To appreciate anything we must enter into the spirit of it. Apart from its spirit a thing is dead, and as a dead thing it is absolutely useless. Only in so far as we are capable of grasping a sense of the essential life principle or spirit of anything can that thing hold any real life or interest for us. It is the spirit that quickeneth—giveth life, meaning, purpose—the flesh, that is, the material manifestation—profiteth nothing. Apart from its spirit it is a dead thing, having no life of itself, being only the vehicle of life. Now there are thousands of people who are miserable and wretched simply because they have not found the spirit of life. They are tired to death of the world, because to them it is a material world only; life to them is a monotonous round of days bringing with them nothing but vexation and vanity. And this, because they are living on the surface of things, and are mistaking the world of effects for the world of causes. There are worlds within worlds, and each one, as it unfolds to the spiritual perceptions, is more wonderful and more beautiful. But it is only to that one who seeks diligently for the Spirit of Life that this unfoldment comes. Alas, that so many refuse to seek until they are driven to do so by heart-broken disappointment and disillusionment. How many men and women waste the best years of life in worship of the material world, its riches, its pleasures, its positions, its vanities! Only when the world of the senses palls, and the heart sickens with disappointment, do they turn from the seeming to the Real, from the ephemeral to the everlasting.
That one, whoever he or she may be, who finds no real happiness or satisfaction in life; who finds nothing but weariness and disappointment in the days and years, is in that condition because they have not entered into the Spirit of Life. They look upon a material world, a world composed of dead things. How can there be any joy and interest derived from that which is dead? To live life we must know the Spirit of Life, "for it is the spirit that quickeneth." And there is no end to the revelation of the livingness of life once our eyes have been opened, even ever so little, to the reality of it. All that was dull and monotonous before, now throbs with interest and wonder for us. Even the grass beneath our feet• teems with messages of life and love. The air we breathe becomes to us the Elixir of Life, and with every breath we consciously draw upon the etheric Light and Life waves,—we continually partake of the life of God. Then we no longer breathe unconsciously the shallow half breaths of the material senses, but we draw in with every full, deep, and complete breath, the Cosmic forces of the universe. The Rays of the white Etheric Light come directly to us, drawn to us by our oneness with the Spirit of Life. And we can so use this Cosmic Force, and so direct it to any part of the physical body that its healing power, shall make us perfectly whole. We shall consciously direct it to our mental body also that it may fill us with knowledge, and wisdom, and understanding. We shall draw it into the soul that it may purify and elevate our emotions, making them powerful and far-reaching, sounding the very depths of spiritual experience. We shall fill our hearts with its life and love, so that they may reach out with conscious union with all, sending love and blessedness, strength and healing to whomsoever we will. So shall we become quickened with, and united to, the Spirit of all Life,—the Fountain of all Being.
The majority are only living a very, very small part of life. That the body is alive and active, that they feel sensation, pleasure, and pain is all the life they are cognizant of. Truly, life is to us, each one, only that which we are alive to. To that one who is concerned only with the flesh that profiteth nothing; that one whose whole thought is centered on the material—to that one life is only length of days,—and a wearisome length it is too, stretching along a narrow way from the cradle to the grave, bound within the limits of birth and death. To be conscious only of the appetites of the body, its pleasures, its sorrows, its money making, its getting, its having, its holding, its pride and position, is to know life in length only, and to be darkly ignorant of the breadth of life—of its height and its unfathomable depths. Oh, how different life becomes to us when we comprehend its spirit! The days are no longer dull, for we know neither ennui nor satiety. In the breadth of life there is room for all that the soul needs or can possibly desire, and we carry along with us, through every happy, filled-up day,—for the heart, goodness and kindness, purity and love; for the mind, poetry and music, beauty and harmony; for the eyes, flowers and loveliness, clouds and stars and the eternal Blue! And for the morrow—new wonders to greet us; new joys to bless us; new hopes to inspire us; new service to render to our fellows, and new we life to fill us! Then as we Journey along we discover new and untrodden roads leading us into many a land of promise, and we realize at last that this life is not all; we know that that which begins at birth and ends at death is but one movement in a grand unfinished symphony. We sense the reality and power of the endless life. Then we cease to fret, and hurry and worry drop away from us, because we know there is no need for such things. Why should we make haste when there is "time before us in eternity?"
Oh, the cramped and starved lives some people live! The days are taken up with petty trifles, and the greater part of the time is spent in compliance with supposed necessities; in the performance of self-made tasks—misnamed duties; in the making, then the removing, of small and irritating inconveniences; in the seeking of petty pleasures which bring with them no lasting enjoyment, but leave the heart and the mind empty and desolate, crying,—more, more!
And why? Life is so full, so rich, so splendid. If only you, dear reader, would seek to enter into the spirit of things you would understand. Why feed on the husks when in the Father's House there is enough and to spare? Why so clothed in rags when the best robe awaits that one eager to put it on? Oh, how many have eyes and yet they see not; ears, and yet they hear not?
God is spirit and they who worship Him must worship in spirit. And Nature is not the material manifestation we see with the physical sight; we do not handle, see, feel or sense Nature truly with the physical senses. She also is spirit as God is spirit, and through spirit alone can we know and enter into her abounding and satisfying life. There are voices of nature we never hear until our spirit enters into communion with her spirit; there are senses of loveliness land beauty that thrill the very soul of the beholder, in a landscape, a seascape, or a sunset sky, seen only by that one who knows somewhat of the spirit that quickeneth. And so it is in all the experiences and incidents of life. There is a life of the spirit and there is an animal existence, and they are as wide apart as the poles. Between the two there is a great gulf fixed.
Someone has written:—"This world is but a platform where you will hear Thalberg-piano-playing. It is a piano manufactory, where are dust and shavings, boards, and saws, and rasps, and files, and sand papers. The perfect instrument will be hereafter."
He made a mistake, with all due respect to such a great mind. The perfect instrument is here and now—here, for those who enter into the spirit of life, but for those who contact with the material and physical only, there is just the sense of the saws and files, the rasps and sand papers, and nothing more!
But when, in all things, and in all happenings, the spirit of life is realized and understood; when the soul refuses to be limited by appearances, and ever seeks that which lies under all manifestation; when the symbol is known to be but the symbol, then shall be discovered by revelation and soul-sense that for which the symbol stands, and all experience, of whatsoever kind, will be rich, full, and wonderful.
For the soul thus quickened into the fullness of life there can be no more dreary days nor weary years. The days will be crowded with interest and the years, like a divine melody, will flow onward, growing ever richer and fuller, and the soul will never know ennui or satiety, neither can it suffer age, nor loss, nor a lessening of power.
It is only in so far as we have entered into the spirit of an individual that we can in any way know or understand that one, it is absolutely impossible for one to understand another unless that other has become known to us in the hidden depths of his life and consciousness; much less can we sympathize with him or love him. It would be well indeed for our own happiness and that of our neighbor if before judging hastily or condemning unkindly we would reflect upon this truth, and ask ourselves,—Have I ever tried to know and understand the real man—the real woman? Have l ever earnestly sought to enter into the innermost of their feelings and experiences, or tried to grasp the motives that gave birth to the action, or actions, that I am about to condemn so bitterly? Have l considered the peculiar circumstances that made this action that I am about to judge so harshly, a necessity and absolutely legitimate for this particular man or woman?
O man, about to sit in judgment and condemnation upon your brother man, stop a moment and think. Would you have done differently had you been in his place? Would you have acted otherwise if you had been placed under his circumstances, surrounded by his environment? Have you ever tried to enter into the spirit of your brother man that you might understand him? If not, hold your peace, and let the cruel word die in your breast before it reaches your lips. It is the spirit that quickeneth to righteous judgment, and a true knowledge of our fellows.
O woman, about to slander your sister woman, at what little trouble have you been to in any way become acquainted with your neighbor, to understand her position, to know her trials, her sorrows, her ideals. You imagine you know the woman? Maybe you call her friend! You, if you can utter the word of slander or condemnation you do not know, you are only judging from what you see, and we always see most in others that what we harbor most in our own hearts.
We know ourselves—we do not know our neighbors. We may be quite sure that we are always exhibiting our own souls when we talk about our neighbors, for "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." She who has not entered into the spirit of another can never know that other, nor can she form any estimate of the worth or otherwise of that other’s actions. If only men and women understood this how often would they lay the finger upon the lips when about to speak the unkind and uncharitable slander. Withhold your criticism, your condemnation; keep back your judgment, and refuse to give your opinion on any man or woman, or on any of their actions or attitudes until you have entered into their spirit and know and understand them thoroughly. Then, believe me, the criticism, the judgment, the condemnation will never be uttered. Knowledge will have taken the place of ignorance; understanding will fill the place of judgment, and Love will speak no evil, for it will see no evil.
We must apply this test to all life and to all the relations of life.
It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing.