We have now considered the general attitude toward life whereby the vital truths of the Spirit may become concrete in daily experience. We have found that attitude to consist in the recognition of what man is as a progressive being, and in wise co-operation with the indwelling Life which resistlessly carries him forward to completion. There is a tendency, a guidance, in the soul of man which will lead him onward if he will listen for it. It will guide him in every detail of life, it will help him in every moment of trouble. It is with all men, it is used by all men; for otherwise they could not exist. But to the majority it is unknown and unrecognized, simply because they use it unconsciously; and to assure them that they can have such guidance seems to them the merest folly. To know it, and to distinguish between the merely personal thought or inclination and this diviner moving, is to live the higher life—a life which seems infinitely better and happier the moment one learns to make this most helpful discrimination. To turn to it in times of doubt and trouble is to regain one's poise, to become adjusted to life, to gain the truest self-help.
Ordinarily, it is sufficient to hold this possibility in mind, and to maintain an ever-deepening consciousness of our life with the infinite Father. Contaminating influences cannot then touch us, fear will have no power over us, we shall respect this inner voice rather than the opinions of men, and escape a large proportion of the ills which neither the mind nor the flesh is heir to. This realization will add a meaning, a depth and beauty to life, which the reader who has not yet made it a factor in daily experience can hardly imagine. Simply to discover that so much depends on our mental attitude is of itself sufficient knowledge to work a wonderful change in the lives of those who ever bear this vital truth in mind; for, if we begin life afresh, with a determination to see only the good, the real meaning and spirit of things, it will be impossible for our old habits of thought, our fears and inherited notions about disease, to win their way into consciousness. The road to better health, to unhoped-for happiness and freedom, is open before us. The better health shall be ours if we have the will, for nothing can resist the power of thought: the body, our fixed directions of mind, and even our temperaments will yield when we learn how to use this marvelous power.
But there are experiences when we need something more than this general knowledge of how to take the deepest life just as it is; and, in order to make the application of the foregoing principles perfectly clear, so that the reader will not only know what to do in times of trouble and suffering, but how to help a fellow-sufferer, let us once more consider the actual process of change in mind and body.
In considering the qualities and composition of matter in Chapter III., we learned that the phenomenon of expansion and contraction is one of its most noticeable characteristics. Turning to the mental world, we found the same principle repeated; namely, that thoughts are harmful or healthful to the degree that they expand and contract the inner being. Fear, jealousy, anger, and all selfish or belittling emotions have a tendency to draw one into self, to shut in and restrict the activities, impeding the natural life and restorative power of the body, and developing a condition from which, if it be long maintained, nature can only free us by a violent reaction: whereas a pleasurable emotion, such as one feels when listening to a familiar melody or the strains of a great symphony, causes the whole individual to expand, and sends a thrill to the utmost extremities of the being.
There is a whole vocabulary of words in common use expressing the warmth and coldness of human beings. In fact, the two faculties of intellect and emotion, or head and heart, are often taken as types of these fundamental characteristics; and we speak of this church as cold and intellectual, that one as warm and spiritual—so hard it is for one to combine the two.
Again, considering emotion alone, we speak of warm-heartedness. It seems to be out-going, expansive; and, if one give to another or do some act of kindness, that act has a tendency to repeat itself. The person is touched on whom the favor is conferred, and immediately feels a desire to reciprocate, or to show kindness to another. On the contrary, let the emotion be selfish, let the person decide to do a mean act, and there is an instant withdrawing, a self-contraction and narrowing of the soul. Happiness, joy, genuine pleasure, and self-denial are expansive emotions, and oftentimes wonderfully catching. With the one emotion comes self-forgetfulness and lack of restraint: with the other comes self-consciousness and painful awareness of sensation. Love is warm: selfishness is cold. Happiness expands: fear contracts.
Thus we might pass in review the whole category of human emotions; and, if we could trace their physical effect on the minute portions of the body, we should probably discover that the molecules are either drawn together or thrown apart by each emotion. When the shock is too great, whether the emotion be one of joy or sorrow, death results. There is evidently, then, a state of equilibrium where, on the one side, the body is harmoniously open and free from restrictions, and where, on the other, the mind is also open or in repose.
This emotional effect, with its accompanying physical changes, may be further illustrated by the sudden and marvelous cures which have taken place in all ages, and are occurring today. It is a well-known fact that these wonderful cures usually occur either among people of strong faith or among ignorant and superstitious—in other words, highly emotional—people. The alleged cures performed through the agency of sacred relics, at holy shrines, at Lourdes, and other well-known wonder-working centers, are wrought almost wholly among strongly superstitious people, who are ready to accept certain beliefs with all the energy of their being.
It is a truism today to affirm that miracles are impossible. The whole fabric of nineteenth century science rests on the knowledge that law is universal. If, then, such cures occur—and they are too widely attested to doubt them—they must take place in accordance with a certain principle. This principle is evidently the one already suggested; namely, that the bodily condition changes when the emotions are touched—not only in sudden cures, but in all that constitutes the emotional life. And the reason is found in the existence of the subtle intermediary known as spiritual matter, which immediately responds to the slightest change of feeling, and translates it into the bodily condition.
The stronger the emotion, other things being equal, the more remarkable the effect or cure. Emotion of a certain sort—noticeably, expectant attention accompanied by implicit faith on the part of an invalid before a sacred relic—has a wonderfully expansive and liberating effect on the body. The whole thought is concentrated on what is about to occur; the individual is lifted above self by the emotional experience; and the physical forces are no longer hampered by fear, morbid awareness of sensation, and the thousand and one feelings which interfere with the natural restorative power of the body. The emotion frees, opens the body, so that the interpenetrating forces may once more circulate between the particles. Density is broken up. An expansion takes place; and a process of change which usually occupies many weeks or months is completed in a short time, resulting in the cure of many so-called incurable diseases.
Here, then, is an important fact underlying the entire process of cure and self-help: a change for the better results when the emotions are touched, when some thought or feeling penetrates to the center, freeing the soul, and causing an expansion of the whole being. Something must quicken the activities and rouse the individual to new life. Bed-ridden invalids and lame people have been known to rush out of burning buildings, or forget themselves in their eagerness to rescue a person in danger, completely recovering their health through the sudden change of mind. In other cases, where the patient is selfish in disposition, the chief task is to find some way in which the person shall begin to live for other people, some interest which shall take the thought out of self, and thereby open the person to the healing power. Whatever be the method employed—the use of physical remedies, prayer, foreign travel—anything that arouses the confidence, the affection, the interest, or even the credulity of the sufferer, will produce the same result. On the other hand, any remedial means which fails to move or touch the soul is of little efficacy in effecting a cure. The problem, then, is to discover the method whereby the individual shall most quickly and easily be touched, so that the healing power shall have full and immediate access to the troubled soul.
But what causes the emotional change? Why is it that so many people who receive no benefit from medicine are cured by forgetting self and becoming absorbed in some benevolent work? If ignorant and superstitious people can be cured quickly because they are credulous, if cures of all kinds and among all classes largely depend on the faith or confidence put into the remedial means, is there not some deeper law which governs all cases, by the discovery of which the intelligent can be cured as quickly as the superstitious?
There can be but one answer to these questions. It is the thought, the mental attitude, the direction of mind, which governs the whole process. Before the sudden cure can result, there must be faith, expectant attention; and, if the person has implicit faith, the whole individual is governed by this one powerful direction of mind. The emotional experience unconsciously opens the soul to the Life or Spirit, which, like heat, enters into and expands the whole being, just as the warm sunlight penetrates the very fiber of the plant. It is the Spirit that performs the cure, not the personal thought or faith. The human part consists in becoming receptive, in withdrawing the consciousness from self and physical sensation, and becoming absorbed in the expected cure. The personal self, the fears and wrong thoughts, have stood in the way, and barred the door where the Spirit sought to enter. The new direction of thought changes all this, and makes way for the Spirit. It is a redirecting of the will; and in the wise use of the will, as we have seen, lies the greatest human power, while its misuse is the most potent cause of trouble.
Of all known forms of the one energy, then, thought is the most powerful, the most subtle, and, probably, the least understood. Used ignorantly, it brings us all our misery; used wisely, its power of developing health and happiness is limitless. It is essential to a just understanding of it, and to the knowledge of how to help one's self, that the reader bear in mind the central thought of each of the foregoing chapters. For we have learned that all power acts through something; and, in order to understand how the realization of the Spirit can break up an organic or chronic physical disease, so called, one must remember how such a disease is built up, and what the power behind thought really is.
We have seen that the inherited beliefs, the borrowed opinions and fears, the troublesome mental pictures, the description of symptoms made by doctors, and the whole thought process whereby a disease is made out of a disturbance which nature would have cured, had she been permitted, is impressed upon the spiritual matter, and then reflected in the body. All this must be changed—the mental attitude, the spiritual matter, and the physical body—by another and more powerful direction of mind, not of the personal self alone, but a realization which, consciously and intelligently, opens the individual to the healing power, to the same Power on a higher plane, which unconsciously heals the ignorant enthusiast at the shrine, but leaves him no wiser, because he has no understanding of it.
To many people it seems impossible that a person in a quiet attitude of mind can wield such power as this, and actually penetrate with the power of the Spirit to the very core of a diseased state and break it up, overcoming density and contraction in the muscles and tissues of the body which no physical remedies can affect. Yet this has been done repeatedly, and done, too, by those who knew precisely what they were doing and how they did it. The right use of this quiet, penetrating thought is a science, and every detail of this present analysis of the healing process is based on actual experience in performing just such cures.
The whole matter is simplified by remembering that the body is composed of minute particles, which may be driven farther apart by the attenuated substance which forms the connecting link between thought and the physical state. Matter is not an inert mass: it is imbued with Life; and thought can penetrate to that resident Life, and become consciously connected with it. The power used by thought is greater than the power which binds the particles together; for it is the Spirit, and it can become the master, and is, in fact, constantly used by man in a masterful way, with scarcely a suspicion of the wonderful power he is wielding.
1. The first fact to note, then, is that the power of self-help is with us, like the air we breathe, awaiting our openness to it. In the moments of calm decision before referred to, when we master our fears or decide upon this better conduct in preference to that sinful act, we do not have to fix the decision in mind, and say, "This shall be so." The decision itself is an act of will, like the desire to move the arm, and is put into effect unconsciously to us. In the same way the ideal of adjustment to life, and the daily effort to gain one's poise, is effective in proportion to the clearness and strength of our thought and the confidence we put into it. The first essential is a healthier and wiser habit of thought, for the ideas that we have inherited and grown up with are narrow and cramping to the soul. It is our personal duty to have the right thought: our own organism will see that it is executed. We do not need to fight the wrong thoughts, nor argue them away. It is enough for man to sow the new seed: nature will attend to its growth.
If the reader has carried out the suggestions of Chapter I., and tried to actualize these vital truths in daily life, or to realize the power of silent receptivity, it must already be clear that this is the most direct method of touching the inner center. For, with the realization of the near presence of the immanent Spirit comes the conviction that it is competent, more competent than we, to minister to our truest and deepest need. A quieting influence, a sense of power and restfulness, steals upon us, removing all fear and doubt. The mere effort to become inwardly still is sufficient to awaken this sense of power, as though one were for the moment a magnetic center toward which radiate streams of energy. And, if the reader has sought this silence in order to get relief from pain or some other uncomfortable sensation, there was doubtless a consciousness of pressure or activity in some part of the being, as though the resident power were trying to restore equilibrium. To unite in thought with this quickening power is, in general terms, the first step in the process of self-help by the silent method.
There is, obviously, no general rule which should govern the thought process, because no two troubles and no two individuals are wholly alike. Sometimes one needs mental rousing; and the thought should be clear, strong, and decisive. Again, there should be little active thought; and, on general principles, the central thought of this volume—the power of silence—is at once the quickest and surest means of self-help. It is this power, and the attitude which invites it, which one should be conscious of—not of the pain, the fatigue, or the depression from which one wishes to be free. This power or Spirit is shut out during trouble: there is resistance to it, and contraction in some part of the body. In order to overcome this resistance, one should open out inwardly, try to find the inward center where the power is pressing through, or the center of repose described in the foregoing chapter; and simply to search for it, and to rely upon this quickening power, is sufficient not only to draw the thought away from physical sensation, but to be immensely refreshed by the renewing presence. For, through this experience of receptivity—it is an experience rather than a process of thought—one becomes connected with a boundless reservoir of life and healing power. The healing process is, in fact, one form of receiving life. We do not originate life. We use it, we are animated by it; for it already exists. Our individual life is a sharing of universal life. We possess it by living it; and to partake of it is the commonest yet the highest privilege of man.
In order to make this experience vivid and clear, let us compare the soul to the budding life which is trying to open its petals and expand into a beautiful flower. The soul has been through a round of experiences in ignorance of their meaning. It has come into rude contact with the world, and has sought to withdraw from the world's wickedness and misery. In thus withdrawing, it has shut into a narrow space the mental pictures and remembrances of the experiences that were repulsive to it. It has narrowed and cramped itself into this prison of its own selfhood, unaware that it was thereby shutting in experiences which must some time be opened out.
In the mean time the resident life, active in the soul, as in the bud, is trying to expand it, and to open it out into the sunlight of truth. This activity, being misunderstood, causes fear; and the soul, in ignorance, withdraws still more, cramping itself this time with the sanction of medical opinion.
Now, the thought of the one who understands this inner process penetrates to the center where the imprisoned soul is trying to come forth, and gradually sets it free. For it is the nature of these deep realizations of the Spirit to cause expansion, to touch the soul; and the accompanying power is equal to overcoming any obstruction in its pathway. The expanding process may not always be pleasant, and oftentimes one feels restless and impatient to have it completed. It may require long and trustfully persistent effort to overcome a condition of long standing, for people do not easily yield their opinions and beliefs. At times it is only necessary to open one's self in silence for a few moments in order to take off the pressure and become wonderfully refreshed. Again, one has to try all methods—to read a comforting book; to think of some friend, or a person in distress to whom one would like to be of service; to rouse one's self with a firm determination to rise above this troublesome difficulty, to push through it with a persistently positive thought, or do anything which shall quiet the inner center and take one out of self.
But in all cases one should approach this experience with a quiet confidence that the resident power is fully equal to the occasion. It is here with the imprisoned soul. Help abounds. The Spirit awaits our co-operation. We belong to it. We need not fear: we only need be open to it, to let it come, to let it have us and heal us. It knows our needs, and is never absent from us. We are not so badly off as we seemed, nor is there any reason for worry or discouragement. Peace, peace! Let us be still, quiet, restful, and calm. Let us know and feel the eternal Presence which is here to restore us, and to calm the troubled waters with its soothing love and peace.
In due time, if this realization be repeated until one learns how to be still and receptive, one will surely become conscious of benefit and a quickening of the whole being. The mere form of words is nothing, and the above expressions are simply used in the hope that they may suggest the indescribable; for, once more, it is the Spirit which is the essential, the power behind the words, the experience which all must have in order to know its depth and value.
The ability to concentrate is the secret of self-help by this method of realization, and this is an art which each man learns in his own way. There must be a certain degree of self-possession, in order to hold the attention in a definite direction; and, if one have not yet developed this ability, it is well to approach this deeper realization by degrees, according to the method of Chapter VI. The process of silent help is, in fact, one of adjustment to the actual situation in the moment of trouble—-the realization that, individually, one has little power, even of the will, as compared with this higher Will, but that all that is demanded of the individual will is cooperation. God seems to need us as much as we need him. He asks thoughtful receptivity, and readiness to move with the deepest trend of the individual life. The whole experience is rather a wise directing of the will or attention, a realization rather than a process of active thought. The adjustment, the poise, the experience of silence, is a realization. The moment comes when the individual has nothing to say: the power of conscious thought becomes subordinated to a higher power, the Spirit. One cannot speak. One can only observe in silent wonder, in awe at the presence of such power, which the individual feels incompetent to control. This, in a word, is the highest healing, the most effective, the least personal, and the hardest to describe. One can only say: Here is the Life, the Love, the Spirit. I have dwelt with it for a season. Go thou to the fountain-head. It will speak to you, and be its own evidence.
This experience may be further described as a settling down into the present life. In all cases of illness there seems to be a withdrawing of the spiritual matter or body, as though the person were partially disconnected from the physical body for the time being. This is especially noticeable in cases of nervous shock and nervous strain—that high-strung tendency which is made known through the voice, when the whole individual seems to be living in the top of the head. In such cases the effort should be to keep soul and body together and never let the one pull away from the other, to come down into the living present, to cease striving after ideals and dwelling in certain high-strung directions of thought, and never to invite any thought or experience which tends to take one away from wise and healthful adjustment to the eternal now. This is one of the quickest and most effective means of self-help—this settling down, down, calmly and quietly, into one's deeper and larger self, into present usefulness and equanimity, where reside the greatest strength and the greatest power.
But sometimes one is unable to penetrate to the Source of all knowledge and to connect in thought with the Omnipresent Life. The Spirit seems far from one, and one feels wholly separate from it. In such cases it is better to make the realization more personal, just as one would rely on a friend who is ready to perform the slightest service and be a constant comfort during severe illness. One would naturally be drawn to such a friend in ties of close sympathy and trust. In moments of weakness and despair the friend would be one's better self, full of hope and cheer. It is in such times as this that our friends are nearest and dearest to us, that we open our souls to them and show what we really are. The mother's love, the friend's devotion, is thus the means of keeping many a soul in this present life when all other means have failed—failed because they could not touch the soul—whereas the communion of soul with soul through the truest affection opens the door to that higher Love which thus finds a willing object of its unfailing devotion.
Now, if in moments of trouble like these the reader will turn to the Spirit as to an intimate friend, help will surely come. The higher Self is still with one, but it is shut out. It is near, it is ready, like the friend, to help us, to guide, to strengthen, to advise, and to bestow comfort. One is momentarily disconnected with it and unaware of its promptings. One's personal self and activity stand in the way. The human will, fear, and all sorts of opinions have intruded, causing the Spirit to withdraw, and placing an obstacle in its pathway. To still the active personal self and let the real Self have us, to stand aside completely and let the Spirit return and fill the entire being, is, in a word, the secret of self-help in this as in all cases.
This is not easily done at first, and one is apt to force the wrong thoughts out of mind or try to reason them away. One often hears people say that they do not wish to think these wrong thoughts, but they cannot help it.
Suppose, for example, that one has a feeling of ill-will toward another, some unpleasant memory, or feels sensitive in regard to some word or act of a friend. Instead of trying to put away the unpleasant feeling by thinking about it, one should call the friend to mind and think of his or her good qualities, think of something pleasant, some good deed or some happy memory; for there is surely some good quality in every person. Very soon the unpleasant thought will disappear, and love and charity will take its place. It was not necessary to force it away, for one cannot hold both love and hatred at the same time. This exactly describes the way out of all difficulties, as simply and briefly as it can be told.
In endeavoring to find the good side of the person who has said the unkind word or acted impulsively, one soon becomes en rapport with the friend's soul, the real, the truest, and deepest person, who did not mean to act unkindly and who now regrets the unkindness. One's feeling of peace and forgiveness reaches the other soul, if the process be carried far enough to include both individuals in this quiet realization. One is lifted above the petty, belittling self to that higher plane of spiritual poise and restfulness. One has found one's own soul; and to find this, in moments of trouble, discouragement, sorrow, or sickness—this is self-help.
Here is the inner kingdom of heaven—a whole kingdom—where dwells all Love, Wisdom, and Peace, whence we can draw power at our need and become readjusted to life. Here is where the permanent consciousness should abide. Here is the home of the greatest happiness and the truest health—a happiness and a health which only ask our recognition in order to become fully and consciously ours in daily life, morally, intellectually, and physically, lending an unwordable joy to every moment of existence.
2. On the intellectual plane it is usually more difficult to find the inward center and to realize the power of silence. The generally accepted opinions and education prevent one from getting into this higher state. Its own knowledge, its pride of intellect and assurance, make it difficult for the mind to surrender; and there is consequently much more resistance to be overcome. One is apt to forget that, so far as one has thought out the truth, that truth is universal: it is not the property of the individual alone. The very intellect whereby the truth was discovered is a product or gift of the immanent Life, is an individualization of the larger Intellect—just as life is a sharing of the immanent and bountiful Life in which we dwell, and of which we are not in any sense independent. Only the mere opinion or belief is purely personal; and it is usually just this personal element that stands in the way, some harmful or borrowed opinion, which prevents one from getting real wisdom. It is humility, willingness to learn, which opens one to the All-knowledge within; and, if one approach this experience in a purely intellectual attitude, one is not likely to feel the warmth of the Spirit, since everything depends on the receptivity or direction of mind.
In such cases, as, in fact, in all cases of trouble and suffering, the mind revolves in a channel that is too narrow. One needs to escape into a larger life, out of this narrow sphere of consciousness which has dwarfed and limited one's development. The very principles, the very habits, whereby one becomes devoted to a certain line of work to the exclusion of all others, causes the mind to flow in given channels, and never to pass beyond them. If this process be long continued, with but little rest or recreation, nature is sure to rebel, and to warn us that we must be wiser and broader in our thinking. And probably the surest way of getting out of ruts, and thereby avoiding the long list of troubles, ending in insanity, which result from the constant pursuit of one idea, is to realize our relation to the universal Life in which our own qualities of intellect and power in here, and which demands of us all-round development, that we may come into full self-possession and complete soul-freedom. Rightly used, then, the intellect is the basis: it gives the only firm basis on which to rest the superstructure of the spiritual life.
3. On the physical plane the first essential is to explain to the sufferer that the healing power is present in the body, ready to restore all hurts, and that, if the person will keep still, like the animals, all will go well. On this plane one is in need of a wise counselor to restore confidence and allay fear. The healing power meets with little or no resistance in the child; and, if medicine be kept away, and no disturbing influence or fear be allowed to interfere with the natural process, the mother can better fill this office than anyone else. But here, as on all planes and in all cases, there is a grand opportunity for the wise physician, who, instead of making a diagnosis of the sick person, describing symptoms and giving medicine, shall quietly explain the healing process, and how one should become adjusted to it. In all cases of sickness the sufferer needs comfort, needs to be told how to relax and take off the resistance; and in all finely organized people some understanding of the inner process already described is essential, in order to explain the keen and subtle sensations which would otherwise arouse the wildest fears. What a change would come to sick and suffering humanity if all physicians would adopt this helpful method, and cease all this disease-creating talk about symptoms—if people would throw off all slavery to medical opinion! The best doctors would still have plenty to do, and there would still be need of the skillful surgeon. The world's suffering would be infinitely less, and we should then have an army of men striving to teach all-round self-development and good health.
4. In order to help those who are unable to get this inner help themselves, the first step is to find this same inner center, and to realize for another the same peace and rest which is required for one's self. This should usually be accompanied by an audible explanation of the inner process, and how best to become adjusted to it. One person can help another only so far as one's own soul is developed in knowledge of and openness to the immanent Life. But during the quiet realization for another the same process will be caused in the other, if the person be receptive. One should therefore have confidence that help will come to the recipient—not through one's personal self, but through the quickening of this same Power within the receptive soul; and with this trust uppermost, and a deep desire to help the other person, a good result is sure to follow.
There is no effort to make a hypnotic suggestion in this experience of helping another, nor any attempt to transfer one's thought or feeling, but a realization of the needs and possibilities of the other soul. One cannot be in the presence of a person who is thus aware of the very presence and power of the Spirit without feeling the effect, consciously or unconsciously. Simply to meet a person who has spiritual repose is sufficient to cause a beneficial effect. To express it in the phraseology of Oriental thinkers, the same vibration is set up in the recipient; and there are those whose perception is so keen that they can detect the changes in vibration during a quiet sitting with a patient who is receiving help by the silent method.
It is only necessary for these intuitively acute people to become en rapport with another person in order to perceive at once how, to continue the same phraseology, that person is vibrating, or, more accurately, the surrounding atmosphere or spiritual matter which reveals the state of mind. If the agitation be intense, it must be stilled, not by entering into the agitation, but by keeping free from it, standing on the outside of it—just as one would observe any change taking place in the outer world. The vibrations will gradually change, the agitation will cease, there will be a tendency on the part of the recipient to draw deep breaths, and finally a general feeling of quiet invigoration will displace the agitated condition both of mind and body. It may take many sittings to produce such a change as this; but the process is, in general terms, the same—namely, a gradual quieting of all agitation by penetrating nearer and nearer the center where the resident life meets resistance, and maintaining a quiet realization of the Power that is producing the cure.
5. But the best and most lasting self-help, after all, is that wiser habit of thought, that larger helpfulness, for which this whole volume pleads; for it is what we think and dwell upon habitually that moulds character and sheds its influence on the people about us. Our inquiry has taught us to look beneath matter to its underlying reality, and behind physical sensation to the mind where it is perceived. We have found the origin of man, first, in the immanent Life of which he is a part, and of which he is an individual expression; and, secondly, in the world of mind, where his beliefs and impressions gather to form his superficial self. To know the one Self from the other, to be adjusted to its resistless tendency, to obey it, to do nothing contrary to it, as far as one knows, is the highest righteousness, the most useful life, and the truest religion. Here is the one essential, the life that is most worthy of the man aware of his own origin and of his own duty.
There are many problems involved in an interpretation of life which we have neglected in this inquiry—noticeably, those connected with the religious life and the great religious teachers. We have everywhere met an element that is incommunicable, that must be lived and practiced in order to be known. There is much that can only be understood through patient investigation, much, too, that would well repay scientific investigation. Facts and possibilities are revealed through careful study of the inner process which throw a flood of light alike on the nature of mind and on the mystery of life. The thought is well-nigh overwhelmed by the scope and meaning of these inner experiences. It seems almost impossible even to suggest such insights and experiences to the general reader; for one must talk enigmatically at times, and rely on the reader's forbearance and willingness to test that which can only be proved through a similar experience. But it is everything to know that such possibilities exist, and to make a step toward their realization. It is enough at first to be turned in the right direction; to feel that help is for us, and only awaits our receptivity; to have some inkling of the great Power of silence. All else will come in due course if one have a deep desire for it. And, if we have considered the one essential, and begun to realize its deep meaning for ourselves and for our fellow-beings, the larger and more complex life of the outer world will be explained by the light and wisdom from within.
For, who shall limit the possibilities of the one whose life is centered in this spiritual consciousness, the one who knows the Real, and can tell it from the transient and illusive? Do we have more than the faintest glimmering of our own possibilities—we who live beholden to matter, as if it were the all in all? Have we really begun to live, are we even half what we should be, whiffed about as we are by opinions and fears, at the mercy of other minds and of our own unconquered selves? Half the facts of life go to show that man is a product of matter, and his thoughts and feelings mere effects of a fateful outer cause. The other half show that he is a master—a master in embryo, it may be, but a sharer of the only Life and the only Power by virtue of his individual will and his invincible power of thought. Life and all it brings him, ultimately, depends on his own wisdom and the intelligence he puts into it. He is weak and fearful, at the mercy of matter and passion, only as long as he lacks understanding. To know self and overcome it, to know the law and obey it, —this is the sum of righteousness; and all that duty demands of us at first is to make the start, to remember nature's law of growth, and persistently to keep the great end in view.
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More from Horatio W. Dresser
- Born on January 15th, 1866 in Yarmouth, Maine and died March 30th, 1954 in Boston, Massachusetts
- Authored many books, including The Power of Silence, and published several magazines.
- Earned his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1907