"Be true to the highest thought thou hast, and thy vessel shall ride the sea of a great calm, and thou shalt command both thy vessel and the law."
— Lydia Hood Talbot
I would like to impress upon your minds the necessity of thoroughly understanding and comprehending the underlying principles of this Spiritual Science of Life. Some people are attracted to the Science because of its healings other people are attracted because there seems to be something of a mystical nature — something that appeals to their minds from the standpoint of the curious; but if we desire to understand the subject aright, if we desire to get the greatest benefit in the way of happiness and health, we must comprehend the principles underlying the Science. Very often I have known of people (who have made a study of this subject to some degree), at first being completely carried away by it, and then, after a time, becoming weary, and finally thinking, "Well, there is nothing to it, after all." And the reason is simply that they have not grasped the underlying principles. Again, I have known people to go from one thing to another, studying Theosophy, and occultism, and many other subjects, finally getting them all so mixed up that it was hard to tell what they did believe or what they did not.
Again, so many people believe in things in a half-hearted way. "Oh!" they say, "yes, I believe that such a thing is true and very good." Now, such a belief counts for absolutely nothing in this world. It is a great deal better to know just a little and put the whole force of your mind and soul into that little, than to know a great deal and believe a great deal in a half-hearted way. Whatever we know, let us know it with all our minds, and whatever we do, let us do it with all our might — then we are going to count for something in this world, we are going to be of use to •ourselves, and we are going to be of use to others.
Let us understand this matter aright. Spiritual Science rests on the omnipotence, the omniscience, and the omnipresence of God. If you realize the full meaning of these words, then you will know that whatsoever in any way contradicts these three underlying principles must be false; that whatsoever approves or proves them in any way must be true. Therefore, you have a compass to show you the way of life. Without a knowledge, then, of these underlying principles, we are like so many ships drifting on the sea of life without a compass to show the way but, with this knowledge, if we should never hear any more on this subject, we would know the way clear enough to guide our lives in the right way.
If God is omnipotent and omnipresent, then that which contradicts omnipotence and omnipresence is false. It is right at this very point that we take issue with many Christian people who claim that God is omnipotent, and that there is another power in opposition to this Power of God, or Good, but at some time this opposing power will be cast down at some time the Power of God will overcome the power of evil. Spiritual Scientists say that there is no power save the Power of God that although evil exists it is not a reality — that is, there is no power back of it to give it entity. It is like the darkness of the outer world that vanishes away before the coming of the morning sun. We find that when there is a certain amount of discord and unrest in our lives, it is much easier to attribute this discord and unrest to some being other than ourselves. We have always felt, in a sense, the necessity of having some person or thing to lay our sins upon. But each one is responsible for his own sins. Each one is responsible to the Power that brought him into existence for sins committed in this life and these sins are the things that we do in life that are not in accord with the laws of being, and are contrary to the dictates of the Voice of God in our own souls. We are all born into this world to express an ideal. Each soul is a distinct thought of its Creator, and each soul is trying to express the ideal that is written within. In the working out of that ideal, we think that other people oppose us, and we offer the opposition of force within us to the opposition of force within them. There is a clash of interests. Anything that seems to disturb our interests is looked upon as evil, and anything that seems to bring us good in life is looked upon as good. We judge everything in life by its effect upon our own lives. If those effects are good then we say the thing is good. If those effects disturb us, bringing discord and inharmony into our lives, then we say they are evil. But are they evil? The only evil that comes is from perversion of power — the use of power in the wrong direction. It has been given man to use this power, to use the mind which God has given him, in such a way as to bring about his greatest good and his greatest happiness or he has, to a degree, the liberty of perverting this power and getting the wrong effects of life. Now, this perversion, bringing as it does the wrong effects of life, eventually tends to work out the salvation of man because, in time, we see that through the perversion of power we take a wrong course and get evil effects by so doing. By and by these lessons bring home to us the truth that only as we obey God's laws can we be well and happy. So then, the wrong doings, the mistakes of life (when we understand them as mistakes and overcome them), have been the stepping-stones upon which we have mounted to higher things. It is necessary for the development of the spiritual life of man that this discord and friction should come to him.
In the lower kingdom the animals unconsciously obey the laws of their being; but there is no virtue in their obeying those laws, for they have no other knowledge. They know nothing of good nor evil. There was a time in the life of man when he did not have a knowledge of good or evil but when that knowledge entered into his mind, then he realized, to some degree, that only as he chose the good could the best come to him. Now this is realized, to some extent, by people on a very low plane of existence. We claim that the civilized nations of the world know far more about this question than the uncivilized nations. But the civilized do not live any closer to the laws of God, according to their knowledge, than do the uncivilized. We find many more kinds of sickness among the former than we find among the latter. We know that to whom much is given much is required, and that we are not living up to the highest requirements of this age of civilization. That we are striving to attain to a better state is true, but we depend so largely upon the things outside. In the Commandment, ''Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.” We are told that there is only one Power to worship, only one God to serve and yet we — even as Christian people — have served many gods. If we believe that all power is from God, and that all the strength of life and all the perfection of life are to be derived from the Source of All Life, whenever we go below ourselves in the scale of creation, looking for health, looking for strength, looking for happiness, we are violating this Commandment. We are looking to the things below us in the scale of creation, we are bowing down to them, and we are beseeching from them health and strength. This was brought out very plainly as regards the kings of Israel, as may be shown in the case of Asa. We are told that Asa "sought not to the Lord, but to physicians. And Asa slept with his fathers." And we, in this age, seek not after the Lord, but after the material things of life, thinking that in these things we are going to get health and strength. No one has ever found health and strength in any material thing. They are not to be found there. It is the Power of God in the life of man that gives both health and strength. So, when we stand squarely for the omnipotence of God, we acknowledge that there is nothing else in all this world that can give us health or that can give us strength but this Power of God in our own lives. How can we gain this Power? Can it become a conscious power in our own lives for health, strength, and righteousness? Many people have said that it can. Many people have said that they know that this Power is the only thing that makes for health and righteousness. If this is true, why should we seek for anything where it is not to be found ? So, we run counter to this great Commandment when we look for health or strength outside of this Power of God we run counter to this great Commandment when we in any way try to personify God. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them."
No personality, however great that personality may have been, is to be worshiped. God alone is to be worshiped. But we can worship the good as we see it made manifest in the lives of people. But remember it is not the personality, it is not the man we worship but it is the Christ-spirit in the man. The man passes away, but this spirit — this Christ-spirit — is eternal. Therefore, the recognition of the good does not deal with personalities, but with principles, and the further we get away from personality, the better it will be for us. Personality is that something that is continually arraying itself against a knowledge of God. It is continually bringing about a separation of this Power of God — this Universal Power that is in all souls, that is in all lives, and it is looking upon the personality as being something of itself. The individual is as nothing in comparison to the Power. If we can get away from this false position of personality, if we can say that our personalities, after all, do not signify anything one way or the other, then it is the true individuality, it is the true ego, that is trying to express this Image and Likeness of God, this spiritual side of life, rather than any material or any personal side of life that is trying to show forth the perfect Image and Likeness of God.
You know it was said of Jesus, the Christ, that he contained within himself the fullness of the Godhead —that, in other words, he had expressed this fullness of the Godhead. And this is what each and every soul must do — express this Image, this Likeness, this fullness of God. All must come to the measure of the stature of Christ. We have in him the perfect ideal but merely a belief in this ideal without giving an expression to it counts for nothing.
If we would worship God — worship Him in the true way — we see that no personality, no image, no likeness of anything that the mind can possibly conceive, will represent God. God is limitless all personality is limited. God is unchanging all personality is changing. Our conception of personality, at the very best, is but a little one, and our conception of God, from the standpoint of personality, must make a little God. Then, let the thought of God be an impersonal one. Try to conceive of God in your own souls as directing your own life. "No man hath seen God at any time." "The pure in heart shall see God," and the pure in heart shall see God as He is reflected in their own lives. This is the way in which we shall see God. We shall see Him when we obey the inner will. God will then become manifest in us and when God becomes manifest in us, then shall we see good in all other people; and when we see only the good in other people, the evil of life will become a thing of the past. We will see the truth, and the mind dwelling in the truth will become so absorbed in it as to lose sight of the evil of life. This is the only way evil is overcome. Evil is not a power in and of itself it is just what we make it — just what we believe it to be.
God intended that man should have dominion and power over all below, but before man can enter into this fullness of dominion and power, he must first have dominion and power over his own life. So, we are given this Power to use — to use for our own good, and for the good of others and as we use this Power of Good (or God) the whole world about us seems to change. It seems to change in that it brings about a greater dependence upon the Power of God, and less dependence upon any seeming power. We feel at one stage in life as though we were dependent on almost everything but at another stage in life, when we have a realization of this inner power, we feel that, when we are in accord with this power, there is nothing in this universe that can present any obstacle that cannot be overcome. When we consider the lives of Jesus and Paul, and realize what they went through, we can conceive that these great trials and tribulations were as nothing in comparison with the knowledge that the Power of God was directing their lives. We can understand Paul's meaning when he said that he considered the sufferings of the present time as not worthy to be compared with the Glory that should be revealed within.
Remember, you have the power to realize this truth this Power of God is a question of realization. If you can realize that it is all the power you have, that it brings to you all the health and all the strength and all the happiness you need — if you can realize this in the mind, then you will express it on the body. It is what we picture in the mind that we express on the physical organism. If you are picturing disease, if you are picturing weakness, if you are picturing wickedness, then you will give expression to these false conditions. You must give expression, because the thoughts we think are the things we express. You can make your bodies what you will; God gave you the power to do this. You can make them strong and whole or you can go on in the old way, suffering disease and pain. The choice lies with you.
People deceive themselves when they think that through spiritual treatment they are going to get everything necessary in life. Mental or spiritual treatment serves only to call into existence the power that each and every soul has latent within. This is all it does. Then, when that power is called into this living existence, if you refuse to use it for your own good, the loss is yours. Try to feel just as much of this inner power as possible; feel that here is the healing and strengthening fount of life; rely on this power rather than on any personality, or any external thing.
The thoughts we think are continually shaping our bodies; every motion that we make corresponds to some state of thought. There is a perfect correspondence between the outer and the inner. People understanding this law of correspondence, by looking at the body, by looking at the motions, by looking at a person's face, can find there, practically, the history of the person's life that the outer is but a record, is but a book of the inner; that this book may be read and known when people understand the language. Some might think that this would be a very unpleasant thing. But people who make a study of the law understand that all people, after all, are very much alike that it is not so much a question of goodness or of evil, but a question of development; that some people may be highly developed, and this high development expresses itself in a true way; while people who are developed but little do not yet show much of the good of life. So it is not a question of good and evil; it is simply a question of development or lack of development; therefore, persons understanding the law are lenient in judging other people. They realize that there is but one life that a person can judge, and that is his own life; the judge is within each soul. It is the Power of God, the Wisdom of God in the life of man that judges the soul of man. All judgment is located there just as soon as a person does a wrong thing, there is something within him judging him for that wrong doing, and the mind is never satisfied until that wrong is overcome through some good act.
People get false ideas in regard to what we speak of as "control." They think if they can only suppress certain states, that suppression means control when they are inclined to speak an angry word, if they can suppress such word, that they have themselves controlled. Again, when they are inclined to do injury to another and refrain from doing that injury, and yet have the feeling in the mind to do it, they speak of this also as “control." But suppression is not control. Suppression can never become control. It may be considered so from a worldly point of view, but not from the highest point of view. When we have perfect control, it begins with the thought; it begins in shaping the thought, through the inner power, in such a way that every thought we think is going to prove beneficial to other people. If it is not going to prove beneficial to others, it cannot be of benefit to ourselves. Only as we benefit others, is it possible for us to benefit ourselves. No matter what we may think as regards this matter, the law is eternal and unchanging — whatever we give, that also we receive. If, then, we give good to the world, the world in turn gives good to us. This is the law. It is not well, then, to deceive ourselves in reference to these questions it is not well for us to think that we are overcoming the battles of life through states of mental suppression. We never overcome in that way. The evil of life is only overcome through the Power of Good. There is no other way and it is only as the true thought — the inner power — displaces the false thought that we can be said to be bringing the life under control. This is practical from beginning to end. It is not made up of a lot of vague, visionary ideas. It is something that we can each and all know. Put it into practice and get results here now, and do not wait until some future time to attain to health or to happiness.
Everything that is good and true expresses the Power of God to some degree. Therefore, whenever we see goodness, and whenever we see truth, we know it is this Power of Good acting in and through the lives of 6ther people. We recognize the Power and we give honor and glory to the Good as it is expressed in any of us. But remember, the light shining through the individual is the Light of God, and not to be considered in any personal sense. If you get into the way of calling any one good, through comparison, you will call someone else evil. Whenever, then, you see the Power of Good in the life of the individual, recognize it as the Spirit of God, not any goodness of personality. God evolved certain powers and possibilities into the life of man, and these must be evolved.
Everything we have in life is given us by God, but it remains for us to find out what these powers are, what these possibilities are, and to use them to bring about the greatest possibilities of life. God gave us certain things, and having given us those things, He expects that we will use them. Through the knowledge we acquire by using the different faculties of mind and soul to bring about a true development of life, we then enter into the Kingdom of God, through prayer and meditation. It is not the prayer of words. Some people may find words satisfying to them. I would not take away those words from them but the very highest form of prayer, after all, is the realization in the life of man that God and man are one; that man is essentially divine. This is the highest form of prayer, because it is union it is the c6nscious union with God — the conscious union of the soul of man with the Universal Soul of all things. Now, we may work from this inner union to a state where we will have to try to express it in words. But, after all, words are only symbols. We know that our deepest feelings cannot be expressed through words; that sometimes when we try to shape these feelings into words we feel how little and small words are to give any tangible expression to what we feel. So, it is not with words that God is worshiped. God is worshiped in spirit and truth, and there is no church so sacred in all the world as this Temple of God — this soul of man in which God dwells. There is no temple in all the world so great, no temple in the world where God can be worshiped any higher or better than in this inner temple. God dwells there, and we must seek God where He is to be found. We must not put God afar off we must see that He is here with us.