Fourthly, The Difficulty Of Unwholesome
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
FAITH How To OBVIATE. There is a vast amount of insanity not under asylum treatment, a good deal of abnormal acceptance of faith-philosophy prevalent, which is due to the absence of vigorous regard for downright reality.
Regard For Downright Reality. I do not know a better remedy for the fads, isms and vagaries of belief without sense than a cultivated instinct for actual fact and truth. For reality appeals to us in exactly two ways, either as fact or as truth. Into healthy mind-tone these phases of reality must enter, whatever else be present or absent. You are urged, therefore, to make the following suggestions definite elements in your life.
(1). You are invited to cultivate the power to see and recognize facts as opposed to mere visions and hopes, to develop within the soul a feeling of sympathy for things, forces, phenomena, exactly as they are, regardless of what they merely seem to be, or might, could, would, or should be. The value of such a fact-attitude realizes in countless ways.
This attitude gives us solid ground; it finds a tangible limit; it is certainty for judgment, belief, and action. It is the first badge of sanity. It stares the fad out of countenance. It tends to put down the epidemic of isms. It prevents the world from surrendering to a may-be-so. It is destined to cremate all the chimeras and to kill out all the errors of human existence.
The second phase of reality essential to mind-health is truth. Now truth seems to be about anything man can think. Nevertheless, truth itself ought to give us some definite conception upon which all can agree. In search for this conception, we may begin by saying that knowledge is the certainty that our thoughts cor-respond to reality, and then we may go on to affirm that truth is precisely such correspondence. But this raises the question, Can we adequately know reality? The answer is that we can only form a conception of what reality, whatever it is beyond our thought, must assuredly be in our thought. We then have two things for comparison: our thought of reality, and our thoughts atout a thing which we believe to be real. When our thoughts about the thing correspond with what reality is as we conceive it, and correspond in such a way that the mind in the best exercise of its powers is satisfied, then we may say that we are in possession of truth. The thought-correspondence indicated is truth. This is the best we can do in the matter because we can never go outside of our own minds. But the element of satisfaction to mind in the best exercise of its powers is an immense corrective, and it has eliminated from the world ten thousand errors.
When the mind comes into a state in which none of its thoughts concerning a fact believed to be real .annihilates, contradicts, or excludes any other, but in which all harmonize with each other and with other established thoughts, a feeling of satisfaction obtains, and the mind then declares, "I have the truth."
A flower is a fact. What it tells me is truth for me. This "for me" comes in time to be compared with other "for me's," and so corrected into "for man." Slowly, then, the facts of earth give rise to science-truths, art-truths, history-truths.
The word "soul" has come to mean "breath," "life," "personality," "self," "spirit." Let us call it the unseen self. It is a collection of living facts. To the mind of man "soul" represents ten thousand truths, because he can form the ideas, " fact," "knowledge," and can compare these ideas, and so form the conception, "truth." In the last analysis man must find all his facts and all his truths within the soul, and thus the self becomes a complex reality capable of taking into itself every other reality.
Mind-health demands sympathy for and apprehension of facts as facts, exactly as they are, in order that truth may be and may really develop in strict harmony with whatever is.
Many so-called untruthful people are simply deficient in fact-sight.
Many veracious people are blind to the truth, world back of the fact-world.
Here are reasons for differing works on philosophy. The authors merely vary in truth-vision.
Here are explanations for contradictory theories in science. The scientists do not all stand on the same truth-level.
Here is justification for magnificent oppositions in the great departments of life. Men do not equally sense the truth-values of human existence.
Religions all represent varying degrees of the truth-phases of that dim Reality the Moral Universe.
Conflicting opinions among honest people simply exhibit what measure of truth they have been able to acquire out of the common store of world-facts.
No man can transcend the level of his own intelligence. It is everywhere as it is with the spoken word. The spoken word is three-fold: the vocal sound, the thought of the speaker, the thought of the hearer.
Today the hearer is below the speaker, and-his thought is, what it is, no matter what the speaker has said. To-morrow his thought outruns that of the speaker, because his level has risen, and his thought is now better than the yesterday product. So is it always. The facts are the same through hoary ages. But men rise; thus comes higher truth. This law preaches charity; but it also preaches and inspires courage. We may all say: "I shall yet stand where you stand, and some day my world of truth will be your world."
Mind-tone depends upon sympathy for the truth that hides behind the facts, and the development of power to compel facts to yield their truth. Hence
(2). You are invited to acquire the ability to analyze so-called facts into all their parts. The aim of this suggestion is simply a healthy tendency to arrive at the heart of things before you surrender to them. Every single fact is really a number of facts grouped together, as, a rose, consisting of calyx, petals, stamen, pistil, pollen, form, color, fragrance, etc., etc. When you thus handle things, forces, phenomena, propositions, laws, creeds, systems, you present to them a phase of healthy-mindedness which will infallibly obviate a hasty conclusion and save you from many an error and fantastic faith.
(3). You are also urged to make it your lifelong practice to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, on important matters at least. Knowledge, we have seen, is the certainty that our thoughts correspond with reality. Knowledge, then, is of course a thing of degrees, but many people are too easily satisfied with almost any degree of certainty. We should insist on a certainty which is much stronger than. mere guess-work. Truth, as I have defined it, is the correspondence between our thoughts and reality and evidences itself by a state of harmony among our thoughts in relation to a given thing. When, for example, we are satisfied that all apples, released from support in air, fall to the ground, we conclude that such action represents a law for all objects, because a certain number of instances point in one direction. You see, then, that we thus arrive at two truths one concerning gravity, one concerning the human mind. In these matters we are aware of a state of mental contentment. But, in some similar cases, man has found that his truths so discovered have been only partial. Thus, heat expands and cold contracts material things, yet, beyond a certain point of freezing, ice expands, thus preventing our northern rivers from filling to the bottom. You again see, then, that the truth-getting habit needs to make sure that it has fully covered a given case, and, in any event, that it exhibits the greatest healthiness by remaining always open to new facts, new laws and new phases of truth.
At this point I wish to adduce two illustrations which will show more clearly what I mean by the invitation we are now considering. The main thing is the mental attitude. When the mental attitude concerns facts, the mind is sanely practical. Even if the individual is mistaken, his attitude saves his sanity his common sense. When the mental attitude concerns truth, the mind is sanely intelligent, and, in the long run, will exhibit reasonableness.
Any illustration of these attitudes will be more or less incomplete because the process unfolded covers so much of life. It should, therefore, be remembered that the following are merely specimen leaves from the vast forest of experience.
Illustration Number One. A man sees a ghost in the highway. Our invitation requires that he see the fact as it is. It is some fact; what is that fact? It is a tall stump with two or three naked branches, and various lights and shadows moving upon them. The fact-thing has now become a fact-group. It is an appearance a fact suggesting a supposed truth. What was the real truth? The ghostly body was a stump, the arms were branches, the movements were due to flickering shadows and varying degrees of light. The supposed truth was a ghost. The real truth was a mental deception; back of that a stump under certain conditions.
Ten thousand applications are possible. I take one only - cures of all sorts of disease attributed to all sorts of remedies. We need not deny the cures; there are millions of cures, blessed be Nature! But, is the agency of cure in any given case precisely what it is said to be? Is this the ghost-fact of Christian Science, Mental Healing, drugs, or prayer? I am absolutely good-natured in regard to all these agencies. I simply suggest that when you attribute your cure to one agency or another, you strip all claims down to naked fact. That is the one sane test of the question whether a thing is a ghost or a stump. And any system of life or thought which does not welcome such a test is open to suspicion.
Illustration Number Two. Witchcraft had its facts, its supposed truth and its real truth. When men insisted on seeing the real facts, many of the fictitious facts disappeared, the supposed truth vanished, and the real truth awaited discovery. After science had adopted the above methods, instead of the old shout, "superstition!" contentment in which has hurt science more than it has hurt any other department of our life the backlying facts began to emerge, and the truths, clairvoyance, clairaudience, hypnotism, fear, imagination, etc., etc., came slowly into light. We are now trying to find out why science should say, "all bosh" to, "mesmerism," "occultism," spiritualism, religion, or any other thing under the heavens.
The remedy for many errors into which we fall would seem to be here. There are supposed facts and real facts -- as old as man. Thus arise supposed truths: the "may-bes," the "looks-like-its," the "I was-sick-and-now-I-am-wells," the "you-know-myold-spirit-and-you-see-me-vows," and so on. But I say that if you will make "dead sure," which is reasonably sure, of all the facts, the real truth will come out, and you will preserve mental health. There is a good deal of truth in almost all things. But it is a mistake to take a whole thing as true because it may contain some truth. The truth may be present, but it may be exclusively labelled. And the error present may largely predominate over the truth. In any event, mental health exhibits, not in hostility toward the thing containing truth, but only in the determination not to take a thing as all true because it is partially true, and never accept a thing with its errors merely because it possesses a measure of truth. It is treason to be afraid of the truth. It is anarchy to want any-thing short of the truth.
Nevertheless, we are never to suppose that healthy-mindedness reduces to a hard, dry and stolid perception of colorless reality. The mind requires also the element of beauty and the foresight of mental alertness. Health tone of mind involves the play of imagination.
Now imagination has played havoc with healthy-mindedness for ages. This faculty has filled the world with religious and theological horrors, has darkened millions of minds with impurity, has bred in multitudes of souls the demons of fear, defeat, a false sense of inability, a belief in disease and death as necessary "evils" in our life, and everywhere has begotten the spirit of hopelessness. Thus we have another difficulty to contend against,
FIFTHLY, THE DIFFICULTY OF WRONG THOUGHT-ACTION, WHICH IS IMAGINATION FALSELY EXERCISED How TO DISPEL. For suggestions of correction of so great an enemy to courage, I indicate the general ideal of
Imagination Illumined by Reason. Reason des clares That every human is entitled to his existence simply because he is a human being; that his existence and his individuality indicate his rights, not being those of others, since he is only himself, but for that reason inalienable and by no man to be cut short or hindered; that life in general is planned in the interest of the full rights of everything possessing a phase of conscious existence; that the world is planned in the interest of living things, and therefore, of the human individual; and so, that every soul is entitled to claim whatever belongs to him, but that his claim can only be made good by the confident spirit and by intelligent effort, for the real values of life consist not in things gained, but in Health, or Wholeness, of the soul or self rightly related to the Living Universe.
If you will read this proposition until it is thoroughly analyzed and every statement is seen to be a fundamental truth, and if you will, by thought and affirma tion and realization, make the entire truth a vital thing in your feeling and thought, you will find the optimism of healthy-mindedness becoming more and more a splendid power in your deepest self. Kindly observe, then, the following related suggestions.
(1). You are invited practically to realize the italicised paragraph above as indicated in the remarks just below it.
(2). You are urged to cultivate the inspiring poetry of life, as seen in literature, yet more, as seen in the heroic efforts and the triumphs of men and women on every hand around you.
(3). You are urged to cultivate imaginative appreciation for beauty and sentiment. The hard matter-of-fact mind misses the half of life. Life is not fact alone; it is also truth in the beautiful. The Universe is more truth than fact because it contains so many minds. The question of healthy living has always to do with getting at the truth, and if one is merely a fact-man or a fact-woman, much of the truth will fail to discover itself. To see, the eye requires light; but if the light is all on the outside, that eye is blind. Man sees truth with the inner eye, and with the inner truth-light and truth-sense. The power of anybody's sense depends on the self that goes into it. The farmer perceives in rocks, obstacles; the scientist, geology; the artist, effects of beauty. Some see in the world matter, force, money. Others behold in it opportunity for soul-building. This is the main thing, and for this, imagination and sentiment are master-workmen.
(4). You are urged to begin at this point the cultivation of the feeling of hopeful courage. A healthy mind is surely hopefully courageous at the core. If there are times of apparent failure, courage is, nevertheless, its prevailing characteristic. A desperado who fears no man has his moments when to capture him needs but the command," Hands up!" He is hungry, or cold, or sleepy, or depressed. The health-tone is low.
I believe the main trouble with thousands who live from hand to mouth is the fact of discouragement.
The discouraged man must begin with himself, not with his conditions. So long as he lacks courage, conditions will remain as they are. His first struggle has to do with the manufacture of courage. He must repeatedly suggest courage to himself. In time he will feel what at first he merely pretends. Then mental health will return, and greater courage will inevitably appear.
(5). You are urged, now, to make the feeling of courage vital, and to that end, to
Believe in yourself;
At the outset, these affirmations are merely dry statements. After a time they begin to look attractive. Then they become facts. Finally they are power.
(6). You are invited to begin the development in your soul of a feeling of confidence in better things. You are a clerk, a factory-hand, a railway man, or what-not. I wish to help you. I say, here are two roads, Hopeless Discouragement and Hopeful Confidence. It is curious, that wherever you are on either road, the fork of the other may appear. You know the first road, and you have never gotten anything out of it except "bad luck" and worse, bad soul-health. Why not try the other? You have tried it? Then you once possessed courage and assurance, together with some degree of mental tone which are none of yours at present. When you left the first road, you lost these values, and --- the possibilities just beyond. The man who is discouraged carries two burdens, his difficulties and his discouragement. The latter is totally useless.
Some of the greatest gold mines in America were opened by Industry and deserted by Discouragement to be developed later by men who never give up.
Three miners had exhausted their resources in a hole in the ground. They were bankrupt. They put in the last charge, lighted the fuse, and started away, forsaking the entire prospect. On their way out they heard the explosion. One of them said: "Boys, let 's go back and give the old thing one more Iook." But he had to go alone, for Hopelessness and Discouragement would not budge. When the Last Possibility Man arrived, gold was everywhere.
The possibilities urge us all to cultivate the spirit of assurance. The assurance is bound to realize more or less, but, above all such outcome, it maintains the man at his best.
Our final study in mind-health concerns a phase of human nature which is to-day realized, as never before, to be a practical asset in the highest personal success. The topmost factor of healthy-mindedness is