The first step in occultism brings the student to the tree of knowledge.
He must pluck and eat. He must choose.
No longer is he capable of the indecision of ignorance.
—"Light on the Path."
In a history of the development of the Cripple Creek gold mines it is related that experts of wide reputation in the mining world and with large experience upon five continents pronounced the deposits superficial. It is significantly added, "It was this uncertainty that delayed development''
It was finally the men of brawn and muscle who proved to the world that underneath the grassroots lay fabulous riches.
At greater depth the district was shown to be all that the most sanguine had anticipated.
Deep mining then became the factor. The veins were absolutely without number and of every conceivable course and dip. Often the miner who goes to search for the extension of a rich vein finds an entirely new vein instead.
It was the patient toilers who had worked with confidence and decision, unaffected by the doubts of those about them and undismayed by their own difficulties, that finally brought to light the richest gold mines of the century.
In the development of man's higher nature we find it also true that only he who works with the patient confidence of a fully decided purpose ever attains to power —and in the end he too discovers fabulous riches with deep mining in the spiritual nature.
These things are not disclosed to fearful, timid souls, nor to the indolent and self-indulgent.
When we begin to change our thought and interests from material to spiritual things, it is important that we should commit ourselves fully and promptly to the new direction of our lives. Half-hearted measures always result in confusion and failure and delay development.
Upon the material plane we may achieve material success. Upon the spiritual plane we can accomplish a spiritual success, but when we are distracted by diverse impulses and torn by contrary incentives we find ourselves suspended midway between mind and matter, and in a sense divorced from both. There is no middle ground that we can safely occupy.
We must " drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring." One of the greatest dangers to success and happiness upon all lines of human activity is that of indecision. This is the reef upon which so many of our ventures go to pieces. The principal dangers of the navigator are encountered on the coast. The perils of the open sea are small compared with those of the rocky shore and sandy beach. It is there that we need to build our lighthouses and anchor our light-ships. The life-boats are oftenest overturned in pushing through the surf.
It is just here that we encounter our most serious difficulties in the study of thought principles.
We are reluctant to leave our material shores and trust ourselves to the operation of the universal laws. We are not quite ready to apply the truth to our particular life. We are not accustomed to the larger horizon and deep-water navigation. We have never seen the spiritual principle fully demonstrated, perhaps, and the skepticism of our practical minds makes us reluctant for the venture.
Yesterday I stood upon the curb and watched the fire-engines as they dashed up-street in response to an alarm.
The glad activity of men and horses was superb. There was no trace of indecision. At the first tap of the bell everyone had sprung confidently to his post. The fires were kindled without delay. The steam was speedily ready for its work. The animals and their drivers knew exactly what was wanted of them. Each understood his part and brought immediately into play his largest energies without an instant's hesitation. In this spirit we should commit ourselves to our daily living, responding not only promptly but gladly to every responsibility that summons us. We should be as ready to move in one direction as another, to accept without hesitation every opportunity that presents itself, and to do this without dissatisfaction when the circumstances are not what we would choose.
Nothing that we do in life is complete and permanent. Everything is preliminary to something better, a preparation for something more enduring. We go "from strength to strength," advancing evermore toward our ideal perfection. And as we move, our ideal grows, providing us with an ever fresh impulse.
Every day we are developing new conditions of ultimate success. Not only that, but every day is in itself successful even though no progress is apparent. Our simple effort has at least developed wind and muscle, making us stronger than yesterday, and better equipped for the work at which we aim. If we indulge ourselves in tragic moods and moments of despondency and doubt, we only increase and complicate our tasks. We dull the axe with which we hew, and thus compel ourselves to put forth more strength. It is absolutely necessary to the highest success that we rid ourselves of the fever of impatience and throw off the disease of indecision and uncertainty. All the world suffers from a mental "grippe" for want of real belief in the absolute good.
Persistent confidence is the first requisite in any undertaking if we wish to arrive at positive results—confidence that is in no way weakened by a seeming failure or by days or months or years of disappointment. Such confidence makes delays and disappointments quite unnecessary if it is prepared to stand these tests.
It accepts as a finality, established beyond the need of further proof, the axiom that “All things work together for good." This is the meaning of true fearlessness. It believes that "the universe is for nothing else than to succeed in." It does not measure success by the day's record. It has higher standards than the mere accomplishment of its own trivial purposes. It knows that all merely personal ends are petty, even though they be the building of cities or the civilization of continents. Nothing is worthy the powers and stature of a man but the fulfillment of his divinest being, the unfoldment of his largest spiritual manhood.
Power always destroys itself and us when we use it with no other than a selfish aim. It can be developed and extended to the highest degree only when our purpose is in accord with that of the universal life. This is not gained by the belittling of our daily occupations or the neglect of simple duties and homely opportunities. Nor is it reached by the exaggeration of them.
It is only in the recognition and adjustment of our real relation to every person, place, and circumstance with which we are brought in contact.
It is in confidence and decision that we develop power.
Fanaticism is more forceful than agnosticism, because it has a distinct and decided purpose without a doubt of its accomplishment.
The history of bigots is a wonderful testimony to the power of confident belief and unselfish aims.
Indecision is a fatal disease wherever it appears. It seems less hurtful to progress to be decided in a wrong course than to remain undecided in a right one. The practical consequences of error may be relied upon to correct themselves through the suffering they entail.
Indecision is prolific of disease and kills through inactivity and stagnation.
No battle was ever won under the banner of "I can't."
It is only when we recognize and boldly assert our power that we find it possible to change conditions. As long as we plead ignorance and incapacity we excuse ourselves from effort and indulge our indolence.
We are victims and bond-slaves just as long as we consent to be considered so and not a moment longer. We begin to manifest superiority to any and all conditions when we have really made up our minds to full dominion.
No one truly individualized will ever say, "God willing," but instead of this, "I will," recognizing himself as the legitimate expression of God's will.
The voice of the Spirit is always to be heard by him who listens. "Behold, I have set the land before you. Go in and possess the land."
Our grotesque ideas of God have resulted in grotesque expressions of ourselves. As man grows he no longer caricatures Deity in the figure of a Chinese Joss, but fashions an Apollo Belvidere, and knows that his highest art is but a faint expression of a divine idea. He no longer fears the powers of darkness and the prince of the power of the air, because he recognizes in himself the power of light and knows that he is a prince of the universal realm.
We suffer disease and poverty as long as we think we are compelled to do so, and are undecided in our purpose and authority.
A common trouble with us all is our ambition to be masters before we have learned the meaning of service. We are apt to despise the small things and the short steps. We want to assert power rather than develop it through the discipline of experience. We want to stride with seven-league boots before we have learned to creep. We are impatient to read before we know the alphabet and to receive the certificate of skilled navigators before we have learned to stand our watch at the wheel. Confidence is the first lesson in the spiritual primer and full realization is the last.
Before we can arrive at a firm decision regarding a new course we must abandon all regrets concerning the old. We must permit no hesitancy of fear. We must not be disturbed by contrary winds.
Perhaps the greatest surprise awaiting the discarnate soul will be the discovery of the wonderful wealth of latent power of which it had remained in ignorance in its earth life. With an abundant and marvelous provision for our material journey we limp and struggle through a brief incarnation, suffering tortures of hunger, thirst, and loneliness, while living in a land of plenty, watered by inexhaustible springs and peopled by loving presences. The soul lives in an earthly paradise and feeds on husks. It toils as a slave, because it lives so close to the ground it does not know that it is free.
Many never understand themselves or one another till long after they have dropped the mortal body.
We need not live in an illusion because we are embodied in matter, and are dwellers on the planet Earth. If we have deceived ourselves, it is because we chose to dream and to postpone awakening.
We preferred to consider trivial things of real importance rather than view life from a higher standpoint. Truth would have dwarfed our petty occupations. It would not have flattered our personal vanity or confirmed our childish theories of existence.
Life contains a full provision for us all. There is no lack to any human creature who is ready to obey the laws of harmony.
Many will protest impatiently at such a claim, and cite in disproof the wretchedness and squalor that abound among those who are considered helpless.
Such objectors look only at the surface of things, without appreciation of the laws of cause and effect.
It is the fashion of men to be impatient with what they do not understand. It is usual for us to resent the implication that we are strictly responsible for our own faults and failures. The fact that all the world imagines vastly improved conditions for what we have chosen to call the next life only shows the possibility of bettering the conditions of this.
We expect sometime to be free from anxiety and grief.
When we are willing to assume our rightful attitude toward one another we will find this freedom can be achieved today. There is no more reason for our present suffering than will exist a hundred or a thousand years from now.
A spirit truly poised is not dependent for its happiness on anything outside itself.
It is tranquil through the recognition that all life is evolution of character, and that each is responsible only for his own development. Character is an individual possession. We cannot acquire it for one another.
Grief for another's faults will often feed the morbid nature of a weakling and prolong the indulgence of the errors for which we grieve.
A wise and loving indifference will invariably prove a tonic that compels the offender finally to realize that he alone is vitally concerned in the question of his welfare, and that no one else can shoulder his responsibility or share it with him.
All immorality is a condition of hysteria. It thrives on sentimental sympathy, as ulcers often feed upon the salves that are applied for their relief. Our power to assist another is crippled by the depression which comes through pity. Pity is always a sacrifice of power. Pity and power never can be yoked together. True principle is always robust. It is spiritual knowledge, and has in it no element of indecision or distrust. It stands unmoved by temporary appearances, and has unwavering confidence in everlasting good for every life. It admits no doubt or failure possible, but holds to the assurance that the higher self of every one will eventually claim its right to govern. The facts of time are not distressing to one who lives in the larger fact of the eternal. It is not persuasion or environment that reforms a life, but the awakening of its own innate energies. These alone have power to renew the purpose, vitalize the will, and guide the destinies that we are helpless to control for one another.
Human temptation is a puny thing to an enfranchised spirit.
There are no fetters of habit except what we have forged for ourselves. The same strength which has fastened them upon us can remove them instantly by simply reversing the action of the will, which has already proved its power in the structure it has raised, as the heavy stones of the great pyramid testify to the strength and skill and ponderous machinery employed in its erection.
We often neglect to reckon intelligently with the forces we set in motion to make or mar our lives. They are not to be treated as playthings or despised as the creation of idealists.
It is folly to fall upon our swords on the field of a lost conflict like the old commanders of the Roman legions. The tides of battle often turn when least expected. Until we can see every corner of the field and understand the movements of the unseen hosts about us to which we are related we have no right or reason to lower our standards or admit defeat.
The strategic movements of an army often take on temporarily the appearance of disaster and retreat when they are only the preparation for an overwhelming advance to final victory.
We govern kingdoms that have never been polled. Their census is unknown to us, their power unsuspected. If we waver in our purposes our house is divided against itself. The different factions endeavor to fulfill their understanding of our wishes, but when we weakly yield to fickleness there is confusion in the camp and we are torn with the contending elements. Our greatest crime is a surrender of our right to rule ourselves. Our greatest weakness is a state of indecision.
When we recognize the power of the soul within us and the value of its work we know it is incapable of defeat. Not only is our life invulnerable to evil, but it is invincible in every decided purpose.
Let us stand upright on our feet. Our ankle bones will find the strength they need. Let us stretch forth the arm that we think withered. We will speedily find that it is whole. Let us go boldly forward with a song upon our lips, indifferent to any suffering or death which leads to the awakening of slumbering powers. Should we not gladly serve if thus we learn to govern? Right living is true service. It yields an ever increasing satisfaction. We have no reason to wish for better opportunities through larger possession of money or influence. The only real power is that which radiates from character. All our fancied limitations lie in the artificial conditions we create. They do not belong to the real man or his environment. We are slow to accept the truth of our infinity. Sooner or later we arrive at its recognition.
Truth awaits our pleasure. Its acceptance is a matter of choice to every individual. We can never exaggerate the intelligence or power of the spirit. Every demonstration comes to us at the moment we are prepared to welcome it. We must needs break down the walls of doubt and indecision we have built about us before we can obtain the evidence we seek, as we must open our eyes before we can see the sun and study its phenomena.
Our titles and estates are ready when we claim them. The freedom day of the soul is not defined and limited by any statutes.
Success is quite impossible to him who throws his energies into the forging of thought fetters, and hears only the voice of his lesser self.
To an illuminated will the perplexities of life are but the dust stirred by its chariot wheels in its triumphant progress.
It takes joyfully the spoiling of its goods because it knows that every experience is friendly and helpful, and will feed its power.
We spurn the thought of escape when we have learned to transmute disagreeable conditions into spiritual nutriment. When we know that, we can change our relation to suffering through mastery of ourselves.
The dwellers in malarial climates sometimes plant the eucalyptus in their gardens.
This wonderful tree absorbs from the atmosphere the poisonous elements, and makes them contribute to its sturdy growth. When we understand the secrets of spiritual chemistry we thrive upon conditions we have always regarded as malarial. Vexations, disappointments, mortifications, and annoyances of every kind will furnish us with elements of nourishment. Not only do they cease to poison our happiness and becloud our days, but we can easily welcome them as helpful tests of our development.
After the dreary days of temptation in the wilderness we emerge with larger control of disease and devils. In such hours of trial we make our final decision upon many a question which will never again possess the power to disturb our peace, because we know the force that we embody.
The value of experience is greater than we can understand while under the stress that it involves. Its cost is always an indication of our need. We get it at the lowest price, and at our own bid. No one but ourselves determines the emergency or names the compensation we must pay. The "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" are the uncertainties and fears with which we torture and wound ourselves in every hour of sojourning in the land of indecision. When we once have passed the barriers our doubts have raised we find an open way to power.
The time to realize and assert power is when we are most sensible of weakness. The time to declare health is when we are suffering from illness. The time to avow opulence is when we are most painfully conscious of our poverty. It is in the valley of decision that we find relief from all these things. But it is necessary that we should stand alone before we can walk erect and free, and this is first a mental process.
When the early adventurers went to South Africa for diamonds, they built their huts of mud and laid out roads for hauling their supplies.
After they had thoroughly examined the country their experts pronounced it a barren and worthless land.
Others followed who were more enlightened and less prejudiced. These soon discovered that the very huts in which they lived were thickly encrusted with the precious gems.
The clay road itself was a rich bed of diamonds.
Is it not so with life? We think this world of matter very poor. We live in huts and search for wealth outside. At last, after great tribulation and continual disappointment, we awaken to the truth that we ourselves contain the gems of greatest value and of rarest promise. As long as we think ourselves dependent for happiness upon any material thing, we are the slaves and not the lords of matter. When we truly understand, we are thankful for life as it is in every hour, knowing that it holds the highest possible conditions necessary to our good. We may feel sure that this is true, not only for ourselves, but for every other life as well. We are always in the banqueting house of love. Every hour is filled with pleasant chimes. All our dice are double-sixes, and everything comes our way. Do we resent this as idealism? Then it is idealism of which we stand in greatest need. Do we clamor for a more practical philosophy? Our very demand reveals the fact that we are far from being practical ourselves.
Before we enter into a useless struggle with the material conditions that surround us, let us get a firm mental grasp upon ourselves and we will find that all else yields easily to the change within.
Our conceptions of life are all too small. The kingdom of mind and the kingdom of matter are far beyond, in extent and richness, any horizon lines we yet have sighted.
We are their lawful sovereigns, spirits clothed in matter, gods manifest in the flesh. If we realized our destiny we would greet ourselves every morning, when we returned from our excursions upon astral planes to take up again our robe and crown of matter, with the beautiful salutation of the East, "O King, live forever!"
Alexander wept because he had no more worlds to conquer. We have no such cause for tears. We haven't a bodily organ that has found the limits of its powers. Sandow, the strong man, reports that he is enlarging his muscles and expanding his lungs and strengthening his heart continually, that he can every year lift heavier weights. We do not yet use all the air-cells of our lungs. We have not begun to explore the cellular tissue of the brain. We have many muscles that we seldom call into action. There are such undiscovered lands in body and brain that it will require many an incarnation to explore and master them.
Worry comes from a Dutch word, "worgen," meaning to throttle.
We strangle ourselves with worry. This is the greatest enemy of life. We think we have reached the limit of endurance before our backbone has really straightened itself to the weight. Many men and women are like jelly-fish and scarcely belong to the order of vertebrates. They lack fiber and have not yet lived long enough to develop a real spinal column.
We never suffer so much that we could not suffer far more and live. We do not wear out from overwork, but from improper use of our faculties and worry. We get discouraged and lie down and die before our real capacity for doing and enduring has been tested. Our wills are impulsive and erratic, weak and fickle for the lack of spiritual decision. Our purpose is not clearly formed to express divinity in daily life. We really intend to do it sometime, but secretly prefer to indulge our selfishness a little longer.
If we are honest we will not bewail our weakness, but we will correct it. We will not mourn our uselessness, but will simply go to work and make ourselves useful. We will not lament our hardships, but will change them into stimulants. When we are thoroughly decided and ready to do God's work we always find God ready to work through us. At that point of decision we can never fail in either equipment or opportunity. God's resources are never limited to the range of our perceptions. Much that we do not see exists and has existed always, though our eyes were not strong enough to perceive it. To the unaided vision the skies seem often starless. With a powerful telescope we see one hundred million stars where only six or seven thousand are visible without the glass. What is only theory to one is often fact to another who has pushed his investigations further.
If we have not studied sidereal time and planetary distances, how can we expect to map the heavens?
If we have examined life only upon material lines, how can we understand spiritual philosophies which make life to others a beautiful and systematic working of intelligent law where we see only suffering and confusion?
There is no doubt but that we shall all look back from the problems which confront us In the immaterial life of the astral plane and feel that in comparison the lessons of earth were simple and easy. If life is eternal progress, as every sane mind believes, the first condition of happiness is confidence, and its greatest danger is the indecision which comes through fear.
When we have settled once for all that the tomorrow of death will never arrive, no matter whether we live in fear or longing for it, we are prepared to eat and drink today in security and gladness and feel equal to the conquest of any and all material conditions through the use of spiritual powers.
God grant that we may suffer till all dread of suffering is past, that we may feel the furnace of affliction heated to such stress that from the mighty impulse of our pain the higher self may be truly born. In the hour of our anguish this serene one walks beside us and in his presence we find all sorrow stilled forevermore.
With every day leave yesterday behind—and turn not back.
Discontent and indecision close all doors of success and happiness.
Disappointment should be always taken as a stimulant and never viewed as a discouragement.
Spiritual progress is never hindered by our duties or want of time.
There can be no conflict between our aspirations and our responsibilities.
Our most precious opportunities are often those disguised in tatters. They pass us by unrecognized, because we judge life by appearances instead of principles.