If the Great Healer thus acknowledged a limitation of his powers, how can we, his humble followers, hope to transcend the immutable law by which he was governed?
"Why is it that our belief has anything to do with the exercise of the healing power?" is a question often asked. To this the obvious and only reply is that the healing power, being a mental, or psychic, force, is necessarily governed by mental conditions. Just why faith is the necessary mental attitude of the patient can never be answered until we are able to fathom the ultimate cause of all things. The experience of all the ages shows it to be a fact, and we must accept it as such, and content ourselves with an effort to ascertain its relations to other facts, and, if possible, to define its limitations and ascertain the means of commanding it at will.
It is safe to say that the statement of the fact under consideration has done more to retard the progress of the science of psychic healing than all other things combined. The sceptic at once concludes that, whatever good the system may do to credulous people, it can never be of benefit to him, because he "does not believe in such things." And it is just here that the mistake is made, - a mistake that is most natural in the present state of psychic knowledge, and one that is all but universal. It consists in the assumption that the faith of the objective mind has anything to do with the requisite mental attitude. The reader is again requested to call to mind the fundamental propositions of the hypothesis under discussion, namely, the dual personality and the power of suggestion.
It follows from the propositions of our hypothesis, which need not be here repeated at length, that the subjective mind of an individual is as amenable to control by the suggestions of his own objective mind as it is by the suggestions of another. The law is the same. It follows that, whatever may be the objective belief of the patient, if he will assume to have faith, actively or passively, the subjective mind will be controlled by the suggestion, and the desired result will follow.
The faith required for therapeutic purposes is a purely subjective faith, and is attainable upon the cessation of active opposition on the part of the objective mind. And this is why it is that, under all systems of mental therapeutics, the perfect passivity of the patient is insisted upon as the first essential condition. Of course, it is desirable to secure the concurrent faith both of the objective and subjective minds; but it is not essential, if the patient will in good faith make the necessary auto-suggestion, as above mentioned, either in words, or by submitting passively to the suggestions of the healer.
It is foreign to the purpose of this book to discuss at length the various systems of mental therapeutics further than is necessary for the elucidation of our hypothesis. The theories upon which the several systems are founded will not, therefore, be commented upon, pro or con, except where they furnish striking illustrations of the principles herein advanced.
Christian science, so called, furnishes a very striking example of the principle involved in the proposition that the requisite subjective faith may be acquired without the concurrence of objective belief, and even in defiance of objective reason. That system is based upon the assumption that matter has no real existence; consequently we have no bodies, and hence no disease of the body is possible. It is not known whether the worthy lady founder of the school ever stopped to reduce her foundation principles to the form of a syllogism. It is presumed not, for otherwise their intense, monumental, and aggressive absurdity would have become as apparent to her as it is to others. Let us see how they look in the form of a syllogism: -
Matter has no existence. Our bodies are composed of matter. Therefore our bodies have no existence.
It follows, of course, that disease cannot exist in a nonexistent body.
That the above embraces the basis of the system called Christian science no one who has read the works of its founder will deny. Of course, no serious argument can be adduced against such a self-evident absurdity. Nevertheless, there are two facts connected with this system which stand out in bold relief: One is that it numbers its followers by the hundred thousand; and the other is that the cures effected by its practitioners are of daily occurrence and of the most marvellous character.
The first of these facts demonstrates the truth of the trite saying that any system of belief, if earnestly advocated, will find plenty of followers. The second shows in the most conclusive manner that the faith of the objective mind is not a necessary factor in the cure of disease by psychic processes.
It seems obvious that no greater demand could be made upon the resources of our credulity than to tell us that all that is visible or tangible to our objective senses has no real existence. And yet that is what the patient of Christian science is invited to believe as a condition precedent to his recovery. Of course he feels at first that his intelligence is insulted, and he protests against such a palpable absurdity. But he is quieted by soothing words, and is told to get himself into a perfectly passive condition, to say nothing and to think of nothing for the time being. In some cases patients are advised to hold themselves in the mental attitude of denying the possible existence of disease. The essential condition of passivity being acquired by the patient, the healer also becomes passive, and assumes the mental attitude of denying the existence of disease in the patient, - or elsewhere, for that matter, - and affirms with constant iteration the condition of perfect healthfulness. After a seance of this kind, lasting perhaps half-an-hour, the patient almost inevitably finds immense relief, and often feels himself completely restored to health. To say that the patient is surprised, is but feebly to convey his impressions; he is confounded.