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Chapter 11 - Voices of New Thought
"All Nature is but art, unknown to thee;
All chance. direction, which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony, not understood,
All partial evil, universal good."
FOR centuries men have contended and argued about evil and its influence on the lives of men. They have spent their energies and thought in speculating on the nature of evil and trying to discover its origin. They have characterized it as a separate and independent force, insidiously operating on men’s lives and leading them on a downward path. They have permitted their imagination to clothe Satan with human and personal characteristics, and have accorded him a position of active force and power in the moral government of the world. They have painted him as an active agent, possessing fiendish instincts actively employed for man’s destruction, gloating over the victims he leads away to their eternal downfall. In their unrestrained imagination, fanned by the fires of ignorance and superstition, they have given him powers second only to those of God. The history of the Christian Church has been the history of Satan. Borrowing the idea of evil from ancient pagan superstitions, they have cultivated and fostered it, magnified and strengthened it, until in the delirium of their superstition they represented it as incarnated in a being active, powerful, and possessing all the destructive instincts of a demon.
While they thus exalted Satan to this high station, they at the same time told man he was weak, unworthy, sinful by nature, and unable to cope with Satan or resist his temptations. Theology somehow never brought peace and good cheer to the heart of man. It has hung like a somber pall over his life and destiny. It has shut out the sunshine of joy, beauty, and gladness. Man has tolerated it through fear alone, not because he loved or respected it. It has always wandered through the valley of the shadow of death, rather than over the hills of light and beauty. it has cast its darkened shadow over life’s pathway, rather than to illumine it with the rays of joy and hope.
Theologians thought of evil, talked of evil, and meditated upon evil, until it had a fixed abode in the human imagination. They dwelt upon evil more than upon the good. They were not aware that they were giving strength to the supposed enemy against which they inveighed and contended. The slogan has ever been how to fight the devil, how to overcome evil. They said good could only prevail when Satan had been dethroned and evil had been put underfoot and demolished.
The theologian always approached the problem from the wrong angle. He preferred to be a destroyer rather than a builder, and as a consequence he not only did not destroy evil, but he gave it added force and power by magnifying its importance and exalting its standard. He gave his thought to evil till it became a habit. He unconsciously grew into the likeness of the so-called monster he sought to destroy. Even Martin Luther could follow this phantom, until in his frenzy he could hurl an inkstand at an imaginary fiend. He surpassed even the imagination of the Catholic Church in clothing Satan with importance.
The conceptions of New Thought, regarding evil and its influence on men’s lives, are widely at variance with these theological views. Its estimate of evil is less exalted than that accorded to it by theology. It recognizes evil only as the absence of good and as possessing only negative qualities, functions, and powers. It does not regard evil as a positive force or entity, but, more properly speaking, a misdirected energy, force, or power, good of itself. It may be said to be an improper use of a power that is in itself good. In fact all forces, powers, and energies in the universe are created for good purposes and are good in themselves. It is only as they are improperly applied and misdirected that they become evil or other than good. “Evil is merely privative, not absolute; it is like cold, which is the absence of heat.”
The principle may be illustrated as follows: The purpose of each of two individuals is ultimate happiness. One seeks it by energy, honest effort, and self-denial, resulting in a prosperous, contented, and peaceful life. The other has a different plan in life. He seeks the same end, but by the employment of his wits, tricks, self-indulgence, and intemperance, ending in misery, want, and crime. The same energy was employed in both instances. One was directed wisely and accomplished certain positive results; the other was directed unwisely, with different consequences. The wrong was not in the energy, but in the manner in which it was employed.
The best method of fighting evil is to do good. The great problem is how to direct wisely the energies and forces of the world, not how to fight the negative we call evil. When we can displace negative by constructive thoughts, evil by good thoughts, to that extent can we eliminate evil. By indirection only can we overcome evil.
When Jesus said, Resist not evil, he gave scientific advice, he spoke a universal truth, he expressed the wisdom of the ages. He also laid down another law of equal importance, the law of agreement; agree with thine adversary quickly, a law based on the same underlying principle. He understood the laws of life, the laws of mind, that man can accomplish nothing by fighting negatives and shadows, but can produce results only as he constructs and builds and thereby displaces negatives and shadows.
Man has been taught to think of a devil and fear a devil, until he has a fixed place in his imagination, The theological teaching has always impressed the subconscious mind with the imaginative force and power of evil. The theologian, ignorant of the principles of psychology and the laws of mind, has impressed these negative thoughts upon the subconscious mind until the thought of evil, its force and power, has become the settled habit of man.
The mind gives life to conditions to which consciousness is directed. If we sow negative thoughts in the subconscious, we shall reap negative results. When we consciously dwell upon the subject of evil, we give more life and power to evil. We grow into the likeness of that we think of most. We are shaped in the molds of our own thought. We take on the character of that which most engages our attention. This is a scientific fact, a basic law, a vital truth in the study of these problems. It is therefore evident that any system of thought or training that gives the least attention possible to evil and as much attention as possible to good, will directly lessen every form of evil and increase every form of good.
The best way to overcome the devil is to ignore him and do good; he will then become good himself. We cannot expel darkness from a room by fighting it, but only by letting in more light. Light is the only solvent for darkness; good is the only solvent for evil.
“Nerve us with incessant affirmations.
Don’t bark against the bad,
but chant the beauties of the good.”
Except as the individual, either actively or passively, invites and entertains them, evil thoughts, so-called malicious animal magnetism, and similar imaginary powers and influences find no place or recognition in the code of New Thought. To the man or woman of character, of positive and normal thoughts, they are as harmless as the rustling of leaves on another continent. It is only the man of flabby mind, with negative and passive characteristics and qualities, that can be affected thereby. The world does not show marked advancement in thought by changing the name of devil to malicious animal magnetism. Whether we continue to impress the subconscious with the existence of a force or entity called the devil or malicious animal magnetism can make little difference; the weakening effects are the same.
When man has learned that he has the power within himself successfully to resist all external influences, all imaginary and evil forces, he will become a free man and cease to be a slave to all such visionary forces. Man can only be free as he eliminates and banishes the last vestige of fear from his mind. Then only will his soul expand, then only will he grow and develop into the stature of true manhood.
New Thought teaches a sane and healthy optimism. Optimism produces positive effects on character and a larger outlook on life. Pessimism dwarfs the soul and unfits a man for the larger vision necessary for a successful and useful life.
As we take a practical survey of life and men in their various walks, we observe as a rule that optimistic and cheerful men succeed, and by the same token gloomy and pessimistic men end in failure. The optimist brings good cheer, joy, and happiness to others; the pessimist carries gloom and sadness wherever he goes. The one breathes joy and health from the atmosphere and sees harmony and peace in all created things. Like a spendthrift he tosses that joy to others on his way through life. To the other, Nature is a blank, he breathes discontent, even the sky is filled with somber clouds. He hears no music, he carries no message of cheer or comfort to his fellow-man. The one attracts, the other repels.
One universal law holds good. He that looks for joy and gladness will find it. He develops those qualities in his own soul thereby attracting those of a kindred nature. The pessimist obeys the same law; his soul invites only its own kind.
True optimism is not generally understood. The true optimist is not one who sees only the sunshine at every step in life. He is not one who refuses to see that all things are not good, and hopes for the best under all-circumstances. But the true optimist is one who sees the situation from all practical standpoints. He sees imperfect conditions when they exist, but recognizes that inexhaustible power within himself properly to direct the seeming wrong and bring success out of apparent failure. He lives in mental sunshine because he has learned how to make things right. He has faith in his own inherent forces to accomplish desired results. He does not say all is good, when it is not good. He says, if things are not right, I will make them so. He does not deceive himself. The true optimist has a supreme faith coupled with untiring energy. He does his best, and dwells in the happy consciousness that his own will come to him.
The optimist looks for the divinity in man, the beauty in life, and worships the omnipresent, indwelling God. Every man has divine qualities, and he who seeks them will be rewarded. The qualities in every man attract like qualities in other men. If they are good, they attract the good. If bad, they attract the bad. Man silently radiates the good to his fellow-man. As man speaks to men through the soul, he awakens the same qualities and instincts in their souls. The divine responds to the divine.
The conscious influence of man is small; the unconscious power, the inner light, that silently radiates to other men, is the real influence in life. Men receive what they give. If they give value, value is recognized and given in return. It is the law of giving. Men find their true place by what they express in their own lives, by the qualities they carry to their daily tasks.
Our attitude toward life determines what we get out of it. The world catches our smile and in return smiles back. If we carry frowns to the world, we are compensated with frowns. The optimist fills life with mental sunshine, he illumines the world with gladness and joy. He carries good cheer to the lives of his fellows, he radiates hope and peace from his life and personality. His presence stills the passions of men. He turns the discords of life into music. He unconsciously catches the rhythm of the universe, he moves with its eternal currents, he keeps step with the vibrations of Nature, he breathes hope, he finds the peace and harmonies of life. When he passes over the great divide, he leaves the world a little better and life a little sweeter.
DEVELOPMENT OF MAN
The chief function of New Thought is to show the way for the symmetrical development of man. The riddle of the universe would be of no value, except as we apply the knowledge thereby gained in the further development of ourselves. Knowledge is but the plaything of man, until it is utilized for his advancement. It gives value only as it is used.
The results of science are beneficial only as they help man in his upward struggle. What is philosophy until it is distilled into wisdom and used to lead out and develop the higher and better qualities of man? Religion is not normal, that does not confer upon man a normal and symmetrical development. A religion that stops with a creed does not meet the important and essential wants of man. Man is a triune being and requires a three-fold development–physical, mental, and spiritual. Until he is so developed, he is abnormal. Until he is developed physically, mentally, and spiritually, he lacks some of the essential qualities of a well-rounded man.
For some reason the Christian Church, at least after it was Latinized under the Roman hierarchy in the fifth century, never practiced the art of healing. It claimed apostolic succession; that is, that it divinely inherited the power possessed by the Apostles, which was handed over to them by Jesus. Yet it never gave to the world an exhibition of its ability to heal, a gift freely exercised by Jesus and the Apostles, according to the recorded accounts in the gospels.
There may have been a controlling reason for this entire lack of effort in manifesting any efficiency in the art of healing. Making claim to powers of healing was a different proposition from the other prerogatives asserted by the Church. It was dangerous to assert its power to heal unless it had the ability to make good. The claim, if fraudulent, could be easily detected. Men might measure results from observation.
It was easy enough to assert the right of Apostolic succession, the separation of God and man, authority of Church, priestly mediation, election, and a host of other dogmas, for the truth of such declarations could not be weighed or measured by tangible evidence. No risk, therefore, was incurred in laying claim to their truth. They could be established as doctrines of the Church by an appeal to ignorance and superstition, under the mighty weapon of ecclesiastical authority. But it was a dangerous assumption of power to assert the ability to heal, because unless it was made good and demonstrated, the false claim would be exploded. Assertion without fulfillment would bring derision and ridicule. Because the Church had departed from the teachings of Jesus and had become a commercialized institution, it had lost the power to heal and dared not make such a claim to the world. The Church confined its efforts to a blind struggle for spiritual development alone. Apparently it did not see the necessity for a symmetrical development, to round out and build the perfect man.
Man requires a perfect body as a suitable temple for the mind and a fit tabernacle for the soul. Intellect, soul, and body are mutually dependent. Healthful thoughts produce healthful impressions on the subconscious, which in turn give expression in healthful bodies. The conscious mind impresses health, the subconscious expresses it. Mind and soul cannot properly express themselves in an imperfect body. The physical man, the intellectual man, the spiritual man, constitute the normally developed man. He alone is the perfect instrument of expression.
Intellect is imperfect until it finds its expression in feeling, which the soul only can supply. Mind does not reach its zenith until it has touched the universal, until the conscious mind has come into touch with the subconscious. The soul only can give life and permanency to the utterances of mind. What the soul speaks, lives. What the intellect expresses, untouched by the soul, is only for a day. The one supplements the other. Thought is without power until it is touched by an emotion. Emotion vitalizes thought, it gives it form, power, beauty, and expression. The message touched by the soul can be read and reread, and always new beauties and new meanings are revealed. The man that speaks from his soul is heard. The man that writes from his soul is read. These are the immortals in the world of thought. These are the masters whose thoughts survive the ages.
A RELIGION FOR TODAY
New Thought is not a religion of yesterday, or a philosophy for tomorrow but for today. It is a religion of life and for man’s use. Its purpose is to teach man how to live now, and to find the highest and best in life. Our yesterdays are gone, our today is here. “Yesterday is only a dream, tomorrow is only a vision.” We cannot control the past, but we can perform the duties of today. Today will be the past tomorrow, we can only make it glorious by acting well today.
"Away with the flimsy idea, that life with a past is attended,
There's Now--only Now, and no Past--there's never a past, it has ended.
Away with its obsolete story and all of its yesterday's sorrow;
There's only today, almost gone, and in front of today stands tomorrow."
~Eugene F. Ware
One trouble with the world is that we have been living under religions of bygone ages, instead of religions for today. Each generation will practice a religion suited to the spirit of its own age. The narrow and intolerant religions of the past could not flourish today.
Say what you will, there are more charity, kindness, and love in the world today than in any age that produced any of the religions of the past. This change has been effected, not so much from religious teaching, but as the result of the spirit of democracy and enlightenment. All the religions of the past partook of the age that produced them. The God men worshiped was a reflection of themselves. Hence the God men worship today is unlike the God of the old theologians. The present day religious teachers make the mistake of trying to make modern thought fit their religions, instead of making their religion fit modern thought.
Men will not worship a cruel God, when the world is ruled by the spirit of peace. When men conceive of the universe as under the rule and dominion of universal and permanent laws, they cannot give reverence to a jealous and capricious God. Whoever feels the divine, like an enveloping presence, cannot adore an absentee God.
We read many learned discourses about the decline of church attendance and the reasons therefor, but has the true reason ever been stated? When the Church utters thoughts suited to this age, its sanctuaries will be crowded. Men are as hungry today for spiritual food as ever in the past. They object to the quality that is set before them.
We hear much about standing by the religion of our fathers, and books have been written on that subject. It is said if their religion was good enough for them, it is good enough for us. That argument is based on sentiment alone. If we had always observed that principle, we should still be living in the stone age and worshiping stone idols. We honor our fathers for the virtues they developed under their religions. They walked by the best light they had. Must we walk by the same light, when we have found a better? Who knows but they would be traveling by the new light, were they here? Jesus broke away from the God of his fathers. as every great and illumined soul has done.
We have heard nothing but the history of revelation to other men and those only who lived in the dim ages of the past. We want a revelation of God to us, instead of the history of a revelation to others. Why should not God reveal Himself today as much as in any age of the past? Has the gulf widened between man and God, so that God refuses longer to reveal Himself? Are there none worthy to receive the divine message?
Men still need light. Why should God cease to bestow it? God reveals Himself to man the same as in the ages past. He speaks through the same symbols as He ever did. If we read them aright, we must see and know God. If we listen, we can hear the still small voice.
The outer forms of creation reveal the inward and spiritual. Emerson, as he cast his eyes over the landscape bathed in the mellow rays of the setting sun, was heard to say, “God, all is God.” Life was meant to be and can be made a beautiful and grand reality. To those who have caught the inner visions of the soul, Nature forever yields a message of light, a panorama of joy and gladness. Listen to the evidence of Helen Keller, who sees only with the inner vision: “The splendor of the sunset my friends gaze at across the purpling hills is wonderful, but the sunset of my inner vision brings purer delight, because it is the worshipful blending of all the beauty that we have known or desired.”
To him who sees, the stars of heaven are envoys of beauty, the landscape is a picture no artist can paint. The spheres circling in their orbits and the return of the seasons bespeak divine order and wisdom. There is ever a music of Nature to the listening ear. When man’s inner and outward senses are harmonized, he sees sublimity in all Nature, he hears the voice of God, “The foot turns up no barren clod, But hath upon it written God.”
The great secret of life is to learn to live in harmony with Nature’s laws. The laws of Nature are the laws of God, and are for man’s guidance and direction; for is not man a part of Nature? These laws have their punishments and rewards, as unfailing as the tides of the sea. The man who disobeys them finds existence a disappointment and life a failure. The man who obeys them finds life a satisfying reality, a life worthwhile. His world is filled with harmony and satisfaction. When a man has become conscious of this truth, and learns to look to the light, the intuitions of his own soul, for truth and guidance, he has found the secret path that leads to reality, to harmony and things worthwhile. He has acquired the control of things and and circumstances; they yield themselves in the presence of his personality; they obey his will, he is master.
When the divine words were spoken to man, over the wide, weltering chaos at primeval creation, “Let there be light,” he was given dominion over all the things of the earth. If he has lost that dominion, it is because through the long centuries there has been no design on the spiritual trestle board, resulting in utter confusion, from which man has become unconscious of his divine immanency and has thus misconceived and misunderstood his own powers. More properly, we may say the designs have been false, separating man from God and leading him away from the consciousness of his own powers and divine inheritance.
If there is a lost word, it is the loss of the consciousness and knowledge of the divine in man, that potentially man possesses forces which when called forth will make him master of self, of circumstances and environment, and bring him into harmony and unity with God. High ideals, faith in the grandeur and majesty of your own soul of man’s oneness with the divine, are necessary and initial steps to this mastery.
Emerson saw the importance of this consciousness in man and thus expressed himself: “It is easy to see that a great self-reliance, a new respect for the divinity in man, must work a revelation in all the offices and relations of men; in their religion; in their education; in their pursuits; their modes of living; their associations; in their property; in their speculative views.”
NEW THOUGHT AND PROSPERITY
Poverty is not essential or perhaps not conducive to the highest order of spiritual development. Prosperity should be every man’s portion and is necessary to a useful and well-rounded life. It enables man to find time for study and contemplation. It permits him to stretch forth a helping hand to assist his needy brother.
The first step to a life of financial prosperity is the recognition of one’s own worth, the limitless possibilities and powers within himself. Financial acquisition is not always synonymous with a successful life. Too often money becomes master over the man.
A successful life is more. No life is successful that does not result in the mastership of the individual over things. No slavery is more pernicious than financial slavery. Success has been defined as “The attainment and preservation of a practical and legitimate ideal.” The useful life, the constructive life, the life that lights the pathways of others to higher ideals, and awakens their consciousness to the divine powers within themselves and brings peace and contentment to him who lives it, is the successful life.
Money, wealth, and position do not always bring happiness. Money is sometimes the fruitful cause of unhappiness. Externals, however pleasing, however rich and varied they may be, are not a sure sign of happiness. The soul grows weary of externals, they are cast aside and new externals are necessary to take their place. Gold is good or bad according as we master it or let it master us.
"Meed of the toiler, flame of the sea--
Such were the names of your poets for me.
Metal of Mammon, curse of the world,
Dug from the mountain-side, washed in the glen,
Servant am I or the master of men.
Steal me, I curse you; earn me, I bless you;
Grasp me and hoard me, a fiend shall possess you;
Lie for me, die for me, covet me, take me--
Angel or devil, I am what you make me.''
There is only one source of true and enduring happiness, and that is from within. It comes only when a man is at peace with his own soul. Complete happiness is ours only as we give happiness to others. If there is one discouraging feature observable in the present outlook, it is that too many men and women are imbued with the idea that they must be constantly entertained, that happiness comes from externals alone.
Constructive thoughts are the only thoughts worth while. They alone build; negative thoughts bring confusion and destruction. One of the useful lessons for man is so far to master himself that he can rise above such negative thoughts as fear, malice, hatred, envy, revenge, and thoughts of similar character. Such thoughts react on the individual sending them forth and unfit him for the useful and constructive work of life. They destroy health, they waste force, they remove energy, and disqualify man for the accomplishment of real and valuable results. They impress the subconscious with their disturbing effects, to be again reproduced and their bitter fruits garnered by the individual.
The great lesson for man to learn is that such negative thoughts as malice, envy, and hatred do not injure or affect the person against whom they are sent, so much as the one who gives them wings and sends them forth. Giving and receiving is the work of life. What we give, that we receive. This law holds good in all we give; whether we send forth thoughts to another or to our own subjective minds, they come back, either as benedictions or otherwise, according to the character of the thoughts sent forth.
Too long has the world been taught that poverty was the mark of virtue and moral worth. The Church has failed to create ideals of better things and to awaken that true consciousness in men, of their own powers, to lead them to a life of prosperity. They have been told that the poor we should always have with us. The charity extended has only been for immediate relief. They have not inspired the desire and determination for better things, in those to whom they have extended charity. True charity is to cause the individual to find himself, that he may supply his own wants and rise to thrift and prosperity.
It has been a favorite theme of the theologians, to dwell on the poverty of Jesus. Every circumstance and event in his life have been emphasized to show that Jesus was poor and had not where to lay his head. They said Jesus was the friend of the poor, because he was himself poor. It is true that he was the friend of the poor; he healed them and ministered to their wants without price. But he was the friend of more than the poor, he was the friend of all men and saw in every man a brother.
How little they reckon of the wealth and resources of Jesus, whom they called poor! He was not poor. Nature’s storehouse stood open before him. He whom the winds and waves obeyed, he who fed the multitudes with a few leaves and fishes, he who brought cheer and gladness to the wedding-feast, “When the conscious water looked up on her Lord and blushed,” was not poor. Plenty and abundance were his without the asking. Precious ointments anointed his body, costly robes adorned his person. The wealth of the universe was his to use. His outstretched hand was always filled. He used what he needed, he had no use for more.
He did not discourage human labor and effort, but encouraged industry in all his
teachings. By his incomparable parables he praised and commended the industrious and thrifty servants and condemned the slothful. He looked upon work as the normal business and function of man. He read aright the analogies of Nature, that all is work. “The Father works and I work”; Nature works and man works. He taught man to work and also to have faith and confidence in results, that he would garner where he had sown.
When Jesus told his listeners to take no thought of the morrow, he did not intimate that they should neglect the duties and work of today. His message was not to cease from work, but to forget anxiety. The sparrows work unceasingly, and so should man. But why worry about the rewards and the future? His message to man was to work with a purpose and trust to the Infinite Giver of all for the just rewards and fruits of his toil.
THE LAST CHANCE
New Thought presents a religion of life, and that the best preparation for the continued existence of the soul, after the last great change, is a life worthwhile here. This has been the message of the masters of thought in all ages.
Nothing in man’s life is higher than duty; nothing is more ennobling than service; nothing diviner than an unselfish life. The consciousness of such a life is the best asset to carry over the last Great Divide. The discipline thereby experienced will best fit the soul for the enjoyment of greater and better things. A religion of works brings peace to the soul, which it will have and enjoy “When the last day is ended and the worlds lie dead.”
St. James believed in a religion of works. With him “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” New Thought believes that the practice of such a religion is the best preparation for the soul’s eternal enjoyment. The theologian has said that a particular belief is necessary for man’s future happiness and of more importance than an upright and worthy life. At times we have been told that the omission of certain ordinances, such as that of baptism and ceremonials, or the failure to hold a registered membership in certain institutions, were fatal to man’s eternal happiness. But since men in modern times claim the right of exercising reason regarding religious and ultimate questions, these medieval opinions no longer disturb their peace of mind. Thoughtful men no longer conceive of God as other than just. They cannot understand that God would punish a being, created in His own image, for the failure to exercise a particular mental conclusion. They do not believe that God is less just than man.
Jesus said: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father, which is in Heaven.” It will be observed that the word “doeth” is the key to his thought. In all history, no great teacher laid more emphasis on duty and conduct than the Man of Galilee. None have been heard who spoke less of belief.
What makes character? Is it a particular belief? It is living a life–a life useful, constructive, and unselfish. Character is not quickly formed, but it will determine our future status and welfare. We are living in eternity now. We are making life a hell or a heaven as we live it here. Have we any reason to believe it will be otherwise in another state of existence?
Man is an evolving being, growing, striving, and moving onward toward the perfect man. But it is unthinkable that he should become perfect in an instant, or otherwise than by the slow processes of growth and evolution. We shall enter the portals of our next state of existence no better or worse than we live here. If we have not built character here, we shall not have it there. If we have not lived in harmony with God here, we shall not be in harmony with him there. Unless our souls are fitted for enjoyment here, they will find none elsewhere.
Fear has no abiding place in the philosophy of New Thought. New Thought would eliminate it from man’s mind, and thus make him free. While fear controls, man cannot be free.
Religious institutions, through fifteen centuries or more, have ruled their followers mainly through the influence of fear, and are still wielding that mighty and potent weapon. Fear has been the enemy of man in all ages. Fear has enslaved the individual to institutions. The soul withers and pines before its blighting influence.
Fear has displaced man’s will and made him obedient to the wills of others. It has made man a spiritual peon, dependent on others for light and guidance. It has drawn the curtain of ignorance and superstition between man and God. What has man to fear, but himself? As man is what he thinks, he has nothing to fear but his thoughts. If man has done wrong, it is because his thought was first wrong.
You have been told to implore God for the forgiveness of your sins and that they should all be blotted out. What about yourself? Suppose God should forget and wipe away your iniquities, does that help you to forgive yourself? Think back over the years of your life and see if you cannot find some spoken word or neglected kindness to those who have gone to their long rest, that you would give your wealth to blot from memory.
As Victor Hugo said: “One can no more prevent the mind from returning to an idea, than the sea from returning to the shore. In the case of the sailor it is called the tide; in the case of the guilty it is called remorse; God upheaves the soul as well as the ocean.”
If we violate no laws we pay no penalties; if we break them, we suffer the just consequences of our acts. What a travesty on religion, that man can be made to believe that someone stands between him and God. If we are punished, we punish ourselves; if we are rewarded, we reward ourselves. “I am the Captain of my Soul.”
New Thought is the philosophy of joy and happiness. Happiness is indispensable to a life of the highest accomplishments and to the normal and symmetrical development of man. Much of the theology of the world has been too somber to admit of much happiness in man’s life. It has not looked upon happiness as conducive to spiritual and religious growth. Man was regarded as weak, and unable of himself to create a happy or joyful mental state or condition. To the theologian happiness was not a necessity or an indispensable condition in man’s life. He knew nothing of the effect of happiness on health and physical development. Happiness was looked upon rather as the offspring and effect of evil and sinister forces. The religious face revealed sadness, rather than joy. Even the religious garb disclosed a sad tone to man’s life and personality.
Modern psychology has given happiness a new place in man’s life. The effect of a happy mental state on health is now so well understood that its discussion is unnecessary. The poisonous toxins produced by fear, anger, and similar conditions of mind are likewise well understood.
Modern psychology has revealed the fact that happiness is a quality susceptible of growth and can become a habit by each individual creating cheerful states of mind. It can be cultivated as any other art or accomplishment. Its growth depends on the individual and the power of his will. A strong will can produce cheerful states of mind, just as a weak will can be productive of morose mental states. Cheerful attitudes of mind are constructive, the opposites are destructive.
Cheerful mental states do not depend upon external circumstances. Happiness, as before stated, comes from within. As cheerful mental attitudes produce health, they increase the power of every function and every talent in man. They illumine the mind, they enlarge the understanding, they widen the soul’s vision. They send a current of life and health through the body; they bring joy, strength, and character to the individual. Walt Whitman found good fortune in himself:
"Afoot and light-hearted I take the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.
Henceforth I ask not good fortune--l myself am good fortune."
NEW THOUGHT AND MODERN PROBLEMS
The principles enunciated in New Thought have never been tried in the solution of the social and economic problems that constantly confront society. After all the centuries of theological teaching, the world is still divided by contentions and disagreements. Men are still separated by antagonisms and dissensions, each individual and class seeking to take advantage of the other. Selfishness still dominates man. Man’s hand is still raised against his fellow-man. If it is not individual against individual, it is organization against organization, class against class. Labor is arrayed in fierce warfare against capital, and capital against labor. Labor is in antagonism also with itself. Public servants are still dishonest. The briber still plies his trade. The grafter is abroad in the land.
It is lamentable that these conditions should exist in this twentieth century. There must be a cause. There is a cause for every effect. Conditions can only be changed as the cause is changed. True reform is centered at the cause.
The old teaching has not brought the golden era so long desired. Men will do right when they understand that no other course will pay. They will cease to do wrong when they know that every wrong they perpetrate will recoil on their own heads. In other words, when the law of cause and effect, that whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap, is understood and so thoroughly impressed upon men’s minds that they dare not ignore it, we may confidently look for the dawn of a new and greater era. When men fully appreciate that for every wrong they commit they punish themselves, that for every unworthy act there is a swift and relentless punishment, the restraining influence of this teaching must have a beneficial and permanent influence on their lives and characters.
But, someone says, is not this maxim old, that whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap, and has it not always been taught? Yes, in a way, but at the same time and with far more emphasis the theological doctrine has been impressed on man’s mind that he may escape this law and all its effects and consequences if he will but entertain a certain belief and conform to certain rules. The whole theological doctrine is subversive of this law, and present-day society is reaping the results.
When the laborer learns that every time he cheats in his work, he is cheating himself; that every time he robs his employer, he is robbing himself; that every act of cruelty he inflicts upon his fellow-man, he inflicts upon himself and all other men; that every malicious thought he sends forth will return to torment himself, he will get rid of the distrust and hatred that now control his life. He will then entertain a different attitude toward his fellow-man.
When the employer learns this lesson and understands its full import, he will profit in like manner. When he fully realizes that whenever he oppresses and enslaves the employee, he oppresses and enslaves himself–that he is under the dominion of the same in exorable law–he will deal fairly, justly, and kindly with him.
Following the trend of past teaching, we have been looking for the bad in men so long that we have forgotten to seek the good. We operate upon the principle of mistrust, rather than trust. We reap what is due, a harvest of contentions and strife.
Emerson says: “But because of the dual constitution of all things, in labor as in life, there can be no cheating. The thief steals from himself. The swindler swindles himself.... Human labor through all its forms, from sharpening of the stake, to the constitution of a city or an epic, is one immense illustration of the perfect compensation of the universe, Everywhere and always this law is sublime.”
“I say,” says Carlyle, “there is not a red Indian hunting by Lake Winnipic can quarrel with his squaw, but the whole world must smart for it. Will not the price of beaver rise? It is a mathematical fact that the casting of this pebble from my hand alters the center of gravity of the universe.”
We might beg to suggest that even religious organizations might well profit by the observance of these principles. Even the followers of the Prince of Peace are not at peace. It is creed against creed, dogma against dogma, and doctrine against doctrine. Instead of a display of love, it is an exhibition of contempt and hatred. They find fault with the followers of one religion, because of an act said to have been committed nineteen hundred years ago, which nevertheless theologians said was preordained of God from the beginning of the world. Yet they still hate the Jews. They filled the Jews’ head with the egotistical thought that the Jews were God’s chosen people. They so declared because they had read it in a book written by the Jews about themselves. Think of the proposition, that God would pick out a little handful of people and heap His favors on them and ignore the other races of the world. Greece, with her heroes, her scholars, her artists, her love of beauty, her greatness, could not be considered with the chosen race. Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and others were not among the elect. The Jew alone was God’s favorite.
Then, because they also read that a small mob of Jews crucified Jesus on a charge of heresy, for fifteen centuries they have kicked and cuffed the Jew over Christendom, have driven him out of Christian countries, confiscated his property, penned him up in ghettos, deprived him of civil or religious rights, murdered him, all under the banner of the cross; and still they dislike the Jew. If the Jew has any disagreeable qualities, who made them, the Jew or the Christian? The Jew is what the Christian has made him. They still condemn the Jew for the one act of the mob. Why, if Jesus had not been crucified, there would never have been a Christian religion. Is it not time the Christian world should take off its hat and apologize to the Jew?
One claims to be the church of authority, the others deny it. Each one is sure it is right, and the others are all wrong. Worshiping the same being, they refuse to worship together. They tolerate each other outwardly, only because the law compels it. Where the law does not compel it, we see one Christian nation, with Church and State united, driving out and murdering the descend- ants of the nation which gave them their sacred book.
The want of harmony and these uncharitable opinions must continue to exist so long as men conceive of God as separated from man and dwelling in some distant part of the universe. As long as men entertain such ideas of God, they will differ and quarrel as to who are His chosen vice-regents and ambassadors to carry out His plans and transmit His orders and desires to men. These institutions seem never to have grasped the great truth that the same hatred, ill-will, and malice they send forth will return to themselves with undiminished force; that if they sow hatred, they will reap hatred. Thus the yawning gulf of hatred and exclusiveness is never closed. The law of Jesus is forgotten, the law of hatred supplants it.
"Alas, how much of life is lost,
How much is black and bitter with the frost
That might be sweet with the sweet sun,
If men could only know that they are one."
NEW THOUGHT AND INDIVIDUALISM
New Thought speaks to man as an individual, and always proclaims an intense and robust individualism. Men can be normally and fully developed only as individuals, and not as a class or members of an institution. The individual is the unit from which all greatness springs.
New Thought ranks the individual above institutions, as all masters of thought have done. Institutions are made by human units and are the product of individual thought. They are no greater than their creators. Jesus spoke to individuals, and not to churches or institutions.
The advocates of this teaching recognize no spiritual authority save the voice of the soul, speaking to each individual. Each soul can interpret aright the oracles of truth. They speak by intuition to each soul. No other can convey that meaning to us. He that has found the light within and has felt the promptings of his own soul asks no authority how he shall worship God. His knees bend only at the command of his own manly soul, “The reliance on authority means the decline of religion, the withdrawal of the soul.” The soul is no follower. It knows its own way, as the bird knows its course. It follows its own light. Unerringly it reaches up toward the divine. NOW New Thought is a philosophy of the living, a religion for today. It does not dwell in the past. It leaves its yesterdays behind as it advances to its work of today. The present is the time of opportunity, of action; the past holds memories and reflections only. The past was not perfect, the Golden Age is yet to be. The world is steadily converging toward that one divine event. Every constructive life brings it nearer.
Life is not enriched and nourished by regrets and lamentations over the lapses and faults of life. There is nothing constructive or upbuilding in such thoughts. They sap the energies of the mind and unfit man for the highest duty and expression for today. If we indulge the memory, let it rest only on the beautiful and cheerful spots of the past.
Life is a series of experiences. We must look upon each as necessary to bring us to our present state of development. If any had been lacking, we should probably have been different now. Each experience teaches a lesson; each speaks words of wisdom and truth to him who listens. They build up or tear down character, according as we read the lessons they impart. If we interpret them aright, they bring understanding and strength.
It brings neither peace nor strength to brood and worry over the mistakes we have made. We cannot recall them. They belong to the past, we to the present. Let us accept their lessons, forget them if we can, and turn our faces toward the rising sun. Each morning is the beginning of a new life, the exhilaration of hope newly born. Each evening bespeaks the dawn of a new day. Sparingly, at least, let us exercise charity toward ourselves. At times, if we can, let us blot out some of our iniquities and remember them no more. Let us remember the past only to profit by its experiences in the work of today.
New Thought believes in a sound and glorified body as the only fit habitation for the indwelling soul. it teaches that health is man’s normal condition and that he is equipped for the real work of life only as he possesses a healthy body; that all disease and sickness are the results of consciously or unconsciously violated law. Herbert Spencer said that the time would come when it would be as disgraceful to be found sick as to be found drunk. Nature is constructive, Nature is harmony. The soul cannot properly manifest itself or find harmonious expression except in a healthy body.
“I have said, the soul is not more than the body, and I have said the body is not more than the soul,” says Walt Whitman. Carlyle says, “There is but one temple in the universe, and that is the body of man. Nothing is holier than that high form. We are the miracle of miracles, the great indescribable mystery of God.” We are each the center of our universe, from which we look forth to study and contemplate the indescribable works of God. We are equally as mysterious and as little understood as the universe itself, with its systems of worlds and planets circling through the stretches of infinity.
“Ever the soul reaches out and asks for freedom. It looks forth from the narrow and grated windows of sense, upon the wide, immeasurable creation; it knows that around it and beyond it lie outstretched the infinite and everlasting paths.”
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