It is not fit that I should give myself pain, for I have never intentionally given pain even to another. —Marcus Aurelius.
Small annoyances are the seeds of disease. We cannot afford to entertain them. They are the bacteria,—the germs that make serious disturbance in the system, and prepare the way for all derangements. They furnish the mental conditions which are manifested later in the blood, the tissues, and the organs, under various pathological names.
Good thoughts are the only germicide. We must kill out resentment and regret, impatience and anxiety. Health will inevitably follow.
Every thought that holds us in even the slightest degree to either anticipation or regret hinders, to some extent, the realization of our present good. It limits freedom.
Life is in the present tense. Its significant name is "Being."
A normal nature does not need the stimulus of hope. "Hope" and "try" are words that drop away from us when we have got to spelling in two syllables. They are like milestones on a mountain road that mark the point to which we have climbed. When we have reached a higher outlook, we say "I know," "I do."
We no longer waver in our purpose. We do not believe it necessary to vibrate between hope and fear, effort and failure. We are not searching for the unknown quantity in the algebra of life,— the "x" which stood for happiness, success, and health in our experimental days. We work now with more positive propositions, and know that in our problems there is no doubt of the results. We enjoy the happiness the moment brings us, whether we are in sun or shadow to other eyes.
Our vision is open to the changing lights of sunrise, noon, and sunset, night and morning. All have beauties of their own. When we have adjusted the sounding-board and mirror of the mind, the scales of tone and color bring us inexhaustible harmonies.
Sympathetic vibration is the key of life. Every experience is limited by its responsive chords. Nothing can reach us from without, except as it awakens vibration within. This is equally true of joy and sorrow.
We often fail to value our little difficulties truly. We cannot overestimate their usefulness in the practical application of principles. We cannot learn to read if we neglect the primer. We cannot build till we have laid foundation stones. We add to our foundations every time we meet a little difficulty well. This is the way to fit ourselves for larger work in the emergencies and opportunities of life. Let us overcome vexation of all kinds. Let us be always tranquil and serene in every provocation. It is possible to the great soul.
None is ready for the higher outlook till this triumph of principle has been achieved.
Ponderous and marvelous machinery is sometimes thrown out of gear by small obstructions. Express trains can be easily derailed. Either the obstruction is demolished, the obstacle is brushed aside, or great disaster follows.
Every unpleasant thought must be immediately crushed out and thrown away. We cannot permit it to produce a mental jar, or interrupt our spiritual progress. It is the test of spiritual will.
Passive resentment to people and events is perhaps more subtle and injurious than open protest. We do not require resignation; that is only a masked vice. We want cheerful and bold acceptance of the problem. By this alone will we ever overcome and prepare the pleasanter conditions we desire.
Let us learn to actually forget an injury. It is the only true forgiveness. To forgive is to forego, and to forego includes forgetfulness. In the same way we must forget all trouble. Our recollections cause our mental inflammations and congestions. Real forgiveness does not assert, "I can never forget."
Regret is self-resentment. When we have come to maturity we do not grieve over the blots and crooked pothooks in our copy-books. When we were learning to write, they may have caused us many tears. Regrets would fade as we grow if we did not weave them into a hair shirt to wear against our skin.
Nature is quick to wipe out all unpleasant sensations and retain only what is agreeable in life. Our penances are self-imposed; we gain from them a certain selfish gratification. They turn our thoughts inward and backward, when we ought to turn them outward and concentrate them upon the present.
All fear includes resentment; we resent what we fear, and will discover it in an honest analysis. Perfect love will cast it out. Regret and resentment bind upon us heavy burdens, from which we should cut loose.
Forgetfulness is the chief remedy we need for most of our diseases. It is a cleansing medicine for the blood. The links of memory compose the chain that fastens to us the disease from which we suffer. When we have cast off the remembrance of our troubles, we are no longer distressed by the power of association. Resentment and regret have vanished; the congestion and inflammation have disappeared; the cramps are gone. A new life and buoyancy have come to us, such as we have not felt for many a day. We find ourselves surprisingly light-hearted. The sunshine has grown brighter and the air clearer. We are glad we are alive. The only change has been in our emancipation from resentment and regret.
We overlook the dangers of annoyance,—mortification, disappointment, indignation; as long as these impulses tincture our mind to the slightest degree we suffer unrest and fear. We dwell too much upon the thought of consequences,— "What will be the result of this act, this word, this letter?" How will it be regarded.
We forget that if our purpose is truly wise and righteous, its fruit must be eventually good in the nature of things. Let us stoutly refuse to be alarmed, though the whole world should disapprove. Let us trust the soul's intelligence. The good within us is our judge. Perfect peace is the touchstone of true living, and it abides with those whose minds are "stayed on good."
In astrology we often hear of "good" and "evil" days,—of "benefic" and "malefic" influences. In every-day life we easily fall into the habit of looking forward to "better things." If one day, or one event, or one place could be better for us than another, does it not follow logically that God is changeable, and does not govern our lives at all times and places with equal wisdom, but that "accident" and "mischance" intervene, which are beyond either his power or desire to prevent? If this be true we cannot depend always upon God, for other influences exist which are stronger than he. If, on the other hand, we admit that God is love, it follows of necessity that all is good, if we include also a belief in the absolute sovereignty of God. Everything that Supreme Love can devise and accomplish for its creatures is being fulfilled in every life at every instant of its existence. May we not, then, safely claim that nothing can limit the good that comes to us except our own lack of recognition?