That power which the disciple shall covet is that which shall make him appear as nothing in the eyes of men. —"Light on the Path."
Behold I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. —Jesus.
Power is the natural desire and instinct of humanity and the chief attribute of all its Deities.
It is evolved only through the awakening of the soul. This attainment seems to be the purpose of existence on the earth plane. All our occupations aim at increase of personal power. Men do not really care for the baubles of wealth, fame, and position except as they find in them expression of their interior forces or aids in their development.
It is power that they seek to acquire and manifest.
The consciousness of power is the greatest delight of man. Its evolution is his greatest joy. Whether he work in the laboratory or the machine shop, at the crucible or the bench, his efforts are always for the mastery of the principles of nature, that he may use them in the execution of this purpose.
Little by little the race is gaining knowledge of the invisible forces that surround it, and learning to harness them to its will. We construct more powerful engines; we generate stronger currents of electricity. We are learning to overcome the waste of power in boilers and batteries and to direct their energies with greater precision. As we advance in these fields our horizon broadens and we discover continually finer elements of subtler force. We find we are but in the alphabet of dynamics. Every fresh discovery emphasizes the significance and value of the will. Its training is the most important work of life.
Everything that works in the least degree to neutralize or weaken it we should put ruthlessly away from us. All unworthy self-indulgence is suicidal; all mental indolence tends to devitalize the will; all fear paralyzes it.
Fear is the greatest enemy of power. When we cling to our fears they submerge our lives.
We have only to let them go to prove the buoyancy of nature which carries us immediately to light and air again and shows us the right course of action. When we know that we embody and express the power of the infinite to the extent of our realization we no longer waste our time in supplication, but we seek development. The ignorant savage implores his deity to save him from the fury of an electric storm. The intelligent man protects himself by putting a lightning rod upon his house. As we enlarge the province of the will through knowledge we narrow the domain of prayer. When we learn our power to control the forces amid which we live we are no longer suppliants and worshippers. The more a man commands the less he prays. The more he indulges his indolence of will the more prayerful he becomes. Jesus did not pray in the storm on Galilee. He awoke and commanded the winds and waves. It was only when he had become negative through suffering that he implored that the cup of sorrow might pass from him. Yet even in that hour he radiated force that threw to the ground the soldiers sent to arrest him and proved that he had power to lay down the life which no man could take from him without his consent.
We often shirk the responsibility of deciding our own lives and lay too much stress upon apparent “leadings."
It is our privilege to determine what we want to do with life, and every real decision opens a way to action. There is a large domain in which we should seize and hold with a firm grasp the reins of government.
In this realm the prayer of supplication is impertinence. We need to rule and not to beg. The forces that we govern are best developed through obedience to our will.
There is another field in which we ourselves should learn obedience. In this we gain development through service of our higher self and more advanced intelligences than our own.
Thus upon one side of life we need to be positive and govern. Upon the other side we should be negative and obey. We are not sufficiently clear in our discernment. We often obey where we ought to command, and we sometimes command where we ought to obey.
We must know our power and apply it.
I had an opportunity many years ago of observing at close range the practical operation of these principles. The Asiatic cholera broke out in a ship in which I was crossing the Atlantic. Many of the passengers were terror-stricken. They began to pray—and died. The captain was profane and forceful. He fumigated the ship—and lived. His only time of danger was when, for a few days, under the pressure of fear, he too became prayerful. But his strong trained will asserted itself and his pious mood soon proved to be intermittent. It was a passing phase of weakness.
His profanity was but the customary expression of his impulsive nature, open to objection on the grounds of taste, but still an evidence of innate energy in which lay his salvation from the danger of the hour. Realization of divine energy does not make of us weak petitioners.
In the evolution of power we must dismiss all anxious thought of how we appear to others.
Loyalty to our own convictions demands of us that we should not entertain an artificial desire to please or live according to other standards than our own.
We must choose, in every relation, whether we shall rule or serve. Where we choose rightly we gain power. Wherein we err we suffer loss. Sensitiveness to criticism is evidence of infirmity of purpose. It springs from selfishness and shows a lack of self-reliance. It is often disguised as conscientiousness, but is always a mark of egotism and vanity.
All self-consciousness is selfishness. It is peculiarly characteristic of what is called a critical mind.
The problem of the individual life is not primarily how to do the most good to others: it is how to unfold and rule itself. In this process one evolves the power which proves helpful. Service is the best school of development. Helpfulness to others is an instinct of humanity.
If one falls in the street, how many hands are impulsively extended to lift him to his feet!
If a horse finds his load beyond his strength, how quickly passers-by will put their willing shoulders to the wheel!
If property is mislaid or lost it becomes at once the self-imposed mission of others to recover and restore it to its rightful owners.
If one gains for himself new knowledge, how naturally he seeks those to whom he can communicate it!
All service is privileged opportunity, which gives us exercise for our growing faculties.
Every man possesses a universe of his own.
The human being conforms marvelously in its essential construction and movements to the planet and the planetary system. It has its vital centers, each with its own radius. It combines the elements of earth, air, fire, and water, which permeate all its life. It has its miniature oceans, continents, and rivers, its fruitful and waste places. The base of existence is the atom, molecule, and single cell. Every atom doubtless has its own intelligent purpose. It is combined with conscious life, unrecognized, perhaps, by the central mind, and classified as the subconscious self, which only means the unexplored.
To bring into harmony and obedience to our own supreme will all this atomic life is to win the kingdom we were born to rule. To carry our highest spiritual consciousness into these subordinate realms is a task worthy our attention through many successive periods of embodiment. Millions of entities unrecognized by material science await unfoldment through the human relations which make us their masters. They are the squires of our knighthood. It is their delight to serve us.
We are but larger atoms of a higher organization, as our planet is but one globe of a system that itself revolves around the central sun of a larger universe.
We are as blood corpuscles of a grand universal man. The organization of life is perfect. Every molecule is rightly placed.
Before our work in the flesh can be complete, we must control all processes of nature and master death itself.
We have not yet mapped out our heavens; we have not explored our continents; we have not fathomed our oceans. We do not understand our resources. Science has found an energy of five hundred horse power in a cubic inch of space. We cannot imagine limits of the power contained in human brain and body.
We find ourselves flushed or chilled by sudden thought. Why not govern our temperature at will, and learn the secret of adapting ourselves to all atmospheres without depending upon fuel to produce the heat or ice the coolness we require?
Through spiritual intelligence alone comes the development of perceptions which pierce the fogs of materialism and reveal the broad range of human possibilities. Spiritual wisdom makes us seers and puts us in command of Nature's forces, making possible the best results upon all planes of action.
It is one of the theories of evolutionists that the discovery of a need by the animal has been invariably followed by the development of the organ required to supply it; that the organic and sense life has been a matter of slow growth through recognition of the necessities in its environment.
Thus we see that organized life has come through mind.
Is it then so difficult to believe that the force that has constructed should control and maintain the organs it has provided, and even replace them at need? We find that some of the lower animals possess this power of rehabilitation. In mental science it is apparent every day that organic disease is as readily relieved as nervous disturbance, and chronic troubles yield as easily as acute disorders without regard to the length of time they have prevailed, or to the advanced age of the sufferer.
If life or anything related to it is a gift, what becomes of the theory of evolution? Is it not a reasonable belief that what is true of the plant is true of man, and life is growth from seed to fruit in of repeated and ever varying incarnations? Where is the gift to vegetable life but the soil and sunlight in which they grow?— and even these they have appropriated for themselves through the law of vibratory affinity.
The rose and the chrysanthemum have required many reembodiments to bring them to their present size and great variety of tint, and each has prepared the way for that which followed.
All evolution is an awakening to higher realization. The new perception demands expression and creates new forms for its use.
Discovery, desire, and development are the successive steps of progress.
It is recognition and not time that is the essential element of growth. This is the healing principle which brings improved conditions in the body and control of the surroundings.
There is no suffering from want or weakness but that which comes from lack of understanding.
What more could we ask for our happiness than the knowledge that we are creators and sovereigns?
We have only to take possession, and all the universe proclaims, “Long live the king!"
It is ours to choose whether we will be subjected to the action of the law of material gravitation which draws downward or to that of spiritual levitation which draws upward. Not only do we elect but we operate these laws in our own being. Trouble cannot be kept away when we persistently attract it; nor can prosperity, nor health, nor happiness.
No sense of disappointment is ever possible to him who has attuned himself to the true keynote of existence.
Selfishness is the heart failure of our spiritual life.
Thoughts which spring from personality and relate to that alone inevitably obstruct the spiritual vision.
Until we have purged ourselves from every form of personal selfishness we cannot become channels for the free and unimpeded flow of universal good and wisdom.
The freedom which we gain from truth is freedom from all care of self—the loosing of our bonds of egotism. Purification of character comes through the experiences which seem to scorch and blister in their intensity of suffering. They are deeply grievous in the present hour. All smelting and refining of ores and all chemical distillation require concentration of heat. The furnace and the crucible must be raised to the highest degree of power.
Gethsemane and the "Via Dolorosa" precede Calvary. Afterward comes the resurrection, and after resurrection ascension. Let us remember in our trial the "Nevertheless, afterward," when the peaceable fruit of righteousness is ripened. Our angels are always with us in the wilderness, and though we may be isolated for the moment and endure the dreary sense of loneliness and desolation we will be comforted abundantly.
Before we are fully crucified our sorrows have pierced hands and feet, head and heart. We can no longer go whither we would. We cannot reach for what we want. We wear the crown of thorns and from our wounded side flow the life currents. Thus bruised and sore we learn the lesson of love, learn to receive and learn to give. We no longer selfishly desire to accumulate and to hold. We are willing to let go without reserve, trusting to the influx of the superabundant life into which we enter through the spiritual birth.
The personal man exists no longer, but from his sepulcher the stone is rolled away and the higher self steps forth as master of all conditions of existence, which can never bring him hurt or hindrance.
In the darkest hour of the crucifixion we hear the old-time challenge: "He saved others, himself he cannot save. Let him now come down from the cross and we will believe in him."
Stretched upon our cruel cross of poverty or illness from which we have not yet found deliverance, is it necessary that this last thorn should be pressed upon the brow, this last nail driven through the helpless limbs, this last drop drained from the cup of suffering? And yet the challenge is a just one.
It will be fully met and answered. But Calvary must needs be first. It lies in every path to a true throne.
One does not “come down" from a cross. He mounts upon it as a stepping-stone to higher things, careless whether others believe on him or not, so long as he finds the way of light.
It is only through the baptism of pain that we become the helpers of troubled ones—only through drinking of this cup that we share in the redemption of the world.
We shall be entering soon upon a new century. It opens an era of new thought.
We are drawing scattered forces to a focus. We are killing out the sense of separateness in human life and studying with more profound interest the problem of unity. The development of individuality goes hand in hand with deeper consciousness of universal sympathies. In all the arts and sciences, in mechanics and in literature, we seek simplicity and fundamental principles, indifferent to the destruction of time-honored theories and ignorant beliefs.
The religious teachers of the past have drawn sharp lines of distinction between God and man, time and eternity. They have talked of the "saved" and the "lost,"the "Christian" and the "heathen," the "here" and the "hereafter." They have localized heaven and hell, separated soul from body, spirit from matter, the universal from the particular. Life was considered as something quite apart from death. Minerals, vegetables, and "dumb beasts" had no share in the intelligence and soul-life of the human being.
Let us glance at some of the changes wrought in spiritual chemistry through the propositions of new thought:
Humanity is itself divine.
All men are the sons of God.
Time and eternity are one.
Heaven and hell are ever present with us as mental experiences.
All life is sacred. All days and occupations are holy when governed by loving purpose.
"Death does not differ at all from life," as was taught by Thales six centuries before the Christian era.
One life pervades all kingdoms, varying only in degree of unfoldment, and continually progressing in all toward higher types.
In one of the art galleries of the city are two paintings called "The Old Navy and the New."
One is a picture of the frigate "Constitution," the other of the battleship "Massachusetts"—showing something of the changes made in naval vessels since the early part of the century. The points of contrast offer an illustration of the changed thought of the present day.
The name of the new ship is individualized. The bulk is reduced from the old model. The great spread of canvas has disappeared.
The dimensions are altered, and every line is one of grace and beauty.
The hull is steel, the driving power steam and electricity. Speed has been greatly increased.
The port holes are much smaller, and the guns of finer caliber, while more effective in their range and power, and far beyond the boldest expectations in the gunnery of a hundred years ago.
In the interior furnishings the incandescent lamp has taken the place of sperm oil. All the nautical appliances show the great advance of science.
The food and clothes of sailors and marines are of a quality unknown to those who manned the "Constitution." The standard requirements of the officers are much higher than those of former days.
With all these changes we find the same ensign at the peak, and pennant at the fore, but the starry field shows a larger and grander union of States than was included in the plans of the early patriots.
There is not much in common between the hut of the Congo African and the palace of a merchant prince of the Western world. They both have roof and walls, with the simple object of a shelter. In very similar relations stand the old and new thoughts of God.
The materials and the architecture are unlike, but both are based on the idea of a protecting power.
In the material existence we get only a glimpse of the eternal verities, and often fail to understand the connection with the present day between what has gone before and that which follows.
It is impossible to make an extreme statement of any truth, for the reason that our highest conception must fall far short of the reality.
We cannot overestimate the power or benevolence of the forces amid which we are developing our spiritual nature.
In our fear of being thought “visionary" we are in danger of digging our ground anchors so deep into the earth that we will be held captive to the material life. Is it any wonder that when our cables have been cut or broken through some sobering experience we sometimes drift away into the clouds forgetful of the attractions that once absorbed us? Is it strange that in our unfamiliarity with the regions of higher thought we sometimes become bewildered and seem to hang betwixt two worlds, unwilling to return to the old levels, yet ignorant of the way to pierce the clouds and rise into the clearer atmosphere beyond? Perhaps there are few disciples of new thought that have not at some point of their progress found themselves in such perplexity.
The only escape from the dilemma is to go still higher to where a brighter outlook will be found.
Pleasure or power is the choice presented to us. Our greatest obstacles are indolence and fear.
We allow ourselves to be deluded with the thought that our necessities on the material or intellectual plane make spiritual activity impossible and excuse us from all responsibility for poverty in better things. How easy to throw the blame on "circumstances"!
Power comes only through entire obedience to the highest law with which we are familiar. While we fulfil the law of love in all our thoughts and actions we cannot fail to grow. Nothing but an unloving life can hinder us.
We are not suffering from inability or lack of knowledge, but from failure of purpose. The weakest individual has more knowledge and power than he ever applies to use. As we enlarge expression we open new vistas of truth. The highest force is not unattainable because of our being human, but because our selfishness would make it dangerous to ourselves and others. We are suspicious of what we do not understand. This is why the possession of spiritual power makes one appear as nothing in the eyes of men. The true disciple does not turn bread into stone and multiply loaves and fishes for his material gratification or to satisfy the curiosity of the multitude, hence he is regarded with dislike. He lives a life apart from the contentions of the market and the forum, but deals with forces that would easily govern both.
Power over power is what Jesus promised to his followers. Such comes only to the man who has completely mastered himself, and its possessor is invincible.
When we understand love as a force and not a weakness, we find in it the very key to everlasting power. Nothing can successfully oppose us when we have identified ourselves with the Supreme Love. Self-love is an inverted force, and becomes destructive. It is the impulse in all suicide and crime. Infinite goodness cannot play the tyrant, even to save us from ourselves.
Mental causes seem remote and insufficient to produce results from which we suffer. But when we have acquainted ourselves with the laws of thought, we are often able to trace their action more clearly than that of drugs in chemistry.
Every evil feeds upon antagonism. Men are constantly inciting one another to resistance and attack. These are the most expensive methods we could possibly devise for the attainment of our ends. We cannot exterminate an evil or solve a social difficulty by a set of resolutions spread upon the records of a reform society. We cannot overcome a habit by mere resolve.
When we have really recognized truth it sets us free. When we have begun to radiate love, those things which seemed impregnable disintegrate like the hard rock of refractory ores placed in the chemical vats of the reduction works. When we begin to "live the life" we find that our candle "gives light to all that are in the house," and will not be hid in a secret place. Our power asserts itself in all our relations to others. It vitalizes everything we touch, but produces no elation or vain-glory. We accept all results as evidence of the accuracy of the principles with which we are learning to work. The cancer of self-love is healed. With all our heart, and strength, and soul, and mind, we love the higher good. Fresh life flows through our veins, and we begin to realize that for which we have vainly sought so long.
Love easily loosens all our bonds. There is no discomfort that will not yield to its sovereign power.
The sun compels the traveler to lay aside the cloak that wind and storm have failed to take from his grasp.
When experience flings its javelins at us in life's turmoil, we often strike the sweetest chords upon our harps. When we sit in the seat of satisfied desire, ease and comfort bring us lethargy.
If pain is rightly understood it teaches us the deeper, stronger possibilities of humanity, but if we were not so blind to the advantages we possess we would not need the friendly offices of pain to arouse us to sight and action.
A stagnant pool does not clearly reflect the stars and neither does troubled water. Power does not dwell in indolent or anxious minds.
When we have put away all eagerness and learned the lesson of true confidence, we are in training for high achievement. It is no reason for discouragement if old habits of mind return at times like the retreating tides.
As we watch the ebbing waters an occasional wave will roll back so far as to make us feel uncertain of its outward movement, while the flood tide often seems to the watcher to be receding.
So do our thought impulses appear to move us in directions we have not sought, and hold us from the lines on which we most desire to advance.
Outside the caverns of mystery, in which we search for truth, lies sunlight that would blind our mortal eyes; while within, the occasional flash of our torches on a crystal, or the phosphorescence of a drop of water, seems to us a blaze of glory, and the pebbles in our path appear as treasures beyond price.
The day will come when we will dare to claim the full power that belongs to us, and realize that we are limitless indeed, and, as Walt Whitman says, are not contained between our hats and our boot-soles.
Poverty and disease are not the expressions of righteousness.
They do not reflect the true image and likeness of God.
Great spiritual potencies are born from great emergencies.
Nature does not waste her highest impulses on trivial occasions.
We get the greatest force from our severest trials.
It does not come from mere endurance, but from a bold and steadfast attitude which has no thought of yielding.
The way of peace is the way of power.
It brings us to repose without lethargy, activity without effort, love without anxiety, and joy without reaction.