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Clouds

Let us not so live in the airy clouds of theory as to be incapable of practical work. A man may be able to think subtly on metaphysical subjects, may be able to argue ever so cunningly, yet may not be practical. Above all things let our ideals and aspirations be for a useful end, and not dissolve into mist and become as nothing when required. Let the scientist, the metaphysician, or anyone, ask themselves whether they can speak the gentle word, keep calm and peaceful on provocation, and they will turn the search-light of truth on themselves.

Although high and noble thoughts are alone worthy a place in men's minds, let us beware of delusion, for sometimes what are called high thoughts are truly low. Thus: a man may think highly of himself, but it is a low thought; it shows pride and ignorance, for a man's self-esteem lessens as his knowledge increases. He who forgets himself is perfect.

It is right to be above the slavery of money, but it is wrong to spend indiscreetly what wealth one may possess. By exercising reason, a true balance can always be maintained.

A man having freed himself from the bonds of erroneous doctrines, will not lose himself in the vapours of mysticism, if he keep clear-headed and free from superstition by bringing his reason to bear upon all doctrines which may claim his attention. Reason alone saves a man from error and renders him firm and strong in mind. Let us, however, avoid bigotry, for that which may satisfy our reason is not necessarily the truth, and to obtain truth we should always be prepared to have our opinions disproved by anyone possessed of a keener reason than our own. The wise man rejoices when his faults are revealed, and he forgets not to avoid such faults in future.

At times, pain comes upon one like a cloud which, unless the heart keeps calm, blots out the sunshine in one's life. It by should always be our endeavor to extract a lesson from pain. Sometimes it causes one to think that one alone suffers, and then one may forget to relieve the sufferings of others. One of the most potent medicines to ease one's own pain is to make others happy. Such medicine is cheap, and it flows from a heart of love; it can be used at all times, and can never be exhausted, for it increases in strength and power the more it is used. Love in the heart is an elixir of life to oneself and others.

Sometimes the future casts a shadow on our path; we think with alarm of what the morrow may bring forth; we worry as to our prosperity in material things. But let fate be mastered by freeing the heart from selfishness, for unselfishness alone brings true blessings. The Stoics held that naught but virtue was worth pursuit, and that vice only was evil. Misfortune, pain, and other calamities were regarded with indifference, because they were not vices, and therefore not evils. Thus the Stoics became superior to circumstances, or mastered fate. Their maxim, "Live according to the law of right reason," should be our guiding light, and we, too, can master fate by daily thinking and acting, truly, purely, and righteously. Said Ruskin: "He only is advancing in life, whose heart is getting softer, whose blood warmer, whose brain quicker, and whose spirit is entering into Living Peace."

If we have shown forth Love, Peace, and Goodwill, by being ourselves loving, if we have eased the sorrows of others, and made them happy, instead of causing sorrow and unhappiness, then, whether we live and die in poverty or obscurity, we shall nevertheless be joyful in heart. Can money, lands, or houses do more?

Therefore, let us start now to cease the harsh word, to put an end to deceitfulness and unthoughtfulness, to be born again into the life of gentleness and self-control, remembering that by purifying our own hearts we purify and help those with whom we come in contact.

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