AFFIRMATIONS AND DENIALS
In the path of January a discussion on the subjects of "Mind
Cure" and the like was begun. Since then we have had some
letters from and conversations with those who think that the
article is not right, or that it takes a wrong view, or that
it does not state all the views of all the schools, and when
we referred the enquirers to publications of "professors"
of these schools we were told that they do not represent the
thing properly, and so on. In this article it is purposed to
refer to some of these published utterances of the said professors,
so that they may be examined.
In a journal called Christian Science for the month
of January, published in Boston apparently under the auspices
of a college of the cult, is the following from an article entitled
"My Healing Message," by Minna Peckham:
I now declare all pain, sickness, or death to be nothing -
nothing. There is no sickness. I deny that there ever was any
sickness. I do not believe in poverty; I know there is no poverty;
there never was any poverty; There never will be any poverty.
We have great stores of wealth; every man, woman, and child is
rich. They want for nothing. I do not believe in storms. I know
there are no storms. There never were any storms; there never
will be any. I deny the reality of storms henceforth and forevermore.
I do not believe in accidents, I know there never were any accidents
and there never never shall be any.
And all this raving is uttered in serious earnest, winding
through many more paragraphs, and ending as follows: "I
am a messenger of God's love and a bearer of good tidings of
what is true."
But we are told by some that this sort of thing "is not
the Simon pure straight; it is not representative." The
difficulty is that the different "metaphysicians" say
the same of each other, and when they are cornered by something
like this they say "O that is not the proper thing."
But a still greater difficulty is that the folly just quoted
is the exact outcome of the other systems, for they all have
a system of affirming and denying that must, if carried to its
logical conclusion, lead to just what Miss Peckham says. She
is evidently not afraid to boldly go to the end and reduce herself
and all other things and beings on this plane to nothing. Indeed,
it is quite proper to go still further than her "message"
in order to carry out the line of argument laid down, in the
way: "There is nothing; I do not think, I never did, I never
will, and the thoughts I have just uttered have no existence,
and therefore all that I have said is nothing, and hence all
that I have denied is just the opposite." This is quite
logical and proper, and reduces the whole matter to its right
position. The whole set of affirmations and denials reminds one
of the passages in the writings of the great Seer Swedenborg,
where he describes those souls who affirm and deny anything at
all and reduce any statement to the very opposite of what may
have been said. We are not joking, but are in sober earnest and
call on all forms of argument and all schools of real literature
to support our position. Of course some will not agree, but we
are willing to rest the case with those who have been educated
to understand the true course of an argument. There are rules
of logic which must be followed unless we are come upon an age
when all these things have passed away. And the "Healing
Message" has been taken up now because the publication appeals
to theosophists and advertises theosophical books.
As soon as the Absolute began to manifest itself, or, if you
like, immediately that Almighty God created things and beings,
relativity begins, and all minds are caught in its net and are
obliged to look at things relatively. And so it comes about that
we have to say "good" and "evil," as well
as all the other words that connote these relative things and
ideas. If there were no evil there would be no good. It is therefore
wrong in logic and common sense to say there is no evil. It is
only the desire of the optimist, who will not look at things
as they are, that causes people to affirm that all is good or
that there is no evil. It is all relative, and there is both
evil and good, just as light and darkness exist. For if there
were not the one we would never know anything about the other,
since these ideas arise from contrasts.
In the so-called metaphysical arts or "sciences"
the relativity of things and ideas is constantly ignored from
the desire to have everything right and just as we want it.
But how can these optimists know they are right when they sweep
away relativity? and how shall any of us say that sorrow and
poverty do not exist? Poverty is a fact - the fact of being without
means or the things that can be bought with means, and this is
so whether the general wants of the nation you live in are small
or large. It is in no sense a sentiment or due to imagination.
Hence poverty here will be riches for the man in India, and so
on, but all the time there is poverty in any land, no matter
how the relativity in respect to that sort of poverty alters
So it is against the experience of all to say there is no
poverty, and it is also contrary to logic. But it is not wrong
to say that the effect on your mind may alter as you look
at the matter; and so you may be poor yet at the same time be
contented. This, though spiritual or moral richness, is none
the less actual poverty. But proper contentment does not come
from violations of logic and fact, but from a right view of this
universe of relativity. And such right view will never be attained
by denials that con not be sustained.
Many of the objections made to the views in the January article
were wide of the mark, for they took the ground that the writer
held, as they said other members of the Society do, the opinion
that we should go on thinking we are sick when we are not, and
that we are miserable when it is only a result of morbidity of
mind. Such is not the position at all. Much of our misery is
due to discontent and to selfishness, and will disappear as we
grow contented and whole-souled. Many of our bodily complaints
fade away when we have restored the mind to normal action. But
this normal action is not secured by bad logic and worse statistics.
It is done by recognizing the fact that "the mind is its
own place, and can make a hell of heaven, a heaven of hell."
As we see that one set of circumstances make one man happy and
another the very opposite, we know that much depends on the way
in which we look at our surroundings; but this is an old idea,
one always held by the most ancient of the ancients. What right
have the "metaphysicians" to arrogate it to themselves?
All good physicians have said that much depends on the mind of
the patient, but that does not do away with the necessity for
good physicians; it only calls for more sense on the part of
Let us suppose a nation imbued from birth to death with the
absurd denials and affirmations we have quoted, and try to imagine
what would be the effect on the next incarnation of such a people.
Probably Miss Peckham does not believe in reincarnation, but,
if she did, might say the effect would be good. But would all
the poverty and the storms and earthquakes have come to an end?
Hardly, since in the case of the natural throes of mother Earth
what thoughts may cause them are beyond our purview and unaffected
by our denials. Would the contrasts that really constitute poverty,
no matter what the sphere of being, cease to have existence?
We think not, unless everything by the remarkable process outlined
in the paper quoted from had been reduced to one dead level.
But we know at least this, that evolution is the law of nature
in all departments and that no dead level is possible, and under
the law of evolution there must be these contrasts, no matter
how high we go or how long continue in the great stream. Hence
if these affirmations and denials should have the effect of removing
us from this sphere to another, there the deniers and affirmers
would have to begin the weary process over again of plunging
themselves into a sea of illusionary thought devoid of logic
and merely optimistic. If this picture be correct, is it wise
to continue the system or in any way to give it moral support?
WILLIAM Q. JUDGE
Path, March, 1892
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