"Oh! if I only had your opportunities!"
That is what you said yesterday to your friend whose possessions and environment are unlike your own and are what you desire. She is placed so differently from yourself! She can do so • much that is impossible for you! And she does not seem to value her possibilities as you would were they yours.
With what a deep sigh did you think, "How strangely things are ordered in this world!" and there was the half-acknowledged thought that you could order them a great deal better if you could have your way.
True enough. To one who has no insight into "the deep things of God" they seem very strangely ordered. Here is a woman who has money, social position, a beautiful home, and yet is not happy. Here is a man who has gained the worldly success he started early in life to win. His name is a power in the business and financial world, and as he plans many execute. Yet he is not happy.
Here and there, all around you, you can put your finger on men and women who, with every facility for happiness, still lack it; whose faces are written over with that handwriting which is Nature's protest and revelation. When you look in their eyes you see haunting shadows, not the clear light which betokens an inward steadily shining sun.
Why is this so? you ask. Why, when happiness is so instinctively desired, so universally sought, is it so seldom found? And here we have a world-old riddle, new to each generation of mankind.
You want to be happy. You feel that you have a right to happiness. You are also, perhaps, somewhat acquainted with the teachings of the Science of Being which shows you that all good things are yours; and you say, I see, as well as feel, that I am entitled to happiness, and I do not understand why it continually eludes me; why I am denied what others have in plenty—the things and conditions that would make me so happy."
Right here lies the solution of the puzzle. It is the continuance, in spite of any new knowledge you may have acquired, of the belief that externals can give you happiness. It is not because of their nature, but because of what they are to you, that their possession, or lack of it, makes you happy or miserable.
As long as you look to the without for happiness you will look in vain. The most you will get is a transient enjoyment. You have a perfect right to enjoy all external things, all that pertains to the state of sense-consciousness; but it is unwise to let them possess you, and if you are dependent upon them for your happiness, they will possess you.
Here again is the ever-recurring question—mastery or objection? Desire for happiness is instinctive. It is because of the nature and destiny of the soul. The soul is heir of eternal life, and the impulse or trend is along the upward way. More and better than we are, more and better than we have, is the desire of the soul, native to it because of its heavenly origin.
Attachment causes much of its unhappiness—lack of happiness. Attachment will rid it of unhappiness and give it blessedness. "First, the natural, and afterward the spiritual."
Attachment to externals never brings more than enjoyment, yet this attachment is natural to the soul, and when it is the only attachment the soul is bound by it to them, subject to suffering and sorrow when deprived of them.
Wealth sufficient to gratify every desire, position and influence that confer worldly power, are good things to possess, and bad things to possess you; hence as a soul with a destiny that lies away beyond them to fulfil, you cannot dwell for always on the plane where they belong. You have either to let go, or be torn away from them, for the great First Cause is pushing you along, whether you will or no.
This loosening of your natural attachment hurts, hurts dreadfully because of what those things are to you. You have ignorantly fastened yourself to them, and you have to be taken from them because your course is upward, and run it you must.
You are deceiving yourself with the belief that you will be happy only as they are left to you; which means, really, only as you are left with them.
You will never find more than enjoyment till you begin to form the other attachment, a liking for spiritual realities, for you can have true happiness only as you find your level. And as a living soul you are not part and parcel of externals, therefore you cannot remain with them however strong your attachment for them may be.
But neither do you have to tear yourself away from them. This is not necessary. You have only to discern that which is eternal instead of temporal, desire it with all your heart, loosen your clutch of desire for the natural as the all-important, and through the new attachment you will be weaned, drawn gently and quietly in the other direction till the externals cease to possess you, though you do not cease to possess or use them.
Happiness lies between enjoyment and blessedness. Enjoyment belongs to the brute as well as to ourselves, happiness to the human soul, and blessedness to the spiritualized soul.
Happiness is never given, there is nothing in or of the world that can give it. It is obtained. The brute cannot obtain it, we can; but we never get it from externals.
Analyze your consciousness carefully and you will find that your re constitute your happiness, rather than the things you think about.
It is your thought-picture of what you would have and do if you had your friend's opportunities and possessions, that constitutes the happiness you seek.
When you are having "a real good time" you have only enjoyment, and this is more or less unthinking. It is sensation on a lower plane. But you can, by taking thought, create happiness.
Begin by trying to see that because there is no chance in the universe, you do not "happen " to be placed in the circumstance and environment in which you are to-day, without this and that, without many things which you desire.
All is law, and, as a soul, you are under the law, will remain under it till you free yourself.
In being, you are the child of God. In soul, you are first the servant and then the Son.
In your being dwells the power of dominion. But this power has to be exercised by the soul before it can be established; before it is on earth as it is in heaven.
Are you exercising this power when you say, "O! if I only had your opportunities!"?
You have your own opportunities, and they are far better ones for you than his would be. The fact that they are your own is proof that they are what you need to help you to do what you need to do. They are your friends and you are looking over their heads in your ignorant desire for others which you have not.
How is dominion shown? By getting for yourself what someone else has? Or by proving yourself able to do without it?
Think a little before you answer this question about what dominion is. For too many it is seen as the power to command what one wants on the sense-plane of consciousness; all one wants of the things which belong to it.
And this power is mistaken for spiritual might, when it is nothing of the kind. Indeed, it and its manifest results are sometimes an indication of lack of spiritual might, of a certain weakness rather than strength of soul.
If you cannot see and hold yourself superior to circumstances, whatever they may be, never granting them, in thought, dominion over you, you are still servant, not yet adopted as Son.
If you wail, "O! I cannot become what you are because of my environment," you are bound to serve under the law. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."
Real dominion does not mean power to change circumstances and environment at once to what your sense-nature desires. Real dominion is spiritual might; and it is the power to make those very conditions serve you instead of rule you, bringing about a change in them through the change in yourself.
From the within to the without, rather than from the without to the within, is the higher order that some time the soul must follow. Only in this order is it Son instead of servant.
This very circumstance or condition which is right at hand now is a messenger with a message for you. In it you are entertaining an angel unawares. When you take toward it the attitude of Son it will yield its message to you.
"What will you with me? I and my Father are one. You can have no terrors for me. Through the Father I am sufficient for you, for I am about His business, not my own."
Try always to hold this attitude toward all experiences, present and prospective, and even "the wrath of man shall be made to praise Him."
A magnetic attraction for the things of the sense-plane is not that dominion over all things which is spiritual might; for it is a temporal dominion over some things.
You can want these lesser things so intensely as to make yourself a magnet to draw them to you. But better than this, you can want the spiritual realities so intensely as to draw them to you, and through your union with them all lesser things will fall in line, or come to you, not as an unnecessary accumulation of possessions, but as you have need of them.
In this position, from this altitude, you will always be able to command them, not by what you intentionally do to that end, but by what you have become.
Then you will find more than enjoyment, you will have happiness, and find yourself on the way to blessedness. Your weaning will be effectual and sure.
As the beloved Son you will exercise your birthright, the dominion that belongs to the Father. You will be Master of your own circumstances and conditions, knowing these are the best for you.