By J. S. F. Miller
“How good is man's life, the mere living! how fit to employ
All the heart and the soul and the senses forever in joy!” --Robert Browning
Of the many elements which go to makeup of that hyper-complex, subtle, elusive, incomprehensible something, commonly known as Life, hope is primordially the most essential, for, were the star of Hope to shoot out of our ken, our little being would be submerged forever in the vague of the eternal night.
But it is never so. “There is a Providence” (call it God, the Great Soul, the All-Pervading –the name by which it is designed is immaterial) “that shapes our ends” --a Providence which upholds and maintains the glittering star, that lights up the otherwise unscalable steeps of life, to a something more high and noble than our imperfections of brain and of spirit will yet allow us to comprehend.
Hope is the antithesis of fear. The thread may be slender –so worn at times on the jagged rocks of life's journey, that our hearts recoil in horror lest that tiny, golden, all important thread which links the spheres and binds them in one harmonious whole, may get whittled away, and...But it never does!
Even those who, apparently, have so little left to live for, still have a modicum of that richest possession –Hope.
When sweet peace steals over the soul, bearing love, beauty, peace, success: when the waters are blue and crystal: when all the world is flooded with the golden beams of youth and health: when the sweet-scented grasses wave 'neath the light o' the moon: when the birds with the sturdy wing rise, and in rapturous joy cleave the sky: --ah, then, the serpent at the root lies hid, and, feeling alone the opulence of life, and the beauty of being, we forget that every attribute possesses its opposite; we forget the shadows. But “Watchman, what of the night?” We must face facts –and face them boldly. Every man, who is at heart true, must intermittently have in his soul “the eternal note of sadness” --a note which vibrates every time we lose a loved one, every time a soul sins or lacks bread or grows hard.
Yet, he, being a thinker, is cognizant that
“A sun will pierce
The thickest cloud earth ever stretched,”
and thus Hope is inextricably knotted into the vital core of his being.
We do not ask for an easy life.
“Be all the world a wilderness,
Only let me go on, go on,
Still hoping ever and non,
To reach one eve the Better Land.”
There is no greater joy than the joy of conquest. The more intimately we come in contact with real, as opposed to superficial, life, the less selfish we grow. It is the realities alone from which Hope is born. The greatest men have been, and are, the optimists, and have added to the sum-total of the world's hope, for the amplitude of one's growth is directly proportional to it.
Our life means more to us this day, we stand on a surer basis, have a higher perception of the grandeur and beauty of things, have loftier ideals and choicer wisdom, because of our Brownings, Whitmans, Clifford Harrisons. A great man is indeed, “a living light fountain,” a disperser of hope, by means of which we have the power to live our life and to shape it to our Ideal. With it the whole round universe shapes itself into one complete, harmonious whole, and believing where we cannot prove, we go on trying to increase the universal well-being, consuming our griefs and radiating our hopes.
The end of our journey in the flesh and out of it is good: behind the mystic veil lurks good –of this we may be sure. We, too, having broken all the fetters, having put an end to all delusions, and knowing the difference twixt good and ill, may become Asekhas and thus enter the unruffled peace of Nirvana –here and now.