must take a number of supposably adequate theories and put them to the test. The theologian who claims to know precisely how Jesus healed the sick, and to know this so well as to be convinced that there are no works of divine healing wrought today may well be challenged to prove his assumption by his works. As a matter of fact, they best know how Jesus healed who know most from actual experience about the therapeutical works even now taking place among us.
Fortunately for them, those who led the way in establishing the modem healing movement were not handicapped by theology. They themselves were healed by divine power, and then power came to heal others. So the belief has spread. The actual works of healing, the “signs following” are the true tests. Given these signs, we may account for them as best we can. But there are the facts.
The difficulty in the case of certain types of theology is that so many theoretical distinctions are first insisted on that there is no room for belief in the power to heal or in the facts. That is, we are told that we should first draw a sharp line between the divine and the human, and avoid the assumption that man is divine. When these and other distinctions have been drawn the divine is already so far from us that it is no wonder we cannot believe in divine healing.
Starting the other way around, let us say that the divine is infinitely near, and that it is a question of taking down barriers and distinctions. We may even say with unqualified truth, Everything is divine. The trouble is that we do not see its divine power and meaning. We have separated ourselves from God and wandered afar. We have asserted our wills. We have become emotionally intense, full of fear, excitement, anxiety. Let us then be inwardly still and know that God is nigh.
If we once gain the idea we may turn to any aspect of the wonderful processes going on within us and find it divine. From this point of view nature’s entire recuperative process is evidence of the divine wisdom, and no adequate explanation of it can be made save in terms of the divine. Nothing could be more providential than the wonderful restorative processes aroused into action whenever the natural functions are impaired. Nor can we find more marked evidences o£ wise provision than the strong instincts which lead us to seek and to maintain health. The conviction which assures us that health is our birthright, and the strong will which stirs us to fight for life even when all odds appear to be against us are also evidences of this wise provision. The trouble with us is not that we make too much, but that we do not make enough of the divine. If we really lived according to the divine we should be well in soul and body. Even if we lived in all respects according to natural law; not this artificial, furnace-heated, nervous, hurrying existence, we should be well, physically speaking. Any passing ill that might then arise would be quickly cared for by nature unaided. How much more we might accomplish, however, if we had more knowledge of the divine presence!
While disagreeing with those who draw distinctions which put the divine far from our powers, we may well admit that there are different levels of manifestation, degrees of nearness to the divine, hence degrees of healing. God is indeed near us in all nature, if we have eyes and wisdom to discern His presence. He is far nearer in human social life, and in our individual thought He is nearer still in those ineffable moments when in unison of feeling we lose all sense of separateness from Him.
Again, it makes a difference whether or not we are aware of the divine. All natural healing is in the profoundest sense divine, yet it may seem like a merely physical process unless we approach it with a certain consciousness. We are also divinely healed when the mind is dispossessed of its errors, its anxieties, fears and upheavals, however we may seem to escape from these; but how much greater is the sense of power when we know the one source of all healing. Hence it is well to take note of various types of thought in accordance with their nearness to or remoteness from the divine.
It greatly matters, for example, whether there is conscious dependence on the divine love and wisdom or an assumption that the human mind plays the decisive part as if God did not exist. Mental healing based on hypnotism may be largely the impress of one mind on another, although good results may be wrought despite the attempt of the human will to control. The same may be true of any therapeutic practice in which an attempt is made to transmit thought to the mind of a sick person. Again, mental healing may be superficial or ephemeral, its purpose being to dispel fear, allay excitement, induce quietness, or restore confidence; just as you or I might converse with another to convince him of his folly without claiming divine aid. Or, it may occur through affirmation by displacing annoying mental pictures in favor of those that rest the mind and give peace. In a deeper sense mental healing may look forward to something more than the banishment of disease, and may lead to the development of inner control or poise. Thus its devotee may take up the regular practice of meditation, and endeavor to understand and eliminate all disquieting conditions of mind. This healing does not take the place of natural restorative processes, but fosters the type of life which most directly accords with them. By employing such methods we may pass almost insensibly from mental to spiritual healing, from ephemeral to permanent work.
Many who are now firm believers in divine healing were wholly without faith in the divine healing presence when they began to break free from bondage to physical specialists and medicine. Then came a new dependence for a time, after they had acquired the habit of visiting a mental healer whenever an illness of any sort appeared. The next advance was perhaps through the realization that an educational or regenerative process must supplement the changes wrought through the silent treatment. Thus social healing may lead to self-healing and the latter to a realization of the true meaning of healing. Once it seemed to be a question of banishing haunting mental pictures and fears, but now it becomes a matter of attitudes, inner receptivity, regenerative faith.
By spiritual healing, then, in contrast with mental healing, one means a process which brings about a real, permanent chain in the inner life of the individual; not the mere over-coming of physical ills that may recur, or the dismissal of errors not understood by the mind that turns away from them. Whatever the accompanying physical and mental ills, and the processes by which they are overcome, a healing process becomes spiritual when the inner life is decisively touched and changed; when there is a change of attitude from hatred, anger, distrust, despair, selfish emotion, self-centeredness, or self-assertion, to an attitude of faith, hope, love, confidence, or whatever uplifting spiritual state may be required to overcome old habits. In this sense spiritual healing is inseparable from moral rebirth. Such healing must presently become conscious, since it pertains to a person’s character and intelligence, and calls for thoughtful cooperation; whereas mental healing may be mostly accomplished by another. Spiritual healing may indeed begin through the ministrations of another, and may involve what is called a change of heart deeply affecting the religious life as a whole. Whatever the instrumentality or the results, the change is such that the some-time sufferer, now quickened from within, is no longer content to lead a life of bondage to external, sensuous things.
Such a change is shown, for example, in the daily habits, the tastes that become refined, the opportunities sought for self-expression or service. It is also manifested in the growth of a composure not sought or attained through mental control alone, but coming rather as one of “the fruits of the Spirit,” and as a constant resource that can be drawn upon at will. Again, it may be seen in a lessening of antagonisms, the relaxation of tensions, the dying out of adverse criticism; and the attainment of new attitudes of contentment, sympathy and charity. Such changes also come with the acquisition of a philosophy which lifts all matters of moment to the level of reflective thought. For he is spiritually healed who learns the real causes of the changes he undergoes, and who endeavors to conform to the powers working through his nature for its betterment. Thus be may come to believe in time in the ever-present wisdom and love of God in contrast with a former belief which separated God and man.
Spiritual healing is distinguished from mental healing because directly attributed to the divine power as the real efficiency. This means far more than the acceptance of a theory regarding the restorative processes of mind and body, it means an attitude and conviction very different in type from the attitude and theory of the mental healer. For the one who attributes the efficiency to an immediate manifestation of divine power on the spiritual level regards himself as an instrument of the divine wisdom.* (*This was Quimby’s teaching. See above, Chap. V.) Consequently, he endeavors to cultivate the kind of life most in accord with the divine presence. Such consecration involves sure belief in the inward light, ready to shine upon the particular pathway and make known the wisest course for the occasion. It implies something more than complacency or poise in oneself. It could hardly be called receptivity or humility, for these are apt to be negative. It calls for a particular attitude of cooperation with divine leading in the endeavor to be a bearer of light in the dark places of the world. It also implies faith in inner or spiritual perception, the conviction that the powers and conditions discerned through such insight involve the deeper realities of life.
It is difficult to describe this attitude of cooperation with the divine because it is attained through personal experience involving certain trials and failures. In contrast with therapeutists who claim too much for the finite self, as if the human will were the central efficiency, one is apt to overdo one’s humility and self-effacement. In truth, one should not be any less positive and affirmative but in a different way. One may rightfully believe that the human self is an efficient instrument of divine power and employ all the volitions of the self with as much vigor as if the human will had power of its own. Nothing short of this flood-tide of activity will achieve the desired results in crucial cases. But this activity is not of the sort that calls attention to itself. It may spring out of the greatest calmness and peace. Thought may be relatively quiescent. The emotions may be wholly still. The point is that the human spirit as a whole is active. The spirit is “the heart” in us, that side o£ man’s nature which lies open to God, the immortal part, “heir of the ages” and superior to the trammels of sense. In other words, the spirit is an individuation of God, manifesting a divine purpose and serving others. Man is never more truly himself than when most active as a spiritual being. Yet in another sense he is never so unobtrusive, never so free from self-assertion and that independence of will which closes the door to divine guidance.
There is a respect then in which one cannot undertake to describe divine healing in its fulness, or try to explain it. The highest cannot be described, nor can it be explained, as we ordinarily count explanation. For God is the real healer, it is the divine love that heals. Man is not immediately conscious of the central activity which, on the divine side, is at once wisdom and love, light and life, any more than he is aware of the pure divine essence that quickens men to pursue beauty or attain ultimate truth. Man brings to the experience of divine communion a nature which may indeed be immediately one with this incoming or ever-present life of the divine. We may infer the existence of this nature from the results which ensue. But we do not feel all the elements. When we learn to know the self in this deeper sense we are already a stage removed from pure immediacy. Instead of knowing ourselves as single-hearted, we find that we feel, we think, we will; we are actuated by a prevailing love, by desires and purposes; we differ in type, in capacity, in gifts. What we feel and try to make our own has already taken on the forms of our nature, and possibly we have impeded the divine flow to some extent Hence we are constrained to say that there is more in the experience of divine communion than we can describe. What we omit may be the most important element. Each must learn it from experience. The same is true, however, in every other field of human life where the self is seen at its best. If, as Emerson assures us, we are at our best when spontaneous, the element of attention is lacking which must be present if we are to tell whereof our virtue consists. When we act more wisely than we know, and speak more truly, we are both less and more than the conscious self of our other waking moments. No one can reveal the whole secret of his genius.
To apprehend the divine law of healing you yourself must be touched by the divine love, or be an agent of ministration to another. One learns through experience to know the difference between a relatively external state and one in which the divine life is more intimately present. It becomes a question of the attitude of heart and will, thought and conduct most in accord with the divine life, as one thinks of that life in ideal terms. Hence the emphasis one places on receptivity, openness, readiness. It is plain that there must be consecration to the divine wisdom, with the belief that it is adequate to meet the occasion. One is ready to give or withhold, as one may be led; whereas the mental healer might be bent on controlling the case in any event One realizes that of oneself one has no efficiency. Yet it is no less clear that one must believe in one’s true self as a means of communication in order to be of any help at all. We are therefore taking into account all that was said above about natural restorative processes and mental healing at its best, and lifting these considerations to the divine level. For as we cannot dispense with the mental imagery, the realizations and ideals, we cannot omit the human agency. That would be to think of the divine as functioning in sheer emptiness, as if the Holy Spirit were a kind of ghost.
We are in a certain situation in life, physically, mentally, morally, spiritually; in a certain environment, social atmosphere, surrounded by mental and other influences of which we know but little; we have a certain vocation, daily activities, interests, needs, problems. There is a wisdom in precisely this situation, a wisdom that is immanent in the situation itself; and we must not ignore this our condition in seeking divine light. The divine life is taking a certain course through us, is moving toward an end with transcendent providence and sustaining love. The prime need for each of us is adjustment to the life at hand, oftentimes to the very moment. This cannot be an adjustment of will simply, since there is intimate correspondence in two directions.
Our external or physical condition is open to the influence of the natural world, and thus there is a reason why we are just where we find ourselves, with this particular inheritance. Our inner state is open to the influence of the spiritual world, with all that this implies; thus there is a reason why we are spiritually as we are. Know yourself completely and you will know these influences, and the wisdom of life’s present situation. Know the influences that affect, hinder, help and sustain you; and you will understand yourself. In the end it will be the truth that will set you free, however urgently you may affirm your freedom before you have seen the wisdom of life as it is. You must learn to close the door to some influences, to open them more widely to others.
In order to think out our relationships to these influences, we must begin far back, far enough back so that we can ground our consciousness in the thought of the Spirit and hold fast to it, viewing the whole of life spiritually. What we need is a vision of the universe springing from the Spirit, taking form in space and time, fulfilling the uses of external things, and yet having no life or reality except through the Spirit. To adopt this point of view is to regard all change, all life as proceeding outward, and all causality as spiritual. Starting thus with the thought of God as the inmost ground of all being, we realize in a more intimate sense how profoundly true this is of man. We are essentially spiritual beings, sons of God. We already dwell in the eternal kingdom, we are in the spiritual world now, sustained by heavenly powers. This our inmost life is the truly real, permanent life, the mode of being which will go on continuously from the present through the change called death. We are guided and strengthened in this our interior life whether in the least degree aware of it or not, and even though we claim all decisive activity as our own. The truth that sets us free is the knowledge of this our inmost life as fundamentally real. Hence it is well to accustom oneself to the point of view by adopting it in thought, almost as if nothing else were true, as if we were even now in heaven among the angels, far from this natural existence.
This inmost life is inclusive, however, of our transitory existence, since it is through this that we are brought to consciousness and into freedom. Hence we need not call our external life an illusion or dream. A dream it is indeed if we walk about among these mundane things as it they were imperishable substances existing by themselves. A sheer illusion it surely is if we attribute our sufferings and our joys to these externals, as if the mind were a mere shadow of the brain. It is unreal indeed if in any sense taken by itself, instead of in the light of its proper place in the scale of realities extending from the resistant rock up through the flexibilities of the atmosphere to the enduring beauty and power of heavenly things. Nature is profoundly real if viewed in the light of its gifts to the soul of man, and the purposes which it fulfils. Thus its obstinacy melts before us, its forces assume the form of enlivening influences meant for our good, and we look abroad upon it as in every sense friendly, akin to our spirits far more than to our physical organs and functions.
If we could always dwell consciously in the inmost life, willing and thinking in accord with the divine love and wisdom, the problems of our existence would be solved. Our real problem is to live from the center, from the sources of supply within the heart, while still mingling with our fellows in the world, completing the work which must be done before we can be free. Caught within the enticements and limitations of external existence, we seem to be mere creatures of outward circumstances. Hence we retreat, give way to fear, despondency. Hence the endless quest for external causes of our afflictions, causes that can never be found, and the search for remedies that never can be discovered. But when we view all these matters from within we realize that they are fluid and responsive in the presence of the Spirit, that it is Spirit and not matter that creates.
The first great truth, then, is that the spiritual life is more real, is the life of causes; that we stand where we do today because of spiritual activities, whatever the appearances may be. If these appearances show that we are disturbed, unhealthy and in external misery generally, it may be difficult at first to trace the connection between the inner and the outer. But looking within we discover after a time that we are drawn in two directions. There are forces at work to keep us precisely as we are, to hold us in our habits, our creeds, our fixed attitudes of judgment, our likes and dislikes; on the other hand, there are creative, heavenly powers gently leading us away. Living between, aware of the conflict but not of its causes, we rebel and struggle, often opposing the very powers that would set us free. It seems a cruel affliction that we should thus suffer, and we wander up and down over the face of the earth, seeking some one wise enough to clear away the mystery of our suffering. Wonderful to relate, there is no mystery at all when we gain this inner vision. For the suffering is not a reality in itself, nor is any disease an independent reality. The suffering is due to a certain combination of forces all of which are good. We are ignorant, unaware of the real situation, we turn from the hand that would set us free. It is not necessary to go anywhere, to wait for death or to try by some occult scheme to penetrate the spiritual world. All that we need is another point of view with respect to that which is most intimately at hand.
Try, then, to gain the vision. The divine life by constant inflow, by sustaining love, by guiding wisdom provides all that we need; is most intimately near every pulse-beat, every thought and affection. Not for a moment do we exist without that inflow. Entering the soul in the inmost recesses, it tends to spread through our spiritual selfhood, into the fulness of the mind, into all regions of the nervous and physical systems. If we oppose it at the center by fear, doubt, impatience, self-assertion, or any of the other attitudes that impede, we close the gate at the most unfortunate place. You realize that this is true when you are torn by inner friction, distressed, distraught, antagonistic toward some one. Become placid there, settle into restfulness and trust, and you find that it makes all the differences in the world. Consider what must be the divine ideal, with all its possibilities of health and freedom, its gifts of goodness and powers, the opportunities to lead the life of joyous service. There is no space and time in this ideal world. We are not separated by walls or miles, by days or hours from the divine life. God dwells not in space, nor in temples made with hands. We dwell in Him, and these visible things we behold about us are so many opportunities for thoughtful response, corresponding to our inward states. Our real existence is the life of our inward states. Almost in a twinkling these could be changed if we could transfer our consciousness to the heavenly creative powers, giving ourselves in full measure to the divine love and wisdom. Our outward conditions would not change so quickly, and there would be some which were taken on long ago through inheritance that belong wholly with this outer garment, something to be cast off. But the point of interest is the inner center with the possibilities of renewal and of transformation open before us there.
There is a sense in which everything we need to make us morally and spiritually well, to give us power over the physical organism through the mind, is already true, and merely waits to be seen. God as eternal spirit is here now, man as finite spirit is here in a little spiritual world of his own, existent in the great cosmos of spiritual beings. What we most eagerly long for and need is already here, already real and true in the inmost sense. To turn to the inmost is to put the soul in accord with this the eternally true. Hence one dwells on the idea! of health, harmony and freedom; one turns in thought to the divine peace, the infinitely tender and all-loving heart, the all-comprehending wisdom. One thinks of the divine life as encompassing our own, hence of the divine mind as knowing all that we see and far more, knowing it all in relation, consequently not as mere experience, sorrow or suffering. Nothing is lost that is real even
for the natural man in rude contact with rock or tree, with heat or cold, or the fury of the whirlwind. What is gone is the merely external point of view, with the misconception that grew out of it. The whirlwind is still there and the voice of God is heard therein, but it is now “the still small voice” that affords the central clue.
Thus to distinguish without too greatly separating the outer from the inner is to be prepared to enter into the thought of the divine presence so as to realize it with depth and vividness. To realize the presence of God in this intimate manner is not simply to think about the divine nature, meanwhile permitting one’s thoughts to play at random in other fields, but to detach one’s consciousness from outer activities and attach it to the idea of the divine as a vivifying power, through feeling, through actual experience. Thus there is a distinct awareness of change from lower to higher, a contrast between inner peace and all outer turmoil. Yet the transition is not induced through emotional intensity. Nor is it the result of mere quiescence. The experience is more truly a return to the sources of power in which the soul becomes at home, not in mere submission, but in active relation to a dynamic center. One’s realization is that whatever is needed is here, whatever power or wisdom one would seek is already at hand in the deep recesses of the inner world. Thus all thought of remoteness in space or time is overcome in the uplifting consciousness that there is but one world, the eternal spiritual world of which outward and temporal things are aspects only.
“Closer He is than breathing,
And nearer than hands and feet.”
All figures of speech are inadequate which undertake to exemplify the full relationship. Even the symbol of the vine and the branches fails us, and all symbols taken together. The presence itself is transcendent, infinite, reaching out beyond the bounds of all language, all thought. The essence cannot be told. Yet all these symbols and statements convey the great truth in part. They suffice if they lift our thought beyond the manifesting forms to the Spirit that quickens them all, to the light which shines through the lamp of the heart in every human soul. Both light and lamp are from the same source. The wisdom that is discovered has fashioned the receptacle in which it is found. The love that comes by influx must come into a vital center, or is found within that vital center, whichever way you phrase the matter. The important consideration in any case is that the divine is within.
The chief tendency to guard against when we endeavor to realize the divine presence as a healing power is diffusiveness or vagueness. One’s realization should be even more definite than prayer as ordinarily employed. It may become as concrete as the spoken word, the single word, “peace.” Indeed, the word is the Spirit made definite, the creative word that went forth to fashion the world, the word that took form in the Bible, and became flesh in “the son of man.” Can you become inwardly still enough to hear the creative word of the Spirit calling you into power? Can you yield your allegiance to physical things sufficiently to transfer your full thought to the message whispered in the inner ear? If you catch its gentle cadences it may touch your whole being with peace, and give you a feeling of new life. Or, if listening for another’s benefit, you may well venture to speak with confidence the word power that will arouse the dormant soul.
Recall the time when you were in bondage to external things, hence to slight changes in your physical feelings. Aware of the slightest change in temperature, you laid aside your wrap; a moment later, feeling slightly cool, you drew your wrap around your shoulders again; and so on through the day you responded to physical feelings. If a slight illness occurred, you attached a name to it, making use of purely physical means to banish the malady. This name was a symbol of your bondage. You were totally unable to separate between yourself and your states, your inner states and your physical conditions; say rather that your mental life was a slave to your passing physical changes. But little by little you have been able to make the separation, to acquire an inner center, a point of view growing out of it, and a method of applying your inward power so as to gain control of your thought and emotions. Then came the great discovery that you need not keep your Christianity for Sundays and for charity, but that this inner pathway you have been following is precisely the one Jesus bade men follow that they might discern the kingdom “which cometh without observation.”
The Christianity of the Master, you remember, applied to the whole individual; it touched men’s hearts to make them love their fellowmen; it touched men’s minds to make them think pure thoughts and will righteous deeds; and it summoned each person to go forth into the world, carrying the lamp of the Spirit into the dark places. This message was to the needy, to those who should be made whole.
Well may we ask what it means to be made “whole” in the Christian sense. We are apt to think of wholeness as physical health, or as moral soundness according to the standards of society. What if we should say that to be made whole is to be self-consistent ? This proposition sends our thought rather far afield for the moment, according to our view of the human self. If you were self-consistent you would no longer be greatly subject to any circumstance or influence whatever, in any social atmosphere you would be the same person. And what is sameness or identity, how many of us have thought it out to see in what sense a person should seek to be one, a whole or unit? Not until you relate yourself to your brothers and to your Lord do you make any headway whatever. You cannot serve two masters. Your clue must be taken from the divine purpose as nearly as you can grasp it. That purpose is already like a single thread running through your experiences from the first fragmentary feelings up to the present moment. You are one, you are whole from that point of view. If you can catch the vision you will have a sort of panorama of your life showing the divine providence in it all. For even in your mistakes, your wanderings due to your freedom, the divine wisdom was with you. Come, then, to the center and gain the vision.
Why is it, when the law is so plain, that we make headway so slowly? There are various reasons in different cases. Some of us have not quite grasped the law; we strive too hard, trying to accomplish too much in our own might. The lesson is that through our whole being the divine life is coursing, ready to set us free, but impeded at points by our own attitude, our volitions and thoughts. Let us try then to be more truly open. Let us open up and out from the center, somewhat as the physical organism responds in the warm sunlight and the fresh air, quickened by nature’s heat. The upward look of childlike affection and receptivity is a great help, so is the outgoing affection when we forget ourselves for another. We do not need to work in our own might, but rather to make ourselves willing instruments of heavenly wisdom and life. The divine Spirit is really working within and for us all the while. Are you ready to let your life be lived for you, to be healed through and through?
Again, there are those who do not make effort enough, paradoxical as it may seem. These people grasp the idea in a way, they want to know the divine presence, yet they do not take a sufficiently pronounced attitude to invite results. Creatures of habit and established modes of thought, they do not realize that the convincing experience of the divine presence which those have who are able to heal and to be healed, is acquired by going apart to drop the outer world and separate the inmost consciousness from physical sensation. They are thinking so much about external conditions, the needs and woes of people, that they cannot yield their personal activity long enough to give themselves to the heavenly powers. The inner vision is no mere gift of the moment bestowed on us while we think and question, raising objections and weighing difficulties; it is a product of months and years of steady interest and activity. Some people, then, need to make a more radical step, willing to yield every cherished belief for the one great possession.
Further still, there are those who have not yet learned the difference between the mental healing which rids the mind of certain of its errors, fancies and haunting mental pictures, but does not touch the inner center, does not solve the soul’s problem; and that spiritual healing which touches the soul. We gain help on this point if we consider the difference between merely mental healing and the new birth or spiritual regeneration. The simpler and more superficial process may be compared to the work of clearing a bit of woodland. At first one rakes away the leaves to be burned, trimming the trees here and there, and cutting away the underbrush. Then the severe work with the axe begins. What shall root out the deepest obstacles? What is it in our nature that needs most to be healed? Is it of any avail to cut away on the outside, while leaving the deep roots to spring into activity again? Or shall we say that the deeper roots need not be torn up but will be transformed by a deep-lying life ready to work within us when we have tried various processes of pruning and given them up as failures?
It seems impossible to condemn the deeper roots of our nature, as if our self-centeredness, wilfulness and other forms of selfishness were absolutely wrong. Some of our attitudes surely are wrong, and it is a positive help at times to admit our failures, to learn the lesson of mistakes, clearing them away as we might the dry leaves in our wood-lot. But the deep root of the will springs from the divine love, and the deep root of the understanding from the divine wisdom. Look deeply enough and you will find the point of view gradually changing from the self that asserts, interferes and becomes centered in its own affections to the divine life that creates. To make this transition is gradually to gain the vision of which I have spoken, to lay down one’s impediments, ceasing to act as if from oneself, and realizing that a great process of renewal is going on. One feels like dropping on one’s knees in humility and gratitude at the discovery.
We need, then, to be cured of our selfishness, to be renewed by the transforming of will and understanding from within; and here is the divine life engaged in that process. When we gain the vision and look back, we realize that many experiences which we took to be struggles with a new disease recently taken on were evidences of a deeper process, casting to the surface whatever was impure. Thus as we progressed the quickening life touched nearer and nearer the center. Some of us have been touched so to the quick that if we had not been sustained by a great peace and faith we would have passed from this natural world. Having passed through such a testing time, we know at last how constant and thorough is the process, accomplishing the changes as rapidly as we are able, bringing severer tests when our faith is greater, and steadily casting forth all that is not in accord with the divine ideal.
Thus a time comes when we make almost no exertion in the old-time way, by affirming, by holding mental pictures, and reaching forth to attain ideals. Instead, we maintain a quiet, even attitude, inmostly at peace, ready for any experience the divine life may bring.
* * * * *
The Spirit of The New Thought
Table of Contents