The Word Foundation


Harold W. Percival



Section 17

Schools of thought that use thinking to produce directly physical results. Mental healing.

In recent times a number of movements have come to the fore which use thinking to produce direct results on the physical plane, to cure disease and remove poverty, and in the doer to banish worry and trouble. In all of them thinking is used with the intent to produce directly physical and psychic results in the operator and in others. Some of them have grandiose but ill-defined terms for their doctrines; some have in addition a religious aspect and vocabulary and use prayers to God.

All of them embody in their teachings some truths and a mass of falsehoods, and the thinking in all of them consists in deceiving and being false to oneself in thought. By the use of such teachings persons often attain some of the intended results; sometimes they fail to get them. But whether they succeed or fail, they cannot too long interfere with the working of the law of thought. They can never, by practicing according to these schools, become really freed from disease, want, worry and trouble. These afflictions, because they come through thinking and thoughts, and though they sometimes disappear when they are thought at or against, will return until the thoughts of which they are exteriorizations are balanced.

There have always been some persons who knew of the power of thought, and always persons who have succeeded in life because of the use of that power, even though they did not know much about it. But these modern movements are general in scope and teach practices which are directly based on ways of thinking. There are many of them and great numbers of people join in them. Therefore the manner in which they affect the mental life of the community is a peculiar sign of the times.

The persons in these movements are the portions of doers who became confused in the past, and confused others. Their mental atmospheres are different from those of the average doers, and admit aberrant thoughts without their becoming aware of it. So they cannot distinguish between the real and the unreal, the true and the false, that which is inside and that which is outside of them, and thus they are mentally crippled.

In the past they were adherents of systems that treated sensible physical matter as unreal and looked upon all that was not physical as real, though it was actually a slightly finer degree of physical matter. Their philosophy was a refined materialism. The carnal body, pain, poverty and discomforts they held to be illusions and treated them with contempt. They wanted to ignore the carnal body. Instead of enjoyments derived from sensations through it, they wanted enjoyments without it, through the psychic nature; and this they called spiritual wisdom. However it was only materialism, though more refined than the grossest kind, which is derived directly from the flesh body. They sought to obtain this refined enjoyment through the misuse of thinking, through suppression of thinking, through imagining, and through self-hypnotism.

Today these doer portions are here again, and they suffer from the reaction, which produces in them a fear of disease and poverty while they deny their reality now as they did before. What they then despised they now make the object of life—health, comfort and money. They worship that of which their senses give them evidence. Such high sounding names as God, Truth, Universal Mind, and Divine Mind are taken in vain in their mental service to physical and sometimes to psychic things. By handling such names and mistaking psychic things for noetic or so-called “spiritual,” rightness in them is somewhat paralyzed, the flame in the heart flickers feebly in moral matters, and their views as to what is real and what is unreal become still more distorted. In addition to this erroneous philosophy they use wrong means when they try to dispel disease and to get money by statements which are based on misconceptions. So they have a false system; they have made an abnormal mental atmosphere by which they are influenced in their thinking; their thinking is wrong because it is opposed to facts and it is disordered; their thinking is carried on without the usual interaction of rightness; and they sell for money what they should not.

Diseases have been healed by faith ever since there have been diseases. They are slowly developed disorders in the functioning of a physical body and are all exteriorized parts of former thoughts of the doer that inhabits the body. They are the sediments of improper thinking and may be accompanied by pain. Of course one who is befouled by a malady seeks to get rid of it. But the ordinary cures of nature, even if applied, work slowly and often fail. Indeed a disease is one of the last and one of the severest means the law has of enforcing payment and of giving notice that there is something to be learned. So diseases often continue a long time, until the doer has freed itself of some of the impurities they indicate, and usually a last ailment destroys the body. Where so many persons are ailing and racked with pain, it is small wonder that one who can dispel disease at once or even after a while and without resorting to the treatment by physicians, is widely acclaimed. Therefore the institution of new religious movements is often heralded and made popular by actual or alleged healing. Healing is in this way often connected with religious cults.

Mental healing is done by impressing thoughts on the breath-form of the sufferer, and faith is simply one means of doing this. Other means are repetition of words, self-suggestion, willing, that is, strongly desiring and commanding. They are not all equally available or acceptable, but they are effective. Without thoughts and thinking, none of these means is workable; thoughts of the sufferer usually, and in some instances thoughts of another. If the thinking is honest the thought may be balanced and the cure will be permanent. If the thinking is false or dishonest the cure will not be permanent. However, not every person can be cured by mental means. There are some whose destiny will not allow them to be cured. A consideration of the cause, nature, development and purpose of disease will help to understand how futile is the attempt to cure it by mental healing.