The inspirational truth which is permeating modern thought is the essential inter-relation of all things. The negative conditions which are so widely prevalent in human consciousness are largely due to the lack of a discriminating sense of the numberless lines of mutual relationship. Emerson voiced this sentiment in the simple words:—
Nothing is fair or good alone.
The law of unselfishness is so fundamental that it is written everywhere. Every leaf, twig, and branch inform us of dependence and interdependence; and every organ of the physical body works unceasingly, more for its neighbors than itself. Reciprocity is the all-prevailing order. In all the varied phenomena of mind and matter nothing stands alone. Selfishness, which is the negative of this universal positive, may be said to be the mainspring of all the woes of humanity.
One Life permeates all things, and there is no corner of the universe too remote to feel its heart-throb. But in the world consciousness of the past, division has been the universal experience. All through the ages there has been a sharp boundary line drawn between the realm of Nature and Spirit. The two have been regarded, not only as thoroughly separated, but as antagonistic. The old partition wall is now decaying and crumbling in human consciousness, and that is the only place where it ever had existence. It is now seen that the natural is spiritual, and the spiritual, natural. There is but one.
The view of the past has been only a view of a part, and hence the world has been filled with the hunger of incompleteness. Life has been incomplete; health has been incomplete; religion, ethics, and sociology have been incomplete. But more disastrous than all else—to the false sense of the world—God has been incomplete. Though holding to a theory of his infinitude and perfection, he has practically, as presented to the human mind, been capricious and changeable. He has been a reflection of the beholder, faithful to the likeness, though seen through a telescope, and indefinitely magnified. Like the object in the lens, though enlarged, he has not been whole. There has been another power almost his equal warring against him. He was, therefore, practically partial. Only occasional seers, scattered along the ages, have had the clearness of vision to get a glimpse of the universal completeness of the Good. Materialism has been so dense and controlling, that it would almost require visible cords, running from everything to everything, to teach men universal relationship.
The sense of selfishness, or separation, manifests itself in an ever-present antagonism. Society is divided into fragments, and each thinks its interest is diverse from all the others. His supreme concern is for his nation, state, sect, section, profession, trade, clique, family, and, most of all, himself. To him the good of each is separate from the general good, and his rise would even be promoted by another's fall. That all are factors in a grander unity, and all dependent and interdependent, is hardly understood. Paul's lesson in regard to the organs of the human body is truly scientific, even though unappreciated. Diversity of interest is only a seeming.
In the general non-recognition of the unity of life the world struggles and suffers. Every man views his own life as a thing by itself; and this concept closes him against the influx of the Universal. But his little pool can only be filled and purified by the sweep of the tides of the great ocean of vitality by which he is unconsciously surrounded. He is virtually isolated from the electric current which flows from the general "power-house." His constant sense of incompleteness erects barriers in front of him whichever way he may face. His God is hardly more complete than himself, only built upon a grander scale. He lives in the ever-abiding lack of something. Health, wealth, power, knowledge, happiness—everything, depends upon the ability to recognize the universal completeness. Whatever is held in the individual consciousness is in the deepest sense present and real. Subjective conditions are the lens through "which the world is seen; and they give it their own color, tone, and quality. We gain all good things to the degree that consciousness brings them into our possession. He who refuses to harbor or dwell upon incompleteness has his vision opened to eternal wholeness.
We live in the vapid, debilitating atmosphere of tradition, measuring ourselves among ourselves, instead of rising to ideal, manly stature by opening our souls to the exuberant overflow of the divine Fountain. Turning our backs upon our heritage as children of God, we anxiously try to prop up our little detached life by weak and sensuous artifices. Life is already complete in the Universal Life; but, being blind to the sunny horizon above us, we remain in the dim light of a dungeon, grasping at shadows.
Science and religion have divided the world in twain, misunderstanding and opposing each other; each as incomplete as a hemisphere without its counterpart. Religion has proposed to cure the souls of men, but has practically assumed that they are now bodies. It recognizes an airy and unsubstantial thing called a "soul," which is susceptible of a legalized salvation for the future. But men need both a present and a scientific salvation—one that is normal rather than "supernatural." Science, on the other hand, has declared that everything beyond the sensuous is necessarily unscientific. Its gaze has been downward; fixed upon the material realm. But both science and religion are awaking from their long dream of division and incompleteness, and each, with the instinct of newly discovered relatives, is reaching out for its counterpart.
The supernatural has long been fenced off in an exterior realm, beyond the reign of orderly law, and its distance and strangeness have made it weird and unattractive. Thus the beauty, perfection, and roundness of the sphere of Unity have had a fragmentary and unsymmetrical appearance. Consciousness limits the boundary of the human outlook, and it must be uplifted—born again—before it can mount above the fogs and mists of materialistic negation into the pure azure of the real and spiritual.
No man can change the objective order of things, but the beauty and strength of his own life depend upon his recognition of his intimate relationship to the Universal. Feeling himself to occupy a definite place in the great evolutionary scale, he should advance voluntarily, and escape the friction which otherwise will be his when pushed from behind. When he feels the electric chords through which vitality can come to him converging in his own soul, he grows in power as rapidly as his consciousness can expand. He is the creator of his own subjective world, and through its outward lines of relationship colors and transforms the objective realm into correspondence. He chooses his own residence, taking up his abode behind prison-bars, amidst discord and negation, or building within the realm of harmony and orderly relationship. So long as he recognizes different centers of gravity he is rent by their opposing forces. As God becomes to him the Within and the Without, the All in All, the Beginning and the Ending, there comes a sense of the completeness of unity.
Disconnection from relationship manifests itself in leanness and disease. A limited self-consciousness is a barrier which must be broken through before the broad range of freedom is attainable. As finited souls we cannot place ourselves outside of the "Oversoul;" but what is impossible in reality is possible in consciousness.
Love is the attractive force which clasps each soul in the universal embrace. Every message of ministry brings back a response of equal intensity. Life is a constant giving and receiving. If we would be sharers of the boundless profusion of the good that is waiting for room to bestow itself, we must plunge into its great current, and become one with it.
The world of sense contains no fountain of life. Humanity is "cumbered with much serving." It wears itself out in a weary search for the essential good in the dry and barren shell of the external, where dwells no vitality. Man is hungering for more life, and yet tries to satisfy his cravings with husks. He must lift up his eyes to behold all vital truth as one and universal, and open his portals for an inflow of its nourishment.
The seeming hard and adverse conditions of the present plane of existence crowd the great completeness out of consciousness. Disappointment, struggle, suffering, and death are ever-present clouds in our horizon. It seems impossible to reconcile their dark lowering with the beneficence of universal law. To the eye of sense the world has no cohesion, and is divided against itself. Disease, cruelty, fear, evil, and mortality hold high carnival, and no deliverance or exemption is visible. We wonder at the seething strife and turmoil which neither conventional religion nor philosophy has explained or assuaged. In deep despair, the racial consciousness, shrunken by ages of fear and limitation, has accepted the worst, and concluded that all this agony is normal and irredeemable.
But the kingdom of heaven "cometh not with observation." Looking beneath the turbid and restless waves of this great sea of human experience, we sound its depths, and behold a "great calm." As dark shadows flee before the advent of the "king of day," so the negation of evil dissolves before the rising sun of truth. Mounting the hills to the standpoint of the real, the horizon is clear, and the fullness of life is seen, bursting all material limitations. Oneness in diversity is made plain, and the natural and supernatural melt into each other.
The golden key which is unlocking and bringing to light hitherto dark recesses is the understanding and application of law. Only by its magic has unbounded chaos been transformed into harmonious unity. As we interpret the operative laws of the divine life, we become not only its recipients, but its reflectors and distributers. The nightmare of evil and mortality is lifted, and we walk in the clear light of the real. The wilderness of unshapely fragments which so long filled our gaze, by a kaleidoscopic transformation not only come together, but exactly fit each other.
The world is full of those who see but a single side of truth. This distorts all proportion, and puts out of view the grand and perfect unitary sphere. The boundaries of sect, system, and party not only limit truth, but sever it. Vision is narrowed and focalized upon its immediate possessions, and it soon becomes incapable of seeing anything else.
Paul declares: "All things are yours." We enter into their possession through consciousness. If we fail to receive the great heritage bequeathed to the offspring of the Infinite, the fault is only our own.