The Light of Reason
Edited by James Allen
Vol. VII. August 1st, 1905 No. 8
Our London Groups have purchased, for the purpose of distribution, a large quantity of back numbers of "The Light of Reason" at an especially low price. This is an excellent means of supporting our work and at the same time making it more widely known; and should any of our other Groups wish to do the same, we will supply their Secretaries with back numbers at the same low rate.
The Editor will probably take a tour early in the forthcoming winter (possibly about the middle of October) for the purpose of addressing meetings as before. All the travelling expenses of the former tour were met, chiefly owing to the kindness of one of our lady readers who sent a donation for that purpose, and some who organized meetings also contributed towards the expenses; the result being that there are a few shillings in hand from the last tour. As before, the Editor will receive travelling expenses when they are offered, but he will make every effort to go and speak for those who cannot afford to contribute. No charge for admission can be made to the meetings which he addresses.
There is an ancient spiritual institution which still prevails in India, but which has not, as yet, obtained to any extent in western countries, though it will, doubtless, become more widely established as spiritual teachers of surpassing virtue arise to call forth the love and reverence of men - I refer to the institution of the master and the pupil.
The establishment of a spiritual relationship between a master on the one hand, and his pupil on the other, has the same significance in spiritual things as the like relationship has in things scholastic or worldly. Without it, there is more or less confusion, the passions of men run wild, and spiritual education is retarded; for in its present stage of evolution the race needs teachers and teachers needs reverent and obedient pupils.
There are certain conditions the strict observance of which is essential to the establishment and continuance of harmonious relations between the master and the pupil. The master must be capable of giving the needed instruction; his knowledge of what he teaches must be so complete and perfect that he will be able to answer the most profound and perplexing questions of his pupil in such a way as to help him in the lessons set for him, and he must think only of the advancement and good of his pupil, never of his own. He must also think of his pupil with great kindness and tenderness, leading his growing mind with firmness combined with gentle persuasion, knowing how and when to admonish and reprove in the same gentle spirit. The pupil on his part must regard his teacher with respect and reverence, looking up to him as one who is capable of guiding him, never attempting to criticize him, and seeing no fault in him, but thinking of him, as a child thinks of its father or its schoolmaster , When as being greater and wiser than himself. the observance of these conditions is ignored, the institution of the master and the pupil ceases to exist , and each one is left to grope for himself , just as a school would be broken up by confusion if the master or his pupils violated those mutual relations on which alone education can stand.
In the giving and receiving of spiritual instruction, the same law prevails as in the giving and receiving of scholastic instruction. The teacher must have the ability and wisdom to impart instruction, and the pupil must have the obedience and humility to receive it. The schoolboy never thinks he knows better than the teacher; if he did he could not learn anything ; and in spiritual things the moment a pupil criticizes the man whom he calls master, thinking he knows better, he can learn no more from that man, for by that act he has constituted himself the master, and so destroyed the mutual relationship that existed between them, unless the master recognizes his pupil as having become greater than himself, and voluntarily becomes his pupil in turn.
But though this beautiful spiritual institution has fallen somewhat into decay as a visible thing amongst us, there is a sense in which it is still with us—for reverence is not dead and, if the voice of wisdom is not heard in our streets, its echo lingers in the hearts of men—the Great Teachers of the past are not forgotten; their words and the records of their lives are safely preserved, and humble reverence and loving discipleship is given to them still The true Christian sees no error in his Savior; the devout Buddhist sees no fault in his divine Master; and the Confucian cannot conceive of greater perfection than his Great Teacher's. And this is as it should be, for these men were perfect indeed, and he who puts away all egotism, and sits at their feet, will learn wisdom and find the Way of Peace.
More Articles by This Author 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.