Chapter 1 – Thoughts to Build Upon (part 1)

Chapter I
W. John Murray
Mental Medicine
Divine Science Publishing Assoc.
New York, 1923.

[1] If one accepts the oft repeated declaration that man was born to woe as “the sparks fly upward,” one will make no attempt to be other than what he believes himself to be; but if one believes that man is formed for purposes of high resolve and great accomplishment, then he will seek by all the means at his command to work out what he believes to be his destiny, knowing, as the wise man always knows, that his destiny is to attain to Godlikeness, not merely in terms of moral goodness but in terms of spiritual power. Not only will he work by all the means at his command, but he will command the means, for man has resources of which, until he [2] arrives at a true appreciation of himself, he is not conscious; therefore the only excuse for any form of instruction is to make man aware of those inner potentialities so that he may no longer make excuses for himself. Neither peculiarity of birth nor environment are sufficient in themselves to justify failure or mediocrity, for these, failure and mediocrity, are based more upon ignorance than upon prenatal conditions and limiting surroundings. Not knowing our divine prerogatives, we are the slaves of conditions which we presently overcome as soon as we discover our true estate. The man who has found himself no longer whines over conditions, for he knows that these are not insurmountable. On understanding’s strongest wings he soars above untoward conditions as the lark soars above the lowlands with their miasmatic vapors. Formed for great things, and knowing he is formed for great things, he no longer grovels on the refuse heap of his fears, neither does he shrink at imaginary impending calamities, for past, present [3] and future contain nothing for him but the harmonious working of that immutable law which can never work contrary to its own nature. Man, as he is observed on the material plane, is as “vice has made him;” but man as he shall “hereafter be,” when Truth becomes apparent to him, and he knows, even as he is known of Him who created him, will enter at once into the enjoyment, not of things which have not always belonged to him, but of things of which ignorance has deprived him. The cry of every soul that is higher than the animal is for better conditions individually and collectively, and because of this we must infer that this instinctive longing is based upon the conviction that there is something better in store for man than man is at present experiencing. We look upon a world apparently filled with fruitless work and enfeebling woe, and we ask if God has forgotten it, and we question as Shelley questioned when he said,

“O Fairy! in the lapse of years,
Is there no hope in store? [4]
Will you vast suns roll on
Interminably, still illuming
The night of so many wretched souls,
And see no hope for them?
Will not the universal Spirit e’er
Revivify this withered limb of Heaven?”

If one can imagine this Fairy of Shelley’s to be the eternal and infilling Christ, one can also imagine this Christ speaking to the inquiring soul as it spoke through Jesus to the winds and waves on the Sea of Galilee. To our disturbed mentalities the eternal Christ is ever saying, “Peace, be still,” but our inner ears are stopped so that we can hear nothing save through the outer ear of sense; hence all our fears and doubts. For the outer has nothing else that it can convey, since it bears no message from the Highest. Truth bids us, “Be not afraid,” while error seeks to terrify, and will continue to terrify, so long as we believe error to be Truth. On the plane of sense there is crime and misery, lust and licentiousness, but these never disturb the soul which is anchored in God, for the cure [5] for all the miseries in the world of sense is to turn at once to that Eternal Order which underlies all reality. When the enlightened soul perceives this Eternal Order to be the governing force of all things, visible and invisible, it loses its fear of evil through the conviction of evil’s nothingness, for Truth realized furnishes man with the strong cord which binds all error with consuming fire, “Until the monster stings itself to death.” The Kingdom of God will come upon earth, as Jesus prayed it should, when man, instructed in Truth, shall co-operate with that Truth in the working out of all his problems, and not seek to solve those problems as he does at present by resorting to error’s ways.

In the unfolding of Truth to human consciousness the spiritual world of Thought has had its different conceptions as the intellectual world has had its cycles of civilization and as the material world has had its geological changes. The eternal Cause of things has been acknowledged and adored according to these ever ascending conceptions throughout [6] all time. Nature’s various aspects were once worshiped as so many gods. The sun, the moon, the elements were all endowed with deific qualities so that there were as many gods as there were elements of force and fury, benevolent or malevolent as the case might be. From out of this vast system of confused thought and polytheism, there arose the conception of the Unity of Cause, or monotheism, a monotheism however which included in the One Supreme and Only God all that was malevolent as well as all that was benevolent in the many gods. If before, there were many causes for many maladies, now, through the conception of One Cause, these many maladies, universal and particular, were ascribed to Him “from whom all things proceed.” That which hitherto had converged to humanity’s hurt from many sources was now traced back from effect to Cause until all the sin, sickness, and sorrow in the objective world was made to converge to a central source, and that source was God. High in heaven’s center [7] sat the Ruler of the universe, creating the sons of men and fastening upon them as soon as they were born, aye even before, the fate that should be theirs despite their strong endeavors. Some were born to disease and decrepitude, others to health of body, peace of mind, and with the proverbial golden spoons in their mouths. When those who could not reconcile all these human distresses with a conception of God higher than that of their religious teachers, protested their disbelief in such a monster, they were persecuted to the death. It was the priest’s conception of God or no conception at all, and no conception at all was accounted as heresy, and heresy was a sin for which no form of punishment could be too severe.

That God, however, is dead; that is, that monstrous conception is dead, and the race is better off in consequence. The wise man does not mourn the death of a god who could bless one and curse another, for he has learned that God is a fount from which there cannot proceed blessing and cursing. Whatever [8] of misery and unhappiness there is in human experience the wise man ascribes to ignorance, and knowing that all ignorance may be overcome, he knows that earth will become that “sweetest scene” when men everywhere shall know that “Only the Good is true.” As the lowest forms of animal life are said to have grown by slow but sure processes of progressive evolution to the point where we are told they have culminated in man as we know him, so the lowest conceptions of the Supreme Being have steadily given place to other and higher conceptions, until today the conception of God that is most acceptable to the thinker is that of God, the changeless Divine Principle whose stately laws once understood by man make of that man a God in manifestation. As God, Divine Mind, is the same, “yesterday, and today and forever,” He knows neither love nor hate, approval nor disapproval, favoritism nor prejudice. He regards all things with most impartial eyes, for all He knows is that for which He Himself is responsible, [9] and this He has pronounced “very good.” It is for this reason that we read in the Scriptures that His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts.

There was an age of God the Father, during which men thought of the Ruler of the universe as afar-off and only to be approached through Moses or the prophets; so they said, “Speak unto us through Moses lest we die.” Then there was an age of God the Son, during which men believed that salvation could only come to them through the vicarious atonement or suffering of one for the many. If before, God could only be appeased by the blood of bulls and of goats, now nothing would suffice but the blood of His most precious Son; and so for centuries we have taken refuge in the belief that our sins were atoned for by the redeeming blood of the Lamb. In both of these ages of God the Father, and God the Son, the conception of an angry God persisted, but today a new conception is taking place, and it is that of [10] God the Holy Ghost. When, at the River of Jordan, as Jesus was being baptized of John, the act was sealed by the words, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,” the New Dispensation commenced; but later when this same Jesus said, “I will send to you the Holy Comforter who will lead you into all Truth,” He prophesied the advent of a new era, and this era is now upon us. “He came unto His own and His own received Him not,” for the reason that no man can receive what he cannot understand. The Holy Ghost or Comforter (the Divine Principle of Truth) is in the world today but the world receives It not. Therefore we should not flatter ourselves that if we had lived in the day when Jesus Christ walked among men, we should have immediately recognized Him as Its highest expression. Again we say we receive what we understand, whether it be in mathematics, music, or metaphysics: hence the initiate neither condemns the ancients for stoning the prophets, the Roman for martyring the followers [11] of the Nazarene, nor those of today who ridicule the new philosophy of life. Having eyes they see not, and the initiate is sorry for them for the same reason that Jesus was sorry for them that drove spikes through those hands which only healed, and those feet which were beautiful on the mountains, as He brought the glad tidings of Mind’s supremacy over matter. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” is the prayer of Him who knows, and knows that He knows.

When scientific apprehension of Truth takes the place of sectarian belief, we shall learn something of that state of mind which characterized Guatama, and Mahommed, Socrates and Plato, and above all Jesus, and we shall also realize what prayer is and what may be accomplished by it. We shall neither mumble words nor memorize formulae, for we shall know what it is to dwell in the “secret place of the Most High.” Many creeds will die in order that one eternal Christ may live in the hearts of men and [12] work out through these hearts in terms of peace and power, a peace that is not of this world, and a power which does not seek to exhibit itself in deeds of selfish exploitation of those less fortunate.

This is the age of the Holy Ghost, for it accepts the idea of the supremacy of Mind as no other age has ever accepted it. That some twist facts to suit their own convenience regardless of the rights of others, does not change these facts, even though it gives a false direction to the force of Thought. That man can through thinking bring into his experience the things he desires, is true, but let him see to it that he brings these by the lawful process of working out from the Universal rather than inward upon the individual. Every true student of spiritual metaphysics will understand what I mean and realize that any attempt to get through the particular what can only be obtained from the Absolute is nothing more than a subtle form of self-hypnosis, the re-action from which can only work harm to him who [13] indulges in it. Until we find the right way, we shall make many mistakes in metaphysics as we have made mistakes in mechanics, but we must be certain that they are mistakes of head and not deliberate intents of the heart. When an experimenter in mechanics makes a mistake he may profit by it, but a deliberate use of the power of Thought to work another harm or to get from him that which may be better and more easily obtained by going direct to the Source, is the worst form of self-deception, the results of which are always painful and sometimes persistent.

The great majority of the world’s inhabitants are as yet on the plane of the first mental remove from that of the animal; that is, they share all the appetites of the animal such as hunger, thirst and need of rest in unconscious sleep; but in addition to these they are conscious of things which the animal is not conscious. For instance, the simplest savage is conscious of a physical self which he is inclined to adorn, and [14] whether the savage, simple or complex, ignorant or civilized, adorns himself with the feathers of birds or the most recent styles of London, Paris or New York matters little; it simply proves that in addition to all the appetites which characterize the beasts of the field there is a consciousness of personality, and a desire to improve that personality as well as to minister to its lowest needs. If it shows itself in what might be called vanity, this is because this consciousness of personality is as yet in its infancy; but there will come a day when it will manifest itself on the plane of the intellectual, a plane which is as much higher than the plane of self-adornment, as the plane of self-adornment is higher than the plane of self-satisfaction, or the gratification of the appetites. When we look back over the centuries and observe how long a time man, as we know him, has been in process of evolution we ought not to become discouraged when we are told we shall be a long time in arriving at that goal of perfection established as [15] the standard, by Divine Mind. Neither ought we to become feverish in our haste to arrive, for this is to cheat our own end, to balk our own purpose. To become on the outer, what we are on the inner plane, is accomplished more by letting than be forcing. We must learn to let our finest emotions have sway over our lives instead of forcing our way into places and positions in which we can only remain through fitness. It is for this reason then that we should, in addition to personal adornment, which is not a sin, reach out after intellectual advancement, so that the mind will become clothed with such garments as may entitle it to appear at the Court of the Highest, which is Spiritual Illumination. That some have become illumined without any special intellectual training may be true, but history records that by far the greater number of those who have given to the world such food as philosophers feed on, have been men and women of rare intellectual accomplishments as well as of great spiritual aspiration. This [16] is as right and proper as men who have just enough personal vanity to wish never to appear before others without being becomingly garbed are more ready for the next step, which is the adornment of the mind, than the man who takes no pride whatsoever in his personal appearance. Each thing in its place, and everything in its logical order. It does not signify that because a man has arrived at the place where personal appearance compels his attention that he has suddenly lost his appreciation for food. His taste in this respect may become refined, but he nevertheless continues to eat. He may know that “Man does not live by bread alone,” but he also knows that until he reaches a higher state of spiritual development, he cannot live without it, and so it is, that “The higher includes the lower, while the lower cannot include the higher.”

From this point then we are able to proceed to where we can at least glimpse the view above, where spiritual understanding becomes the new acquirement, and where all [17] that is worthwhile below it is included in it, as the visible expression of the interior state wherein tranquility retains its changeless mood. Spiritual understanding is the Saviour, the Redeemer. It is that in man which treads upon the lions and scorpions of the lower nature, and which confers a power obtained in no other way. When God, The Holy Ghost, removes the inner cataracts from the eyes of the soul, the soul sees the “new heaven and the new earth,” and the old concept of earth and heaven passes away with the ignorance which begat it. In this hour a great revelation takes place. Every place becomes sacred, so that worship is no longer confined to what are called the “sacred precincts of the church.” There are no times nor seasons for prayer to the man who has glimpsed the Whole which contains all its parts, for to such a man religion becomes something infinitely more than the adoration of something inappreciable and abstract. Religion dominates such a man’s whole being, so that he intakes and outbreathes the [18] Divine that is in him, as it was in Jesus. The events which, prior to this revelation of the Son of God in him, desolated all his hopes and blighted all his prospects, fade from memory so that nothing can ever again give reality to that which Truth annuls. Space, matter, time and thought become the servitors of him who knows that only God rules. All power is vested in the Changeless One, and the torments which came from the belief in the changing many, subsides as this belief subsides. The man who knows, does not need to consult wizards for a proof of immortality, for immortality is to him as certain as the reality of his own being. Neither is death to such an one a thing to be dreaded or invited, since it is nothing more than a crossing over the threshold of a new experience from one room to another, which does not give him one moment’s anxiety or curiosity. He carries the statement of Jesus into practical experience by realizing that, “Sufficient for the moment is the experience thereof.” With no useless [19] bewailing of the past, nor debilitating fear of the future, the man of understanding lives in an eternal present which is filled with glorious possibilities. That is a wonderful conception of things which assures man that because God knows neither past nor future, neither can man who derives his consciousness from God, know these periods of time which have no place in Eternity. One may believe in any series of events, but one can never know what is not to be known.

All things are being re-created for him who sees beyond the merely visible, but it requires keenness of perception to note the gradual renovation. It is for this reason therefore that we cannot agree with those who tell us that the heavenly vision may come in the twinkling of an eye, and this to one who has had no prior preparation. Such a phenomenon would indicate partiality or injustice, or both, unless at some time, either before or after what we call physical birth, there had been some such longing as would attract the thing desired. When the case of [20] Pauls’ sudden conversion on the road to Damascus is used to illustrate the miraculous and extraordinary, we need to consider the state of Paul’s mind previous to this occurrence. We are apt to over-emphasize the fact that he persecuted the followers of Jesus, but we must not forget that even this he did, believing he was right. Paul was a zealous man who believed it was as necessary to denounce error as it was to proclaim Truth, and like so many of similar persuasion, he lost much time and expended much energy which might have been more profitably employed. He was essentially a Truth-Seeker however, and since every Truth-Seeker is a fearless analyzer of his own states of consciousness, he must have been engaged in some such exercise as he journeyed. It is when men ask questions of their inner monitors concerning their thoughts and acts, that these questions are answered, and in no uncertain tone. Only when men ask no questions but do what they feel like doing, is there no sudden arrestation [21] of impulse. There is always a moment when that which has been growing in thought tends to express itself in manifestation, just as there is always a moment when the bird emerges from its shell, or the chrysalis extricates itself from the cocoon. We do not consider these occurrences miracles; therefore we should not consider the conversion of Saul of Tarsus a miracle; and we would not, if we only knew that all things work according to Law. When these facts are better understood we shall cease to live as we list, in the mistaken belief that Illumination comes providentially when it is ready to come, and not before, and that hence there is no advantage to the wise man over the fool in such matters. Illumination comes to the soul which has prepared for it, just as light shines though a lamp which has been cleaned and filled with oil, and the wick of which has been properly inserted and duly lighted. Step by step does the soul unfold in the direction of the development of its latent capacities; therefore every hour [22] of delay is a postponement of blessings which are not afar-off, but close at hand.

In the past, Illumination seemed to be a special dispensation to those rare individuals whom we have since crowned with the glory of Church approval or canonization, but this was because they were so few and far between that they were regarded as set apart by God for special purposes. That they were set apart is true, but when one examines their lives and conversions one is constrained to believe that they were set apart by their own consent, their own willingness to “live the Life.” The sun shines always for everyone, but only those who come out of the shadows enjoy its benignant warmth. Divine Love is the same for all, but individual man must enter into the spirit of it if he would taste the blessings it bestows. It were folly to think that spiritual understanding comes without effort. One must study to become a musician no matter how much natural aptitude one has for music. No matter how mathematical one’s mentality [23] may be, one cannot calculate the movements of the heavenly bodies so as to prophesy the day, hour and moment of an eclipse, save that one applies himself to a painstaking study of the science of numbers. Who expects a strange miracle to take place in these departments of investigation? It is one of the proofs of healthy-mindedness that men know there is no Illumination without investigation, and hence we study. If Jesus had entertained the opinion that Illumination, or spiritual Realization, was an inexplicable phenomenon which might come to one who was not seeking it at all, while to one who hungered for it it might never come, He would not have said, “Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.” If these words of the Master, the most highly Illuminated One, do not mean persistent effort, I do not know what they do mean. How then can some teachers assert that a few lessons, either through personal instruction or through the methods of the modern correspondence [24] school, confer upon one the ability to do this without any greater effort than a few Affirmations of a carefully written formula, when that one may have no higher conception of Illumination than that it is a means of so employing Thought as to attract material wealth, which may wither like Dead Sea fruit? Must there not be something back of all this system of Affirmation, from which these Affirmations derive their substance, and without which all the Affirmations in the world would be valueless as a painted fire is valueless to produce heat? Seeking personal blessings without once considering universal principles, indicates a woeful ignorance of Law and the working thereof, as set forth in the advice of Him who spake as never man spake before when He said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

When the limited area by which primitive man was environed no longer supplied him with the necessaries of animal existence, [25] he reached out beyond that environment. Thus exploration began through Necessity, which is not only, “The mother of invention,” but the means to the end of man’s advancement; for where there is no incentive, there is no endeavor, and where there is no endeavor, there is stagnation and death. The doctrine of Necessity is far more understandable and demonstrable than is the doctrine of Calvinistic predestination, or the unexplained doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. The doctrine of Necessity explains the immutable Law of Cause and Effect, and reveals that nothing can occupy any other place than the place it is at present occupying, until Necessity requires a change, and that no one can do otherwise than he is doing, until consciousness perceives the Necessity of expansion. It is for this reason that we are told, and we are coming to believe, that “Motive is to voluntary action in the human mind, what cause is to effect in the material universe.” As nothing happens by chance or accident in the material [26] world, so no growth takes place in consciousness save as motive impels, and thus it is that every individual is irresistibly impelled to act as he does act, and nothing can change this unrecognized law until Necessity compels consciousness to explore a higher realm. All reformation and all evolution from a lower to a higher plane is the direct consequence of the discovery that one’s requirements are always in advance of one’s possessions. No matter how much one may have of this world’s goods there is never, in material things alone, that satisfaction which the soul needs, if it is to thrive and be content. This explains the all too frequent unhappiness of the rich, who, until they find the Source of riches, which is Christ in themselves, seek in things what can only be found in thoughts. It also explains why the poor so often remain poor, notwithstanding that the Supply is always greater than the demand.

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