That which is not good for the swarm,
Neither is it good for the bee.
Unselfishness is freedom. It is a state of mind that looks abroad. It does not need, however, to seek for itself the gratification of public activities.
The reputation of “unselfishness" often suggests a subtle phase of a selfish nature. Many feed upon the contemplation of their own acts, and require the approval of their fellows.
We must candidly admit that at our present point of evolution selfishness predominates over love. Humanity as yet is but a shrub,—not a full grown tree. It is in process of a development which never really ceases. Even its dark ages mark a period of growth in history as well as in the individual. Evolution vibrates with a double movement like that of the tides. We should not be distressed at the ebb, or elated at the flood. There is no retrogression in reality. The appearance is a phase of progress. Nature moves in an orderly way.
Standing at any point upon the surface of the globe, we cannot see far in any direction. We cannot judge or measure by the eye the entire circle of twenty-five thousand miles. This is equally true of individual lives. We cannot look forward or backward for any appreciable distance. We cannot measure the arc line of our infinite past, nor that of the infinite future. The one little standing point we occupy today is not sufficient in its altitude to enable us to solve our problems in the spiritual trigonometry,—the higher mathematics of our being. One mortal incarnation is but an infinitesimal point in the great circle of existence.
A truly divine revelation is that which brings to us through experience a knowledge of ourselves, and thus a knowledge of the universal life.
Few mortals could endure a distinct view of their past or future. Nature drops the veil until such time as we are strong enough to raise it, as parents conceal from a child the suffering of its past which might sadden its young heart and the anxieties possible to its future. Let us attend to the dinner of today; we do not need to remember in detail yesterday's bill of fare; it is too early to prepare the menu for tomorrow.
In this present moment we unite free will and destiny. We are experiencing results of which the causes lie in our past thinking, and in the living of today we arrange the consequences of tomorrow. We very soon learn to choose our food with a view to results upon the system. The palate has a use of its own, but we do not allow it to govern exclusively our choice of diet. So with the pleasures of existence. If we are wise we do not make them our chief aim. They come as incidentals of true living.
When we are half blind we cannot judge accurately of perspective and proportion. In the earlier stages of growth we consider chiefly what we are to get, and imagine getting to be the true object of life. We are at the negative pole of our being, and are easily drawn into the stronger magnetic fields of others. Later we discover the positive pole, and learn that we obtain chiefly through giving. We begin to operate from our own centers, and being lifted up draw others to us. A perfect understanding results in the command of both the positive and the negative, the discovery of the right relation between giving and receiving, the equable flow of the universal currents through our individual lives. True living involves neither accumulation nor impoverishment. Egoism and altruism are equally wrong and hurtful by themselves. Neither is a principle of being. In the first the thought is magnetized by the personality of self, in the latter by the personality of others. The true balance lies where the thought is neither inverted nor scattered. Egoism and altruism are really one.
When the soul has learned that its own highest good is fulfilled only in the service of others, the man knows that he has no separateness from his fellows, but is a part with them of the same great unity of life. Thus we pass in the evolution of ethics from the tribal and clannish ideas of a pastoral race to walled towns and patriarchal governments. At the next step of progress the walls are thrown down, the moats filled and changed to gardens, the drawbridge lowered and portcullis raised. Then come the confederacies of states and the study of sociology as a science of the common good. In these closing years of the present century we have removed the fences between neighbors, throwing their grounds together in our landscape gardening. We have opened magnificent park systems to the people. This recognition of brotherhood is significant. As man develops he perceives that perfect equity blends and harmonizes the love of himself and the love of his neighbor.
The true life is neither that of the altruist nor that of the egoist, but that which includes and governs both in perfect equipoise, identifying the interests of self with the interests of all.
The thought of anything as a necessity always involves a fear lest we should fail of its possession.
To the emancipated soul there is no such word as "necessity." Our resources are infinite, and consequently have no limitations. What is truly desirable is always within our reach.
True education involves most of all the development of the receptive faculties. The first condition is the simplicity of childhood.