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The Ego

Out of the night that shelters me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods there be
For my unconquerable soul.
—From "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley

The much repetition of the foregoing pages would be unpardonable but for the fact that nothing short of repetition over and over again would make the subject clear to those to whom the idea is new.

There are two parts to this subject. One relates to the Law of Being, or Attraction; the other relates to individual life tinder the Law.

We know nothing of the Law except that it is the moving spirit of all life, the Life Principle; that it fills all space absolutely full, leaving no room for the least particle of death. We know that this Life Principle is altogether alive and vital, and altogether good, and as it fills the universe, therefore, the universe is altogether alive and vital and good. This statement excludes the idea of either death or evil. And, indeed, there is no death and there is no evil.

The Life Principle, the Law, is the containment of all possibilities. Man and all creatures externalize in their own personalities these possibilities as rapidly as they recognize them.

Recognition makes apparent or visible those possibilities of the Law, that were unapparent or invisible before they were recognized. In this sense—the sense of externalizing or making visible the possibilities of the Law—the power to recognize may be called the creative power; and from this time on I shall speak of it as creative.

Recognition, then, which is intelligence or mind, creates.

I, therefore, come to the second of the two parts of this subject; that which relates to creation.

The old question in the catechism, "Who made you?" has never been answered correctly except in one instance; at least, there is only one instance on record, and that will be found in "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

When Miss Ophelia propounded the question to Topsy, it was answered correctly: "Nobody made me. I just growed."

On the hypothesis that there is a personal God, who, in spite of His personality—which means His limitation—still fills all space; and on the still farther hypothesis that He made man and all the other creatures, I think it must be admitted that, for an individual of His power and boasted judgment, He made a very poor job of it; so poor that it is no wonder He got tired of the work of His hands, and gave us over to His coadjutor, the devil, to hide it out of His sight.

Compare this theory with the theory that the race is a growth, and that it takes no step forward in the scale of being except by recognition of more truth, or the gain of more intelligence; and compare it as it now stands with what it was at the time of the cave dwellers, and see if it, as its own creator, has not the right to be proud of its work.

On the first hypothesis the work was finished at one blow—as it were—and it was a wretched piece of work. On the second hypothesis we see the never ceasing effort of intellect to climb higher in the intellectual scale; and as a result, an unfinished, but a constantly progressing race; a race that we admire and respect because we know that it is where it is by its own effort; by its own unceasing struggle with ignorance; by the daily heroism of its past as it journeyed through untrodden wildernesses of thought, without a solitary guiding light except that which its slowly growing and hardly gained experience yielded it.

Take this glorious race just as it stands today, still fettered and still clinging to its chains, but still advancing slowly along the road that promises relief from them, and compare it with the cut-and-dried and finished race that God made, and note the difference in your feelings for the two.

In God's race there is no hope. It was completed at its birth and has done nothing but degenerate ever since. God made it dependent on Himself; and it now finds itself in the dilemma of an abandoned job; God having in a measure washed His hands of it, and left it to the tender mercies of its arch enemy, whom God also made, apparently for no other purpose than that of a scapegoat for His own mistakes.

But the man-made race of evolution began in the smallest possible way. It was not only not perfect at its inception, but it was merely the seed germ of a race. It had no God to depend upon and no inspired guide to lead it. It was self-creative and self-dependent from the first, and it felt its slow but sure way up from its beginning, through the darkness of absolute ignorance. It had no guides but its mistakes. These mistakes which have been imputed to it as sins have been its only guide-posts to point it in the right direction. And yet it has forged its way through earth and air and fire and water and tempest, and the dense blackness of its own intellectual night, to its present standpoint, where it sees the dawning of light at last. It has scored its triumphs in the conquest of a myriad of obstacles; it has covered itself with bruises and wounds too grievous to tell of; it has left thousands of its numbers to mark each upward step in its progress; and it is here today, blood-stained, sick and sore from its head to its feet, but dauntless still, and covered with the glory of its undying courage.

O, beautiful race! A baby race even yet; still foot-bound in the long gowns of its infancy, but ready now to tear away each hampering bond, and walk forth in the broad road of an infinite freedom towards infinite wisdom.

Which will you have—the race that God made, or the race that is now making itself?

Those who look upon the race to condemn it exhibit about as much judgment as one who, coming to the orange tree at my window, should taste the unripe fruit and pronounce orange culture a failure.

If God made the race, then there would be no need for any action upon its part at all. It is made and finished, and that is all there is of it. But if the race made itself, which it surely did, then it has an endless work before it in making itself over in accordance with its ever enlarging and ever beautifying ideal.

And who will deny the presence of the ideal in man? Man, God-made, could have no use for an ideal, since God's work must necessarily be perfect; it might have the power to retrograde, but it evidently could have no power to progress.

And yet we find in man an ideal that is always far ahead of his present attainment. This would not be in him if God had made him; it would be in him if he had made himself; it would be the beautiful implanted hope ever leading him to higher growth, to nobler attainment.

And this ideal is not only in man, but it exists in every organized creature from the lowest form of life on up through the scale to man. It is the aspiration, the desire, the Law incarnate, whose never ending possibilities are foreshadowed in the creature's intuitive or latent powers of recognition. It is the very, basis of growth in all creatures, and links all creatures together on the road of infinite progression; proving not only the oneness of the Law, but the oneness of the Law's recognition of itself. For the Law's recognition of itself is one, though expressed in individuals. It is one unbroken chain of recognition that establishes not only the brotherhood of man with man, but the brotherhood of every expression of life with every other expression. For as the Law is one, so the recognition of the Law is one; thus demonstrating the wholeness and infallibility of the universe.

Every life cell is an ego. It is a seed germ. When—under the Law of Attraction—two or more of the life cells unite, they come into one understanding of the Law, not into two or three understandings, and the two or three egos become one ego, and possess greater drawing power than the single life ceil.

This is shown in the common magnet. It has its positive and negative pole and demonstrates its power as a whole magnet. It may be broken into a hundred pieces, and each piece will be a perfect magnet with its positive and negative pole. Weld the pieces together again, and the many magnets become one magnet. The magnetism is indivisible; the recognition of the magnetism may be individualized; and it is individualized endlessly in the primordial life cells. The drawing together of the cells and their cohesion in more complex forms is individual growth.

In individual growth the drawing power of the individual is constantly increased; as it increases it becomes constantly more positive to the less complex individualities about it, and masters them; by mastering them it unites their power to its own. The strength of the conquered does, in a sense, pass into the conqueror; and so we have the law of individual growth, which is by the survival of the fittest.

The magnet's recognition of its own magnetism is its recognition of the Law of Attraction within it.

The man's recognition of desire within himself is the recognition of the Law of Attraction within him.

The leading difference between the magnet and the man is that, while both recognize the Law of Attraction within themselves, the man's recognition is of such a character as to give birth to will; the conscious ego; while that of the magnet has not advanced so far on the road to consciousness.

In the early stages of individual growth, the creature's recognition of the Law of Attraction within it is perceived to be simple desire. But this desire is the basis of all future growth. The more we gratify desire, the more it grows. This is equivalent to saying, the more we recognize the Law, the more of the power of the Law we embody; for the recognition of desire is the recognition of the Law.

The desire thus recognized by the creature has no moral character whatever; nor has the Law itself any moral character. Morality is an external thing, and belongs to the intelligence.

Desire is a purely selfish attribute.

What then, is the Law of Attraction, the Law that men call God, a selfish principle?

The Law of Attraction has no character whatever; it is neither selfish nor unselfish; it is simply the drawing power, whole and indivisible; utterly regardless of morality or individual rights.

With individualization comes the consciousness of the Law, taking the form of desire. It is utterly selfish; it is the ego; it is the "I" in a struggle with every other "I."

Its selfishness, from its first inception, is only limited by its lack of power. It is its own center of the universe, and its own effort is to draw to itself all there is.

The selfishness of the creature increases step by step with the development of higher and still higher types of life. Why? Because development is nothing else but the still greater recognition of individual desire; and desire is the starting point and the basic principle of self; it is selfishness or selfhood.

The desire of the individual is only limited in its selfish grasping after everything it sees by a still greater desire; the desire for a secure life.

So long as all creatures act from selfish desire, there is one constant state of warfare, and the world is under the dominion of fear. The desire for peace and security dominates the desire for possession, and gradually it becomes the highest desire that justice shall reign, because justice guarantees the greatest happiness. The desire, without ever forsaking the central standpoint of self, always bent on its own happiness, has developed a better conception or a better recognition of what it takes to produce happiness.

Individual life rests exclusively on selfishness; the effort of each to attain its own ends; its own happiness. The best method of attaining these ends, true happiness, is a matter of intellectual growth; a matter of greater recognition of the Law of Attraction; the law of infinite union; the Law as expressed in greater and more complex desires.

The renunciation of one individual to another and the folly of self-sacrifice, become apparent when it is seen that such renunciation and sacrifice rest on the same foundation that all our other actions rest upon. They are performed for the purpose of yielding us the greatest happiness, either here or hereafter.

So it happens that no man can resign the ego. Let him cover it up as he will, it is always the motor that moves him, and always will be. What is religion but giving up something in the present in order that we may get it in the future with infinitely compounded interest? I am willing to give the heathen the twenty dollars I have saved for the purchase of a new dress, if I am convinced that God is my security and will pay me back a hundred-fold. It appears to me as a first-class business transaction and I will risk "the sacrifice."

The mother love, that beautiful and tender and holy feeling, is self-love. The child is the object of the mother's desire; probably the very highest object of her desire; and she holds it more tenaciously than anything else.

Every form of love rests on desire; rests on the basis of self. Indeed, every good and beautiful attribute has self-love for its starting point; self-love worked out through higher and nobler recognition of the Law of Attraction, and individualized in higher and nobler desires.

The growth of desire is the growth and strengthening of the individual.

Society, when it shall have reached a more ideal condition than at present, will have reached it through the strengthening of the individualities composing it; and these individualities will have become strengthened by a better recognition of their own selfhood as expressed in their enlarged desire.

The total sacrifice of the selfish principle as expressed in desire, if such a thing were possible, would mean the destruction of the ego, which would be annihilation. And this is the impracticable and the impossible religion preached from thousands of pulpits today, whose effects are not the making of men, but the prostitution of them to a mistaken renunciation and self-deceptive and often a hypocritical humility. Religion is based on fear. And I now state boldly that everything in this world that is based on fear must die. It must die, that man may live and love and expand to the glory of true and free individualism through the power of love, whose very nature is incompatible with fear.

The love that is preached from the pulpit is an impossible thing in the character of the religion that preaches it. And why?

Because the religion itself is the most diluted compound of weakness ever concocted for the abject prostration of individuality. It is a doctrine that teaches men to resign their own strength, and to lean on the strength of another; a doctrine that ignores individual power, and throws itself in abject helplessness upon some imaginary power external to the individual. Under such circumstances the very effort of a person to love his neighbor as himself becomes a hypocritical pretense. He is not capable of generating love; love is the child of freedom, and the slave of fear is powerless to beget it. No one who is weak in his own selfhood can give himself; and this is love. No one who leans on a power outside of himself can be anything but weak.

It is only when men come into a state of freedom from the ripening of the ego, that it becomes possible for them to fulfill the claims of the so-called gospel, and love others as they love themselves. For love is the overplus of strength, and they who lean and beg will never be strong enough to generate anything but a counterfeit representative of it.

Love is the outflow of individual strength; the outflow of the individual's very self; there is no outflow to individual weakness; nothing but the absorptive drying up that we perceive in stagnant water.

The time is fast approaching when men will love; and that, too, because self is the moving spring of each person. When we shall become free from fear through the growing knowledge of our own power, we will see in others only the qualities that attract us, and we will flow out to them in desires for their good. Beautiful deeds will become the spontaneous outgrowth of free souls. In an atmosphere of freedom, the kingdom of love will be established.

We would love now if we were free and strong; but we are so fettered and so weak and so full of fairs for our own safety, that we cannot get away from the clamoring ego within us for an hour. We cannot come into that condition of noble and lofty repose which enables us to say, "All things are well at home. I will, therefore, go abroad and see if I cannot make them better for my neighbors." This would be love. It would be the superabundant outflow of strength.

But why should I care—being happy myself—whether others are happy or not? Am I not under obedience to the law of selfishness? In what particular is this personal ego I find within myself to be served by serving others?

I answer that in my still farther recognition of the Law of Attraction I have come into closer relationship with my neighbor; the drawing power of the Law has so shown me his oneness with me that it has become my desire to help him; my whole nature has warmed towards him, because the Law in its fuller manifestation is Love. My more complete recognition of the Law has filled me with love, and love seeks an object; it is the expression of the Law of Attraction, and being full of it, my happiness is best served by manifesting it in noble words and generous deeds. And thus, even in the execution of man's loftiest ideal for the universal good, we see that he acts in obedience to his self-love; the love so misunderstood and so condemned by the superficial thought of the age.

The tendency of evolution is the perfecting of individuality; the concentration of power in the ego. Man must learn that he is self-creative, and that his only hope, lies in this fact; that his only salvation is knowledge; that knowledge is a constantly growing power.

Seeing this to be so, let every human being take fresh hope.

So long as salvation is supposed to depend on another, it must always seem doubtful; and this doubt cannot but keep one more or less under the influence of fear.

But when self-salvation is seen to rest on self-dependence, on individual effort, then native courage and will power come to the rescue, and a man shoulders the burden of his journey, and trudges along the road of endless progression with faith in himself to overcome all obstacles.

And in this frame of mind he grows stronger every hour, no matter how rough the journey; the rougher the better, since every conquest adds to his strength until he feels his position to be God-like and irresistible.

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Helen Wilmans

  • Born in 1831 and died in 1907
  • Studied under Emma Curtis Hopkins
  • Was a journalist and author
  • Was active in the Mental Science Movement
  • Was charged with postal fraud for healing through mail. Fighting this charged caused her lose most of her fortune.

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