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首页 » 英文宗教小说 » The Varieties of Religious Experience 宗教经验种种 » Lectures V THE RELIGION OF HEALTHY MINDEDNESS
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  The advance of liberalism, so-called, in Christianity, during the past fifty years, may fairly becalled a victory of healthy-mindedness within the church over the morbidness with which the oldhell-fire theology was more harmoniously related. We have now whole congregations whosepreachers, far from magnifying our consciousness of sin, seem devoted rather to making little of it.

They ignore, or even deny, eternal punishment, and insist on the dignity rather than on thedepravity of man. They look at the continual preoccupation of the old-fashioned Christian with thesalvation of his soul as something sickly and reprehensible rather than admirable; and a sanguine and "muscular" attitude. which to our forefathers would have seemed purely heathen, has becomein their eyes an ideal element of Christian character. I am not asking whether or not they are right,I am only pointing out the change. The persons to whom I refer have still retained for the most parttheir nominal connection with Christianity, in spite of their discarding of its more pessimistictheological elements. But in that "theory of evolution" which, gathering momentum for a century,has within the past twenty-five years swept so rapidly over Europe and America, we see theground laid for a new sort of religion of Nature, which has entirely displaced Christianity from thethought of a large part of our generation. The idea of a universal evolution lends itself to a doctrineof general meliorism and progress which fits the religious needs of the healthy-minded so well thatit seems almost as if it might have been created for their use. Accordingly we find "evolutionism"interpreted thus optimistically and embraced as a substitute for the religion they were born in, by amultitude of our contemporaries who have either been trained scientifically, or been fond ofreading popular science, and who had already begun to be inwardly dissatisfied with what seemedto them the harshness and irrationality of the orthodox Christian scheme. As examples are betterthan descriptions, I will quote a document received in answer to Professor Starbuck's circular ofquestions.

The writer's state of mind may by courtesy be called a religion, for it is his reaction on the wholenature of things, it is systematic and reflective and it loyally binds him to certain inner ideals. Ithink you will recognize in him, coarse-meated and incapable of wounded spirit as he is, asufficiently familiar contemporary type.

Q. What does Religion mean to you?

A. It means nothing; and it seems, so far as I can observe useless to others. I am sixty-sevenyears of age and have resided in X fifty years, and have been in business forty-five, consequently Ihave some little experience of life and men, and some women too, and I find that the mostreligious and pious people are as a rule those most lacking in uprightness and morality.

The men who do not go to church or have any religious convictions are the best. Praying, singingof hymns, and sermonizing are pernicious--they teach us to rely on some supernatural power, whenwe ought to rely on ourselves. I TEEtotally disbelieve in a God. The God-idea was begotten inignorance, fear, and a general lack of any knowledge of Nature. If I were to die now, being in ahealthy condition for my age, both mentally and physically, I would just as lief, yes, rather, diewith a hearty enjoyment of music, sport, or any other rational pastime. As a timepiece stops, wedie--there being no immortality in either case.

Q. What comes before your mind corresponding to the words God, Heaven, Angels, etc?

A. Nothing whatever. I am a man without a religion. These words mean so much mythic bosh.

Q. Have you had any experiences which appeared providential?

A. None whatever. There is no agency of the superintending kind. A little judicious observationas well as knowledge of scientific law will convince any one of this fact.

Q. What things work most strongly on your emotions?

A. Lively songs and music; Pinafore instead of an Oratorio. I like Scott, Burns, Byron,Longfellow, especially Shakespeare, etc., etc. Of songs, the Star-Spangled Banner, America,Marseillaise, and all moral and soul-stirring songs, but wishy-washy hymns are my detestation. I greatly enjoy nature, especially fine weather, and until within a few years used to walk Sundaysinto the country, twelve miles often, with no fatigue, and bicycle forty or fifty. I have dropped thebicycle.

I never go to church, but attend lectures when there are any good ones. All of my thoughts andcogitations have been of a healthy and cheerful kind, for instead of doubts and fears I see things asthey are, for I endeavor to adjust myself to my environment. This I regard as the deepest law.

Mankind is a progressive animal. I am satisfied he will have made a great advance over his presentstatus a thousand years hence.

Q. What is your notion of sin?

A. It seems to me that sin is a condition, a disease, incidental to man's development not being yetadvanced enough. Morbidness over it increases the disease. We should think that a million of yearshence equity, justice, and mental and physical good order will be so fixed and organized that noone will have any idea of evil or sin.

Q. What is your temperament?

A. Nervous, active, wide-awake, mentally and physically. Sorry that Nature compels us to sleepat all.

If we are in search of a broken and a contrite heart, clearly we need not look to this brother. Hiscontentment with the finite incases him like a lobster-shell and shields him from all morbidrepining at his distance from the infinite. We have in him an excellent example of the optimismwhich may be encouraged by popular science.

To my mind a current far more important and interesting religiously than that which sets in fromnatural science towards healthy-mindedness is that which has recently poured over America andseems to be gathering force every day--I am ignorant what foothold it may yet have acquired inGreat Britain--and to which, for the sake of having a brief designation, I will give the title of the"Mind-cure movement." There are various sects of this "New Thought," to use another of thenames by which it calls itself; but their agreements are so profound that their differences may beneglected for my present purpose, and I will treat the movement, without apology, as if it were asimple thing.

It is a deliberately optimistic scheme of life, with both a speculative and a practical side. In itsgradual development during the last quarter of a century, it has taken up into itself a number ofcontributory elements, and it must now be reckoned with as a genuine religious power. It hasreached the stage, for example, when the demand for its literature is great enough for insincerestuff, mechanically produced for the market, to be to a certain extent supplied by publishers--aphenomenon never observed, I imagine, until a religion has got well past its earliest insecurebeginnings.

One of the doctrinal sources of Mind-cure is the four Gospels; another is Emersonianism or NewEngland transcendentalism; another is Berkeleyan idealism; another is spiritism, with its messagesof "law" and "progress" and "development"; another the optimistic popular science evolutionism ofwhich I have recently spoken; and, finally, Hinduism has contributed a strain. But the mostcharacteristic feature of the mind-cure movement is an inspiration much more direct. The leadersin this faith have had an intuitive belief in the all-saving power of healthy-minded attitudes as such, in the conquering efficacy of courage, hope, and trust, and a correlative contempt for doubt,fear, worry, and all nervously precautionary states of mind.[44] Their belief has in a general waybeen corroborated by the practical experience of their disciples; and this experience forms to-day amass imposing in amount.

[44] "Cautionary Verses for Children": this title of a much used work, published early in thenineteenth century, shows how far the muse of evangelical protestantism in England, with hermind fixed on the idea of danger, had at last drifted away from the original gospel freedom. Mind-cure might be briefly called a reaction against all that religion of chronic anxiety which marked theearlier part of our century in the evangelical circles of England and America.

The blind have been made to see, the halt to walk; life-long invalids have had their healthrestored. The moral fruits have been no less remarkable. The deliberate adoption of a healthy-minded attitude has proved possible to many who never supposed they had it in them; regenerationof character has gone on on an extensive scale; and cheerfulness has been restored to countlesshomes. The indirect influence of this has been great. The mind-cure principles are beginning so topervade the air that catches their spirit at second-hand. One hears of the "Gospel of Relaxation," of the "Don't(one) Worry Movement," of people who repeat to themselves, "Youth, health,vigor!" when dressing in the morning, as their motto for the day.

Complaints of the weather are getting to be forbidden in many households; and more and morepeople are recognizing it to be bad form to speak of disagreeable sensations, or to make much ofthe ordinary inconveniences and ailments of life. These general tonic effects on public opinionwould be good even if the more striking results were non-existent. But the latter abound so that wecan afford to overlook the innumerable failures and self-deceptions that are mixed in with them(for in everything human failure is a matter of course), and we can also overlook the verbiage of agood deal of the mind-cure literature, some of which is so moonstruck with optimism and sovaguely expressed that an academically trained intellect finds it almost impossible to read it at all.

The plain fact remains that the spread of the movement has been due to practical fruits, and theextremely practical turn of character of the American people has never been better shown than bythe fact that this, their only decidedly original contribution to the systematic philosophy of life,should be so intimately knit up with concrete therapeutics. To the importance of mind-cure themedical and clerical professions in the United States are beginning, though with muchrecalcitrancy and protesting, to open their eyes. It is evidently bound to develop still farther, bothspeculatively and practically, and its latest writers are far and away the ablest of the group.[45] Itmatters nothing that, just as there are hosts of persons who cannot pray, so there are greater hostswho cannot by any possibility be influenced by the mind-curers' ideas. For our immediate purpose,the important point is that so large a number should exist who CAN be so influenced. They form apsychic type to be studied with respect.[46]

[45] I refer to Mr. Horatio W. Dresser and Mr. Henry Wood, especially the former. Mr. Dresser'sworks are published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York and London; Mr. Wood's by Lee &Shepard Boston.

[46] Lest my own testimony be suspected, I will quote another reporter, Dr. H. H. Goddard, ofClark University, whose thesis on "the Effects of Mind on Body as evidenced by Faith Cures" ispublished in the American Journal of Psychology for 1899 (vol. x.). This critic, after a wide studyof the facts, concludes that the cures by mind-cure exist, but are in no respect different from thosenow officially recognized in medicine as cures by suggestion; and the end of his essay contains aninteresting physiological speculation as to the way in which the suggestive ideas may work (p. 67of the reprint). As regards the general phenomenon of mental cure itself, Dr. Goddard writes: "Inspite of the severe criticism we have made of reports of cure, there still remains a vast amount ofmaterial, showing a powerful influence of the mind in disease. Many cases are of diseases thathave been diagnosed and treated by the best physicians of the country, or which prominenthospitals have tried their hand at curing, but without success. People of culture and education havebeen treated by this method with satisfactory results. Diseases of long standing have beenameliorated, and even cured. . . . We have traced the mental element through primitive medicineand folk-medicine of to-day, patent medicine, and witchcraft. We are convinced that it isimpossible to account for the existence of these practices, if they did not cure disease, and that ifthey cured disease, it must have been the mental element that was effective. The same argumentapplies to those modern schools of mental therapeutics--Divine Healing and Christian Science. Itis hardly conceivable that the large body of intelligent people who comprise the body knowndistinctively as Mental Scientists should continue to exist if the whole thing were a delusion. It isnot a thing of a day; it is not confined to a few; it is not local. It is true that many failures arerecorded, but that only adds to the argument. There must be many and striking successes tocounterbalance the failures, otherwise the failures would have ended the delusion. . . . ChristianScience, Divine Healing, or Mental Science do not, and never can in the very nature of things, cureall diseases; nevertheless, the practical applications of the general principles of the broadest mentalscience will tend to prevent disease. . . . We do find sufficient evidence to convince us that theproper reform in mental attitude would relieve many a sufferer of ills that the ordinary physiciancannot touch; would even delay the approach of death to many a victim beyond the power ofabsolute cure, and the faithful adherence to a truer philosophy of life will keep many a man well,and give the doctor time to devote to alleviating ills that are unpreventable" (pp. 33, 34 of reprint).

To come now to a little closer quarters with their creed. The fundamental pillar on which it restsis nothing more than the general basis of all religious experience, the fact that man has a dualnature, and is connected with two spheres of thought, a shallower and a profounder sphere, ineither of which he may learn to live more habitually. The shallower and lower sphere is that of thefleshly sensations, instincts, and desires, of egotism, doubt, and the lower personal interests. Butwhereas Christian theology has always considered FROWARDNESS to be the essential vice ofthis part of human nature, the mind-curers say that the mark of the beast in it is FEAR; and this iswhat gives such an entirely new religious turn to their persuasion.

"Fear," to quote a writer of the school, "has had its uses in the evolutionary process, and seems toconstitute the whole of forethought in most animals; but that it should remain any part of themental equipment of human civilized life is an absurdity. I find that the fear clement of forethoughtis not stimulating to those more civilized persons to whom duty and attraction are the natural motives, but is weakening and deterrent. As soon as it becomes unnecessary, fear becomes apositive deterrent, and should be entirely removed, as dead flesh is removed from living tissue. Toassist in the analysis of fear and in the denunciation of its expressions, I have coined the wordfearthought to stand for the unprofitable element of forethought, and have defined the word 'worry'

as fearthought in contradistinction to forethought. I have also defined fearthought as the self-imposed or self-permitted suggestion of inferiority, in order to place it where it really belongs, inthe category of harmful, unnecessary, and therefore not respectable things."[47]

[47] Horace Fletcher: Happiness as found in Forethought Minus Fearthought, MenticultureSeries, ii. Chicago and New York, Stone. 1897, pp. 21-25, abridged.

The "misery-habit," the "martyr-habit," engendered by the prevalent "fearthought," get pungentcriticism from the mind-cure writers:-"Consider for a moment the habits of life into which we are born.

There are certain social conventions or customs and alleged requirements, there is a theologicalbias, a general view of the world. There are conservative ideas in regard to our early training, oureducation, marriage, and occupation in life. Following close upon this, there is a long series ofanticipations, namely, that we shall suffer certain children's diseases, diseases of middle life, andof old age; the thought that we shall grow old, lose our faculties, and again become childlike; whilecrowning all is the fear of death. Then there is a long line of particular tears and trouble-bearingexpectations, such, for example, as ideas associated with certain articles of food, the dread of theeast wind, the terrors of hot weather, the aches and pains associated with cold weather, the fear ofcatching cold if one sits in a draught, the coming of hay-fever upon the 14th of August in themiddle of the day, and so on through a long list of fears, dreads, worriments, anxieties,anticipations, expectations, pessimisms, morbidities, and the whole ghostly train of fateful shapeswhich our fellow-men, and especially physicians, are ready to help us conjure up, an array worthyto rank with Bradley's 'unearthly ballet of bloodless categories.'

"Yet this is not all. This vast array is swelled by innumerable volunteers from daily life--the fearof accident, the possibility of calamity, the loss of property, the chance of robbery, of fire, or theoutbreak of war. And it is not deemed sufficient to fear for ourselves. When a friend is taken ill,we must forth with fear the worst and apprehend death. If one meets with sorrow . . . sympathymeans to enter into and increase the suffering."[48]

[48] H. W. Dresser: Voices of Freedom, New York, 1899, p. 38.

"Man," to quote another writer, "often has fear stamped upon him before his entrance into theouter world; he is reared in fear; all his life is passed in bondage to fear of disease and death, andthus his whole mentality becomes cramped, limited, and depressed, and his body follows itsshrunken pattern and specification . . . Think of the millions of sensitive and responsive soulsamong our ancestors who have been under the dominion of such a perpetual nightmare! Is it notsurprising that health exists at all? Nothing but the boundless divine love? exuberance, and vitality,constantly poured in, even though unconsciously to us, could in some degree neutralize such anocean of morbidity."[49]

[49] Henry Wood: Ideal Suggestion through Mental Photography. Boston, 1899, p. 54.

Although the disciples of the mind-cure often use Christian terminology, one sees from suchquotations how widely their notion of the fall of man diverges from that of ordinary Christians.[50]

[50] Whether it differs so much from Christ's own notion is for the exegetists to decide.

According to Harnack, Jesus felt about evil and disease much as our mind-curers do. "What is theanswer which Jesus sends to John the Baptist?" asks Harnack, and says it is this: "'The blind see,and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead rise up, and the gospel ispreached to the poor.' That is the 'coming of the kingdom,' or rather in these saving works thekingdom is already there. By the overcoming and removal of misery, of need, of sickness, by theseactual effects John is to see that the new time has arrived. The casting out of devils is only a part ofthis work of redemption, but Jesus points to that as the sense and seal of his mission. Thus to thewretched, sick, and poor did he address himself, but not as a moralist, and without a trace ofsentimentalism. He never makes groups and departments of the ills, he never spends time in askingwhether the sick one 'deserves' to be cured; and it never occurs to him to sympathize with the painor the death. He nowhere says that sickness is a beneficent infliction, and that evil has a healthyuse. No, he calls sickness sickness and health health. All evil, all wretchedness, is for himsomething dreadful; it is of the great kingdom of Satan; but he feels the power of the saviourwithin him. He knows that advance is possible only when weakness is overcome, when sickness ismade well." Das Wesen des Christenthums, 1900, p. 39.

Their notion of man's higher nature is hardly less divergent, being decidedly pantheistic. Thespiritual in man appears in the mind-cure philosophy as partly conscious, but chiefly subconscious;and through the subconscious part of it we are already one with the Divine without any miracle ofgrace, or abrupt creation of a new inner man. As this view is variously expressed by differentwriters, we find in it traces of Christian mysticism, of transcendental idealism, of vedantism, andof the modern psychology of the subliminal self. A quotation or two will put us at the central pointof view:-"The great central fact of the universe is that spirit of infinite life and power that is back of all,that manifests itself in and through all. This spirit of infinite life and power that is back of all iswhat I call God. I care not what term you may use, be it Kindly Light, Providence, the Over-Soul,Omnipotence, or whatever term may be most convenient, so long as we are agreed in regard to thegreat central fact itself. God then fills the universe alone, so that all is from Him and in Him, andthere is nothing that is outside. He is the life of our life our very life itself. We are partakers of thelife of God; and though we differ from Him in that we are individualized spirits, while He is theInfinite Spirit, including us, as well as all else beside, yet in essence the life of God and the life ofman are identically the same, and so are one. They differ not in essence or quality; they differ indegree.

"The great central fact in human life is the coming into a conscious vital realization of ouroneness with this Infinite Life and the opening of ourselves fully to this divine inflow. In just thedegree that we come into a conscious realization of our oneness with the Infinite Life, and openourselves to this divine inflow, do we actualize in ourselves the qualities and powers of the Infinite Life, do we make ourselves channels through which the Infinite Intelligence and Power can work.

In just the degree in which you realize your oneness with the Infinite Spirit, you will exchange diseasefor ease, inharmony for harmony, suffering and pain for abounding health and strength. Torecognize our own divinity, and our intimate relation to the Universal, is to attach the belts of ourmachinery to the powerhouse of the Universe. One need remain in hell no longer than one choosesto; we can rise to any heaven we ourselves choose; and when we choose so to rise, all the higherpowers of the Universe combine to help us heavenward."[51]

[51] R. W. Trine: In Tune with the Infinite, 26th thousand, N.Y. 1899. I have strung scatteredpassages together.

Let me now pass from these abstracter statements to some more concrete accounts of experiencewith the mind-cure religion. I have many answers from correspondents--the only difficulty is tochoose. The first two whom I shall quote are my personal friends. One of them, a woman, writingas follows, expresses well the feeling of continuity with the Infinite Power, by which all mind-curedisciples are inspired.

"The first underlying cause of all sickness, weakness, or depression is the human sense ofseparateness from that Divine Energy which we call God. The soul which can feel and affirm inserene but jubilant confidence, as did the Nazarene: 'I and my Father are one,' has no further needof healer, or of healing. This is the whole truth in a nutshell, and other foundation for wholenesscan no man lay than this fact of impregnable divine union. Disease can no longer attack one whosefeet are planted on this rock, who feels hourly, momently, the influx of the Deific Breath. If onewith Omnipotence, how can weariness enter the consciousness, how illness assail that indomitablespark?

"This possibility of annulling forever the law of fatigue has been abundantly proven in my owncase; for my earlier life bears a record of many, many years of bedridden invalidism, with spineand lower limbs paralyzed. My thoughts were no more impure than they are to-day, although mybelief in the necessity of illness was dense and unenlightened; but since my resurrection in theflesh, I have worked as a healer unceasingly for fourteen years without a vacation, and cantruthfully assert that I have never known a moment of fatigue or pain, although coming in touchconstantly with excessive weakness, illness, and disease of all kinds. For how can a conscious partof Deity be sick?--since 'Greater is he that is with us than all that can strive against us.'"My second correspondent, also a woman, sends me the following statement:-"Life seemed difficult to me at one time. I was always breaking down, and had several attacks ofwhat is called nervous prostration, with terrible insomnia, being on the verge of insanity; besideshaving many other troubles, especially of the digestive organs. I had been sent away from home incharge of doctors, had taken all the narcotics, stopped all work, been fed up, and in fact knew allthe doctors within reach. But I never recovered permanently till this New Thought took possessionof me.

"I think that the one thing which impressed me most was learning the fact that we must be inabsolutely constant relation or mental touch (this word is to me very expressive) with that essenceof life which permeates all and which we call God. This is almost unrecognizable unless we live it into ourselves ACTUALLY, that is, by a constant turning to the very innermost, deepestconsciousness of our real selves or of God in us, for illumination from within, just as we turn to thesun for light, warmth, and invigoration without. When you do this consciously, realizing that toturn inward to the light within you is to live in the presence of God or your divine self, you soondiscover the unreality of the objects to which you have hitherto been turning and which haveengrossed you without.

"I have come to disregard the meaning of this attitude for bodily health AS SUCH, because thatcomes of itself, as an incidental result, and cannot be found by any special mental act or desire tohave it, beyond that general attitude of mind I have referred to above. That which we usually makethe object of life, those outer things we are all so wildly seeking, which we so often live and diefor, but which then do not give us peace and happiness, they should all come of themselves asaccessory, and as the mere outcome or natural result of a far higher life sunk deep in the bosom ofthe spirit. This life is the real seeking of the kingdom of God, the desire for his supremacy in ourhearts, so that all else comes as that which shall be 'added unto you'--as quite incidental and as asurprise to us, perhaps; and yet it is the proof of the reality of the perfect poise in the very centre ofour being.

"When I say that we commonly make the object of our life that which we should not work forprimarily, I mean many things which the world considers praiseworthy and excellent, such assuccess in business, fame as author or artist, physician or lawyer, or renown in philanthropicundertakings. Such things should be results, not objects. I would also include pleasures of manykinds which seem harmless and good at the time, and are pursued because many accept them--Imean conventionalities, sociabilities, and fashions in their various development, these beingmostly approved by the masses, although they may be unreal, and even unhealthy superfluities."Here is another case, more concrete, also that of a woman. I read you these cases withoutcomment--they express so many varieties of the state of mind we are studying.

"I had been a sufferer from my childhood till my fortieth year. [Details of ill-health are givenwhich I omit.] I had been in Vermont several months hoping for good from the change of air, butsteadily growing weaker, when one day during the latter part of October, while resting in theafternoon, I suddenly heard as it were these words: 'You will be healed and do a work you neverdreamed of.' These words were impressed upon my mind with such power I said at once that onlyGod could have put them there. I believed them in spite of myself and of my suffering andweakness, which continued until Christmas, when I returned to Boston. Within two days a youngfriend offered to take me to a mental healer (this was January 7, 1881). The healer said: 'There isnothing but Mind; we are expressions of the One Mind; body is only a mortal belief; as a manthinketh so is he.' I could not accept all she said, but I translated all that was there for ME in thisway: 'There is nothing but God; I am created by Him, and am absolutely dependent upon Him;mind is given me to use; and by just so much of it as I will put upon the thought of right action inbody I shall be lifted out of bondage to my ignorance and fear and past experience.' That day Icommenced accordingly to take a little of every food provided for the family, constantly saying tomyself: 'The Power that created the stomach must take care of what I have eaten.' By holding thesesuggestions through the evening I went to bed and fell asleep, saying: 'I am soul, spirit, just onewith God's Thought of me,' and slept all night without waking, for the first time in several years [the distress-turns had usually recurred about two o'clock in the night]. I felt the next day like anescaped prisoner, and believed I had found the secret that would in time give me perfect health.

Within ten days I was able to eat anything provided for others, and after two weeks I began to havemy own positive mental suggestions of Truth, which were to me like stepping-stones. I will note afew of them, they came about two weeks apart.

"1st. I am Soul, therefore it is well with me.

"2d. I am Soul, therefore I am well.

"3d. A sort of inner vision of myself as a four-footed beast with a protuberance on every part ofmy body where I had suffering, with my own face, begging me to acknowledge it as myself. Iresolutely fixed my attention on being well, and refused to even look at my old self in this form.

"4th. Again the vision of the beast far in the background, with faint voice. Again refusal toacknowledge.

"5th. Once more the vision, but only of my eyes with the longing look; and again the refusal.

Then came the conviction, the inner consciousness, that I was perfectly well and always had been,for I was Soul, an expression of God's Perfect Thought. That was to me the perfect and completedseparation between what I was and what I appeared to be. I succeeded in never losing sight afterthis of my real being, by constantly affirming this truth, and by degrees (though it took me twoyears of hard work to get there) I expressed health continuously throughout my whole body.

"In my subsequent nineteen years' experience I have never known this Truth to fail when Iapplied it, though in my ignorance I have often failed to apply it, but through my failures I havelearned the simplicity and trustfulness of the little child."But I fear that I risk tiring you by so many examples, and I must lead you back to philosophicgeneralities again. You see already by such records of experience how impossible it is not to classmind-cure as primarily a religious movement. Its doctrine of the oneness of our life with God's lifeis in fact quite indistinguishable from an interpretation of Christ's message which in these veryGifford lectures has been defended by some of your very ablest Scottish religious philosophers.


[52] The Cairds, for example. In Edward Caird's Glasgow Lectures of 1890-92 passages like thisabound:-"The declaration made in the beginning of the ministry of Jesus that 'the time is fulfilled, and thekingdom of heaven is at hand,' passes with scarce a break into the announcement that 'the kingdomof God is among you'; and the importance of this announcement is asserted to be such that itmakes, so to speak, a difference IN KIND between the greatest saints and prophets who livedunder the previous reign of division, and 'the least in the kingdom of heaven.' The highest ideal isbrought close to men and declared to be within their reach, they are called on to be 'perfect as theirFather in heaven is perfect.' The sense of alienation and distance from God which had grown uponthe pious in Israel just in proportion as they had learned to look upon Him as no mere nationaldivinity, but as a God of justice who would punish Israel for its sin as certainly as Edom or Moab,is declared to be no longer in place; and the typical form of Christian prayer points to the abolitionof the contrast between this world and the next which through all the history of the Jews hadcontinually been growing wider: 'As in heaven, so on earth.' The sense of the division of man from God, as a finite being from the Infinite, as weak and sinful from the Omnipotent Goodness, is notindeed lost; but it can no longer overpower the consciousness of oneness. The terms 'Son' and'Father' at once state the opposition and mark its limit. They show that it is not an absoluteopposition, but one which presupposes an indestructible principle of unity, that can and mustbecome a principle of reconciliation." The Evolution of Religion, ii. pp. 146, 147.

But philosophers usually profess to give a quasi-logical explanation of the existence of evil,whereas of the general fact of evil in the world, the existence of the selfish, suffering, timorousfinite consciousness, the mind-curers, so far as I am acquainted with them, profess to give nospeculative explanation Evil is empirically there for them as it is for everybody, but the practicalpoint of view predominates, and it would ill agree with the spirit of their system to spend time inworrying over it as a "mystery" or "problem," or in "laying to heart" the lesson of its experience,after the manner of the Evangelicals. Don't reason about it, as Dante says, but give a glance andpass beyond! It is Avidhya, ignorance! something merely to be outgrown and left be hind,transcended and forgotten. Christian Science so-called, the sect of Mrs. Eddy, is the most radicalbranch of mind-cure in its dealings with evil. For it evil is simply a LIE, and any one whomentions it is a liar. The optimistic ideal of duty forbids us to pay it the compliment even ofexplicit attention. Of course, as our next lectures will show us, this is a bad speculative omission,but it is intimately linked with the practical merits of the system we are examining. Why regret aphilosophy of evil, a mind-curer would ask us, if I can put you in possession of a life of good?

After all, it is the life that tells; and mind-cure has developed a living system of mental hygienewhich may well claim to have thrown all previous literature of the Diatetit der Seele into the shade.

This system is wholly and exclusively compacted of optimism: "Pessimism leads to weakness.

Optimism leads to power." "Thoughts are things," as one of the most vigorous mind-cure writersprints in bold type at the bottom of each of his pages; and if your thoughts are of health, youth,vigor, and success, before you know it these things will also be your outward portion. No one canfail of the regenerative influence of optimistic thinking, pertinaciously pursued. Every man ownsindefeasibly this inlet to the divine. Fear, on the contrary, and all the contracted and egoistic modesof thought, are inlets to destruction. Most mind-curers here bring in a doctrine that thoughts are"forces," and that, by virtue of a law that like attracts like, one man's thoughts draw to themselvesas allies all the thoughts of the same character that exist the world over. Thus one gets, by one'sthinking, reinforcements from elsewhere for the realization of one's desires; and the great point inthe conduct of life is to get the heavenly forces on one's side by opening one's own mind to theirinflux.

On the whole, one is struck by a psychological similarity between the mind-cure movement andthe Lutheran and Wesleyan movements. To the believer in moralism and works, with his anxiousquery, "What shall I do to be saved?" Luther and Wesley replied: "You are saved now, if youwould but believe it." And the mind-curers come with precisely similar words of emancipation.

They speak, it is true, to persons for whom the conception of salvation has lost its ancienttheological meaning, but who labor nevertheless with the same eternal human difficulty. THINGSARE WRONG WITH THEM; and "What shall I do to be clear, right, sound, whole, well?" is theform of their question. And the answer is: "You ARE well, sound, and clear already, if you did but know it." "The whole matter may be summed up in one sentence," says one of the authors whom Ihave already quoted, "GOD IS WELL, AND SO ARE YOU. You must awaken to the knowledgeof your real being."The adequacy of their message to the mental needs of a large fraction of mankind is what gaveforce to those earlier gospels. Exactly the same adequacy holds in the case of the mind-curemessage, foolish as it may sound upon its surface; and seeing its rapid growth in influence, and itstherapeutic triumphs, one is tempted to ask whether it may not be destined (probably by veryreason of the crudity and extravagance of many of its manifestations[53]) to play a part almost asgreat in the evolution of the popular religion of the future as did those earlier movements in theirday.

[53] It remains to be seen whether the school of Mr. Dresser, which assumes more and more theform of mind-cure experience and academic philosophy mutually impregnating each other, willscore the practical triumphs of the less critical and rational sects.

But I here fear that I may begin to "jar upon the nerves" of some of the members of thisacademic audience. Such contemporary vagaries, you may think, should hardly take so large aplace in dignified Gifford lectures. I can only beseech you to have patience. The whole outcome ofthese lectures will, I imagine, be the emphasizing to your mind of the enormous diversities whichthe spiritual lives of different men exhibit. Their wants, their susceptibilities, and their capacitiesall vary and must be classed under different heads. The result is that we have really different typesof religious experience; and, seeking in these lectures closer acquaintance with the healthy-mindedtype, we must take it where we find it in most radical form. The psychology of individual types ofcharacter has hardly begun even to be sketched as yet--our lectures may possibly serve as a crumb-like contribution to the structure. The first thing to bear in mind (especially if we ourselves belongto the clerico-academic-scientific type, the officially and conventionally "correct" type, "the deadlyrespectable" type, for which to ignore others is a besetting temptation) is that nothing can be morestupid than to bar out phenomena from our notice, merely because we are incapable of taking partin anything like them ourselves.

Now the history of Lutheran salvation by faith, of methodistic conversions, and of what I call themind-cure movement seems to prove the existence of numerous persons in whom--at any rate at acertain stage in their development--a change of character for the better, so far from beingfacilitated by the rules laid down by official moralists, will take place all the more successfully ifthose rules be exactly reversed. Official moralists advise us never to relax our strenuousness. "Bevigilant, day and night," they adjure us; "hold your passive tendencies in check; shrink from noeffort; keep your will like a bow always bent." But the persons I speak of find that all thisconscious effort leads to nothing but failure and vexation in their hands, and only makes themtwofold more the children of hell they were before. The tense and voluntary attitude becomes inthem an impossible fever and torment. Their machinery refuses to run at all when the bearings aremade so hot and the belts so tight.

Under these circumstances the way to success, as vouched for by innumerable authentic personalnarrations, is by an anti-moralistic method, by the "surrender" of which I spoke in my secondlecture. Passivity, not activity; relaxation, not intentness, should be now the rule. Give up the feeling of responsibility, let go your hold, resign the care of your destiny to higher powers, begenuinely indifferent as to what becomes of it all, and you will find not only that you gain a perfectinward relief, but often also, in addition, the particular goods you sincerely thought you wererenouncing. This is the salvation through self-despair, the dying to be truly born, of Lutherantheology, the passage into NOTHING of which Jacob Behmen writes. To get to it, a critical pointmust usually be passed, a corner turned within one. Something must give way, a native hardnessmust break down and liquefy; and this event (as we shall abundantly see hereafter) is frequentlysudden and automatic, and leaves on the Subject an impression that he has been wrought on by anexternal power.

Whatever its ultimate significance may prove to be, this is certainly one fundamental form ofhuman experience. Some say that the capacity or incapacity for it is what divides the religiousfrom the merely moralistic character. With those who undergo it in its fullness, no criticism availsto cast doubt on its reality. They KNOW; for they have actually FELT the higher powers, in givingup the tension of their personal will.

A story which revivalist preachers often tell is that of a man who found himself at night slippingdown the side of a precipice.

At last he caught a branch which stopped his fall, and remained clinging to it in misery for hours.

But finally his fingers had to loose their hold, and with a despairing farewell to life, he let himselfdrop. He fell just six inches. If he had given up the struggle earlier, his agony would have beenspared. As the mother earth received him, so, the preachers tell us, will the everlasting armsreceive us if we confide absolutely in them, and give up the hereditary habit of relying on ourpersonal strength, with its precautions that cannot shelter and safeguards that never save.

The mind-curers have given the widest scope to this sort of experience. They have demonstratedthat a form of regeneration by relaxing, by letting go, psychologically indistinguishable from theLutheran justification by faith and the Wesleyan acceptance of free grace, is within the reach ofpersons who have no conviction of sin and care nothing for the Lutheran theology. It is but givingyour little private convulsive self a rest, and finding that a greater Self is there. The results, slow orsudden, or great or small, of the combined optimism and expectancy, the regenerative phenomenawhich ensue on the abandonment of effort, remain firm facts of human nature, no matter whetherwe adopt a theistic, a pantheistic-idealistic, or a medical-materialistic view of their ultimate causalexplanation.[54]

[54] The theistic explanation is by divine grace, which creates a new nature within one themoment the old nature is sincerely given up. The pantheistic explanation (which is that of mostmind-curers) is by the merging of the narrower private self into the wider or greater self, the spiritof the universe (which is your own "subconscious" self), the moment the isolating barriers ofmistrust and anxiety are removed. The medico-materialistic explanation is that simpler cerebralprocesses act more freely where they are left to act automatically by the shunting-out ofphysiologically (though in this instance not spiritually) "higher" ones which, seeking to regulate,only succeed in inhibiting results.--Whether this third explanation might, in a psycho-physicalaccount of the universe, be combined with either of the others may be left an open question here.

When we take up the phenomena of revivalistic conversion, we shall learn something more aboutall this. Meanwhile I will say a brief word about the mind-curer's METHODS.

They are of course largely suggestive. The suggestive influence of environment plays anenormous part in all spiritual education.

But the word "suggestion," having acquired official status, is unfortunately already beginning toplay in many quarters the part of a wet blanket upon investigation, being used to fend off allinquiry into the varying susceptibilities of individual cases. "Suggestion" is only another name forthe power of ideas, SO FAR AS THEY PROVE EFFICACIOUS OVER BELIEF ANDCONDUCT. Ideas efficacious over some people prove inefficacious over others. Ideas efficaciousat some times and in some human surroundings are not so at other times and elsewhere. The ideasof Christian churches are not efficacious in the therapeutic direction to-day, whatever they mayhave been in earlier centuries; and when the whole question is as to why the salt has lost its savorhere or gained it there, the mere blank waving of the word "suggestion" as if it were a banner givesno light. Dr. Goddard, whose candid psychological essay on Faith Cures ascribes them to nothingbut ordinary suggestion, concludes by saying that "Religion [and by this he seems to mean ourpopular Christianity] has in it all there is in mental therapeutics, and has it in its best form. Livingup to [our religious] ideas will do anything for us that can be done." And this in spite of the actualfact that the popular Christianity does absolutely NOTHING, or did nothing until mind-cure cameto the rescue.[55]

[55] Within the churches a disposition has always prevailed to regard sickness as a visitation;something sent by God for our good, either as chastisement, as warning, or as opportunity forexercising virtue, and, in the Catholic Church, of earning "merit." "Illness," says a good Catholicwriter P. Lejeune: (Introd. a la Vie Mystique, 1899, p. 218), "is the most excellent corporealmortifications, the mortification which one has not one's self chosen, which is imposed directly byGod, and is the direct expression of his will. 'If other mortifications are of silver,' Mgr. Gay says,'this one is of gold; since although it comes of ourselves, coming as it does of original sin, still onits greater side, as coming (like all that happens) from the providence of God, it is of divinemanufacture. And how just are its blows! And how efficacious it is! . . . I do not hesitate to say thatpatience in a long illness is mortification's very masterpiece, and consequently the triumph ofmortified souls.'" According to this view, disease should in any case be submissively accepted, andit might under certain circumstances even be blasphemous to wish it away.

Of course there have been exceptions to this, and cures by special miracle have at all times beenrecognized within the church's pale, almost all the great saints having more or less performedthem. It was one of the heresies of Edward Irving, to maintain them still to be possible. Anextremely pure faculty of healing after confession and conversion on the patient's part, and prayeron the priest's, was quite spontaneously developed in the German pastor, Joh. ChristophBlumhardt, in the early forties and exerted during nearly thirty years. Blumhardt's Life by Zundel(5th edition, Zurich, 1887) gives in chapters ix., x., xi., and xvii. a pretty full account of his healingactivity, which he invariably ascribed to direct divine interposition. Blumhardt was a singularlypure, simple, and non-fanatical character, and in this part of his work followed no previous model.

In Chicago to-day we have the case of Dr. J. A. Dowie, a Scottish Baptist preacher, whose weekly "Leaves of Healing" were in the year of grace 1900 in their sixth volume, and who, although hedenounces the cures wrought in other sects as "diabolical counterfeits" of his own exclusively"Divine Healing," must on the whole be counted into the mind-cure movement. In mind-curecircles the fundamental article of faith is that disease should never be accepted. It is wholly of thepit. God wants us to be absolutely healthy, and we should not tolerate ourselves on any lowerterms.

An idea, to be suggestive, must come to the individual with the force of a revelation. The mind-cure with its gospel of healthy-mindedness has come as a revelation to many whose hearts thechurch Christianity had left hardened. It has let loose their springs of higher life. In what can theoriginality of any religious movement consist, save in finding a channel, until then sealed up,through which those springs may be set free in some group of human beings?

The force of personal faith, enthusiasm, and example, and above all the force of novelty, arealways the prime suggestive agency in this kind of success. If mind-cure should ever becomeofficial, respectable, and intrenched, these elements of suggestive efficacy will be lost. In its acuterstages every religion must be a homeless Arab of the desert. The church knows this well enough,with its everlasting inner struggle of the acute religion of the few against the chronic religion of themany, indurated into an obstructiveness worse than that which irreligion opposes to the movings ofthe Spirit. "We may pray," says Jonathan Edwards, "concerning all those saints that are not livelyChristians, that they may either be enlivened, or taken away; if that be true that is often said bysome at this day, that these cold dead saints do more hurt than natural men, and lead more souls tohell, and that it would be well for mankind if they were all dead."[56]

[56] Edwards, from whose book on the Revival in New England I quote these words, dissuadesfrom such a use of prayer, but it is easy to see that he enjoys making his thrust at the cold deadchurch members.

The next condition of success is the apparent existence, in large numbers, of minds who unitehealthy-mindedness with readiness for regeneration by letting go. Protestantism has been toopessimistic as regards the natural man, Catholicism has been too legalistic and moralistic, foreither the one or the other to appeal in any generous way to the type of character formed of thispeculiar mingling of elements. However few of us here present may belong to such a type, it isnow evident that it forms a specific moral combination, well represented in the world.

Finally, mind-cure has made what in our protestant countries is an unprecedentedly great use ofthe subconscious life. To their reasoned advice and dogmatic assertion, its founders have addedsystematic exercise in passive relaxation, concentration, and meditation, and have even invokedsomething like hypnotic practice. I quote some passages at random:-"The value, the potency of ideals is the great practical truth on which the New Thought moststrongly insists--the development namely from within outward, from small to great.[57]

Consequently one's thought should be centred on the ideal outcome, even though this trust beliterally like a step in the dark.[58] To attain the ability thus effectively to direct the mind, the NewThought advises the practice of concentration, or in other words, the attainment of self-control.

One is to learn to marshal the tendencies of the mind, so that they may be held together as a unit by the chosen ideal. To this end, one should set apart times for silent meditation, by one's self,preferably in a room where the surroundings are favorable to spiritual thought. In New Thoughtterms, this is called 'entering the silence.'"[59]

[57] H. W. DRESSER: Voices of Freedom, 46.

[58] Dresser: Living by the spirit, 58.

[59] Dresser: Voices of Freedom, 33.

"The time will come when in the busy office or on the noisy street you can enter into the silenceby simply drawing the mantle of your own thoughts about you and realizing that there andeverywhere the Spirit of Infinite Life, Love, Wisdom, Peace, Power, and Plenty is guiding,keeping, protecting, leading you. This is the spirit of continual prayer.[60] One of the mostintuitive men we ever met had a desk at a city office where several other gentlemen were doingbusiness constantly, and often talking loudly. Entirely undisturbed by the many various soundsabout him, this self-centred faithful man would, in any moment of perplexity, draw the curtains ofprivacy so completely about him that he would be as fully inclosed in his own psychic aura, andthereby as effectually removed from all distractions, as though he were alone in some primevalwood. Taking his difficulty with him into the mystic silence in the form of a direct question, towhich he expected a certain answer, he would remain utterly passive until the reply came, andnever once through many years' experience did he find himself disappointed or misled."[61]

[60] Trine: In Tune with the Infinite, p. 214[61] Trine: p. 117.

Wherein, I should like to know, does this INTRINSICALLY differ from the practice of"recollection" which plays so great a part in Catholic discipline? Otherwise called the practice ofthe presence of God (and so known among ourselves, as for instance in Jeremy Taylor), it is thusdefined by the eminent teacher Alvarez de Paz in his work on Contemplation.

"It is the recollection of God, the thought of God, which in all places and circumstances makesus see him present, lets us commune respectfully and lovingly with him, and fills us with desireand affection for him. . . . Would you escape from every ill? Never lose this recollection of God,neither in prosperity nor in adversity, nor on any occasion whichsoever it be. Invoke not, to excuseyourself from this duty, either the difficulty or the importance of your business, for you can alwaysremember that God sees you, that you are under his eye. If a thousand times an hour you forgethim, reanimate a thousand times the recollection.

If you cannot practice this exercise continuously, at least make yourself as familiar with it aspossible; and, like unto those who in a rigorous winter draw near the fire as often as they can, go asoften as you can to that ardent fire which will warm your soul."[62]

[62] Quoted by Lejeune: Introd. a la vie Mystique, 1899, p. 66.

All the external associations of the Catholic discipline are of course unlike anything in mind-curethought, but the purely spiritual part of the exercise is identical in both communions, and in both communions those who urge it write with authority, for they have evidently experienced in theirown persons that whereof they tell. Compare again some mind-cure utterances:-"High, healthful, pure thinking can be encouraged, promoted, and strengthened. Its current canbe turned upon grand ideals until it forms a habit and wears a channel. By means of such disciplinethe mental horizon can be flooded with the sunshine of beauty, wholeness, and harmony. Toinaugurate pure and lofty thinking may at first seem difficult, even almost mechanical, butperseverance will at length render it easy, then pleasant, and finally delightful.

"The soul's real world is that which it has built of its thoughts, mental states, and imaginations. Ifwe WILL, we can turn our backs upon the lower and sensuous plane, and lift ourselves into therealm of the spiritual and Real, and there gain a residence. The assumption of states of expectancyand receptivity will attract spiritual sunshine, and it will flow in as naturally as air inclines to avacuum. . . . Whenever the though; is not occupied with one's daily duty or profession, it should hesent aloft into the spiritual atmosphere. There are quiet leisure moments by day, and wakeful hoursat night, when this wholesome and delightful exercise may be engaged in to great advantage. Ifone who has never made any systematic effort to lift and control the thought-forces will, for asingle month, earnestly pursue the course here suggested, he will be surprised and delighted at theresult, and nothing will induce him to go back to careless, aimless, and superficial thinking. Atsuch favorable seasons the outside world, with all its current of daily events, is barred out, and onegoes into the silent sanctuary of the inner temple of soul to commune and aspire. The spiritualhearing becomes delicately sensitive, so that the 'still, small voice' is audible, the tumultuouswaves of external sense are hushed, and there is a great calm. The ego gradually becomesconscious that it is face to face with the Divine Presence; that mighty, healing, loving, Fatherly lifewhich is nearer to us than we are to ourselves. There is soul contact with the Parent-Soul, and aninflux of life, love, virtue, health, and happiness from the Inexhaustible Fountain."[63]

[63] HENRY Wood: Ideal suggestion through Mental Photography, pp. 51, 70 (abridged).

When we reach the subject of mysticism, you will undergo so deep an immersion into theseexalted states of consciousness as to be wet all over, if I may so express myself; and the coldshiver of doubt with which this little sprinkling may affect you will have long since passed away-doubt,I mean, as to whether all such writing be not mere abstract talk and rhetoric set down pourencourager les autres. You will then be convinced, I trust, that these states of consciousness of"union" form a perfectly definite class of experiences, of which the soul may occasionally partake,and which certain persons may live by in a deeper sense than they live by anything else with whichthey have acquaintance. This brings me to a general philosophical reflection with which I shouldlike to pass from the subject of healthy-mindedness, and close a topic which I fear is already onlytoo long drawn out. It concerns the relation of all this systematized healthy-mindedness and mind-cure religion to scientific method and the scientific life.

In a later lecture I shall have to treat explicitly of the relation of religion to science on the onehand, and to primeval savage thought on the other. There are plenty of persons to-day--"scientists"or "positivists," they are fond of calling themselves--who will tell you that religious thought is amere survival, an atavistic reversion to a type of consciousness which humanity in its moreenlightened examples has long since left behind and out-grown. If you ask them to explain themselves more fully, they will probably say that for primitive thought everything is conceived ofunder the form of personality. The savage thinks that things operate by personal forces, and for thesake of individual ends. For him, even external nature obeys individual needs and claims, just as ifthese were so many elementary powers. Now science, on the other hand, these positivists say, hasproved that personality, so far from being an elementary force in nature, is but a passive resultantof the really elementary forces, physical, chemical, physiological, and psycho-physical, which areall impersonal and general in character. Nothing individual accomplishes anything in the universesave in so far as it obeys and exemplifies some universal law. Should you then inquire of them bywhat means science has thus supplanted primitive thought, and discredited its personal way oflooking at things, they would undoubtedly say it has been by the strict use of the method ofexperimental verification. Follow out science's conceptions practically, they will say, theconceptions that ignore personality altogether, and you will always be corroborated. The world isso made that all your expectations will be experientially verified so long, and only so long, as youkeep the terms from which you infer them impersonal and universal.

But here we have mind-cure, with her diametrically opposite philosophy, setting up an exactlyidentical claim. Live as if I were true, she says, and every day will practically prove you right. Thatthe controlling energies of nature are personal, that your own personal thoughts are forces, that thepowers of the universe will directly respond to your individual appeals and needs, are propositionswhich your whole bodily and mental experience will verify. And that experience does largelyverify these primeval religious ideas is proved by the fact that the mind-cure movement spreads asit does, not by proclamation and assertion simply, but by palpable experiential results. Here, in thevery heyday of science's authority, it carries on an aggressive warfare against the scientificphilosophy, and succeeds by using science's own peculiar methods and weapons. Believing that ahigher power will take care of us in certain ways better than we can take care of ourselves, if weonly genuinely throw ourselves upon it and consent to use it, it finds the belief, not only notimpugned, but corroborated by its observation.

How conversions are thus made, and converts confirmed, is evident enough from the narrativeswhich I have quoted. I will quote yet another couple of shorter ones to give the matter a perfectlyconcrete turn. Here is one:-"One of my first experiences in applying my teaching was two months after I first saw the healer.

I fell, spraining my right ankle, which I had done once four years before, having then had to use acrutch and elastic anklet for some months, and carefully guarding it ever since. As soon as I wason my feet I made the positive suggestion (and felt it through all my being): 'There is nothing butGod, and all life comes from him perfectly. I cannot be sprained or hurt, I will let him take care ofit.' Well, I never had a sensation in it, and I walked two miles that day."The next case not only illustrates experiment and verification, but also the element of passivityand surrender of which awhile ago I made such account.

"I went into town to do some shopping one morning, and I had not been gone long before Ibegan to feel ill. The ill feeling increased rapidly, until I had pains in all my bones, nausea andfaintness, headache, all the symptoms in short that precede an attack of influenza. I thought that Iwas going to have the grippe, epidemic then in Boston, or something worse. The mind-cureteachings that I had been listening to all the winter thereupon came into my mind, and I thought that here was an opportunity to test myself. On my way home I met a friend, I refrained with someeffort from telling her how I felt. That was the first step gained. I went to bed immediately, and myhusband wished to send fo


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