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The Realization of Power

Life is to wake, not sleep—
Rise and not rest, but press
From earth's level, where blindly creep
Things perfected, more or less,
To heaven's height, far and steep.
I have faith such end shall be.
From the first Power was, I knew
Life has made clear to me,
Strive but for closer view,
Love's just as plain to see.
—Browning
All we have willed or hoped or dreamed of good shall exist;
Not its semblance but itself; no beauty nor good nor power
Whose voice has gone forth but each survives for the melodist,
When eternity confirms the conception of an hour.
The high that proved too high, the heroic for earth too hard
The passion that left the ground to lose itself in the sky
Are music sent up to God by the lover and the bard
Enough that He heard it once—we shall hear it by and by."
—Browning

It would be difficult, I think, to find many agreed on any single definition of power. Some take a very limited view, and deny the existence of power if it is not clearly demonstrated externally—in word and deed. But there are those who realize in themselves as well as in others far greater power than is at the moment expressed, a power which in a sense should come under the direction of one's thought, and yet a power which is greater than any reach of the mentality. Now in reality all power is the same—that is, from the same source. But there are as many degrees and expressions of power as there are degrees and expressions of life. We can understand any phase of power—in fact, anything—only as we ourselves come into possession of it. We may perceive power, but that is a different thing from the true understanding of it. The real understanding of power goes far deeper than any surface knowledge—it touches the springs of wisdom itself. Now, the direction power takes is dependent on a man's thought. The dynamo of direction, however, is back of thought. To develop power on any plane there are certain requirements to be met. There is a law governing this as well as everything else. If this law is complied with, the attainment of power is inevitable. Even on the physical side of life, where it would seem as if all might attain, there are few who live up to their privileges and opportunities, and enjoy perfect physical power. But development on this plane is as necessary as on any other—one may say, it is inevitable, because there must be development and realization on every plane. Real religion is living in accordance with the law of one's being. Belief is of small, if any, service. We must study carefully to discover the laws of life. At one stage it is very well that the life should be regulated from without. If we eat or drink too much we suffer physically, if we transgress any law on the material plane we suffer materially. In this early stage of development there is no possibility of evading the pressure of environment. At this point the life has to be adjusted to surrounding conditions. The higher has, it seems, to be subjected to the lower—lower, only in the sense of being immature. Man on this plane is but little higher than the highest order of animals. The biologist tells us that there is not as much difference between primitive man and the animals as there is between the highest and the lowest of the animal creation. In so far as man succeeds in keeping in harmony with his environment, power is the result. This keeping in harmony with one's environment may, to some further on in the path, seem but a poor achievement— indeed, actually bad in some phases. But we must make allowance for, the difference in point of view. It is sometimes difficult for one to recall and have patience with the experiences and demands of lower stages. The very fact that they were once our own is apt to make us intolerant of them. When we come into the possession of power on the higher plane it should embrace power on all lower planes as well. People are keenly alive to-day to the value and pleasure of athletics. Some phases of these sports are positively brutal. Animals would not indulge in any such pastimes. But this simply shows the desire to exercise power in some degree. This desire for action, the expression—the realization of power—would better take this form than none at all. But directed control of effort toward a high goal is the thing to be striven for. Suppression is not control. Suppression is never good or helpful. Even hate in the mind is better expressed than hidden and covered over. Hate, you know, is only inverted love—misdirected energy. To let our emotions, whatever they may be, come to the light, is like letting off steam when the pressure is at the extreme point. To suppress means disintegration—destruction. One may say, "I am suppressing my feeling toward that other person because I do not wish to hurt him," but the truth is that conscious hatred is even more subtle and baneful in this form than the open, outspoken word. Because people who are sensitive will feel it, and, not knowing from whence the influence comes, will either give it undue consideration or misinterpret its meaning. Expression is the law— any expression is better than none. This is written in the constitution of things. On the intellectual plane of being there are not the same forces to be confronted as on the lower plane, but where there was one obstacle there, on the mental plane there are a score—not only external things, but subtle, intangible difficulties. Here are encountered all the numberless traits of the mentality with their distorted counterparts. These distortions, of course, eventually merely show by contrast the right path, but a certain amount of energy is expended—even lost in the experience. There is another difficulty, too: on this plane we are frequently not nearly so much concerned with the directing and living of our own lives as we are with the lives of other people, and we spend far more time thinking over and dwelling on other people's shortcomings than our own. Such a habit of mind saps our powers, and continually makes for limitations. We are not in a position to think clearly and see things as they really are when our minds are filled with distorted and critical views of others. You see, we are really not capable of judging any one. We cannot know all the circumstances from every point of view regarding another's action. And even if we could, we cannot say of any course that it is absolutely wrong. It may be wrong for us, or, under certain conditions, for others; but under other conditions, it might be perfectly justifiable. If we could ever be sure of our premise, we could reach some logical conclusion in our judgment of other people. But however faultless our reasoning might be, we can never be sure we are giving just judgment, because we can never be absolutely sure of our basis of reasoning. We waste a great deal of time reasoning out theories of life and trying to adapt them to other people's lives. If we ever hope for a realization of our latent powers, then we must set ourselves to intelligently using those powers for ourselves and let other people alone, both as to thought and action. But someone may say: "Is it not right to try to influence others for good?" Certainly; but we can be of more use through living our own lives, and perfecting them and realizing our own powers, than ever we can by trying to share our own immaturity and imperfect theorizing with all we meet. We can be of far greater service to the world by contributing to it our own lives, lived in the best way that we know, than we could in any other way. Whatever we see and know of truth, it is for us to give out again .in action—in our lives. This is our message, our mission, to the world. Our own right adjustment brings more harmony to others than a whole lifetime of trying to set them straight. We rarely know ourselves more than superficially—how can we expect to know others? An honest study of our own lives will teach us much. We fritter away our energy day after day, and yet we wonder why we cannot accomplish more—why we are so depleted when the day is over, and still so tired when we wake again in the morning. Our strength is dissipated by all sorts of idle thoughts and words. Some energy goes into the thinking of every thought. We can never realize power until we learn to expend energy only with a purpose, and to conserve our strength. When the mind is centered and engrossed on the purely objective side of life, when we live too much on the mental plane, there is a loss of energy because it is all output, and there is no ingathering or inner refreshment, as there would be if we lived more on the spiritual plane. That is where our refreshment comes from; it is at the center of our being that we rest and realize power. In listening to a lecture, for instance, if the exercise is a purely mental one we are apt to be tired afterward. But this should not be so. It should be as in enjoying music— there should be no mental effort to understand, but in entering into the spirit of it and becoming one with the lecturer we would absorb, as it were, all that was of any service to us. Whereas, if we assume a critical attitude, or even if we tax ourselves to remember what is said, we will thereby expend a certain amount of energy, and in a way defeat the real object of the lecturer. The words that were used are not the important thing. We can get far more benefit by simply holding the mind receptive and letting it naturally assimilate its own as it comes than we can by "thinking hard," as the phrase is. This should serve as a test of the usefulness of anything to us—if we thereby get a fuller realization of power, for us it is a good thing. No matter how good or wise anything may seem to others, or may really be for others, if it does not, in the doing, increase our power and, in this way, the harmony of our whole lives, it is not, for us, the best thing. We generate energy in our states of restfulness, either when we are asleep or awake. But the continued receiving of energy depends upon how we use it. We live in a world of cause and effect. On this plane the law is inexorable. Even the least things produce a definite effect. There is no such thing as getting a good effect from a bad cause. Every so-called evil or hurtful thing that comes to us has its corresponding cause, and this cause is not external to us, as it may seem, but primarily in ourselves. Nothing returns to us that has not gone out from us. It affected the minds of others, and prompted them to do just these things we now complain of. Now how can we come to such a realization of power so that we can nullify evil effects, prevent evil causes, throw off all disease, and make a thoroughly harmonious life? This will depend largely on our use of power. There is no limit to the power that may be realized in us. Our knowledge or application may be limited, but the power to which we have access is not. At this very moment each and every one of us has power sufficient to become whole and harmonious on every plane. But we must use the power we have in the right way. There are some things that we do almost daily, perhaps, which invariably make us feel worn out and depleted, while after others we feel well and buoyant. Now such results prove conclusively when we are using our powers rightly and when we are not. Harmony as a result is a pledge and seal. A wrong cause could not produce a harmonious action. We limit our realization of power a great deal by our moods and feelings. It is impossible to realize power in a morbid atmosphere. It is not difficult to distinguish the real from the false when our desire to do so is earnest. The actions and states of mind that result in a feeling of gladness and freedom, we may be reasonably sure, are the right actions and mental states for us. Joy, you know, brings us very close to the heart of things—very close to God. When we are morbid and unrestful we are getting away from God, and seeing things in a partial way. When we feel a certain pressure from others on our lives we resent it; we feel unkindly toward them, and have the impulse to express this unkindness in action. And we do not realize that we are injuring only ourselves when we yield to these impulses. No earthly good can come to us or to anybody else from disliking other people. From every standpoint—even the very most practical and detailed life—it is better to love our enemies. We are members one of another, and we only deprive ourselves of the greatest benefit and the realization of our greatest powers when we do not see this or are not willing to act in accordance with it. We must learn to feel for others as we feel for ourselves. The Golden Rule is the greatest law of life. It might just as well have been translated another way—" Whatsoever ye do to men, men will do to you," and this would have been quite as true. This is the law, and it is a very just law. Now if we could only learn to live in accordance with that law we would come to know the realization of great power. I venture to say that a literal and invariable adherence to this law would make whole, mentally, physically, and spiritually, everyone who truly tested it. The greatest law of God is summed up in those few words. We all know so much better than we do. But simply to know is not the thing. We must feel and do. If we feel, we cannot fail to do. And what we do for ourselves we do for others as well. We must let our light so shine that others will see it. We must not want everyone to do as we do. There is only one way to truly influence people, and that is to be our best—ourselves. After all, it is the inner life that gives the power. And we can learn a great deal of the inner life in a very few years of outer life. When we look about we see this one and that one—someone, perhaps, who calls out love on every side, and we wonder why this is. Is it because that one gives out hate? No; but because love has been given, and so love only can come back again. It is a beautiful thing to be loved, but it is an even more beautiful thing to love. And our love to others must come first. This is the law. It is only as we give that we receive. If we do not feel that we are getting all the joy and happiness and love out of life that we might get, it is for us to stop and consider why this is so. The fullness of life comes to us only as we give out, live out, the fullness that is in us. This is the only way to attain realization of power. In benefitting another—any other—we ourselves receive the inflow.

If this is not so, invariably and evidently, then there is something wrong in us. I do not mean that it is possible or even desirable for us to go through life without making any mistakes. We learn by our mistakes. But more and more I believe that we can come into the way of such complete guidance that we will make no serious misstep. We all of us want health, but we must bring more than our thoughts to bear on the bringing of health. We must feel as well as think. One does not interfere with the other. The feeling must be the inspiration that directs the thought. This is not visionary. It is the most practical thing in life. We need the vision in order to be truly practical. We must hold ourselves open to every influence of good, and remember that we are all members one of another. "If any man will do my will he shall know of the doctrine." Through doing good to others we will come into realization. There is no other way. We never get any satisfaction from trying any other way. Sometimes we say: "So and so did me an evil turn; shall I, then, do him good?" Yes, even more so than ever. Life is a continual adjustment and overcoming of false conditions by the real. We make a great deal too much of what we call evil in other people's lives. Altogether too much is made of the transitory and immature on the surface of life. These are only as contrast to the real and abiding. Kindness in ourselves begets kindness in others. These are the real things, the real riches—kindness and gentleness and faith. These are the things that we store up eternally, and that none can take from us. We are only wasting our time when we work for what is not real and lasting. It is when we become one with, not only those who love us, but with those who hate and distrust us, that we realize the greatest power.

This is the real success in life—this is the living of the larger life. If we can only put away from us all sense of separateness! We can never feel near to any one while we distrust or dislike him. The person we hate or dislike is just as much a part of us as the one we like—just as much as our hand is a part of our body. And when we feel ourselves separate from another, we cut off, as it were, a part of ourselves—a vital part. The more we ourselves develop the more we see to love in others, and the closer we come to what is real and good in these others. Our relations with others prove our own development, and how far we have traveled in this journey of life. When we come to the point where we feel no unkindness toward any living creature, it seems to me we will have reached one of the highest possible planes of development in this world. If we would only be willing to give— give all—without thought of reward—give our very selves! Then we would come quickly into the life of love. When we have learned to give of ourselves—to give the real things of life—our giving will be of the truest. Life is too short to waste it in condemning—too short to sit in judgment. We have only time enough to see the good, and our greatest realization of power will come as we realize our oneness with all others, for only in this way can we realize our oneness with God, and attain to real Dominion and Power which comes alone from living the complete, the whole life, the life wherein the Spirit of Love guides and directs in the way of all truth, bringing at last the full realization that man is a son of God endowed with eternal life.

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