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Master Mariners

Coast Notes

"Blow the wind East or blow it West,
Whichever wind blows is the best."

"I count it kinglier far to wait,

Aye, wait and wait a thousand years,
Than once to doubt or challenge fate."
—Joaquin Miller

The evolution of the spiritual man is simply the education of a navigator.

The boy who takes his toy ship to the pond will set its little rudder to counteract the wind that is blowing, and launch it without a pilot on its mimic voyage.

If the wind doesn't change, his venture moves directly toward the other bank, but otherwise it is the sport of breeze and current—blown hither and thither until it drifts ashore.

If a living pilot were aboard he could shape its course intelligently, and make a prosperous voyage in the face of any and all winds.

An undeveloped man who has not learned to grasp the helm of his being, and direct its course with distinct purpose and skill, is drifting on the sea of life.

When he awakens to this discovery his first impulse is to place himself in tow of some stronger and wiser intelligence than his own. This is well if his aim be self-development and independent navigation. But many who are enrolled as disciples of metaphysics are content to sail so long as the water is smooth and the breezes suit them. As soon as the sea roughens or the wind veers, their seamanship is all at fault, and they signal for a pilot.

What would be thought of the navigator who could never loosen his canvas in open water, but was dependent on the tug master to tow him across the seas; or who would steer for port in every change of weather?

We need to learn that there are no adverse winds to the able seaman. He makes every gust to serve him. He does not expect to make his voyage with the breeze "dead aft." He is even content to meet it sometimes "dead ahead," and shorten sail or lie "head on" to the great seas and let it blow, knowing that in a few hours it will shift to a more favorable quarter. He may gain but a single mile upon his course in a whole day's sailing. Yet that mile is as truly a part of his voyage as the two or three hundred that he clears another day. All these exigencies were taken into consideration and provided for before he left the shelter of the bay. He knew he would meet stormy winds and tempestuous seas, but also knew his seamanship was competent to bring him safely through them, and that every voyage would develop larger knowledge through experience.

There is no trouble that can come to us but carries with it food for spiritual life.

There is no cloud, however black, that hangs above us but is charged with light that can illuminate the darkest passes of our journey.

We must transmute the suffering and draw the lightning.

We can turn the baser metals into gold, and charge electric batteries with the force of thunderbolts.

We are divine alchemists. Our laboratory is perfectly equipped with heat and light and power.

Let us forget our anxieties and employ ourselves with the study and direction of the tremendous forces which course through us.

Let us leave the little personal man outside and not allow ourselves to be bothered with his complaints. He can come in when he gets ready, share our experiments, and enjoy our satisfaction. There is a door always open, and he can find it when he will. Why should we weary ourselves with his lamentations?

What cares the scientist for the direction of the weather-vane when he is busy with his retorts and crucibles—absorbed with the study and development of nature's energies—which he controls at will!

When a beam of the eternal day has flashed across one's path his most grievous trouble becomes trifling, and shrinks into such insignificance that he ceases to question his soul regarding suffering. No thought of self-pity or injustice can perplex him in that noonday light. His head is above the clouds—above the swirl of waters that seemed so threatening before. The winds are no longer boisterous.

When this light has really dawned upon the consciousness, the present and future are absorbed in it. It is the one great reality of existence. It blends all experiences in complete harmony. One no longer seeks sleep or death as a refuge from sorrows, for pain has passed like a mist that has rolled away before the sun of the morning. Humanity has recognized its destiny, and looks enraptured like a toil-worn traveler who gazes from a lofty summit upon the glory of a landscape that transcends his most confident expectations and surpasses his most daring imagination.

Know that death is not the only gateway through which we reach this realization. It may come through pain or pleasure in the hour of struggle or of stillness. But in that moment one is born again. He steps beyond all thought or care of suffering forever. Pain and pleasure are alike swallowed up in the superb sense of being.

The King has come to his own.

It is always ours to choose upon what seas we will embark, and to what winds we will trim our sails.

Having made the choice, we find our only effort is to hold ourselves in accord with the tides and currents that bear us onward. We have become a part of their life, and our relation to them is governed by ourselves.

We do not realize the uses of ebb tides in the affairs of men. In the diurnal movements of the sea the flood comes in and carries the rubbish high upon the shore, where it is disinfected by the sun. The ebb tide sweeps the sands clean, carrying out the waste to be buried in the ocean depths. The petty disorders of the beach are quickly washed away. So man is cleansed and healed by both the flood tides and the ebb, in his varying experiences of prosperity and adversity.

Let him not be impatient at low tide. The waves will bring back what they floated away. They will cast it again at his feet cleansed and freshened by the deep waters.

The best ships look uncouth and useless when stranded upon dry sands, but when the sea comes tumbling in again they are soon afloat and pulling at their hawsers as if impatient for another voyage. The tides have brought to them new life and opportunity. The waiting is ended, for the ebb is passed.

When the tides serve we may launch our ventures, but waiting is often the part of wisdom, and we should wait with patience.

Life has its light-towers upon all headlands.

Every reef is marked by its lightships and bell buoys.

It has its signal circuits so established that we cannot break their currents without the sounding of alarm bells.

This is proved on every plane of human activity. If we swerve to the least degree from our proper channel that very instant do we put in motion cause of suffering. The longer we hold upon the mistaken course the more the pain is deepened.

Persistence in error brings us to the shoals on which our life craft will be wrecked. A new ship will be necessary before we can resume our voyage. It is well to heed our earliest warnings if we wish smooth passages.

An engineer watches his steam and water gauges and maintains them at the proper level for the highest power. He can easily know when the steam in his boilers is getting low and the water too high.

The remedy is in the fuel pile, and, opening the furnace doors, he feeds the fires afresh while the machinery moves with a new vigor.

The officer of the weather bureau, from his tower, studies his instruments that show the action of wind and weather, and from his signal staff he flies the warning of cold waves and hurricanes.

It is very necessary for us to note storm signals in ourselves and one another, and govern our days accordingly.

We must study carefully the soul forces within us in order to control and direct their energies, must feed our fires and keep our gauges clean.

There is never lack of energy. Our work is to direct its application wisely to our own requirements. We are often impatient for the immediate solution of the entire problem. If we will quietly content ourselves with the occupation of the day, applying thoroughly the few principles of life's arithmetic we have acquired to the arrangement of the factors in our hands, we will oftener be pleasantly surprised than disappointed with results.

Our sailing will bring us more frequently into smooth waters than rough ones. The simple tables of spiritual logarithms provide us with all that we require for our mortal navigation.

We have scarcely embarked as yet upon the great sea of Truth. We are only dropping down the bay. It will be some time before we feel the ground-swell of the ocean under us, and begin to realize that we are "off soundings."

The most serious work that we have yet attempted is only coasting in sight of shore. Before we can safely navigate the open sea we must learn to command and obey.

The troubles of today are not those that most disturb us, but the troubles of tomorrow.

We feel equal to the struggle of the present moment, but are distressed at the thought of that which looms upon the horizon of the future—that which is just swinging across the range of our perspective and stands between us and the sun, making twilight of the noonday and chilling our blood with fear. It is the gathering storm that most affrights us.

To forestall the duty of any hour is as undesirable as to neglect it when it comes.

Prematurity is as dangerous a disease as procrastination, and often far more costly in time and treasure. Every responsibility arrives with its attendant factors and environment. These cannot be properly combined in any other hour than that to which they belong. Let us revise the old proverb and know

There is never a slip
'Twixt the cup and the lip
For which fate intends it.

It is not always possible to trace the connection between cause and consequence in any particular experience, but we may be always sure the cause lies hidden in ourselves. As we work upon this principle we find our understanding and discernment grow more accurate with every day.

Sometimes cause and consequence lie so close together that we have no difficulty in perceiving the straight line connecting them.

Sometimes the cause lies hidden in a remote event or impulse which was indulged long ago and has been long forgotten.

Sometimes it dates back to weaknesses we thought we had outgrown and which have made no sign for many years. Some unusual event has waked up slumbering sensations and put them again in evidence, to our most serious discomfort and chagrin. Perhaps we say, " I have been really tranquil, yet this trouble comes."

No crop is ever grown except from seed, but seed may lie long buried in the ground and manifest its dormant power of fruitfulness in some quite unexpected conditions of heat or moisture. A man in middle age who has acquired unusual self-possession may suffer from head troubles that are the result of early tempers. In a time when negative conditions prevail over the positive the seed of this old weakness will germinate and show itself in symptoms that may baffle the physicians.

Some poisons work more speedily than others. Some may remain latent and unsuspected in the system through long periods of time.

The suffering and sorrow of today may be the ripened fruit of yesterday's sowing, or many harvests may have been gathered since the seed of this particular experience was planted.

And yet we need not fear a lurking evil after we have diligently sought its root and used the knife of mental surgery with an unfaltering purpose. If suffering continues we may know that we have spared some nerve or tendon that should have been cut away or left some grain of poison in the system that needs to be expelled. Spiritual cleansing must be thorough and heroic if we wish it to be effectual.

The crimson and scarlet must be made as white as snow. This is always within our power if it is within our purpose.

There is no virtue but may become exaggerated and distorted. When it becomes so pronounced as to cause self-complacency in the mind of its possessor it has passed the line of equilibrium and reached this stage.

The faintest trace of pride in any virtuous characteristic marks decay, and shows a vicious tendency, for pride and self-complacency find lodgment only in an unsound mind.

What we are governs what wc believe. "Belief" does not govern life. It is the expression of being. It comes from within, and is the indication of the point of development that has been reached.

Character is the growth of that which we call "trouble," as the trunk of the forest tree is fed by the mould of its dead leaves lying about its roots. It seems to part reluctantly with the summer foliage, which has been its glory, and which the autumn winds tear from its branches till they are stripped and bare; yet through this very process the way is prepared for a new and larger growth when the next spring comes round. So even the old treasures have a part in the new glory which has been made possible by their death. We must needs let go of the old life to make a larger and better experience possible.

When we make our happiness dependent upon persons, things, and places, the conditions are beyond our control, and we are subject to many alternations of hope and sorrow.

When we assume the entire responsibility, and look for all causes in ourselves, there is no moment in which we do not govern. In one case we are crossing a river upon broken ice, springing from one cake to another, as they are driven by the currents, never secure of our footing, and in continual danger.

In the other we are as navigators, with a sound craft under us, in which we calmly set both sail and rudder, and direct our course without anxiety to the port we wish to reach. It is the first lesson of power to learn that all possibilities center in the individual will.

There is no such thing as intermittent law.

Unless action is constant and unvarying it does not manifest a law. A law does not operate at one time and suspend its action in another. If this were true we could never depend upon results. If law is supreme it can never lapse. Then we have no alternative, if we insist on "accidents," than that of a chaotic universe.

It does not follow that the strict relation between cause and consequence is interrupted because we cannot, in any particular case, trace the unbroken connection.

If a man's life at any point could become unwillingly subordinated to another so as to make of him a " victim," and relieve him of the responsibility of consequences, he would not be a free agent, and our teaching of freedom and responsibility would be false. If man suffers from accident he is not living under the dominion of law.

If, however, the cause of the "accident" lies in the man's own Karma, the law is vindicated and established, and we may rest secure in its beneficent operation in every life. The mills of the gods grind so slowly that the grist of today may have been put into the hopper in some incarnation far remote, but doubtless by the man's own hands, for it is only our own grist that comes to us through the mill of life.

We are like eagles chained to a barnyard perch. We flutter our wings uselessly and turn a restless eye to the mountain-peak where lies our home, but every time we seek to rise we feel the hurt of the tether which holds us down.

We do not realize that we are ensnared in our own mistaken thoughts and purposes—self-hypnotized and paralyzed with fear.

We learn to look upon ourselves as captives—until there comes a day when a new light shines into our soul, our fetters are broken, and we go free.

Some truths are suddenly revealed to one in middle life which he has never before perceived.

They flash upon his consciousness like the light of distant stars of his own planetary system—travelling toward him for ages and just arrived at the outermost bounds of his spiritual horizon.

When a shipwrecked mariner has been cast upon a desert island his first thought is to raise a mast and fly a signal of distress. Day after day he goes to the hill-top and scans the sky line anxiously, looking off" to every point of the compass in the hope of sighting a passing vessel. After long waiting he may open his eyes some morning to discover that while he slept a ship had anchored within hail. He is again in touch with his fellowmen, and a way is suddenly opened to return to all that he holds most dear.

How many an anxious one has watched for a passing sail to rescue him from some shipwreck upon the shoals of human life—the shoals of broken health or fortune, or a shattered home! How, day after day, he has gone, perhaps, to his little lookout, and returned from his search disappointed and hopeless,— to awaken at last to the realization that in all his months of weary watching help had been upon the way! In the hours of the long night relief had come from some quite unexpected quarter, and his waiting and exile are ended.

There is never a moment in life when any of us can really justify discouragement.

It is easy to say "the unexpected happens," but why should not the unexpected always be our expected good?

Why should our horizon be ever darkened by the mists of dejection or the thunder clouds of despair?

We cannot look out clearly through the windows of the soul when they are wet with the cold rains of sorrow.

The spiritual eye is telescopic and never fails to serve the tranquil confidence of spiritual wisdom.

The same winds blow for us all, but they serve us upon different tacks according as we set our sails.

Some men need a tornado to drive them into their true course, and some need to be cast on desert islands before they realize their faulty navigation.

As mariners are guided by the headlands on the coast, and mountain travelers by certain peaks so high they never can lose sight of them, and as desert pilgrims watch the sun and stars in journeying across the trackless wastes, so should we in hours of bewilderment look for the spiritual peaks and headlands we call principles.

These are to us as fixed stars in the heavens, guiding us through every wilderness that has seemed impenetrable and bringing us surely to the places of rest and gladness.

Until we can see and understand both sides of life we cannot rightly judge "success" or "failure."

Thought principles are like electric currents in live wires.

If misunderstood and improperly handled they are dangerous, and sometimes kill instead of serving us.

Instead of shrinking from our tests and trials let us regard them as opportunities of advancement. Like the school examinations, they open the way to higher classes and. always precede promotion.

No conquest is complete that leaves behind it either aversion or desire.

When we neither flinch from an experience nor covet it, when we can enjoy or do without it with equal satisfaction, we have arrived at spiritual indifference, which is true evidence of spiritual mastery.

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Charles B. Newcomb

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