"In them, and Thou in Me": let us reason from these, Christ's simple words: simple, yet containing all Truth. The same Divinity which dwelt in Christ, and which He recognized as Himself—"I and My Father are One"—is imminent in us: unacknowledged by the majority, doubtless: still, it is there. It is the basis of being, the foundation of life, and the Goal towards which we strive throughout our earthly pilgrimage. How can we better comprehend that which inheres: how may we pierce the gloom which is about Its pavilion? Wherein lies the obstacle; what is it that renders us blind to this Reality? The majority of men identify themselves with their physical nature: The Immanence is Spiritual. Herein lies the key. Men do not apprehend that which is, because they confine their thought and action to that which is not. The outer senses simply constitute a "vehicle of expression and communication between externals and the Inner Nature, providing experience and opportunity for the unfolding of innate Knowledge: and in this vehicle, this temporary line of communication, men in general, unhappily, center their consciousness, and devote their actions to its gratification. This constitutes man's selfish nature, and, to allow of the recognition of the Higher Self, and the nearer approach to the One in us, the consciousness must be made to associate itself with that which is Eternal, gaining thus freedom from, and mastery over the hitherto dominating passional nature.
Let men remove the scales of selfishness from the inner eyes, and the beauty of the Imperishable Self is revealed to them: the Thread upon which all existence hangs, which binds man to men, and all to One, becomes to them a living tangibility, and, no longer doubting, a feeling of brotherly love for all men forms part of their being.
It may be said that most, if not all, of the obstacles to man's Ultimate Happiness are to be found in the willful satisfying of the material senses: generally speaking, men count the highest gratification of sense the greatest happiness of living. Very little consideration is needed to show that this is wrong: the personality may temporarily replace the Inner Self, but, in the end, that which has to be conformed to, The Law, must work through its most suitable instrument, and that is the Higher Self; so generally unrecognized of men. The True Man must eventually triumph, but the future can be embodied in the now, if men will only set about thinking and acting in the proper directions.
The Way is by no means a Path of ease: the recognition of, and association with the Inner Essence, renders its daily crucifixion a conscious one. Each day's pinioning to the earthly cross of experience is, however, seen to be but a means of final liberation, and though the feet be bruised on the Path, the heart is cheered by the sweet encouraging voice of the Higher Self.
Nor is recognition of Its existence all that is required of the aspirant: there are claims which must be allowed, and duties to it which must be fulfilled, and these, on consideration, will be found to occupy every field of action. An earnest intention to do good for others begets opportunity, regardless of circumstances, independent of environment.
Now a few words as to the obstacles. Not the least important of the qualities which make up the selfish nature of man are pride and vanity. What constitutes pride? What a poor thing it becomes upon analysis: earthly pride is compatible with the ownership of airy castles, the dominion of shadowy realms: its nearest simile is an elaborate edifice built upon foundations of illusion. Let men meditate upon their Spiritual Nature: then True Knowledge creeps in, or rather out, and enfolds them with new and richer views of the purpose of life. Man's relation to Knowledge is that of embryo to full-grown plant: he contains within himself the potentiality of all Knowledge, and, with proper conditions, the embryo expands, in-fusing him with the intuitive powers, the outer aspect of which we know as knowledge. "What are the proper conditions?" one hears: conditions which lead to extension, and to the encouragement and development of as yet subjective, Divine attributes: the exercise of altruistic effort and brotherly endeavor. The Knowledge in man is latent only by reason of man's unworthiness, and, strange truth! as we progress in a Spiritual direction, we become the more conscious of the fact of our personal unworthiness, and thus the less room or reason do we find for pride. From this it may be assumed that earthly pride is but an evidence of darkness within: the glitter we see is not of the pure gold, but merely the scintillations from facets of vanity and self-commendation.
What is vanity, and of what are men vain? Assuredly, they are vain of that which seems, or that which they, themselves, have formulated. Their exultation, their self-complacency is fed by the contemplation of a mere earthly modification of matter. They ignore the God-created Essence upon which the whole fabric relies; and forget the Divine Intelligence, of which the object of their vanity is but a poor result, poor by reason of their own grievous incapability.
Vanity encloses a man's heart within a wall of uncharitableness, and enshrouds his intellect in a heavy gloom of gross material imperception.
Let men throw away from them such as these, banish all self-seeking attributes: let them quell every thought which tends to pride in self, or vanity of earthly achievement; and, as the association with the outer self is broken off the recognition of the Inner Soul becomes more complete, and conditions and surroundings correspondingly better.
Men without selfishness possess greater capabilities than men of a selfish temperament. Why is this? Because the former ally their will to the Divine Will, and thus their achievements are a natural following out of Law, and not a mere modification of existing conditions. Ill-health never visits the really Self-enlightened man. Why? Because his outward personality has associated itself with the Perfection within, wherein all is harmony.
Let us therefore constantly assert our identity with the Christ within, that we may come nearer to the Father. Let us ever say, as Christ said, "I in them, and Thou in Me," thus acknowledging the Brotherhood of Mankind, and man's essentially Divine nature.
The foregoing may sound like mere theoretical ethics, but to those who are earnestly wishful to follow the Path, there is a great deal of practical guidance under the surface. Let men pay attention to the Voice which may be heard within, and follow out the instruction to be had from it, and their lives will be to them a means whereby they will achieve some little of the purpose for which they were created, the advancement of their fellows, and the consequent progress of their own souls.
Let us seek out the True Self in us, and thereby learn to go from "Good to Better, Best."