DESIRE is the infusing principle of individual growth. It is the factor by which our bodies have been built; first of all the lower or inferior parts of our bodies have attained form and power, and finally other and higher parts; and last the brain, which is the machine that investigates the desires and generates the thought that assists in executing them.

The importance of desire can never be over-estimated. As the brain strengthens we get a better idea of desire, and our respect, yes, our veneration for it increases constantly. It is the propelling power within the man, and the brain is its interpreter; and thought is its means of communication with the external world.

Man is the culmination of all the lives that existed before him: he is the sum-total of all the previous growth on the planet, whether impressed in mineral, vegetable or animal forms of life. He is the complete compendium of all the lives that ever existed; and he has reached his high position through the medium of that impelling impulse which underlies every manifestation of life; that impulse we think of so seldom, analyse so little, look at so critically when we attempt to give it a partial analysis, and in many instances condemn as unnecessary and even unholy.

"Crush out your desires," says the voice of ignorance that runs through every class of society; not knowing that to crush out desire is to crush out life.

But desire has never been crushed out. It has advanced steadily toward its own fulfilment, in spite of the misguided intelligence that could not comprehend its mission. Desire instead of being crushed by the half-formed intelligence of past times, has gone on in its efforts and developed the intellect until the time has arrived when the intellect perceives the mighty mission of desire and begins to attach the valuation to it that it deserves.

This investigation of desire is the beginning of man's conscious or reasoning life. It marks his ascension from the animal or physical to the mental plane; the plane where we shall soon perceive that all things are mental, and from which we shall speak a new tongue never spoken before in all the world; a language from which all helplessness and all disposition to lean has disappeared; a language so full of strength that its every word is creative; a language which endows desire with the power that belongs to it; and which proclaims this power abroad, until the entire race feels that it is no longer weak and helpless, but that the force within itself as expressed in desire is a sufficient guarantee, that what it wants to be it will be, and that what it wants to do it will do.

Desire gratified has all along built the brain, and the brain has built the body; so that at this time the body is the brain's tool; its medium of communication with that which is outside of itself; it is the one necessity without which neither desire nor thought has any need of existence.

The body is one; it comprises the desire, and the intelligence that recognises the desire. It is complete in its oneness. It is not only the home of the "I," but it is the "I" itself.

Once it was believed that the soul or spirit was some intangible thing that permeated the body, but could do even better without the body than with it. Mental Science proclaims a different thing from this. It teaches that man on his present plane has no use for any kind of power but that which the body generates, and which is first expressed in thought, and afterward in action. It does not deny the existence of a spirit that lives after the visible body dies; it has a theory of its own concerning this matter which will be explained in a later section. But while not denying the existence of soul or spirit, it does deny the use of yielding up the body, ignoring our present lives, for the sake of magnifying the spirit. Mental Science, which is another name for common-sense, centres its hope on the body because the body is ours now, and its uses are manifested to us every hour of the present time.

In the face of the whole world's belief to the contrary, I am going to state as the most potent fact of the age that the body is all there is of man. If he has a spirit that lives after him, it is a part of his body here on earth, and the seeming two are really one; they are both body. All there is of a man is body. If there is a spirit—which I believe though I cannot prove—then it has been created by the body and is detached from the body at death, because it is a substance so fine and volatile that it cannot help but ascend; the grave cannot hold it, for it is thought. It is the complete thought-life of the man or woman; the record of all the thought his or her brain ever created.

The reason I attach so much importance to the body, and so comparatively little importance to the soul or spirit, is because I know if there is a soul or spirit that survives the body, that we shall find it all right when we come to the need of an acquaintance with it. In the meantime it is proving a ruinous thing to the body to attempt to live in the spirit until we can no longer live in the body.

We must get better acquainted with our bodies; greater knowledge of them and their wonderful, though undeveloped, powers is all we need in order to come into the thought that will conquer disease, old age and death. We have been travelling deathward because we imagined that we had to.

We thought the body was a weak, destructible thing, that could not aid us in our effort to attain everlasting life; but, on the contrary, that it retarded us, and that our only hope lay in the power of our soul or spirit to escape from it.

It is this undervaluation of the body that has destroyed it; it is the postponement of the life force—desire; the putting it off to some future time, ahead of our present lives, that has impoverished these present lives and that is responsible for all the weakness they exhibit. Man has attempted to live two lives at once, and has thereby virtually lost both. I am quite sure that the heaven of the future he has built for himself in his imagination has done his soul or spirit no good, while it has done his body great harm.

It surely seems to be the proper thing for a man to live one life at a time; and it also seems a sensible thing that the life he ought to lead is his present life. To one acquainted with the mighty power of concentration there can be no doubt about this, and I state boldly that the effort made for the salvation of the soul is ruinous to the welfare of the body.

Again, I say that so far as we are concerned while in this world, the body is of infinitely greater importance than the soul. There is nothing of which we can form an idea that will compare with its value. Its uses are legion, and its power to work out happiness for us is far beyond our present ability to conceive of.

And the world knows this, in a way, at this time, though it does not know that it knows it. "The body is of little worth," it says, and then it goes ahead and builds magnificent palaces for it to live in, while thousands of workshops are devoted to the manufacture of clothing and adornments for it. Here is nature speaking above the world's accepted beliefs, and making itself heard through the din of ignorance, as it howls out its reproaches and threats. The world's uneducated beliefs keep crying out "Soul!" "Soul!" but the world itself holds fast to the body, and cares not one fig for the soul. The body carries the stamp of the world's wisdom; the world in which the principle of desire has manifested itself the whole length of its chain of growth, from the atom to man.

This idea of the soul and a future life may be called a recent invention of man's brain. So far as I can ascertain, the history of the very early men shows nothing of it. They did not talk of their souls. All their consideration was of their bodies, and all their hopes and desires, pointed to bodily salvation. It was only as the ages passed away, and bodily salvation was not achieved, that men began to talk of the body being dual, and making an unseen part to it that survived the death of the body, and passed on to a new condition, where it was claimed that immortal life was a fixed fact.

The race came to this conclusion in the natural process of its growth. The animal man was verging into the reasoning man; the man was becoming more brain and less body; his body was weakening as his brain strengthened, and life began to grow shorter with him. This seems strange, but it is easily accounted for. The body builds the brain; the time is coming when the brain will be intelligent enough to reciprocate by building a better body; but in the earlier part of this transaction, the brain, while it absorbed the forces heretofore given to the body, required ages of growth before it became intelligent enough to understand the situation. It was growing and increasing in power, unconsciously to itself; and unconsciously to the body. All that was known about it was that life grew shorter and weaker as the brain grew stronger and more forceful; diseases multiplied, and the surrounding conditions of man became more distasteful. Instead of becoming happier and healthier, he became more unhappy and discontented.

From the foregoing a glimpse of nature's way of doing things may be observed. The man was nearly all animal at first. He became less animal as his brain developed, and his brain kept developing more and more in proportion as he thought more. He grew to be less animal and more mental, and his body registered the fact. This change has been constantly going on, and is still going on. The brain is being built at the expense of the body. But this need not continue any longer, and why?

Because the brain is now sufficiently intelligent to know that, no matter how much of the bodily forces it may consume, it can generate a power that will return to the body all the force it draws from it, and more. And this power it gives back to the body in the form of intelligent thought. And here is the origin of Mental Science—the science of mind unfoldment.

All things come in the line of growth. Man's brain was being built without his knowing what was going on within him; the coming era will be marked chiefly by the fact that man will have achieved this knowledge concerning the relation of his brain to his body, or his thought to his body; for it is thought generated by the brain that will eventually make the explanation that will unite the two—brain and body—in an endless circuit, from which the life forces will cease to trail off and be lost, as they now trail off and are lost; and when this condition comes, disease, old age and death will cease upon our planet.

I have said that the idea of a soul and an existence after this life is over seems to have been of somewhat recent date. We find no reference to it in the Old Testament. We have accounts in the Old Testament of men who lived for hundreds of years, and who evidently looked forward to the time when death should be conquered in this world. They did not die, because their lives were broken by the mental division of themselves that separated them into body and soul. And yet they would not have conquered death upon the earth, even if they never made this separation. Something more was needed to achieve the conquest of death than the continuance of the animal lives which they represented.