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The Problem of Life

He who is immersed in what concerns person or place cannot see the problem of existence. —Emerson

We have heard much of the "conflict" between science and religion.

There can be no inharmony between true science and true religion.

The conflict is always between "sciolism" (or false science) and religion, or between science and "superstition," which is false religion.

There is no such thing as "religion" or "science" taken separately.

Science is true knowledge. All true knowledge is divine, and relates us to the infinite through the understanding.

Consequently all true science comprehends religion, and genuine religion must be scientific.

There is no philosophy or creed without a plank of truth in it; no science or religion that is altogether false.

Our theories may be wrecked upon the shoals of error; but like Paul and his companions on their eventful voyage, it will come to pass that we will find some boards and broken pieces of the ship on which we will all escape safely to land.

There can be no antagonism between spirit and matter.

If we find in matter the manifestation of spirit, we can surely have no quarrel with it.

The "conflict" of life resolves itself into the problem of life.

The sculptor does not despise the clay or marble which he moulds or chisels into form. He does not resent the fact that it is necessary for him to spend his time and effort in the work.

It is his chosen art, and the materials he uses are those that are best adapted to his purpose.

The "conflict" we experience is between mind and matter, when the mind has been misled by false instruction to regard matter as its natural foe.

Or it may be between spirit and sensuality, when the senses rebel at the dominion of the spirit.

This is the cause of all disease, and the house falls because it is divided against itself.

Harmony of all our functions can result only in health.

The attempt at strangulation will bring always conflict and disease. Symmetry is perfect and abounding life upon all planes of our being.

One may have an educated mind without a liberal spirit.

Our virtues manifest on the different planes of humanity with varied appearances and results.

What is a virtue upon one plane may be a vice upon another.

No symmetry of character is possible until the physical, intellectual, and spiritual phases of our nature have been all recognized and harmonized.

Until that point is reached we cannot be well poised or centered, and are not accepted sovereigns in our own domains.

The unfoldment of mankind is through the carnal mind and mortal body, its material expression,— the psychic mind and astral body which obeys it, and the spiritual mind of our true ego with the spiritual body which incorporates it, and of which all else is but imperfect manifestation of the great central force.

The majority of the race knows nothing beyond the material or animal plane. A few have discovered the existence of the psychic, and remain attached to its material phenomena.

The truly awakened spirit seeks good as the chief aim of its being and enters upon the uplands of the highest wisdom, advancing toward an ever-receding and broadening horizon.

All the impulses of nature are toward righteousness.

No right use of any faculty or organ can exhaust or weary. Life is inexhaustible. Health is harmonious vibration. It draws always through the negative in exact proportion as it expresses itself through the positive.

If the feed pipes of a reservoir are not as large as the outflow, the result is emptiness. If they are larger, it is congestion.

When the positive and negative channels of our being are properly adjusted to one another, harmony can be preserved and life perpetuated.

When supply and demand are perfectly balanced, waste and repair are exactly maintained. The issue can be only life.

Death has then become impossible. We cannot afford to neglect either pole of our activities.

We must not stagnate in the intake or the outflow.

The anxious thought of the personal self closes the valves of receptivity and outward movement.

These valves are automatic and most delicately adjusted. When either is closed, stagnation and death follow.

A drop of blood is chemically the same in the foot as in the brain, and circulates through both. It is of as much importance in one place as another. It is desirable to walk as well as to think. The gait is the expression of the thought.

We do not need to limit and strangle our senses. It is better to enlarge and extend them. We are only half alive, and yet there are those who insist that truth requires us to stultify and cripple ourselves further by asceticism,—to put out our eyes and stop our ears. This is the method of ignorance, but never of enlightenment. It will not succeed, as the external is but the expression of the interior life and has its perfect correspondence. Until an organ or a function is perfected it should not fall into permanent disuse. Higher forms are evolved through the perfection of the lower. It is the method of evolution.

Heretofore we have classified as separate factors of life "religion," "science," "business." We have made arbitrary definitions, which have always produced confusion and inharmony. We have been afraid of our chemicals; we have not dared to bring them into close relations in our alembics. We have feared that religion would neutralize business and society, that there was no chemical affinity. "Business is business" has been the motto hung upon the walls of our laboratory of life. We have had no real knowledge of spiritual chemistry. Explosions in our retorts have been of frequent occurrence.

We have now begun to study life in the science of thought, and from an entirely different standpoint.

We have discovered new formulas of chemical analysis. We have found new properties in our acids and our alkalies.

We have learned of solvents which make it possible to unite the primates in fresh and powerful combinations.

Love is the strongest solvent, the mightiest reagent in the chemistry of life.

It neutralizes all resentment; it clarifies the atmosphere of all malarial emotions; it is the great deodorizer; it is a divine ozone. None of us are above the foundations of our lives. Yet we sit down before our work and imagine ourselves the chosen architects of royal structures.

We worship our ideal facade as if it were a temple we had already built at the divine command.

We are only stone masons after all as yet, and need to learn our trade and lay the stones of the foundation level and plumb.

We must not despise the material conditions, or fancy that we have no longer any use for them. It is a common form of spiritual conceit. The fact that we find ourselves existing in a world of matter, in spite of all "denials," is sufficient evidence to a reasonable mind that it contains the elements we require at the present point of our development, and none of them are to be depreciated.

The lotus flower (the spiritual symbol of the East) is rooted in the mud. It is quite as much indebted to the mud and water for its beauty as to the air and sunshine in which it blooms. We must not scorn the study of root culture, or neglect it in enthusiasm for the beauties of the orchid; for though that exquisite flower is an air plant, it needs to attach itself to a sturdier growth that is rooted in the ground and draws its nourishment from the soil to feed both itself and its parasite. The tree will outlive many seasons of orchids.

Let us attend carefully to all the homely affairs of the present life, for therein will we find our spiritual lessons.

Defective physiology ought no longer to be mistaken for spirituality.

A good tree does not bring forth corrupt fruit. Until we have perfected our material bodies, we have no reason to think we have outgrown the need of them; until we have learned to be faithful over the few things, we must not deceive ourselves with the idea that we are chosen to be rulers over many things.

We are threefold beings, functioning upon planes of material, mental, and spiritual activity.

None of these activities need to be sacrificed to another.

All should vibrate pleasantly together, else we can have no true holiness, no "perfect peace."

Health is the key to character. The converse of this is also true. Character is the key to health. It is a good rule, and works both ways.

Name the disease, and a skillful mental healer can often diagnose the character. Give a truthful description of the character, and the healer can describe the disease which is most liable to manifest itself when the occasion is presented.

Life is no tangle when we have come into the realization of principles.

Our lives are too often fragmentary; our thoughts and purposes are broken and uncertain. We do not sight our telescopes long enough on single truths and follow them boldly where they lead. Else we narrow the orbit of our instrument by shortening its leverage and contracting its base. We do not keep our lenses clean and clear.

We lack steadiness and courage. We need to withdraw ourselves from the tumult of environment. We must concentrate on the study of the larger universal system.

We remain too often in our basements. Let us mount to the calm solitude of our observatory towers and look abroad into interplanetary spaces.

We must focus our spiritual vision. We have scattered ourselves and dissipated forces that are of incalculable power. It is the thought turned in that is the cause of all disease. It is not strange that we have so feeble an understanding of the problems of life, when we have lived so selfishly and so exclusively in the externals.

We have preferred the shadows to the substance, the illusions to the realities.

But these problems must be met. They cannot be longer postponed.

We may play truant for a while and spend our time on the playground. But dame Nature will surely bring us back to our tasks. Death will usher us, not into the fool's paradise we have ignorantly fancied, but into the truant's court.

Wasted opportunities will be the charge.

If we fail to respond nobly to any of the demands of our daily life, we involve ourselves in still more trying conditions.

Nature never overestimates our capacity, and never sets for us a harder problem than we can solve. We will not be dismissed until our task is done. So all our interests unite in urging us to the fulfillment of every opportunity of good presented to us—today.

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Charles B. Newcomb

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