J. C. B.—Your question is in substance as follows: —"Why do millions of highly organized sentient beings pass their lives in unnatural conditions, with more or less almost constant suffering until the final death-blow?" This question involves the whole enigma of the universe; and to solve it is to solve the problem of life and of the soul. The answer to your question would be nothing less than a statement of Eternal Truth; it therefore cannot be answered by one to another, but only by each one for himself. Each must rise, within himself, above those forces which act only for the production of pain and suffering. "The mystery of pain," as it has been called, remains a mystery to the majority of men because they do not extricate themselves entirely from the pain-producing elements within themselves; and before this can be done the problem of the suffering of creation must be brooded upon; it must be earnestly questioned, and it must be felt. To feel acutely the sufferings of others, and especially of the weak and defenseless, is the first and necessary stage in the development of that all- embracing compassion wherein alone the "mystery" is dispelled. This is the stage of Sympathy. The second stage is that of Abstinence, wherein the individual reforms certain of his habits in order that he may avoid the infliction of pain on those weaker than himself. The third stage is that of Analysis, in which the hidden and inner forces which act in the production of pain are revealed. The fourth stage is that of Comprehension, in which the cause and meaning of suffering is understood, and where the power to transmute the forces of the soul is developed. In this stage the man ceases to think any thoughts which lead ultimately to pain. The fifth and last stage is that of Compassion, in which even self-defense and self-protection cease, and wherein the sphere of suffering is entirely transcended. When this stage is reached, the Great Law in all its beauty and completion is perceived, the veil is lifted from the face of creation, and the cause of the shadow of pain, in which men and creatures are (and will be for a period) involved, is seen and understood. Only by passing through the five stages, which constitute the journey from ignorance to enlightenment, can the riddle of suffering and of life be answered; only by realizing and practicing perfect compassion is pain conquered and the mystery of suffering solved, and to this stage all will ultimately come, and the long night of the agony of creation will come to an end at last.
F. T.—The poem, "The Better View," which you have sent to us as an extract from your local paper of May 23rd, and as "by a local author," was written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, the celebrated American poet, and it appeared in the March issue of The Light of Reason.
O. C.—Read our "Editorial" in the present issue. The spirit of contentment (not the "outward show" of it) is for those who do their duty uncomplainingly.
D. C. A.—You say, speaking of The Light of Reason, "I find that it voices so much that I have been vaguely striving after for years; moreover, coming monthly as it does, I find it a great reminder to me not to allow the spiritual life to become swamped by the constant calls of a large family." We appreciate your kindly letter, your short prayer, however, is not suitable for our pages.
M. G.—We are glad to know that you highly appreciate The Light of Reason, and intend to recommend it. Your poem is exceedingly good, but is hardly suitable for our pages. If you would send us more of your verse, we should perhaps find some of it more adapted for publication in this journal.
E. D.—Your three poems are not suitable for publication in The Light of Reason.
P. A. W.—Your poem, "Thy Will Be Done," is not quite up to publication standard. Its sentiment, however, is sweet. Read some of the best poets for a time, then try again.
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.