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A Creed of the Open Road

To be observed today, to be changed tomorrow, or abandoned, according to tomorrows light.

To live to our highest in all things that pertain to us, and to lend a hand as best we can to all others for this same end.

To aid in righting the wrongs that cross our path by pointing the wrong-doer to a better way, and thus aid him in becoming a power for good.

To turn toward and to keep our faces always to the light, knowing that we are then always safe, and that we shall travel with joy the open road.

To love the fields and the wild flowers, the stars, the far-open sea, the soft, warm earth, and to live much with them alone; but to love struggling and weary men and women and every pulsing, living creature better.

To do our own thinking, listening quietly to the opinions of others, but to be sufficiently men and women to act always upon our own convictions. To do our duty as we see it, regardless of the opinions of others-seeming gain or loss, temporary blame or praise.

To remain in nature always sweet and simple and humble and therefore strong.

To play the part of neither fool nor knave by attempting to Judge another, but to give that same time to living more worthily ourselves.

To get up immediately when we stumble, face again to the light, and travel on without wasting even a moment in regret.

To love and to hold due reverence for all people and all things, but to stand in awe or fear of nothing save our own wrong doing.

To recognize the good lying at the heart of all people, of all things, waiting for expression all in its own good way and time.

To know that it is the middle ground that brings pleasure and satisfaction, and that excesses have to be paid for always with heavy and sometimes with frightful costs. To know that work, occupation, something definite and useful to do, is one of the established conditions of happiness in life.

To realize always clearly that thoughts are forces, that like creates like and like attracts like, and that to determine one’s thinking therefore is to determine his life.

To take and to live always in the attitude of mind that compels gladness, looking for and thus drawing to us continually the best in all people and all things, being thereby the creators of our own good fortunes.

To know that the ever-conscious realization of the essential oneness of each life with the Divine Life is the Greatest of all knowledge, and that to open ourselves as opportune channels for the Divine Power to work in and through us is the open door to the highest attainment, and to the best there is in life.

In brief- to be honest, to be fearless, to be just, joyous, kind. This will make our part in life’s great and as yet not fully understood play one of greatest glory, and we need then stand in fear of nothing-life nor death; for death is life. Or rather, it is the quick transition to fife in another form; the putting off of the old coat and the putting on of the new; a passing not from light to darkness, but from light to light according as we have lived here; a taking up of life in another form where we leave it off here; a part in life not to be shunned or dreaded or feared, but to be welcomed with a glad and ready smile when it comes in its own good way and time.

1. To live to our highest in all things that pertain to us, and to lend a hand as best we can to all others for this same end.

DOES it pay? Are there any real, substantial reasons that we live to our highest?

The fact that we have ideals and aspirations, and that we always feel better the more fully we follow them, indicates that it pays. That we are conscious that something is not right, and that we suffer when we do violence to that which we know or which we feel to be the better thing, indicates that there is a law written in the universe through the inexorable operation of which we are pushed onward and upward, unless we are wise enough to go of our own accord.

As excessive eating or drinking, as excesses of every nature bring with them something that convinces an ordinarily bright mind that they don’t pay, is an indication that there is a law of moderation, the observance of which brings good, the violation of which brings its opposite, pain and loss; as to live in discord with, in hatred or envy or jealousy of one’s fellows brings its own peculiar destructive results, indicating that there is a law of love, of kindness, of mutuality, that will admit of no violation without striking home its punishments and inflicting its losses, so the lack of self-respect, the sense of loss, the general feeling that we have missed the higher and the satisfying in pursuing or being contented with the lower and the transient, indicates that the higher, the better, really pays, and that to follow it is a manifestation of simply good everyday common sense.

We shall come to our own sometime, and our own is the highest and best that we know; we shall come by being led in that we voluntarily follow our highest ideals and aspirations, our dreams, if you please, or we shall come by being pushed through suffering and loss and even anguish of soul, until we find all too concretely that the better pays, and more, that it will have obedience.

The thing that pays, and that makes for a well-balanced, useful, and happy life, is not necessarily and is not generally a sombre, pious morality, or any standard of life that keeps us from a free, happy, spontaneous use and enjoyment of all normal and healthy faculties, functions, and powers, the enjoyment of all innocent pleasures - use, but not abuse, enjoyment, but enjoyment through self-mastery and not through license or perverted use, for it can never come that way. Of great suggestive value to us all should be this thought of Thoreau: “Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life so. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.”

As there is, moreover, the great law of love, of service, of mutuality, written at the very core of human life, then in the degree that we are wise we will lend the hand whenever and wherever we can to all others in their strivings for the same life that we find is the better part, and as the influence, the help of example, is greater always than the kind intentions of precept, every strong though struggling life becomes the greatest possible help to every other.

2. To aid in righting the wrongs that cross our path by pointing the wrong-doer to a better way, and thus aid him in becoming a power for good.

WRONGS and injustices of one type or another come to our notice almost daily. They seem worthy of condemnation, many times of punishment. Wise however is he who is able to differentiate between the perpetrator of the wrong and the wrong that is done.

Only he who is perfect himself is in a consistent position even to judge another, to say nothing of condemning. The truly wise therefore will be slow to judge, and he will refuse to condemn. This must ever be so until he who would judge be perfect himself. We are all in the process of attaining - none have yet arrived.

The one whose zeal for justice is so keen can, moreover, rest at least in part peace when he is able once for all to realize that every wrong-doing carries with it its own punishment, that such is a fundamental law, and that by virtue of it the perpetrator of a wrong or an injustice suffers many times more than the one against whom it is directed.

All sin and error, all wrong and injustice, with its attendant suffering and loss, is the result of selfishness. Selfishness is always the result of ignorance - a mind undeveloped or developed only in spots. Therefore to aid in bringing one to a realization of his higher and better self and the laws that operate there, that lie may act and live continually from that center, is after all the effective and the fundamentally common-sense way of aiding in righting the wrongs that help in warping, in crippling, the happiness and the sweetness that belong inherently to every life.

Now and then there is one so steeped in selfishness, so ignorant therefore of the prevailing laws of life, that it is necessary to take the power of oppression or injustice out of his hands, at least for the time being; but the springs of tenderness, of compassion, of love for the right, though sometimes deeply covered or apparently non-existent, can be made in time to burst forth and to overflow by the truly wise, so that even such may in time, as has so often and so abundantly been the case, become one of the noblest, one of the most valuable, of earth’s sons or daughters.

When the highest speaks to the highest in another, sooner or later the response is sure. In this way birth is given to ever-widening circles of influence that make for the good, the honest, the righteous, therefore the happy, in this at times hard and complex, but on the whole, good old world of ours.

3. To turn toward and to keep our faces always to the light, knowing that we are then always safe, and that we shall travel with joy the open road.

A KNOWLEDGE of the fact that we grow into the likeness of those things we contemplate, of those things that we live mostly with in our mental world, is one of the greatest assets of human life. Thought is at the bottom of all progress or retrogression, of all that is desirable or undesirable in life. We have it entirely in our own hands to determine what type of thought we entertain and habitually live with; thereby it is that we are the makers of our own good or ill fortunes.

A knowledge also of the fact that it is not what we actually accomplish at any particular time or times, but what we earnestly endeavor to accomplish, makes the road easier and should make all effort even a joy. It is the law of the reflex nerve system that whenever one does or endeavors to do any given thing in a certain way, a modicum of power is added whereby it is a trifle easier at the next effort, an added trifle at the next and the next, until that which is difficult and is done only with great effort in the beginning becomes easy of accomplishment - that which we do haltingly and stumblingly at first, bye and bye, so to speak, does itself, and with scarcely or even without any conscious effort on our part. This is the law; it is the secret of habit forming, character building, of all attainment.

The first thing then is the earnest desire, which, in other words, is the turning of the face to the light, then the mere traveling on day by day, calmly resting in the assurance that all is well with us now and that this course diligently and calmly pursued will lead us eventually to the sunlit hills and up to and into the very Gates of Paradise.

He who has the quest of the good in his heart has merely to travel on a step at a time, knowing that the second will be made clear when the first is taken. Patience and steadfastness and withal happiness and much laughter, mingled with whatever tears there may be along the way, will make even the most humble life the highest that can be lived. Such a life can end only in triumph; nay, it is a triumph during its progress, and even its failures are parts of its triumph.

4. To love the fields and the wild flowers, the stars, the far-open sea, the soft, warm earth, and to live much with them alone; but to love struggling and weary men and women and every pulsing, living creature better.

OUR complex modern life, especially in our larger centers, gets us running so many times into grooves that we are prone to miss, and sometimes for long periods, the all-round, completer life. We are led at times almost to forget that the stars come nightly to the sky, or even that there is a sky; that there are hedgerows and groves where the birds are always singing and where we can lie on our backs and watch the treetops swaying above us and the clouds floating by an hour or hours at a time; where one can live with his soul or, as Whitman has put it, where one can loaf and invite his soul.

We need changes from the duties and the cares of our accustomed everyday life. They are necessary for healthy, normal living. We need occasionally to be away from our friends, our relatives, from the members of our immediate households. Such changes are good for us; they are good for them. We appreciate them better, they us, when we are away from them for a period, or they from us.

We need these changes occasionally in order to find new relations-this in a twofold sense. By such changes there come to our minds more clearly the better qualities of those with whom we are in constant association; we lose sight of the little frictions and irritations that arise; we see how we can be more considerate, appreciative, kind.

In one of those valuable essays of Prentice Mulford entitled ‘’Who Are Our Relations?” he points us to the fact, and with so much insight and common sense, that our relations are not always or necessarily those related to us by blood ties, those of our immediate households, but those most nearly allied to us in mind and in spirit, many times those we have never seen, but that we shall sometime, somewhere be drawn to through the ceaselessly working Law of Attraction, whose basis is that like attracts like. And so in staying too closely with the accustomed relations we may miss the knowledge and the companionship of those equally or even more closely related.

We need these changes to get the kinks out of our minds, our nerves, our mus-cles-the cobwebs off our faces. We need them to whet again the edge of appetite. We need them to invite the mind and the soul to new possibilities and powers. We need them in order to come back with new implements, or with implements redressed, sharpened, for the daily duties. It is like the chopper working too long with axe unground. There comes the time when an hour at the stone will give it
such persuasive power that he can chop and cord in the day what he otherwise would in two or more, and with far greater ease and satisfaction.

We need periods of being by ourselves - alone. Sometimes a fortnight or even a week will do wonders for one, unless he or she has drawn too heavily upon the account. The simple custom, moreover, of taking an hour, or even a half hour, alone in the quiet, in the midst of the daily routine of life, would be the source of inestimable gain for countless numbers.

If such changes can be in closer contact with the fields and with the flowers that are in them, the stars and the sea that lies open beneath them, the woods and the wild things that are of them, one cannot help but find himself growing in love for and an ever fuller appreciation of these, and being at the same time so remade and unfolded that his love, his care, and his consideration for all mankind and for every living creature, will be the greater.

5. To do our own thinking, listening quietly to the opinions of others, but to be sufficiently men and women to act always upon our own convictions.

SINCERITY and honesty in thought is a characteristic essential to a commanding, to say nothing of a self-respecting, manhood or womanhood. It distinguishes always the man and the woman of influence.

Essentially true are the words of Robert Louis Stevenson: ‘’If you teach a man to keep his eyes upon what others think of him, unthinkingly to lead the life and hold the principles of the majority of his contemporaries, you must discredit in his eyes the authoritative voice of his own soul. He may be a docile citizen; he will never be a man. It is ours, on the other hand, to disregard this babble and chattering of other men better and worse than we are, and to walk straight before us by what light we have. They may be right; but so, before heaven, are we. They may know; but we know also, and by that knowledge we must stand or fall. There is such a thing as loyalty to a man’s own better self; and from those who have not that, God help me, how am I to look for loyalty to others?” To live not as slaves to, nor as unthinking or blind followers of the thought of others, under the mental domination of no man or woman or organization, in family life, in religious life, in community life, on the one hand, and to be not bigoted nor to pose as eccentric in thought and consequent act on the other, to yield and to use good sense in yielding quickly and quietly in non-essentials where peace and harmony will be preserved and where injury will be done no one thereby, is the part of the wise.

True and abundantly suggestive is the thought of Edward Carpenter:

“Him who is not detained by mortal adhesions, who walks in the world, yet not of it - Taking part in everything with equal mind, with free limbs and senses unen-tangled - Giving all, accepting all, using all, enjoying all, asking nothing, shocked at nothing- Him all creatures worship - all men and women bless.”

Equally true on the other hand are the words of Joubert: ‘’Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love truth.”

Any organization, religious or whatever its nature, that seeks to take from its followers or keep its adherents from perfect freedom and independence - in other words, common honesty - in thought and life does them untold injury, as well as sows thereby the seeds of its own destruction and disintegration. If old and decrepit, fast losing ground and making frantic efforts to hold its adherents, it indicates that the law is finally at work compelling restitution of that which it has filched, the disintegration of that which was untruthfully and unholily built.

If young and even though still apparently growing and rapidly increasing, it is merely a matter of time when violated law will strike its account and its at-one-time most enthusiastic followers will say, “Away with it all! Its falsity and its injury outweighs its good; that which robs me of my man-hood henceforth is not for me!”

Far better to build more truthfully even though it means a little more slowly - it pays in the end. Only those things that are essentially true at their foundations are the permanent.

6. To do our duty as we see it, regardless of the opinion of others - seeming gain or loss, temporary blame or praise.

INDEPENDENCE in the performance of one’s duty as he sees it, in living his life as it comes to him to live it, is the natural concomitant of sincerity and independence in thought. To live one’s life as it comes to him, to live it in essentials, considerate always of the feelings, the beliefs, the customs, the welfare of others in non-essentials, brings a completeness and a balance to life that makes for contentment as well as for growth and continual attainment.

Handing one’s individuality over to the beliefs of the whims or the customs of others is productive of good to no one. Kingly and never too oft-repeated are the words of intrepid Walt Whitman:

“From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines, Going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will divesting Myself of the holds that would hold me.”

Essentially the same truth had Channing in mind when he said: ‘’In proportion as a man suppresses his conviction to save his orthodoxy from suspicion, or distorts language from its common use that he may stand well with his party, in that proportion he clouds and degrades his intellect, as well as undermines the integrity of his character.” The blind following of party simply because one chances to belong to a particular party, and many times because his father or uncle - in some tomorrow his mother or his aunt - belonged to it, has been one of the chief causes of the most notorious political corruption and debauchery. It is due to this fact more than to anything else that bosses and machines have been able to get and to retain the hold they have gotten, and in the name of party fealty have been able to thieve the rights and the natural possessions of the people for their own aggrandizement and enrichment. It is only when you and I and all average men fully comprehend the moral obligation that is contained in the phrase, “Independence in party action,” that we will see the power of corruption that they now hold slipping from their hands. It is when we not only make it known by quick and decisive action that we will support our own party when its platform is essentially the best and when it is constructed for the purpose of being fulfilled and not for the pure purpose of deception, in whole or in part, and again when its candidates are the best men that can be named; but that we will as quickly support the opposing party when platform and candidates in it are the better, that we will give birth to a revolution of tremendous import in our political and social traditions and life.

Then when we are able to get away from the idea that government is something separate and apart from us, but that in a very fundamental sense we are government so to speak, and when we set about doing for ourselves that which we now hand over to others to be done for us, and many times fully and treacherously done, we will have political institutions of which we and all men will be justly and unreservedly proud.

7. To remain in nature always sweet and simple and humble, and therefore strong.

SWEETNESS Of nature, simplicity in manners and conduct, humility without self-abasement, give the truly kingly quality to men, the queenly to women, the winning to children, whatever the rank or the station may be. The life dominated by this characteristic, or rather these closely allied characteristics, is a natural wellspring of joy to itself and sheds a continual benediction upon all who come within the scope of its influence. It makes for a life of great beauty in itself, and it imparts courage and hope and buoyancy to all others.

If the life find its lot in the more common, the more lowly walks, then for one to go about the daily work and duties doing all things well and with cheerful mind and heart, happy in the present and with full faith as to the working out of all things well and as is for the greatest good in the future, such a life is one of most royal success.

And oh the vast numbers of such kingly and queenly lives in our so-called common walks - men and women doing their daily work, rearing their children, meeting their problems, even their losses or apparent losses, with smiles on their lips and faith and therefore courage in their hearts, turning what would otherwise be drudgery and heartless and unremitting toil into triumphant living. It is this great army that constitutes the very backbone of our nation - of any nation. The very contemplation of this multitude is in itself an inspiration; and it recalls us to a renewed and more steadfast faith in our common human nature.

On the other hand there is no quality that constitutes a more accurate earmark of real greatness and nobility of character in the case of the prosperous and successful, the better known, than the preservation of due humility and simplicity; the life of every man truly great is permeated always with these qualities. An undue sense of one’s importance or of one’s achievements or possessions, or an undue propensity for show or desire for recognition, indicates always a weak mental strain that may make an otherwise successful and honorable life a failure.

And why should there be anything but simplicity on the part of even the greatest? There will be due humility in it bye and bye; everything here will come to naught; and after its separation from the body the life will pass on into the next state, taking with it only, by way of desirable possessions, all attainment made through the unfoldment of its higher self, all that it has gained by way of self-mastery and nobility of character - and of these attributes none are more enduring, as well as more to be desired, than kindness and humility.

Truly descriptive of the well-balanced man are these lines of Lowell:

‘’The wisest man could ask no more of fate than to be simple, modest, manly, true, Safe from the many, honored by the few; Nothing to crave in Church or World or Stale, But inwardly in secret to be great.”

The one who has true inward greatness thinks little of and cares less for what we term fame. For truly, ‘’Fame means nothing to those who take an inward view of life, for they see that at best it is but the symbol of intrinsic worth.”

8. To play the part of neither fool nor knave by attempting to judge another, but to give that same time to living more worthily ourselves.

HE Who is perfect is in the position, were he so minded, of judging another. No man is perfect; no man therefore stands fully in such position.

The fool or the knave alone will do so. The fool because he hasn’t sense sufficiently keen to grasp the inconsistency, the foolhardiness of one, imperfect himself, assuming to judge the life of another likewise imperfect. The knave because although keen enough to realize his own shortcomings, his own imperfect life, he voluntarily assumes the role of the hypocrite in passing judgement upon another.

Only the perfect and the all - wise is in the position to judge the innermost life - the springs of the outer life of his fellowmen. Such, however, would be most deliberate in his conclusions and most lenient in his judgements. Deliberate because of his knowledge of the warrings, the weaknesses, and the at times poor or one-sided equipment in the majority of lives which makes their efforts seem almost god-like, could we see all, even when for the time being the entire battle would seem lost. Deliberate, also, because of his refusal to pass judgement upon a life not yet complete. Lenient in his judgement because of the remembrance of his own weaknesses and struggles and failures - better known to himself than to any others - that he passed through in attaining his present perfect state.

It is so easy to see and to point to the fallings of another; it is so difficult to be in the position where there is absolute perfection in ourselves. It is so easy in conversation, idly, jokingly, or with little motives or malices that lie hidden at least in our own minds - and we are sufficiently ostrich-like many times to think in the minds of others - to dwell upon the peculiarities, the shortcomings of the one or ones under consideration. If with a sense always of one’s own peculiarities and shortcomings, then it may be partly excusable or at least endurable, but without this it is a humorous manifestation of either ignorant or knavish conceit; and when it comes to the gossip he or she is generally a liar, consciously or unconsciously.

The grander natures and the more thoughtful are always looking for and in conversation dwelling on the better things in others. It is the rule with but few, if any exceptions, that the more noble and worthy and thoughtful the nature, the more it is continually looking for the best there is to be found in every life. Instead of judging or condemning, or acquiring the habit that eventually leads to this, it is looking more closely to and giving its time to living more worthily itself.

It is in this way continually unfolding and expanding in beauty and in power; it is finding an ever-increasing happiness by the admiration and the love that such a life is always, even though all unconsciously, calling to itself from all sources. It is the life that pays by many fold.

9. To get up immediately when we stumble, face again to the light, and travel on without wasting even a moment in regret.

WE are on the way from the imperfect to the perfect; someday, in this life or in some other, we shall reach our destiny. It is as much the part of folly to waste time and cripple our forces in vain, unproductive regrets in regard to the occurrences of the past as it is to cripple our forces through fears and forebodings for the future.

There is no experience in any life which if rightly regarded, rightly turned and thereby wisely used, cannot be made of value; many times things thus turned and used can be made sources of inestimable gain; ofttimes they become veritable blessings in disguise.

All have stumbled - all do stumble. All have fallen; every one of us has fallen flat, at some time, in one way or another, each along the lines of his own peculiar mental or physical makeup. Many a man, many a woman, has had a good round half dozen years or even more clipped from his or her life in moping, in vain and absolutely foolish regrets for this or that occurrence or series of occurrences in the past, thereby blocking initiative and neutralizing powers that rightly used would have led speedily to actualizing the attainment of the conditions desired.

Happy, happy and thrice blessed are we when we are wise enough to learn this quickly, and when we stumble, when we stumble and fall - yes flat - to give sufficient time in looking over the ground in quick attention to the object or the circumstances that caused it, and then with renewed effort getting ourselves together again and going straight on without losing another moment of time in vain, in costly get-no-where regrets. We should be as lenient in judgement of ourselves as we are of others, remembering that all in all we are no better and no worse than the majority of men. We should give ourselves no mental and thereby physical handicaps that will hinder or possibly prevent us in attaining the best that the fullest life holds for us.

Of special value to the one prone to waste time and to turn much of life’s joy into bitterness is the thought of Emerson:

‘’Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely, and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. Today is all that is good and fair. It is too dear with its hopes and invitations to waste a moment on the yesterdays.” And again: ‘’Our strength grows out of our weakness. The indignation which arms itself with secret forces does not awaken until we are pricked and stung and sorely assailed. A great man is always willing to be little. Whilst he sits on the cushion of advantages he goes to sleep. When he is pushed, tormented, defeated, he has a chance to learn something; he has been put on his wits, on his manhood; he has gained facts, learns his ignorance, is cured of the insanity of conceit, has got moderation and real skill.”

10. To love and to hold due reverence for all people and all things, but to stand in awe or fear of nothing save our own wrong-doing.

GOD never made any man or any institution a dispenser of truth or the custodian of the mental life of another. He instituted laws and forces whereby one man by ordering his life in accordance with the highest laws and forces of his being, living so to speak in the upper stories of his being, has become the revealer of truth and the exampler of truth to other men.

In the degree, however, that he has been worthy of receiving and successful in living, and thus in transmitting such revelations, in that degree has he kept his own personality in the background in order that the truth might be free from encumbrances now and from encrustations bye and bye. In other words, in the degree that he has loved truth more and self or self-aggrandizement less has he lost sight of himself in order that the truth might be unencumbered and freely and effectively delivered.

To hold undue reverence for or to stand in awe or fear of another is an exhibition, though perchance unconscious, of a lack of faith in or a degradation of our own native powers and forces, which if rightly unfolded and used might open to us revelations and lead us to heights even beyond those of the one we mentally crouch before.

There is probably no mental habit, native or acquired, that brings us so much that is undesirable in life as fear. It has been, it is today, the one great bugbear in almost countless lives, and until we redeem ourselves from this filcher of the best in life, we stand in fear at one time or another of almost everything. There is fear when happy that happiness will not remain; fear - when miserable that this condition will always remain; fear for our friends in that we shall lose them; fear of our enemies, if sufficiently unwise as to have them, in that they are continually at work in harm to us or to our reputations in the minds of others; fear of poverty in that what is ours today will not be ours tomorrow; fear of the elements; fear of sickness; fear of the transition we call death, either in our own case or in the case of those near to us. We fear that the bogy man, whatever his form and equipment and purpose, is continually on the wake for us. And so our conversation runs in terms of fear, and the prevailing mental attitude of fear has become the fixed habit of countless thousands.

It moreover stamps itself and registers its baneful influences in the very bodies of its victims. Fear retards and even paralyzes healthy action, the same as worry - closely allied to it - stagnates, corrodes, and pulls it down. When, moreover, we




once understand the subtle power of thought - thought as a force - and its law in that like builds like and like attracts like, we can see how we endow the very things we fear with power to get their hold and work their ills upon us. Thus we create within us and we attract to us, many times all unconsciously, conditions the very opposite of those we would have in our lives.

Fear is, so to speak, the direct opposite of faith, and faith is perhaps the strongest and most effective mental-spiritual force that we can possess or grow. To take the positive, the cheerful attitude of mind, bidding good-bye to fear and setting about resolutely for the actualization of those conditions that are good and desirable, we thus set into operation silent but subtle and all-powerful forces that will work for us continual good. In this way fear will gradually lose its hold and we will find ourselves becoming masters instead of, as formerly, creatures of circumstance.

11. To recognize the good lying at the heart of all people, of all things, waiting for expression, all in its own good way and time.

WE are in a life of growth and unfoldment, in a world of change and incompleteness; each thing is good in its place, and each thing has its own particular and peculiar purpose. Each life is divine at its center and some time will show forth in the full beauty of holiness, which is wholeness or completeness - divine self-realization.

Aptness or tardiness in recognizing the source and also the laws of our being, combined with varied innate tendencies to start with or combined with the influences of varied environments, is ordinarily the reason why one life differs from another at any given period in its moral, ethical tone or fibre. Quickness also or tardiness in coming into a conscious living realization of the essential oneness of each life and all life with the divine, the source, the center, the substance of all life that there is manifested in existence, and the avenues of wisdom and of power that such realization opens, determines the relative condition of any life at any given time.

Sometimes, frequently, a year in the life thus awake to its real nature gives by way of insight, growth, unfoldment, therefore of peace, of happiness, of usefulness, more than a previous fifty years rolled. together, and when it comes to a life that we are inclined to belittle, to judge harshly, to throw stones at, it behooves us to be guarded as the wise are guarded, for when the awakening and the consequent rapid march of such a soul begins it may quickly pass beyond those that we today deem much higher and much more important, beyond ourselves.

In a certain sense, in the broad sense, all is good. Yes, apparent misfortune and even what we ordinarily term evil, in that it is the good in the making. If we have faith, if we have patience and perseverance, there is no condition, no experience that rightly viewed and rightly turned and used will not bring us stores of good.

Everything that comes into each life has its place and its purpose, its part to play, and were it not necessary or were it not good in the long run that it come it would not come. If there is a divine order in the universe, if there is law - and in a sense there is absolutely nothing but law - it cannot be otherwise. A clear comprehension of this fact, or if this be impossible, a mere belief in it, is of tremendous value in helping us to meet understandingly and to work intelligently and bravely in the midst of adverse or undesirable conditions, that we may push on and through them to those that are more valuable and desirable. It is of value by way of enabling us to adjust ourselves in friendly relations with our environment or with existing conditions as long as it is well or possibly essential that we remain there, and to look for and to get the good that is unquestionably there for us.

By living thus in harmony, if not always in fullest sympathy with such conditions, we adopt the best possible method of getting from them the greatest good, and pushing on through them, not only with the least possible handicap, but with added wisdom and power. And possibly to some to whom the way may seem already long, this thought from Browning may be of value:

“The common problem, yours, mine, everyone’s, is not to fancy what were fair in life provided it could be - but finding first what may be, then find how to make it fair up to our means: a very different thing.”

12. To know that it is the middle ground that brings pleasure and satisfaction, and that excesses have to be paid for ofttimes with heavy and sometimes with frightful costs.

ALL things, good in themselves, are for use and enjoyment; but all things must be rightly used in order that there may be full and lasting enjoyment. A law written into the very fibre of human life, so to speak, is to the effect that excesses, the abuse of anything good in itself, will end disastrously, so that one’s pleasures and enjoyments will have to be gathered up for repairs, or perchance his shattered mind or body also, and in case of the latter then the former will have to bide their time or wait indefinitely for their resumption.

Wise indeed is he who fully recognizes this law that never has and that never will allow itself to be violated or undone, but that will shatter, sometimes with telling and open blows, more often perhaps with blows subtle and guarded, but just as telling, the happiness or even the mind and the body of the one who would do violence to or who would fail to recognize its mandate - Moderation.

On the other hand, to see evil in things good in themselves is the perversion of another law that carries with it its own peculiar penalty. The one tends to make the prig, the self-righteous, out of a good, wholesome man or woman, the same as the other makes eventually the voluptuary. The one errs in the one direction the same as the other in another direction. Each pays the penalty for his folly, the one by cutting himself off from much innocent and valuable God intended enjoyment, at the same time casting a continual shadow over the lives of others; the other by way of settling heavy bills of costs for his excesses.

It should be then neither license nor perverted use on the one hand, nor asceticism or priggishness on the other - the full use of all normal and natural functions, faculties, and powers, innocent and good in themselves, that all may be brought to their fullest growth and development, but never excessive or perverted use.

The tendency of the great majority, especially in our present day American life, is on the side of the too serious, the too busy, the too absorbing in the business, in the work. This induces all unconsciously, in time, a prevailing type of thought and mental activity that takes, so to speak, the buoyancy, the elasticity out of both mind and body, so that age and its accompanying features manifest, assert, and fix themselves in many, or to speak more truly, in the majority of cases, long before their time. By way of balance, by way of disarming these, we need more of the play element, more of the open air, the sunshine, the exercise element in our lives. It would save thousands from stiffening of joints and muscles, hardened arteries, dyspepsia, apoplexy, nerve exhaustion, melancholia, premature age, premature death.

‘’Happy recreation has a very subtle influence upon one’s ability, which is emphasized and heightened and multiplied by it. How our courage is braced up, our determination, our ambition, our whole outlook on life changed by it! There seems to be a subtle fluid from humor and fun which penetrates the entire being, bathes all the mental faculties, and washes out the brain-ash and debris from exhausted cerebrum and muscles. . . . A joyful, happy, fun-loving environment develops powers, resources, and possibilities which would remain latent in a cold, dull, repressing atmosphere.”

Look where we will, in or out and around us, we will find that it is the middle ground - neither poverty nor excessive riches, good wholesome use without license, a turning into the bye-ways along the main road where innocent and healthy God-sent and God-intended pleasures and enjoyments are to be found; but never getting far enough away to lose sight of the road itself. The middle ground it is that the wise man or woman plants foot upon.

13. To know that work, occupation, something definite and useful to do, is one of the established conditions of happiness in life.

IT is difficult to know, much more to tell, why there is such a law; but perchance it is that work, definite, useful activity, and along with it the satisfaction of accomplishment, is necessary to growth and development, and unquestionably growth, development, attainment is the purpose, the object of life. However this may be, we know one thing, that we always feel better when we can look back when night comes and feel that the day has been good in accomplishment, or at least in effort, and that it has not been allowed to pass without some good, some useful thing accomplished, to its credit.

Are we alone in the thought that work is one of the established conditions of successful and therefore healthy, happy living? Of its purpose, or rather its place, Hugh Black has given utterance to this thought: ‘’One thing is certain, that, though work itself will not insure happiness, yet without it happiness is impossible. It is an essential condition of a contented life. This has been the experience of all, and there is no more useful lesson for youth to learn early.” It was Amiel who said: “It is work that gives flavor to life. Mere existence without object and without effort is a poor thing. Idleness leads to languor, and languor to disgust.” Zola, putting it a little too strongly perhaps, showing nevertheless his thought regarding it, says: “Work! It is the sole law of the world “; and again: “Let each one accept his task, a task which should fill his life. It may be very humble; it will not be the less useful. Never mind what it is, so long as it exists and keeps you erect. When you have regulated it without excess - just the quantity you are able to accomplish each day - it will cause you to live in health and in joy.”

Putting his general thought along the same line in more poetic form, Barry Cornwall wrote:

“There is not a creature from England’s king

To the peasant that delves the soil,

That knows half the pleasures the seasons bring,

If he have not his share of toil.”

A still more inclusive truth Bayard Taylor has put in the verse;

“Sloth is sin and toil is worship, and the soul demands an aim; Who neglects the ordination, he shall not escape the blame.”

But here again it is the middle ground - neither idleness nor excessive toil. Work, whatever its nature - so-called great or menial, cabinet minister or street cleaner, celebrated singer or homekeeper or shirt stitcher - work that is glorified and made a fair contributor to a genuinely religious life by the spirit we carry into it, by the way we do it. It is this and this alone that determines whether it is really great or menial - work, earnest and sincere, that is broken by periods of rest and leisure, so that the latter become replete with enjoyment and value. This combining of work with rest and play, of rest and play with work, gives zest and spirit to both and brings again in this phase of our being the balance to life.

God, however, deliver us from the too earnest people, those whose work is so important that they can never find place for the time off, whose earnestness leads to inflation, or to a stealing of responsibility for many important - or less important - things from God, who have no time for the appreciation or the development of a sense of humour and the occasional levity, who eliminate the innocent pleasures and leisures and joys that a good, sensible, well-rounded and withal useful life takes as its portion. By being too valuable to our fellowmen we may often become of but little value to them, and eventually to ourselves; here again, therefore, it is the middle ground.

The chief use, perhaps, of passing through the period of self-importance, of excessive earnestness, especially if it be in comparative youth, is that then we are through with it, we are able in reflection to get an occasional enjoyment by being able to see the humour of it all, and we are able also to appreciate it quickly and to see the humour of it in the occasional other one who is still in its throes.

For the all round life there must be the balance also as to the kinds of work. The hand, manual, ground worker, to insure the most happy and satisfying life for himself, to say nothing of his greater value to his community, to the state, must turn periodically into the intellectual bye-ways, through investigation, study, reading, a greater intelligence of the best and latest developments and findings in his own work, as well as keeping in touch with general progress. This will determine whether he remain or become a mere machine or an intelligent, commanding worker, as also a valuable citizen.

The brain worker, the business man, and especially the one doing creative mental work, if he would know the all-round joy of living, must have that to turn to whereby his hands, his body, get their normal, healthy activity, and if it be useful, constructive work, or work in or of the soil, the greater the interest and value. This would save almost countless thousands of good men and good women that overwrought, nervous, brain and nerve fagged condition that renders full enjoyment
of anything impossible, that causes a craving for and a turning to stimulants, excitement, extravagances that only increase their difficulties. It would save them to the simple, healthy, homely, and lasting joys that nature rewards never with satiety, but with good sleep, good appetite, good digestion, in brief, that greatest of all earthly blessings - good health.

14. To realize always clearly that thoughts are forces, that like creates like and like attracts like, and that to determine one’s thinking, therefore, is to determine his life.

THAT we have within us the force or the power that makes us what we are, and that we have it in our own hands to determine how that force, that power, shall be used is a revelation, if not clearly realized before, of tremendous import to any life.

One of the most valuable, not discoveries, but rather rediscoveries, of the present decade, or still better, perhaps, clear formulations of a long-known truth, is the fact that thoughts are forces, that they have form and quality and substance and power, that they are the silent, unseen, but subtle agents at work that are daily and hourly producing and determining, and with almost absolute precision, the conditions in our lives. As is the inner, therefore, so always and necessarily is the outer. What one lives in his thought world is continually forming and thus determining his outer material world.

The clearly established law of thought as a force is that like creates like and like attracts like. The hopeful, cheerful, confident find themselves continually growing in faith, in confident, healthy optimism, in courage; they are also continually attracting and drawing to themselves, thus gaining as friends and helpers those of similar qualities and possessions, and they are likewise inspiring these qualities in others. Courage and faith beget energy and power; energy and power rightly directed bring success. Such, as a rule, are the successful people - successful simply by way of natural law.

The fearing, grumbling, worrying, vascillating do not succeed in anything and generally live by burdening, in some form or another, someone else. They stand in the way of, they prevent their own success; they fail in living even an ordinary healthy, normal life; they cast a blighting influence over and they act as a hindrance to all with whom they at any time come in contact. The pleasures we take captive in life, the growth and advancement we make, the pleasure and benefit our company or acquaintanceship brings to others, the very desirability of our companionship on the part of others - all depend upon the types of thought we entertain and live most habitually with.

Not only is there the direct connection - that of cause and effect - between the types of thought we most habitually entertain and the value and joy of living in our own lives, as well as the pleasure we give and the influence we exert upon others, but the intimate relations existing between certain mental states and the various bodily functions are beginning now to be so clearly understood and can
be so easily traced and established, that no clear thinking, open mind can fail to recognize the great power constantly at work for disease or for health; and if certain given mental states or habits induce diseased conditions and structure, as they do, then certain other mental states, especially when consciously and definitely directed, can antidote and remove obstructions so that the operation of the life forces within can undo and cure the same.

There is a general order of thought that may be described as the normal, health bringing, pleasure bringing, the desirable, valuable. Of this order are faith, hope, love, magnanimity, charity, nobility of feeling and purpose, good temper, goodwill, clear, clean, hopeful, healthful thought. These are evidently the God-intended, for they are productive of wholesome activity, of health and strength and peace of mind, of soul, and of body.

There is a general order of thought that may be described as abnormal, perverted, and carrying with it a slow, corroding, poisoning effect upon or a quick death-sting for all that is good, healthy, and desirable in life. Of this order are fear, worry, anxiety, resentment, envy, jealousy, hatred, revenge, ill-temper, nagging, fault-finding, lust. The effect of this order of thought if lived in to any extent is that of a retarding, corroding, poisoning effect upon mind, soul, and through them the body - upon the latter not by way of fanciful influence, but by way of direct chemical corroding and poisoning, with its resultant effect upon tissues and structure. Thus one in time becomes the victim of the products, the children of his own brain-his thoughts.

Says one of our modern keen thinkers and forceful writers: ‘’We are beginning to see that we can renew our bodies by renewing our thoughts; change our bodies by changing our thoughts; that by holding the thought of what we wish to become, we can become what we desire. Instead of being the victims of fate we can order our fate, we can largely determine what it shall be. Our destiny changes with our thought. We shall become what we wish to become when our habitual thought corresponds with the desire.... He is a fortunate man who early learns the secret of scientific brain-building, and who acquires the inestimable art of holding the right suggestion in his mind, so that he can triumph over the dominant note in his environment when it is unfriendly to his highest good. . . . The whole body is really a projected mind, objectified, made tangible. It is an outpicturing of the mind in material form. When we look at a person we actually see the mind, or what his thinking has made him. . . . The life follows the thought. There is no law clearer than that. There is no getting away from it.” (*Dr. O. S. Marden in Success Magazine, August, 1908.)

After a certain age is reached in any life, the prevailing tone and condition of that life is the resultant of the mental habits of that life. If one has mental equipment sufficient to find and to make use of the Science of Thought in its application to scientific mind and body building, habit and character building, there is little by way of heredity, environment, attainment of which he or she will not be the master.

One thing is very certain - the mental points of view, the mental tendencies and habits at twenty eight and thirty eight will have externalized themselves and will have stamped the prevailing conditions of any life at forty eight and fifty eight and sixty eight.

15. To take and to live always in the attitude of mind that compels gladness, looking for and thus drawing to us continually the best in all people and all things, being thereby the creators of our own good fortunes.

CHEERFULNESS, looking on the bright side of things, seeing the humorous side of situations when others see only the “too-bad,” the “provoking,” the “spasm,” the “isn’t-it-terrible,” is a matter of habit quite as much as it is a matter of aptitude. If one lack the habit he fails in one of the most important or even essential qualities of his life; so, on the other hand, to cultivate it to its highest is to become possessor of a quality in life most eagerly to be sought.

The optimistic, cheerful, hopeful habit of mind and thought is continually putting into and keeping in operation silent subtle forces that are continually changing from the unseen into the seen, from the ideal into the actual, and attracting to us, from without, conditions of a nature kindred to the type of thought force that we give birth to and set into operation. Ordinarily we find in people those qualities we are mostly looking for; if we show to them our best, their best will open and show itself to us.

There is no quality that exerts more good, is of greater service to all mankind during the course of the ordinary life, than the mind and the heart that goes out in an all embracing love for all, that is the generator and the circulator of a genuine, hearty, wholesome sympathy and courage and good cheer, that is not disturbed or upset by the passing occurrence little or great, but that is serene, tranquil, and conquering to the end, that is looking for the best, that is finding the best, and that is inspiring the best in all. There is, moreover, no quality that when genuine brings such rich returns to its possessor by virtue of the thoughts and the feelings that it inspires and calls forth from others and that come back laden with their peaceful, stimulating, healthful influences for him.

On the other hand, the peevish, gloomy, grumbling, paniky, critical - the small - cast a sort of deadening, unwholesome influence wherever they go. They get, however, what they give, for they inspire and call back to themselves thoughts and feelings of the kind they are sufficiently stupid to allow a dominating influence in their own lives. People ruled by the mood of gloom attract to themselves gloomy people and gloomy conditions, those that are of no help to them, but rather a hindrance.

The cheerful, confident, tranquil in all circumstances are continually growing in these same qualities, for the mind grows by and in the direction of that which it feeds upon. This process of mental chemistry is continually working in our lives, bringing us desirable or undesirable conditions according to our prevailing mental states.

The course of determining resolutely to expect only those things which we desire, or which will be ultimately for our larger good, of thinking health and strength rather than disease and weakness, an abundance for all our needs rather than poverty, success rather than failure, of looking for and calling from others the best there is in them, is one of the greatest aids also to bodily health and perfection. As a rule one seldom knows of those of this trend or determination of mind complaining of physical ailments, because they are generally free from the long list of ailments and disabilities that have their origin in perverted emotional and mental states, that by being regularly fed are allowed to externalize themselves and become settled conditions.

This attitude of mind is the one also that carries us through when the dark day comes and things look their worst. It enables us to take the long view, to throw the thought on beyond the present day, difficulty, or depression to the time when it will have worked itself out all well and good. Such times come to all. We must be brave and bravely take our share.

It is how we bear ourselves at such times that determines our real worth and use, whether we have stamina, backbone, courage - real character - and if at such times we can stand unfaltering, uncomplaining, desirous of neither sympathy nor pity, patient but resolute, and doing today what today reveals to be done and so ready for the morrow when it comes, there can be but one outcome. The Higher Powers of all the universe stand back of such a life, they uphold it, they sustain it, they stamp it with success, they crown it with adoration and with honour.

16. To know that the ever conscious realization of the essential oneness of each life with the Divine Life is the highest of all knowledge, and that to open ourselves as opportune channels for the Divine Power to work in and through us is the open door to the highest attainment, and to the best there is in life.

FOR a life of the larger growth and attainment, for a life that finds itself ready for whatever the emergency that confronts it along the way, it is essential that it find a basis, or as has been aptly said, its center. It must be, moreover, a basis, a center that its own intelligence, its own thought can find and give acceptance to, not something imposed from without by some other mind, or body of men, or institution.

To me there is nothing more rational, more reasonable than to find one’s start in being - that Spirit of Infinite Life and Power that is the intelligence, the unfolder, the creator if you please, of all there is in this universe of evident design of law and order. It is a universe where there is, in a sense, nothing but law, law constantly working through the agency of cause and effect, and in which for even the most ordinary intelligence to think that there is only, or that there is the slightest element of chance, is practically incomprehensible.

If all is in absolute accordance with law and plan and order, there is an intelligence, a power that is back of and that gives life and form and sustaining force to that law and order. To me this is being manifesting itself in existence, the Supreme Intelligence - God. The Creator manifesting itself - himself if you prefer - in creation, so that Creator and creation are one, in the sense that Creator is the life, the spirit of all there is in existence - in creation. There is the one life, this Spirit of Infinite Life and Power that is back of all, working in and through all, the Life of all. To speak therefore of our life as separate and apart from this Infinite Life, as separate from the life of God, is impossible. To speak of it as equal to the life of God is unreasonable. In nature, in essence, in quality it is essentially one and the same, therefore Divine in its origin, in its essence. In degree of manifestation and in power it is totally different, and here is the one essential feature of this all important fact in its bearing upon our lives. It is possible for us to remain closed to, in ignorance of, the source and nature of our real being, and to live without a conscious connection with this Source.

It is the mind that relates the soul of man, the real eternal self, with this Source. It is through the instrumentality of the mind that we are enabled to make this conscious connection. It is this that distinguishes us from the inanimate world; our minds, moreover, are given us for use.

It is possible for us through the channel of our minds so to relate ourselves to, and to grow ever more conscious of, the real identity of our lives with their Divine Source that we become receivers and liberators, so to speak, of the attributes of the Divine Life. Among the attributes of this Life are wisdom, power, love, harmony. In the degree that we make and keep this conscious connection we make ourselves natural channels for a continually greater degree of Divine Intelligence and Power to manifest in and through us.

It is in a way like the plant. When in its right relations with that to which it must rightly relate itself for unfoldment and growth - soil with sufficient moisture and sunlight - its life and growth go on naturally and unimpeded, and it finally reaches its destiny - fullness of unfoldment and growth, which means maturity. If but poorly related to or if separated from these, it struggles for a while and finally withers and dies.

Let us recur to the statement: In the degree that we make and keep this conscious connection with our Source do we make ourselves natural channels for a continually greater degree of Divine Intelligence and Power to manifest in and through us. And what, it is but right to ask, is the basis of such a statement outside of the statement itself? The fact that it is the uniform experience of all who become awake to this New Consciousness, as multitudes are becoming awake to it today. It has likewise been the experience of thousands in the world’s history, both men and women, whose names and works are familiar to all, of the mystical, of the truly religious - not necessarily institutional and generally not - trend of mind and purpose of life. The religious mind and life, because the fundamental principle, in brief the essence of all real religion, whatever its form or time or name, is: The consciousness of God in the soul of man. It is the full realization, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” It is the Christ state that Jesus realized and lived continually in because of the complete realization of the oneness of his life with the Father’s life. “I and the Father are one.” “The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself, but the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works “ -and it is thus that he becomes the Saviour of other men, by virtue of pointing out to them this same way.

This brings also the child simplicity, for in ourselves we are nothing; we have every conceivable type of limitation. In the degree that the God life with its attendant wisdom and power dwells in us through our opening the way, in that degree do our latent possibilities change to actualized power. In other words, we determine our own limitations. In the degree that we come into the knowledge of our real selves our limitations rise and we come thereby into actual possession of our own.

And what, it is only right again to ask, has this to do with the healthy, bountiful, practical, everyday life that is the real thing before us? This consciousness of the God life in the soul, so that it becomes the constant guiding force in our lives, is nothing more nor less than the finding of the Kingdom. It is testing the reality of the injunction of Jesus, he who knew whereof he spoke when he said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” It is the inclusive thing which brings all things of detail in its train.

It brings insight, intuition, wisdom, for it is the very source of wisdom. It brings power, for the secret of all power is the right co-ordination of the agents of expression with the power that works from within. It brings influence, for all men feel instinctively and are influenced, even unconsciously, by such a life.

It is productive of bodily health and vigour, for spirit, from its very nature, can admit of no disease or inharmony, and it externalizes, in the body of him who realizes himself a spiritual being, health and harmony. If inharmony and disease have, gotten their hold before, they are quickly or more gradually eliminated according to the degree of this realization by the reversal of the process whereby they came. It brings power as an agent in healing the bodily ills of another because the mind spiritually alive is able more readily to reach and impress the subconscious mind of another, the agency through which all mental or spiritual healing in oneself or in another is accomplished. In the degree of the completeness of this realization is the element of time in such cases eliminated, as was so abundantly true in Jesus’ case, whose (to us) wonderful works of healing were all in accordance with law - and this same law that we are considering.

It brings material things in full abundance, for wisdom offers the key and power unlocks the door; all material things are in the universe now waiting simply for the right combination, the right type of demand, to draw them to their rightful owners. It saves one, moreover, from the excessive accumulation of material things, for the life thus awake realizes that they are not and never, except to our detriment, can be made an end in themselves, but are simply a means to an end.

It eliminates fear, forebodings, worry, for these can have no existence in such a life. It gives a calmness, a poise, a serenity to life that proclaims the man or the woman master of the greatest of all arts - the Art of Living. Such a life has no fear and scarcely a thought of death, for it realizes that the only death to be feared, or that has in any sense a reality, is that feeling or that sense of separateness from the life of God. It has full consciousness of the fact that it is living the eternal life now, that it can never be in that life more in reality than now, and that in all eternity it can never be more conscious of God’s presence than is in its power at this very moment. It acknowledges the reality of Jesus wonderful insight when he said: “Say not lo here nor lo there, know ye not that the Kingdom of Heaven is within you?” It is conscious of the fact that it is surrounded, guided, upheld by a force that is not to be explained, perhaps, as to the mode of its working. “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.” As real to it as the air it breathes is the ever-conscious fact, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.”

Ralph Waldo Trine 1866 - 1958 END


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