The soul looketh steadily forward: creating a world always before her, leaving worlds always behind her. —Emerson
The true science of mind is found in the study of thought vibration. When we have once admitted that all growth is from within, and that the external is but the expression of the interior life, we are logically led to the conclusion that in the history of the soul the facts of heredity and environment are but the registration of its progress. They cannot be positive factors that govern its development.
If we recognize the absolute freedom of the spirit, it must choose its own pathway and its own methods of development at every point. Our parentage then becomes a matter of personal election. "Circumstances" are the conditions arising from it. They can never involve injustice to the individual, whatever may be the appearances. They must operate in harmony with the law of vibration, which manifests itself in all the forces of the universe that we have yet discovered and governs every detail of our lives. When we admit that all vibration is ruled by thought, we perceive that there is no force of which we do not hold the lever.
Vibratory affinity offers us a key to the vexed problem of heredity. Like chemical affinity, it inevitably draws to itself its sympathetic complement. Is it not probable that the ego, seeking a rebirth, is led by the force of its own nature to choose for parents those that vibrate at most points in harmony with itself? It thus moves upon the spiritual lines of least resistance. It secures the most fitting opportunities for the study of those mortal lessons in which it has recognized its greatest need. In this view we are not subject beyond our choice to hereditary influences or environment. We choose these with the intelligence of the free spirit,—as a scholar selects his university and tutors.
As a result of this theory, sex in offspring must be determined by the thought life of the parents, not their preference. The character of children must follow the same law. A child is the materialized thought of its ancestors,—an entity that has been drawn by its own responsive vibrations into the mental life of its progenitors and so launched upon the ocean of objective being.
If we study carefully the traits of our children we will easily discover the mental phases and experiences of our own life which each represents and reflects, and through which we were passing at the period of their conception. Every child is a revelation of his parents in some points of their character and shows both their faults and virtues. It will frequently be found that the first-born embodies most of the ideal, and later children the more practical phases of their parents, as they advance toward the years of maturity.
The experience of death, which is the birth into the subjective state, must be also governed in all its circumstances by the same law that determines birth into the objective conditions. It must be a consequence of previous thought action, and unconsciously determined by the individual mind,— whether slow or sudden, violent or peaceful. It is the natural and inevitable result of the life that has gone before it. The law must be as infallible in death as in birth. There can be no accidents in a universe governed by law.
Whatever may be the attitude of ignorant man toward what he calls the phenomena of life, it must be true that nature itself knows no caprice. Every act is at the same time a consequence and a cause. Every circumstance is a link in the chain of being, forged by the individual himself.
In the name of science and of the eternal equities, we deny hereditary limitation. We also deny that any life can be enslaved by its environment.
These same vibratory forces dominate the religions and the politics of the world. We can no longer call them tyrannies if they are the choice of the people themselves and the manifestation of their point of evolution. When better things are demanded they are always attainable. The mercury in the bulb of the thermometer is not responsible for the temperature it registers. The hands of the clock are not the cause of the hour. Heredity, environment, religion, politics, society, —these are but signs that mark the spiritual temperature. They are the hands that point to the hour on the dial of human progress.
Higher spiritual atmospheres are always accessible to those that desire to inhale them. Every soul surrounds itself with its own atmosphere. Nothing can set aside this law. The flowers that grow in desert sands are nourished by the same sun that shines on palace gardens. The desert flowers develop a rare and delicate beauty with wonderful variety of form and color,—even in a soil that we call barren. Doubtless it is the soil best adapted to their particular growth. Their own rate of vibration attracted and rooted them there.
If we are not controlled by our heredity or our environment, which relate us to the community in which we live, neither can we be controlled by so-called "planetary influence," which relates us to the universe through the planetary system. Doubtless the planets also register our progress and indicate results. In a certain sense they seem to be an index of our lives,—as the study-card of the collegian is an index of the course of lessons he has elected to follow in the university and an indication of the progress he has made in former schools. But the index has no active relation to the university course. It is not a governing influence in the student's life. It is always subject to his will.
The principle of personal responsibility is the chief corner-stone of all spiritual work. We can build nothing of value or stability in our lives till we have accepted this fundamental truth. Whatever we are, or wherever we are, is the result of our spiritual choice, whether made consciously or unconsciously. It matters not that we have not yet succeeded in tracing all the steps of the long road we have traveled. If our theory be true, it must apply equally to all planes of existence.
We often hear of "lower" and "animal" planes, as distinguished from "higher" and "spiritual" planes, and we are told that planetary influences govern them. All planes are spiritual, and we have no reason to think that at any point of our development have we been exempt from this law of personal responsibility. It is the eternal and unchanging law of evolution, which is being emphasized with every new discovery.
If we admit that birth, life, and death are the legitimate consequences of thought, then there can be no such thing as danger. A man is just as safe upon the battlefield or amid wreck and ruin by sea or land as in the comfortable seclusion of his home. The event may provide occasion but not cause of death. Man can never really be a martyr or a victim. Each life determines its own issues. It comes and goes as the result of the workings of its own spiritual will. Is not this the only true meaning and possibility of freedom? Does not this view of life also take away all our old, miserable thought of burden bearing?
We do not encourage the child at school, whose lessons have been carefully selected and adapted to his age and aims in life, to whine and lament the burdens of his spelling-book as soon as he comes to words of two syllables, or to grieve over his sums in long division after he has learned his tables. We know they are the very things he needs to develop the powers that will win him success in life, and to secure for him all that his manhood will deem most desirable in possession and accomplishment.
Self-pity is a grievous fault and weakness. We cannot see straight nor clearly while we permit it to remain. It must be destroyed in all its roots and allowed no tendril or hiding-place. Nothing but the recognition of our freedom and responsibility at every point of our existence can destroy this thought. If we build our lives upon these principles we work with confidence and satisfaction, —even though it be sometimes true, as Matthew Arnold writes, that—
"With aching hands and bleeding feet We dig and heap,—lay stone on stone; We bear the burden and the heat of the long day and wish 'twere done. Not till the hours of light return All we have built do we discern."
Perhaps the largest part of our experience is in the field of the subconscious. A trait or purpose is developed there long before it appears above the horizon of our perceptions. Long after we have denied a habit or opinion it is apt to linger there and color or actuate our life, as the sunrise is preceded by the dawn and the sunset is followed by the evening twilight.