I am Existence Absolute, Bliss Absolute, Knowledge Absolute. I am It—I am It. —From the Vedas
There is a marked increase in the tendency to suicide. This tendency develops oftenest among men. They furnish more than two-thirds of the subjects, and are generally men of intelligence and in responsible positions.
There is but one motive that can drive a man to suicide: it is fear. This incentive manifests itself in many different forms. It is generally a fear of the consequences of a man's own acts,— loss of reputation, property, health, or happiness. It is an act of supreme selfishness in any case. Suicide is evasion. It is not necessary to offer insanity as an excuse. If it were, we must admit that insanity itself is but the result of egotism. It proceeds from a morbid condition of mind, a danger to which we are all subject when our thoughts dwell too persistently upon ourselves, when we look in instead of out,— the danger of inverted thought.
This can arise only from a misconception of life. The remedy lies in a fresh statement. We have lived too much in the marshlands and among the fogs. We have lingered too long in the cemeteries of dead faiths. We have been led astray by the fireflies and ignes fatui of false ambitions.
Every individual is a complete judicial system, an autonomy within himself. He is his own lawmaker, prosecutor, judge, and jury. We are our own jailers. We apply our own thumbscrews. We stretch ourselves upon the racks, and handle the levers. It is not "fate," nor "Providence," nor "circumstances” from which we suffer. There is no despot but self. Every act of a man's life is sooner or later passed upon by his own conscience. All expiations will be assessed and painfully worked out by and for himself with perfect equity. He governs in his own system myriads of cell life, microbes and elementals, each endowed with an intelligence of its own, but subject to his rule. This is the true field for the discipline of his powers before he seeks dominion over others. In his own kingdom he must learn to reign supreme. His purified will must be accepted as law by the subjects of his personal realm, his own body and own mind.
Life is flexible and is shaped by our thoughts. Man is at the same time a pupil and an architect. Let him accept the proposition that all things work together for good, and he will find abundant confirmation of it in his daily experience. When we humor our weaknesses they force themselves continually upon our attention, like spoiled children. When we assert our mastery of ourselves and compel its recognition, we stand secure in our sovereign rights.
The supreme folly of the suicide is in the delusion that by breaking the slate he can solve his problem or escape it. He may for a time attempt the r61e of truant from life's school, but, like the schoolboy, he only delays his task and complicates it. Sometime, somewhere (and doubtless sooner and nearer than he thinks), these problems of today must be worked out. There is no reason whatever to suppose that any lesson of life can be really evaded. Dame Nature is an honest and expert accountant. Her debits and credits are kept with unerring accuracy. She herself meets every obligation promptly, and in her turn exacts the same of us, and will not be cheated of her dues. How can we be so stupid as not to see that this planetary schoolroom is very beautiful indeed, and contains every appliance helpful to our education? What apparatus is lacking, and where could we find more delightful and entertaining classmates? How unreasonable to whine continually about a distant heaven, like a homesick schoolboy crying for his holiday! Why not improve the golden opportunity of the class-room, and the buoyant life of the playground with the keen zest of a wholesome, healthy nature?
"The world is so full of a number of things,
I am sure we ought all to be happy as kings."
To the mature and well-balanced mind every moment of existence is the best, every present plan and circumstance is the one most favorable to its purpose. It looks neither forward nor backward, knows no longings or regrets, experiences neither elation nor depression. It simply lives, and life is gladness, strength, and peace.
Life is often called a voyage. Yet on a voyage one would scarcely fling himself overboard because of a foggy day. It has been truly said that "he is a bad sailor who thinks there is no land because he sees nothing but ocean." A good sailor is indifferent to weather. He is as confident in storm as in calm, for is he not equipped with nautical education, experience, and instruments adapted to all the emergencies of the voyage? If the heavens are clouded above, he sails by sounding the depths below. He has learned the science of "dead reckoning," and he knows no fear. He remembers that
"That night is long that never finds the day."
We often speak of life as a hard taskmaster and as something we should be glad to have done with. We call it an illusion and a dream. But we are beginning to learn (and every discovery of science emphasizes the fact) that death is the only "illusion," and that life in ever varying form goes on forever. We cannot put it away from us. No man can be really burned, drowned, frozen, or buried. He may change his garment, but he must live on. Through all experiences he comes unscathed, untouched, and conscious still.
Doubtless among the greatest surprises that await us in the future is the realization, with a clearer vision than we possess today, that life is infinitely kind and tender, and wonderfully wise in its adaptation of our experience to our necessities. We shall yet admit that it has been a skillful surgeon, performing the necessary operation as gently as we would permit, and alleviating to the utmost the pains of the sufferer. Life itself inflicts no pain upon us. All suffering comes from within. It proceeds from the inharmonious conditions of our own souls. No pang can endure beyond the moment when we have restored harmonious vibration to the mind,— have adjusted our own relations to people and events. The necessary and infallible result of mental harmony is health of body, opulence of environment, and love of friends.
Love is the keynote of life. Its harmonies are sublime. It is a magnet of irresistible power which draws to us all things desirable.
Destiny there surely is, but it is a consequence of an inner cause. It is not the arbitrary government of another intelligence.
When one is lost in the forest, and the night comes on, it is wise to "camp down" and wait for morning. The old huntsman makes himself comfortable by the bivouac fire and lies down cheerfully, knowing well that if he were to keep in motion he might only travel in a circle and exhaust himself in vain. Is not this a wise suggestion for all hours of uncertainty in relation to the affairs of life? We must not be "driven." When we cannot act we must learn the science of waiting, and of waiting cheerfully and confidently, beside our bivouac fires. We need not wait in the darkness. A few dry boughs, a flint and steel, will bring us warmth and light, and daybreak is never far away. A little further on, when the planet has traveled a bit further in its revolution toward the sun, how differently will appear the problems of the night. A little distance only is necessary to evolve harmony from any discord. Nature skillfully readjusts and blends all the vibrations of life in her atmospheres, transforming all to rhythmic chords. Even the deafening noises of the boiler shop, with its hundreds of busy hammers, are turned into a symphony to the listener just across the field.
If we were to dwell long upon the fact that we live in our mortal bodies under a constant atmospheric pressure of fifteen pounds to the square inch we should feel crushed and suffocated. Why do we not suffer? Because the resisting power of the atmosphere within is always equal to the pressure from without. We are permeated and upheld by the same force that surrounds and overhangs us. So in our life of daily responsibility. When we consider only the care that comes from without we feel under constant and violent pressure. When we remember that we live in good we know that the universal force can never fail us. It works constantly in and through us as tireless energy. The human life is as real and important a thing in its orbit as the planetary life of which it is a part. In a sense we ourselves do not breathe. The universal life breathes through us. We do not carry the world on our shoulders. It is the pressure within and without that maintains our center of gravity and makes life possible and pleasurable.
God, Love, and Life are synonyms. Each comprehends the other, and is a complete term for the Infinite Energy. We are each a part of the life-blood of the universal system. We are a part of its sensoria and ganglia.
In the great ocean of life we do not need any artificial life-preservers. The depth is so great it has incalculable buoyancy. We cannot sink. We need not struggle. Every man is by nature a swimmer. Fear often delays the discovery for years. Many a man goes down in sight of shore because he does not know how to throw himself on his back and wait quietly for the relief just at hand.
Any day of life, any moment of time, may be made the starting point of success. Let us "rejoice as a strong man to run a race."
And should the twilight darken into night,
And sorrow grow to anguish,
Be thou strong,—thou art in God,
And nothing can go wrong which a fresh life-pulse
Cannot set aright;
That thou dost know the darkness proves the light.
The winds and clouds are the transitory and unsubstantial phases of nature. Back of them are the great enveloping atmospheres of earth and the fixed orb of the sun.
In spiritual correspondence if we regard the opinions of men and the apparent obstructions of the passing hour instead of the realities of truth, we must always fail of progress. We will be forever living in the externals or environments, forgetting the great unseen forces which govern all the movement of life.
Truth is the searchlight which illuminates the road we have passed over and the way that lies before us. We can flash it upon every part of the horizon. We need not stumble in the darkness, nor wander uncertainly and aimlessly, as in the days when we depended on a tallow dip that scarcely showed us where to set our feet.
We may move on confidently. We will not miss the road.