All this then—the undeviating practice of virtue and resolute renunciation of vanity—is necessary to a knowledge of the divine self; and when this is attained, irresolution, fear, and all the negative burdens of life pass away like darkness from before approaching dawn.
“When I am pure
I shall have solved the mystery of life;
I shall be sure
(When I am free from hatred, lust, and strife)
I am in Truth and Truth abides in me;
I shall be safe and sane and wholly free
When I am pure."
"But," it may be objected, “this takes time, and meanwhile we have to live in a world whose jarring discords cause us much distress, whose impositions bear us down, and whose evils rob us of the cheering light of which you speak. Seeing that we cannot help ourselves out of the present conditions of misery, how may we believe that the secret of emancipation lies within?" To this I would reply that as regards Divine Realities, time and space do not exist, but that which really is, remains forever and is unconfined. Discords and all evils are illusions of your own creation; and if you would have positive knowledge, it is to be obtained through action. All the phenomena of this world are illusive and transient; and while you rely on them as being permanent, pain and sorrow, vexation and disappointment shall be your portion. But immediately you repudiate them, your vision shall he cleared. Then shall you see that which is immutable, and with joy surmounting all obstacles, walk steadfastly the way of Truth.
True, it takes time to purge away all imperfections, to completely crucify the flesh; but here and now it is possible to comprehend the truth—“He that believeth on the Son hath ever-lasting life; " and to believe this, is to at once begin the holy labor which results in the atonement.
But let us take another aspect of the case. To adopt self-confidence as an attitude of mind will most assuredly lead one into a knowledge of his powers, and of his weaknesses. Instead of seeking instruction here and there, and relying upon constituted authorities, he will commune with his own heart, and follow fearlessly the promptings from within. He will no longer ignore his own ideas and passively lean on others; but will act his part in life independently; and persisting in this course, will find out how little he truly knows as yet, how much of his work was simply imitation, and how much of what he deemed to be knowledge, was merely learning. Then will his imperfections and weaknesses begin to fall; because, having thrown away mental and spiritual crutches, he is trying his strength; but however long the purifying fires of suffering may endure, the fact that he has set out upon this journey is earnest of his final attainment; for none may catch a glimpse of the hidden glory which resides in man, and be satisfied apart from its full realization.
It is a necessity that sooner or later we should know ourselves; and why should we timidly hold back? Why run hither and thither seeking to solve unimportant problems, while the Great Reality is all uncomprehended? If l am inherently weak and unavoidably sinful, l would far rather know it with absolute certainty, than delude myself with a vain conceit, however soothing the empty dream might be; but if the Eternal God is my Father, and the Kingdom of Heaven is within me, then there is no reason why l should not know these facts beyond the shadow of a doubt, and claim my heritage with holy joy. Unless the latter represents the true state of the case, self-confidence is all delusion and our lives are void of meaning.
Now l quite realize that the difficulty here in this, viz.:—that although one may positively know certain things intuitively, he cannot satisfactory demonstrate them to another unless that other has also similar intuitive knowledge; because it is necessary for a mind to have become attuned by experience to a given thought, before it may intelligently respond. For this reason, opinions differ so greatly. Being the expressions of mental perceptions, they simply indicate a state of development, and are in nowise to be mistaken for the facts, which remain immutable; while opinions alter as the view unfolds. Therefore on the one hand, to be dogmatic is to ridiculously assume omniscience; and on the other, to accept the opinions of any man or community as truth, just because you do not happen to know anything different, is to submit to abject mental slavery. It is always better for us to act up to what we know. Not refusing instruction; and not following blindly; but seeking diligently to understand before we apply it. And we shall understand that which we have mastered; and we shall master that which we resolutely will to.
Because self-confidence is obtained through a knowledge of one‘s own power, it is not therefore to be assumed that it is incompatible with the quality of meekness. The arrogant would find no reason for their arrogance, were they self-confident; and pride is weakness based upon the delusion of an utterly vain estimate of the personality. The man who deems it his part in life to overrule and compel, who thinks to manifest strength by the imposition of his will upon others, has yet to learn the meaning of the term "Brotherhood;“ has yet to see with opened eyes the beauty and the depth of soul that dwells in every living thing; has yet to mount the lowest step of that sacred Temple wherein he shall be initiated into the mystery of Truth. Blinded by ignorance, he is strongly opposing "the law which none may turn aside, or stay,” and his discomfiture is inevitable. It seems to me that the domineering attitude of mind results from a secret sense of ‘weakness, which it is intended to cloak; and we all know that over-anxiety to conceal a fault, attracts those very conditions in which it may manifest. True strength, however, is seen in the meekness which confesses
"Nothing is mine to claim or to command,"
and in the confidence which adds,
“But all is mine to know and understand."
Unless a man shall find that self-reliance which springs from a realization of his proper realization to the Cosmic whole, he cannot enter into the satisfaction of a true expression. But it shall not be found in egotism, or a glorification of himself in his lower nature in any way. He must find it in submission to the Law of Good which is written in his heart, in obedience to lithe Highest, and in a willingness to learn. Said Buddha to his disciples on one occasion: "Those who shall be a lamp unto themselves, relying upon themselves only, and not relying upon any external help, but holding fast to the Truth as their lamp, and, seeking their salvation in the Truth alone, shall not look for assistance to any besides themselves, it is they among my disciples who shall reach the very topmost height! But they must be willing to learn."
No man can get away from himself, and none may be released from the responsibility which his existence entails. Whether he be if calm or perplexed, patient or impatient, self-indulgent and weak, or pure and strong, he is still himself, and these various attributes he is at liberty to choose. If he shall seek diligently until he find the Master, the Divine Center, and live in and from that, life will have an entirely new meaning for him and the transcendent bliss shall be realized; but while he continues to identify himself with the outward personality, the peace and strength and blessedness which are his by right, must remain unknown. The essential preliminary to self-confidence such as I have endeavored to portray, and which is calculated to produce perfect serenity, is in finding Truth. Only by the utter abandonment of the lower self with all its desires, opinions, and vanities may we become conscious partakers of the Perfect Life, and this seeking and finding seems to me beautifully set forth by the poet in the following lines:—
“Long I sought thee, Spirit holy,
Master Spirit, meek and lowly;
Sought thee with a silent sorrow, brooding o'er the woes of men;
Vainly sought thy yoke of meekness
‘Neath the weight of woe and weakness;
Finding not, yet in my failing, seeking o'er and o'er again.
"In unrest and doubt and sadness
Dwelt I, yet I knew thy Gladness
Waited somewhere; somewhere greeted torn and sorrowing hearts like mine;
Knew that somehow I should find thee,
Leaving sin and woe behind me,
And at last thy Love would bid me enter into Rest divine.
"Hatred, mockery, and reviling
Scorched my seeking soul, defiling
That which should have been thy Temple, wherein thou should‘st move and dwell;
Praying, striving, hoping, calling;
Suffering, sorrowing in my falling,
Still l sought thee, groping blindly in the gloomy depths of hell.
“And I sought thee till I found thee;
And the dark Powers all around me
Field, and left me silent, peaceful, brooding o'er thy holy themes;
From within me and without me
Fled they when I ceased to doubt thee;
And I found thee in thy glory, Mighty Master of my dreams!
“Yea, I found thee, Spirit holy,
Beautiful and pure and lowly;
Found thy Joy and Peace and Gladness; found thee in thy House of Rest;
Found thy strength in love and meekness,
And my pain and woe and weakness
Left me, and I Walked the pathway trodden only by the blast."