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The Science of Mind, by Ernest Shurtleff Holmes [1926], at

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Lesson Five: Introduction

A mystic is not a mysterious person; but is one who has a deep, inner sense of Life and Unity with the Whole; mysticism and mystery are entirely different things; one is real while the other may, or may not, be an illusion. There is nothing mysterious in the Truth, so far as It is understood; but all things, of course, are mysteries until we understand them.

A mystic is one who intuitively perceives Truth and who, without mental process, arrives at Spiritual Realizations. It is from the teachings of the great mystics that the best in the philosophy of the world has come.

The civilization of to-day is built around the teachings of a few people who have intuitively perceived Spiritual Truth. Our great code of law was given by Moses, a man who through the mystic sense perceived that we live in a Universe of Law. Our greatest code of ethics was given through the perception of the prophets, culminating in such teachings as those of Jesus and Buddha. Who was there who could have taught such men as these? By what process of mentality did they arrive at their profound conclusions? We are compelled to recognize that Spirit Alone was their Teacher; they were, indeed, taught of God.

The mystic intuitively senses Reality and instinctively knows The Truth; and in this way all of the best in literature, music and art have come.

Our great religions have been given by a few who climbed the heights of spiritual vision and caught a fleeting glimpse of Ultimate Reality. No living soul could have taught them what they knew, and it is doubtful if even they themselves knew why they knew.

The great poets have been true mystics and have revealed, through their poems, the Presence of God. Men like Robert Browning, Tennyson, Wordsworth, Homer, Walt Whitman, Edward Rowland Sill, and others of like nature, have given us poetry which is immortal, because they had a mystic sense of life: the perception of a Living Presence. All true philosophers are mystics; the old prophets were mystics; David, Solomon, Jesus, Plato, Buddha, Plotinus, Emerson, and a score of others, all had the same experience: the sense of a Living Presence.

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The greatest music ever composed was written by the hand of a mystic; and the highest and best in art has come from the same source.

Man has compelled nature to do his bidding; he has harnessed electric energy, caught the wind, trapped steam and made them all obey his will. He has invented machines to do the work of thousands; he has belted the globe with his traffic and built up a wonderful civilization; but in few cases has he conquered his own soul.

The highest and best that we have in civilization is the result of the mystic sense which has been perceived by a few in each age. All that modern appliances and inventions give us in the way of comfort and luxury, good and necessary as they are, may be counted as nothing compared to the teachings of Jesus. By this, we do not mean to decry modern civilization, education or anything that goes with it; for we are firm believers in anything and everything that makes life interesting and worth living. We believe in science, art, religion, education, commerce, government, industry, agriculture, and all that goes to make up a well-rounded experience in life; but we repeat, what would they amount to, if thought of in any other light than as passing things?

The mystic has revealed things that do not pass as ships in the night; he has revealed Eternal Verities and has plainly taught us that there is a Living Presence indwelling All.


There is a vast difference between mysticism and psychism, between a mystic and an ordinary psychic. The psychic capacity will be thoroughly discussed in Lesson Six, and the reader will remember that it is the power to read subjectively; it may be dealing with a reality or with an illusion. The average psychic must become more or less subjective in order to do good work. At best, and even though in a normal

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state of mind, he can only read subjective pictures and tendencies; at best, he is generally dealing with human thought. Should he penetrate that thought, he would then become a mystic.

A mystic does not read human thought but senses the Thought of God. The question might be asked, "How do you know that he senses the Thought of God?" Because the mystics of every age have seen, sensed and taught THE SAME TRUTH. Psychic experiences more or less contradict each other, because each psychic sees a different kind of mental picture; but the mystic experiences of the ages have revealed ONE AND THE SAME TRUTH.


Without exception, all of the mystics have taught that there is but One Ultimate Reality; and that this Ultimate Reality is HERE NOW, IF WE COULD BUT SEE IT.

Strange as it may seem, the great mystics have all believed in a Personal God; that is, a God who is Personal to all who believe in Him. They have not, of course, believed in an ANTHROPOMORPHIC GOD; but they have believed in a God who consciously works in and through man; and they have adored and worshiped this God.

The great mystics have been illumined, that is, they have, at times, seen through the veil of matter and perceived the Spiritual Universe. They have taught that the Kingdom of God is NOW PRESENT AND NEEDS BUT TO BE REALIZED; and they have, apparently, sensed that this Kingdom is within.

A psychic sees only through his own subjective mentality; consequently, everything that he looks at is more or less colored by the vibration of his own thought; he is subject to hallucinations and false impressions of every description. This is why, generally speaking, no two psychics ever see the same thing.

Mystics have all seen the same thing, and their testimony is in no way confusing; this is because the Spirit within them has borne witness to the Truth.

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One of the most illuminating things that mysticism has revealed, is that evil is not an ultimate reality. Evil is simply and experience of the soul on its journey toward Reality; it is not an entity but an experience necessary to self-unfoldment; it is not a thing of itself but simply a misuse of power. It will disappear when we stop looking at, or believing in, it. We cannot stop believing in it as long as we indulge in it; so the mystic has always taught the race to turn from evil and do good.


The mystics have taught the ultimate salvation of all people and the immortality of every soul. Indeed, they have taught that immortality IS HERE AND NOW, IF WE WOULD BUT WAKE TO THE FACT. "Beloved, now are we the Sons of God." 74 Since each soul is some part of the Whole, it is impossible that any soul can be lost. "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." 75 Damnation has been as foreign to the thought of the mystic as any belief in evil must be to the Mind of God.


The great mystics have taught that man should have no burdens, and would have none, if he turned to "The One." "Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." 76 As Jesus must have known that it would be impossible for all men to come unto Him as a Personality, He must have meant that we should come into His understanding of Life and Reality; that is, to come unto the Great God. Some day we will learn to lay our burdens on the Altar of Love, that they may be consumed by the fire of faith in the Living Spirit. Man would have no burdens if he kept his "High watch" toward "The One"; that is, if he always turned to God.

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Jesus prayed that all might come to see the Unity of Life. "That they may be One, even as we are One," 77 was His prayer as He neared the completion of His great work on this planet. All mystics have sensed that we live in One Life. "For in Him we live, and move, and have our being." 78 The Unity of Good is a revelation of the greatest importance; for it teaches us that we are One with the Whole, and One with each other. This realization alone will settle the question of human inequality. The real Fatherhood of God and the Actual Brotherhood of Man will be made apparent on earth to the degree that men realize True Unity.


No great mystic ever lived who denied the reality of individuality. The higher the sense of Truth, the greater will be the realization of the uniqueness of individual character and personality. The Real Self is God-given and cannot be denied; it is the place where God comes to a point of Individualized and Personified Expression, and should be thought of in this light. "I am the Light of the world." 79


All mystics have been normal people, that is, they have lived just as other people have lived. The only difference has been that they have sensed a greater Reality; namely, the Presence of the Living Spirit. The true mystic in every age has come into the world of affairs and lived among men, sometimes as a teacher, and sometimes in the ordinary walks of life, but always in a perfectly natural way. There is nothing peculiar or strange about a mystic. People who shroud themselves in a cloak of mystery are not true mystics but are laboring under mental delusions and subjective hallucinations. They may be sincere in their beliefs, but they are none the less wrong in their methods. It is a question if a real mystic would even

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realize that he is a mystic. He would be more liable to think of himself simply as one who understands that he is One with the Whole.


It is impossible, perhaps, to put into words or into print what a mystic sometimes sees, and it is as hard to believe it as it is to put it into words. But there is a certain inner sense which, at times, sees Reality in a flash which illuminates the whole being with a great flood of light. This, too, might seem an illusion unless the testimony were complete; for every mystic has had this experience; but some have had it to a greater degree than others. Jesus was the greatest of all the mystics; and once, at least, after a period of illumination, His face was so bright that His followers could not look upon it.

In moments of deepest realization the great mystics have sensed that One Life flows through ALL; and that all are some part of that Life. They have also seen Substance, a fine, white, brilliant stuff, forever falling into everything; a Substance, indestructible and eternal. At times, the realization has been so complete that they have been actually blinded by the light. There are instances where for several days after such an experience, the one having it could not see on the physical plane; for he had seen the Inner Light. Remember, all this takes place when in a perfectly normal state of mind and has nothing whatever to do with the psychic state. It is not an illusion but a reality; and it is during these periods that real revelation comes. Perhaps a good illustration would be to suppose a large group of people in a room together, but unaware of each other's presence; each is busy with his own personal affairs. We will suppose the place to be dark and that some one comes in and takes a flash-light picture of the room and its occupants. Should this picture be shown to anyone who was in the room before it was taken, it might be hard for him to believe that all of the objects in the picture were actually in the room. This is, of course, a poor analogy, but it does serve to elucidate a point. In flashes of illumination, the inspired have seen INTO THE VERY CENTER

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[paragraph continues] OF REALITY, and have brought back with them a picture of what they have seen and felt. Again, we know that this has not been an illusion or simply a subjective hallucination, for each age has had its mystics, and every age has produced the same results. ALL HAVE SEEN THE SAME THING. The testimony is complete and the evidence is certain.


All of the great mystics have taught practically the same thing. They have all agreed that the soul is on the pathway of experience, that is, of self-discovery; that it is on its way back to its Father's House; and that every soul will ultimately reach its Heavenly Home. They have taught the Divinity to Man. "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High." 80 They have told us that man's destiny is Divine and sure; and that Creation is Complete and Perfect NOW. The great mystics have all agreed that man's life is his to do with as he chooses; but that when he turns to "The One," he will always receive inspiration form On High.

They have told us of the marvelous relationship which exists between God and man, of a close Union that cannot be broken; and the greatest of the mystics have consciously walked with God and talked with Him, just as we talk to each other. It is difficult to realize how this could be; it is hard to understand how a Being, so Universal as God must be, can talk with man; here, alone, the mystic sense reveals the greater truth and knows that, Infinite as is the Divine Being, It is still Personal to all who believe in Its Presence. It is entirely possible for a man to talk with the Spirit; for the Spirit is within men, and "He who made the ears" can hear.


That quality in an animal which directs its action and tells it where to go to find food and shelter, we call instinct. It is, really, Omniscience in the animal. The same quality, more highly developed, makes its appearance in man; and is what we

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call intuition. Intuition is God in man, revealing to him the Realities of Being; and just as instinct guides the animal, so would intuition guide man, if he would allow it to operate through him. Here again, we must be careful not to mistake a psychic impression for an intuitive one. Psychic impressions seek to control man; intuition always remains in the background and waits for his recognition. "Behold, I stand at the door." 81

All arbitrary control of man stopped as soon as he was brought to a point of self-knowingness. From this point he must discover himself; but intuition, which is nothing less than God in man, silently awaits his recognition and cooperation. The Spirit is always there if we could but sense Its Presence. Mystics have felt this wonderful power working from within, and have responded to it; and, as a sure evidence that they were not laboring under delusions, they have all sensed the same thing; had the impressions been psychic only, each would have seen and sensed a different thing; for each would have seen through the darkness of his own subjective mentality.


There is such an experience as Illumination and Cosmic Consciousness; It is not a mystery, however, but is the Self-Knowingness of God through man. The more complete the operation of that Power, the more complete has been man's conscious mentality; for the illumined do not become less, but more themselves. The greater the consciousness of God, the more complete must be the realization of the True Self,--The Divine Reality.

Illumination will come as man more and more realizes his Unity with the Whole; and as he constantly endeavors to let the Truth operate through him. But since the Whole is at the point of the Inner Mentality, it will be here alone that he will contact It. "Speak to Him, thou, for He hears."

The only God man knows is the God of his own Inner Life; indeed, he can know no other. To assume that man can know a God outside himself is to assume that he can know something

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of which he is not conscious. This does not mean that man is God; it means that the only God man knows is within. The only place that man contacts God is within; and the only life man has is from within. God is not external, but is Indwelling, at the very center of man's life. This is why Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven is within, and why He prayed, "Our Father Which art in Heaven." 82


The highest mental practice is to listen to this Inner Voice and to declare for Its Presence. The greater a man's consciousness of this Indwelling I AM is, the more power he will have. This will never lead to illusion but will always lead to Reality. All great souls have known this and have constantly striven to let the Mind of God come out through their mentalities. "The Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works." 83 This was the declaration of the great Master, and it should be ours also; not a limited sense of life but a limitless one.


The occult significance of the power of Jesus is easily understood when we study His method of procedure. Consider His raising of Lazarus from the dead. He stood at the tomb and gave thanks; this was recognition. He next said, "I Knew that Thou hearest me always"; 84 this was unification; then He said, "Lazarus, come forth"; 85 this was command. The method is perfect and we will do well to study and follow it. This method can be used in all treatment. First, realize that Divine Power Is; then unify with It, and then speak the word as "one having authority," for the Law is "the servant of the Eternal Spirit throughout all the ages."

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We should turn within, then, as have all of those great souls who have blessed the world with their presence; we should turn within and FIND GOD. It should seem natural to turn to the Great Power back of everything; it should seem normal to believe in this Power; and we should have a sense of a Real Presence when we do turn toward the One and Only Power in the entire Universe. This method is by far the most effective. It gives a sense of power that nothing else can, and, in this way, proves that it is a Reality. It would be a wonderful experiment if the world would try to solve all of its problems through the power of Spirit. Indeed the time will come when every one will, "From the the lowest."

A sense of real completion can come only to that soul which realizes its Unity with the Great Whole. Man will never be satisfied until his whole being responds to this thought, and then, indeed, "Will God go forth anew into Creation."

"To as many as believed gave He the Power."




209:74 1 John 3:2.

209:75 Matt. 22:32.

209:76 Matt. 11:28.

210:77 John 17:22.

210:78 Acts. 17:28.

210:79 John 8:12.

212:80 Ps. 82:6.

213:81 Rev. 3:20.

214:82 Luke 11:2.

214:83 John 14:10.

214:84 John 11:42.

214:85 John 11:43.

Next: Lesson Five: The Perfect Whole