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Superiority to Conditions

None of these things move me.
—Paul

These are the words Paul uttered after three years of preaching and teaching, during which time he had met with many discouragements and disappointments. Even after all this he could say, “None of these things move me.” He had done his work earnestly, faithfully, believing the teachings to be true.

Let us apply this to our daily living. What are the things that move us? We all have disturbances. Never a day passes without disturbances of some kind. We feel very much like taking to our heels and outrunning all our difficulties. We are so tired of meeting them face to face each day. Annoyances, difficulties, are always consideration for self. This is what goes over in my mind as I write, “ I have too much to do, I haven't enough to do, I am sensitive, I am misunderstood, I desire friends, I don't like people, I wish I could have more time to myself, I have too much time alone, I like cold weather, I don't like cold weather, the east wind is horrid, the east wind is so exhilarating”; and so I might keep on enumerating for some time to come.

When we live on the self side, we are moved continually. It is impossible to change conditions while we are irritated by them. We must reach the point where none of these things can move us.

Our strength grows out of our weakness. Every evil to which we do not succumb is a benefactor. —Emerson.

In the first place, “evil” is only ignorance. So we can read, “Our strength grows out of weakness,” and all ignorance “to which we do not succumb is a benefactor.” We are living today in Ignorance, but we do not realize as yet that it is such. We shall continue to live in it until we come to a larger realization of the Infinite.

But we need not live in the ignorance that we know to be ignorance. This is our weakness, if we succumb to it. But our weakness becomes our strength, if we do not succumb to ignorance after knowing that it is ignorance. Emerson is right when he says, “The step from knowing to doing is rarely taken.” The only word I would alter would be to change knowing to believing. I think we believe a thing long before we know it. I think, when we take the step from believing to doing, then we really know. If we believe so much, why do we do so little? It seems to me that we are like naughty children in school. We play in study hours, and know that we will be kept after school to do the work that we ought to do at the present time. We are perfectly free to choose. We simply do not care to do what we are absolutely sure is the right thing for us to do. Each one of us intends some day to have perfect control of body and surroundings, but we do not make a resolute stand today. We wish to indulge ourselves just a little longer, so we go right on living in our ignorance. We keep on saying that the difficulties are not all in ourselves. For instance, we are very sensitive. We are sensitive to people and to atmospheres. Our nerves are “highly strung.” We are so refined that a great deal of what we encounter in life is coarse to us. In fact, we ought to live in a glass case, and be labelled, “Handle with care.”

Some patients come to me who spend so much time in caring for their bodies that they forget that they are souls. This over-refined state is more difficult to meet sometimes than real coarseness. It is like over-ripe fruit, that looks beautiful, but cannot be handled with safety. Don't pride yourselves on your weakness. If you are so sensitive to all that offends your taste, why are you not sensitive to spiritual things? I find these sensitive people the most difficult to teach. Let us undeceive ourselves, and acknowledge the truth that all sensitiveness is pure and unalloyed selfishness. Let us dare to be rugged. Let us have some fiber in our character that will stand the strain of external discomforts. Let us find a “benefactor” in all that we have called evil or ignorance. Let us be strong because of our weakness. Let us rise above the external, and be able not only to say, but to live, “None of these things move me.”

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Katharine H. Newcomb

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