“I want to preach a sermon to everybody, from this test, ‘Consider the lilies of the field,’ because it has nothing in it disagreeable to anybody. It is not a sermon of threat or of warning, but of hope. The world today needs more hope. We are a hopeless lot. We are so, principally, because in so much of the past preaching we have been told how bad we are, and what would happen to us if we kept on in our badness. We are so little told that we heave in us lots of goodness and power. … People who think badly of themselves are pretty sure to do badly. Scripture remarks, ‘As a man or woman thinketh, so is he or she.’ It is when a man thins poorly of himself, that he goes off and gets drunk, or does some mean thing. The pride that makes a man value himself is the pride that keeps him from mean and degrading acts. Our race is now on the point of being woke up to the fact that every man and every woman are the possessors of more powers than now they dream of, and that, when they know how to use these powers, they will steer out of all evil into good.” ~Prentiss Mulford
Sermon of Warning
I wouldn’t have called Mulford’s warning a sermon. That name alone turns off many people these days. That is, in part at least, for the very thing Mulford is talking about. We have preachers who love to tell us how evil we are. How we need to repent. And those who are not telling their congregation such things, are saying it of others. The gays are evil, the Mexicans are evil, the feminists are evil, etc. Any group that they think is not a significant part of their congregation is a potential target for these sermons of hate. Yet, in truth, many of these preachers don’t even hate the ones they are calling evil. They do it simply because it is what their congregation wants to hear. When you tell the congregation what they want to hear, they are more generous in their donations. And sadly, preaching has become more about making money then teaching truth.
When We Believe
Preachers are certainly not the only ones telling us negative things about ourselves. Teachers, parents, government officials, and others contribute also. This might be acceptable of they followed the negative comments with some positive ones, but they rarely do. Even when they do, it may be that they emphasize the negative, or keep the positive to something minor. Just to give an example, which is certainly not something I believe, if someone says, “Mexicans are all knife-wielding murderers, but they dress well,” they have said something positive as well as something negative. But the negative part greatly outweighs the positive, so the overall message is negative.
As Mulford notes, the real danger in all of this comes when we actually start to believe the negative things others say about us, either as an individual or as some group we belong to. It is bad enough that just listening to the negative things others say about us can, to some degree, program out subconscious minds, but when we start to affirm those negative opinions, we are really programming the subconscious mind.
As someone who spent most of his adult life programming computers for a living, I know them fairly well. The thing about computers is that they have no conscience, no morals, no ethics. None at all. They accept everything that is programmed into them and act accordingly. That is how our subconscious mind works as well. It doesn’t judge right or wrong. It accepts anything that it is told as long as it doesn’t conflict with firm beliefs that have been programmed into it. If you keep telling it that you are stupid, it programs you to be stupid. If you tell it you are violent, it programs you to be violent. It is an idiot servant that does whatever you tell it to do. If you tell it, “my parents were poor, my grandparents were poor, so I am doomed to be poor,” it believes you and accepts those instructions and starts doing everything it can to make you stay poor. It’s like we are working against ourselves. But there is a solution.
Reprogramming the Subconscious Computer
The subconscious computer of our mind can be reprogrammed like any other computer. If the programs running on it are not doing what you want them to do, you can modify them or replace them entirely. But here’s where we find a difference between the subconscious computer and something from IBM or Microsoft. With physical computers, it is often far easier to make changes to an existing program rather than replacing it entirely. With the subconscious computer, it is the opposite. It is generally better to completely replace the existing program. Here is why.
With an electronic computer, there is no resistance to change built into it. With the subconscious, there is. When you try to change the subconscious a little at a time, it can find those changes inconsistent with other programming, and reject them. That is why modern psychiatry treats a problem for years and still rarely succeeds in changing a person. They try to modify rather than replace. Other methods that replace have greater success. I have experienced such a method personally. Several years ago, I attended a weekend workshop for Psych-K, a program that uses a form of applied Kinesiology. In just one weekend, I was able to lose a fear of heights. That was because the method replaced the fear program with one of confidence.
Point of Being Awakened
Mulford is correct in saying that we are on the point of being “woke up,” as he put it. He was talking primarily about something mental, but the real awakening is more spiritual. While that subconscious computer does cause many of our problems, it gets much help from the conscious ego. But the best way to get both of those problems solved is awakening the spirit and soul. A fully awakened and conscious soul can take control of the mind. It can keep the ego on a lease, allegorically speaking. It can probably help control the subconscious computer as well. And since spiritual development is more important than physical or mental, it can help reprogram that difficult subconscious computer so that it places spiritual needs at the top of the priority stack.