BYWAYS OF BLESSEDNESS
Along the highways of Burma
there is placed, at regular distances away from the dust of the road, and under
the cool shade of a group of trees, a small wooden building called a
"rest-house", where the weary traveller may rest a while, and allay
his thirst and assuage his hunger and fatigue by partaking of the food and water
which the kindly inhabitants place there as a religious duty.
Along the great highway of life there are such resting
places; away from the heat of passion and the dust of disappointment, under the
cool and refreshing shade of lowly Wisdom, are the humble, unimposing
"rest-houses" of peace, and the little, almost unnoticed, byways of
blessedness, where alone the weary and footsore can find strength and healing.
Nor can these byways be ignored without suffering.
Along the great road of life, hurrying, and eager to reach some illusive goal,
presses the multitude, despising the apparently insignificant
"rest-houses" of true thought, not heeding the narrow little byways of
blessed action, which they regard as unimportant; and hour by hour men are
fainting and falling, and numbers that cannot be counted perish of heart-hunger,
heart-thirst, and heart-fatigue.
But he who will step aside from the passionate press,
and will deign to notice and to enter the byways which are here presented, his
dusty feet shall press the incomparable flowers of blessedness, his eyes be
gladdened with their beauty, and his mind refreshed with their sweet perfume.
Rested and sustained, he will escape the fever and the delirium of life, and,
strong and happy, he will not fall fainting in the dust, nor perish by the way,
but will successfully accomplish his journey.
Broad Park Avenue
"All common things, each day's events,
That with the hour begin and end;
Our pleasures and our discontents
Are rounds by which we may ascend."
* * * * * * * * *
"We have not wings, we cannot soar;
But we have feet to scale and climb."
"For common life, its wants
And ways, would I set forth in beauteous hues."
Life is full of beginnings. They are presented every
day and every hour to every person. Most beginnings are small, and appear
trivial and insignificant, but in reality they are the most important things in
See how in the material world everything proceeds from
small beginnings. The mightiest river is at first a rivulet over which the
grasshopper could leap; the great flood commences with a few drops of rain; the
sturdy oak, which has endured the storms of a thousand winters, was once an
acorn; and the smouldering match, carelessly dropped, may be the means of
devastating a whole town by fire.
Consider, also, how in the spiritual world the greatest
things proceed from smallest beginnings. A light fancy may be the inception of a
wonderful invention or an immortal work of art; a spoken sentence may turn the
tide of history; a pure thought entertained may lead to the exercise of a
world-wide regenerative power; and a momentary animal impulse may lead to the
Have you yet discovered the vast importance of
beginnings? Do you really know what is involved in a beginning? Do you know the
number of beginnings you are continuously making, and realise their full import?
If not, come with me for a short time, and thoughtfully explore this much
ignored byway of blessedness, for blessed it is when wisely resorted to, and
much strength and comfort it holds for the understanding mind.
A beginning is a cause, and as such it must be followed
by an effect, or a train of effects, and the effect will always be of the same
nature as the cause. The nature of an initial impulse will always determine the
body of its results. A beginning also presupposes an ending, a consummation,
achievement, or goal. A gate leads to a path, and the path leads to some
particular destination; so a beginning leads to results, and results lead to a
There are right beginnings and wrong beginnings, which
are followed by effects of a like nature. You can, by careful thought, avoid
wrong beginnings and make right beginnings, and so escape evil results and enjoy
There are beginnings over which you have no control and
authority- these are without, in the universe, in the world of nature around
you, and in other people who have the same liberty as yourself.
Do not concern yourself with these beginnings, but
direct your energies and attention to those beginnings over which you have
complete control and authority, and which bring about the complicated web of
results which compose your life. These beginnings are to be found in the realm
of your own thoughts and actions; in your mental attitude under the variety of
circumstances through which you pass; in your conduct day by day - in short, in
your life as you make it, which is your world of good or ill.
In aiming at the life of Blessedness one of the
simplest beginnings to be considered and rightly made is that which we all make
everyday - namely, the beginning of each day's life.
How do you begin each day? At what hour do you rise?
How do you commence your duties? In what frame of mind do you enter upon the
sacred life of a new day? What answer can you give your heart to these important
questions? You will find that much happiness or unhappiness follows upon the
right or wrong beginning of the day, and that, when every day is wisely begun,
happy and harmonious sequences will mark its course, and life in its totality
will not fall far short of the ideal blessedness.
It is a right and strong beginning to the day to rise
at an early hour. Even if your worldly duty does not demand it, it is wise to
make of it a duty, and begin the day strongly by shaking off indolence. How are
you to develop strength of will and mind and body if you begin every day by
yielding to weakness? Self-indulgence is always followed by unhappiness. People
who lie in bed till a late hour are never bright and cheerful and fresh, but are
the prey of irritabilities, depressions, debilities, nervous disorders, abnormal
fancies, and all unhappy moods. This is the heavy price which they have to pay
for their daily indulgence. Yet, so blinding is the pandering to self that, like
the drunkard who takes his daily dram in the belief that it is bracing up the
nerves which it is all the time shattering, so the lie-a-bed is convinced that
long hours of ease are necessary for him as a possible remedy for those very
moods and weaknesses and disorders of which his indulgence is the cause. Men and
women are totally unaware of the great losses which they entail by this common
indulgence: loss of strength both of mind and body, loss of prosperity, loss of
knowledge, and loss of happiness.
Begin the day, then, by rising early. If you have no
object in doing so, never mind; get up, and go out for a gentle walk among the
beauties of nature, and you will experience a buoyancy, a freshness, and a
delight, not to say a peace of mind, which will amply reward you for your
effort. One good effort is followed by another; and when a man begins the day by
rising early, even though with no other purpose in view, he will find that the
silent early hour is conducive to clearness of mind and calmness of thought, and
that his early morning walk is enabling him to become a consecutive thinker, and
so to see life and its problems, as well as himself and his affairs, in a
clearer light; and so in time he will rise early with the express purpose of
preparing and harmonising his mind to meet any and every difficulty with wisdom
and calm strength.
There is, indeed, a spiritual influence in the early
morning hour, a divine silence and an inexpressible repose, and he who,
purposeful and strong, throws off the mantle of ease and climbs the hills to
greet the morning sun will thereby climb no inconsiderable distance up the hills
of blessedness and truth.
The right beginning of the day will be followed by
cheerfulness at the morning meal, permeating the house-hold with a sunny
influence; and the tasks and duties of the day will be undertaken in a strong
and confident spirit, and the whole day will be well lived.
Then there is a sense in which every day may be
regarded as the beginning of a new life, in which one can think, act, and live
newly, and in a wiser and better spirit.
"Every day is a fresh beginning;
Every morn is the world made new,
Ye who are weary of sorrow and sinning,
Here is a beautiful hope for you,
A hope for me and a hope for you."
Do not dwell upon the sins and mistakes of yesterday so
exclusively as to have no energy and mind left for living rightly today, and do
not think that the sins of yesterday can prevent you from living purely today.
Begin today aright, and, aided by the accumulated experiences of all your past
days, live it better than any of your previous days; but you cannot possibly
live it better unless you begin it better. The character of the whole day
depends upon the way it is begun.
Another beginning which is of great importance is the
beginning of any particular and responsible undertaking. How does a man begin
the building of a house? He first secures a plan of the proposed edifice and
then proceeds to build according to the plan, scrupulously following it in every
detail, beginning with the foundation. Should he neglect the beginning - namely,
the obtaining of a mathematical plan - his labour would be wasted, and his
building, should it reach completion without tumbling to pieces, would be
insecure and worthless. The same law holds good in any important work: the right
beginning and first essential is a definite mental plan on which to build.
Nature will have no slipshod work, no slovenliness, and she annihilates
confusion, or rather, confusion is in itself annihilation. Order, definiteness,
purpose eternally and universally prevail, and he who in his operations ignores
these mathematical elements at once deprives himself of substantiality,
"Life without a plan,
As useless as the moment it began,
Serves merely as a soil for discontent
To thrive in, an encumbrance ere half spent."
Let a man start in business without having in his mind
a perfectly formed plan to systematically pursue and he will be incoherent in
his efforts and will fail in his business operations. The laws which must be
observed in the building of a house also operate in the building up of a
business. A definite plan is followed by coherent effort; and coherent effort is
followed by well-knit and orderly results - to wit, completeness, perfection,
But not only mechanical and commercial enterprise - all
undertakings, of whatsoever nature, come under this law. The author's book, the
artist's picture, the orator's speech, the reformer's work, the inventor's
machine, the general's campaign, are all carefully planned in the mind before
the attempt to actualise them is commenced; and in accordance with the unity,
solidarity, and perfection of the original mental plan will be the actual and
ultimate success of the undertaking.
Successful men, influential men, good men are those
who, amongst other things, have learned the value and utilised the power which
lies hidden in those obscure beginnings which the foolish man passes by as
But the most important beginning of all - that upon
which affliction or blessedness inevitably depends, yet is most neglected and
least understood - is the inception of thought in the hidden, but causal region
of the mind. Your whole life is a series of effects having their cause in
thought - in your own thought. All conduct is made and moulded by thought; all
deeds, good or bad, are thoughts made visible. A seed put into the ground is the
beginning of a plant or tree; the seed germinates, the plant or tree comes forth
into the light and evolves. A thought put into the mind is the beginning of a
line of conduct: the thought first sends down its roots into the mind, and then
pushes forth into the light in the forms of actions or conduct, which evolve
into character and destiny.
Hateful, angry, envious, covetous, and impure thoughts
are wrong beginnings, which lead to painful results. Loving, gentle, kind,
unselfish and pure thoughts are right beginnings, which lead to blissful
results. This is so simple, so plain, so absolutely true! and yet how neglected,
how evaded, and how little understood!
The gardener who most carefully studies how, when, and
where to put in his seeds obtains the best results and gains the greater
horticultural knowledge. The best crops gladden the soul of him who makes the
best beginning. The man who most patiently studies how to put into his mind the
seeds of strong, wholesome, and charitable thoughts, will obtain the best
results in life, and will gain greater knowledge of truth. The greatest
blessedness comes to him, who infuses into his mind the purest and noblest
None but right acts can follow right thoughts; none but
a right life can follow right acts - and by living a right life all blessedness
He who considers the nature and import of his thoughts,
who strives daily to eliminate bad thoughts and supplant them with good, comes
at last to see that thoughts are the beginnings of results which affect every
fibre of his being, which potently influence every event and circumstance of his
life. And when he thus sees, he thinks only right thoughts, chooses to make only
those mental beginnings which lead to peace and blessedness.
Wrong thoughts are painful in their inception, painful
in their growth, and painful in their fruitage. Right thoughts are blissful in
their inception, blissful in their growth, and blissful in their fruitage.
Many are the right beginnings which a man must discover
and adopt on his way to wisdom; but that which is first and last, most important
and all embracing, which is the source and fountain of all abiding happiness, is
the right beginning of the mental operations - this implies the steady
development of self-control, will-power, steadfastness, strength, purity,
gentleness, insight, and comprehension. It leads to the perfecting of life, for
he who thinks perfectly has abolished all unhappiness, his every moment is
peaceful, his years are rounded with bliss - he has attained to the complete and
Small Tasks And Duties
"Wrapped in our nearest duty is the
Which shall unlock for us the Heavenly Gate:
Unveiled, the Heavenly Vision he shall see,
Who cometh not too early nor too late."
"Like the star
That shines afar,
And without rest,
Let each man wheel with steady sway
Round the task that rules the day,
And do his best."
As pain and bliss inevitably
follow on wrong and right beginnings, so unhappiness and blessedness are
inseparably bound up with small tasks and duties. Not that a duty has any power
of itself to bestow happiness or the reverse - this is contained in the attitude
of the mind which is assumed towards the duty - and everything depends upon the
way in which it is approached and done.
Not only great happiness but great power arises from
doing little things unselfishly, wisely, and perfectly, for life in its totality
is made up of little things. Wisdom inheres in the common details of everyday
existence, and when the parts are made perfect the Whole will be
Everything in the universe is made up of little things,
and the perfection of the great is based upon the perfection of the small. If
any detail of the universe were imperfect the Whole would be imperfect. If any
particle were omitted the aggregate would cease to be. Without a grain of dust
there could be no world, and the world is perfect because the grain of dust is
perfect. Neglect of the small is confusion of the great. The snowflake is as
perfect as the star; the dew drop is as symmetrical as the planet; the microbe
is not less mathematically proportioned than the man. By laying stone upon
stone, plumbing and fitting each with perfect adjustment, the temple at last
stands forth in all its architectural beauty. The small precedes the great. The
small is not merely the apologetic attendant of the great, it is its master and
Vain men are ambitious to be great, and look about to
do some great thing, ignoring and despising the little tasks which call for
immediate attention, and in the doing of which there is no vainglory, regarding
such "trivialities" as beneath the notice of great men. The fool lacks
knowledge because he lacks humility, and, inflated with the thought of
self-importance, he aims at impossible things.
The great man has become such by the scrupulous and
unselfish attention which he has given to small duties. He has become wise and
powerful by sacrificing ambition and pride in the doing of those necessary
things which evoke no applause and promise no reward. He never sought greatness;
he sought faithfulness, unselfishness, integrity, truth; and in finding these in
the common round of small tasks and duties he unconsciously ascended to the
level of greatness.
The great man knows the vast value that inheres in
moments, words, greetings, meals, apparel, correspondence, rest, work, detached
efforts, fleeting obligations, in the thousand-and-one little things which press
upon him for attention - briefly, in the common details of life. He sees
everything as divinely apportioned, needing only the application of
dispassionate thought and action on his part to render life blessed and perfect.
He neglects nothing; does not hurry; seeks to escape nothing but error and
folly; attends to every duty as it is presented to him, and does not postpone
and regret. By giving himself unreservedly to his nearest duty, forgetting alike
pleasure and pain, he attains to that combined childlike simplicity and
unconscious power which is greatness.
The advice of Confucius to his disciples: "Eat at
your own table as you would at the table of a king," emphasises the
immeasurable importance of little things, as also does that aphorism of another
great teacher, Buddha: "If anything is to be done, let a man do it, let him
attack it vigorously." To neglect small tasks, or to execute them in a
perfunctory or slovenly manner, is a mark of weakness and folly.
The giving of one's entire and unselfish attention to
every duty in its proper place evolves, by a natural growth, higher and ever
higher combinations of duties, because it evolves power and develops talent,
genius, goodness, character. A man ascends into greatness as naturally and
unconsciously as the plant evolves a flower, and in the same manner, by fitting,
with unabated energy and diligence, every effort and detail in its proper place,
thus harmonising his life and character without friction or waste of power.
Of the almost innumerable recipes for the development
of "will-power" and "concentration" which are now scattered
abroad, one looks almost in vain for any wholesome hint applicable to vital
experience. "Breathings," "postures," "visualising,"
"occult methods" are practices as delusive as they are artificial and
remote from all that is real and essential in life; while the true path - the
path of duty, of earnest and undivided application to one's daily task - along
which alone will-power and concentration of thought can be wholesomely and
normally developed, remains unknown, untrodden, unexplored even by the elect.
All unnatural forcing and straining in order to gain
"power" should be abandoned. There is no way from childhood to manhood
but by growth; nor is there any other way from folly to wisdom, from ignorance
to knowledge, from weakness to strength. A man must learn how to grow little by
little and day after day, by adding thought to thought, effort to effort, deed
It is true the fakir gains some sort of power by his
long persistence in "postures" and "mortifications," but it
is a power which is bought at a heavy price, and that price is an equal loss of
strength in another direction. He is never a strong, useful character, but a
mere fantastic specialist in some psychological trick. He is not a developed
man, he is a maimed man.
True will-power consists in overcoming the
irritabilities, follies, rash impulses and moral lapses which accompany the
daily life of the individual, and which are apt to manifest themselves on every
slight provocation; and in developing calmness, self-possession, and
dispassionate action in the press and heat of worldly duties, and in the midst
of the passionate and unbalanced throng. Anything short of this is not true
power, and this can only be developed along the normal pathway of steady growth
in executing ever more and more masterfully, unselfishly, and perfectly the
daily round of legitimate tasks and pressing obligations.
The master is not he whose "psychological
accomplishments," rounded by mystery and wonder, leave him in unguarded
moments the prey of irritability, of regret, of peevishness, or other petty
folly or vice, but he whose "mastery" is manifested in fortitude,
non-resentment, steadfastness, calmness, and infinite patience. The true Master
is master of himself; anything other than this is not mastery but delusion.
The man who sets his whole mind on the doing of each
task as it is presented, who puts into it energy and intelligence, shutting all
else out from his mind, and striving to do that one thing, no matter how small,
completely and perfectly, detaching himself from all reward in his task - that
man will every day be acquiring greater command over his mind, and will, by
ever-ascending degrees, become at last a man of power - a Master.
Put yourself unreservedly into
your present task, and so work, so act, so live that you shall leave each task a
finished piece of labour - this is the true way to the acquisition of
will-power, concentration of thought, and conservation of energy. Look not about
for magical formulas, for strained and artificial methods. Every resource is
already with you and within you. You have but to learn how wisely to apply
yourself in that place which you now occupy. Until this is done those other and
higher places which are waiting for you cannot be taken possession of, cannot be
There is no way to strength and wisdom but by acting
strongly and wisely in the present moment, and each present moment reveals its
own task. The great man, the wise man does small things greatly regarding
nothing as "trivial" that is necessary. The weak man, the foolish man,
does small things carelessly, and meanly, hankering the while after, some
greater work for which, in his neglect and inability in small matters, he is
ceaselessly advertising his incapacity. The man who least governs himself is
always more ambitious to govern others and assume important responsibilities.
"Who so neglects a thing which he suspects he ought to do because it seems
too small a thing is deceiving himself; it is not too little but too great for
him that he doeth it not."
And just as the strong doing of small tasks leads to
greater strength, so the doing of those tasks weakly leads to greater weakness.
What a man is in his fractional duties that he is in the aggregate of his
character. Weakness is as great a source of suffering as sin, and there can be
no true blessedness until some measure of strength of character is evolved. The
weak man becomes strong by attaching value to little things and doing them
accordingly. The strong man becomes weak by falling into looseness and neglect
concerning small things, thereby forfeiting his simple wisdom and squandering
his energy. Herein we see the beneficent operation of that law of growth which
is expressed in the little understood words: "To him that hath shall be
given, and from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he
hath." Man instantly gains or loses by every thought he thinks, every word
he says, every act he does, and every work to which he puts hand and heart. His
character from moment to moment is a graduating quantity, to or from which some
measure of good is added or subtracted during every moment, and the gain or loss
is involved, even to absoluteness, in each thought, word, and deed as these
follow each other in rapid sequence.
He who masters the small becomes the rightful possessor
of the great. He who is mastered by the small can achieve no superlative
Life is a kind of cooperative trust in which the whole
is of the nature of, and dependent upon, the unit.
A successful business, a perfect machine, a glorious
temple, or a beautiful character is evolved from the perfect adjustment of a
multiplicity of parts.
The foolish man thinks that little faults, little
indulgences, little sins, are of no consequence; he persuades himself that so
long as he does not commit flagrant immoralities he is virtuous, and even holy;
but he is thereby deprived of virtue, and holiness, and the world knows him
accordingly; it does not reverence, adore, and love him; it passes him by; he is
reckoned of no account; his influence is destroyed. The efforts of such a man to
make the world virtuous, his exhortations to his fellow-men to abandon great
vices, are empty of substance and barren of fruitage. The insignificance which
he attaches to his small vices permeates his whole character and is the measure
of his manhood: he is regarded as an insignificant man. The levity with which he
commits his errors and publishes his weakness comes back to him in the form of
neglect and loss of influence and respect: he is not sought after, for who will
seek to be taught of folly? His work does not prosper, for who will lean upon a
reed? His words fall upon deaf ears, for they are void of practice, wisdom, and
experience, and who will go after an echo?
The wise man, or he who is becoming wise, sees the
danger which lurks in those common personal faults which men mostly commit
thoughtlessly and with impunity; he also sees the salvation which inheres in the
abandonment of those faults, as well as in the practice of virtuous thoughts and
acts which the majority disregard as unimportant, and in those quiet but
momentous daily conquests over self which are hidden from other's eyes.
He who regards his molest delinquencies as of the
gravest nature becomes a saint. He sees the far reaching influence, good or bad,
which extends from his every thought and act, and how he himself is made or
unmade by the soundness or unsoundness of those innumerable details of conduct
which combine to form his character and life, and so he watches, guards,
purifies, and perfects himself little by little and step by step.
As the ocean is composed of drops, the earth of grains,
and the stars of points of light, so is life composed of thoughts and acts;
without these, life would not be. Every man's life, therefore, is what his
apparently detached thoughts and acts make it. There combination is himself. As
the year consists, of a given number of sequential moments, so a man's character
and life consists of a given number of sequential thoughts and deeds, and the
finished whole will bear the impress of the parts.
"All sorts of things and weather
Must be taken in together,
To make up a year
And a sphere."
Little kindnesses, generosities, and sacrifices make up
a kind and generous character. Little renunciations, endurances, and victories
over self make up a strong and noble character. The truly honest man is honest
in the minutest details of his life. The noble man is noble in every little
thing he says and does.
It is a fatal delusion with men to think that life is
detached from the momentary thought and act, and not to understand that the
passing thought and deed is the foundation and substance of life. When this is
fully understood all things are seen as sacred, and every act becomes religious.
Truth is wrapped up in infinitesimal details. Thoroughness is genius.
"Possessions vanish, and
And passions hold a fluctuating seat:
But, by the storms of circumstance unshaken,
And subject neither to eclipse nor wane,
You do not live your life in the mass; you live it in
the fragments and from these the mass emerges. You can will to live each
fragment nobly if you choose, and, this being done, there can be no particle of
baseness in the finished whole. The saying "Take care of the pence and the
pounds will take care of themselves" is seen to be more than worldly-wise
when applied spiritually, for, to take care of the present, passing act, knowing
that by so doing the total sum and amount of life and character will be safely
preserved, is to be divinely wise. Do not long to do great and laudable things;
these will do themselves if you do your present task nobly. Do not chafe at the
restrictions and limitations of your present duty but be nobly unselfish in the
doing of it, putting aside discontent, listlessness, and the foolish
contemplation of great deeds which lie beyond you - and lo! already the
greatness for which you sighed begins to appear. There is no weakness like
peevishness. Aspire to the attainment of inward nobility, not outward glory, and
begin to attain it where you now are.
The irksomeness and sting which you feel to be in your
task are in your mind only. Alter your attitude of mind towards it, and at once
the crooked path is made straight, the unhappiness is turned into joy.
See that your every fleeting moment is strong, pure,
and purposeful; put earnestness and unselfishness into every passing task and
duty; make your every thought, word, and deed sweet and true; thus learning, by
practice and experience, the inestimable value of the small things of life, you
will gather, little by little, abundant and enduring blessedness.
Transcending Difficulties And
"Man who man would be
Must rule the empire of himself; in it
Must be supreme, establishing his throne
On vanquished will, quelling the anarchy
Of hopes and fears, being himself alone."
"Have you missed in your aim? Well,
the mark is still shining.
Did you faint in the race? Well, take breath for the next."
-----Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
To suggest that any degree of
blessedness may be extracted from difficulties and perplexities will doubtless
appear absurd to many; but truth is ever paradoxical, and the curses of the
foolish are the blessings of the wise. Difficulties arise in ignorance and
weakness, and they call for the attainment of knowledge and the acquisition of
As understanding is acquired by right living,
difficulties become fewer, and perplexities gradually fade away, like the
perishable mists which they are.
Your difficulty is not contained, primarily, in the
situation which gave rise to it, but in the mental state with which you regard
that situation and which you bring to bear upon it. That which is difficult to a
child presents no difficulty to the matured mind of the man; and that which to
the mind of an unintelligent man is surrounded with perplexity would afford no
ground for perplexity to an intelligent man.
To the untutored and undeveloped mind of the child how
great, and apparently insurmountable, appear the difficulties which are involved
in the learning of some simple lesson. How many anxious and laborious hours and
days, or even months, its solution costs; and, frequently, how many tears are
shed in hopeless contemplation of the un-mastered, and apparently insurmountable,
wall of difficulty! Yet the difficulty is in the ignorance of the child only,
and its conquest and solution is absolutely necessary for the development of
intelligence and for the ultimate welfare, happiness, and usefulness of the
Even so is it with the difficulties of life with which
older children are confronted, and which it is imperative, for their own growth
and development, that they should solve and surmount; and each difficulty solved
means so much more experience gained, so much more insight and wisdom acquired;
it means a valuable lesson learned, with the added gladness and freedom of a
task successfully accomplished.
What is the real nature of a difficulty? Is it not a
situation which is not fully grasped and understood in all it bearings? As such,
it calls for the development and exercise of a deeper insight and broader
intelligence than has hitherto been exercised. It is an urgent necessity calling
forth unused energy, and demanding the expression and employment of latent power
and hidden resources. It is, therefore, a good angel, albeit disguised; a
friend, a teacher; and, when calmly listened to and rightly understood, leads to
larger blessedness and higher wisdom.
Without difficulties there could be no progress, no
unfoldment, no evolution; universal stagnation would prevail, and humanity would
perish of ennui.
Let a man rejoice when he is confronted with obstacles,
for it means that he has reached the end of some particular line of indifference
or folly, and is now called upon to summon up all his energy and intelligence in
order to extricate himself, and to find a better way; that the powers within him
are crying out for greater freedom, for enlarged exercise and scope.
No situation can be difficult of itself; it is the lack
of insight into its intricacies, and the want of wisdom in dealing with it,
which give rise to the difficulty. Immeasurable, therefore, is the gain of a
Difficulties do not spring into existence arbitrarily
and accidentally; they have their causes, and are called forth by the law of
evolution itself, by the growing necessities of the man's being. Herein resides
There are ways of conduct which end inevitably in
complications and perplexities, and their are ways of conduct which lead, just
as inevitably, out of troublesome complexities. Howsoever tightly a man may have
bound himself round he can always unbind himself. Into whatsoever morasses of
trouble and trackless wastes of perplexity he may have ignorantly wandered he
can always find his way out again, can always recover the lost highway of
uninvolved simplicity which leads, straight and clear, to the sunny city of wise
and blessed action. But he will never do this by sitting down and weeping in
despair, nor by complaining and worrying and aimlessly wishing he were
differently situated. His dilemma calls for alertness, logical thought, and calm
calculation. His position requires that he shall strongly command himself; that
he shall think and search, and rouse himself to strenuous and unremitting
exertion in order to regain himself. Worry and anxiety only serve to heighten
the gloom and exaggerate the magnitude of the difficulty. If he will but quietly
take himself to task, and retrace, in thought, the more or less intricate way by
which he has come to his present position, he will soon perceive where he made
mistakes; will discover those places where he took a false turn, and where a
little more thoughtfulness, judgement, economy, or self-denial would have saved
him. He will see how, step by step, he has involved himself, and how a riper
judgement and clearer wisdom would have enabled him to take an altogether
different and truer course. Having proceeded thus far, and extracted from his
past conduct this priceless grain of golden wisdom, his difficulty will already
have assumed less impregnable proportions, and he will then be able to bring to
bear upon it the searchlight of dispassionate thought, to thoroughly anatomize
it, to comprehend it in all its details, and to perceive the relation which
those details bear to the motive source of action and conduct within himself.
This being done, the difficulty will have ceased, for the straight way out of it
will plainly appear, and the man will thus have learned, for all time, his
lesson; will have gained an item of wisdom and a measure of blessedness of which
he can never again be deprived.
Just as there are ways of
ignorance, selfishness, folly, and blindness which end in confusion and
perplexity, so there are ways of knowledge, self-denial, wisdom, and insight
which lead to pleasant and peaceful consummations. He who knows this will meet
difficulties in a courageous spirit, and, in overcoming them, will evolve truth
out of error, bliss out of pain, and peace out of perturbation.
No man can be confronted with a difficulty which he has
not the strength to meet and subdue. Worry is not merely useless, it is folly,
for it defeats that power and intelligence which is otherwise equal to the task.
Every difficulty can be overcome if rightly dealt with; anxiety is, therefore,
unnecessary. The task which cannot be overcome ceases to be a difficulty, and
becomes an impossibility; and anxiety is still unnecessary, for there is
only one way of dealing with an impossibility - namely, to submit to it. The
inevitable is the best.
When half-gods go,
The gods arrive."
And just as domestic, social, and economic difficulties
are born of ignorance and lead to riper knowledge, so every religious doubt,
every mental-perplexity, every heart-beclouding shadow, presages greater
spiritual gain, is prophetic of a brighter dawn of intelligence for him on whom
It is a great day in the life of a man (though at the
time he knows it not) when bewildering perplexities concerning the mystery of
life take possession of his mind, for it signifies that his era of dead
indifference, of animal sloth, of mere vegetative happiness, has come to an end,
and that henceforth he is to live as an aspiring, self-evolving being. No longer
a mere human animal, he will now begin to live as a man, exerting all his mental
energies to the solution of life's problems, to the answering of those haunting
perplexities which are the sentinels of truth, and which stand at the gate and
threshold of the Temple of Wisdom.
"He it is who, when great trials
Nor seeks nor shuns them, but doth calmly stay."
Nor will he ever rest again in selfish ease and
listless ignorance; nor sleekly sate himself upon the swine's husks of fleshly
pleasures; nor find a hiding-place from the ceaseless whisperings of his heart's
dark and indefinable interrogatories. The divine within him has awakened; a
sleeping god is shaking off the incoherent visions of the night, never again to
slumber, never again to rest until his eyes rest upon the full, broad day of
It is impossible for such a man to hush, for any length
of time, the call to higher purposes and achievements which is aroused within
him, for the awakened faculties of his being will ceaselessly urge him on to the
unravelling of his perplexities; for him there is no more peace in sin, no more
rest in error, no final refuge but in Wisdom.
Great will be the blessedness of such a man when,
conscious of the ignorance of which his doubts and perplexities are born, and
acknowledging and understanding that ignorance, not striving to hide himself
from it, he earnestly applies himself to its removal, seeks unremittingly, day
after day, for that pathway of light which shall enable him to dispel all the
dark shadows, dissolve his doubts, and find the solution to all his pressing
problems. And as a child is glad when it has mastered a lesson long toiled over,
just so a man's heart becomes light and free when he has satisfactorily met some
worldly difficulty; even so, but to a far greater degree, is the heart of a man
rendered joyous and peaceful when some vital and eternal question which has been
long brooded over and grappled with is at last completely answered, and its
darkness is for ever dispelled.
Do not regard your difficulties and perplexities as
portentous of ill; by so doing you will make them ill; but regard them as
prophetic of good, which, indeed, they are. Do not persuade yourself that you
can evade them; you cannot. Do not try to run away from them; this is
impossible, for wherever you go they will still be there with you - but meet
them calmly and bravely; confront them with all the dispassion and dignity which
you can command; weigh up their proportions; analyse them; grasp their details;
measure their strength; understand them; attack them, and finally vanquish them.
Thus will you develop strength and intelligence; thus will you enter one of
those byways of blessedness which are hidden from the superficial gaze.
"This to me is life;
That if life be a burden, I will join
To make it but the burden of a song."
"Have you heard that it was good
to gain the day?
I also say it is good to fall, battles are lost in the same
spirit in which they are won."
We hear and read much about
burden-bearing, but of the better way of burden-dropping very little is heard or
known. Yet why should you go about with an oppressive weight at your heart when
you might relieve yourself of it and move amongst your fellows heart-free and
cheerful? No man carries a load upon his back except to necessarily transfer
something from one place to another; he does not saddle his shoulders with a
perpetual burden, and then regard himself as a martyr for his pains; and why
should you impose upon your mind a useless burden, and then add to its weight
the miseries of self-condolence and self-pity? Why not abandon both your load
and your misery, and thus add to the gladness of the world by first making
yourself glad? No reason can justify, and no logic support, the ceaseless
carrying of a grievous load. As in things material a load is only undertaken as
a necessary means of transference, and is never a source of sorrow, so in things
spiritual a burden should only be taken up as a means towards some good and
necessary end, which, when attained, the burden is put aside; and the carrying
of such a burden, far from being a source of grief would be a cause for
We say that bodily mortifications which some religious
ascetics inflict upon themselves are unnecessary and vain; and are the mental
mortifications which so many people inflict upon themselves less unnecessary and
Where is the burden which should cause unhappiness or
sorrow? It does not exist. If a thing is to be done let it be done cheerfully,
and not with inward groanings and lamentations. It is of the highest wisdom to
embrace necessity as a friend and guide. It is of the greatest folly to scowl
upon necessity as an enemy, and to wish or try to overcome or avoid her. We meet
our own at every turn, and duties only become oppressive loads when we refuse to
recognize and embrace them. He who does any necessary thing in a niggardly and
complaining spirit, hunting the while after unnecessary pleasures, lashes
himself with the scorpions of misery and disappointment, and imposes upon
himself a doubly-weighted burden of weariness and unrest under which he
"Wake thou, O self, to better
To yonder heights uplift thy wings;
Take up the psalm of life anew;
Sing of the good, sing of the true;
Sing of full victory o'er wrong;
Make though a richer, sweeter song;
Out of thy doubting, care and pain
Weave thou a joyous, glad refrain;
Out of thy thorns a crown weave thou
Of rare rejoicing. Sing thou, now."
I will give my cheerful, unselfish, and undivided
attention to the doing of all those things which enter into my compact with
life, and, though I walk under colossal responsibilities, I shall be unconscious
of any troublesome weight or grievous burden.
You say a certain thing (a duty, a companionship, or a
social obligation) troubles you, is burdensome, and you resign yourself to
oppression with the thought: "I have entered into this, and will go through
with it, but it is a heavy and grievous work." But is the thing really
burdensome, or is it your selfishness that is oppressing you? I tell you that
that very thing which you regard as so imprisoning a restriction is the first
gateway to your emancipation; that work which you regard as a perpetual curse
contains for you the actual blessedness which you vainly persuade yourself lies
in another and unapproachable direction. All things are mirrors in which you see
yourself reflected, and the gloom which you perceive in your work is but a
reflection of that mental state which you bring to it. Bring a right, an
unselfish, state of heart to the thing, and lo! it is at once transformed, and
becomes a means of strength and blessedness, reflecting back that which you have
brought to it. If you bring a scowling face to your looking glass will you
complain of the glass that it glowers upon you with a deformed visage, or will
you put your face right, and so get back from the reflector a more pleasing
If it is right and necessary that a thing should be
done then the doing of it is good, and it can only become burdensome in wishing
not to do it. The selfish wish makes the thing appear evil. If it is neither
right nor necesssary that a thing should be done then the doing of it in order
to gain some coveted pleasure is folly, which can only lead to burdensome
The duty which you shirk is your reproving angel; the
pleasure which you race after is your flattering enemy. Foolish man! when will
you turn round and be wise?
It is the beneficence of the universe that it is
everywhere, and at all times, urging its creatures to wisdom as it demands
coherence of its atoms. That folly and selfishness entail suffering in
ever-increasing degrees of intensity is preservative and good, for agony is the
enemy of apathy and the herald of wisdom.
What is painful? What is grievous? What is burdensome?
Passion is painful; folly is grievous; selfishness is burdensome.
"It is the dark idolatry of self
Which, when our thoughts and actions once are done,
Demands that man should weep, and bleed, and groan."
Eliminate passion, folly and selfishness from your mind
and conduct and you will eliminate suffering from your life. Burden-dropping
consists in abandoning the inward selfishness and putting pure love in its
place. Go to your task with love in your heart and you will go to it
light-hearted and cheerful.
The mind, through ignorance creates its own burdens and
inflicts its own punishments. No one is doomed to carry any load. Sorrow is not
arbitrarily imposed. These things are self-made. Reason is the rightful monarch
of the mind, and anarchy reigns in his spiritual kingdom when his throne is
usurped by passion. When love of pleasure is to the fore, heaviness and anguish
compose the rear. You are free to choose. Even if you are bound by passion, and
feel helpless, you have bound yourself, and are not helpless. Where you have
bound you can unbind. You have come to your present state by degrees, and you
can recover yourself by degrees, can reinstate reason and dethrone passion. The
time to avoid evil is before pleasure is embraced, but, once embraced, its train
of consequences should teach you wisdom. The time to decide is before
responsibilities are adopted, but, once adopted, all selfish considerations,
with their attendant grumblings, whinings, and complainings, should be
religiously excluded from the heart. Responsibilities lose their weight when
carried lovingly and wisely.
What heavy burden is a man weighted with which is not
made heavier and more unendurable by weak thoughts of selfish desires? If your
circumstances are "trying" it is because you need them and can evolve
the strength to meet them. They are trying because there is some weak spot
within you, and they will continue to be trying until that spot is eradicated.
Be glad that you have the opportunity of becoming stronger and wiser. No
circumstances can be trying to wisdom; nothing can weary love. Stop brooding
over your own trying circumstances and contemplate the lives of some of those
Here is a woman with a large
family who has to make ends meet on a pound a week. She performs all her
domestic duties, down to the washing, finds time to attend on sick neighbours,
and manages to keep entirely out of the two common quagmires - debt and
despondency. She is cheerful from morning to night, and never complains of her
"trying circumstances." She is perennially cheerful because she is
unselfish. She is happy in the thought that she is the means of happiness to
others. Were she to brood upon the holidays, the pretty baubles, the lazy hours
of which she is deprived; of the plays she cannot see, the music she cannot
hear, the books she cannot read, the parties she cannot attend, the good she
might do, the friendships she is debarred from forming; of the many pleasures
which might only be hers if her circumstances were more favourable - if she
brooded thus what a miserable creature she would be! How unbearably labourous
her work would become! How every little domestic duty would hang like a
millstone about her neck, dragging her down to the grave which, unless she
altered her state of mind, she would quickly reach, killed by - selfishness!
But, not living in vain desires for herself, she is relieved of all burdens, and
is happy. Cheerfulness and unselfishness are sworn friends. Love knows no heavy
Here is another woman, with a private income which is
more than sufficient, combined with leisure and luxury, yet, because she is
called upon to forfeit a portion of her time, pleasure, and money to discharge
some obligation which she wishes to be rid of, and which should be to her a work
of loving service, or fostering in her heart some ungratified desire, she is
perpetually discontented and unhappy, and complains of "trying
circumstances". Discontent and Selfishness are inseparable companions.
Self-love knows no joyful labour.
Of the two sets of circumstances above depicted (and
life is crowded with such contrasted instances) which are the "trying"
conditions? Is it not true that neither of them are trying, and that both are
blest or unblessed in accordance with the measure of love or selfishness which is
infused into them? Is not the root of the whole matter in the mind of the
individual and not in the circumstance?
When a man, who has recently taken up the study of some
branch of theology, religion, or "occultism," says: "If I had not
burdened myself with a wife and family I could have done a great work; and had I
known years ago what I know now I would never have married." I know that
that man has not yet found the commonest and broadest way of wisdom (for there
is no greater folly than regret), and that he is incapable of the great work
which he is so ambitious to perform. If a man has such deep love for his
fellow-men that he is anxious to do a great work for humanity he will manifest
that surpassing love always and in the place where he now is. His home will be
filled with it, and the beauty and sweetness and peace of his unselfish love
will follow wherever he goes, making happy those about him and transmuting all
things into good. The love that goes abroad to air itself, and is undiscoverable
at home, is not love - it is vanity.
Have I not seen (Oh, pitiful sight!) the cheerless home
and neglected children of the misguided missioner and religionist? It is on such
self-delusion as this that self-pity and self-martyrdom ever wait, and its
self-inflicted misery is regarded by the deluded one as a holy and religious
burden which he or she is called upon to bear.
Only a great man can do a great work; and he will be
great wherever he is, and will do his noble work under whatsoever conditions he
may find himself when he has unfolded and revealed that work.
Thou who art so anxious to work for humanity, to help
thy fellow-men, begin that work at home; help thyself, thy neighbour, thy wife,
thy child. Do not be deluded; until thou doest, with utmost faithfulness, the
nearer and the lesser thou canst not do the farther and greater.
If a man has lived many years of his life in lust and
selfish pleasure it is in the order of things that his accumulated errors should
at last weigh heavily upon him, as, until they are thus brought home to him, he
will not abandon them, will not exert himself to find a better life; but whilst
he regards his self-made, self-imposed burdens as "holy crosses"
imposed upon him by the Supreme, or as marks of superior virtue, or as loads
which Fate, circumstances, or other people have heaped undeservedly and unjustly
upon him, he is but lengthening out his folly, increasing the weight of his
burdens, and multiplying his pains and sorrows. Only when such a man wakes up to
the truth that his burdens are of his own making, that they are the accumulated
effects of his own acts, will he cease from unmanly self-pity and find the
better way of burden-dropping; only when he opens his eyes to see that his every
thought and act is another brick, another stone, built into the temple of his
life will he develop the insight which will enable him to recognise his own
unstable handiwork, the unflinching manliness to acknowledge it, and the courage
to build more nobly and enduringly.
Painful burdens are necessary, but only so long as we
lack love and wisdom.
The Temple of Blessedness lies beyond the outer courts
of suffering and humiliation and to reach it the pilgrim must pass through the
outer courts. For a time he will linger in the outer, but only so long as,
through his own imperfect understanding, he mistakes it for the inner. While he
pities himself and confounds suffering with holiness he will remain in
suffering: but when, casting off the last unholy rag of self-pity, he perceives
that suffering is a means and not an end, that it is a state self-originated and
self-propagated, then, converted and right-minded, he will rapidly pass through
the outer courts, and reach the inner abode of peace.
Suffering does not originate in the perfect but in the
imperfect; it does not mark the complete but the incomplete; it can, therefore,
be transcended. Its self-born cause can be found, investigated, comprehended,
and for ever removed.
It is true therefore, that we must pass through agony
to rest, through loneliness to peace; but let the sufferer not forget that it is
a "passing through;" that the agony is a gateway and not a habitation;
that the loneliness is a pathway and not a destination; and that a little
farther on he will come to the painless and blissful repose.
Little by little is a burden accumulated; imperceptibly
and by degrees is its weight increased. A thoughtless impulse, a gross
self-indulgence, a blind passion yielded to and gratified again and again; an
impure thought fostered, a cruel word uttered, a foolish thing done time after
time, and at last the gathered weight of many follies becomes oppressive. At
first, and for a time, the weight is not felt; but it is being added to day
after day, and the time comes when the accumulated burden is felt in all its
galling weight, when the bitter fruits of selfishness are gathered, and the
heart is troubled with the weariness of life. When this period arrives let the
sufferer look to himself; let him search for the blessed way of burden-dropping,
finding which he will find wisdom to live better, purity to live sweeter, love
to live nobler; will find, in the reversal of that conduct by which his burdens
were accumulated, light-hearted nights and days, cheerful action, and unclouded
"Come out of the world - come
above it -
Up over its crosses and graves;
Though the green earth is fair and I love it,
We must love it as masters, not slaves,
Come up where the dust never rises -
But only the perfume of flowers -
And your life shall be glad with surprises
Of beautiful hours."
"What need hath man
Of Eden passed, or Paradise to come,
When heaven is round us and within ourselves?"
"Lowliness is the base of every virtue:
Who goes the lowest, builds, doubt not, the safest."
"Truth is within ourselves; it
takes no rise
From outward things, whate'er you may believe."
It is one of the paradoxes of
Truth that we gain by giving up; we lose by greedily grasping. Every gain in
virtue necessitates some loss in vice; every accession of holiness means some
selfish pleasure yielded up; and every forward step on the path of Truth demands
the forfeit of some self-assertive error.
He who would be clothed in new garments must first cast
away the old, and he who would find the True must sacrifice the false. The
gardener digs in the weeds in order that they may feed, with their decay, the
plants which are good for food; and the Tree of Wisdom can only flourish on the
compost of uprooted follies. Growth - gain - necessitates sacrifice - loss.
The true life, the blessed life, the life that is not
tormented with passions and pains, is reached only through sacrifice, not
necessarily the sacrifice of outward things, but the sacrifice of the inward
errors and defilements, for it is these, and these only, which bring misery into
life. It is not the good and true that needs to be sacrificed but the evil and
false; therefore all sacrifice is ultimately gain, and there is no essential
loss. Yet at first the loss seems great, and the sacrifice is painful, but this
is because of the self-delusion and spiritual blindness which always accompany
selfishness, and pain must always accompany the cutting away of some selfish
portion of one's nature. When the drunkard resolves to sacrifice his lust for
strong drink he passes through a period of great suffering, and he feels that he
is forfeiting a great pleasure; but when his victory is complete, when the lust
is dead, and his mind is calm and sober, then he knows that he has gained
incalculably by the giving up of his selfish animal pleasure. What he has lost
was evil and false and not worth keeping - nay, its keeping enatiled continual
misery - but what he has gained in character, in self-control, in soberness had
greater peace of mind, is good and true, and it was necessary that he should
So it is with all true sacrifice; it is at first, and
until it is completed, painful, and this is why men shrink from it. They cannot
see any purpose in abstaining from and overcoming selfish gratification, it
seems to them like losing so much that is sweet; seems to them like courting
misery, and giving up all happiness and pleasure. And this must be so; for if a
man could know that by giving up his particular forms of selfishness his gain in
happiness would be immeasurably greater, unselfishness (which is now so
difficult of attainment) would then be rendered infinitely more difficult of
achievement, for his desire for the greater gain - his selfishness - would
thereby be greatly intensified.
No man can become unselfish, and thereby arrive at the
highest bliss, until he is willing to lose, looking for neither gain nor reward:
it is this state of mind which constitutes unselfishness. A man must be willing
to humbly sacrifice his selfish habits and practices because they are untrue and
unworthy, and for the happiness of those about him, without expecting any reward
or looking for any good to accrue to himself; nay, he must be prepared to lose
for himself, to forfeit pleasure and happiness, even life itself, if by so doing
he can make the world more beautiful and happy. But does he lose? Does the miser
lose when he gives up his lust for gold? Does the thief lose when he abandons
stealing? Does the libertine lose when he sacrifices his unworthy pleasures? No
man loses by the sacrifice of self, or some portion of self; nevertheless, he
thinks he will lose by so doing, and because he so thinks he suffers and this is
where the sacrifice comes in - this is where he gains by losing.
All true sacrifice is within; it is spiritual and
hidden, and is prompted by deep humility of heart. Nothing but the sacrifice of
self can avail, and to this must all men come sooner or later during their
spiritual evolution. But in what does this self-abnegation consist? How is it
practised? Where is it sought and found? It consists in overcoming the daily
proneness to selfish thoughts and acts; it is practised in our common
intercourse with others; and it is found in the hour of tumult and temptation.
There are hidden sacrifices of the heart which are
infinitely blessed both to him that makes them and those for whom they are made,
albeit their making costs much effort and some pain. Men are anxious to do some
great thing, to perform some great sacrifice which lies beyond the necessities
of their experience, while all the time, perhaps, they are neglecting the one
thing needful, are blind to that sacrifice which by its very nearness is
rendered imperative. Where lurks your besetting sin? Where lies your weakness?
Where does temptation assail you most strongly? There shall you make your first
sacrifice, and shall find thereby the way unto your peace. Perhaps it is anger
or unkindness. Are you prepared to sacrifice the angry impulse and word, the
unkind thought and deed? Are you prepared to silently endure abuse, attack,
accusation, and unkindness, refusing to pay back these in their own coin? Nay,
more, are you prepared to give in return for these dark follies kindness and
loving protection? If so, then you are ready to make those hidden sacrifices
which lead to beatific bliss.
If you are given to anger or unkindness offer it up.
These hard, cruel, and wrong conditions of mind never brought you any good; they
can never bring you anything but unrest, misery, and spiritual blindness. Nor
can they ever bring to others anything but unhappiness. Perhaps you will say:
"But he was unkind to me first; he treated me unjustly." Perhaps so,
but what a poor excuse is this! What an unmanly and ineffectual refuge! For if
his unkindness toward you is so wrong and hurtful yours to him must be equally
so. Because another is unkind to you is no justification of your own unkindness,
but is rather a call for the exercise of great kindness on your part. Can the
pouring in of more water prevent a flood? Neither can unkindness lessen
unkindness. Can fire quench fire? Neither can anger overcome anger.
Offer up all unkindness, all anger. "It takes two
to make a quarrel;" don't be the "other one." If one is angry or
unkind to you try to find out where you have acted wrongly; and, whether you
have acted wrongly or not, do not throw back the angry word or unkind act.
Remain silent, self-contained, and kindly disposed; and learn, by continual
effort in right-doing, to have compassion upon the wrong-doer.
Perhaps you are habitually impatient and irritable.
Know, then, the hidden sacrifice which it is needful that you should make. Give
up your impatience. Overcome it there where it is wont to assert itself.
Resolve that you will yield no longer to its tyrannical sway but will conquer it
and cast it out. It is not worth keeping a single hour, nor would it dominate
you for another moment if you were not labouring under the delusion that the
follies and perversities of others render impatience on your part necessary.
Whatever others may do or say, even though they may mock and taunt you,
impatience is not only unnecessary, it can never do any other than aggravate the
evil which it seeks to remove. Calm, strong, and deliberate action can
accomplish much, but impatience and its accompanying irritability are always
indiactions of weakness and inefficiency. And what do they bestow upon you? Do
they bestow rest, peace, happiness, or bring these to those about you? Do they
not, rather, make you and those about you wretched? But though your impatience
may hurt others it certainly hurts and wounds and impoverishes yourself most of
Nor can the impatient man know aught of true
blessedness, for he is a continual source of trouble and unrest to himself. The
calm beauty and perpetual sweetness of patience are unknown to him, and peace
cannot draw near to soothe and comfort him.
There is no blessedness anywhere until impatience is
sacrificed; and its sacrifice means the development of endurance, the practice
of forbearance, and the creation of a new and gentler habit of mind. When
impatience and irritability are entirely put away, are finally offered up on the
altar of unselfishness, then is realised and enjoyed the blessedness of a
strong, quiet, and peaceful mind.
"Each hour we think
Of others more than self, that hour we live again,
And every lowly sacrifice we make
For other's good shall make life more than self,
And ope the windows of thy soul to light
From higher spheres. So hail thy lot with lot with joy."
Then there are little selfish indulgences, some of
which appear harmless, and are commonly fostered; but no selfish indulgence can
be harmless, and men and women do not know what they lose by repeatedly and
habitually succumbing to effeminate and selfish gratifications. If the God in
man is to rise strong and triumphant, the beast in man must perish. The
pandering to the animal nature, even when it appears innocent and seems sweet,
leads away from truth and blessedness. Each time you give way to the animal
within you, and feed and gratify him, he waxes stronger and more rebellious, and
takes firmer possession of your mind, which should be in the keeping of Truth.
Not until a man has sacrifice some apparently trivial indulgence does he
discover what strength, what joy, what poise of character and holy influence he
has all along been losing by that gratification; not until a man sacrifices his
hankering for pleasure does he enter into the fullness of abiding joy.
By his personal indulgences a
man demeans himself, forfeits self-respect to the extent and frequency of his
indulgence, and deprives himself of exemplary influence and the power to
accomplish lasting good in his work in the world. He also, by allowing himself
to be led by blind desire, increases his mental blindness, and fails of that
ultimate clearness of vision, that clarified percipience which pierces to the
heart of things and comprehends the real and the true. Animal indulgence is
alien to the perception of Truth. By the sacrifice of his indulgences man rises
above confusion and doubt, and arrives at the possession of insight and surety.
Sacrifice your cherished and coveted indulgence; fix
your mind on something higher, nobler, and more enduring than ephemeral
pleasure; live superior to the craving for sense-excitement, and you will live
neither vainly nor uncertainly.
Very far-reaching in its effect upon others, and rich
with the revelations of Truth for him who makes it, is the sacrifice of
self-assertion - the giving up of all interference with the lives, views, or
religion of other people, substituting for it an understanding love and
sympathy. Self-assertion or opinionativeness is a form of egotism or selfishness
most generally found in connection with intellectualism and dialectical skill.
It is blindly presumptive and uncharitable, and, more often than not, is
regarded as a virtue; but when once the mind has opened to perceive the way of
gentleness and self-sacrificing love then the ignorance, deformity, and painful
nature of self-assertion become apparent.
The victim of self-assertion, setting up his own
opinions as the standard of right and the measure of judgment, regards all those
as wrong whose lives and opinions run counter to his own, and, being eager to
put others right, is thereby prevented from putting himself right. His attitude
of mind brings about him opposition and contradiction from people who are
anxious to put him right, and this wounds his vanity and makes him
miserable, so that he lives in an almost continual fever of unhappy, resentful
and uncharitable thoughts. There can be no peace for such a man, no true
knowledge, and no advancement until he sacrifices his desire to bend others to
his own way of thinking and acting. Nor can he understand the hearts of others,
and enter lovingly into their strivings and aspirations. His mind is cramped and
embittered, and he is shut out from all sweet sympathy and spiritual communion.
He who sacrifices the spirit of self-assertion, who in
his daily contact with others put aside his prejudices and opinions, and strives
both to learn from others and to understand them as they are, who allows to
others perfect liberty (such as he exercises himself) to choose their own
opinions, their own way in life - such a man will acquire a deeper insight, a
broader charity, and a richer bliss than he has hitherto experienced, and will
strike a byway of blessedness from which he has formerly shut out.
Then there is the sacrifice of greed and all greedy
thoughts. The willingness that others should possess rather than we; the
not-coveting of things for ourselves but rejoicing that they are possessed and
enjoyed by others, that they bring happiness to others; the ceasing to claim
one's "own", and the giving up to others, unselfishly and without
malice, that which they exact. This attitude of mind is a source of deep peace
and great spiritual strength. It is the sacrifice of self-interest.
Material possessions are temporary, and in this sense
we cannot truly call them our own - they are merely in our keeping for a short
time - but spiritual possessions are eternal and must ever remain with us.
Unselfishness is a spiritual possession which is only secured by ceasing to
covet material possessions and enjoyments, by ceasing to regard things as for
our own special and exclusive pleasure, and by our readiness to yield them up
for the good of others.
The unselfish man, even though he finds himself
involved in riches, stands aloof, in his mind, from the idea of "exclusive
possession", and so escapes the bitterness and fear and anxiety which ever
accompany the covetous spirit. He does not regard any of his outward accretions
as being too valuable to lose, but he regards the virtue of unselfishness as
being too valuable to the world - to suffering humanity - to lose or cast away.
And who is the blessed man? He who is ever hankering
after more possessions, thinking only of the personal pleasure he can get out of
them? or he who is ever ready to give up what he has for the good and happiness
of others? By greed happiness is destroyed; by not-greed happiness is restored.
Another hidden sacrifice, one of great spiritual beauty
and of powerful efficacy in the healing of human sorrows, is the sacrifice of hatred
- the giving up of all bitter thoughts against others, of all malice, dislike,
and resentment. Bitter thoughts and blessedness cannot dwell together. Hatred is
a fierce fire that scorches up, in the heart of him who harbours it, all the
sweet flowers of peace and happiness, and makes a hell of every place where it
Hatred has many names and many forms but only one
essence - namely, burning thoughts of resentment against others. It is
sometimes, by its blind votaries called by the name of religion, causing them to
attack, slander, and persecute each other because they will not accept each
other's views of life and death, thus filling the earth with miseries and tears.
All resentment, dislike, ill-thinking, and ill-speaking
of others is hatred, and where there is hatred there is always unhappiness. No
one has conquered hatred while thoughts of resentment towards others spring up
in his mind. This sacrifice is not complete until a man can think kindly of
those who try to do him wrong. Yet it must be made before true blessedness can
be realised and known. Beyond the hard, cruel, steely gates of hatred waits the
divine angel of love, ready to reveal herself to him who will subdue and
sacrifice his hateful thoughts, and conduct him to his peace.
Whatever others may say of you, whatever they may do to
you, never take offence. Do not return hatred with hatred. If another
hates you perhaps you have, consciously or unconsciously, failed somewhere in
your conduct, or there may be some misunderstanding which the exercise of a
little gentleness and reason may remove; but, under all circumstances,
"Father, forgive them" is infinitely better, sweeter, and nobler than
"I will have nothing more to do with them." Hatred is so small and
poor, so blind and wretched. Love is so great and rich, so far-seeing and
"The highest culture is to speak no
The best reformer is the man whose eyes
Are quick to see all beauty and all worth;
And by his own discreet, well-ordered life
Alone reproves the erring."
Sacrifice all hatred, slay it upon the holy altar of of
devotion - devotion to others. Think no more of any injury to your own petty
self, but see to it that henceforth you injure and wound no other. Open the
flood gates of your heart for the in pouring of that sweet, great, beautiful love
which embraces all with strong yet tender thoughts of protection and peace,
leaving not one, nay, not even he who hates or despises or slanders you, out in
Then there is the hidden sacrifice of impure desires,
of weak self-pity and degrading self-praise, of vanity and pride, for these are
unblessed attitudes of mind, deformities of heart. He who makes them, one by one,
gradually subduing and overcoming them, will, according to the measure of his
success, rise above weakness and suffering and sorrow, and will comprehend and
enjoy the perfect and imperishable blessedness.
Now, all these hidden sacrifices which are here
mentioned are pure, humble heart-offerings. They are made within; are offered up
on the sacred, lonely, unseen altar of one's own heart. Not one of them can be
made until the fault is first silently acknowledged and confessed. No man can
sacrifice an error until he first of all confess (to himself) "I am in
error;" when, yielding it up, he will perceive and receive the truth which
his error formerly obscured.
"The kingdom of heaven cometh not by
observation," and the silent sacrifice of self for the good of others, the
daily giving up of one's egotistic tendencies, is not seen and rewarded of men,
and brings no loud blazon of popularity and praise. It is hidden away from the
eyes of all the world, nay, even from the gaze of those who are nearest to you,
for no eyes of flesh can perceive its spiritual beauty. But think not that
because it is unperceived it is therefore futile. Its blissful radiance is
enjoyed by you, and its power for good over others is great and far-reaching,
for though they cannot see it, nor, perhaps understand it, yet they are
unconsciously influenced by it. They will not know what silent battles you are
fighting, what eternal victories over self you are achieving, but, they will feel
your altered attitude, your new mind, wrought of the fabric of love and loving
thoughts, and will share somewhat in its happiness and bliss. They will know
nothing of the frequent fierceness of the fight you are waging, of the wounds
you receive and the healing balm you apply, of the anguish and the after-peace;
but they will know that you have grown sweeter and gentler, stronger and more
silently self-reliant, more patient and pure, and that they are rested and
helped by your presence. What rewards can compare with this? Beside the fragrant
offices of love the praises of men are gross and fulsome, and in the pure flame
of a selfless heart the flatteries of the world are turned to ashes. Love is its
own reward, its own joy, its own satisfaction; it is the final refuge and
resting-place of passion-tortured souls.
The sacrifice of self, and the acquisition of the
supreme knowledge and bliss which it confers, is not accomplished by one great
and glorious act but by a series of lesser and successive sacrifices in the
ordinary life of the world, by a succession of steps in the daily conquest of
Truth over selfishness. He who each day accomplishes some victory over himself,
who subdues and puts behind him some unkind thought, some impure desire, some
tendency to sin, is everyday growing stronger, purer, and wiser, and every dawn
finds him nearer to that final glory of Truth which each self-sacrificing act
reveals in part.
Look not outside thee nor beyond thee for the light and
blessedness of Truth, but look within; thou wilt find it within the narrow
sphere of thy duty, even in the humble and hidden sacrifices of thine own heart.
"When thy gaze
Turns it on thine own soul, be most severe:
But when it falls upon a fellow-man
Let kindliness control it; and refrain
From that belittling censure that springs forth
From common lips like weeds from marshy soil."
----Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
"I do not ask the wounded person
how he feels,
I myself become the wounded person."
We can only sympathise with
others in so far as we have conquered ourselves. We cannot think and feel for
others while we are engaged in condoling with and pitying ourselves; cannot deal
tenderly and lovingly with others while we are anxious for our own pre-eminence
or for the exclusive preservation of ourselves, our opinions, and our own
generally. What is sympathy but thoughtfulness for others in the forgetfulness
To sympathise with others we must first understand
them, and to understand them we must put away all personal preconceptions
concerning them, and must see them as they are. We must enter into their inner
state and become one with them, looking through their mental eyes and
comprehending the range of their experience. You cannot, of course, do this with
a being whose wisdom and experience are greater than your own; nor can you do it
with any if you regard yourself as being on a higher plane than others (for
egotism and sympathy cannot dwell together), but you can practise it with all
those who are involved in sins and sufferings from which you have successfully
extricated yourself, and, though your sympathy cannot embrace and overshadow the
man whose greatness is beyond you, yet you can place yourself in such an
attitude towards him as to receive the protection of his larger sympathy and so
make for yourself an easier way out of the sins and sufferings by which you are
Prejudice and ill-will are complete barriers to the
giving of sympathy, while pride and vanity are total barriers to its reception.
You cannot sympathise with a person for whom you have conceived a hatred; you
cannot enjoy the sympathy of one whom you envy. You cannot understand the person
whom you dislike, or he for whom, through animal impulse, you have framed an
ill-formed affection. You do not, cannot, see him as he is, but see only your
own imperfect notions of him; see only a distorted image of him through the
exaggerating medium of your ill-grounded opinions.
To see others as they are you must not allow impulsive
likes and dislikes, powerful prejudices, or egotistic considerations to come
between you and them. You must not resent their actions or condemn their beliefs
and opinions. You must leave yourself entirely out, and must, for the time
being, assume their position. Only in this way can you become en rapport
with them, and so fathom their life, their experience, and understand it, and
when a man is understood it becomes impossible to condemn him. Men misjudge,
condemn, and avoid each other because they do not understand each other, and
they do not understand each other because they have not overcome and purified
Life is growth, development, evolution, and there is no
essential distinction between the sinner and the saint - there is only a
difference in degree. The saint was once a sinner; the sinner will one day be a
saint. The sinner is the child; the saint is the grown man. He who separates
himself from sinners, regarding them as wicked men to be avoided, is like a man
avoiding contact with little children because they are unwise, disobedient, and
play with toys.
All life is one, but it has a variety of
manifestations. The grown flower is not something distinct from the tree: it is
a part of it; is only another form of leaf. Steam is not something apart from
water: it is but another form of water. And in like manner good is transmuted
evil: the saint is the sinner developed and transformed.
The sinner is one whose understanding is undeveloped,
and he ignorantly chooses wrong modes of action. The saint is one whose
understanding is ripened, and he wisely chooses right modes of action. The
sinner condemns the sinner, condemnation being a wrong mode of action. The saint
never condemns the sinner, remembering that he himself formerly occupied the
same place, but thinks of him with deep sympathy, regarding him in the light of
a younger brother or a friend, for sympathy is a right and enlightened mode of
The perfected saint, who gives sympathy to all, needs
it of none, for he has transcended sin and suffering, and lives in the enjoyment
of lasting bliss; but all who suffer need sympathy, and all who sin must
suffer. When a man comes to understand that every sin, whether of thought or
deed, receives its just quota of suffering he ceases to condemn and begins to
sympathise, seeing the sufferings which sin entails; and he comes to such
understanding by purifying himself.
As a man purges himself of passions, as he transmutes
his selfish desires and puts under foot his egotistic tendencies, he sounds the
depths of all human experiences - all sins and sufferings and sorrows, all
motives and thoughts and deeds - and comprehends the moral law in its
perfection. Complete self-conquest is perfect knowledge, perfect sympathy, and
he who views men with the stainless vision of a pure heart views them with a
pitying heart, sees them as a part of himself, not as something defiled and
separate and distinct, but as his very self, sinning as he has sinned, suffering
as he has suffered, sorrowing as he has sorrowed, yet, withal, glad in the
knowledge that they will come, as he has come, to perfect peace at last.
The truly good and wise man cannot be a passionate
partisan, but extends his sympathy to all, seeing no evil in others to be
condemned and resisted, but seeing the sin which is pleasant to the sinner, and
the after-sorrow and pain which the sinner does not see, and, when it overtakes
him, does not understand.
A man's sympathy extends just so far as his wisdom
reaches, and no further; and a man only grows wiser as he grows tenderer and
more compassionate. To narrow one's sympathy is to narrow one's heart, and so to
darken and embitter one's life. To extend and broaden one's sympathy is to
enlighten and gladden one's life and to make plainer to others the way of light
To sympathise with another is to receive his being into
our own, to become one with him, for unselfish love indissolubly unites, and he
whose sympathy reaches out to and embraces all humankind and all living
creatures has realised his identity and oneness with all, and comprehends the
universal Love and Law and Wisdom.
Man is shut out from Heaven and Peace and Truth only in
so far as he shuts out others from his sympathy. Where his sympathy ends his
darkness and torment and turmoils begin, for to shut others out from our love is
to shut ourselves out from the blessedness of love, and to become cramped in the
dark prison of self.
"Whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his
own funeral dressed in a shroud."
Only when one's sympathy is unlimited is the Eternal Light of Truth
revealed; only in the Love that knows no restriction is the boundness bliss
Sympathy is bliss; in it is revealed the highest,
purest blessedness. It is divine, for in its reciprocal light all thought of
self is lost, and there remains only the pure joy of oneness with others, the
ineffable communion of spiritual identity. Where a man ceases to sympathise he
ceases to live, ceases to see and realise and know.
One cannot truly sympathise with others until all
selfish considerations concerning them are put away, and he who does this and
strives to see others as they are, strives to realise their particular sins,
temptations, and sorrows, their beliefs, opinions, and prejudices, comes at last
to see exactly where they stand in their spiritual evolution, comprehends the
arc of their experience, and knows that they cannot for the present act
otherwise than they do. He sees that their thoughts and acts are prompted by the
extent of their knowledge, or their lack of knowledge, and that if they act
blindly and foolishly it is because their knowledge and experience are immature,
and they can only come to act more wisely by gradual growth into more
enlightened states of mind. He also sees that though this growth can be
encouraged, helped, and stimulated by the influence of a riper example, by
seasonable words and well-timed instruction, it cannot be unnaturally forced;
the flowers of love and wisdom must have time to grow, and the barren branches
of hatred and folly cannot be all cut away at once.
Such a man finds the doorway into the inner world of
those with whom he comes in contact, and he opens it and enters in and dwells
with them in the hidden and sacred sanctuary of their being. And he finds
nothing to hate, nothing to revile, nothing to condemn in that sacred place, but
something to love and tend, and, in his own heart, room only for greater pity,
greater patience, greater love.
He sees that he is one with them, that they are but
another aspect of himself, that their natures are not different from his own,
except in modification and degree, but are identical with it. If they are acting
out certain sinful tendencies he has but to look within to find the same
tendencies in himself, albeit, perhaps, restrained or purified; if they are
manifesting certain holy and divine qualities he finds the same pure spirit
within himself, though, perhaps, in a lesser degree of power and development.
"One touch of nature makes the
whole world kin."
The sin of one is the sin of
all; the virtue of one is the virtue of all. No man can be separate from
another. There is no difference of nature but only difference of condition. If a
man thinks he is separated from another by virtue of his superior holiness he is
not so separated, and his darkness and delusion are very great. Humanity is one,
and in the holy sanctuary of sympathy saint and sinner meet and unite.
It is said of Jesus that He took upon Himself the sins
of the whole world - that is, He identified Himself with those sins, and did not
regard Himself as essentially separate from sinners but as being of a like
nature with them - and his realisation of His oneness with all men was
manifested in His life as profound sympathy with those who, for their deep sins,
were avoided and cast off by others.
And who is it that is in the greatest need of sympathy?
Not the saint, not the enlightened seer, not the perfect man. It is the sinner,
the unenlightened man, the imperfect one; and the greater the sin the greater is
the need. "I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance"
is the statement of One who comprehended all human needs. The righteous man does
not need your sympathy, but the unrighteous; he who, by his wrong-doing, is
laying up for himself long periods of suffering and woe is in need of it.
The flagrantly unrighteous man is condemned, despised,
and avoided by those who are living in a similar condition to himself, though
for the time being, they may not be subject to his particular form of sin, for
that withholding of sympathy and that mutual condemnation which are so rife is
the commonest manifestation of that lack of understanding in which all sin takes
its rise. While a man is involved in sin he will condemn others who are likewise
involved, and the deeper and greater his sin the more severe will be his
condemnation of others. It is only when a man begins to sorrow for his sin, and
so to rise above it into the clearer light of purity and understanding, that he
ceases from condemning others and learns to sympathise with them. But this
ceaseless condemnation of each other by those who are involved in the fierce
play of the passions must needs, be, for it one of the modes of operation of the
Great Law which universally and eternally obtains, and the unrighteous one who
falls under the condemnation of his fellows will the more rapidly reach a higher
and nobler condition of heart and life if he humbly accepts the censure of
others as the effect of his own sin, and resolves henceforward to refrain from
all condemnation of others.
The truly good and wise man condemns none, having put
away all blind passion and selfishness he lives in the calm regions of love and
peace, and understands all modes of sin, with their consequent sufferings and
sorrows. Enlightened and awakened, freed from all selfish bias, and seeing men
as they are, his heart responds in holy sympathy with all. Should any condemn,
abuse, or slander him he throws around them the kindly protection of his
sympathy, seeing the ignorance which prompts them so to act, and knowing that
they alone will suffer for their wrong acts.
Learn, by self-conquest and the acquisition of wisdom,
to love him whom you now condemn, to sympathise with those who condemn you. Turn
your eyes away from their condemnation and search your own heart, to find,
perchance, some hard, unkind, or wrong thoughts which, when discovered and
understood, you will condemn yourself.
Much that is commonly called sympathy is personal
affection. To love them who love us is human bias and inclination; but to love
them who do not love us is divine sympathy.
Sympathy is needed because of the prevalence of
suffering, for there is no being or creature who has not suffered. Through
suffering sympathy is evolved. Not in a year or a life or an age is the human
heart purified and softened by suffering, but after many lives of intermittent
pain, after many ages of ever recurring sorrow, man reaps the golden harvest of
his experiences, and garners in the rich, ripe sheaves of love and wisdom. And
then he understands, and understanding, he sympathises.
All suffering is the result of ignorantly violated law,
and after many repetitions of the same wrong act, and the same kind of suffering
resulting from that act, knowledge of the law is acquired, and the higher state
of obedience and wisdom is reached. Then there blossoms the pure and perfect
flower of sympathy.
One aspect of sympathy is that of pity - pity for the
distressed or pain-stricken, with a desire to alleviate or help them bear their
sufferings. The world needs more of this divine quality.
makes the world
Soft to the weak, and noble for the strong."
But it can only be developed by eradicating all
hardness and unkindness, all accusation and resentment. He who, when he sees
another suffering for his sin, hardens his heart and thinks or says: "It
serves him right"- such a one cannot exercise pity nor apply its healing
balm. Every time a man acts cruelly towards another (be it only a dumb
creature), or refuses to bestow needed sympathy, he dwarfs himself, deprives
himself of ineffable blessedness, and prepares himself for suffering.
Another form of sympathy is that of rejoicing with
those who are more successful than ourselves, as though their success were our
own. Blessed indeed is he who is free from all envy and malice, and can rejoice
and be glad when he hears of the good fortune of those who regard him as an
The protecting of creatures weaker and more
indefensible than oneself is another form in which this divine sympathy is
manifested. The helpless frailty of the dumb creation calls for the exercise of
the deepest sympathy. The glory of superior strength resides in its power to
shield, not to destroy. Not by the callous of destruction of weaker things is
life truly lived, but by their preservation:
Is linked and kin,"
and the lowest creature is not separated from the highest but by greater
weakness, by lesser intelligence. When we pity and protect we reveal and enlarge
the divine life and joy within ourselves. When we thoughtlessly or callously
inflict suffering or destroy, then our divine life becomes obscured, and its joy
fades and dies. Bodies may feed bodies, and passions passions, but man's divine
nature is only nurtured, sustained, and developed by kindness, love, sympathy,
and all pure and unselfish acts.
By bestowing sympathy on others we increase our own.
Sympathy given can never be wasted. Even the meanest creature will respond to
its heavenly touch, for it is the universal language which all creatures
understand. I have recently heard a true story of a Dartmoor convict whose terms
of incarceration in various convict stations extended to over forty years. As a
criminal he was considered one of the most callous and hopelessly abandoned, and
the warders found him almost intractable. But one day he caught a mouse - a
weak, terrified, hunted thing like himself - and its helpless frailty, and the
similarity of its condition with his own, appealed to him, and started into
flame the divine spark of sympathy which smouldered in his crime-hardened heart,
and which no human touch had ever wakened into life.
He kept the mouse in an old boot in his cell, fed,
tended, and loved it, and in his love for the weak and helpless he forgot and
lost his hatred for the strong. His heart and his hand were no longer against
his fellows. He became tractable and obedient to the uttermost. The warders
could not understand his change; it seemed to them little short of miraculous
that this most hardened of all criminals should suddenly be transformed into the
likeness of a gentle, obedient child. Even the expression of his featires
altered remarkably: a pleasing smile began to play around the mouth which had
formerly been moved to nothing better than a cruel grin, and the implacable
hardness of his eyes disappeared and gave place to a soft, deep, mellow light.
The criminal was a criminal no longer; he was saved, converted; clothed, and in
his right mind; restored to humaneness and to humanity, and set firmly on the
pathway to divinity by pitying and caring for a defenceless creature. All this
was made known to the warders shortly afterwards, when, on his discharge, he
took the mouse away with him.
Thus sympathy bestowed increases its store in our own
hearts, and enriches and fructifies our own life. Sympathy given is blessedness
received; sympathy withheld is blessedness forfeited. In the measure that a man
increases and enlarges his sympathy so much nearer does he approach the ideal
life, the perfect blessedness; and when his heart has become so mellowed that no
hard, bitter, or cruel thought can enter and detract from its permanent
sweetness, then indeed is he richly and divinely blessed.
"If men only understood
All the emptiness and acting
Of the sleeping and the waking
Of the souls they judge so blindly,
Of the hearts they pierce so unkindly,
They, with gentler words and feeling,
Would apply the balm of healing-
If they only understood."
"Kindness, nobler ever than revenge."
The remembering of injuries is
spiritual darkness; the fostering of resentment is spiritual suicide. To resort
to the spirit and practice of forgiveness is the beginning of enlightenment; it
is also the beginning of peace and happiness. There is no rest for him who
broods over slights and injuries and wrongs; no quiet repose of mind for him who
feels that he has been unjustly treated, and who schemes how best to act for the
discomfiture of his enemy.
How can happiness dwell in a heart that is so disturbed
by ill-will? Do birds resort to a burning bush wherein to build and sing?
Neither can happiness inhabit in that breast that is aflame with burning
thoughts of resentment. Nor can wisdom come and dwell where such folly resides.
Revenge seems sweet only to the mind that is
unacquainted with the spirit of forgiveness; but when the sweetness of
forgiveness is tasted then the extreme bitterness of revenge is known. Revenge
seems to lead to happiness to those who are involved in the darkness of passion;
but when the violence of passion is abandoned, and the mildness of forgiveness
is restored to, then it is seen that revenge leads to suffering.
Revenge is a virus which eats into the very vitals of
the mind, and poisons the entire spiritual being. Resentment is a mental fever
which burns up the wholesome energies of the mind, and "taking
offence" is a form of moral sickness which saps the healthy flow of
kindliness and good-will, and from which men and women should seek to be
delivered. The unforgiving and resentful spirit is a source of great suffering
and sorrow, and he who harbours and encourages it, who does not overcome and
abandon it, forfeits much blessedness, and does not obtain any measure of true
enlightenment. To be hard-hearted is to suffer, is to be deprived of light and
comfort; to be tender-hearted is to be serenely glad, is to receive light and be
well comforted. It will seem strange to many to be told that the hard-hearted
and unforgiving suffer most; yet it is profoundly true, for not only do they, by
the law of attraction, draw to themselves the revengeful passions in other
people, but their hardness of heart itself is a continual source of suffering.
Every time a man hardens his heart against a fellow-being he inflicts upon
himself five kinds of suffering - namely, the suffering of loss of love; the
suffering of lost communion and fellowship; the suffering of a troubled and
confused mind; the suffering of wounded passion or pride; and the suffering of
punishment inflicted by others. Every act of unforgiveness entails upon the doer
of that act these five sufferings; whereas every act of forgiveness brings to
the doer five kinds of blessedness - the blessedness of love; the blessedness of
increased communion and fellowship; the blessedness of a calm and peaceful mind;
the blessedness of passion stilled and pride overcome; and the blessedness and
kindness and good-will bestowed by others.
Numbers of people are today suffering the fiery
torments of an unforgiving spirit, and only when they make an effort to overcome
that spirit can they know what a cruel and exacting taskmaster they are serving.
Only those who have abandoned the service of such a master for that of the
nobler master of forgiveness can realise and know how grievous a service is the
one, how sweet the other.
Let a man contemplate the strife of the world: how
individuals and communities, neighbours and nations, live in continual
retaliations towards each other; let him realise the heartaches, the bitter
tears, the grievous partings and misunderstandings - yea, even the blood-shed
and woe which spring from that strife - and, thus realising, he will never again
yield to ignoble thoughts of resentment, never again take offence at the actions
of others, never again live in unforgiveness towards any being.
To all that lives, letting unkindness die
And greed and wrath; so that your lives be made
Like soft airs passing by."
When a man abandons retaliation for forgiveness he
passes from darkness to light. So dark and ignorant is unforgiveness that no
being who is at all wise or enlightened could descend to it; but its darkness is
not understood and known until it is left behind, and the better and nobler
course of conduct is sought and practised. Man is blinded and deluded only by
his own dark and sinful tendencies; and the giving up of all unforgiveness means
the giving up of pride and certain forms of passion, the abandonment of the
deeply-rooted idea of the importance of one-self and of the necessity for
protecting and defending that self; and when that is done the higher life,
greater wisdom, and pure enlightenment, which pride and passion completely
obscured, are revealed in all their light and beauty.
Then there are petty offences, little spites and
passing slights, which, while of a less serious nature than deep-seated hatreds
and revenges, dwarf the character and cramp the soul. They are due to the sin of
self and self-importance and thrive on vanity. Whosoever is blinded and deluded
by vanity will continually see something in the actions and the attitudes of
others towards him at which to take offence, and the more there is of vanity the
more greatly will the imaginary slight or wrong be exagerrated. Moreover, to
live in the frequent indulgence of petty resentments increase the spirit of
hatred, and leads gradually downward to greater darkness, suffering, and
self-delusion. Don't take offence or allow your feelings to be hurt, which means
- get rid of pride and vanity. Don't give occasion for offence or hurt the
feelings of others, which means - be gently considerate, forgiving, and
charitable towards all.
The giving up - the total
uprooting - of vanity and pride is a great task; but it is a blessed task, and
it can be accomplished by constant practice in non-resentment and by meditating
upon one's thoughts and actions so as to understand and purify them; and the
spirit of forgiveness is perfected in one in the measure that pride and vanity
are overcome and abandoned.
The not-taking-offence and the not-giving-offence go
together. When a man ceases to resent the actions of others he is already acting
kindly towards them, considering them before himself or his own defence.Such a
man will be gently in what he says and does, will arouse love and kindness in
others, and not stir them up to ill-will and strife. He will also be free from
all fear concerning the actions of others towards him, for he who hurts none
fears none. But the unforgiving man, he who is eager to "pay back"
some real or imaginary slight or injury, will not be considerate towards others,
for he considers himself first, and is continually making enemies; he also loves
in the fear of others, thinking that that they are trying to do towards him as
he is doing towards them. He who contrives the hurt of others fears others.
That is a beautiful story of Prince Dhirgayu which was
told by an ancient Indian teacher to his disciples in order to impress them with
the truth of the ublime percept that "hatred ceases not by hatred at any
time; hatred ceases by not-hatred." The story is as follows:- Brahmadatta,
a powerful king of Benares, made war upon Dirgheti, the king of Kosala, in order
to annex his kingdom, which was much smaller than his own. Dirgheti, seeing that
it was impossible for him to resist the greater power of bramhadatta, fled, and
left his kingdom in his enemy's hands. For some time he wandered from place to
place in disguise, and at last settled down with his queen in an artisan's
cottage; and the queen gave birth to a son, whom they called Dirghayu.
Now, King Brahmadatta was anxious to dsicover the
hiding-place of Dirgheti, in order to put to death the conquered king, for he
thought, "Seeing that I have deprived him of his kingdom he may someday
treacherously kill me If I do not kill him."
But many years passed away, and Dirgheti devoted
himself to the education of his son,. who by dilligent application, became
learned and skillful and wise.
And after a time Dirgheti's secret became known, and
he, fearing that brahmadatta would discover him and slay all three, and thinking
more of the life of his son than his own, sent away the prince. Soon after the
exile king fell into the hands of Brahmadatta, and was, along with his queen,
Now Brahmadatta thought: I have got rid of Dirgheti and
his queen, but thier son , Prince Dirghayu, lives, and he will be sure to
contrive some means of effecting my assassination; yet he is unknown to any, and
I have no means of discovering him." So the king lived in great fear and
continual distress of mind.
Soon after the execution of his parents, Dirghayu,
under an assumed name, sought employment in the king's stables, and was engaged
by the master of elephants.
Dirghayu quickly endeared himself to all, and his
superior abilities came at last under the notice of the king, who had the young
man brought before him, and was so charmed with him that he employed him in his
own castle, and he proved to be so able and diligent that the king shortly
placed him in a position of great trust under himself.
one day the king went on a long hunting expedtion, and
became seperated from his retinue, Dirghayu alone remaining with him. And the
king, being fatigued with his exertions, lay down, and slept with his head in
Then Dirghayu thought: This king has greatly wronged
me. He robbed my father of his kingdom, and slew my parents, and he is now
entirely in my power." And he drew his sword, thinking to slay Brahmadatta.
But, remembering how his father had taught him never to seek revenge but to
forgive to the uttermost, he sheathed his sword.
At last the king awoke out of a disturbed sleep, and
the youth inquired of him why he looked so frightened. "My sleep",
said the king "is always restless, for I frequently dream that I am in the
power of young Dirghayu and that he is alone to slay me. While lying here I
again dreamed that with greater vividness than ever before and it has filled me
with dread and terror.
Then the youth, drawing his sword, said: "I am
Prince Dirghayu, and you are in my power: the time of vengeance has
Then the king fell upon his knees and begged Dirghayu
to spare his life. And Dirghayu said: "It is you, O King! who must spare my
life. For many years you have wished to find me in order that you might kill me;
and , now that you have found me, let me beg of you to grant me my life."
And there and then did Brahmadatta and Dirghayu grant
each other life, took hands, and solemnly vowed never to harm each other. And so
overcome was the king by the noble and forgiving spirit of Dirghayu that he gave
him his daughter in marriage, and restored to him his father's kingdom.
Thus hatred ceases by not-hatred- by forgiveness, which
is very beautiful, and is sweeter and more effective than revenge. It is the
beginning of love, of that divine love that does not seek its own; and he who
practises it, who perfects himself in it, comes at last to realise that blessed
state wherein the torments of pride and vanity and hatred and retaliation are
forever dispelled, and good-will and peace are unchanging and unlimited. In that
state of calm, silent bliss, even forgiveness passes away, and is no longer
needed, for he who has reached it sees no evil to resent but only ignorance and
delusion on which to have compassion, and forgiveness is only needed so long as
there is any tendency to resent, retaliate, and take offence. Equal love towards
all is the perfect law, the perfect state in which all lesser states find their
completion. Forgiveness is one of the doorways in the faultless temple of Love
Seeing No Evil
The solid, solid universe
Is pervious to love;
With bandaged eyes he never errs,
Around, below, above.
His blinding light
He flingeth white
On God's and Satan's brood,
By mystic wiles
The evil and the good."
"If thou thinkest evil, be thou
Thine acts will bear the shadow of the stain;
And if they thought be perfect, then thy deed
Will be as of the perfect, true, and pure."
After much practice in
forgiveness and having cultivated the spirit of forgiveness up to a certain
point, knowledge of the actual nature of good and evil dawns upon the mind, and
a man begins to understand how thoughts and motives are formed in the human
heart, how they develop, and how take birth in the form of actions. This marks
the opening of a new vision in the mind, the commencement of a nobler, higher,
diviner life; for the man now begins to perceive that there is no necessity to
resist or resent the actions of others towards him, whatever those actions may
be, and that all along his resentment has been caused by his own ignorance, and
that his own bitterness of spirit is wrong. Having arrived thus far he will take
himself with some such questionings as these: "Why this continual
retaliation and forgiveness ? Why this tormenting anger against another and then
this repentance and forgiveness ? Is not forgiveness the taking back of one's
anger, the giving up of one's resentment; and if anger and resentment are good
and necessary why repent of them and give them up ? If it is so beautiful, so
sweet, so peacful to get rid of all feelings of bitterness and to utterly and
wholly forgive, would it not be still more beautiful and sweet and peaceful
never to grow bitter at all, never to know anger, never to resent as evil the
action of another, but always to live in the experience of that pure, calm,
blissful love which is known when an act of forgiveness is done, and all unruly
passion towards another is put away ? If another has done me wrong is not my
hatred towards him wrong, and acn one wrong right another ? Moreover, has he by
his wrong really injured me, or has he injured himself? Am I not injured by my
own wrong rather than by his ? Why, then, do I grow angry? why do I resent,
retaliate, and engage in bitter thoughts? Is it not because my pride is piqued
or my vanity wounded or my selfishness thwarted ? Is not because my blind animal
passions are aroused and allowed to subdue my better nature ? Seeing that I am
hurt by another person's attitude towards me because of my own pride or vanity
or ungoverned and unpurified passions, would it not be better to look to the
wrong in myself rather than the wrong in another, to get rid of pride and vanity
and passion, and so avoid being hurt at all ?
By such self -questionings and their elucidation in the
light of mild thoughts and dispassionate conduct a man, gradually overcoming
passion and rising out of the ignorance which gave rise to passion, will at last
reach that blessed state in which he will cease to see evil in others, and will
dwell in universal good-will and love and peace. Not that he will cease to see
ignorance and folly; not that he will cease to see suffering and sorrow and
misery; not that he will cease to distinguish between acts that are pure and
impure, right and wrong, for, having put away passion and prejudice, he will see
these things in the full, clear light of knowledge, and exactly as they are; but
he will cease to see anything-any evil power- in another which can do him
injury, which he must violently oppose and strive to crush, and against which he
must guard himself. Having arrived at right understanding of evil by purging it
away from his own heart he sees that it is a thing that does not call for hatred
and fear and resentment but for consideration, compassion, and love.
Shakespeare through one of his characters says:
"There is no darkness but ignorance." All evil is ignorance, is dense
darkness of mind, and the removal of sin from one's mind is a coming out of
darkness into spiritual light. Evil is the negation of good, just as darkness is
the negation, or absence of light, and what is there in a negation to arouse
anger or resentment ? When night settles down upon the world who is so foolish
as to rail at the darkness? The enlightened man, likewise, does not accuse or
condemn the spirtual darkness in men's hearts which is manifested in the form of
sin, though by gentle reproof he may sometimes point out where the light lies.
Now the ignorance to which I refer as evil, or as the
source of evil, is two-fold. There is wrong-doing which is committed without any
knowledge of good and evil, and where there is no choice - this is unconscious
wrong-doing. Then there is wrong-doing which is done in the knowledge that it
ought not to be done - this is conscious wrong-doing; but both unconscious and
conscious wrong-doing arise in ignorance-that is, ignorance of the real nature
and painful consequences of the wrong-doing.
Why does a man continue to do certain things which he
feels he ought not to do? If he knows that what he is doing is wrong where lies
He continues to do those things because his knowledge
of them is incomplete. He only knows he ought not to do them by certain precepts
without and qualms of conscience within, but he does not fully and completely
understand what he is doing. He knows that certain acts bring him immediate
pleasure, and so, in spite of the troubled conscience which follows that
pleasure, he continues to commit them. He is convinced that the pleasure is good
and desireable, and therefore to be enjoyed. He does not know that pleasure and
pain are one, but thinks he can have the one without the other. He has no
knowledge of the law which governs human actions, and never thinks of
associating his sufferings with his own wrong-doing, but believes that they are
caused by the wrong-doing of others or are the mysterious dispensations of
Providence, and therefore not to be inquired into or understood. He is seeking
happiness, and does those things which he believes will bring him most
enjoyment, but he acts in entire ignorance of the hidden and inevitable
consequences which attach to his actions.
Said a man to me once who was the victim of a bad
habit: "I know the habit is a bad one, and that it does me more harm than
good" I said : " If you know that what you are doing is bad and
harmful why do you continue to do it?" And he replied: "Because it is
pleasant, and I like it.
This man, of course, did not really know that his habit
was bad. He had been told that it was, and he thought he knew or believed it
was, but in reality he thought it was good, that it was conducive to his
happiness and well-being, and therefore he continue to practise it. When a man
knows by experience that a thing is bad, and that every time he does it he
injuries body or mind, or both; when his knowledge of that thing is so complete
that he is acquainted with its hole train of baneful effects, then he cannot
only not do it any longer, he cannot even desire to do it, and even the pleasure
that was formerly in that thing becomes painful. No man would put a venomous
snake in his pocket because it is prettily coloured. He knows that a deadly
sting lurks in those beautiful markings. Nor, when a man knows the unavoidable
pain and hurt which lie hidden in wrong thoughts and acts, does he continue to
think and commit them. Even the immediate pleasure which formerly he greedily
sought is gone from them; their surface attractiveness has vanished; he is no
longer ignorant concerning their true nature; he sees them as they are.
I knew a young man who was in business, and although a
member of a church, and occupying the position of voluntary religious
instructor, he told me that it was absolutely necessary to practise lying and
deception in business, otherwise sure and certain ruin would follow. He said he
knew lying was wrong, but while he remained in business he must continue to do
it. Upon questioning him I found, of course, that he had never tried truth and
honesty in his business, had not even thought of trying the better way, so
firmly convinced was he that it was not possible for him to know whether or not
it would be productive or ruin. Now, did this young man know that lying was
wrong? There was a preceptial sense only in which he knew, but there was a
deeper and more real sense in which he did not know. He had been taught to
regard lying as wrong, and his conscience bore out that teaching, but he
believed that it brought to him profit, prosperity and happiness, and that
honesty would bring him loss, poverty, and misery - in a word, he regarded
lying, deep in his heart, as the right thing to do, and honesty as the wrong
practice. He had no knowledge whatever of the real nature of the act of lying:
how it is, on the instant of its committal, loss of character, loss of
self-respect, loss of power, usefulness, and influence, and loss of blessedness;
and how it unerrinngly leads to loss of reputation and loss of material profit
and prosperity. Only when such a man begins to consider happiness of others,
prefers to embrace the loss which he fears rather than clutch at the gain which
he desires, will he obtain that real knowledge which lofty moral conduct alone
can reveal; and then, experiencing the greater blessedness, he will see how, all
along, he has been deceiving and defrauding himself rather than others, has been
living in darkest ignorance and self-delusion.
These two common instances of wrong-doing will serve to
illustrate and make plainer, to those of my readers who, while searching for
Truth, are as yet doubtful, uncertain, and confused, the deep Truth that all
sin, or evil, is a condition of ignorance and therefore to be dealt with in a
loving and not a hateful spirit.
And as with bad habits and lying so with all sin - with
lust, hatred, malice, envy, pride, vanity, self-indulgence and selfishness in
all its forms; it is a state of spiritual darkness, the absence of the Light of
Truth in the heart, the negation of knowledge.
Thus when, by overcoming the wrong condition in one's
own heart, the nature of evil is fully realised and mere belief gives place to
living knowledge, evil can no longer be hatefully condemned and violently
resisted, and the wrong-doer is thought of with tender compassion.
And this brings us to another aspect of evil-namely,
that of individual freedom; the right of every person to choose his own actions.
Along with the seeing of evil in others is the desire to convert or coerce
others into one's own ways of thinking and acting. Probably the commenest
delusion in which men are involved is that of thinking that what they themselves
believe and think and do is good, and all that is otherwise is evil, and
therefore to be powerfully condemned and resisted. It is out of this delusion
that all persecutions springs. There are christians who regard all Atheists as
men wholly evil, as given up to the service of an evil power; and there are
Atheists who firmly believe that all christians are doing the greatest harm to
the whole human race by their "superstitious and false doctrines." The
truth is that neither the christian nor the Atheist is evil, nor in the service
of evil, but each is choosing his own way, and is pursuing that course which he
is convinced is right.
Let a man quietly contemplate the fact that numbers of
followers of various religions the world over are, as they ever were, engaged in
condemning each other as evil and wrong, and regarding themselves as good and
right, and it will help him to realise how all evil is merely ignorance,
spiritual darkness; and earnest meditation on that fact will be found to be one
of the greatest aids in developing greater kindness, charity, insight and
breadth of mind.
The truly wise and good man sees good in all, evil in
none. He has abandoned the folly of wanting others to think and act as he thinks
and acts, for he sees men are variously constituted, are at different points in
their spritual evolution, and must, of necessity, think and act differently.
Having put away hatred, condemnation, egotism, and prejudice he has become
enlightened, and sees that purity, love compassion, gentleness, patience,
humility, and unselfishness are manifestations of light and knowledge; while
impurity, hatred, cruelty, passion, darkness and ignorance; and that whether men
are living in light or darkness thay are one and all doing that which they think
is necessary, are acting in accordance with thier own measure of light or
darkness. The wise man understands and understanding, he ceases from all
bitterness and accusation.
Every man acts in accordance with his nature, with his
own sense of right and wrong, and is surely gathering in the results of his own
experience. There is one supreme right which evry being possesses - to think and
act as he chooses. If he chooses to think and act selfishly, thinking of his own
immediate happiness only and not of that of others , then he will rapidly bring
upon himself, by the action of the moral law of cause and effect, such
afflictions as will cause him to pause and consider, and so find a better way.
There is no teacher to compare with experience, no chastisement so corrective
and purifying as that which men ignorantly inflict upon themselves. The selfish
man is the ignorant man; he chooses his own way, but it is a way which leads to
suffering, and through suffering to knowledge and bliss. The good man is the
wise man; he likewise chooses his own way, but he chooses it in the full light
of knowledge, having passed through the stages of ignorance and suffering, and
arrived at knowledge and bliss.
A man begins to understand what "seeing no
evil" is when, putting away all personal desires in his judgments of
others, he considers them from their own standpoint, and judges their actions
not from his own standard but from theirs. It is because men setup
arbitrary standards of right and wrong, and are anxious that all should conform
to their particular standard, that they see evil in each other. A man is only
rightly judged when he is judged not from my standard or yours but from his own,
and to deal with him thus is not judgment it is Love. It is only when we look
through the eyes of Impersonal Love that we become enlightened, and see others
as they really are; and a man is approaching that Love when he can say in his
heart: "Who am I that I should judge another? Am I so pure and sinless that
I arraign men and pass the judgment of evil upon them? Rather let me humble
myself, and correct mine own errors, before assuming the position of supreme
judge of those of other men."
It was said by one of old to those who were about to
stone, as evil, a woman taken in the act of committing one of the darkest sins:
"He that is without sin let him cast the first stone"; and though he
who said it was without sin yet he took up no stone, nor passed any bitter
judgment, but said, with infinite gentleness and compassion: "Neither do I
condemn thee; go, and sin no more."
In the pure heart there is no room left where personal
judgements and hatreds can find lodgement,for it is filled to overflowing with
tenderness and love; it sees no evil; and only as men succeed in seeing no evil
in others will they become free from sin and sorrow and suffering.
No man sees evil in himself or his own acts except the
man who is becoming enlightened, and then he abandons those acts which he has
come to see are wrong. Every man justifies himself in what he does, and, however
evil others may regard his conduct, he himself thinks it to be good and
necessary; If he did not he would not, could not do it. The angry man always
justifies his anger; the covetous man his greed; the impure man his unchastity;
the liar considers that his lying is altogether necessary; the slanderer
believes that, in vilifying the characters of those whom he dislikes, and
warning other people against their "evil" natures, he is doing well;
the thief is convinced that stealing is the shortest and best way to plenty,
prosperity, and happiness; and even the murderer thinks that there is a ground
of justification for his deed.
Every man's deeds are in accordance with the measure of
his own light or darkness, and no man can live higher than he is or act beyond
the limits of his knowledge. Nevertheless, he can improve himself, and thereby
gradually increase his light and extend the range of his knowledge. The angry
man indulgence in raillery and abuse because his knowledge does not extend to
forbearance and patience. Not having practised gentleness, he does not
understand it, and cannot choose it; nor can he know, by its comparison with the
light of gentleness,the darkness of anger. It is the same with the liar, the
slanderer, and the thief; he lives in this dark condition of mind and action
because he is limited to it by his immature knowledge and experience, because
never having lived in the higher conditions, he has no knowledge of them, and it
is, to him, as if they were non-existent: "The light shineth in the
darkness and the darkness comprehendenth it not. Nor can he understand even the
conditions in which he is living, because, being dark, they are necessarily
devoid of all knowledge.
When a man driven by repeated sufferings to at last
reflect upon his conduct, comes to see that his anger or lying, or whatever
ignorant condition he may have been living in, is productive only of trouble and
sorrow then he abandons it, and commences to search for , and practise, the
opposite and enlightened condition; and when he is firmly established in the
better way, so that his knowledge of both conditions is complete, then he
realises in what great darkness he had formerly lived. This knowledge of good
and evil by experience constitutes enlightment.
When a man begins to look, as it were, through the eyes
of others, and to measure them by thier own standard and not by his, then he
ceases from seeing of evil in others, for he knows that every man's perception
and standard of good and evil is different; that there is no vice so low but
some men regard itas good; no virtue so high but some men regard it as evil; and
what a man regards as good that to him is good; what he regards as evil that to
him is evil.
Nor will the purified man, who has ceased to see evil
in others, have any desire to win men to his own ways or opinions, but will
rather help them in their own particular groove, knowing that an enlarged
experience only, and not merely change of opinion can lead to higher knowledge
and greater blessedness.
It will be found that men see evil in those who differ
from them, good in those who agree with them. The man who greatly loves himself
and is enarmoured of his opinions will love all those who agree with him and
will dislike all those who disagree with him. "If ye love them that love
ye, what reward have ye?.... Love your enemies, do good to them that hate
you." Egotism and vanity make men blind. Men of opposing religious views
hate and persecute each other; men of opposing political views fight and condemn
each other. The partisan measures all men by his own standard, and sets up his
judgements accordingly. So convinced is he that he is right and others wrong
that he atlast persuades himself that to inflict cruelty on others is both good
and necessary in order to coerce them into his way of thinking and acting, and
so bring them to the right - his right - against their own reason and will.
Men hate, condemn, resist and inflict suffering upon
each other, not because they are intrinsically evil, not because they are
deliberately "wicked" and are doing, in the full light of truth, what
they know to be wrong, but because they regard such conduct as necessary and
right. All men are intrinsically good, but some are wiser than others, are older
in experience than others. I recently heard, in substance, the following
conversation between two men whom I will call D- and E-. The third person
refered to as X is a prominent politician:-
E. Every man reaps the result of his own thoughts and
deeds, and suffers for his own wrong.
D. If that is so, and if no man can escape from the
penalty of his evil deeds, what an inferno some of our men in power must be
preparing for themselves.
E. Whether a man is in power or not, so long as he
lives in ignorance and sin, he will reap sorrow and suffering.
D. Look, for instance, at X-, a man totally evil, given
up entirely to selfishness and ambition; surely great torments are reserved for
so unprincipled a man.
E. But how do you know he is so evil.
D. By his works, his fruits. When I see a man doing
evil I know that he is evil; and I cannot even think of X- but I burn with
righteous indignation. I am sometimes inclined to doubt that there is an
overruling power for good when I see such a man in a position where he can do so
much harm to others.
E. What evil is he commiting ?
D. His whole policy is evil. He will ruin the country
if he remains in power.
E. But while there are large numbers of people who
think of X- as you do there are also large numbers, equally intelligent, who
look on him as good and able, who admire him for his excellent qualities, and
regard his policy as beneficent and making for national progress. He owes his
position to these people; are they also evil ?
D. They are deceived and mislead. And this only makes -
X's evil all the greater, in that he can so succesfully employ his talents in
deceiving others in order to gain his own selfish ends. I hate the man.
E. May it not be possible that you are deceived ?
D. In what way ?
E. Hatred is self-deception; love is
self-enlightenment. No man can see either himself or others clearly until he
ceases from hatred and practises love.
D. That sounds very beautiful, but it is impracticable.
When I see a man doing evil to others, and deceiving and misleading them, I must
hate him. It is right that I should do so. X- is without a spark of conscience.
E. X- may or may not be all you believe to be, but,
even if he is, according to your own words, he should be pitied and not
D. How so ?
E. You say he is without a conscience.
D. Entirely so.
E. Then he is a mental cripple. Do you hate the blind
because they cannot see, that dumb because they cannot speak, or the deaf
because they cannot hear ? When a captain has lost his rudder or broken his
compass do you condemn him because he did not keep his ship off the rocks ? Do
you hold him responsible for the loss of life? If a man is totally devoid of
conscience he is without the means of moral guidance, and all his selfishness
must, perforce, appear to him good and right and proper. X- may appear evil to
you, but is he evil to himself? Does he regard his own conduct as evil?
D. Whether he regards himself as evil or not he is
E. If I were to regard you as evil because of your
hatred for X- should I be right?
E. Why not?
D. Because in such a case hatred is necessary,
justifiable and righteous. There is such a thing as righteous anger, righteous
E. Is there such a thing as righteous selfishness,
righteous ambition, righteous evil ? I should be quite wrong in regarding you as
evil, because you are doing what you are convinced is right, because you regard
your hatred for X- as part of your duty as a man and a citizen; nevertheless,
there is a better way that that of hatred, and it is the knowledge of this
better way that prevents me from hating X- as you do, because however wrong his
conduct might appear to me, it is not wrong to him nor to his supporters;
moreover, all men reap as they sow.
D. What, then, is that better way?
E. It is the way of Love; the ceasing to regard others
as evil. It is a blessed and peaceful state of heart.
D. Do you mean that there is a state which a man can
reach wherein he will grow angry when he sees people doing evil?
E. No, I do not mean that, for while a man regards
others as evil he will continue to grow angry with them; but I mean that a man
can reach a state of calm insight and spotless love wherein he sees no evil to
grow angry with, wherein he understands the various natures of men - how they
are prompted to act, and how they reap, as the harvest of their own thoughts and
deeds, the tares of sufferings and the corn of bliss. To reach that state is to
regard all men with compassion and love.
D. The state that you picture is a very high one- it
is, no doubt, a very holy and beautiful one- but it is a state that I should be
sorry to reach; and I should pray to be preserved from a state of mind were I
could not hate a man like X- with an intense hatred.
Thus by this conversation it will be seen that D-
regarded his hatred as good. Even so all men regard that which they do as
necessary to be done. The things which men habitually practice those things they
believe in. When faith in a thing wholly ceases it ceases to be practised. D-'s
individual liberty is equal to that of other men, and he has a right to hate
another if he so wishes, nor will he abandon his hatred until he discovers, by
the sorrow and unrest which it entails, how wrong and foolish and blind it is,
and how, by its practice, he is injuring himself.
A great Teacher was once asked by one of His disciples
to explain the distinction between good and evil, and holding His hand with the
fingers pointing downward, He said: "Where is my hand pointing?"
And the disciple replied: "It is pointing
Then, turning His hand upward, the Teacher asked:
"Where now is my hand pointing?"
And the disciple answered: "It is pointing
"That," said the Teacher, "is the
distinction between evil and good."
By this simple illustration He indicated that evil is
merely wrongly-directed energy, and good rightly-directed energy, and that the
so-called evil man becomes good by reversing his conduct.
To understand the true nature of evil by living in the
good is to cease to see other men as evil. Blessed is he who, turning from the
evil in others exerts himself in the purification of his own heart. He shall one
day become of "too pure eyes to behold evil."
Knowing the nature of evil, what does it behove a man
to do? It behoves him to live only in that which is good: therefore if a man
condemn me, I will not condemn him in return; if he revile me I will give him
kindness; if he slander me I will speak of his good qualities, if he hate me
then he greatly needs, and shall receive, my love. With the impatient I will be
patient; with the greedy I will be generous, and with the violent and
quarrelsome I will be mild and peaceable. Seeing no evil, whom should I hate or
who regard as mine enemy?
"Were mankind murderous or jealous upon
you, my brother, my sister?
I'm so sorry for you. They are not murderous or jealous upon me;
All has been gentle with me, I keep no account with lamentation;
What have I to do with lamentation?"
He who sees men as evil imagines that behind those acts
which are called "wicked" there is a corporate and substantial evil
prompting those particular sins but he of stainless vision sees the deeds,
themselves as the evil, and knows that there is no evil power, no evil soul or
man behind those deeds. The substance of the universe is good; there is no
substance of evil.Good alone is permanent; there is no fixed or permanent evil.
As brothers and sisters, born of the same parents and
being of one house-hold, love each other through all vicissitudes, see no evil
in each other, but overlook all errors, and cling together in the strong bonds
of affection-even so the good man sees humanity as one spiritual family, born of
the same Father-Mother, being of the same essence and making for the same goal,
and he regards all men and women as his brothers and sisters, makes no divisions
and distinctions, sees none as evil, but is at peace with all. Happy is he who
attains to this blessed state.
"Who carry music in their heart
Through dusky alne and wrangleing mart,
plying their daily toil with busier feet,
Because their secret souls a holier repeat."
"Serene will be our days and bright,
And happy will our nature be,
When love is an unerring light,
And joy its own security."
ABIDING joy! Is there such a thing ? Where is it? Who
possesses it? Yea; there is such a thing. It is where there is no sin. It is
possessed by the pure hearted.
As darkness is a passing shadow, and light is substance
that remains, so sorrow is fleeting, but joy abides for ever. No true thing can
pass away and become lost; no false thing can remain and be preserved. Sorrow is
false, and it cannot live; joy is true, and it cannot die. Joy may become hidden
for a time, but it can be always be recovered; sorrow may remain for a period,
but it can be transcended and dispersed.
Do not think your sorrow will remain; it will pass away
like a cloud. Do not believe that the torments of sin are ever your portion;
they will vanish like a hideous nightmare. Awake! arise! Be holy and Joyful!
You are the creator of your own shadows; you desire and
then you grieve; renounce and then you all rejoice.
You are not the impotent slave of sorrow; the
Never-Ending Gladness awaits your Home-coming.You are not the helpless prisioner
of the darkness and dreams of sin; even now the beautiful light of holiness
shines upon your sleeping lids, ready to greet your awakening vision.
In the heavy, troubled sleep of sin and self the
abiding joy is lost and forgotten; its undying music is no more heard, and the
fragrance of its fadeless flowers no longer cheers the heart of the wayfarer.
But when sin and self are abandoned, when the clinging
to things for personal pleasure is put away, then the shadows of grief
disappear, and the heart is restored to its Imperishable Joy.
Joy comes and fills the self-emptied heart; it abides
with the peaceful; its reign is with the pure.
Joy flees from the selfish; it deserts the
quarrel-some; it is hidden from the impure.
Joy is as an angel so beautiful and delicate and chaste
that she can only dwell with holiness. She cannot remain with selfishness; she
is wedded to Love.
Every man is truly happy in so far as he is unselfish; he is miserable in so far
as he is selfish. All truly good men, and by good men I mean those who have
fought victoriously the battle against self, are men of joy. How great is the
jubiliation of the saint ! No true teacher promises sorrow as the ultimate of
life; he promises joy. He points to sorrow, but only as a process which
sin has rendered necessary. Where self ends grief passes away. Joy is the
companion of righteousness. In the divine life tender compassion fills the place
where weeping sorrow sat. During the process of becoming unselfish there
are periods of deep sorrow. Purification is necessarily severe. All becoming is
painful. Abiding joy is its completion is realised only in the perfection of
being, and this is
Where all is lovelines, and power and love,
With all sublimest qualities of mind,
.. Where all
Enjoy entire dominion o'er themselves.
Acts, feelings, thoughts, conditions, qualities."
Consider how a flower evolves and becomes; at first
there is a little germ groping its way in the dark soil towards the upper light;
then the plant appears, and leaf is added unto leaf; and finally the perfected
flower appears, in the sweet perfume and chaste beauty of which all effort
So, with human life; at first the blind groping for the
light in the dark soil of selfishness and ignorance; then the coming into the
light, and the gradual overcoming of selfishness with its accompanying pain and
sorrow; and finally the perfect flower of a pure, unselfish life, giving forth,
without effort, the perfume of holiness and the beauty of joy.
The good, the pure, are the superlatively happy.
However men may argumentatively deny or qualify this, humanity instinctively
knows it to be true. Do not men everywhere picture their angels as the most
joyful of beings? There are joyful angels in bodies of flesh; we meet them and
pass on; and how many of those who come in contact with them are sufficiently
pure to see vision within the form - to see the incorruptible angel in its
common instrument of clay?
"They needs must grope who cannot see,
The blade before the ear must be;
The outward symbols disappear
From him whose inward sight is clear."
Yes; the pure are the joyful. We look almost in vain
for any expressions of sorrow in the words of Jesus. The "Man of
Sorrows" is only completed in the Man of Joy.
"I, Buddha, who wept with all my brother's
Whose heart was broken by a whole world's woe,
Laugh and am glad, for there is Liberty!"
In sin, and in the struggle against sin, there is
unrest and affliction, but in the perfection of Truth, in the path od
Righteousness, there is abiding joy.
"Enter the Path! There spring the
Quenching all thirst! There bloom th' immortal flowers
Carpeting all the way with joy! There throng
Swiftest and sweetest hours!"
Tribulation lasts only so long as there remains some
chaff of self which needs to be removed. The tribulum, or
threshing-machine, ceases to work when all the grain is separated from chaff;
and when the last impurities are blown away from the soul, tribulation has
completed its work, and there is no more need for it; then abiidng joy is
All the saints and prophets and saviors of the race
have proclaimed with rejoicing the "Gospel" or the "Good
News." All men know what Good News is - An impending calamity avoided, a
disease cured, friends arrived or returned in safety, difficulties overcome,
success in some enterprise assured - but what is the "Good News" of
the saintly ones? This: that there is peace for the troubled, healing for the
afflicted, gladness for the grief-stricken, victory for the sinful, a homecoming
for the wanderer, and joy for the sorrowing and broken-hearted. Not that these
beautiful realities shall be in some future world, but they are here and
now, that they are known and realised and enjoyed; and are, therefore,
proclaimed that all may accept them who will break the galling bonds of self and
rise into the glorious liberty of unselfish love.
Seek the highest Good, and as you find it, as you
practise it and realise it, you will taste the deepest, sweetest joy. As you
succeed in forgetting your own selfish desires in your thoughtfulness for
others, in your care for others, in your service for others, just so far and no
further will you find and realise the abiding joy in life.
Inside the gateway of unselfishness lies the elysium of
Abiding Joy, and whosoever will may enter in, whosoever doubts let him come and
And knowing this - that selfishness leads to misery,
unselfishness to joy, not merely for one's self alone - for if this were all how
unworthy could be our endeavours! - but for the whole world and because all with
whom we live and come in contact will be the happier and truer for our
unselfishness; because Humanity is one, and the joy of one is the joy of all -
knowing this let us scatter flowers and not thorns in the common ways of life -
yea, even in the highway of our enemies let us scatter the blossoms of unselfish
love - so shall the pressure in their footprints fill the air with the perfume
of holiness and gladen the world with the aroma of joy.
"Be still! The crown of life is
Give thou a quiet hour to each long day,
Too much of time we spend in profitless
And foolish talk. Too little do we say.
"If thou wouldst gather words that shall avail,
Learning a wisdom worthy to express,
Leave for a while thy chat and empty tale-
Study the golden speech of silentness."
"Be still, my soul.
Rest awhile from the feverish activities in
which you lose yourself.
Be not afraid to be left alone with yourself
for one short hour."
In the words of a wise man there
is great power, but his silence is more powerful still. The greatest men teach
us most effectively when they are purposely silent. The silent attitude of the
great man noted, perhaps, by one or two of his disciples only is recorded and
preserved through the ages; while the obtrusive words of the merely clever
talker, heard, perhaps, by thousands, and at once popularised, are neglected and
forgotten in, at most, a few generations. The silence of Jesus, when asked by
Pilate "What is Truth?" is the impressive, the awful silence of
profound wisdom; it is pregnant with humility and reproof, and perpetually
rebukes that shallowness that, illustrating the truth that "fools step in
where angels fear to tread," would in terms of triteness parcel out the
universe, or think to utter the be-all and the end-all of the mystery of things
in some textual formula or theological platitude. When, plied with questions
about Brahma (God) by the argumentative Brahmans, Buddha remained silent, he
taught them better than they knew, and if by his silence he failed to satisfy
the foolish he thereby profoundly instructed the wise. Why all this ceaseless
talk about God, with its accompaniment of intolerance? Let men practise some
measure of kindliness and good-will, and thereby acquaint themselves with the
simple rudiments of wisdom. Why all these speculative arguments about the nature
of God? Let us first understand somewhat of ourselves. There are no greater
marks of folly and moral immaturity than irreverence and presumption; no greater
manifestations of wisdom and moral maturity than reverence and humility. Lao-Tze,
in his own life, exemplified his teaching that the wise man "teaches
without words." Disciples were attracted to him by the power which ever
accompanies a wise reserve. Living in comparative obscurity and silence, not
courting the ear of men, and never going out to teach, men sought him out and
learned of him wisdom.
The silent acts of the Great Ones are beacons to the
wise, illuminating their pathway with no uncertain radiance, for he would attain
to virtue and wisdom must learn, not only when to speak and what to say, but
also when to remain silent and what not to say. The right control of the tongue
is the beginning of wisdom; the right control of the mind is the consummation of
wisdom. By curbing his tongue a man gains possession of his mind, and to have
complete possession of one's mind is to be a Master of Silence.
The fool babbles, gossips, argues, and bandies words.
He glories in the fact that he has had the last word and has silenced his
opponent. He exults in his own folly, is ever on the defensive, and wastes his
energies in unprofitable channels. He is like a gardener who continues to dig
and plant in unproductive soil.
The wise man avoids idle words, gossip, vain argument,
and self-defence. He is content to appear defeated; rejoices when he is
defeated, knowing that, having found and removed another error in himself he has
thereby become wiser. Blessed is he who does not strive for the last word!
"Backward I see in my own days where I
fog with linguists and contenders;
I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait "
Silence under provocation is the mark of a cultured and
sympathetic soul. The thoughtless and unkind are stirred by every slight
provocation, and will lose their mental balance by even the appearance of a
personal encroachment. The self-possession of Jesus is not a miracle; it is the
flower of culture, the diadem of wisdom. When we read of Jesus that "He
answered never a word" and of Buddha that "He remained silent,"
we get a glimpse of the vast power of silence, of the silent majesty of true
The silent man is the powerful man. The victim of
garrulity is devoid of influence; his spiritual energies are dissipated. Every
mechanic knows that before a force can be utilised and definitely directed it
must be conserved and stored; and the wise man is a spiritual mechanic who
conserves the energies of his mind, holds them in masterful abeyance, ready at
any moment to direct them, with effective purpose, to the accomplishment of some
The true strength is in silentness. It is well said
that "The dog that barks does not bite." The grim and rarely broken
silence of the bull-dog is the necessary adjunct to that powerfully concentrated
and effectual action for which the animal is known and feared. This, of course,
is a lower form of silentness, but the principle is the same. The boaster fails;
his mind is diverted from the main purpose; and his energies are frittered away
upon self-glorification. His forces are divided between his task and the reward
to himself, the greater portion going to feed the lust of reward. He is like an
unskilful general who loses the battle through dividing his forces instead of
concentrating them upon a point. Or he is like a careless engineer who leaves
open the waste-valve of his engine and allows the steam to run down. The modest,
silent, earnest man succeeds: freed from vanity, and avoiding the dissipation of
self-glorification, all his powers are concentrated upon the successful
performance of his task. Even while the other man is talking about his powers he
is already about his work, and is so much nearer than the other to its
completion. It is a law everywhere and always that energy distributed is subject
unto energy conserved. The noisy and boasting Charles will ever be thrown by the
quiet and modest Orlando.
It is a law universally
applicable that quietness is strength. The business man who succeeds never talks
about his plans, methods, and affairs, and should he, turned giddy by success,
begin to do this he will then commence to fail. The man of great moral influence
never talks about himself and his spiritual victories, for, should he do so, in
that moment his moral power and influence would be gone, and, like Samson, he
would be shorn of his strength. Success, worldly or spiritual, is the willing
servant of strong, steady, silent, unflinching purpose. The most powerful
disintegrating forces make no noise. The greatly-overcoming mind works silently.
If you would be strong, useful, and self-reliant learn
the value and power of silentness. Do not talk about yourself. The world
instinctively knows that the vain talker is weak and empty, and so it leaves him
to his own vanity. Do not talk about what you are going to do but do it, and let
your finished work speak for itself. Do not waste your forces in criticising and
disparaging the work of others but set about to do your own work thoroughly and
well. The worst work with earnestness and sweetness behind it is altogether
better than barking at others. While you are disparaging the work of others you
are neglecting your own. If others are doing badly help and instruct them by
doing better yourself. Neither abuse others nor account their abuse of any
weight. When attacked remain silent: in this way you will conquer yourself, and
will, without the use of words, teach others.
But the true silence is not merely a silent tongue; it
is a silent mind. To merely hold one's tongue, and yet to carry about a
disturbed and rankling mind, is no remedy for weakness and no source of power.
Silentness, to be powerful, must envelop the whole mind, must permeate every
chamber of the heart; it must be the silence of peace. To this broad, deep,
abiding silentness a man attains only in the measure that he conquers himself.
While passions, temptations, and sorrows disturb, the holier, profounder depths
of silence are yet to be sounded. To smart under the words and actions of others
means that you are yet weak, uncontrolled, unpurified. So rid your heart of the
disturbing influences of vanity and pride and selfishness that no petty spite
can reach you, no slander or abuse disturb your serene repose. As the storm
rages ineffectually against a well-built house, while its occupant sits composed
and happy by his fire side within, so no evil without can disturb or harm him
who is well fortified with wisdom; self-governed and silent, he remains at peace
within. To this great silence the self-conquered man attains.
"Envy and calumny, and hate and pain,
And that unrest which men miscall delight,
Can touch him not, nor torture him again "
There is no commoner error amongst men than that of
supposing that nothing can be accomplished without much talking and much noise.
The busy, shallow talker regards the quiet thinker or silent doer as a man
wasted; he thinks silentness means "doing nothing, and that hurrying,
bustling, and ceaseless talking means "doing much." He also confounds
popularity with power. But the thinker and doer is the real and effectual
worker. His work is at the root and core and substance of things, and as Nature
silently, yet with hidden and wondrous alchemy, transmutes the rude elements of
earth and air into tender leaves, beautiful flowers, delectable fruits, - yea
into a myriad forms of beauty - even so does the silent purposeful worker
transform the ways of men and the face of the world by the might and magic of
his silently-directed energy. He wastes no time and force in tinkering with the
ever-changing and artificial surface of things, but goes to the living vital
centre, and works therefrom and thereon; and in due season, perhaps when his
perishable form is withdrawn from the world, the fruits of his obscure but
imperishable labours come forth to gladden the world. But the words of the
talker perish. The world reaps no harvest from the sowing of sound.
He who conserves his mental forces also conserves his
physical forces. The strongly quiet, calm man lives to a greater age, and in the
possession of better health than the hurrying, noisy man. Quiet, subdued mental
harmony is conducive to physical harmony - health. The followers of George Fox
are today the healthiest, longest-lived and most successful portion of the
British community, and they live quiet, unostentatious, purposeful lives,
avoiding all worldly excitements and unnecessary words. They are a silent
people, all their meetings being conducted on the principle that "Silence
Silentness is powerful because it is the outcome of
self-conquest, and the more successfully a man governs himself the more silent
he becomes. As he succeeds in living to a purpose and not to the pleasures of
self he withdraws himself from the outer discords of the world and reaches to
the inward music of peace. Then when he speaks there is purpose and power behind
his words, and when he maintains silence there is equal or even greater power
therein. He does not utter that which is followed by pain and tears; does not do
that which is productive of sorrow and remorse. But, saying and doing those
things only which are ripe with thoughtfulness, his conscience is quiet, and all
his days are blessed.
"Why idly seek from outward things
The answer inward silence brings ?
Why climb the far-off hills with pain,
A nearer view of heaven to gain ?
In lowliest depths of bosky dells
The hermit Contemplation dwells,
Whence, piercing heaven, with screened sight,
He sees at noon the stars, whose light
Shall glorify the coming night."
"In the still hour when passion is at rest
Gather up stores of wisdom in thy breast."
Manís essential being is
inward, invisible, spiritual, and as such it derives its life, strength, from
within, not from without. Outward things are channels through which its energies
are expended, but for renewal it must fall back on the inward silence.
In so far as man strives to drown this silence in the
noisy pleasures of the senses, and endeavours to live in the conflicts of
outward things, just so much does he reap the experiences of pain and sorrow,
which, becoming at last intolerable, drive him back to the feet of inward
Comforter, to the shrine of the peaceful solitude within.
As the body cannot thrive on empty husks, neither can
the spirit be sustained on empty pleasures. If not regularly fed the body loses
its vitality, and, pained with hunger and thirst, cries out for food and drink.
It is the same with the spirit: it must be regularly nourished in solitude on
pure and holy thoughts or it will lose its freshness and strength, and will at
last cry out in its painful and utter starvation. The yearning of an
anguish-stricken soul for light and consolation is the cry of a spirit that is
perishing of hunger and thirst. All pain and sorrow is spiritual starvation, and
aspiration is the cry for food. It is the Prodigal Son who, perishing of hunger,
turns his face longingly towards his Fatherís home.
The pure life of the spirit cannot be found; but is
lost, in the life of the senses. The lower desires are ever clamorous for more,
and they afford no rest. The outward world of pleasure, personal contact, and
noisy activities is a sphere of wear and tear which necessitates the
counterbalancing effect of solitude. Just as the body requires rest for the
recuperation of its forces, so the spirit requires solitude for the renewal of
its energies. Solitude is as indispensable to manís spiritual welfare as sleep
is to his bodily well-being; and pure thought, or meditation, which is evoked in
solitude, is to the spirit what activity is to the body. As the body breaks down
when deprived of the needful rest and sleep, so do the spirits of men break
down, being deprived of the necessary silence and solitude. Man, as a spiritual
being, cannot be maintained in strength, uprightness, and peace except he
periodically withdraw himself from the outer world of perishable things and
reach inwardly towards the abiding and imperishable realities. The consolations
of the creeds are derived from the solitude which those creeds enforce. The
regular observance of the ceremonies of formal religion, attended, as they are,
with concentrated silence and freedom from worldly distractions, compels men to
do unconsciously that which they have not yet learned to do consciously -
namely, to concentrate the mind periodically on the inward silence, and
meditate, though very briefly, on high and holy things. The man who has not
learned to control and purify his mind in seasons of chosen solitude, yet whose
awakening aspirations grope for something higher and nobler than he yet
possesses, feels the necessity for the aid of ceremonial religion; but he who
has taken himself in hand with a view to self-conquest, who withdraws into
solitude in order to grapple with his lower nature, and masterfully bend his
mind in holy directions, requires no further aid from book or priest or Church.
The Church does not exist for the pleasure of the saint but for the elevation of
In solitude a man gathers strength to meet the
difficulties and temptations of life, knowledge to understand and conquer them,
and wisdom to transcend them. As a building is preserved and sustained by virtue
of the foundation which is hidden and unobserved, so a man is maintained
perpetually in strength and peace by virtue of his lonely hour of intense
thought which no eye beholds.
It is in solitude only that a man can be truly revealed
to himself, that he can come to understand his real nature, with all its powers
and possibilities. The voice of the spirit is not heard in the hubbub of the
world and amid the clamours of conflicting desires. There can be no spiritual
growth without solitude.
There are those who shrink from too close a scrutiny of
themselves, who dread too complete a self revelation, and who fear that solitude
which would leave them alone with their own thoughts and call up before their
mental vision the wraith of their desires. And so they go where the din of
pleasure is loudest and where the reproving voice of Truth is drowned. But he
who loves Truth, who desires and seeks wisdom, will be much alone. He will seek
the fullest, clearest revelation of himself, will avoid the haunts of frivolity
and noise, and will go where the sweet, tender voice of the spirit of Truth can
speak within him and be heard.
Men go after much company and seek out new excitements,
but they are not acquainted with peace; in diverse paths of pleasure they search
for happiness but they do not come to rest; through diverse ways of laughter and
feverish delirium they wander after gladness and life, but their tears are many
and grievous, and they do not escape death.
Drifting upon the ocean of life in search of selfish
indulgences men are caught in its storms and only after many tempests and much
privation do they fly to the Rock of Refuge which rests in the deep silence of
their own being.
While a man is absorbed in outward activities he is
giving out his energies and is becoming spiritually weaker, and in order to
retain his moral vigour he must resort to solitary meditation. So needful is
this that he who neglects it loses or does not attain the right knowledge of
life; nor does he comprehend and overcome those most deeply rooted and subtlest
of sins which appear like virtues deceiving the elect, and to which all but the
truly wise succumb.
"True dignity abides with him alone,
Who, in the silent hour of inward thought,
Can still suspect and still revere himself
In lowliness of heart."
He who lives, without ceasing in outward excitement
lives most in disappointments and griefs. Where the sounds of pleasure are
greatest heart-emptiness is the keenest and deepest. He, also, whose whole life,
even if not one of lust for pleasure, is centered in outward works, who deals
only with the changing panorama of visible things, never falling back, in
solitude, upon the inner and invisible world of permanent being, such a man does
not attain knowledge and wisdom, but remains empty; he cannot aid the world,
cannot feed its aspirations, for he has no food to offer it, his spiritual store
being empty. But he who courts solitude in order to search for the truth of
things, who subdues his senses and makes quite his desires, such a man is daily
attaining knowledge and wisdom; he becomes filled with the spirit of truth; he
can aid the world, for his spiritual store is full, and is kept well
While a man is absorbed in the
contemplation of inward realities he is receiving knowledge and power; he opens
himself, like a flower, to the universal light of Truth, and receives and drinks
in its life-imparting rays; he also goes to the eternal foundation of knowledge
and quenches his thirst in its inspiring waters. Such a man gains, in one hour
of concentrated thought, more essential knowledge than a whole yearís reading
could impart. Being is infinite and knowledge is illimitable and its source
inexhaustible, and he who draws upon the innermost depths of his being drinks
from the spring of divine wisdom which can never run dry, and quaffs the waters
It is this habitual association with the deep realities
of being, this continual drinking in of the Water of Life at its perennial
source, that constitutes genius. The resources of genius are
inexhaustible because they are drawn from the original and universal source, and
for the same reason the works of genius are ever new and fresh. The more a
genius gives out the fuller he becomes. With the accomplishment of every work
his mind extends and expands, reaches out more vastly, and sees wider and ever
wider ranges of power. The genius is inspired. He has bridged the gulf between
the finite and infinite. He needs no secondary aids, but draws from that
universal spring which is the source of every noble work. The difference between
a genius and an ordinary man is this - the one lives in inward realities, the
other in outward appearances; the one goes after pleasure, the other after
wisdom; the one relies on books, the other relies upon his own being.
Book-learning is good when its true place is understood, but is not the source
of wisdom. The source of wisdom is in life itself, and is comprehended by
effort, practice, and experience. Books give information but they cannot bestow
knowledge; they can stimulate but cannot accomplish - you must put forth effort,
and achieve for yourself. The man who relies entirely upon books, and does not
go to the silent resources within himself, is superficial, and becomes rapidly
exhausted. He is uninspired (though he may be extremely clever), for he soon
reaches the end of his stock of information, and so becomes void and
repetitious. His works lack the sweet spontaneity of life and ever-renewed
freshness of inspiration. Such a man has cut himself off from the infinite
supply and deals, not with life itself, but with dead or decaying appearances.
Information is limited; knowledge is boundless.
The inspiration of genius and greatness is fostered,
evolved, and finally completed in solitude. The most ordinary man who conceives
a noble purpose, and, summoning all his energies and will, broods upon and
ripens his purpose in solitude will accomplish his object and become a genius.
The man who renounces the pleasure of the world, who avoids popularity and fame,
and who works in obscurity and thinks in solitude for the accomplishment of a
lofty ideal for the human race, becomes a seer and a prophet. He who silently
sweetens his heart, who attunes his mind to that which is pure and beautiful and
good, who in long hours of lonely contemplation strives to reach to the central
an eternal heart of things, brings himself in touch with the inaudible harmonies
of being, opens himself for the reception of the cosmic song, and becomes at
last a singer and a poet.
And so with all genius: it is the child of solitude - a
very simple-hearted child - wide-eyed and listening and beautiful, yet withal to
the noise-enamoured world an incomprehensible mystery, of which it is only now
and then vouchsafed a glimpse from beyond the well-guarded Portals of Silence.
"In manís self arise
August anticipations; symbols, types
Of a dim splendour ever on before
In that eternal circle life pursues."
St.Paul, the cruel persecutor and blind bogot, after
spending three years alone in the desert, comes forth a loving apostle and an
inspired seer. Gautama Siddhartha, the man of the world, after six years (in the
forest) of lonely struggle with his passions and intense meditation upon the
deep mysteries of his nature, becomes Buddha, the enlightened one, the
embodiment of calm, serene wisdom, to whom a heart-thirsty world turns to
refreshing waters of immortality. Lao-tze, an ordinary citizen filling a worldly
office, in his search for knowledge courts solitude, and discovers Tao, the
Supreme Reason, by virtue of which he becomes a world-teacher. Jesus, the
unlettered carpenter, after many years of solitary communion upon the mountains
with the Unfailing Love and Wisdom, comes forth a blessed saviour of mankind.
Even after they had attained, and had scaled the lofty
heights of divine knowledge these Great Souls were much alone, and retired
frequently for brief seasons of solitude. The greatest man will fall from his
moral height and lose his influence if he neglects that renewal of power which
can only be obtained in solitude. These Masters attained their power by
consciously harmonising their thoughts and lives with the creative energies
within themselves, and by transcending individuality and sinking their petty
personal will in the Universal Will they became Masters of Creative Thought, and
stand as the loftiest instruments for the outworking of cosmic evolution.
And this is not miraculous, it is a matter of law; it
is not mysterious except in so far as law is mysterious. Every man becomes a
creative master in so far as he subordinate himself to the universally good and
true. Every poet, painter, saint, and sage is the mouth-piece of the Eternal.
The perfection of the message varies with the measure of individual
selflessness. In so far as self intervenes the distinctness of the work and
message becomes blurred. Perfect selflessness is the acme of genius, the
consummation of power.
Such self-abnegation can only be begun, pursued, and
completed in solitude. A man cannot gather together and concentrate his
spiritual forces while he is engaged in spending those forces in worldly
activities, and although after power is attained the balance of forces can be
maintained under all circumstances, even in the midst of the antagonistic
throng, such power is only secured after many years of frequent and habitual
Manís true Home is in the Great Silence - this is the
source of all that is real and abiding within him; his present nature, however,
is dual, and outer activities are necessary. Neither entire solitude nor entire
action is the true life in the world, but that is the true life which gathers,
in solitude, strength and wisdom to rightly perform the activities of life; and
as a man returns to his home in the evening, weary with labour, for that sweet
rest and refreshment which will prepare him for another dayís toil, so must he
would not break down in the labour of life come away form the noise and toil of
the worldís great workshop and rest for brief periods in his abiding Home in
the Silence. He who does this, spending some portion of each day in sacred and
purposeful solitude, will become strong and useful and blessed.
Solitude is for the strong, or for those who are ready
to become strong. When a man is becoming great, he becomes solitary. He goes in
solitude to seek, and that which he seeks, he finds, for there is a Way to all
knowledge, all wisdom, all truth, all power. And the Way is for ever open, but
it lies through soundless solitudes and the unexplored silences of manís
"By all means use to be alone,
Salute thyself; see what thy soul doth wear."
He that has
light within his own clear breast
My sit in the center and enjoy bright day."
In the life of blessedness
self-reliance is of the utmost importance. If there is no peace there must be
strength; if there is to be security there must be stability; if there is to be
lasting joy there must be no leaning upon things which at any moment may be
snatched away for ever.
A man does not commence to truly live until he finds an
immovable center within himself on which to stand, by which to regulate his
life, and from which to draw his peace. If he trusts to that which fluctuates he
also will fluctuate; if he leans upon that which may be withdrawn he will fall
and be bruised; if he looks for satisfaction in perishable accumulations he will
starve for happiness in the midst of plenty.
Let a man learn to stand alone, looking to no one for
support; expecting no favours, craving no personal advantages; not begging, nor
complaining, not craving, nor regretting, but relying upon the truth within
himself, deriving his satisfaction and comfort from the integrity of his own
If a man can find no peace within himself where shall
he find it? If he dreads to be alone with himself what steadfastness shall he
find in company? If he can find no joy in communion with his own thoughts how
shall he escape misery in his contact with others? The man who has yet found
nothing within himself upon which to stand will nowhere find a place of constant
Men everywhere are deluded by the superstition that
their happiness rests with other people and with outward things, and, as a
result, they live in continual disappointments, regrets, and lamentations. The
man who does not look for happiness to any others or to external things, but
finds within himself its inexhaustible source, will be self-contained and serene
under all circumstances, and will never become the helpless victim of misery and
grief. The man who looks to others for support, who measures his happiness by
the conduct of others and not by his own, who depends upon their co-operation
for his peace of mind - such a man has no spiritual foothold, his mind is tossed
hither and thither with the continual changes going on around him, and he lives
in that ceaseless ebb and flow of the spirits which is wretchedness and unrest.
He is a spiritual cripple, and has yet to learn how to maintain his mental
center of gravity, and so go without the aid of crutches.
As a child learns to walk in order to go about from
place to place of itself strong and unaided, so should a man learn to stand
alone, to judge and think and act for himself, and to choose, in the strength of
his own mind, the oath-way which he shall walk.
Without is change and decay and insecurity, within is
all surety and blessedness. The soul is sufficient of itself. Where the need is
there is the abundant supply. Your eternal dwelling-place is within; go there
and take possession of your mansion; there you are a king, elsewhere you are a
vassal. Be contended that others shall manage or mismanage their own little
kingdom, and see to it that you reign strongly over your own. Your entire
well-being and the well-being of the whole world lies there. You have a
conscience, follow it; you have a mind, clarify it; you have a judgment, use and
improve it; you have a will, employ and strengthen it; you have knowledge,
increase it; there is a light within your soul, watch it, tend it, encourage it,
shield it from the winds of passion, and help it to burn with a steadier and
ever steadier radiance. Leave the world and come back to yourself. Think as a
man, act as a man, live as a man. Be rich in yourself, be complete in yourself.
Find the abiding center within you and obey it. The earth is maintaining its
orbit by its obedience to its center the sun. Obey the center of light that is
within you; let others call it darkness if they will. You are responsible for
yourself, are accountable to yourself, therefore rely upon yourself. If you fear
yourself who will place confidence in you? If you are untrue to yourself where
shall you find the sweet satisfaction of Truth?
The great man stands alone in the simple dignity of
independent manhood; he pursues his own path fearlessly, and does not apologise
or "beg leave." Criticism and applause are no more to him than the
dust upon his coat, of which he shakes himself free. He is not guided by the
changing opinions of men but guides himself by the light of his own mind. Other
men barter away their manhood for messes of flattery or fashion.
Until you can stand alone, looking for guidance neither
to spirits nor mortals, gods nor men, but guiding yourself by the light of the
truth within you, you are not unfettered and free, not altogether blessed. But
do not mistake pride for self-reliance. To attempt to stand upon the crumbling
foundation of pride is to be already fallen. No man depends upon others more
than the proud man. He drinks in their approbation and resents their censure. He
mistakes flattery for sound judgment, and is most easily hurt or pleased by the
opinions of others. His happiness is entirely in the hands of others. But the
self-reliant man stands, not upon personal pride, but on an abiding law,
principle, ideal, reality within himself. Upon this he poises himself, refusing
to be swept from his strong foothold either by the waves of passion within or
the storms of opinion without, but should he at any time lose his balance he
quickly regains himself, and is fully restored. His happiness is entirely in his
Find your center of balance and succeed in standing
alone, and, whatever your work in life may be, you will succeed; you will
accomplish what you set your mind upon , for the truly self-reliant man is the
invincible man. But though you do not rely upon others, learn of them. Never
cease to increase in knowledge, and be ever ready to receive that which is good
and useful. You can not have too much humility; the most self-reliant men are
the most humble. "No aristocrat, no prince born to the purple, can begin to
compare with the self-respect of the saint. Why is he lowly, but that he knows
that he can well afford it, resting on the largeness of God in him." Learn
of all men, and especially of the masters of Truth, but do not lose your hold
upon the truth that the ultimate guidance is in yourself. A master can say :
"Here is the path," but he can neither compel you to walk it nor walk
it for you. You must put forth your own efforts , must achieve by your own
strength, must make his truth your truth by your own unaided exertions; you must
implicitly trust yourself.
"This thing is God - to be Man with thy
To grow great in the strength of thy spirit,
And live out thy life as the light."
You are to be master of yourself, lord over yourself,
not fawning and imitating, but doing your work as a living, vital portion of the
universe; giving love but not expecting it; giving sympathy but not craving for
it; giving aid but not depending upon it. If men should censure your work, heed
them not. It sufficeth that your work be true: rest you in this sufficiency. Do
not ask : "Will my work please?" but : "Is it real?" If your
work be true the criticism of men cannot touch it; if it be false their
disapproval will not slay it quicker than it will die of itself. The words and
acts of Truth cannot pass away until their work is fully accomplished; the words
and acts of error cannot remain, for they have no work to do. Criticism and
resentment are alike superfluous.
Free yourself from the self-imposed tyranny of slavish
dependence, and stand alone, not as an isolated unit, but as a sympathetic
portion of the whole. Find the Joy that results from well -earned freedom, the
peace that flows from wise self-possession, the blessedness that inheres in
"Honour to him who, self-complete, if lone,
Carves to the grave one pathway all his own,
And heeding naught that men may think or say,
Asks but his soul if doubtful of the way."
Understanding The Simple Laws Of Life
The demonstration of a truth, its birth,
And you trace back the effluence to its spring
And source within us."
"More is the
treasure of law than gems;
Sweeter than comb its sweetness. Its delights,
Delightful past compare."
----The Light of Asia.
WALKING those byways which I
have so far pointed out, resting in their beauty and drinking in their
blessedness, the pilgrim along life's broad highway will in due time come to one
wherein his last burden will fall from him, where all his weariness will pass
away, where he will drink of light-hearted liberty, and rest in perpetual peace.
And this most blessed of spiritual byways, the richest source of strength and
comfort, I call The Right Understanding of the Simple Laws of Life. He
who comes to it leaves behind him all lack and longing, all doubt and
perplexity, all sorrow and uncertainty. He lives in the fulness of satisfaction,
in light and knowledge, in gladness and surety. He who comprehends the utter
simplicity of life, who obeys its laws and does not step aside into the dark
paths and complex mazes of selfish desire, stands where no harm can reach him,
where no enemy can lay him low - and he doubts, desires, and sorrows no more.
Doubt ends where reality begins; painful desire ceases where the fulness of joy
is perpetual and complete; and when the Unfailing and Eternal Good is realised
what room is there for sorrow?
Human life when rightly lived is simple with a
beautiful simplicity, but it is not rightly lived while it is bound to a
complexity of lusts, desires, and wants- these are not the real life but the
burning fever and painful disease which originate in an unenlightened condition
of mind. The curtailing of one's desires is the beginning of wisdom; their
entire mastery its consummation. This is so because life is bounded by law, and
,being inseparable from law, life has no need that is not already supplied. Now
lust, or desire, is not need, but a rebellious superfluity, and as such it leads
to deprivation and misery. The prodigal son, while in his father's house, not
only had all that he required, but was surrounded by a superabundance. Desire
was not necessary, because all things were at hand; but when desire entered his
heart he "went into a far country," and "began to be in
want," and it was only when he became reduced to the utmost extremity of
starvation that he turned with longing towards his father's home. This parable
is symbolical of the evolution of the individual and the race. Man has come into
such a complexity of cravings that he lives in continual discontent,
dissatisfaction, want, and pain; and his only cure lies in a return to the
Father's Home - that is, to actual living or being as
distinguished from desiring. But a man does not do this until he is
reduced to the last extremity of spiritual starvation ; he has then reaped the
experience of pain and sorrow as the result of desire, and looks back with
longing towards the true life of peace and plenty; and so he turns round, and
begins his toilsome journey back towards his Home, towards that rich life of
simple being wherein is emancipation from the thraldom and fever and hunger of
desire, and this longing for the true life, for Truth, Reality, should not be
confounded with desire: it is aspiration. Desire is the craving for
possession:aspiration is the hunger of the heart for peace. The
craving for things leads ever farther and farther from peace, and not only ends
in deprivation but is, in itself, a state of perpetual want. Until it comes to
an end rest, satisfaction , is an impossibility. The hunger for things can never
be satisfied, but the hunger for peace can and the satisfaction of peace is
found, is fully possessed, when all selfish desire is abandoned. Then there is
fulness of joy, abounding plenty, and rich and complete blessedness. In this
supremely blessed state life is comprehended in its perfect symmetry and
simplicity and the acme of power and usefulness is attained. Then even the
hunger for peace ceases, for peace becomes the normal condition, is fully
possessed, constant and never-varying. Men, immersed in desire, ignorantly
imagine that the conquest of desire, leads to inactivity, loss of power, and
lifelessness. Instead , it leads to highly concentrated activity, to the full
employment of power, and to a life so rich, so glorious, and so abundantly
blessed as to be incomprehensible to those who hunger for pleasures and
possessions. Of this life only can it be said:
"Here are no sounds of discord - no
Or senseless gossip of unworthy things-
Only the songs of chisels and of pens,
Of busy brushes, and ecstatic strains
Of souls surcharged with music most divine
Here is no idle sorrow, no poor grief
For any day or object left behind -
For time is counted precious, and herein
Is such complete abandonment of Self
That tears turn into rainbows, and enhance
The beauty of the land where all is fair."
When a man is rescued from selfish desire his mind is unencumbered, and he is
free to work for humanity. No longer racing after those gratifications which
leave him hungry still, all his powers are at his immediate command. Seeking no
rewards he can concentrate all his energies upon the faultless completion of his
duties, and so accomplish all things and fulfill all righteousness.
The fully enlightened and fully blessed man is not
prompted to action be desire but works from knowledge. The man of desire
needs the promise of reward to urge him to action. He is as a child working for
the possession of a toy. But the man of knowledge, living in the fulness of life
and power, can at any moment bring his energies into requisition for the
accomplishment of that which is necessary. He is, spiritually, a full-grown man;
for him all rewards have ceased; to him all occurrences are good; he lives
always in complete satisfaction. Such a man has attained to life, and his
delight ( and it is a sweet, perpetual, and never-failing delight) is in
obedience to the simple demands of exact and never-failing law.
But this life of supreme blessedness is an end, and the
pilgrim who is striving towards it, the prodigal returning to it, must travel
thither, and employ means to get there. He must pass through the country of his
animal desires, disentangling himself from their intricacies, simplifying them,
overcoming them; this is the way, and he has no enemies but what spring within
himself. At first the way seems hard because, blinded by desire, he does not
perceive the simple structure of life, and its laws are hidden from him; but as
he becomes more simple in his mind the direct laws of life become unfolded to
his spiritual perception, and at once the point is reached where these laws
begin to be understood and obeyed; then the way becomes plain and easy; there is
no more uncertainty and darkness, but all is seen in the clear light of
It will help to accelerate the progress of the searcher
for the true and blessed life if we now turn to a consideration of some of these
simple laws which are rigidly mathematical in their operations.
"The elementary laws never
All life is one, though it has a diversity of manifestations; all law
is one, but it is applicable and operative in a variety of ways. There is not
one law for matter and another for mind, not one for the material and visible
and another for the spiritual and invisible; there is the same law throughout.
There is not one kind of logic for the world and another for the spirit, but the
same logic is applicable to both. Men faithfully, and with unerring worldly
wisdom, observe certain laws or rules of action in material things, knowing that
to ignore or disobey them would be great folly on their part, ending in disaster
for themselves and confusion for society and the state, but they err in
supposing and believing that the same rules do not apply in spiritual things,
and thereby suffer for their ignorance and disobedience.
It is a law in worldly things that a man shall support
himself, that he shall earn his living, and that "He that will not work,
neither shall he eat." Men observe this law, recognising its justice and
goodness, and so earn the necessary material sustenance. But in spiritual things
men, broadly speaking, deny and ignore the operation of this law. They think
that, while it is absolutely just that a man should earn his material bread, and
that the man who shirks this law should wander in rags ands want, it is right
that they should beg for their spiritual bread, think it to be just that they
should receive all spiritual blessings without either deserving or attempting to
earn them. The result is that most men wander in spiritual beggary and want -
that is, in suffering and sorrow - deprived of spiritual sustenance, of joy and
knowledge and peace.
If you are in need of any
worldly thing - food, clothing, furniture, or other necessary - you do not beg
of the storekeeper to give it to you; you ask the price of it, pay for it with
your money, and then it becomes your own. You recognise the perfect justice in
giving an equivalent for what you receive, and would not wish it to be
otherwise. The same just law prevails in spiritual things. If you are in need of
any spiritual thing - joy, assurance, peace, or what else soever - you can only
come into full possession of it by giving an equivalent; you must pay the price
for it. As you must give a portion of your material substance for a worldly
thing so you must give a portion of your immaterial substance for a spiritual
thing. You must yield up some passion or lust or vanity or indulgence before the
spiritual possession can be yours. The miser who clings to his money and will
not give up any of it because of the pleasure which its possession affords him
cannot have any of the material comforts of life. He lives in continual want and
discomfort in spite of all his wealth. The man who will not give up his
passions, who clings to anger, unkindness, sensuality, pride, vanity,
self-indulgence, for the momentary pleasure which their gratification affords
him is a spiritual miser; he cannot have any spiritual comforts, and suffers
continual spiritual want and uneasiness in spite of the wealth of worldly
pleasures which he fondly hugs and refuses to give up.
The man who is wise in worldly things neither begs nor
steals, but labours and purchases, and the world honours him for his
uprightness. The man who is wise in spiritual things neither begs nor steals,
but labours in his own inner world, and purchases his spiritual possessions. Him
the whole universe honours for his righteousness.
It is another law in worldly things that a man who
engages himself to another in any form of employment shall be content with the
wages upon which he agreed. If at the end of his week's work, and on receiving
his wages, he were to ask his employer for a larger sum, pleading that, though
he could not justly claim it and did not really deserve it, yet he expected it,
he would not only not receive the larger sum but would, doubtless, be discharged
from his post. Yet in spiritual things men do not think it to be either foolish
or selfish to ask for those blessings - spiritual wages - upon which they never
agreed, for which they never laboured, and which they do not deserve. Every man
gets from the law of the universe that upon which he agrees and for which he
works - no more, no less; and he is continually entering into agreements with
the Supreme Law - the Master of the universe. For every thought and act which he
gives he receives its just equivalent; for all work done in the form of deeds he
receives the wages due to him. Knowing this, the enlightened man is always
content, always satisfied, and in perfect peace, knowing that whatever he
receives (be it that men call misfortune or good fortune) he has earned. The
Great Law never cheats any man of his just due, but it says to the railer and
the complainer "Friend didst thou not agree with me for a penny a
Again, if a man would grow rich in worldly goods he
must economise, and husband his financial resources until he has accumulated
sufficient capital to invest in some branch of industry; then he must
judiciously invest his little store of capital, neither holding it too tightly
nor letting it go carelessly. He thus increases both in worldly wisdom and
worldly riches. The idle spendthrift cannot grow rich; he is wasteful and
riotous. He who would grow rich in spiritual things must also economise, and
husband his mental resources. He must curb his tongue and his impulses, not
wasting his energy in idle gossip, vain argument, or excesses of temper. In this
way he will accumulate a little store of wisdom which is his spiritual capital,
and this he must send out into the world for the good of others, and the more he
uses it the richer will he become. Thus does a man increase in both heavenly
wisdom and heavenly riches. The man who follows his blind impulses and desires
and does not control and govern his mind is a spiritual spendthrift. He can
never become rich in divine things.
It is a physical law that if we would reach the summit
of a mountain we must climb thither. The path must be sought and then carefully
followed, and the climber must not give up and go back because of the labour
involved and the difficulties to be overcome, nor on account of aching climbs,
otherwise his object cannot be accomplished. And this law is also spiritual. He
who would reach the high altitudes of moral or intellectual grandeur must climb
thither by his own efforts. He must seek out the pathway and then assiduosly
follow it, not giving up and turning back, but surmounting all difficulties, and
enduring for a time trials, temptations, and heartaches, and at last he will
stand upon the glorious summit of moral perfection, the world of passion,
temptation, and sorrow beneath his feet, and the boundless heavens of dignity
stretching vast and silent above his head.
If a man would reach a distant city, or any place of
destination, he must travel thither. There is no law by which he can be
instantly transported there. He can only get there by putting forth the
necessary exertion. If he walks he will put forth great exertion, but it will
cost him nothing in money; if he drives or takes train, there will be less
actual labour, but he must pay in money for which he has laboured. To reach any
place requires labour; this cannot be avoided; it is law. Equally so
spiritually. He who would reach any spiritual destination, such as purity,
compassion, wisdom, or peace, must travel thither, and must labour to get there.
There is no law by which he can suddenly be transported to any of these
beautiful spiritual cities. He must find the most direct route and then put
forth the necessary labour, and at last he will come to the end of his journey.
These are but a few of the many laws, or manifestations
of the One Great Law, which are to be understood, applied and obeyed before the
full manhood and maturity of spiritual life and blessedness can be attained.
There is no worldly or physical law which is not operative, with equal
exactness, in the spiritual realm - that is, the inner and invisible world of
manís beings. Just as physical things are the shadows and types, of spiritual
realities so worldly wisdom is the reflected image of Divine Wisdom. All those
simple operations of human life in worldly things which men never question, but
follow and obey implicitly because of their obvious plainness and exactness,
obtain in spiritual things with the same unerring accuracy; and when this is
understood, and these laws are as implicitly obeyed in spiritual as in worldly
matters, then has a man reached the firm standing-ground of exact knowledge; his
sorrows are at an end, and he can doubt no more.
Life is uninvolved, uncompromising justice; its
operations are simple, invincible logic. Law reigns for ever, and the heart of
law is love. Favouritism and caprice are the reverse of both law and love. The
universe has no favourites; it is supremely just, and gives to every man his
rightful earnings. All is good because all his according to law, and because all
his according to law, man can find the right way in life, and, having found it,
can rejoice and be glad. The Father of Jesus is the Unfailing Good which is
embodied in the law of things. "No evil can happen to a good man either in
life or death." Jesus recognised the good in his own fate, and exonerated
all his persecutors from blame. "No man," he declared, "taketh my
life from me, but I lay it down of myself." That is, he himself had brought
about his own end.
He who has, by simplifying his life and purifying his
mind, arrived at an understanding of the beautiful simplicity of being,
perceives the unvarying operation of law in all things, and knows the result of
all his thoughts and deeds upon himself and the world - knows what effects are
bound up with the mental causes which he sets in motion. He then thinks and does
only those thoughts and deeds that are blessed in their inception, blessed in
their growth, and blessed in their completion. Humbly accepting the lawful
results of all the deeds done when in a state of ignorance, he neither complains
nor fears nor questions, but is at rest in obedience, is perfectly blessed in
his knowledge of the Good Law.
"The tissue of our life to be
We weave with colours all our own,
And in the field of Destiny
We reap as we have sown.
"And if we reap as we have sown,
And take the dole we deal,
The law of pain is love alone,
The wounding is to heal."
"Such is the Law which moves to
Which none at last can turn aside or stay;
The heart of it is Love, the end of it
Is peace and consummation sweet. Obey."
-----The Light of Asia.
haply, when thy task shall end,
The wrong shall lose itself in right,
And all thy week-day Sabbaths blend
With the long Sabbath of the Light!"
Life has many happy endings,
because it has much that is noble and pure and beautiful. Although there is much
sin and ignorance in the world, many tears, and much pain and sorrow, there is
also much purity and knowledge, many smiles, and much healing and gladness. No
pure thought, no unselfish deed can fall short of its felicitous result, and
every such result is a happy consummation.
A pleasant home is a happy ending; a successful life is
a happy ending; a task well and faithfully done is a happy ending; to be
surrounded by kind friends is a happy ending. A quarrel put away, grudges wiped
out, unkind words confessed and forgiven, friend restored to friend - all these
are happy endings. To find that which one has long and tediously sought; to be
restored from tears to gladness; to awaken in the bright sunlight out of the
painful nightmare of sin, to strike, after much searching, the Heavenly Way in
life - these are, indeed, blessed consummations.
He who looks for, finds, and enters the byways which I
have indicated will come to this one without seeking it, for his whole life will
be filled with happy endings. He who begins right and continues right does not
need to desire and search for felicitous results; they are already at hand; they
follow as consequences; they are the certainties, the realities of life.
There are happy endings which belong solely to the
material world; these are transient, and they pass away. These are happy endings
which belong to the spiritual world; these are eternal, and they do not pass
away. Sweet are companionships, pleasures, and material comforts, but they
change and fade away. Sweeter still are Purity, Wisdom, and the knowledge of
Truth, and these never change nor fade away. Wherever a man goes in this world
he can take his worldly possessions with him; but soon he must part company with
them, and if he stands upon these alone, deriving all his happiness from them,
he will come to a spiritual ending of great emptiness and want. But he has
attained to the possession of spiritual things can never be deprived of his
source of happiness: he will never have to part company with it, and wherever he
goes in the whole universe he will carry his possession with him. His spiritual
end will be the fulness of joy.
Happy in the Eternal Happiness is he who has come to
that Life from which the thought of self is abolished. Already, even now and in
this life, he has entered the Kingdom of Heaven, Nirvana, Paradise, the New
Jerusalem, the Olympus of Jupiter, the Valhalla of the Gods. He knows the Final
Unity of Life, the Great Reality of which these fleeting and changing names are
but feeble utterances. He is at rest on the bosom of the Infinite.
Sweet is the rest and deep the bliss of him who has
freed his heart from its lusts and hatreds and dark desires; and he who, without
any shadow of bitterness or selfishness resting upon him, and looking out upon
the world with boundless compassion and love, can breathe, in his inmost heart,
Peace unto all living things,
Making no exceptions or distinctions - such a man has
reached that happy ending which can never be taken away, for this is the
perfection of life, the fullness of peace, the consummation of perfect