Every individual that starts out to think and act according to his own interior light, meets with many apparent difficulties of an undefined character. Apparent, because few difficulties are so real that they cannot be overcome, and it is only the feeling of impossibility which paralyses effort, and prevents many from surmounting the obstacles in their path.
One of those great barriers to the progress of man is that undefinable something known as conventionality. There is a tendency in the minds of men to make obeisance to this tyrannous deity, and it is because of a lack of moral courage that so many continue in the old ruts. The thought of doing anything which the particular circle of acquaintances in which they move would not approve keeps many from giving utterance to any new ideas, and from coming out and living those principles which they feel are essentially true.
There is no god so arbitrary, and no deity who exercises such a vast influence as Opinion. Certain ideas in the course of ages become accepted and lived in different communities, and certain unwritten rules of thought and conduct are laid down, and anyone who acts contra to these is considered eccentric, though eccentricity, so called, is often another way of expressing individuality. Nearly all the great men of the past were unconventional. Progress has been maintained by the independent few who dared to think outside the groove of ancestral thought, and have dared to stand alone for what they conceived to be truth.
It is in the religious world that this power of conventionalism holds the greatest sway. Having been taught for ages certain creeds, dogmas, rites, and ceremonies, and this becoming a part of man's nature, there is always a great reluctance to give up the old props. So accustomed are people to lean upon something or someone, that they imagine it to be impossible to stand alone.
But even conventionalism sometimes serves the soul's purpose, according to the development of the individual, but when its unuttered and arbitrary rules are binding, they can be snapped, and must be if freedom is to be obtained. Thus, according to the power of mind necessary to break these bonds, so is the will exercised, and strength is increased by continuous silent work. Thus does the soul emerge into the fuller light of freedom.
Conventionality may serve a purpose in ethics, though some through fear will keep a straight path, but it is a base and poor morality that is so governed, and cannot be compared to that beautiful sense of right that keeps the individual in the ways of righteousness without any outside influence. The goal of all should be toward self-control, and until this point is reached one is always in a subordinate position. Thus if one lives only in accordance with merely conventional laws he is in a sorry state, and there can be no stability in him; for as the opinions of those around him change his moral and spiritual status will rise or fall accordingly. Hence the great need for independence of mind and thought, for spiritual robustness, which will bring with it an abiding peace when united with Love, for only in proportion to the exercise of the Love principle does man enter into the fullness of Life.