11. What Are Spiritual Gifts ?
There is one spirit, one power, one force, in the universe, but its different manifestations or channels of operation are countless. It moves the breeze, the ocean, the avalanche, and the earth in its orbit. It moves the seed to grow, the plant to blossom, the flower to color itself with inimitable hues. It colors the bird’s plumage, and gives power to its wing. It works in the instinct, or lower reason, of the animal. Its highest known expression is in man, because in man there is concentrated the most of this force. In other and unseen orders of being, it is concentrated as to volume, and power, and varieties of power, as far above man, as man is above the mole.
It is a spiritual gift, which when matters look dark and squally, when debts are pressing, and friends seem to fall away, and business falls away also, that keeps your mind in a mood quite as buoyant and cheerful as when success shines on you; and when you have this gift, or, in other words, have grown to the power to hold continually such mood, you command success, and must have it; because then the silent force of your mind is felt by other determined minds, be your body sleeping or waking, and keeps them interested in you, and working in some way in your behalf. When so you hold the mood of confidence and determination, you are connected spiritually, or by unseen element, with all other confident, determined, and pushing minds. You become a part of such mind, giving to it of your own force, and receiving their force in return, and you are then, with them, moving forward to success.
Shrewdness in business is a spiritual gift or power. It involves a certain business prophetic faculty which knows when to buy, how to buy, and when to sell. It involves knowledge of human nature,—of knowing, or rather feeling, honesty and dishonesty almost at a glance. You have a sense which feels the thought of others, and gives you notice by such feeling whether their thought be good or bad, as by your sense of physical touch, you know the difference between a rough and smooth surface. That is a spiritual power in business which learns to economize time and strength, and thereby accomplish as much in an hour as others may in a day. Any great business success is gained by the exercise of a spiritual power. Spiritual power is used for all purposes, and is the only power used. It can be used on a high or low plane of motive.
Spirituality is not living in dreams, or living in the clouds, or having a pale face and languid air, as if the things of this earth were beneath one’s serious consideration, and were rather endured than enjoyed. Spirituality means the greatest acuteness of intellect, the greatest foresight, the greatest amount of spirit or power gathered in a person, and the wisest expenditure of that power. It means the greatest governmental ability, be that ability exercised in the small empire of a household, or the larger empire of a nation. Spiritual gifts mean all talents, all powers, and all methods of using those powers.
That is a spiritual gift which finds out healing properties in plants, roots, and herbs. All nature expressed in substance, seen of the physical eye, is an expression also of mind or force; and every plant has its peculiar kind or quality of that force, and this, when applied, can help the individual spirit to drive out disease. But all seen things are expressions of the lower or relatively cruder form of mind or spirit, and therefore have a limited power; and, when any material remedy is applied, the main dependence should not be on that remedy, but on the power of mind, and, above all things, one’s own mind or force, to put the body above the reach of disease. I apply clothing to my body, as an external application of wool or cotton to protect that body from cold. But I believe in the power of mind to resist cold, and be comfortable, with much less clothing than the average wear. Your spirit can by degrees attain such power. That is no reason why I should lessen the amount of clothing in cold weather, before I have grown to or gathered that amount of force which shall so resist cold. If I think a medicine will aid what force I have to cure the body, or, in other words, to add its peculiar spiritual strength to my own spiritual strength, to act on the body, I think it better to take it. But for that reason, I should not fly to a pill or a stimulant at the first sign of pain or weakness, but turn on first my spiritual or mental force, and in any case rely first and last on that. The gift of thought healing is a spiritual gift. It belongs to all in proportion as their permanent flow of thought is pure, cheerful, determined, vigorous, decided, and abounding in good‑will to others. That order of thought sent a sick person is a real element or force, and has power to give that person strength. If you give strength from so healthy a source as healthy thought, you drive out disease, or lack of ease to the body. Your own healthy thought aided by the healthy thought of others, is real substance, and has the power to build up any organ which is sore or inflamed, and wasting away through lack of some element necessary to it.
All pain is owing to an absence of life element in the part affected. The power is then lacking to send the blood through that part. Blood then collects and stagnates there. This you call inflammation. The blood is not the real life of the body, but only the conductor of its real unseen life, or spirit; and, when that is wanting, the conductor or messenger of this life has no power to travel. It collects in some one place, and the effort of the spirit to drive it from that place is too much force concentrated in that one place, or organ, which causes lack of ease, or pain; and lack of ease, or pain, implies that the unseen force or spirit is no longer equally distributed throughout the body, but is acting in excess on some one part of it, in which case every other organ or part feels the lack of this force, and is consequently weak.
Healthy thought can revive and put strength in sick bodies; and that is the reason that you, if sick, feel so much better from the visit of a cheerful, hopeful, vigorous person. Such a person gives, and you from him or her receive and absorb in thought, element life: and if people and friends around sick‑beds, and in the houses of the sick, would at least try to make their thought hopeful, strong, cheerful; if they would keep in mind that the spirit of the sick person was as strong as ever, and that the throes of pain came only through the spirit’s effort to regain complete possession of its instrument, the body,—they would, in sending out hopeful, encouraging thought to that spirit, send it real strengthening element, and help it very much to make the body well again. They would then be using their spiritual power to aid another spirit in trying to repair a damaged body. If, instead of this, everyone around the sick‑bed is sad, dejected, and despondent, they send the struggling spirit despondent thought, or order of force, and make its work all the heavier. They are using their combined spiritual power to make the struggle of the spirit all the harder. Then if ten, or twenty, or a thousand, or an hundred thousand friends of the sick person outside, far and near, are also despondent and hopeless as to that person’s condition, because some one has said there is no hope and the malady is incurable, they help to swell the volume of despondent thought acting on that patient’s spirit. They work their spiritual power in the wrong direction, and that power is always the greater for good or ill, for the life or the death, of that person’s body, in proportion to the number of minds sending their force or thought to the patient.
The gift of healing can and should be used cooperatively; and if, when the body of any strong and useful spirit is overcome by disease, all minds would direct on that person a current of hopeful, invigorating thought,—thought full of expectancy of life instead of expectancy of death, and desire also that when the spirit again controlled its body, that it might learn the cause of its disease, and so be on guard against any repetition of it,—there would then soon be longer useful lives, and vigor of mind and body prolonged to periods the world at present does not dream of.
The world is steadily growing to this result, and medical science makes less and less use of drugs as compared with the past, for man is wiser than he realizes himself, and is always growing more and more away from an entire dependence on the material, and leans more and more unconsciously on the unseen or spiritual, elements of Nature. Many a physician of to‑day, bright, hopeful, cheerful, and determined in mind, owes his successful practice quite as much to the current of strong, hopeful, cheerful, vigorous thought he sends the sick man or woman, as he does to the medicines he gives them.
There are two kinds of doctors. One nurses the maladies of the patient, the other nurses the patient’s body; one keeps the malady alive, the other makes the body alive; one keeps the malady in the body, the other sends it out of the body. Both doctors work their spiritual gift on the patient, but in very different ways and with different results.
That is a spiritual power or gift, which, when you have formed a plan or purpose in your mind, causes you to hold to it and not be led, swayed, influenced, cajoled, tempted, jeered, or ridiculed out of it by others. If you have resolved to be something, in art or business, greater and higher than you now seem to others, it will keep you to that resolve. The man or woman who succeeds must always in mind or imagination live, move, think, and act as if they had gained that success, or they never will gain it. Genuine kings or queens in the empire of mind will think as highly of themselves, and value themselves as much, when compelled temporarily to take what the world calls an humble place, as if upon their thrones. Those around them feeling this thought of self‑appreciation will always pay them the respect due them. Such kings and queens will always by force of their spiritual gift gravitate to whatever station at or near the top they belong. They will do this through the silent force of mind, or the quiet mood of resolve firmly held to, more than by any use of the body. The body is to be used only when the spiritual force or clear sight sees the right thing, the right time, and the right place, in which or on which to use it, even as the carpenter uses his saw when he has measured and decided what to cut with it. If he sawed boards indiscriminately, he would “cut every thing to waste” and build nothing, and that is what thousands of people do with their bodies. They put its force on little things, fret over little things; and when their industry for a whole morning has swept every atom of dust out of the room corners, scoured the bottoms of all the tin pans, fretted an hour because the letter he expected didn’t come, passed another hour over a desk full of papers to find another letter which amounts to nothing, what has he or she accomplished save to fritter away their force or spiritual power for nothing?
You must be what most you live in thought, since it is your thought that draws its material correspondence to you. If in mind you abase yourself before another’s talent, or their grander style of living, or are over‑awed by their pretentiousness into a sort of envious humility, or into that sinful self‑depreciation which is ever saying, “I can never stand there,” you place the greatest of barriers to standing there. Look always on the best things the world can give as if they were yours,—not the houses, carriages, and finer clothes of others as yours, but others like unto them when you earn them; and earn them and have them you can, if you have sufficient faith in the spiritual law or mental condition of mind which brings these things, and is the only force which really ever brings them to any one.
It is not wrong to own and enjoy the best things of this earth. It is a necessity and a benefit that all your finer tastes should have what they demand. But there are just methods and unjust methods of getting the goods of earth. In other words, there are wise methods and unwise methods of getting what we need. Injustice is but another word for ignorance, or lack of wisdom. You will not walk off a precipice in broad daylight; you are very likely to walk off one in the dark. Neither will you commit any act, when you see more and more clearly it is going to harm you, or be unprofitable in some way.
It is no benefit, but an injury to you, to live in a hovel, or wear seedy clothes, or eat inferior food, or be compelled to live among coarse and vulgar people.
Prophecy is a spiritual gift, and many more people have the gift of prophecy than realize it themselves. Your spirit, your higher self, has the power of giving you impressions as to proper methods of doing business. It sometimes warns you on your first meeting with people, that there is in them some defect of character which you need to be on guard against. You find if you despise this, your own self‑prophesying, and are governed entirely by the counsel or the fear of others, that you are oppressed or kept down, and have neither that freedom nor independence of life you would have, and will have, when you learn to trust your own intuition, your internal teacher, the only reliable teacher you will ever have in this or any other existence.
And when men or women believe in themselves, and have learned to trust to their own power to do any thing, and, while accepting helps from others, regard always the helps as secondary to their own power for pushing things ahead, it means they have learned that they are really parts of the Infinite Power, and that, as parts, they have more or less of the qualities of that power for doing, for accomplishing, any thing they may set about. All minds are prophets to themselves, and in their own country, or would be were not the prophesyings so much despised, and the internal teacher so often cast out, so that at last your own prophet may lose the power to direct you aright; and you may give all the honor to some one who is directing you wrong.
Your mind or spirit lives in advance of your earthly or material life or sense. With its finer and superior senses, it may in an inconceivably short time do things, see things, and in finer element live in things or results accomplished, which it must accomplish, also, here on the coarser stratum of life, and with the cruder and coarser physical senses. There is this the real physical world around us, and there is also as real an unseen world of unseen element near us, which in all respects is an exact type of the world of thought, or ideal of every individual; and the worlds of two individuals living in the same house, and meeting daily at the same table, may be as different as the world of the tropic from that of the arctic zone. Every event in your seen world, which, as to your surroundings and manner of life, is an outgrowth of your thought, is preceded by a similar event in your unseen world; and it is the spiritual eye of prophecy which sees that event in the spiritual world sometimes ages, sometimes years, ere it happens here. It may see it for another as well as itself. It is for this reason, that sometimes, in the doing of a thing, you have a sudden flash of thought, that somewhere, and at some time, you were doing that thing before under precisely similar circumstances. You are carrying out in the physical what you have already carried out in the spiritual realm, and with your spiritual body, and among the spiritual bodies of the people you may not at that time know physically, but were to know physically in the future. If you regard your own spirit’s promptings and prophesyings as idle fancies or vagaries, or are guided largely by the opinions of others, you will not prevent the happier event or phase of life you are to realize in the future,—if not in this, in some other physical existence,—from happening. But you make it slower in coming. You can have your inevitable future happiness delayed through many causes. You can never have its possibility destroyed. The “you” of to‑day may use another body a hundred years hence, and the “you” of a hundred years hence will surely have more power than the “you” of to‑day; and there is a time when every spirit will attain to a certain power, that it shall be able to look through, or rather call back, all its past physical existences, from its lowest up to its present highest, and see them all as one life,—the different bodies you have used during all these lives being analogous to the successive suits of clothes you wear in this one earth‑life.
All things and all events do not have their origin here in this world, but in their spiritual world. Things here in material are as the shadows of the real thing in the spiritual, and as shadows relatively inferior. As the spiritual world advances, so do we catch the impulse and inspiration of that advance. It is our spiritual world that warms all things into life here, and builds them up here, even as the material sun sends us that element which warms into life, plant, animal, and man; and as the sun element through myriads of ages has been growing finer and finer, and as a result building plant, animal, and man into finer forms, so is the spiritual element or power ever acting on this planet, growing finer and more powerful.
So... What are Your spiritual gifts, Dear?!
Turtle Island Fiji (n.d.). [Image]. Retrieved June 30, 2021, from https://www.turtlefiji.com/fiji-vs-bora-bora/
Mulford, P. (1886-1887). What are spiritual gifts? Your forces and how to use them (pp.99-108). Hollister, Missouri: YOGeBooks by Roger L. Cole. doi: 2015:01:16:10:43:09