"In quietness and confidence shall be thy strength."
"Thy strength is to sit still."
"Be still and know."
There is a curious restlessness frequently to be observed among students in the science of thought. It is displayed in a greed for books and lectures which is never satisfied. This is a consequence of working upon the old lines of action and seeking truth in the externals. It is an expectation of good from others, a looking for something outside of one's self, a demand for a "revelation." These eager ones have developed an abnormal appetite and are suffering from a metaphysical fever. This is a purely intellectual disease. It results from a mixed diet. If the food were analyzed it would include a curious combination of the occult, spiritualistic, theosophical, and religious elements indiscriminately combined,— a sort of metaphysical hash, which has resulted in a mental dyspepsia. The sufferers have stumbled at the simplicity of truth. They have mistaken theories for principles. The principles of life are few. Though "he who runs may read," they are best learned in quiet meditation.
Most men distress themselves with interminable speculations and complicated mathematics. They have not found the factors for the solution of life's problems. They mistake the problems. We are not yet ready for the higher mathematics; we are still studying the tables. We are too intense and anxious. It is not necessary to weigh and measure spiritual food. It is not desirable to examine our own pulse and temperature, and get upon the scales to ascertain if we are gaining in spiritual condition and avoirdupois. We regulate our watches by a gentle touch of a single lever that governs the vibrations of the hairspring. We do not waste our time by continually pushing about the hands upon the dial. The regulator is concealed within the case. The works that move the hands are seldom seen, but in them is all the power concentrated. It is our thoughts that require our care, rather than our actions. We regulate our thoughts by forgetting ourselves and giving no heed to appetite or diet. We breathe truth as we breathe the atmosphere,— by simply letting good work in and through us without effort. "Kill out the hunger for growth." It is a feverish longing which enervates and hinders. It is not a condition of spiritual progress. We must learn to spell "Peace" in capital letters and etch it in every cell of brain and heart, in every corpuscle of blood that flows through them. The "still, small voice" is never heard when our vibrations are disturbed by worriment. We are like captive balloons. It is our nature to rise to higher levels. The ground anchors that hold us are our troubled thoughts.
"Rivers to the ocean run,
Nor stay in all their course;
Fire ascending seeks the sun,
Each speeds it to its source."
If we will only let go of ourselves we will easily come into the harmonies of being. It is because of egotism that we are "ever learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth." It takes us such a long time to discover that the ocean of truth is buoyant and we cannot sink in it. How we bob around with our old-fashioned life-preservers instead of boldly striking out as swimmers! Our tenacity of fear and our self-consciousness are truly wonderful. Our artificial aids are our worst impediments. The water is one of our native elements. We have in ourselves all the buoyancy we need. All we lack is boldness to move forward. Spiritual development brings us into more and more direct relations with the all-pervading good. Is not one step in a journey as good as another if all lead toward our goal? Can any step lead us away from good if good is everywhere? Does not all experience increase our realization and promote spiritual consciousness in the end? Action, reaction, and adjustment are the operation of the law of progress. When we have adjusted our lives to right purposes every experience will be transmuted into wisdom. We will learn something from every book that is opened to us in our daily life.
There are two distinct methods of obtaining results. One is through the strong exercise of personal will, and one is found in the true philosophy of "letting go." Willing and letting. The purely human impulse is to will and act. A higher spiritual development discloses to us that the tides and currents of human life move with an irresistible power and always in the right direction. To gain the best results we have only to put ourselves fearlessly in the stream and move in harmony with spiritual law. We can never obstruct, but we may be, through our own act, in such uncomfortable relations to these tides and currents that we suffer discord in ourselves. The personal will of itself can change appearances. It never reaches real results. The spiritual will is omnipotent. We fail to recognize its power. Many are even ignorant of its existence. No true work can ever be accomplished until purposed and directed by the spiritual will. Such work can never fail. Success is its inevitable result. We need not spend our time in looking for it. Its demonstration will be prompt and thorough when we have made it possible through harmony of thought. The spiritual will is the Divine. We need only allow its powerful currents to flow through us. This is "letting go." Obstinacy is diseased will. It does not show strength of character. It is the expression of a weak and sullen nature. True determination is like finely tempered steel, which is extremely flexible because of its great tensile strength. If it were brittle it would be at the same time rigid.
When one is conscious of a power he is always confident in its possession. He does not think frequent assertion or special demonstration necessary. He is not troubled at the thought of skepticism in others. His feeling of serenity cannot be disturbed. The highest character yields easily and pleasantly to the preferences of others in non-essential things, for the simple reason that it knows its own resources are inexhaustible. Its pleasure lies in giving satisfaction and conferring benefits. It does not act from a weak motive to please, but as the natural expression of its own rich nature which has outgrown the petty thoughts of self. It yields abundantly because its growth is opulent and its vigor tireless. It has no careful, anxious thought for others any more than for itself. It is utterly indifferent to another's opinion where action involves a principle. It trusts its own motive and acts without question of results. The mercenary spirit shows itself as truly in the greed for spiritual and intellectual power as in the greed for wealth or fame. So long as it is power that we seek our aim is selfish and deplorable. Aspiration is no better than ambition if it is rooted in selfish desire. Simple and true Being is a condition of spiritual equipoise which recognizes that there is no "higher" or "lower" in infinite space nor in the kingdom of Good. Nothing to be "lost" or "gained." No "goal" to be attained, no "conflict" to be won, no "hope" nor "fear." Nothing that relates to the emotions. Only a life to be lived. It is one of our pet delusions that we have "much to contend with." There is nothing to "contend" within a true life. "But I say unto you that ye resist not evil " is more than a moral injunction. It suggests a truth that is both scientific and philosophical. We "fight" with shadows. Truth is never embodied in a "cause" demanding our defense. It does not need us as its "champions," either in society or the domestic circle. We are not to consider that we are retained as its especial advocates. All men can see the sun. It is of no consequence to any other than ourselves if we choose to hide in the shadows. Truth needs no torch-bearers. It scorns our puny telescopes, searching for the spots in the sun. Truth is opulent. It has an unlimited wardrobe. We need not insist that it
dress always in the colors of our choice. Some would clothe it in black, to accord with their own somber thoughts; some in gray, and some in all the vivid colors of a joyful mind. But Truth itself, when fully seen, is clad in the white robes of the perfect light, combining all colors in radiant harmony. Truth has many names. It is best known as "Love."
Many of us are troubled by a missionary spirit which keeps us in perpetual anxiety for the "cause" of the new thought, or in an eager desire that it should be recognized by certain individuals who seem to us to greatly need it. We should have no such anxious care. When Truth offers us the privilege of its expression and employs us among its many voices, we can never fail to know the hour. We will respond, like Samuel, "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth." Meanwhile, let us rid ourselves of "missionary zeal." It is a most pernicious influence. It has no proper place in an enlightened spirit. Let us slow down our vibrations and test our thought cells and secretions under the microscope when we begin to think we "have a mission," or have received the visits of spiritual celebrities. All highly developed spirits, in the form or out of it, have grown to be impersonal and lost all thought of fame. The desire to be known is certain evidence of an unregenerate mind. There is much missionary zeal that is only inflamed ambition for notoriety. We are misled by the thought of "fame." We imagine special power and grandeur in the personality, and do obeisance to it in our hero worship, as though it were some great thing in itself. When we look at the glow of the incandescent lamp we remember the powerful engines and dynamos from which the electric current is produced. We remember that this same current illumines countless other lamps. It flows always in the direction of the least resistance. The lamp is only one small manifestation of an inexhaustible power. Its particular film must be free from obstruction, and a good conductor, else it will not shine at all and illuminate its own little radius. If the electric current is too strong, it burns out its wires and does not hold. We must not forget to keep our circuits open. If we suffer, we may be sure that something is wrong in our spiritual circulation. We must pass the current on. Yet it is also true in electricity that the most brilliant light is often at the point of obstruction. In our experiences of trouble we manifest the character of the light that is in us.
It is not of so much importance as we are apt to think just what we do or fail to do,—whether we eat much or little, dress in gay or sober raiment, read or meditate, are active or inactive. The vital matter is the character of our thought life and the purity of our purpose. If these are true, all circumstances and environments will quickly respond and adjust themselves harmoniously. We need not fear to aim at the highest good for ourselves and others; but we must be confident of its attainment, without reserve or limitation. We are too ardent and intense, and, in consequence, near-sighted. The eagle's eye is telescopic; he sights his food when flying high. If we do not obstruct our spiritual vision through our petty desires, and tempers, and fears, there is no instant of life when our perceptions will be dim. We must be as content in waiting as in action, as well satisfied in one place as another. We must learn to regard all persons, places, and occupations with the same tranquility. This is more than "patient endurance," more than "toleration;" it is that confident love which brings the peace that showeth understanding. Only when we have reached this point are we polarized to truth, and beyond all disturbance from without. We are then for the first time truly alive, in full vigor and with a boundless horizon.
One of our severest lessons is to learn to wait, we have been so hypnotized by the popular thought of doing. And so we fuss and fume, and build card houses that are forever tumbling about our ears, and pride ourselves on our "activities," without knowing that all real activity is in mind. When we remember the tireless energy of the universal life of which we are a part, we know that it can never fail us. We need not carry the world on our shoulders. If we have a true understanding of life, we are never wearied. Life and happiness are possible under all conceivable conditions. Good is infinite energy, and in good we live. It is also infinite repose. In good there is no "great" and no "small." No work is "insignificant or "splendid." No day or event is of greater or less "importance" than another. We cease to compare, for all is life, and all is good. In spiritual chemistry "being" is the true primate; "doing" is its manifestation. The first impulse of newly awakened spiritual life is often (following the old lines of thought) to obtain and expend money for "good work." Of this we may be certain, God is opulence. Good work can never be really obstructed or delayed by lack of material means. We must not be deceived by appearances. Spiritual work requires spiritual tools. When the soil is ready flowers grow. The finest of flowers bloom in the sandiest of deserts as well as in the hothouses. God is the one gardener. Our responsibility lies chiefly in the cultivation of our own fields and orchards. If we are wise and faithful in this, the harvest will feed and delight the world. We will no longer be "sorry" for ourselves or others when we have learned that at every moment of existence every human being is experiencing exactly that which his development requires. The experience passes just as soon as the lesson is learned. This has been curiously illustrated in our national life. The tide of civil war rolled back from the time that we recognized the moral issue involved in the struggle and proclaimed emancipation of the slave. If "being" in us is symmetrical, we will never be distressed about the lack of opportunities in doing. We will never falter.
"Thou hast the truth,
Thou hast the life within thee,—
It shall guide aright.
Trust then thy promptings day by day
And safely they shall lead the way."
We are often told that human life is limited by its pre-natal conditions.
This is doubtless true in a sense, for we are the consequence of previous causes. But we are beginning to understand that the causes were in ourselves rather than our ancestors.
We are now molding the pre-natal conditions of what we term "the next life."
Certainly these are within our control. When we open our eyes in the subjective realms to the discomforts we have entailed upon ourselves, shall we still be pleading pre-natal conditions in excuse?
We always see a mountain peak long before we reach it.
On a clear day it seems much nearer to us than it really is.
It is often so with our realization of truth. We perceive it in the distance, and the journey toward it is an experience of education. But we are apt to crawl painfully over the rough ground and forget that we have wings as well as feet.
As from the heavens above. The glory of good is just as manifest in the gutters as in the high places of the land.
We need not think of animal and divine conditions as separate things.
The unity of good is the most apparent truth in life.
When we have learned the first page of the primer we begin to perceive this and it becomes more manifest every day.
All potentialities are in ourselves, just the same as they are in the acorn and unfolded in the oak.
All winds and weathers are favorable to the development of the sturdy, well-rooted tree. Even the hurricane which strips it of its leaves and branches quickens all its vital powers, challenging it to put forth greater strength.
If it is cut down in part the result is a sturdier trunk and a more compact and symmetrical growth thereafter.
Even if it is toppled over by the storm its acorns are scattered and become the seeds of the forest.
In its ruin it goes back to the soil, from which spring other trees.
No life can be lost; conservation of forces is the law of nature.
Can we imagine a mechanic who would build a beautiful and intricate machine without a definite plan for its usefulness and provision for keeping it in operation?
Is it not equally unreasonable to believe in a supreme mind equal to the production of a mortal life that could neglect all provision for its necessities and leave it to fail in its intended purpose through the poverty of its resources?
There are no failures in the kingdom of good.
Our highest development comes often through our deepest disappointments.
Disappointment is the discovery of obstructions to ways we should not travel,— or the removal from our paths of things we ought not to have.
If we are truly balanced our needle will always find the north, but we must give it time to settle. We need not fear we shall be left in doubt. The right way will surely open though we may try a hundred doors meanwhile and find them locked. Nothing can close against us the door we should pass through.
We cannot miss our gates of opportunity. We must look for them first in our mental conditions.
The lowest step of the ladder is just as useful and necessary as the highest. In the evolution of life we find no bottom and no top stair,— only an eternal progress of realization, in which there can be no "better days" and no "unfortunate events."
All days and all events are built into the symmetrical structure of our lives.
The smallest stone in the mosaic picture is as necessary as the largest to the finished work, though it add but a single point of color.
It has its place, and its significance, which cannot be dispensed with without marring the mosaic as a work of art.
There is no individual, no community or nation, no period of time, no work of man that is wholly good or wholly bad.
The warp and the woof of life are many tinted. Why should we be so quick to commend or condemn because our taste in color is gratified or offended?
Praise and blame are alike undesirable to one who knows that no true judgment can be ever reached except when we judge ourselves.
Life is an experience of ripening. The green fruit has but small resemblance to that which is matured. Our judgments of each other are necessarily imperfect as our experience and knowledge of any human life is very limited. As our horizon widens we become more charitable and patient; we learn to understand the beauty of that Hindoo proverb, "To know all is to forgive all."
The greatest service one can render another is to believe in him.
Let us persistently refuse to take each other seriously when we express anything but our best; to think meanly of another tends to lower his tone and relax his hold upon himself.
It is a great loss to lose the good opinion and confidence of one's fellows. It is a far greater loss to forfeit even for a moment one's right to think well of himself. But even this is not irreparable. Though all the rigging of our ship of life has gone by the board and nothing but the hull remains to us, we may yet come safely into port and with a new outfitting sail on more prosperous voyages.
Infidelity to self is infidelity to God.
It is through defeat that we are schooled to victory.
Broken bones when well knitted are strongest at the points of fracture.
In spite of all our seeming failures and the bitter disappointments of our purposes, we will none of us find at the last that our life was altogether fruitless; many things of which we thought but little will bring to us the greatest satisfaction; many friends whom we esteemed most lightly will doubtless stand revealed as of the noblest stature.
He who has learned a single letter of the alphabet has not entirely wasted his opportunities; he may indeed have neglected his spelling and possibly require many mortal lives before he learns to read in the Book of Truth.
We must get done with watching for fruit; it is not the aim and end of our existence, but only a single point in the infinite circle.
Let us allow a sentient life to the tree and follow the course of its growth from the seed to fruition, through the root life, the trunk, the branch, the leaf, bud, blossom, and fruit. The fruit embodies future growth, and is perfected that it may fall to the ground and deposit the seed for further evolution. At what point can we claim any higher satisfaction for the tree over any other point of its development? Cannot we see that at every moment it fulfills its law of being? It is doubtless as well satisfied in striking its roots down as in spreading its branches out. It must have just as much pleasure in its leaves as in its fruit,— all these are the varied expressions of its life, which never dies but moves in an eternal round of growth, decay, and resurrection.
Let us value the passing hour and concentrate on it all our forces.
Anticipation and regret will only scatter them.
We can never reach the point of present realization till we have broken both these fetters.
Realization comes through the concentration of the spiritual power that has been wasted on our "feelings."
When we focus sunshine through a concave lens, we can fire a forest or a city.
"Speak to the children of Israel, that they go forward."
Let us move on and step out boldly, though it be into the night and we can scarcely see the way.
The path will open as we progress, like the trail through the forest or the alpine pass, which discloses but a few rods of its length from any single point of view.
Press on! If necessary we will find even the pillar of cloud and fire to mark our journey through the wilderness.
A higher intelligence than the mortal sees the road before us. We do not have to strive for good, but only to go forward and possess it. Good awaits us at every step.
Nothing but fear can blind us.
There are guides and wayside inns along the road. We will find food, clothes, and friends at every stage of the journey, and as old Rutherford so quaintly says:
"However matters go, the worst will be a tired traveler and a joyful and sweet welcome home."