—Ralph Waldo Emerson
—Harriet B. Bradbury
Life is made up of little acts rather than of great ones. The little things we do day by day constitute the real sum of life. In our haste to accomplish definite results in the world we forget about the little things in our desire to accomplish the great things, and we fail in the latter because we do not know how to achieve the former. There is nothing so trivial in life as to be unworthy of consideration. We should understand life so as to make our thoughts clear even to little children; to do away so far as practicable with the complex side of life; to be as simple-minded as possible; to keep the mind free from all things that tend to tangle or clog it. We should start with the thought of God—God in all life; God in our own individual lives. We should not go through life trying to keep ourselves separate from the world in which we live, feeling that because we have some knowledge of divine law we are above our fellow men. We should rather go through the world in the spirit of helpfulness—giving and receiving.
No matter how evil a thing may seem to be, if we examine the root of it we will find God there. No matter how bad a man may seem to be, if we can reach his soul we will find God there. And it will make us more charitable, because we will see that the evil of life is only on the surface, where change and growth are forever taking place—where we make mistakes, sometimes willfully and sometimes unconsciously, yet knowing that through such errors we profit in the end. Then let us think the God thought of life in everything—in our dealings with our fellows, with children, and with animals. Let us try to see God in mind and also in Nature, because God is in both. We should try to see God first in our own lives, for then we shall see Him in everything—everything is expressing God. Let us try to be wise, because when we have the wisdom of God in our own minds we shall find it in everything; for God's law is in everything, and everything moves in accordance with it.
Sometimes things seem to be deflected from their natural course, yet everything moves ultimately in its natural order. We know that the earth in its circuit round the sun is deflected from its path as it passes a greater planet, but having passed it is no longer deflected. We should not get discouraged about things that seem to fail. There are no failures in the plan of God. Failure at its worst is only seeming. Everything is progressing toward a definite end. Vicissitudes are inevitable; therefore, discouragement should never enter into the mind of man. It is the inner life that is important, not that on the surface; it is the inner which is really trying to express itself outwardly, and frequently failing to do it perfectly. Perfect expression comes through effort that is not strained, but directed when the mind is in a state of peace and rest. We succeed only when we put the restless, anxious side of affairs out of mind and allow the restful side to dwell in our thoughts.
Consider the brightness and the joy of living. We do not pay enough attention to these. There is not enough brightness in the world; yet when we consider things as they really are there is every reason to be happy, to be joyful. To know this is to display both joy and happiness, which are aspects of the spirit of God. We hear them in the song of the bird; we feel them in the perfume of every flower. There is happiness, there is joyousness in Nature.
We should appear bright and happy by showing forth the inner brightness and the inner joy of living, because we are working out a great problem that will bring us into a more harmonious and beautiful condition of life; and we should work from that condition outward in a spirit of joy and satisfaction in what we are doing. We should take pride in the thought that something has been given us to do. We have found most satisfaction in having things done for us—in not having things to do ourselves. It seems so hard when everything might be accomplished in a much easier way. It is a poor quality of mind that seeks to have everything done for it; it is a lazy life that longs for any such condition. Is it not far better to meet each thing in the proper spirit as it presents itself, and thus overcome it and gain a higher and truer conception of life?
We have been given a mind and a heart with which to think and feel, and it is through thinking and feeling that we must for ourselves work out a beautiful salvation; that is, the beautiful life that has been given us to develop. When we are discouraged we are thinking in opposition to the divine law.
We have not been conscious of this, perhaps, and consequently little has been expected of us; but just so soon as the truth enters our consciousness, more is required of us. Whenever we do anything that fills our minds with a sense of bitterness, or prejudice, or worry, or anxiety, or causes us to meditate on our "physical weakness," or see in others disagreeable qualities, we are putting ourselves in opposition to the law of God. We are not living our real lives. We are not working out our salvation in the way intended, but rather through self-imposed trials and tribulations. All these negative conditions adversely affect the mind, and consequently the body, and we wonder why God is so much better to other people than to us! God is just as good to us as we deserve.
We must make a demand for the things we wish. The plant makes its demand, and receives everything necessary to sustain and perfect its life. We should make our demands consciously. We must first know what we want, and then feel perfectly sure that it is ours, that we need it and that we have it.
Let this apply to everything in life, but keep the unselfish side always foremost. It is not selfish to demand health and strength for one's self; but a demand for worldly possessions having no reference to others' needs might become supremely selfish. In order to be helpful to others we must be healthy and strong.
There is nothing selfish, therefore, in demanding everything needful to make us rightly related to the world and to our fellow men. Taking this position we eliminate selfishness. We demand for ourselves and for others, insisting that it is right; that it does not deprive anyone else; that it is for our own good and for that of others. All things are ours to use, not to abuse. By indulging in such thoughts we attract to ourselves everything necessary to our well-being—happiness, health, strength, friends. We may not receive at once the things desired, but we should cultivate patience and rest assured that they will come to us in due time and in a way that will do us the greatest possible good. Thus we tend to eliminate impatience from our minds.
But with patience there should also be perseverance. Some say if you only "wait" your desire will come to you; but nothing comes to those who put forth no effort on their own behalf. Keep right on thinking and doing, and little by little true results will accrue. It is never well, in our perseverance, to introduce the element of haste. We should strive to see every side of a question. Sometimes we listen to one side and turn a deaf ear to the other. We must learn how to judge, and we can only judge rightly when we know all that is to be known on any subject; otherwise our judgment cannot be the God judgment, which always considers all the facts. It is necessary to keep the mind free, because if it is not free we are certain to err.
Whatever we think of others has its reflex action on ourselves, because what we think for others they in turn think for us. Judgment of others rests with God, but does not rest between man and man. It should not be our practice to judge any life other than our own, but it is right for us to judge whether the principle manifested is in accord with the divine law; that is, it is not a question of personal judgment with us, but rather a question of understanding God's law. It is necessary to distinguish between person and principle. That is sometimes difficult, because we are prone to associate the two—the individual and the act—in our mental concepts. One person may perform a reprehensible act in the best possible spirit, while another, in the wrong spirit, may do something that is right in itself but lacking in good motive.
We must learn to distinguish between things and persons, therefore, and leave the judgment of individuals to God, because God judges each soul. If we violate any law of life, then our condemnation only ceases when we cease doing wrong. Just so soon as we begin to do right, forgiveness ensues.
Suppose your friend is disobeying the law, and you conclude that he is about to reverse his steps; just so soon as he alters his course his sin is forgiven. In all forms of sickness the mind is the first to get well—the body last. The sin must first be forgiven, and then the body will respond. Sometimes we feel that it is very hard to forgive; yet while one is forgiving another he is forgiving himself. And it is only when we forgive the whole world, through the mind of God, that we are really forgiven. Only in proportion as we forgive are we forgiven.
We should acquire a fuller understanding of the nature of the soul, so that we may enter into a higher order—a wider comprehension of life. We truly serve and worship God when we recognize any element of the God life in another. Man is the highest expression of God, and we must learn to love one another. We must know something of the All in all before we can enter into the lives of others and be thoroughly helpful to them, because if we do not know what they feel and think we cannot be of service to them. Let us first know ourselves—our own thoughts and our own methods—and then feel that they are identical with those of other people.
Thus we shall learn to excuse our neighbors' failings. Sometimes, on meeting people for the first time, we seem to experience a spirit of resentment toward them, without knowing why. That condition can only be overcome by cultivating its opposite and becoming thoroughly sympathetic. Everything in life can thus be made simple. In this way we ourselves grow strong and demonstrate the real power of life—the power of God within us.
We meet two persons—one is very "good" and the other very "bad." Which one most needs our help? The Christ thought is to administer good where it is needed the most. That is why he went among the people who were the sinners and outcasts. He spent his life among the lowliest, his object being to do good to them because they felt their need. We waste a great deal of time over persons—friends and enemies—who are not willing to receive good. We have many lessons yet to learn from the life of Jesus. If anyone is in need of what we have to give, and his appeal is made to us, we should hold ourselves in readiness to aid him. In the physical life there are those in need of material necessities, but sometimes we give to those not in need, which is to scatter seed by the wayside, or on the rocks, or among the thorns—with fruitless results. There should always be some actual need where our bounty is bestowed.
We do not trust one another enough in life. We are prone to construe things in the wrong way. Sometimes the highest and holiest things in life are regarded as the worst. It is very seldom that we try to view anything from another's point of view. There is no lesson more important than to learn that we must put ourselves in others' places in order to discern things in the right way.
"I have been in this New Thought a great many years, and yet I am not strong. I try to live the New Thought; I believe in it, but I get no results." How often we hear this complaint! When it becomes to us a law we get the true results, but not until then. When we get life in its fullness we have as much as anyone else. This can be procured only through right thinking and right doing. We will never get health or strength while meditating on our own imperfections or the weaknesses of others. Only as we dwell on the beauty of life and know that God is working within us to will and to do, and that the will of God is a vital factor in each and every life, may we have health, happiness, and every other needful thing.
More from Charles Brodie Patterson
- Canadian New Thought author
- Born in Nova Scotia in 1854 and died on June, 22nd 1917