Prospectus of Life in the
University of Hard Knocks
Thomas Parker Boyd
Order in Adobe PDF eBook or printed form for $9.95 (+ printing charge)
Introduction - Life’s Curriculum
Life begins with a question mark, and it should end with an exclamation point! Our business here is to know the realities, to accept them as such, to interpret life’s meaning by the facts, and to adjust our thinking and living to that meaning. In this way we open the whole field of knowledge. From this search for knowledge we develop certain final statements of truth, which are inclusive and conclusive, if not self-evident, which we call categories.
The first category is Being, embracing all that we know or may know of life, of substance, spiritual or material. The second is Reality, embracing the truth in the unconditioned Absolute, and the relative. The third category is that of Quantity, which includes the truth of unity, plurality and totality. The fourth one is the category of Quality, having reference to reality, negation, and limitation. The fifth is Relation, embracing substance and attribute, cause and effect, action and reaction. The sixth is Modality, embracing possibility, actuality, and necessity.
These are loose adaptations of Aristotle and Kant’s famous categories. We accept the categorical imperative for all life in our study, which is the absolute claim of moral law to our obedience, the legal supremacy of the right, as revealed by scientific knowledge and as asserted by conscience or the moral sense, over human life. We have not followed these categories in any formal way, but have always kept them in view while blazing the trail in a wilderness of opinions, where so many have pioneered, but few have left any helpful landmarks.
We intend to interpret life according to scientific principles, to present obligation in a rational philosophy, to outline a conception of God, and formulate a destiny based upon science and philosophy’s dealings with our experience, rather than past traditions. We do not disregard or discredit these traditions when they have any content of proven value, but use them as side lights to interpret life. We seek to explain only one phase of life: If there is a God, why do so many troubles loom so large? The very inadequacy of the answers to this question has made many despair of finding a suitable answer.
The origin, the course, and the end of troubles resolve into a ministry whose outcome is beneficent. As we ponder the course of human development, the furnace of trouble has played a mighty part in the world’s evolution – from chaos up to form, order and beauty, from animalism, to savagery, to barbarism, and finally up to civilization. It has been our one chief means of extracting the clinkers and slag from human nature.
The scientific observer beholds the sparkle the fast-flying emery wheel of trouble polishing some rough diamond of spirituality. We see pig iron refined into finely-tempered spring steel by heat, chemical action and heavy hammering. We behold the entire universe, which is ultimately one Spiritual Substance, and the fundamental law that raising lower energy forms to a higher expression requires heat, stress, and eons of time to reach the stage of soil and fruit. This material world process corresponds to the action of pain and trouble in lifting human nature from animalism to Godlikeness.
All things in this universe are incorporated into a University of Hard Knocks, into which we matriculate ourselves at birth. It offers no correspondence course, no proxies. Attendance is compulsory. We all begin as pupils and end sometime, somewhere as masters. Life adapts the course to each pupil.
Just how we will have trouble depends upon our heredity, environment, temperament, and other factors that lend a personal bias. One takes his schooling in one allopathic knockdown dose of calamities, while another gets hers in little homeopathic pellets of annoyance. We may not always choose how we will receive the lessons – life seems to adjust them to us automatically. However, we may choose how well we learn them, and how soon we may graduate. It is just possible that we may, as many have done, suggest improvements in the course of instruction to the Absolute Wisdom, our teacher, only to find that He retires into "ways that are not our ways, and thoughts that are not our thoughts."
Sometimes we throw down our books and quit school over night. Yet in the morning we find the tutors of pain and trouble remain, and that school keeps right on. Daily we add new words to our vocabulary. Every day an angel turns a new page in the great book of life, and we find a new set of words to learn. Monday we spell "joy," and Tuesday we wonder why we find lusterless "grief." Wednesday we learn to spell "love," and too often we next learn "disappointment." Friday we spell "happiness," and another day we read "sorrow." One day we spell "wealth," the next day we meet the hatchet-faced teacher, "want." Some words we have learned repeatedly, until they are our very own. Often we rebel and feel like quitting school, only to find that we cannot until we have at least learned to take good and bad with equal good grace.
Often we worry about tomorrow’s lesson. We find that the words that troubled our thoughts and dreams are not on the page at all, but new and strange ones. When will we learn that "sufficient unto the day is the spelling lesson thereof?" We would go to school with a happier attitude and come home to a refreshing rest if we were content to learn today’s lesson. As life proceeds, we learn at length that some great, loving and wise purpose lies back of all our experience, directs our schooling, and interprets our thoughts and actions according to their spirit, rather than their form.
This course is personally conducted. It is yours while you are taking it, and the results will be yours when you are promoted. You begin as a pupil, you develop into a student, you are promoted to a teacher, and you unfold into a master. It matters not whether you finish the course in this world. Having entered, you may not quit until you finish the course. The illustrious ones of every age are those who, without shrinking, have taken good and bad alike with full understanding of their purpose and results, and have passed upward into divine or cosmic consciousness.
The College of Science, Natural and Otherwise
Science’s function is to discover, describe and register facts regarding the ways of being and of happenings. It finds events occurring in a certain way, and formulates the hypothesis that all similar facts occur in that way. This hypothesis, which explains that class of occurrences, becomes known as a law.
Science furnishes us with the great hypotheses of gravitation, the undulatory theory of light, the electronic theory of physics, the "Big Bang" hypothesis of cosmology, evolution, etc. Since these theories of operation were the best explanations of the facts in a given series of events, observers accepted them as the law of procedure in their respective realms. Similarly, by scientifically observing the effects of various methods of directing mental and moral action for the individual and society’s welfare, we have evolved a knowledge of the laws governing mind, morals and conduct.
Science, concerning itself with matter and material happenings, gathers a mass of facts, classifies them and discovers how they happen. Certain axioms have arisen from this scientific study, valuable self-evident truths, such as, "Out of nothing, nothing comes. There is a cause for every effect. Nothing just happens." The laws of matter apply to all material things, no matter in what form they exist. The law of gravitation acts on the human body, just as it does on a piece of iron, and no amount of thinking can suspend this law.
The nutrients and methods of metabolism, or change, are similar in all living forms. Oxygen, alone and in combination with other chemicals, is indispensable to all material life. Water is a large element in all living bodies.
Under the law of the conservation of energy, the form of these bodybuilding factors may change, but the substance must be present. Literally, "No man by merely taking thought can add a cubit to his stature." Pure thinking alone can no more build the body than can feeding the body train the mentality without mental activity and "thought sustenance." Elijah, hungry, deserted his duty, but twelve hours of sleep and two square meals made him the lionhearted prophet again.
The body must have a proper ratio of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, with water and minerals, and no mental or spiritual substitutes exist for these. Science determines that the mental powers develop through contact with the material world, acting upon it and reacting to it.
The brain, the instrument of mental activity and power, reaches its maximum weight about the age of forty. Then it begins to decline in weight and efficiency, unless kept constantly active by feeding on new truths, wrestling with new problems, and seeking new achievement, in which case it constantly increases in power. No material nor spiritual substitute exists for mental exercise in the realm of truth and fact. A law of the mind exists, just as does a law of the body.
The development of the spiritual life, while largely influenced by the body’s condition, through the nervous system and the mind in their contacts with the world of material things, cannot depend on either material or mental things for its sustenance. The soul must find its nourishment in a realm of purely Spiritual Substance, and be sustained by discourse and communion with an ultimate Spiritual Being.
Beyond the study of such exercises and their effects, science has made no explicit pronouncement as to the essence of the realm of Spirit. However the spiritual activities and their effects warrant a cause, just as do movements and effects elsewhere.
The ideas of God, the soul’s immortality, the rational exercise of prayer, the effects of faith, hope and love in producing character, all stand upon the same logical base as do the theories of gravitation, evolution and other great scientific doctrines. Their fundamental principles are identical, and their manner of proof is similar. They best explain the facts to which they relate.
The material method of science is one of exactness by weight and measure. It has the facts in hand. In studying the mind, the method deals with mental action and the results left behind as the mind proceeds from the self as a center. In spiritual things it depends upon secondary evidences, for example, faith produces peace and content. These are determined and reported by the actions and experiences of those who exercise and enjoy them.
A difficulty common to scientific study of mental and spiritual activities is that the same stimulus fails to affect two people in the same way, mentally or emotionally. They do not see or feel alike. Also, the reliability of their states and experiences is not always dependable, especially their reports and explanations of the causes. Finally, the difficulty of reproducing their experiences makes it necessary for science to generalize by studying the spiritual activities of humanity at large. We may take no individual experience as a criterion.
Science also discovers spiritual occurrences and experiences that lie outside the methods of material activity. It discovers the ego, or self, experiencing and perceiving activities outside the range of the five senses, and the realm of three-dimensional activity. It therefore posits, because of these facts, a fourth dimension as a possible field of activity and experience, such as Jesus used when he sent a vibration across a space to heal the nobleman’s son. It also posits a sixth sense of universal power of perception: Elisha, the prophet, saw the hosts of limitless Power on his side, ready to help at Dothan. Jesus saw Nathaniel around a material corner.
Science, from tabulated facts, recognizes that character, intangible but very real, arises from such spiritual activity. It also recognizes that we can grade and classify character, every individual form of life eventually finds its own level. Every person comes or goes to his own place according to a certain "affinity" or spiritual gravitation.
Science, applying the law of the conservation of energy, recognizes that all seen things have come from the unseen, and that they may be resolved again into the unseen. Since the source and goal is unseen, it follows that supplies from the unseen constantly maintain all life and all that pertains to life, which God sustains through the channels of activity, called laws.
Science reaches the dignity of Divine Science when, by using the scientific method, they observe that all things proceed from a first great Spiritual Cause, whose methods of operation are uniform, whose effects are unfailing. The most potent agencies are those nearest the purely spiritual. Those that we call mental take their place lower down in the scale, while material forms of energy are still less refined. Yet, they are divine energies, adapted to use in their respective realms, as in Ezekiel 47:12 it is said, "the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine."
Applying scientific methods to the problem of health, we can study the incidents and experiences in the careers of history’s great healers, and deduce certain general principles. The first principle is that all disease comes from the violation of law, technically called "sin." Thus, all healing, technically called "righteousness" or "wholeness," comes by a return to keeping the law.
Science finds many diseases and ills of character purely material in their origin. Wounds, fractures, lesions, infections, auto-intoxications and abnormal forms of cell growth are in some way violations of material law. We cure them by faithful obedience to the law that we have broken, and by using material agencies, with a recognized specific action. Science recognizes a large class of life’s ills, which arise from wrong thinking habits or violations of mental laws, which we must cure by reeducating the mind in the proper methods and thought habits.
Many ills and afflictions, both of mind and body, grow from the violation of moral and spiritual laws, whose cure must logically depend on the sufferer being restored to harmony with the sources of moral and Spiritual Power and Life. The great Healer himself stated the principle of all these classes of ills arising from violation of the law, and their cure being in keeping the law: "Thy sins be forgiven thee" – a declaration that invariably attended and was understood in the injunction, "Be thou made whole." So extensive was this truth that the Master Healer of the Ages made it apply to every form of ill.
Facts gathered and classified by scientific method reveal the common method of all healers, actively to involve, or implicitly to depend upon the faith of the individual who sought healing, or his friends’ faith. Without this faith, even the Master himself "could do no mighty works."
The same scientific analysis of healing reveals that faith was merely an instrument in the healing. The patient must exercise implicit faith, no matter whether the things that he believes are true or the person in whom he trusts is genuine. Faith is the means of arousing within the patient powers that, operating through the channels or laws of heath, restores the sick one. The same analysis of healers’ methods reveals a spiritual quality in the healer and in the patient, which proceeds from some unseen, limitless reservoir of health and power.
Some mighty practitioners of healing, such as Elijah and Jesus of Nazareth, frequently relied on the element of physical contact and the use of material agencies. Elijah used the working principle of the modern artificial respirator to restart a boy’s breathing. Jesus touched blind eyes, deaf ears, paralyzed bodies, put spittle upon the tongue. He anointed a blind man’s eyes with clay, which by the time he had traveled to the pool of Siloam and scrubbed off this sticky mess, had by manipulation thoroughly stimulated the circulation and nervous activity in his eyes, besides arousing his faith and expectation. We observe the same practice of material contacts in the experiences of Paul, Peter and James. Similar scientific analysis reveals the fact that a healer can send healing vibrations without the use of oral word or direct contact with the patient, as we see in the healing of the nobleman’s son and the centurion’s servant.
The scientific deduction from these facts is that the use of material agencies alone is sufficient in many cases of purely physical ill to set in operation the healing powers that work through physical law. Right thinking, established in many mental disorders, will restore the sufferer to normal mental balance and experience. The restoration of harmony with the Spiritual Source of Life – the Infinite God – will produce health commonly arising from spiritual disharmony. In other cases, combining two or all these classified powers will prove effective where one might fail. Finally, whatever agencies may be used, we can trace their source to that region of perfect health from which One spoke and said, "I am the Lord who heals thee."
In its last scientific analysis, therefore, health is a spiritual matter, the result of spiritual powers having their source in the Absolute and operating through every agency which embodies the energy of the great "I AM." Similarly, we may deduce the truth that every good for us, whether it is peace, harmony, power or abundance, arises from our relationship to the invisible and Spiritual Reality, and it does manifest according to the measure of our conscious realization of that fact.
If knowledge of the truth gives us such wonderful privilege, then it also follows that ignorance of the truth imposes our only limitation. The supreme test of scientific method is that thinking does not make anything true. We can know only that which we have put to the test. The only way to graduate from the U.H.K. is to know things by proving them.
We are steadily moving back toward the Power House. We are still waiting for some master who shall give us the formula by which we may unlock the atom and set free its vast power to replace our clumsy efforts at power, using the fast diminishing stores of coal, gas and oil.
Likewise the whole world is waiting the author of the Principia of the Spiritual Life, giving us its powers, principles and laws so that the spoken word of truth shall become the living word of the Christ. Its miracle-working power shall banish the physical miseries of humanity by the finger of God, and make men whole through spiritual realization. The day is here – the glory of its dawn is upon us.