Popular Science Monthly/Volume 56/December 1899/The Education of the Feminist

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THE meeting of the Astral Club of Alcalde, on September 10, 1899, was rendered memorable by the return, from a month's absence in the East, of the secretary of the club, Miss Corintha Jones, D. N. N. N. Her presence had been sorely missed at the August meeting (though I say it who should not), for it is not often that one of our devoted band is absent from his post.

Miss Jones had left Alcalde to complete a course of study in medicine in one of the most famous colleges of the East. At the suggestion of the president of the club, Mr. Asa Marvin, F. T. S., the usual programme was suspended on her return, and Miss Doctress Jones, D. N. N. N. (for such indeed is the title she has now earned), told us of her studies at the Massachusetts University of Mentiphysics, in Boston, a noble institution, up to date in all respects, for it received its charter from the General Assembly of Massachusetts in the year 1881.

Miss Doctress Jones left her home in Alcalde on the 20th of July, designing to visit certain relatives residing at Homer and Virgil, Cortland County, N. Y., on the way. She reached Boston on the 5th day of August, and at once proceeded to the university. An ignorant hackman took her over to the suburban village of Cambridge, which is the seat of Harvard College. Making inquiry of the professors there, she found none who had ever heard of the University of Mentiphysics, having eyes and ears for nothing but Harvard, which in some respects is indeed a great institution, but on a material plane.

At last, after much inquiry, Doctress Jones was sent to the Neministic Headquarters, a small building on the corner of Milk and Transcendental Streets. Here she learned, from a little lady with a withered face and a serene smile, that the University of Mentiphysics was situated not in Boston, but in the neighboring town of Lynn, which lies some miles to the north. "But in Massachusetts," she said, "we call it all Boston."

"So I took the train for Lynn," Miss Doctress Jones continued, "and drove at once to the street and number named on the card. The little white house with green blinds, white columns on the veranda, and a few weedy roses in the front yard did not fill my conception of a university, for it did not look like our universities in California. But the fault was with my conception, not with the fact.

"The maid who answered the bell assured me that this was indeed the university, and ushered me at once into the office of the president. The wall was covered with pictures and photographs, showing elderly ladies with serene smiling faces. Under each one were the letters N. N. N., and a card giving an account of how each one had been made whole and happy through Neministic Science. The president was a middle-aged, matronly lady, with a high forehead and brown hair, streaked with gray, done in graceful frizzes over her brow. Above the corners of her mouth, which were always drawn up in an engaging smile, were three deep creases. Mr. Gridley, our schoolmaster, tells me that these correspond to the grave accent in Greek, and that there being three of them shows that the lady had been married three times. I do not know as to this, but somehow her face seemed startlingly familiar and at the same time strangely pleasant.

"I murmured something about having had the pleasure before. She said, taking the words from my mouth: 'I know what you are going to say. We are indeed very much alike, though she is on the material plane. Still, my friends call me the "Lydia Pinkham of the soul," and I do not resent it, for what dear Lydia tries to do, that I do.'

"I told the president," Doctress Jones continued, "that I wished to learn the wisdom of Boston, and especially the science of Neministic Healing, of which I had heard much in Alcalde. 'But perhaps I should call at the university, and not trouble you in your rest at home.' At this her eyes blazed, and she said, with a tragic air: 'Having eyes, ye see not! I read the Soul and the Stars through a higher than mortal sense. Has the Sun forgotten to shine and the Planets to revolve around it? Who was it discovered, demonstrated, and teaches the marvel of Neministic Healing? That one, whoever it be, does understand something of what can not be lost.'

"I looked dazed. She quieted down and explained to me that she was herself the university, because no one but herself could explain what was revealed to her alone. The whole Neministic Science was taught in twelve lessons, and I could begin then and there.

"I said something about preparatory work and the books I would need to read. She placed in my hands a slip which read:

"'N. N. N. Persons contemplating a course in the Massachusetts University of Mentiphysics can prepare for it through no books save Neministic Science and Astral Health, with a Key to the Stars. Man-made theories are narrow, else extravagant, and always materialistic. Nihil nemini nocet.' Then she added: 'I recommend students not to read so-called scientific works antagonistic to IsTeministic Healing, which advocate material systems, because such works and words becloud the right sense of Mentiphysical Science. A primary student richly imbued with the Neministic spirit is a better healer and teacher than a normal-class student, who partakes less of this power. Even an apt scholar who has dipped into my Neministic Science and Astral Health, with a Key to the Stars (the last revised edition), may enter this field of labor, without any personal instruction, beneficially to himself and the race.'

"Then she continued blandly: 'You must learn, my dear, to enter this great field in a manner beneficial to yourself and the race. You must teach others to render to Cæsar what is Cæsar's, and to do this you must first render unto Cæsar yourself. Do you understand?' I looked puzzled for a moment. Then she said: 'Twenty-five dollars, please, dear, and be sure to come promptly at ten o'clock to-morrow. You are now admitted to the Primary Plane, the first degree of Neministic Healing.' As I gave her the California gold, she bowed me out of the room with a tender and motherly smile, while she tested the unfamiliar coins by ringing them softly on the table.

"At the second lesson she gave me the fundamental principles of Neministic Healing. I received them eagerly, for I recognized in them a close harmony with the teachings of our dear old Mr. Dean:

"'God is the principle of Mentiphysics. As there is but one God, there can be but one Principle in this Science. As there are many stars, there must be many fixed rules for the demonstration of this Divine Principle.

"'The fundamental propositions among these rules are proved by inversion, for this is the basis of all true mathematics. Two times two is four, therefore four is two times two. As a star is the same whether seen from the north, south, east, or west, so a precept of Mentiphysics must be the same as seen from every side. To invert is not to change its meaning, and must prove its truth.' Then she gave me a printed card containing these words, over which I was to ponder until the next lesson:

"'N. N. N. There is no Pain in Truth, therefore there is no Truth in Pain. There is no Nerve in Mind, therefore there is no Mind in Nerve. There is no Matter in Mind, therefore there is no Mind in Matter. There is no Matter in Life, therefore there is no Life in Matter. There is no Matter in Good, therefore there is no Good in Matter. Nihil nocet nemini; nihil nemini nocet.'

"'Twenty-five dollars, please,' and I returned to my hotel filled with new thoughts, which I found later were very incomplete.

"The next day she said:

"'Man, my dear, is governed by Soul, not sense. Sense is the reflection, of matter, and matter does not exist. Thus sense is but the shadow of a dream. In dreams the laws of health are valueless. There is but one Law of Health, and that is the one precept of Neministic Healing.

"'To the awakened mind the seasons will come and go, with changes of time and tide, cold and heat, latitude and longitude. The agriculturist finds that these changes can not affect his crops. The mariner will have dominion over the atmosphere and the great deep, over the fish of the sea and the fowls of the air. The astronomer will no longer look up to the stars. He will look out from them upon the universe, and the florist will find his flower before he beholds its seed. Thus matter will be finally proved to be nothing but a mortal belief, wholly inadequate to affect man through its supposed organic action or existence.'

"Then she gave me another mystic card, which read:

"'N. N. N. We tread on forces. Withdraw them, and Creation must collapse. Nihil nocet nemini.' And this time I did not need to be reminded of the final ceremony with which the lesson ended. Nor did she need to clink the coins on the table.

"In the fourth lesson the president discoursed more fully on 'the popular gods, Sin, Sorrow, and Sickness, the three S's of Satan; all three illusions of the Sinful Soul. The very word Illusion proves their nothingness. These are but troubled dreams of the darkened soul, and to rise above them is to wake from a cataleptic nightmare to see the stars shining on the hills.

"'When troubled by a horrible dream, my dear, one has only to say, "This is a Dream; I will awaken." Then the stars will shine through the open window and the hideous vision will disappear.

"'So in afflictions of disease and dread and death, one must say, "This is a Dream." Then it becomes a dream, and we rise above it into an atmosphere of Perfect Serenity.

"'To the material sense, dear,' continued the president, 'to cut the jugular vein takes away life. But in Neministic Science Life goes on unchanged, mounting ever and ever to higher reaches, because there is no jugular vein, and Matter can not make its mark on Mind.

"'The Barometer, that little prophet of storm and sunshine, can not be deceived by testimony of the senses. It points to fair weather in the midst of the unreal apparition of murky clouds and threatening rain. Thus does Neministic Science, the perfect culmination of Mentiphysics, point to the changeless Health and Happiness of the Enlightened Man whatever material science may have to say about the condition of his members. Man is made in the image of perfection, therefore failure and imperfection can never assail him. As well expect to gather peaches from a pine tree as to gather discord from the Concord of Being.'

"Then she gave me a card:

"'N. N. N. The Equipollence of the Stars above and of the Mind below shows the awful unreality of Evil. Nihil nemini nocet.'

"After the usual parting ceremony I returned to my room, well convinced of the unreality of Boston, and doubting whether I should ever again find my own Alcalde. I feared lest some further precept might arise by which Alcalde could not exist.

"In the fifth lesson the president informed me that I was now in the second degree, or Normal Plane. We were ready for the first glimpse into the full, rounded perfection of Neministic Healing.

"'To cure men of all ills whatsoever, we have only to show them the stars. When we waken in the night, only the sight of the stars can tell us we are awake. When we are awake all dreams must vanish, and all is dream which breaks the serenity of the mind or checks the perfect perspicacity of being. We need not deal with the body, for the body does not exist. It is dull, heavy, and aching, because it is the dead Residuum of Dream. When we forget it, it is no longer there. Then and not till then can you smile the serene smile of the Neministically Healed and Mentiphysically Perfect Soul.'

"The little card read:

"'N. N. N. The body says, "I am ill." The reports of Sickness may form a coalition with the reports of Sin and say, "I am Malice, Lust, Appetite, Envy, Hate." Treat a belief in sickness as you would sin—with sudden dismissal. If it were not for what the human mind says of the body, the body would not be weary any more than an inanimate wheel. Nihil nemini nocet.'

"On the sixth day the president greeted me with her serenest smile.

"'We have now reached the point, my dear,' she said, 'when we must abandon Pharmaceutics and take up Ontology, the science of Abstract Being. In this we have many rivals who echo the cry, "Why art thou, NEMINISM, come hither to torment us before our time?" Among the systems that thus cry out are many whom this world deems successful. Animal Magnetism, Atheism, Spiritualism, Theosophy, Agnosticism, Pantheism, and Infidelity are antagonistic to Mentiphysics and fatal to the demonstration thereof, and of Neminism, its noblest culmination; and so,' she continued, 'are some other systems.'

"She warned me especially against Pantheism, 'the worship of the sylvan god Pan,' a cult reputed to be especially rife among the members of our club at Alcalde.

"I tried to explain to her the difference between Pantheism and Sciosophy, but I did not succeed very well, for she grew impatient. In her judgment, I discovered, Sciosophy was grossly impractical, and the views of Mr. Abner Dean would take the bread from the mouths of better men than he. 'I am told,' she said, 'that Mr. Dean actually signed that wicked paper[1] of those Washington soreheads, who call themselves the Reformed College of Neminism.' With this, she would not listen to another word about Sciosophy.

"Then I regretted that I had said anything, for this pleasant lesson came to an abrupt end, and left me without even the customary card to ponder over. I still wondered what could be the secret meaning of N. N. N., nihil nemini nocet.

"On the next day the storm had blown over, or rather, like all other storms, it had no real existence, and the smile of the president at the closing act of the lesson was the sweetest I had ever seen, the most perfect witness to the truth of her teachings.

"She took up the subject of Materia Medica. After reading from a printed book the names of a host of poisons, from Abacus to Swamproot and Sandalwood and Zygadene, she warned us against them all. All are alike evil. All alike have no real existence. Therefore the student will do well not to learn their names. It will only interfere with his serenity of mind, and perfect serenity is the sole symptom of success.

"'Surely this is better,' she said, 'than to support the popular systems of medicine, when the physician may be perchance an infidel and lose ninety-and-nine patients where Neminism cures its hundred. Is it because Osteopathy and Ostariopathy are more fashionable and less spiritual? Even business men have found that Neministic Science enhances their physical and mental powers, enlarges their perception of character, gives them acuteness and comprehensiveness, and an ability to exceed their ordinary business capacity,'

"Then she gave me this card:

"'N. N. N. In 1866 this discovery was made by me and by me alone: "The erring Mortal misnamed Mind produces all the organism and action of the mortal body." This led to the demonstration that Mind is All and matter is naught, and being nothing, nothing hurts nobody. Nobody hurts nothing, which proves it plainly by inversion. Nihil nocet nemini; nihil nemini nocet.'

"On the eighth day the president discoursed on Anatomy. Referring briefly to the pernicious notions of the 'ancients,' as with a broad sweep of her hand she designated the professors in Boston and Cambridge, concerning the structure of the human body, she called it the nightmare of undigested learning.' Why should we care where the jugular vein goes, when we know that there is no jugular vein? What of bones and muscles, and teguments and integuments?" Toil fatigues me," you say; but what is this me? Is it muscle or Mind? Which is tired, and so speaks? Without Mind could the muscles be tired? Do the muscles talk, or do you talk for them? Science includes no rule of discord, but governs harmoniously.'

"On the card were these words:

"'N. N. N. Flesh is an error of physical belief; a supposition that life, substance, and intelligence are in matter; an illusion; a belief that matter has sensations. Nihil nocet nemini.'

"On the ninth day I was admitted to the third degree, or the Introspective Plane. As the president entered, I noticed a touch of camellia powder on her face, for the subject of the day was Beauty. 'Beauty,' she said, 'is internal before it is perceived outwardly. To have perfect faith in the principle of Neminism is to regain the charms of Eternal Youth.' She told me of patients of hers who had become beautiful through faith. One good lady at ninety developed new teeth through belief in feminism—incisors, cuspids, bicuspids, and one molar. A gentleman at sixty had retained his full set of upper and lower teeth without a decaying cavity.

"On her card were these words:

"'N. N. N. The receipt for Beauty is to have less Illusion and more Soul. Nihil nemini nocet.'

"And, as the final ceremony was passed, the president looked almost beautiful herself.

"On the tenth day the president gave some account of her early studies and of the origin of Neministic Healing.

"'While from the human standpoint I inherited the refinement that goes with culture of family and moral rectitude, as usual here in Boston, yet there was a marked degree of spiritual Grace, Soulful Delicacy, and Esoteric Elegance that comes not from human ancestry, neither from communion with Nature. It was the exquisite coloring of the touch of the astral hand which opens the petals of thought as it does the opening rose. This ended in a soft glow of ineffable Joy, and out of its perfect serenity Neministic Science was born.

"'The discovery was so new, the basis laid down for physical and moral health so hopelessly original and men so unfamiliar with the subject, that not until later did I venture to proclaim it to the world.'

"On the card was—

"'N. N. N.
"'My world has sprung from Spirit
In Everlasting Day;
Whereof I've much to glory,
Wherefor have much to pay.'

"Under this was a picture of the egg of a vulture, in which, through his microscope, Agassiz once saw the sun, moon, stars, and the gathering of clouds. 'Nihil nemini nocet.'

"At the eleventh lesson I was directed to go out for clinical practice. In my hotel I found a dear little six-year-old boy who had been invited, with the rest of a kindergarten class, to attend a picnic.

"He did not feel that he wanted to go. He seemed dumpish, and, according to mortal belief, was not well. At noon he said that he wanted to go to sleep. I took him in my lap and began to read to him from Neministic Science and Astral Health with a Key to the Stars. Very soon he expressed a wish to go to the picnic, and did go. So I gave him a little card, with the words 'Nihil nemini nocet,' and all day he said nothing more about being sick.

"Next morning the president gave me an account of various wonderful cures in her experience. Among others, she showed me a letter from John B. Higgins, of Little Egg Harbor, N. J. This I copied down as follows:

"' I am glad to tell you how I was healed. Beliefs of consumption, dyspepsia, neuralgia, ulcers, tobacco, and bad language.… Doctors that were consulted did nothing to relieve me, and I constantly grew worse. Nearly two years ago you told me that if I would read a book called Neministic Science and Astral Health with a Key to the Stars, I would be healed. I told you I would go into it for all it was worth, and I found that it is worth all. I got the book and read day and night. I saw that it must be true, and believed that what I could not then understand would be made clear later. After some days' reading I was afflicted with drowsiness, followed by vomiting. This lasted several hours, when I fell into a sleep. I awoke healed.'

"The president assured me that if I would spend no time in intellectual drifting, adhering to the impersonal and scientific deductions of the one discoverer to whose clarified spiritual eye all truth of the mind had been revealed, with all the loyalty of a mathematician to the principles of mathematics, I would be sure of a comfortable fortune. Although money had no real existence, the shadow in its substance proved that there was after all substance in its shadow. The Neministic Healer is at no expense for books or instruments or medicine, providing always that the one perfect Key to the Stars (including Neministic Science and Astral Health) lies open before him. With that in sight he can not go wrong, and with perfect faith in the unreality of all external things it matters not in earthly affairs what he does or leaves undone.

"The card for this lesson was:

"'N. N. N. The population of our cities is ample to supply many practitioners, teachers, and preachers with work. To enter this field of labor beneficially to ourselves, it is necessary to demonstrate that the patient who is able to pay for being healed is more apt to recover than he who withholds a slight equivalent for health! Nihil nemini nocet.'

"At the last lesson the president informed me that my course of instruction was complete, and that I must now go forth and bless the world. I must lean no longer on her personal leadership, but, trusting in the spirit, I should rest solely on the pure Mentiphysical principle at work. As a pioneer of Neministic Healing in the far uncultured West, I must stand alone in the conflict, smiting error with the falchion of Truth. The rare bequests of the spirit are costly, and they have won fields of battle from which the dainty borrower would have fled.'

"I spoke once or twice of my diploma, without which I could not practice my profession under the laws of Fresno County. At first she made as if she did not hear me, but at last she said:

"'The Massachusetts University of Mentiphysics draws its breath from me, but I yearn for retirement. No one else can sustain this institution amid the legislation aimed at its vital purpose. This has given me conscientious scruples about diplomas, and, with the growing conviction that every one should build on his own foundation, no more diplomas shall be issued from this flourishing school.

"'But do not worry, dear,' she said. 'Your power is just the same with or without diploma. You can make known the rare bequests of the Spirit quite as well as a martyr as you could as a physician. The faithful will stand by you. Those who believe will always pay. Take this locket, and hang it about your neck. It will contain the quintessence of all my teachings, and with this in your right hand and Neministic Science and Astral Health with a Key to the Stars in your left, you will drain the cup which I have drained to the dregs as the discoverer and teacher of Neminism, and without tasting this cup its inspiration can not be gained.'

"Then I took the little locket, and here it is. On one side are the letters D. N. N. N., 'which,' she said, 'makes its holder a doctress.' On the reverse is the face of Lydia Pinkham, while around the margin, in fine gilt letters, is a scroll with the motto, 'Nihil nemini nocet.' Mr. Gridley, the learned professor of our Alcalde school, says this means 'nothing hurts nobody.' But I am sure that there is more in it than that; besides, whatever it is we can prove it by inversion: Nihil nocet nemini; nihil nemini nocet—one is true like the other, and its symbolic significance is proved by its three N's, for N is the symbol of eternity. At least, this is what the president told me. But now that I am back in Alcalde, the whole thing seems like a dream, while all the things I had learned to call dreams seem more real than ever. Maybe I am still on the Material Plane after all, in spite of all I have done and all the rest of us in Alcalde are doing to try to rise above it."

  1. In this document it is asserted that Neministic Science and Astral Health with a Key to the Stars "and all of the inspired writings shall be free—i.e., free from the love of the lust of gain and that the charging of three dollars for Science and Health, etc., when it can be printed and sold for less than fifty cents per copy, is wrong in principle, and, in effect, shuts the doors of this beautiful truth upon the poor by thus putting a prohibitive price upon it. . . . We hold that in the giving of class instruction the teacher is entitled to a reasonable compensation, and give our opinion that such compensation should be ten dollars, and we do condemn the present practice when they charge one hundred dollars for a series of twelve lessons. Take a class of thirty—which is not unusual—the teacher receives about $258 per day for two hours' work. This is unjust, and especially so, because many of these teachers are unable and unfit for teaching. "In the matter of healing, when the healer gives the proper time to the work, one dollar per treatment ought not to be excessive, but the practice of some of charging before the patient is received into the room and then heavily charged for the treatment, is an outrage,… and should be prohibited."—See full text, Washington News Letter, September 6, 1899; Editor.