The Light of Reason
Edited by James Allen
Vol. II. October 1st, 1902 No. 4
The expounding of the laws of being and the higher life.
There is little doubt that nearly all our readers are deeply interested in the spiritual trend of thought which is now moving the world, and that they are anxious to come into close touch with those gifted and pure souls who are the prime movers in the spiritual evolution of the race, and who have the moral upliftment of the world at heart. This can only be done by reading their works. Possibly many of our readers have, as yet, but a very limited acquaintance with the works of these men and women, and such we would refer to our advertisement pages and review columns, where announcements of books will now appear, and which books may be obtained from the Savoy Publishing Company.
We are now entering upon new and important developments with regard to the sale and publication of New Thought literature, and we shall endeavor to bring within easy reach of our readers the best and most inspiring thought of the time. We shall regard it as one of our most important duties to carefully consider the intellectual and spiritual wants of our readers, and to give advice, when necessary, upon the selection of suitable books.
Upon the subject of Books, a friend and brother-soul, who is a deep reader and admirer of the works of some of the great minds, sends us the following piece, which he entitles "Reciprocity";—
"If a musical discord may be introduced into the harmony that has hitherto soothed and exalted the minds of the readers of The Light of Reason, one might offer an adverse view to that of our honored Editor and others concerning the value of books. That humility which is said to be the test of a noble mind may have caused these writers to forget that our journal is in itself a book. Books, like friends that possess live hearts and souls, are of inestimable value. 'The merit of originality is not novelty, it is sincerity' says that vast, sane, glorious thinker, Carlyle; and quotes Novalis as saying: 'It is certain my conviction gains infinitely the moment another soul will believe in it.' In these times, when it is impossible for the soul to independently unfold itself into wonder and amazement at this magical God's world—and so worship—much depends on this I call reciprocity. The great thing is, as Goethe says, 'to learn to know the men who may be trusted.' This is only possible (and here we burst into perfect harmony) by ardent devotion to that first of all sciences—self-knowledge."
Far from having introduced a discord, our friend has swelled the harmony by the addition of another sweet chord. When a man says that good books are his friends, that they give great aid, and that they "are of inestimable value," he speaks truly. And when a man says that real knowledge—that is, knowledge of unchangeable principles—cannot be obtained from books, but only by a process of inward growth, he utters a mathematical truth. There is no contradiction here, no inharmony. Books are aids, guides, friends pointing the way. They act as stimuli, bringing to the surface latent knowledge, and by arousing the mental and spiritual faculties, urge the soul on to renewed effort. But knowledge, wisdom and truth are secured only by personal effort; are found only by overcoming self.
The teacher, whether his teaching be oral or written, is absolutely necessary, not in order to give to another the truth which he has earned by long practice and endeavor, as this is impossible, but, demonstrating the results of his experience, and pointing out the method by which those results were obtained, to inspire others, and to rouse them to effort so that they may obtain truth for themselves. He is the true and profitable reader or hearer, who, having read or heard the teaching, assiduously applies it in his daily conduct, and so finds and proves the truth for himself. A man may read the Sermon on the Mount a thousand times, but unless he practices its teaching and incorporates it into his life, he will never gain a knowledge of the eternal law upon which it is framed. Whilst a man remains a mere reader, although he may gain a reputation for cleverness and learning, he will never really understand, and his conduct under trying circumstances will show forth his lack of understanding. It is the doer, and the doer only, who understands, who gains real knowledge, who becomes wise, and his conduct under trying circumstances will show forth his knowledge. And when, by continual practice in overcoming self, a man has become sufficiently pure and strong and self-reliant, the need of books ceases. He who is free from passion, who is calm and mild and spiritually strong, needs no external stimuli to urge him on, for, having transmuted his lower nature, he has become possessed of a subtle energy by which he can, at any moment, rouse himself into active thought and meditation and enter the divine source of wisdom itself, drawing there from all the mental, spiritual and material sustenance that is needful for him. Great is the need and use of books, but above all books is the Book of Life. Great and glorious are the spiritual teachers of the race, but above all teachers is the indwelling Spirit of Truth, whose voice is only heard by the passionless and pure.
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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.