He in whom the love of truth predominates will keep himself aloof from all moorings and afloat. —Emerson.
Life is inspiration and expression. If we fail in one, we fail in both. We often close ourselves to fresh thought by our tenacity of the old. The attempt to harmonize the old and the new thought is as if a tree were to cling to its dead leaves and expect at the same time to renew its foliage. When good reason is shown for doing so, we must be willing to let go favorite ideas and prejudices. As long as we hold on we cannot move forward.
We have been taught to "hold fast that which is good." It is of equal importance to let go of whatever has served its purpose. Having gained a higher thought, why still cling to the lower? Life is not accumulation; it is circulation. Must existence, therefore, necessarily include unrest and disease, disappointment and loss? We fall easily into the habit of believing life to be chiefly discipline and trial. Is this the whole truth? Is not perfect peace possible here and now? Must work be always anxious, and rest without repose? Must we continue to hasten through our occupations without any real enjoyment, but only a feeling of dissatisfaction because of deficiencies?
We dwell too often in the negative conditions of life. We labor day after day, with no hope except the chance of attaining an indefinite goal called "heaven." "Such is life," we say to one another,as we limp along with heavy hearts, dimming eyes, and wrinkled faces. In our ignorance we pride ourselves that we can say, "Thy will be done." We imagine sorrow and trouble are sent by God, and we moan with one another in "sympathy." Truly, Emerson might say that men are "like gods playing the fool." Let our eyes be opened and this nightmare be dispelled. We are but in the morning, and the long day stretches out in a glorious perspective.
Heaven can never be found through death. Death of itself brings nothing. It is an error to believe that death in the mortal sense is "gain." Through death we will not find treasures or lamented friends unless they and we, through the harmonies of truth, are drawn into spiritual companionship. Upon the other shore we shall find what we take with us. Gain comes only through development.
Environment is not a fetter, though often proffered as an excuse for the poverty of our lives. Such thoughts act as opiates to personal dissatisfaction. In bondage we may be, but, if so, as willing captives—slaves to many masters who all serve under the one great potentate of selfishness. We desire power, and yet are ruled by self-appointed taskmasters. Toiling and sweating under heavy burdens, dare men submit their troubles to an honest spiritual analysis and be ready to let them go? This is a searching question. Self-pity is carefully nursed and enjoyed with morbid satisfaction.
There was once a young man in Galilee who thought he desired eternal life till he was bidden to relinquish his accumulations. He went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. This is the case with many who are attracted to the new thought of the day. They make but little progress, and the reason is not difficult to find. They are not willing to let go. They want to hold on to old ideas, old standards of living, and old habits. They are afraid of finding themselves cut loose from the old moorings of thought. Anchored so many years, their anchors are embedded in the mud, and their life-craft is covered with barnacles. It would take a serious effort to cut their cables— to put the ship in order and be ready to sail on a voyage of discovery. Pride and indolence forbid. What would people think of such unusual preparations? The ocean of Truth is very wide. How can they, with a new pilot, sail away from the haven where a fleet of friends lies idly swinging at anchor? At last a storm arises and breaks the cable chains. The conservative mariners are driven out to sea by some event of life—a death, or an illness, possibly a bankruptcy. Their seamanship is tested as never before. It is found, alas! very sadly at fault, and navigation must be studied anew. Ballast has not been stowed away, and, as for cargo, it must all be thrown overboard to right the ship.
Then begins the great lesson of letting go. Adrift and not well provisioned, men realize that their so-called "faith in God" was only faith in friends, in bank accounts, in church, or social position. Their "great possessions" prove to be like the "emigrant's gold"—the iron pyrites of the mining regions that are carefully hoarded by the tenderfoot until he learns that "fool's gold" can buy nothing.
These fancied riches may be the self-righteousness of the pietist, the intellectual treasures of the scholar, worldly friendships, or influence and business credit. All these would be sadly compromised by any association with new cults. So men prefer their bondage, and indulge their indolence rather than let go. For the future, they are consoled by the expectation of a paradise where all treasures will be found; for the present, they cling to the bric-a-brac of life—things and friends and reputation.
But what is highly esteemed among men is but lightly regarded in the kingdom of good. Humanity can only postpone the day when there will be petitioners in bankruptcy mournfully crying, "Who will show us any good?" Men must begin some time and somewhere as little children, before they can enter the kingdom of Truth.
We need not be either "tempest tossed" or "fog bound" upon any day of our human existence, for we are spiritually equipped for every possible emergency of life, and need only recognize the divine power and intelligence at our command, to give us soundings and bring us into port.
It is always we ourselves who raise the billows that threaten to engulf us, and the fogs that shut out our horizon, through our own mental agitations. In the severest storm, that ship rides easily that is encircled by the oil thrown out from its own cargo.