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Life as a Journey

If you purposed taking a journey into a strange country, where the language, manners, and customs of the people were different from those of your own land, and where the climate differed radically from yours, you would make it your business to become as well informed as possible concerning that country. This, according to most people, would be the common-sense way of acting; and a man that did not thus equip himself would be considered neither prudent nor wise.

We are all on a journey that begins in the cradle and ends only when the physical form is laid away: a journey that, though fraught with momentous consequences, we must travel whether we will or not—the journey of life.

How about the way of life? How about the road that we must travel? Do we know aught concerning it? Has it been the chief thing in our lives to seek knowledge regarding this way; or have we closed our eyes to the light and walked aimlessly along in the night of human error? There is a broad way, filled with pitfalls for the unwary, and it grows harder and harder every step we take. It is the way of sin and death. We cannot deny its existence, for there is evidence of it on every side. And there is a straight and narrow way that leads unto life eternal.

In one or the other of these ways, each and every one is walking. There is no middle course. The broad path lies well beaten about us on every side; yet it is not necessary, in order to attain to a knowledge of the inner way, to kill out love of earthly things, of things beautiful, or even normal appetites and desires. It is needful, however, that we should understand the relative value of all that surrounds us in the world of form. It is necessary to make all appetites and desires subordinate to the inner impulses of the soul; for, if we attach undue value to things having but a transitory existence, a time comes when we must lose them, and we have nothing to repair the loss. Many have run the full gamut of everything that the world can possibly give; and what have they for their pains? Are they happier or more contented than others? Has the world afforded them a lasting satisfaction? No; the end is weariness of mind and vexation of spirit. The broad way, which promised so much and was to fill the life with joy and pleasure, has brought only sorrow and pain. The reason is that the goal set for man’s attainment lies far beyond the boundaries of anything that pertains to earth. Man is a spiritual being placed here in physical form; his body is of the earth, but his soul belongs to the higher realms of light and love. Salvation—freedom from the bondage of worldly appetite and desire—comes to the soul when it truly knows its heavenly origin.

“I am the Way.” This is the assertion that the universal Son of God makes to all who would follow in that way; for God’s kingdom is within the soul, where the will, the power, and the life of God find expression, and, working outward, result in wholeness and completeness of mind and body. Thus the straight and narrow way is to be found within—through understanding that the life and the mind of God are active forces, in fact the only forces, in our being. 

From considering the Way, let us turn our attention to the Truth. How shall we know it, and, through knowing, obey it? While truth is eternal and immutable, our views of it are constantly changing. Our conceptions of the present will not be those of the future. As the true inner light—that light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world—-discloses itself to the soul, a conscious realization that not only the Way but the Truth lies within thrills every part of one’s being. “I am the Way; I am the Truth.” This is the voice of God speaking in the soul of man; and from this altitude we may exclaim, with Jesus the Christ, “Before Abraham was I am.” Before the soul ever gained an expression through form, it existed as an ideal in the mind of its Creator.

Truth, therefore, is neither to be sought nor found in the world without, for the law, the word of God, is written on the tablet of man’s heart, and no one can have knowledge of this law save as it is made manifest to him from within—save as he can read the word and understand the law. The whole outer world is but the symbol, or expression, of the inner world. Visible things change and pass away, but the force that brought them into existence neither slumbers nor sleeps, but ceaselessly continues its work of creation and re-creation, generation and regeneration. In vain do we turn our attention to the outer world for a knowledge of truth. We study the various forms of life, from the protoplasm to the physical body of man; yet have we discovered aught concerning the life that animates these forms, or anything regarding the intelligence that causes each organism to follow out the mode of existence to which it is best adapted? No; we are blind to any knowledge concerning these things. The arts and the sciences prove absolutely nothing advantageous to man in his quest for Truth.

It must be admitted by all, if man is a spiritual being, an immortal soul, that knowledge of things that pertain to soul-growth—to the unfolding of powers latent within the soul—must be of greater importance than anything or everything in the outer world. Have the arts or the sciences anything to say on this question of soul-development? No; they play no part whatever. The intellectual development Of the age is immersed in the letter, losing all sight of the spirit.

A man that is on the purely animal plane of existence is blind to any other; the gratification of appetite is all that he knows; his life is bounded by these things, and the light of higher planes is shut out. The man that dwells on the intellectual plane of existence believes Reason to be his highest faculty; hence, he worships at her throne, and is blind to the light that comes to him from any higher plane. Is the soul’s salvation dependent upon this intellectual development?

If our hypothesis concerning life be found in the interior world, then working from that premise we may follow out a line Of reasoning that will prove the truth of our belief. But, in the outer world, how easy it is to find any number of hypotheses, each capable of logical demonstration! Therefore, scholars and scientists are in a constant state of disagreement. Students in strictly exoteric lines of thought take exception to the hypothesis of spiritual science, asserting it to be vague and unsatisfactory; but can it be any more so than some of their own hypotheses? Were their basis always true, their logic would be conclusive; but what do they know, in some cases, even of their basis? For instance, what does any scientist know of an atom? Did he ever see or touch one? No; yet science imparts what purports to be exact knowledge concerning atoms: that all those of the same element are identical in weight; those of different elements possess different weights; an atom is indivisible; the number that indicates the weight of the atom of any element is the same as the combining or equivalent number of that element. For example, the composition of water is definite and unchangeable. It consists, by weight, of one part of hydrogen to eight parts of oxygen. The multiple of hydrogen is always one, and that of oxygen always eight, in water—one of hydrogen with eight of oxygen generating water. The oxygen is not, therefore, eight times superior to the hydrogen in neutralizing or saturating power; they are exactly equal: hence, the quantities taken are called equivalents. Thus, when two bodies combine with a third, they are both equivalents of the third; they are also equivalents of each other, and unite in exactly the same proportions.

From this theory of atoms is based the “atomic theory” of the universe. But who knows whether the atom is a divisible particle or not? Who knows that the atom has even an existence? Is not the hypothesis of the material scientist more “vague” than that of the spiritual scientist, who affirms that there is but one supreme Power in the universe, which imparts its own life to all living things and gives of its own intelligence to the degree that all forms may require to express their perfect fullness? Is this hypothesis vague and unsatisfactory, when on every side we see the evidence of life’s unceasing action—when in and through everything is made manifest some degree of intelligence? There must be a supreme Source from which flow all life and all intelligence; and how can we know the truth concerning it, save as we study it in our own lives? We certainly cannot find it in the outer world of form.

The God in man declares the truth to him. If we were to listen to that inner voice we would be guided into the way of all truth. The soul, realizing its oneness with God, its inseparableness from the Source of all life and love, knows that there is but one Power, one Life-force, in the universe, which, speaking within the soul, declares: “I alone am the life. And the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” Man’s true kingdom, therefore, is not of this earth; it is the control, by the real “I,” of both mind and body, so that the individual will may be in perfect accord with the Will of the universe, and that we may express in our lives the divine ideal. The Way, the Truth, and the Life are to be found only within; time spent in seeking them elsewhere is wasted. True knowledge comes through obeying the higher impulses that well up in the soul, and through bringing our thoughts into accord therewith.

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Charles Brodie Patterson

  • Canadian New Thought author
  • Born in Nova Scotia in 1854 and died on June, 22nd 1917
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