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The Lost Trail

So must you press forward to open your soul to the Eternal. But it must be the Eternal that draws forth your strength and beauty, not desire of growth.

For in the one case you develop in the luxuriance of purity, in the other you harden by the forcible passion for personal stature. —“Light on the Path."

It is related that in the ancient days there were rich mines of gold in Central Africa. These mines yielded millions to the Egyptian government under the early Pharaohs.

In the succeeding wars for existence mining was neglected, and all knowledge of these valuable deposits was lost for several centuries. Later the Romans discovered and reopened the gold fields. They constructed stone road up the Nile Valley. This road stretched out across the desert to the ancient mines. But it was afterwards neglected and buried in sand by the hot winds. Portions of it have been found at different times by various explorers, but the place of the hidden treasures is no longer known, and the broken trail ends in trackless desert.

This page from chapter of history has its correspondence in the thought life of the race and in many an individual experience. Man's undiscovered country is the largest part of his domains. His undeveloped resources are his richest treasures his latent powers are his mightiest forces. In the struggle for existence, his spiritual nature has been often buried by the hot sands of his selfishness and mercenary ambitions. Greed of gold and worldly power has chilled and blighted his higher purposes. The race has often fallen into periods which we call Dark Ages." The mines of truth have been neglected and forgotten. The roads which lead to them have been covered up. From time to time some poet or philosopher has found stretches of the lost trail, some bits of the paths of wisdom but these discoverers have been as voices crying in the wilderness. Such were the Egyptian sages, the Hebrew prophets, the Greek philosophers. Such were Hermes, Isaiah, Socrates, Plato, and Zeno. Such were also Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus. Sometimes these voices have been heard in the later centuries breaking in upon the tumult of material life and proclaiming, even in the senate chamber and the market place, that there were other and surer roads to happiness than those that most men followed that there was fabulous wealth in every soul and magical power in every life, awaiting the unfoldment of the master mind.

When we are tired of the aimless wandering in trackless deserts, dissatisfied with the broken cisterns and mirage of purely material pleasures, we can recover the lost trail and find in the higher nature wealth beyond the dreams of avarice, and living fountains which are inexhaustible. In this discovery alone do we find rest and peace.

When our activities are in rhythmic accord with the law of our being, disappointment and failure are impossible. Fear throws us out of step and makes us stumble. Back of fear is always selfishness.

One may safely walk over high trestle in the dark when he cannot see the depths below him or hear the noise of the rushing river. He easily measures the regular interval between the timbers, and adjusts his step to cross it without faltering. But let the flash of lantern reveal the distance to the eye, or the tumbling of the waters alarm the ear, and immediately the senses are thrown into confusion, and the movement becomes matter of difficulty to the timid traveler.

When we look off from great height upon illimitable space we sometimes feel bewildered and dazed.

An undeveloped nature would perhaps be frozen with horror if it could see into the far depths of its past and hear the rushing of the river of its life as it had swept down the channel of the ages in the long history of evolution. It would be paralyzed with terror if it could look into the illimitable future along the infinite line of vanishing perspective that its life will follow. It would be like the dove sent forth by Noah into the great wilderness of waters that could find no resting-place for the sole of her foot.

Light sometimes bewilders as well as darkness. The electric lantern is too dazzling for use in the lighthouses of the coast. There is danger of blinding the navigator, and making it difficult for him to judge of distances. A strong light misplaced will so deepen the shadows of a road as to exaggerate its difficulties. We stumble at fancied obstructions that are only shadows in a smooth path.

We lose the rhythm of our steps, and when we come to a real impediment we think that, too, is an illusion. Intoxication is as possible on the higher planes as on those of intellect and sense. There is such a thing as metaphysical inebriety. Its sufferers are often those who have done good work. They find themselves crippled and incapacitated, to the surprise of themselves and their pupils. This fact calls for a new diagnosis in mental pathology.

There are two classes of mind in the community: one class believes in matter, and scoffs at spirit; the other believes in spirit, and scoffs at matter. Each accuses the other of mistaking shadows for substance, and each gives a different definition to reality. If we found that either class could walk without stumbling, we might safely choose our guides. But when they stumble alike, we must conclude that they are making similar mistakes.

Cannot we sin against matter as well as against spirit? Who can be trusted to discriminate at all times between the shadow and the substance? May it not be true that both are substance, and both shadow, at different times, and in different relations?

In the subjective realms the objective seems a dream—an unreality. It is a mistake to think that dreams and unrealities attach only to the mortal sense.

In the objective life that which relates to the subjective plane seems the unreal and undefined.

In the night the experiences of the day appear far off and vague. When we awaken in the morning we remember the night as a dream of bliss or horror.

So do we live in two worlds or states of consciousness. We cannot easily make either real while experiencing the other.

We have every reason to know that this is as true after death as before, and continues till we have gained an intelligent consciousness of our power to master life in both conditions, realizing that both are actual and true. Until we have reached this point of understanding we are only dreamers at the best, and just as wrong when we deny the reality of matter as when we deny that of spirit.

Matter can avenge itself as well as spirit. For every atom is an individual intelligence.

The great question of life is one of poise—of equilibrium.

This is not gained with fanciful theories.

The inebriate is disturbed in his brain—the glutton in his stomach.

The temperate man compels both meat and drink to serve his wants, and maintains his balance through preserving normal circulation.

If the materialistic stomach is often out of order, so is the metaphysical head. It is unsafe for the stomach to scorn the head or the head the stomach. Neither can safely call the other a dream and an illusion, for the mucous membrane and nerve cells are very similar in both. If our philosophies are to be practical and useful we must not forget that truth is relative as well as absolute.

Ethical propositions must be shown in their right relations to the life of the individual of the present day. Truth is not complex and occult. We stumble oftenest at its simplicity. We do not properly distinguish light and shadow and so we are misled by both. Life is a constant attempt to realize ideals.

The mind of man is a crucible in which the ideal is transmuted into the real. This process of transmutation is the spiritual chemistry we are here to learn.

There is no poverty of material in the laboratory. Every individual in every hour has the opportunity of all the happiness of which he is capable through understanding of himself.

Some so-called metaphysicians begin their teachings with good basic propositions, but soon cut their ground cables and carry their pupils to the clouds, leaving them to get down again to terra firma as best they may and find their own way back to reason.

It would be well for us to begin to think of climbing up to the animal plane instead of talking so much of living above it.

The popular illusion concerning the real meaning of spirituality is becoming daily more apparent in metaphysical circles.

The immediate requirements of this planet earth are in the line of a higher and more perfect type of animal life in the human race. It can never be realized through a supercilious contempt for our animal functions and denial of them as illusory.

Spiritual progress implies a better understanding and appreciation of life in all its forms, a more complete adjustment of our relations to the material world, a mastery of its forces through I intelligent recognition in place of blind antagonism. The inevitable result of this is perfection of species along the lines upon which nature has always worked, and not the substitution of new methods. In this way only can we show that man is not the bond-slave of heredity.

No matter what ancestral trait has been reproduced, no matter what taint in the blood has shown itself anew, it can be wholly overcome in any individual life. It can be eradicated from the system when the soul has been aroused to its work.

Man is his own creator, and can dominate what his mind has expressed. He can change at will the colors or the texture of the thought with which he builds.

It was once customary in Jerusalem for pilgrims during the holy week to crowd about the sepulcher and wait for the appearance of the sacred fire. Every one held a taper in his hand and watched through long hours of darkness for the glimmer from the tomb. At length when it appeared those nearest to the cave would light their tapers, others kindled theirs from those of their friends, and so the flame would spread till the entire church was brilliantly illuminated.

Many had journeyed from distant lands upon the accumulated savings of a lifetime that they might take part in this ceremony and afterward be baptized in the Jordan.

Today there are many in America who look to the East for the sacred fire and baptism, many who believe that only in India can the highest truth be acquired. Their most cherished desire is to find the Mahatmas and sit at their feet as disciples.

As we once suffered from the disease of "Anglomania," so are we in danger now from "Hindumania." It is doubtful if any of our Hindu friends have brought us a thought that was not already known to careful students of philosophy in our western world. We are slow to recognize the fact that truth is universal and not geographical.

It is everywhere present like the ether. It pervades all life, and its right interpretation is accessible to every earnest soul. We do not find it more abundant or easily obtainable upon one day of the week than on another. Truth recognizes no special holiness in time or place, regards no era of history as sacred or profane, holds no peculiar reverence for any prophet or apostle.

Every life is in itself a voice of truth. We need not travel to India, Japan, or Palestine in our search for wisdom. There are no sacred flames or fountains except in our own souls. These are never uncovered till we are done with all our worship of the external. The inner voice speaks only in the silence when all other sounds are hushed.

When we have recognized the ground whereon we stand as holy ground, we are ready to hear the voice of the spirit, ready to drink of the living waters and to eat the bread that cometh down from Heaven. Every man and woman is a revelation. Every book is inspired. God is in all things and in all places. Why should we imagine such narrow limitations to Divinity? Is not this itself, as Kingsley claimed, the only atheism—to fancy that there is but one Holy Land in all the planet, one inspired volume, and one Divine Man in all the ages of humanity?

There are two lines of influence constantly operating upon every life, of which we are very apt to remain in ignorance. One comes from the unseen intelligences drawn to us by congenial thought. These find satisfaction in our atmosphere through similarity of tastes. Most of them are unknown to us as individuals. We receive the influence of their companionship, whether it be spiritual or sensual, and at the same time we exercise a certain power over them.

The other influence is that of our own thought impulses. These we have set in operation at some period far back, perhaps in former lives, and have not yet outgrown them. No mental weakness is sloughed off, or strength developed, without intelligent recognition of our powers and fixed purpose of accomplishment. The errors of the objective life must be corrected on the objective plane,— just as the note that was drawn yesterday and made due at a fixed date and place must be redeemed,—not in our sleep, but in our waking hours.

If we have indulged in avarice, dishonesty, licentiousness, we must doubtless continue through successive lives to manifest these taints until they have filled us with disappointment and sorrow, and been finally conquered by the ascendency of larger thought and more wholesome desire. This work cannot be done in the subjective life. We take up our unfinished tasks with each new day. When we awaken we find them awaiting us, whether we have slept well or ill—ten hours or one. We do not escape them by changing our garments. Whenever one returns to earth's vibrations he moves on the lines of least resistance, and responds most readily to the chords with which he was most familiar when he left. The time since his departure has made no change in his uncompleted task. He comes to his own atmosphere. He opens his books at the unfinished lesson. These old problems doubtless entail much suffering upon us when we again resume them. There is, perhaps, better reason than we have supposed for the almost universal restlessness of infancy and the diseases of early childhood.

Of what are these the expression and the consequence if not of causes dating back to former incarnations? If the future is to be the result of the present, as all mankind believes, why is not the present the result of the past?

Before the returning soul has got firm hold upon its tool, the body, and gained a clear understanding of its tasks, may it not find itself uneasy and disturbed?

When we recall the distressful conditions under which many die, and the dissatisfied states of mind in which most pass out of the objective life, may it not give us a clue to many of the difficulties of our earliest years? The strong desire to solve our personal problems, which is the governing purpose of every life, brings us back to the material world sooner or later, according to the strength of the impulse within us.

The same law manifests itself in what we call spirit communication. We find that most intelligences in their first attempts to control "sensitives" or "psychics" throw upon them the mental and physical conditions under which they passed away.

This also is true without regard to the time that has elapsed since death. The returning spirit is compelled to strike first his old keynote in matter, as a music-box starts at the point at which the tune was broken off, when it is wound up to play again.

Until we get accustomed to any particular situation we do not find much pleasure in it. This is the case in passing from the astral to the material state at birth, and equally so in passing into spirit life—Death to one condition is always birth into another.

There appears to be frequently a sense of dissatisfaction and bewilderment attending the change, whether through mortal birth or death.

Our earliest experiences upon either side are often disappointing, distasteful, and unreal, unless we have learned the science of spiritual adjustment which must be applied alike upon all planes.

Metaphysics without spiritualism is like Christianity without its gospels. Its principles cannot be clearly stated or intelligently employed. The science of metaphysics is based upon the discovery of man's spiritual powers. For this we are chiefly indebted to the reopening of communication between the seen and the unseen worlds. In these latter years it has been mainly due to the sturdy and persistent efforts of the spiritualists. It has been truly the discovery of a lost trail. The investigations of phenomena have been made with great care and thoroughness. Many of their phases have been most indisputably established upon strictly scientific grounds and by men of recognized authority in scientific circles.

Spirit vibrations are beyond the perception of the human eye, until their rate has been reduced to that of matter. As we increase the psychic force we raise vibrations to a higher speed, making impossible the manifestation to the senses.

Much of our machinery, like the electric fan, is invisible in rapid motion. As we reduce the power, and slow down, it comes within the very narrow range of human vision.

Communication between mortal and that which we call spirit requires often the use of a medium, who serves a purpose somewhat similar to that of the electric battery in the communications of telegraphy.

Before the circuit can be established, the brain of the psychic must be quickened, and that of the spirit intelligence lowered to a point of harmony.

This is equally true upon our usual planes of life. We cannot really understand each other f without some points of mental contact through currents of sympathetic vibration.

A great hindrance to the highest spiritual work today is the prejudice and fear which many entertain of spiritualism.

There are metaphysical teachers and healers who stubbornly refuse to recognize this source of power. Thus, they fail of true accord with the operator at the other end of the line. Their work, in consequence, is cramped and limited. The ultimate results of such blind egotism are always disastrous.

Many who were once successful to a marked degree have been obliged to abandon their field of usefulness because of their persistent folly in denying truth that was distasteful to them. It is necessary that we should be hospitable to the whole gospel of good. There is nothing in the universe to fear and nothing of evil that can do us injury except as we make conditions possible. There is infinitely more awaiting our discovery in the mines of spiritual treasure than we have yet conceived. We must dig deep for that which is most precious. The miner often handles tons of rock in order to secure a few ounces of gold.

Objection is sometimes made to the claims of spirit communication, on the ground that it is commonplace.

While this is often true, it is one of the best evidences of the reality of the phenomena. In the ordinary interchange of thought in conversation and correspondence, do we find much that is sublime? If we were to break away from all our friends save those who made genuine contributions of real value to our intellectual life, what isolation we should surfer! Is not humanity mostly defined by “commonplace"?

We cannot claim a very high development as yet in our own phase of existence. We have no reason to suppose that any very different conditions are reached immediately by the majority of those who pass through the change of death. It does not affect one's character to leave off the clothes that he wore yesterday.

We have no reason to attribute special knowledge or power to one who has dropped his robe of flesh; nor have we any reason in that fact to decline to recognize another whose spiritual advancement makes it possible for him to render valuable assistance from the astral plane. In either case we may be seriously at fault.

If we depend upon the psychic rather than the spiritual faculties with which every human being is equipped, if we lean habitually upon mediums and astrologers as guides instead of using our own perceptions, we are like schoolboys in the lower forms who think they cannot recite their lessons without "cribs."

The scholar dispenses with these helps. He respects his own intelligence and makes his own researches while welcoming gladly all assistance that may be rendered by those who have the right to be called masters through superior development.

Love is the principle of power. It teaches us our intimate relations to our fellows. It identifies us with the supreme life and wisdom, upon all planes of existence.

Love kills out the sense of separateness from that which is above us and below us in the scale of being. This weakness, upon which so many pride themselves, is always the mark of a narrow intellect and an unloving nature. It shows a want of the culture it affects. If we were not akin to the meanest of our fellow-men we would not find ourselves associated with them in the same school of life. It is possible we may have advanced in certain studies to a higher class than some, but as long as the experiences of humanity are necessary to us all we have no reason for exclusiveness. The pride we foster shuts us oft" from much that would be helpful to us. It impairs our spiritual circulation. We neither give nor receive in fullness. It is a sacrifice of power. It brings a sense of loneliness which is its penalty. We are not separated from any life in either the seen or unseen realms to which we are related by a bond of spiritual sympathy. A true recognition of the meaning of life opens to everyone the gladness and freedom that belong by the right of eminent domain to every human soul.

There is no such thing as a rational melancholy. It is a purely selfish impulse. Service is its sovereign remedy.

The opportunities of life leave us without excuse for indolence or sadness. Healthy lungs find always inspiration and expression possible in an invigorating atmosphere.

We know that our supply of air is inexhaustible, and earth's latitudes are broad enough to give us choice of any climate we prefer.

Each of us makes his own thought climate, and, if it is not satisfactory and healthful, we must look for the cause within ourselves. It is not a matter of locality. External conditions are always the expression of the inner cause. We will not find in the "beyond" the balm we seek, for all the joys of heaven cannot help a discontented mind.

True life is unutterable sweetness, in which all the shadows of our yesterdays are woven into the soft tints of the morning sunshine.

Upon the side of Mt. Blanc there is a little patch of verdure called "Le jardin." It lies in the midst of eternal snows, but in summer and winter it is always green.

In the wilds of Arabia are garden spots among the sands. The desert lies about them upon every side— a great wilderness of desolation. The little oases are always fresh and beautiful, with graceful palms and bubbling fountains. Sparkling rivulets trickle off among the tree roots, and on their borders are bright and delicate flowers.

Amid the waves of the Atlantic, hundreds of leagues from any shore, are islands of tropical beauty. Among their orange groves and vineyards one forgets that all about him spreads an ocean that is often swept with furious gales, and breaks with savage violence on rocky shores.

In every life there is a garden spot, however cold and deep may be the snows that lie about it. In the midst of every desert there is some oasis filled with refreshing fountains.

In every sea of trouble there is some enchanted isle.

We may surround ourselves in our thought life with fruits and flowers of rare loveliness. We may find the springs of gladness bubbling up within the soul.

When we have recovered the lost trail of a spiritual purpose it leads us out of the shadows of the passing day and into the shine of the eternal years.

We no longer wander in uncertain ways oppressed with troubled thoughts, for we have found the path that leadeth unto life.

In all the time of suffering we have never been far from the right road. At any moment that we choose to yield to higher impulses we are guided quickly to the ways of peace and pleasantness. The lines of least resistance for the soul are always those of truth and righteousness.

The supreme law is supreme love.

Life is a palace—not a hovel. It has no doors that shut out happiness.

Life is a banquet—not a funeral.

We find this true when we turn up the lights.

Trouble is a dream of sense. When we awaken to real life the shadows flee away and all is well.

Death holds no terror for those who have learned the lesson of life.

When we have really discovered life's resources we know there is no "better land" than this in which we are unfolding realization.

We do not have to die to escape suffering.

We do not escape suffering by dying.

Spiritual science is the study of God in man; spirit expressed in matter.

As the sun to the material world, so is "Sol" or "Soul" to the spiritual.

God is man's inspiration. Man is God's expression.

God is subjective man. Man is objective God.

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Charles B. Newcomb

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