I.—Effort and Strife
—Elizabeth Barrett Browning
He thought of the strife, turmoil and suffering in life, and the solution became a burden. He fretted, but ease came by slumber, and the stirring darkness was stilled.
The dawn came slowly, but altogether the aspect was different; with questioning spirit he gazed around, and an answering voice—a voice which gave great calm—bade him look well before him, and see and understand the suffering and riddle of life.
He gazed, and there passed before him an earth, visionary it appeared, but gradually things shaped themselves clearly, and he saw a People.
He saw the Life of Love absorbed by gradual selfishness, the Beautiful became as dross. The desires of man came all before consideration of the general good; the individual became absorbed in personal gain, selfishness and hate.
War and its attendant miseries arose—naturally following upon the spirit that was abroad—unselfishness abandoned for self, and disaster reigned.
Then he saw a change, for many years—centuries—seemed wrapped up in a few moments. From the slough of selfishness men sprang up, grasping at Truth and preaching for the betterment of all by the abandonment of self, but again the heat of strife prevailed and persecution followed, and for a time light was darkened, and effort was quelled, such was the intensity of the pursuit of selfish gain and pleasure. Again the Truth, carried more strongly, arose—individuals lived to principles, and found that their application to life led to revelation—self was given up—Love reigned—and slowly but surely the potency of the virtue gained ground—neighbor followed neighbor—communities were uplifted, and the State became drawn into the Truth as steel to a magnet. Then he saw greater results—the individual gave up selfish desire—all thoughts were controlled, and all strove for the national good.
Insight followed—from the individual hearts Love and its attendant virtues flowed to the center, the heart of the nation, and all became complete. The voice and spirit of the nation were as one, the thought powerful, concentrated and pure. The nation was changed, for beautiful was the sight of all—evil held sway no longer, progress continued, and life, abundant life, was the result. He passed on to do noble things to this consummation.
2.—The Highest Joy
Again his soul was disturbed and turned its yearning to the Higher Realms—surely he should know more of the Highest Joy—the Highest Consummation; why this hunger? Why this want? From the silence again came the voice—"My son, concern not thyself with these matters, but live thou the Pure and Holy Life, and in the fullness of time will more light come to man. But know this, every vestige of desire must he eliminated and self eradicated—this to the uttermost—then will man know, and in this knowledge, and Peace—Perfect Peace—will Live."