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The Personal Self

I will not make a poem nor the least part of a poem but has reference to the soul;
Because having looked at the objects of the universe, I find there is no one nor any particle of one but has reference to the soul.
—Walt Whitman

Ifind, as I think over the needs of those coming to my lessons, that a knowledge, a realization, of the real man, is the key that will unlock all of their difficulties. Is it not, as the quotation says, there is not an object of the universe nor any particle of one but has reference to the soul? In everything we study or search for earnestly, it is the essence we seek, the life, or, in other words, the soul, that interests us. We are not as much interested in the external as we think. It is a very superficial mind that is satisfied with the exterior of things. If we think at all, really think, our thought always carries us beyond the object in view.

For example, we pick a common blade of grass. We look at it, we see year after year grass. Yet, when we hold this one blade of grass in our hand, our mind tells us that there are no two blades of grass exactly alike. This one thought takes us into the universal; and we realize the multiplicity of form in just one instance, and wonder at the life, the essence, the soul, of things. We watch birds build their nests, bees gather their honey, animals care for their young, mothers with their children, rocks crumble, rivers running to the sea, crystals forming, shells on the beach. All things of nature, if we are living earnestly, teach us of the soul, — teach us what is meant by life, the cause of all. Whitman is right, “ nor any particle…but has reference to the soul.”
“To be servile to none, to defer to none, not to any tyrant known or unknown.”

Now I want to speak about the tyrant, one of whom we all stand in fear. This is none other than our personal self. Is there anything or anybody of whom we stand more in fear i We have talked about fear of God in the past, but it was nothing compared to fear of self. In spite of study in metaphysics, new theories concerning life, we still quake in our boots if this personal self tells us that the air is too damp, or the food indigestible, or the nerves are weak, or that we are overdoing, or that our “stars” are out of order. We listen to all this rubbish, and say: Yes, yes, I must be mindful of all these things. I have not yet outgrown them. And we keep right on living down to these fears, each day hoping that we shall overcome them. Did you ever know of a man learning to swim who persisted in wading? I am surprised that we will allow ourselves to be so hypnotized by the personal self. We talk of the war of thirty-five years ago to free the slaves. Can we not get up another “rebellion,” and free ourselves? Do you know of a greater tyrant than the personal self? Do you heed any warning or suggestion as quickly as the ones given by self? Someone has said that this is an ideal age. The age of reprimand and reproof is passed. We have scolded ourselves and our children, have said over and over again what we ought not to do. It is discouraging when we think of results sometimes. Now let us take for an illustration the sculptor. He has in mind a beautiful thought to express through marble. He begins to search for his model, — a model that will help him to express his ideal. He does not wish a deformed or unsightly model. He could never realize the perfect by keeping in mind imperfection. No, he desires above all as perfect a model as it is possible to get. If he cannot find one, he will prefer to work from a perfect thought in mind, held constantly, rather than use imperfection in the external. Let us begin to help ourselves out of this slavery to the personal self by keeping constantly in mind the perfect self, the soul part. Then let us live consciously as soul. When we begin our day, let us think of our ideal. When perplexities come, and annoyances, keep the ideal in mind, and pay no attention to the calls and demands of the personal self. Do you think soul is dominated by dampness, or indigestion, or nerves, or weariness ? It is unthinkable. Why? Because we cannot think of God as being disturbed by these conditions. Then soul is the God-part of us; and, as we realize this more and more, so do we rise above all limitations of the body. For there is no limitation to soul.

O to realize space!
The plenteousness of all, that there are no bounds,
To emerge and be of the sky, of the sun and moon and flying clouds, as one with them.
—Walt Whitman

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Katharine H. Newcomb

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