by Ernest Holmes: Part I: INTRODUCTION An Overview of the Evolution of Humanity’s Thought
If we traced humanity’s history back into the dim past we would come to a place where humankind did not consciously know itself. We would come to a point where only Instinctive Lifeexisted. Self-conscious humanity had not yet evolved. Nothing can be more apparent than that self-conscious humanity, as it now appears, is the result of growth and unfoldment. But in order to unfold, it had to have something to unfold from. And since humanity is intelligent, it is logical to assume it unfolded from something with intelligence. We can think of Instinctive Humanity as that inner Something that gives rise to intelligent life. We do not see it but it must be there. We might say that this is God in humanity or the idea of God working through humanity. But if Instinctive Humanity is an idea of God, why is humanity, as we know it, not always perfect? The answer is that basically it is perfect — but as soon as individuality evolves to self-consciousness it has to be left alone to discover itself. Even God cannot become mechanically individual; it would be a contradiction in terms. If humankind has the attributes of self-choice and free will, it must be free to discover and use those aspects of its nature for itself.
NATURE AWAITS HUMANITY’S SELF-RECOGNITION
From the day when evolution brought humanity to the point of self-choice, human beings had to be left free. So, from that day forward, Instinctive Life has depended on humanity’s unfoldment to express Itself fully. It is true that during the course of evolution, It has been present within and has carried on the automatic functions of the body. It has even silently suggested what courses of action to choose — via human intuition. But It has left humanity alone in all other ways. It may, and must, hold humanity as perfect being, but It also must let humanity discover this fact for itself. So, throughout human history Instinctive Life, That Which we call God, has been — and must still be — silently waiting. As the great discoveries are made, God responds by supporting each step of human advancement. We can see this unfolding throughout the story of human progress. Consider the discovery of any natural forces. We know that they must have always existed. But, so far as human beings are concerned, they exist only after they have been discovered and we have learned how to make use of them. Electricity was a reality when Moses led the children of Israel from the land of Egypt. But because neither Moses nor any of his followers knew about it, they could not use it. All of the laws that govern the world of nature have always existed. None can be consciously used until they are understood. Instinctive Life has to await humanity’s discovery of Its laws before those laws can expand the human relationship to the great Whole. This not only applies to forces that affect the outer world, it is also true of forces that operate within. The unfoldment of these inner, finer forces through humanity is what we call its evolution.
THE FIRST GREAT DISCOVERY
The first great discovery that humankind made was that it could think. There was a day when a person first rose from the ground and said, “I AM.” This marked the beginning of personal self awareness which meant humanity was now free to refuse to advance its understanding. It could not progress further until it chose to. Compulsory evolution stopped when personal awareness dawned. From that day, human beings could work only inconscious union with Nature and Its forces. But they did not have to work separately from It. Instinctive Life is an integral part of humanity. It cannot leave. And It constantly seeks to express more of Its limitless possibilities in and as humanity. Humankind is evolving from an Infinite Basis we can think of as the great Unknown, but not the great unknowable. The unknown becomes the known through humankind. Whatever more Instinctive Life is to do as and for humankind must be done through human beings. Nature must work through humanity in order to work for it just as nature works through all the rest of life in order to work for it. The great discovery that humanity could think and choose meant human beings could plan and execute. As a result they built great civilizations and technologies. They harnessed electricity to their inventions and leashed steam, compelling it to do their bidding. They leveled forests, built cities, made the desert bloom, and threw lines of commerce around the globe. Indeed, humanity has seemed to possess the earth.
THE INNER SENSE AWAKENS
But even with its new understanding, humankind felt a vague sense of something more, something greater, something more advanced. There has been a sort of mystical inner sense of things, an instinctive urge, a blind groping after a greater light. In spite of all of its apparent power, humankind has still been unhappy, sick, lonely and afraid. Cities have crumbled into dust and nations have fallen into ruin. Humanity has suffered deeply and death has seemed to cover all of life and life’s work with a pall of darkness and uncertainty.
THE GREAT QUESTION “WHY”
The great question “Why” has forever been upon humankind’s lips. Few answers to this question have been offered and even those few have been largely passed by, unheeded. Humanity has struggled along what has seemed a weary road with a heavy heart and bleeding feet — only to be met at the end by what it saw as the finality of the grave. The lack of a sense of completion has beset every pathway. Suffering human beings have held up their hands in speechless anguish. Their broken cries have rent the air with supplications to an apparently unheeding Deity. What is it all for? Human beings have looked for answers from the wise only to discover their foolishness. They have sought out the learned only to find a lack of wisdom. The cries of why, why, why have appeared to go into an empty nothingness. Yet for some, a vague inner answer has seemed to come from somewhere. Some subtle inner sense of things, some unknown presence has said, “Know thyself.” All along, Instinctive Life has been guiding self-conscious humanity to search into its own nature, to look deep within itself for the answers to life’s questions. But humankind could not hear until it evolved to a point where it could begin to understand this inner voice and see how to do its bidding.
THE GREATEST DISCOVERY OF ALL TIME — MIND
Humanity’s response to this inner Instinctive Voice started its greatest adventure, the discovery of Mind. Until that point, humanity’s discovery of its ability to think seems not to have made much difference. Human beings had always been able to think; this simply gave them the ability to know their needs and try to supply them. Thinking was nothing new. The ability to think seemed to be an automatic thing; it came with being human and would doubtless die when the human being died. The brain seemed to be the organ of thought and, of course, when death stilled the brain it would no longer operate — this was considered self evident.
THE BRAIN DOES NOT THINK
But the day came when some wise human being said that it is not the brain that thinks at all. If the brain, of itself, could think, we could cut it out and it would keep right on thinking. No, the brain, of itself, cannot think. Yet, without a brain a human being cannot think. That simply means that a human being needs a brain in order to know that it thinks. But the brain, on its own, does not think. If the brain does not think and humanity does think, there must be a thinker behind the brain. But where is this thinker? We do not see it. Have we a right to say that a thinker is there when no one has ever seen it? Yes. There isn’t a single force of nature that we can see. Have we ever seen electricity or gravity? No. The only evidence we have of their existence is that we see what they do. We have light and motive power that work by electricity, so we have a right to suppose that there is an unseen force we can call electricity at work in them. This is true throughout nature; we see effects and not causes or the forces that implement them.
WE DO NOT SEE THE THINKER
But to return to the thinker, the proof of its reality is in the evidence of its works. We know that the legs do not walk because if they are severed from the body, they cannot carry anyone very far. Cut off the hand and it cannot hold anything in its grasp. Pluck out the eye and it cannot see. So it is with all the organs of the body. There is a thinker and doer back of the organism who is using it for a conscious purpose.
THE BODY IS UNCONSCIOUS WITHOUT THE THINKER
This is a great discovery for it means that the body without the thinker also could not be sick or suffer. Without the thinker there can be no movement or response of the body. If the body, of itself, has no life and no power to act, why then does it get sick? Let’s follow the course of humankind’s thought since it first discovered that the body cannot act on its own. Humanity first realized that Instinctive Life built up the body through evolution. After having created and evolved a perfect body, It left it to humanity to do with as it willed. At first, humanity was ignorant of this, thinking that it had no control over a body that was self-operating. But as soon as it discovered this was not the case it began to formulate certain theories and test them. Humanity discovered that not only could it consciously think and decide, but something happened to its thoughts after it thought them. They went somewhere for they would come back as remembrance. Humanity had now discovered that it could consciously think and that its thought would come back to it again. This led to the conclusion that memory is an inner mental action. Humankind reasoned, “Memory is the storehouse of all our conscious thoughts and it is active. Our bodies are not conscious of life, but our thought is conscious of our body. The body is operated on by thought so it must also be operated on by memory since memory is the storage of conscious thought. Memory, of itself, is an unconscious operation of what was once a conscious thought.”
CONSCIOUS AND UNCONSCIOUS THOUGHT
Humanity named its memory “unconscious thought” and called its conscious thought its “objective mind.” It then came to the conclusion that it had two minds, one conscious and one unconscious, or subconscious. The conscious mind was the one that it used all the time in its self-conscious state and the subconscious mind was the storehouse of all its past conscious thoughts, the seat of its memory. It follows that anything stored as memory was once a conscious thought. So, as conscious thought acts, unconscious thought must eventually also operate. This conclusion led to the theory that the subconscious mind is the builder of the body. Not that it really makes the body in the first place, for Instinctive Life does that — but that the subconscious mind keeps the body going and always acts on the thoughts of the conscious mind. After carefully watching this process, humanity found that it could consciously choose what to think. And it also found that conscious thinking could make such an impression on unconscious thought that the unconscious would then do what the consciousness directed it to. This led humanity to induce that there is a law of suggestion that gives rise to habits and that this law is a law of action and reaction. Habits are repeated conscious ideas that have created patterns in the inner thought. These patterns are then carried out to logical conclusions.
A NEW BASIS OF THOUGHT
Human beings began to reason, “Instinctive Life within me is perfect. Yet I appear to be imperfect. My apparent imperfection must be the result of imperfect thinking. Suppose that in reality I am, and always have been, perfect. I will now begin to think differently about myself and see what happens.” In response to this new viewpoint, the body often healed. So humanity came to this conclusion, “God made me perfect but It also made me an individual, which means that I can do with myself as I will. I cannot really destroy my body but I can make it most uncomfortable. Since God created me out of Itself, I was created perfect. I can think of each one of the organs of my body as a perfect idea.” As human beings began to experiment further, they discovered that thoughts of peace produced serene conditions while thoughts of fear produced disturbed conditions. Confidence made human beings strong while fear made them weak. In fact, humanity was able to trace each of its mental attitudes to a physical correspondent. Humankind also discovered that, asleep or awake, its inner mind works all the time. People learned that by analyzing their dreams as well as their conscious thought, they could discover what was disturbing them and use thought to heal it. This later came to be called psychoanalysis.
THE LAW OF MIND
Then another idea came to humanity: the whole process works in accordance with a law. Humanity had discovered the law of mind just as it had, at another time, discovered the law of electricity. If something works by a law, then human beings can always use it and it will always respond. From this understanding humanity gradually built up a definite technique for the practice of “right thinking.” Humanity found that if it thought of itself as always being in a state of underlying perfection, it would always feel better. But how was humankind to think of itself when it appeared to be sick? Could it reasonably deny that it was sick and imperfect when it was suffering? Yes, for the sickness had to be the result of unconscious thoughts of imperfection. By using conscious thought to change the unconscious beliefs, humanity could eventually change the effect. Human beings then experimented and learned how to acknowledge sickness — and yet turn away from it. When the body was sick, a human being could go back into mind and think of the body pattern as being perfect. And since human thought works independently of the body, human beings could turn from the image of sickness to the idea of health and say, “I am perfect, no matter what the appearance may be.” And, eventually, the body would respond. In the meantime, human beings could ease their bodily discomforts through medical means.
UNCONSCIOUS MIND AT WORK
But it seemed that some kinds of sickness appeared that had never entered the minds of the individuals suffering from them. How was humankind to reconcile this fact with its new theory?
For a while this was a hard problem to solve but, by more careful study of its inner self, humanity discovered that what it called its subjective or unconscious mind took all of its conscious thoughts and did something with them. It found that there were certain combinations of thought which, if brought to their logical conclusions, would produce certain kinds of diseases. A human being did not have to think consciously of a certain disease to have it manifest. It only needed to think certain kinds of thoughts. For instance, if human beings were excited all the time they would produce nervousness. If they became angry they would secrete irritants into their systems — and so on through all the categories of human ailments. Somewhere in mind these ailments had their reasons for being. And then it was found that even though human beings could not always tell exactly what thoughts caused a specific illness, they could still think of the body pattern as perfect and begin to heal. Humankind knew that as time went on and its body of knowledge grew, it would find out more and more about itself and be better and better able to open itself to healing. Humanity had started on the right track. Some people began to believe that they would eventually know enough never to be sick again.
ANOTHER GREAT DISCOVERY– THOUGHT REACHED OTHERS
Then a new discovery came — human beings could think about others and help them heal, too. The others had to be receptive to the ideas but it seemed to make no difference where they were. Human thought could act to help heal them. This was an astounding fact. It meant that there must be a common mind somewhere — a medium through which thought operates. Thought could not reach from one person to another unless there were a mental medium between the thinker and the other person. This seemed strange; for it meant that what human beings had learned to think of as individual subjective minds, was, after all, only the personal use that was made of something that is in and around everyone. Human beings began to think with others who wanted them to, and they learned that Something responded to that thinking and caused some action to take place in the others’ bodies. They called this medium “Universal Mind,” or “the Law of God.” It seemed to be as omnipresent as the law of electricity or the laws governing any of the other forces of nature.
DISCOVERY OF SPECIES-THOUGHT
In thinking about these laws and observing how they operate, humankind came to see how the whole species might have held certain kinds of thoughts and how those thoughts might have operated through anyone who was open and receptive to them. For instance, if someone were to feel discouraged, they might “tune in” to collective thoughts of discouragement and start to feel even worse. Humankind named this process species suggestion and began to wonder how individuals could protect themselves from it. They soon discovered that conscious thought could keep species thought from operating through individuals. Human beings could choose what thought would affect them.
Human beings could consciously choose to think of themselves as perfect ideas in the Mind of God. They found that when they did, they could neutralize the effects of species suggestion. After all, species suggestion was nothing but thought and thought could be consciously changed. So human beings learned how to use thought to build mental “walls” around themselves which could not be entered unless they chose. They consciously identified their thinking with the Mind of God, invoking “Divine Protection.”
A UNIVERSAL MEDIUM WHICH ALL MUST COME TO BELIEVE IN
Human beings had now discovered that they could help themselves and others to heal by thinking into some kind of Universal Law of Mind. Like all the other known forces of nature, this one seemed to operate according to a great Impersonal Law that could be consciously used — and the way to use It was through right thinking about health. Humanity began to realize that the whole human species could be healed by knowing the Truth about itself. But because the Law was mental it could work only for those who believed in It. Many people did not yet believe. So those who did believe decided to help themselves heal along with any others who wished to be helped — and then wait for the rest of the world to realize the facts.
ANOTHER QUESTION COMES UP–WHY ARE PEOPLE POOR?
If this Mind could produce such physical effects on the body, why couldn’t It produce similar effects on conditions in human affairs? Why were some people rich while others were poor? Was this fate? Was it because there was not enough to go around? If there was One Mind that created bodies and conditions, shouldn’t it give to all alike? Why were some people strong, happy and prosperous while others were unhappy, weak and poor? Could it be that just as humanity had thought itself into sickness, it had also thought itself into poverty? Questions like these caused humankind to search ever more deeply into the nature of things. Some human beings succeeded and some failed even though they lived in the same world, under the same conditions. So there must be something within individuals, and not outside of them, that made these things happen. Humankind began to realize that conditions did not make themselves. It gradually became clear that everything in human life was affected by humanity itself.
HUMANITY REALIZES CONDITIONS ARE CONTROLLED BY THOUGHT
As humanity realized that its economic and political affairs were controlled by thought working through the avenue of the One Mind, it discovered that by changing its thought it could remold its affairs. Changed thinking could bring changed conditions into being. But would there be enough to go around if everyone became prosperous? Humankind pondered on this and realized that the answer had to be yes. Instinctive Life is Limitless.
HUMANITY REALIZES IT MUST THINK CORRECTLY
As humanity discovered that it cocreated its affairs by thinking, it learned that if it thought correctly, it could bring into its experience the things it wished to enjoy. Since this was all in accordance with Law, humanity could choose to do it consciously. That meant that the time would come when everyone could think correctly. Poverty, unhappiness, and all that goes with them, could and would be swept from the face of the earth. Lack was never intended to be; humanity had misused its power. Once this was understood, humanity could change its whole way of thinking and thereby be happy and have plenty. But not everyone could believe this. Many said it was foolish or too good to be true. However, it was soon demonstrated that whoever would believe in the Law of Mind — and comply with It — could prove It to be true. If some did not wish to believe this, so be it. There were those who would and the direct proofs of their lives would eventually convince the others. At some point, everyone would be saved from unbearable conditions. The thing to do was to teach the Law to those who would believe It and use It. The lessons which follow are intended to do just that. Humankind is made up of individual people and the place to begin is with those who can believe in the greater possibility. Human beings must each work out the law of their own being. It is within their power to change their environment and completely heal their bodies. Whether or not they will do so depends entirely upon their own conviction and their own determination. Nature supports humanity and is always ready to serve, but every human being is a sacred individual and nothing is ever forced. The Law is available to everyone. It exists. Anyone can choose to follow It. Those who comply with Its nature through consistently practicing right thinking and right living produce results that prove that life holds all and more than any of us have ever imagined.