Here in this first Psalm, we have a lesson in contrasts. The mental processes starting from the choice of the will, or the choice of the affections, gather ideas on their way, and are confronted by and by with the results of holding those ideas they have chosen.
It is not at all necessary that one should think as his neighbors do, nor that he should think as things and circumstances around him would like him to. He may think what he pleases. And what he pleases to think will make up his destiny of human experience.
One may insist upon thinking lightly of misfortune till his mind becomes so buoyant and joyous that he has actually lost the power to be downcast or depressed. Then, of course, he will draw to himself people and circumstances and affairs buoyant and joyous. For we draw a “congregation” (as it is here called) of things about us exactly like our mind.
As the magnetized bar draws steel filings, so does your determination to be cheerful draw cheerful conditions. This is as true of the wretch in the slums as of Victoria. This is the gospel. Not admitting any idea that can draw misery as its out showing, one might come up out of the most depressing situations, like a. cork out of water.
Mark Antony said: “But I, unless I think what has happened is an evil, am not injured. And it is my power not to think so.” So the psalmist tried to paint the discomfort of the mind that chooses to think how dark the world is, how dishonest people are, how unfortunate innocent creatures are. It is an idea of his that you can scare people into being good by painting the torments of the bad. It is a wrong notion. For, if you cause the mind to imagine anything, the body and surroundings will scramble to carry out the imagination.
Many times children are imagined to be doing something, or to have been doing something, which they had never thought of. They stand out as expressions of our ideals, and feel a masterful impulsion to carry out our imaginations. So the next thing we hear of is that they are doing just as we imagined. Then we praise ourselves for our intuitions. Nay, let us cleanse us of unrighteousness rather, for we pushed them into the doing. We thought and they acted as:
“My friend and I were lovers;
It was good for us to be together.
We were companions in our trust;
But one day I suspected him — my friend,
Of doing that which he had not.
I did not tell him of my suspect,
But his unconscious eye looked grief.
I kept on still suspecting him, while he was innocent,
Till by and by he looked askance at me,
And was afraid when I was nigh.
And I went on still holding my gnawing worm of suspect,
While he, my friend, was innocent,
Till by and by he caught the word
That haunted me, and it tempted him
To do that which in my heart I thought.
He tremblingly went towards the action,
I all the while determining he had done it,
Till in an evil hour my friend,
Who formerly was innocent,
Was guilty of the deed I had thought in my heart.
And now he walks a sinner
Who erstwhile was righteous,
Made sinner by my suspect
Who, my God, is guilty in this case –
My friend who once was innocent,
Or I who thought him guilty?”
When one thinks oppositely of friends, children, events, purposely, on principle, one can get his mind so trained that it will never walk in the “counsel of the ungodly.” It is not in the slightest necessary for anyone to think anyone or anything is not good. When one sees how a man ill uses another man, a prompt metaphysical process will cause his hand to drop and his heart to forget even its intention to do wrong. The fountain of kindness and nobility will spring forth. This fountain is the living spring within everyone and everything. It is the Real Self. It has been hidden by a mass of rubbish. Our thoughts have been part of the rubbish covering men and women and children and things. To remove our thoughts is to take off part of the rubbish.
In the Science of Mind we find what thoughts have most potency at removing rubbish.
We need to keep ourselves free from the rubbish of false notions. The second lesson in Spiritual Science deals entirely with the process of self–cleansing — setting free. The only thing to be rid of, is one’s own thoughts. These thoughts are gathered from people very often. Take the man lying on his bed of’ sickness. What put him there? Thoughts. Whose thoughts? Those his neighbors gave him, that his family gave him, those he has imagined on his own account.
The neighbors’ thoughts lie down on him like dead weights. They say, “You must not sit up. You must not eat. You must not drink. You must have this done. You must have that done.” On what compulsion must he? If he will think within his mind, “I put away your ideas, they are nothing to me; I am able to do what I please,” very soon he will rise buoyantly out of their notions, and even they will admit that he is right. He need not open his lips. Mind is master. If he should say that aloud, he would get into controversy which would irritate them all. He would make more work for his mind. No need of piling Pelion upon Ossa to get free from his ailments.
To get to thinking as other people do, is to “walk in their counsel.” The mind walks around among the kingdom of thoughts not seen by the eyes nor heard by the ears. Just as we are celebrating the discovery of America, another unknown kingdom spreads its angled wiles and wonderful rivers before our gaze. It is the kingdom of thoughts. To understand thoughts, is to understand things. Everything is made up of thoughts, governed by thoughts, moved by thoughts. We ought to have someone arise with a genius for managing thoughts. Only one has ever understood the realm at all. That was Jesus of Nazareth. The rest have been trying to understand it. They have improved sufficiently to ward off those wild ideas, which make sickness. They are hastening so as not to be at all afraid of the thoughts of their neighbors.
That is a great advance on the fears they had not so very long ago that other people’s thoughts were bad for them. They are rousing to understand dominion over conditions of all kinds now. The knowledge that “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee,” is the call to understand how to have peace by taking the right staff as we walk through to this country.
We get to “sitting in the seat of the scornful” by thinking that there is so much greed among rich men that there are starving millions for us to be anxious about. This scorn is not healing for bruises. There is an idea that is healing for bruises made by the grasping and over-reaching of the men of the world. Ignore the physical shadows dropped down by thoughts, and put over the country of causation the right idea. Here it is: “I pronounce all greed and dishonesty finished — ended. The good now reigns supreme.”
Pay no attention to material things that look impossible to be ended. The God whose word spoken is the redemption of all hearts said definitely: “Thou shalt decree a thing and it shall be established unto thee.” This giant idea sent stalking through the realm of mind will knock down every thing not like itself. The man who had thought of cornering the wheat says, “I shan’t do it; I can not.” The woman who was trying to get the advantage of her customer stops suddenly. The man who was sick with discouragement lifts up his head. He goes out and finds a position. Your giant cleared his mind’s eye and sent him straight to the right place.
In this realm of mind, it was said by one who traveled over a certain patch thereof, that it is possible for one to shut his eyes and stop his ears so entirely to what is going on in the streets and in houses, as to hear the voice of the King saying: “This is the way,” and then, that everyone who so hears will go right into the line of prosperity.
By the understanding of causes and how to govern causes, we find the way to our own prosperity. By the knowledge of Truth, we discover that everyone has his own way of being prosperous. There is prosperity for every creature. It will not come by worldly dodges nor indeed by following out the lines of theology announced by the most popular preachers. It seems hard to tell this Truth. It looks as if one were trying to speak ill of good preachers. No, it is good to tell what is true. It is good news to say that you need not believe one word about hades or Satan, or the dispensation of Providence, or the visitation of God through sickness, weakness, death, calamity, poverty. All those things are the shadows cast by ideas. Change the ideas and the real dispensations of Providence and visitations of God will shine like the smiles of those you love best. The rich revivings that come with true ideas are here likened to “Trees planted by rivers of living waters.” This is like the talk of Jesus Christ. He said: “To him that bath, shall be given; and from him that bath not, shall be taken even that he seemeth to have.”
The Scriptures are a unit in telling that you attract more and more of things and people and powers like your thoughts. Both these texts prove this. If you keep your mind on prosperity, you will have that idea enrich and revive as a tree planted by living waters, or, as Jesus Christ said, more “shall be given to him.” So then, what little idea of misery he did have or you did have, will drop away. “From him shall be taken that which he seemeth to have.”
Here we are told to stand in judgment and also in the congregation of the righteous. Our thoughts are our “congregation.” We must stand up and hold our own with our own congregation. The platform on which we stand is God, the life of the universe. It is not the will of God that anyone or anything should ever die. Did you ever make the erroneous statement, “It has pleased God to cause our good brother to be taken from us?” Well, now, your judgment has not been exercised by such a lie. It has leaned against nothing and so when your child or mother was exposed to your presence, she felt faint.
Tell your congregation of thoughts that the great poets and theologians may enjoy their sicknesses, misfortunes, disappointments, if they please; you propose to have some judgment of your own. So you say: “My God is the Giver and Keeper of the life of all things. He never sends death to anything or anyone. Hearing cannot end. Light cannot fail. Peace is unbroken. Joy is endless. Buoyant vigor is increasing. This is my kind of God.” As this is the true God, you cannot have any of the dying gifts of that old imaginary being, your judgment used to lean against.
Your congregation will revive with your words. That is, every idea that you have will be happy and vigorous. Then your acquaintances will grow healthy. Every old person is a trait of yours that is getting towards its end. Notice the peculiarity of him or her and see your odd conceit standing forth. Every lame person is the walking image of one of our ideas. Get well grounded in the four propositions of metaphysics or Spiritual Science, and you will cure lameness. These are the four propositions. They are better than anarchy, or nihilism for want, unrest, hate.
“It is not God’s will that anyone or anything should ever be sick or diseased; God is the health of the universe. It is not God’s will that anyone or anything should be feeble or weak; God is the strength of the world. It is not God’s will that anyone or anything should be hurt or frightened; God is the defense of the world. It is not God’s will that anyone or anything should ever know want; God is the support of the world.”
This is a lesson in will. While you are silent, with the wills of millions of creatures determined to get their advantage whether you are advantaged or not, crossing and re-crossing over you like a network, look calmly, coolly, at the situation.
You cannot manage all those wills by any will of yours bent on the same purpose. This is what Jesus Christ meant by saying, “I can of mine own self do nothing.” The will that is like that network of wills is quite unequal to the Herculean task of fighting them. Breathe deep now. That will lies deep. Your breath is your dominion. There is a will that is God. It is your true will. It will, snap all those wills crossed over and against you. Now choose deliberately the true ideas of God to live by and you will find life will completely change. That will is acting. Sometimes you may say, “I can do nothing with these things. Jesus Christ can manage them easily. To Jesus Christ I leave them.
As Jesus Christ is within you, you will probably do or say something yourself which will be strong, positive, dominant. Yet the old-fashioned domineering human will, will not be in your words or actions. It is Jesus Christ’s will speaking and acting. Jesus Christ is dominion. “Be not afraid,” He said, “I have overcome the world.”
There have been people so feeble they could not sit up, who breathed their breath deep — clear to the foundations of their body, knowing that the breath was dominion, and they burned as with fires while the hot blood tingled through them. Then they arose new creatures. This was after many people who did not believe in the breath of dominion, but did believe in the breath of death, had given them up.
The will that keeps so still is the silence of God, waiting to rise like the lion of the tribe of Judah, with your word. “Without the word ‘was nothing made.” You yourself are the Word. You speak when you please. You speak what you please. The psalmist notices how miserable people are who look at human experience with the idea of meeting it with human methods. He also speaks of the conquering shouts of those who ignore the wills of the world and speak from the deep places where the Omnipotent Will within us all rests. It rouses like a strong lion from its lair. To all the purposes of the world set against life, health, strength, judgment, supplies, it says, “It is finished. The kingdoms of this world are now become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ.”
April 3, 1892