The following letter is from one of our Indian readers who signs himself "Truth-lover":—
"Revered Sir,—I request that you may be good enough to publish your remarks in connection with the following, in your ennobling magazine:—
"While I was reading to a few friends the chapter on 'Self and Truth' in 'From Poverty to Power,' two questions came up for discussion—(1) as to whether it was desirable to give up one's opinions as urged therein, and (2) is it a practicable ideal to give up one's selfishness absolutely? "As regards the first question, two objections were raised, viz. (1) that he who gives up his opinions would always be in a wavering state of mind, and (2) that one could not help others less enlightened than one's self and raise them to his own level of knowledge unless he asserted his opinion, and tried to convince them of its truth. "With regard to the second question it was said (1) that absolute unselfishness will end in death, as even the barest necessities of life may have to be given up for the sake of those who may need them more than one's self, and thus one would lose all chance of living in the world to serve it, and (2) that we do not see any people who actually lead such an unselfish life, and thus furnish an unanswerable argument in favor of the practicability of the ideal by living it."
The above letter approaches the most vital things in the life of Truth. If one does not regard it as selfish to fight for the maintenance of his own opinions and to try to overcome the opinions of others, he will not comprehend the necessity for self-sacrifice, but when he comes to regard such conduct as blind and selfish, he will abandon it for the good of others, and for the increase of the peace of the world. The man of Truth is not self-assertive. It is good to give up selfishness. Let a man earnestly set about this task and he will find how practicable it is.
The giving up of one's opinions requires the exercise of such watchfulness, and so great and persistent an effort, that its successful accomplishment necessitates the development of great strength of will and purpose. The practice of Truth leads to strength and not weakness, and he who sacrifices his opinions on the altar of loving-kindness acquires the following four Divine Perfections which are perfections of strength:—1, The perfection of self-sacrifice ; 2, The perfection of humility; 3, The perfection of patience; and 4, The perfection of gentleness.
The man of Truth teaches by the power of acts, and not by the power of opinions. He first practices, and then preaches. It is by deeds that he helps others, and raises the world to a higher level. In entering upon the practice of unselfishness, a man must make great and constant efforts to understand in what unselfishness consists. It does not consist in (though it includes) the giving of material substance. It consists in being pure in heart, and in living by a principle and not according to the desires and impulses of self. The death in which this ends is the death of self and sorrow.
The more one practices unselfishness, the more does he discover it in others. When a man has perfected himself, his eyes are opened to see the perfect ones. —The Editor
More from 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.