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Home Course in Mental Science

by Helen Wilman

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Lesson 8 - Spirit and Body Are One

[139] The body builds the spirit while in the flesh. The spirit is not an entity separate and distinct from the body as has been supposed. It is not some perfect creation submerged in matter and working its way through matter. It is of the same substance as the body, and sustains the same relation to the body that the aroma does to the flower. It is the finer part of the body's exhalations. In short, it is thought.

Every moment we are adding to our thought lives. Our thought lives are far enough ahead of our bodily lives, though all of the same stuff. They are much more positive than the body, and need not be subject to those conditions which kill the body, and probably are not subject to them. The thought life, or spirit, is the reservoir into which the body seems to pour the imperishable part of itself--that part which clings to its own individuality and refuses to die when the body dies.

The fact that this thought life, or spirit, is not visible to our eyes is no proof that it does not survive the dissolution of the body, and no proof that it is not a powerful thing, since the most potent forces we know of are entirely invisible to us.

The difference between the body and spirit is this: The body is spirit fixed in certain forms of inherited belief; while the spirit is the progressive or constantly growing idealistic part of the body, always pressing upward to a higher and nobler conception of itself. It is my opinion that the spirit exists after the death of the body. And I do not base the opinion upon anything that theology has ever formulated, nor yet upon the claims of the spiritualists, but upon the fact that in the economy of nature nothing is ever lost. As the thought of life, or spirit, is the finest production there is I cannot believe that it is dissolved into unintelligible mist. For I know that thought is a substance the same as the body, and it is the finer part of the body. It is the part that flows forth in hope and aspiration, unclouded, to a certain extent, by doubt, and yet, on the other hand, unfixed by belief.

Being unfixed by belief like the body, it must of necessity be ethereal in form, drifting, perhaps, and uncertain or unconscious of its own power, though holding such splendid material in abeyance. The tendency of all thought is to become fixed in belief. And it seems to me that this thought life, or spirit, being unfixed, must be attracted toward a condition of greater fixedness or stability. Therefore, the doctrine of reincarnation seems, at least, a plausible thing. It is the nature of unfixed substance to drift in the direction of fixed substance. It is also in the nature of Law that--given a certain condition--we must conquer that condition before farther progress is possible.

Now death is not conquest. On the contrary, it is a triumph of the negative conditions--those conditions called sickness and old age. Death teaches us no lessons that can be made practical and available in the living. It is [140] simply a renunciation of life; and that, too, at a time when the spirit, or thought life, has made no substantial or fixed condition for itself by relief. For it is a fact that the thought life--that part of us which takes cognizance of the ideal--does not believe in itself except in a weak, half-hearted way that cannot give it the substantial appearance that the body has.

Now, nature demands that this thought life, or spirit, shall establish itself in external or visible signs. Our bodies are not to become etherealized, but our spirits are to become substantialized. The earth is our laboratory and workshop, and our hands and our brains are our tools, and so are our thought lives, or spirits. Indeed, our thought lives, or spirits, are to be our most fearless, freest and most powerful agents in conquering earth conditions and making them subserve our uses. The effort of Mental Science is to show that body and spirit are one, and that the best results are obtained by such recognition of this fact as shall keep them one and inseparable; thus bringing the power of this tremendous unit to bear upon every effort we can make for the furtherance of our desires, as we work our way to conditions for greater importance and freedom and happiness.

In a former lesson I said that death was simply the breaking of the magnet man into two parts, one of which, being divested of its more etherealized and vital substance, is resolved back into its original atoms; and the other part--the thought life, or spirit--passes away, no one knows with absolute positiveness where.

But, on the assumption that all is mind (and I know this to be true) then the body is as essential to the spirit as the spirit is to the body. It is simply that part of the spirit that is held or bound by certain forms of belief. And these forms of belief, though I have called them fixed, are still so malleable as to change with every change of belief. It is established belief of the race that a consciousness of individuality belongs alone to the spirit, and goes with the spirit at death, leaving the body devoid of it. This consciousness of individuality is the "I", the will power, which does truly go with the spirit--if it survives death--because we know that it does not go with the dead body, which immediately crumbles to pieces; thus showing that the centralizing agent which held it in cohesion is absent.

But assuming, as I think it to be true, that the will power, the "I", the centralizing agent, goes with the spirit--what then? Why this; it feels its weakness simply from the fact that it has not been fixed in certain forms of belief, but has always been that splendid and radiant creature which has appeared phantasmal and visionary simply because it was too fair and too bright for us to clothe with belief.

The spirit is the thought life; and we all know how beautiful our thought lives are; and we all know that we do not believe in them simply because they seem too lovely to be true.

We are children of the earth, and so far we have been rooted in the earth and have drawn our substance from her bountiful bosom. She herself is the mother of our beliefs, and has been the means of fixing these beliefs in our present forms. Each belief in its farther advance away from her bosom into more free conditions has been the parent of the next higher belief, which has been expressed in a higher and better condition. In short, each belief has projected from itself the next belief higher than itself. And so evolution on the mental plane has progressed.

Belief is the fixing power. It is belief that is the manifesting factor. An idea is born from some fixed belief, and after a time that idea is accepted and believed in, and a new function is added to the creature. The creature having thus acquired a new power projects another idea, which in time becomes a fixed belief, and another new function is added to the creature.

[141] On the lower plane these ideas that I speak of may have been merely dumb, unintelligent desires; but they were ideas all the same, and belief fixed them in visible attributes.

As I said before, the spirit, or thought life, of a man has not been clothed with his belief. As rapidly as spirit, or thought, becomes clothes with belief it is added to the body as a new power, and does not drift away from the body, thus impoverishing the body in which it had its birth.

The spirit, or thought life, of a man cannot possibly be anything but an external substance, because it is a part of the man's body. The fact that it is invisible to our eyes does not contradict this statement in the least, since so many very powerful agents are invisible.

The spirit, or thought life, must not be confounded with the Law of Attraction, which is forever invisible. The spirit, or thought life, is a recognition of the invisible Law the same as the body. It belongs to the external side of nature the same as the body does.

There is a large body of thinkers who believe that the thought-body, or spirit, is--immediately after death--ushered into a spiritual heaven of inconceivable beauty and happiness. Theologians are weaker on this point than any other body of thinkers. Theology claims that the thought-body, or spirit, is frequently tortured after death for mistakes (called sins) which it commits in this life; and, on the other hand, that it is frequently blessed by reason of the fact that it has failed to make mistakes--as if it were at all possible in this stage of race growth for a single soul to escape from making mistakes!

The spiritualistic idea of the future of the thought-body, or spirit, would seem more reasonable if they did not claim to know so very much about it. But if one is to believe them, then our condition after death is vastly superior to our present condition. It is this latter claim that I doubt. I see plainly that there are two sides to the question. We know that life in its progress is a constant conquest over ignorance. We also know that death is not a conquest over anything, but an abandonment of all effort to conquer, so far as the visible world is concerned.

Death is not a gain; it is a retrogressive step; it is the last slump into utter negation. Of course, I speak from the standpoint of the visible and the external. It is the only standpoint I acknowledge with absolute positiveness, because it is the only one whose existence I can logically prove, no matter what I may hope for. I can shape as many angelic spheres in my imagination for the departed spirits as anyone, but I cannot prove their reality after I have shaped them. Therefore, I take my stand on the terrestrial and am justified in doing so by seeing what an infinitude of subjects there are for us to investigate and to master right here before we are fitted for joys that we have not reached in the process of natural growth. Moreover, I know that joys which we have not reached in the process of natural growth are not joys to us, any more than the finest opera could prove a source of pleasure to a pig or a monkey.

Therefore, I look upon the death of the natural body as the greatest possible loss to the individual. Because the body is the feeder of the spirit--the spirit being nothing more than the finer part of the man; being, indeed, the entire body of the man's thoughts; going with the man all through life; receiving constant additions to itself by means of the man's increasing power to think (if he happens to be a thinker) and being with him and a part of him always, whether the man is a thinker or not; always ready to receive any accession to itself even if the accession fails to come; and this, up to the very hour when the negative part falls down in death, at which time the finer part is separated from it.

Now, the relation between the body and the spirit has always been reciprocal. The two are one. The body is [142] father of the spirit, and the spirit is the builder of the body in its turn. Being one, the seeming two were simultaneous in birth, and should always remain together as feeder and builder, and as builder and feeder. In the breaking of the magnet man by death, we know that the part of the man more nearly allied to the earth decays and passes into other forms of life. No one pretends to think of it as still living after this event takes place. "But," we say, "the other part still lives and has gone up to higher conditions."

What are higher conditions? Remember that the visible world is a mental statement, and that this statement is only lifted to higher planes of freedom and happiness by the addition to itself of still greater knowledge. The world--nay, the visible universe--only grows, only increases in power by the new truths it learns. It is the knowing, or the recognition of more truth, that gives added power to the visible; and man is a visible creature all through and through, body and spirit. Moreover, the entire world (and universe) is a magnet whose relations of positive and negative are indispensable. The negative feeds the positive and the positive feeds the still more positive.

But after the spirit of man has dropped its denser and more fixed condition, or beliefs, what is there to feed and sustain it? Surely this earth is the feeder of all the life generated on it; and it seems to me that when the spirit, or thought life, is cut off from its body that it no longer has access to its earth supply. For, consider this fact; that though the earth does not feed the spirit, or thought life, directly, yet it does feed the body, and the body feeds the spirit, or thought life. The body is the laboratory out of which the spirit, or thought life, is manufactured; and to be cut off from its laboratory seems like an awful calamity to me. For I am sure that man must be fed constantly by that great body of truth negative to himself which the world contains in the form of food, and that--whether in the body or out of the body--the spirit, or thought life, will always require food to nourish it (the individual). Man, as a laboratory for the generation of thought, must of necessity generate it in great quantity, because thought is the prompter to effort; and an effortless creature performs no use; and that which performs no use cannot endure. This is the Law. In saying this I am not saying that the spirit is not fed and sustained by means adjusted to the spirit-body. I am simply trying to look on every side of the matter in order to reach true conclusions. I have my own views upon this subject, which will not be touched in this lesson, and which cannot properly be said to belong to the subject of Mental Science at all, being too speculative for scientific handling.

The food a man consumes is the fuel in the engine that sets the whole machine in motion--the machine that generates the thought, or spirit, which prompts to every form of enterprise and discovery. This machine ought to be enduring. It ought to be self-regenerative, and it would be self-regenerative but for the fact of its own ignorance that alone denies it this possibility. Let the thought once more learn that self-regeneration is possible, and good-bye to death. And why good-bye to death? Because the spirit, or thought, so educated will communicate the fact to the nerves, and the nerves to the blood vessels, and the blood vessels to the entire body. And this will be the spiritual food that will regenerate the body.

But to return. Reasoning from certain premises--and we must look at all sides of this matter--it has been claimed that the spirit, or thought life, may not be able to hold itself together for any great length of time after it has dropped its body. And why? Because we gain nothing except by conquest; and that which we have not conquered is not ours. As we have [143] not conquered death we are not entitled under our present understanding of the law, to life. If the spirit has reached a higher degree of understanding of truth by simply shutting its eyes on the world and all the wonders to be worked out by it; by going away from it and leaving its work undone; by an act that is a virtual confession of incapacity to cope with its obstacles, then surely the road to endless bliss is by letting go of all holds and slipping backward into death, instead of taking hold with the spirit, or thought life, and climbing forward into conditions of still greater fixedness than those we now enjoy.

The road to greater happiness--or heaven if you will--is the same road that leads to more positive individualization; to a greater manifestation of the will in the overcoming of those conditions in life that fetter us, and from which we naturally want to escape.

But death is a partial renunciation of will power, and though the will survives death--if the spirit, or thought life, survives--it has registered its conviction of powerlessness in the fact that it has permitted the body to die. Therefore, the will, as it exists in the spirit, or thought life, is a virtual confession of weakness, the same as it was in the body before death; and why should we expect it to be ushered into conditions very much happier than those of earth when it has not earned them? It is as if a child should throw down his book in mental arithmetic because it is too difficult for him, and then expect to be placed in the trigonometry class for no reason except that he could not understand the earlier lessons in mathematics.

For a man to be all he must learn all; and no spirit can endure and go on his way of endless progression unless he incorporates in his personality the essence of an unbroken life experience. At least, this seems reasonable to me. He may not skip a single step. He must conquer every foot of the way. He cannot get over an inch of ground or a moment of time without conquering that inch or that moment. Individual life only proceeds by that conquest which develops the will; for the will is the man. The man whom disease, old age and death has conquered has not conquered disease, old age and death.

That the spirit does exist after death seems to be a well established fact. It also seems logical to suppose that the spirit, being a certain expression of intelligence, never loses itself in indistinguishable nothingness. By slow degrees the old belief in reincarnation begins to assume form in human thought. Who can say whether it is true or not? It is not inviting, but it is less dreadful than the belief in extinction. Moreover, there is a sense of justice in it; and no logical reasoner can admit any supposition as true that leaves out the idea of justice. The destruction of the spirit seems a cruel thing. The deification of it, and its transportation to realms so high and blessed that it would require centuries of human effort to reach, seems to offer a premium on death or negation, or the lack of effort, too great to be resisted; so great, indeed, as to cause every one of us to cease our struggles after saving truth, and go off and commit suicide, provided no doubt at all existed in the mind about it. That thought concerning the spirits of the dead which offers the least obstruction either to logic or justice is the belief in reincarnation; not because justice requires expiation of the sinner, but because the spirit itself requires and must have the experience of a complete conquest over all negative conditions, such as disease, old age and death. It seems reasonable to suppose that the Law of Being would require that we should--in the most thorough sense of the word-- be . Man to be an unbroken magnet must be all. In order to be all he must live all. No skipping seems possible in this life-building of the individual.

And yet we know so little of the unseen that no one can speak of the [144] spirit's existence after death with positiveness. One thing, however, that I know to be true is this: in order to save the spirit beyond the peradventure of a doubt, one had better save it in the body right here in this world, and now. And this is what Mental Science seeks to teach the student to do.

Nearly all religions teach us that the body is of very little importance. Many teach that it is a sort of prison house in which the soul does penance. This idea leads to the conclusion that we are better off without our bodies than with them. And, indeed, in one form or another, this belief is almost generally proclaimed in all religious countries, and that, too, in spite of the fact that in religious countries especially, people cling to life and fear death with great intensity, thus demonstrating their intuitive value of the bodies they have been taught to despise.

I now want to say with all the emphasis I can command, that the body is infinitely more important than anything we can gain a conception of. The body is not only the body, but it is the spirit also. I have said that the thought part of man, which is his spirit, is the positive part of him, and this is so when we are considering the two poles of him separately. But in strict truth we have no right to consider the two poles separately, because they act and react on each other in a way to make one part as indispensable as the other, and one part as important as the other. And, indeed, it almost seems as if the terms positive and negative, as applied to the body, and the thought generated by the body, are interchangeable. The body in its relation to thought, or spirit, seems now positive and now negative, and the same with thought or spirit, in its relation to the body. This cannot be otherwise, seeing that the two are one.

In our present state of understanding of truth concerning ourselves, each one of us is as the two arcs of a broken circle, from the ends of which the life forces trail off and are lost. Mental Science joins the two arcs in one complete circle, thus rendering it impossible for the life forces to escape, compelling them to a constant and unbroken interchange. The man in this condition has made the atonement, the at-one-ment, and has become whole, or holy. It is then in his power to live forever without passing through death. And yet, death in one sense is the necessary adjunct of individual life. Individual life implies constant progression, and in order to progress the growing, living man dies daily to the grosser part of himself.

The method of growth is as follows: A man is a seed germ of finite (though endless) possibility. He is finite because he is an individual, with no chance of ever becoming the whole. His possibilities are inexhaustible because they consist in his power to recognize an ever increasing amount of vital power, or life, in the Law of Love, or Attraction, which Law is infinite in capacity and can never be exhausted. It is the containment of all things imaginable, and of more than can ever be imagined, any of which may be brought to light or be externalized in the natural world by individual recognition and belief. I say this Law is the containment of all possibilities, when in reality it contains nothing, being a principle inherent in all things, all things being thought or mind, and thought, or mind, being the substantial realities we see everywhere about us--in the trees and animals and minerals and human beings.

No thought can be formulated or imagined that is not in some particular or other the manifestation of some phase of the Law. It is as if the Law were some subtle fluid and flowed into each forming thought. And yet this is not a good comparison, because the Law is not a substance that flows into anything. It is already everywhere, and thought simply makes its presence manifest, or visible.

Thought is creative in the sense of [145] making visible that which was not visible. The Law is not creative, and never created us.

The primordial life cells, each of which is an externalization of the Law on the lowest conceivable plane, are themselves dual in the true and only sense of duality--that sense which perceives them to be both interior and exterior, visible and invisible, Law and the recognition of the Law, just the same as all other substances and differing from other substances only in the fact of being less complex than the substances which are large enough to be perceived by any of man's five senses.

These life cells, or life seeds, being infused by the Law of Attraction, or rather being simply infinitesimal points of recognition of the Law, and thereby filled with the Law, attract each other and in their coming together the Law, which speaks in desire, becomes more manifest in its attracting power, so that individuals grow; they increase in power; their desires multiply all the time, and in seeking to gratify their desires their intelligence develops and expresses itself in added members of the body, until a very wonderful and complex animal is here whose name is man.

And now to recapitulate. Nearly all people consider the spirit a distinct part of themselves--a perfect being dwelling in their bodies. And a sort of universal idea prevails to the effect that when the body falls away by death, the spirit animating it is revealed--not to our ordinary sense of seeing--but to a spiritual sight that is possible upon some higher plane of being.

To me this assumption has no foundation in fact. I hold that what is called the spirit is the thought part of man; that it is not of different stuff from the body, but the product of the body, as the body is its product; in other words, that the body and spirit are one.

I hold, further, that when we speak of a "man of spirit," which means a courageous man, a man who dares, we have reference to the thought life of the man. The thought life being the more emancipated part of the body, he whom we call a man of spirit is more influenced in his actions by his spirit--the more free and fearless part of himself--than the man who lives in the heavier or more negative part of his body, and who is more fettered by his surroundings than the man of spirit--the man who lives higher up in the positive pole of his being. For it is the positive pole of the man that I call spirit; the negative pole is the body proper.

The object of this lesson is to establish the fact that the body and spirit are one, and that any sundering of this magnet cannot be other than disastrous to the individual. I do not mean to assert that after the sundering of body and spirit the spirit necessarily disintegrates, but I do mean that it sustains a fearful loss.

The earth is our dwelling place. External life is the only individual life. (The spirit is external as well as the body, though invisible to us, just as a thousand other essences are invisible because of their ethereal character.) Man is to work out his own salvation on the external, or visible plane. The world is his workshop, and it contains the tools and the raw material out of which he is to build himself and his surroundings. Let him stop running after the foolish soul-saviors who infest society to permeate it with the doctrine that postpones life to another sphere, and who in doing this are rotting the very foundations of individual life and making disease and death the only condition of present existence. Let the student at once and forever refuse all promises of salvation that do not cover the present needs. Let him say, "I will be saved now, for now is the only time I need saving. The attempt to save myself in the hereafter is to forfeit the now, because no one can live in the present and the future at the same time." To attempt to do this will be to not live at all in the true [146] sense of the word. It will be to drag out a lingering death, just as the race is doing here on earth at the present time.

To perpetuate this condition of half living and half dying is the infamous work of our present system of religion; and there never was a time before in the history of the race when this same religion was making more frantic efforts than now to crush out the hope of the advanced thinker, who knows its fallacy and opposes it. There is open warfare against us, as students, who are trying to develop heaven from within, and establish its harmonies on the earth, and each one of us must buckle our armor about us and meet the foe valiantly. We must not permit ourselves to be overwhelmed and crushed by the opposing argument of the enemy--argument, the folly and injuriousness of which we have demonstrated long ago. We must meet it boldly by counter argument and stand up before the world, as the champions of the higher truth. Be bold; be resolute; be vigilant; get in as many words for truth as your opponents get in for error--and one more.

All things visible are a recognition or a confession of the Law of Attraction, and are one with the Law. When we see a rock or a tree we see a confession of the existence of the Law of Attraction. Though itself--the spirit of man--is as much a recognition of the Law as anything else. Indeed, it is the most vital recognition of the Law that I know of. As the Law is a principle it can only be inferred by its manifestation; but its manifestation is one with itself.

The one hard point for the student to comprehend is that mind, or spirit, alone exists, and that it exists as substance. "Why," says the student, "substance is something that can be seen and handled, so how can it be mind, or spirit? Surely mind, or spirit, is the invisible moving power that exists in substance and operates upon it."

Now, do you not see that this idea is the same old belief that has kept the race out of its own inheritance of power all these ages? Change the word "substance" for "matter," and there it is; a dead something acted upon by a living something; the matter acted upon by spirit--two separate entities; the universe no longer a universe, but a diverse. And following this belief here comes the same old sequence--a heaven and a hell; good and evil; death and life; and every other thought that divides the race against itself, and makes the pandemonium of the world's present condition.

Mental Science does not teach man how he may strengthen the spirit within the dead matter of his body so that he may overcome it. It teaches him that the substance of his body is not dead matter at all, but every atom of it is spirit, or mind, and one with the highest he can conceive of. It teaches him that he is a spirit all the way through; or a mind, if you prefer the word "mind" to spirit. They mean precisely the same thing. They both mean something that thinks and wills.

Now, the meaning of Mental Science is this. It is the establishment--by unimpeachable logic--of the fact that all nature is the recognition of the Law of Attraction; that every atom or every combination of atoms is just as much or as little as it has power to perceive of the intense vital principle--the Law of Attraction--that permeates all things and is inseparable from them.

The world, the universe, is all mind, or spirit; and it is the knowledge of this fact that shows the man his wholeness; shows him that his body is not a lot of dead matter to conquer, but only a coarser grade of mind than his thought, though all of a piece with it. This knowledge is of itself the reconciliation of what the man had been taught to consider as two separate and distinct parts of himself. This knowledge shows him that he is a unit, intact, indissoluble. This knowledge alone is his conquest over death. He [147] sees that he is a unit. He must, therefore, be either all mind, or spirit, or all matter--which is a dead substance. He knows he is not dead substance, and, therefore, he must be living substance. Living substance is distinguished from dead substance by its power to think. That which thinks also wills; that which wills is spirit. Therefore, a man--because he thinks--is a spirit. He does not have to die to become a spirit. He is spirit now, all through his organization; every bit of him.

 

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