The Light of Reason
Edited by James Allen
Vol. I. April 1st, 1902 No. 4
The expounding of the laws of being and the higher life.
Are our troubles and sufferings entirely the result of our own ignorance and wrong-doing, or are they partly or wholly brought about by others, and by outward conditions? This is a question which, presented in various forms by different correspondents, is continually coming before us, and it is one which every truth-seeker has to solve by reason and right conduct before he can make any appreciable progress toward enlightenment, for the correct solution contains within it the basis and groundwork of emancipation from suffering.
The application of a little close thought and analytical reasoning will ultimately resolve the question into this simple form: — Are our sufferings just or unjust? The presentation, to the mind, of the question in this form is inevitable, for if we could suffer, even partly, through others, our sufferings would be unjust, but if we suffer entirely through ourselves, then our sufferings are just, and the ultimate settlement of the question, in the mind of him who has diligently applied himself to its solution, brings with it the peace-giving realization of the Law of justice in its unerring application to all the details of life.
Our sufferings are just, and are entirely the result of our own ignorance, error, and wrong-doing.
If this were not so, if a man could commit an evil deed and escape, the consequences of that deed being visited upon an innocent person, then there would be no Law of justice, and without such a Law, the universe could not, even for a single moment, exist. All would be chaos.
Upon the surface, men appear to suffer through others, but it is only an appearance; an appearance which a deeper knowledge dispels. Just as the knowledge of the stellar laws revealed the fact that the sun did not go round the earth, as it appeared to, and as men for ages thought it did, but that the very reverse was the case; even so a knowledge of the mathematical law of Justice governing the thoughts and words and deeds of men, reveals to us the truth that to suffer through others, even in the smallest degree, is impossible; that all our suffering originates from ourselves.
If the innocent suffered arbitrarily for the guilty, man's lot would indeed be hopeless, for there would be no possible way of escape from miser ; for he who believes he suffers through others, will never cease from harboring thoughts of hatred and revenge, nor from brooding upon the hardness and injustice of his lot. It will be impossible for him to know and to practice true charity of heart, for he will be always condemning those whom he considers to be the cause of all his trouble.
Neither do men really suffer through environment, national laws, the oppression of their masters, or priestly dominance, as they imagine they do. Man is not the result of these outward conditions; these outward conditions are the result of man. He who would find wisdom and truth must cease to rise up in revolt against others and all outward conditions, and must rise up in revolt against himself, and as he perfects himself by ever-increasing goodness, and an ever-growing knowledge of Divine Law, he will find how dead and powerless are all outward things, and that in the knowledge of truth there is freedom.
Men suffer because they love self, and do not love righteousness, and loving self they love their delusions, and it is by these that they are bound. There is one supreme liberty of which no man can be deprived by any but himself—the liberty to love and to practice righteousness. This includes all other liberties. It belongs to the whipped and chained slave equally as to the king, and he who will enter into this liberty will cast from him every chain. By this the slave will walk out from the presence of his oppressor, who will be powerless to stay him. By this the king will cease to be defiled by his surrounding luxuries, and will be a king indeed.
It is true men are oppressed, but their oppressor is Self; it is true they are priest-ridden, but the name of the priest is Ignorance. No outward oppressor can burden the righteous heart; no outward priest can chain the enlightened mind; none but the self-deluded can remain in suffering and misery; therefore have we joined the company of them that love Truth, and having put on the yoke of obedience have entered into liberty and peace.
How charged with punishment the scroll;
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
Selected from "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley
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More from James Allen
James Allen was a little-known philosophical writer and poet. He is best recognized for his book, As a Man Thinketh. Allen wrote about complex subjects such as faith, destiny, love, patience, and religion but had the unique ability of explaining these subjects clearly and in a way that is easy to understand. He often wrote about cause and effect, sowing and reaping, as well as overcoming sadness, sorrow, and grief. For more information on the life of James Allen, click here.