THE POWER OF THOUGHT IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE WILL
THE main point in these writings is this: we are not pensioners on any power outside of ourselves.
If we fail to get this fact well fixed in our minds, we cannot become established in the positive pole of our being, where the negative conditions of weakness, deformity and disease fall away from us.
Consider, then, that we are not beggars dependent on the mercy of a personal God. We are free-born citizens of the universe at large. We have actually builded ourselves step by step, first in the thought and then in the body, through our own individual conquests over ignorance; and we are in the world today as masters and heroes, and not as slaves and underlings.
To remember this fact and to hold it always in view is so important as to put its compulsion on all negative forces and make them our servants.
And what are the negative forces?
The reader must excuse repetition. I am writing a philosophy, and not a novel, and it takes "line upon line and precept upon precept" to get a clear comprehension of it. In answer to the question, What are the negative forces? I say that all unorganised substance is negative to organised substance. All lower forms of organisation are negative to man, the highest form. Lightning, clouds and the elements generally are what I call unorganised forces. The animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms are organised substance, but their organisation is vastly inferior to that of man, and he is, therefore, master of them all.
"Peace, be still," said Jesus to the storm, and everything quieted down. What manner of man is this," asked one, "that even the winds and waves obey him?" This question was asked nearly two thousand years ago, and I now answer it for the first time. Jesus exercised his own mastery; and this is all that is necessary in order to check the storms or quell the waves ; to stop the African simoon and to forbid the approach of wild animals. It is all that is necessary for man's perfect protection.
Organisation confers power. Even the lower forms of organised life possess wonderful power in warding off danger, though unconsciously to themselves. The mere fact of organisation puts a certain compulsion on the unorganised elements. Organisation, no matter how unconscious it may be, is a form of protest against dissolution; and this protest is its protection to the extent of its knowledge of its own power.
No form of protest against dissolution, however, is perfect, except that which emanates from an organisation that has come into a highly conscious perception of its own rights and its own power. This high form of organisation is then proof against every negative form of organisation and against the unorganised elements.
It is plain to be seen how, as we grow more and more into a knowledge of our own power, we become more and more free from fear. Just as soon as we see that life and the universe are not our foes, but that all things are awaiting the development of our intelligence in order to serve us, we are lifted out of fear.
From my own experience I know that it is not possible to come into this position suddenly. For years I seemed to be held just in the turn of the tide, where the old thought was swerving round into the new. It was all I could do to hold my own against the downward current of the world's long-established opinions. I seemed to gain nothing and to lose nothing; or, more truly, there were times when I appeared to gain rapidly, and then I would lose it all and find myself in the same old tracks. Another strenuous effort to hold my own would keep me from drifting quite away from my stronghold, which was always self; and standing on self I would breast the waves once more for the sake of truth and manhood. Latterly I can see that I am gaining. But the effort is still enormous.
The effort is not that of bull-dog determination; such an attitude becomes unbearably tiresome in time; but it is an intellectual one; it is the unflagging endeavour to recognise that the bull-dog determination is within you every moment whether you hear a bark or not. You need to keep constantly in view the knowledge that your will is equal to any emergency, whether great or small.
And yet you need to avoid that irrational muscular tension which is the manifestation of the animal, and stand in the reposeful attitude of self-conscious mastery.
A person can lose sight of his will power entirely by habits of postponement. Do not postpone any necessity for action, nor defer doing what you really wish to do. The habit of tying up your will is like tying up an arm or leg; you lose the use of it in time; and note this; the great necessity for death in the world is to remove paralysed wills — inactive and inoperative wills — crippled and weak-kneed wills. Death has small power over vital wills; and when the vital will comes into consciousness of its own strength, death cannot touch it at all.
Every form of disease you may have is simply a negation of your will, or a non-comprehension on the part of your intelligence of the strength of your will.
"But who is it that negatives my will?" you ask.
You, yourself. Your will exists in untold power. It cannot possibly be diseased or maimed or crippled in any way; it cannot be deaf or blind or weak. It would not be your will if it were any of these; it would be your "won't" or your "cannot," or something other than your will, and something not belonging to you. But your intelligence does not recognise this fact, and, therefore, everything in the shape of weakness or disease is the non-recognition of the truth concerning your will.
You see from this that disease is unreal. It is a false belief that you will surely cease to accept as soon as you know the truth. "The truth shall make you free."
" But," you answer, " the truth is here ; the intelligences of many people have accepted it just as you state it; and yet their bodies show forth very slight results. How is this?"
This is a question that I am glad to answer.
Why are our bodies not showing forth the truth, now that our intelligences have accepted it?
We are just emerging from a world of unconscious thought. The thoughts of, or the beliefs in, sin, sickness and death, into which we were born, form the thick, heavy, miasmatic mental atmosphere that everyone of us breathes. It is dense as any fog, and no living will can beat it back entirely and at once. I can seem to clear the space about me for a time, and then the heavy vapours of a world's ignorant beliefs close in on me again, and paralyse my efforts. Then I rest a day or two, realising fully each hour that "they also serve who only stand and wait"; for in these spells of rest I hold fast to my faith that I shall overcome; and when the time for action arrives I am stronger than I was before.
"And what is the time of action? And what kind of action do you mean?"
I mean mental action; times when I turn my whole organisation away from the old-world beliefs in sin, sickness and death, and hold myself closed against these beliefs with a mental force not to be described. In this way I isolate my entire organism from its surroundings, and my own new and revised thought has a chance to work out the redemption of my body. And in each of these efforts of isolation I gain a little. But the holding is hard work, and the least relaxation gives admission to the old deadly beliefs, and I find myself slipping backward again; backward to a place where I must take another rest, but always holding firmly to my faith in myself, and in the truth as I see it, and in the firm conviction of ultimate victory.
The average tendency of the world is to grow in the right direction; that is, in the direction of external manifestation. It is now, and always has been, tending more and more to the externalisation of the will. Active, outdoor sports are becoming more popular than ever; woman is being drawn from the seclusion where the ignorance of past ages had placed her, to take a share in them. Lawn tennis and those glorious inventions of modern days such as the bicycle, are leading forth her beautiful vitality—her will.
Dress reform begins to mitigate the rigour of her utterly defenceless costume—the costume of the slave; and a few more disciples of Delsarte and Jenness Miller will liberate her to such splendid activities as it would make the world smile derisively just to hint at.
But I shall hint at them, nevertheless, regretting that it is only a hint I can give, since a full revelation is locked up from me and from us all in the unopened storehouse of the latent brain.
But the hint; yes, the hint shall be given. If the "bumble-bee" can set the laws of causation at defiance, and lift himself through the air on wings that have been incontestably proved to be a laughable failure, then the people are going to fly without wings. The will power is all the wings that anyone needs. The will power is being developed more and more into activities, even without the knowledge of its still latent possibilities. When these possibilities become generally known, then bolder activities will be projected, and still bolder ones, all leading up to a degree of muscular activity that will enable one to hold himself in the air and to float in it at ease.
I have spoken of muscular activity, but muscular activity is mental activity, for body is mind; and when it is once perceived to be a fact that there is no limit to the power of mind, the feat of flying will no longer be considered impossible, and the one and only impediment to its realisation will be removed.
Even in this age and generation—material as they are—we do not live by sight. Every particle of life we show forth is by faith. With more faith—faith in ourselves, in the God-power within us and not without us—we will recognise more life in ourselves—a thousand-fold than we now do. And this extra life will be expressed in undreamed-of activities. Our present condition, as compared with what it will be, is dull and heavy as that of the old saurian monsters contrasted with the fleetest horses of our time. What a lesson there is in the fact that our fleetest and noblest animals are legitimate descendants of some horrible creature, that took to itself form, perhaps, even before the waters separated and dry land appeared!
If, with our growing recognition of the will power within us, we felt ourselves less inclined to activity, it would be a clear indication that the will was not to be expressed in activities; for the inclination is the best guide we have. But one will find by examining himself that with every fresh accession of will power (or fresh recognition of it) he is prompted to some new action. It is the constant effort of the will to externalise itself. But persons of leaden temperament may resist this effort of the will so much and so continuously as to almost lose sight of it. I often feel the presence of the will moving me to action; but I postpone the action, and thus lose sight of the will that prompted it.
Does your will appear to be inactive? Then you must develop it; you must bring it into view by watching for it and expecting it. The will has been so systematically crushed out of sight through a mistaken system of education, that it is going to take a good deal of effort to make people see that in crushing the will the man is crushed.
You who have lost sight of your wills must surely find them, and when found, you must stand by them as you would stand by your life. Let your intelligence reason on your will from the basic principles set forth in these pages, until you know that it is not evil but good, and that it desires nothing but good.
The will lies at the root of the whole complex organisation of man; and this organisation is all intelligence; and intelligence is mind. The body is mind; it is condensed thought, and is of the same substance as the more ethereal expression of the brain everywhere called thought. The body, which is condensed thought, bears, in a way, the same relation to that invisible substance which we all call thought, that water does to steam, or that the flower does to its perfume—which is a part of the flower, composed of the same material, but possessing a more rarefied form.
But here are these old bodies of ours, mis-built; shaped in the form of the world's beliefs, and not in accordance with our wills, and held in the atmosphere of the world's ignorance while as yet there is no purer, truer atmosphere for them to inhale. What are we going to do about this ?
We are going to-clear a space about us by planting the seed of the new life in virgin soil, here in this beautiful spot, where we now live. It was for this purpose that we came here.
First of all, if I know anything at all I know that the world's belittling, limiting and hampering beliefs, so inimical to progression, are all wrong. I say I know this. Then, as a matter of course, I refuse to be held by them. I stand on guard against them every hour I live. " Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty" in this case as in many others; and I fear there are many of you who will say as some of the disciples said to Jesus, "This is a hard saying," and turn back.
But I can assure you that the hardest of the fight is now. After the first few conquests, the way will be easier. But now we have the whole downward current of the world's ignorant thought to meet and turn aside. Therefore, there is nothing to do but to hold the fort sternly and gallantly against the beliefs that are now, and have always been, sending the generations down to death. We do not have to believe these old beliefs, and really we do not believe them. As fast as they arrive before us we can understandingly deny their right to existence, until we have cleared a space about ourselves where they cannot live. This is what we have been doing for years; this is why we are here in this comparatively isolated Spot; denying the old beliefs that planted the seeds of disease and age and death in our bodies. And though from day to day or from week to week we perceive no change, yet in looking back to the beginning it cannot be denied that we have gained a good deal. We can stand alone now while the tide of adverse opinion washes about our feet, as the waves beat against the impregnable Gibraltar. We have thought ourselves out of the miasmatic race beliefs, and now understand how the power of thought, having begun the work, can do the rest.
Thoughts are things; they are forces ; and forces are not impalpable nothings. Thoughts are as tangible as the nerve centres in your bodies, and they can act on your nerves as the nerves act on the blood vessels, and the blood vessels on the muscles.
The will is the man; it is the function of thought to develop the will and to establish it in our bodies—thus bringing forth the Life Principle into the activities of this busy world.
Thought, having broken the hold of the wretched old race beliefs, now begins to formulate what it conceives to be truer and nobler beliefs.
The will, which has always been crying out to the intelligence against the belief in disease and death, now has a response from the intelligence. "'At last I perceive that there are no disease and no death," answers the thought. No sooner are these words spoken with the keenness of conviction than the nerves thrill with the news, and rush to tell it to the blood vessels, which, in their turn, leave the message at the door of every atom in the body.
As powerful as thought is known to be, and as numberless as the incidents of its accidental cures, so great is the stupidity of the age that its functions in the human system have not yet been discovered. Or perhaps I should not say this. A good many Mental Scientists know it. Prentice Mulford hints at it. Dr Holcombe, of New Orleans, a long-established physician of the old school, understood it and made use of it in his practice. But that the great body of medical men should know nothing about it with all the experience they have had with it, is but an example of lack of readiness of men generally to grasp and follow new lines of thought
Dr Holcombe says: "When one has grasped the idea that by creative laws mind is dominant in all things over the body, the minutest changes of which are in reality organic manifestations or showings forth of mental conditions, many things before incomprehensible become clear. From the standpoint of this truth we see how emotions (which are produced by thought) determine the most rapid changes in the secretions of the body; how fright turns the hair grey; how terror poisons the mother's milk; how great mental excitement or the slow torture of mental anxiety write their baneful effects upon the tissues of the brain; how the images made upon the mother's brain are transferred and photographed upon the body of the unborn child; how epidemics are spread by the contagion of fear and the transference of thought; the thing feared in the mind being reproduced in the physical system.
"Physical appearances are only the external forms or natural embodiments of mental causes (human wills) which are the real motor powers. Effects are produced, not by the apparent external means, but by internal and corresponding mental means. When these internal and intellectual forces (the will) can be evoked and set in action from within, the external means may be entirely dispensed with," (Which is equivalent to saying that the will, as a healer, is so far superior to medicine and all other external appliances as to make nothing of them.) "It is, therefore, the maxim of the metaphysician that the cause and cure of disease are always mental.
"The part which the mind has always played in the cure has been ignored or not recognised, because of the prevalent and dominant spirit of materialism. The mind (thought) has been all the time counted out, while in reality it may have been the chief, and perhaps the only factor in the case. When we are confronted with cures of the most remarkable character, cures entirely beyond the reach of our best medication, we attribute them to imagination, faith, hope, expectation. And we do rightly, for imagination, faith, hope, expectation, are states of the mind; are the mind itself in substantial activity and creative energy; and when these vital forces can be evoked and directed there is no limit to the possibilities that lie in store for us."
In another place the doctor says : "Thoughts are things; ideas are forces; and the mental life is a transcendent organised sphere, of which the material cosmos around us is a reflection. Nothing stands alone; no thought, no mind, no faintest trace of an idea. All are associated and linked together by innumerable laws." (In my opinion there is but one law; it is the adaptation of this law to innumerable needs that gives it the appearance of many laws.) "Every thought we think is a ray of mind which radiates from us and is reflected from all other minds associated with us. The transference of thought is as simple a thing in the mental sphere as the radiation and reflection of light are in the physical sphere. The mental solidarity of the race is perfect. All the states of mind represented by faith, hope, imagination, fixed opinion, expectation, etc., may be exercised by the physician or by friends, and projected with more or less force and power upon the interior and unconscious minds of all who are supposed to be incapable of exercising mental powers of their own. This is the keynote to the sickness of children, and also to the secret of their cure."
Dr. Holcombe's testimony to the fact that thought can make sick and make well is all the more valuable because of his long study and practical experience in the old schools of medicine. I recognise his contributions to the literature of the day on this subject as invaluable, even while I fail to endorse all his conclusions.
That thought can produce sickness of the body is the inevitable consequence of an ignorance of the fact that it acts on the nerves which carry its messages through the whole organisation. And if it can make one sick it can also make one well by the same process. Thought can be educated in a knowledge of truth until it becomes—not only a curative agent—but a perfectly irresistible factor in the reconstruction of the whole human body. And now I want to tell once more, and in as concise manner as possible, how it can be made to do it.
All sickness and weakness, deformity and old age are but denials of the individual will, which is the real individual. They are denials of the power of the will by the uninformed intelligence. Let the intelligence once come to recognise the standing and importance of the will, and to feel a measure of its strength, and the person is then ready to heal his own infirmities and those of other people. His thought becomes charged with the truth; for it is a fact that as the will pervades every part of the body, it also pervades every part of the thought. The thought, then, being infilled with the force and fire of the will creates an atmosphere of strength about the person which is drawn into the body; it establishes its own character there, and builds a foundation for the new temple of grace and beauty that is to be erected. It infuses every atom of the body with a fresh sense of power, and thus makes it ready to hold fast to the new truths that will be planted from time to time. It actually tells the nerves, as it were, of their latent health and vigour, and awakens them to a knowledge of the fact. The nerves are the connecting link between the thought and the more external parts of the body; and through this link you can impart your best thought accompanied by the strongest possible recognition of your will. But this is only the beginning ; it is the breaking up of old conditions preparatory to the separation of the true from the false.
For self-communion, sit alone and draw your thoughts home; let them dwell on the power involved in the creature man; let them see him in his greatest possible strength as the master of all things. Let them then know that the will was built up by desire, and that there is nothing in it that it does
not desire; that indeed it is the representative of the best it has ever known—the image of its own highest ideal. When the thought reaches this point it will see how greatly the body misrepresents the will, and it is then ready to correct the errors of the body. At this juncture permit the thought to sink down into the body; it will do this if it is held firmly from wandering. The will which the thought carries into the diseased body meets and arouses the will in the diseased part, which had become inoperative from lack of recognition by the intelligence. Being thus aroused, it arouses the intelligence in that part, and the old fossilised conditions begin to break up.
It very often happens that the effect of a strong and continuous recognition of the will, and the holding to it firmly, as being the real and true man, makes one sore and lame and miserable, discouraged and ill-natured. This condition is the rebellion of the old consolidated mistakes that have been built in the body by race beliefs. Take no notice of this condition if it comes. Hold on to the belief that the will is the rightful master, and ignore as far as possible the rebellion of the old mistakes.
Concentrate your thought more and more firmly until the whole mentality seems tense with it. Say, "I do not have to be hoodwinked by the old race beliefs thrust on me; it is time I should judge right and wrong for myself."
You can scarcely prevent your thoughts from entering your nervous organisation, no matter what their character. They form an atmosphere about you that you live in; and if you keep them always true to the truth that disease is simply ignorance of your own power, and always see that they are charged with your unconquerable will, they will cure you of all beliefs in weakness and disease, and will lead you up from the death plane to a clear knowledge of the fact that you do not have to die.
You see from what I have said in this chapter how very essential it is to keep in a hopeful state of mind, it requires firmness and an exercise of the will to do this; but you can do it. You will have to learn how to be firm. A firm mind is a firm body, for body and mind are one; and a firm body is a healthy body. And so this whole chapter hinges on this point. The recognition of the will is the evolution of the will in the body. There is nothing in all life so firm as the will; learn to establish your will as master in your body, and it will show forth in just what you desire; health, strength, beauty, happiness and prosperity, and eventually in the conquest of death.
Thought, and thought alone, has power to develop the will. And the thought must be intelligent as well as persistent in its efforts to search for the evidence of the will within the body; for in no other way can the old race errors be driven out and the true man and woman established in each personality.
Let the thought always remember that it was the will that built the body, and that nothing but the will can ever restore it; because the will is the vital part, the propelling power of it, and can still infuse life into the deadest member wherever the faith and understanding exist that can clothe it, and thus make it manifest.
It would be weakness to distrust the power of thought after the many instances of what it has done. And thought is not only an agent to be used close at home; it can be sent any distance and carry its message. The healing of absent patients through thought transmission is now too common for even the most ignorant to deny.
Actually a new world is opening through the, as yet, little understood power of thought transmission; but why anticipate?
Jesus said "These signs shall follow those that believe..." and went on to say that they would be able to stamp on serpents and that nothing poisionous would be able to harm them. Jesus understood the power of mind more than anyone that has ever lived, and demonstrated this power and taught his immediate followers how to demonstrate it also.