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I HAVE said lightly a propos of the conclusion arrived at by several correspondents and by myself that the cry for the simple life was merely a new form of the old cry for happiness, that I would explain what it was that made life worth living for me. The word has gone forth, and I must endeavor to redeem my promise. But I do so with qualms and with diffidence. First, there is the natural instinct against speaking of that which is in the core of one's mind. Second, there is the fear, nearly amounting to certainty, of being misunderstood or not comprehended at all. And third, there is the absurd insufficiency of space.

However! . . . For me, spiritual content (I will not use the word “happiness," which implies too much) springs essentially from no mental or physical facts. It springs from the spiritual fact that there is something higher in man than the mind, and that that something can control the mind. Call that something the soul, or what you will. My sense of security amid the collisions of existence lies in the firm consciousness that just as my body is the servant of my mind, so is my mind the servant of me. An unruly servant, but a servant-- and possibly getting less unruly every day! Often have I said to that restive brain: "Now, O mind, sole means of communication between the divine me and all external phenomena, you are not a free agent; you are a subordinate; you are nothing but a piece of machinery; and obey me you shall."

The mind can only be conquered by regular meditation, by deciding beforehand what direction its activity ought to take, and insisting that its activity takes that direction; also by never leaving it idle, undirected, masterless, to play at random like a child in the streets after dark. This is extremely difficult, but it can be done, and it is marvelously well worth doing. The fault of the epoch is the absence of meditative- ness. A sagacious man will strive to correct in himself the faults of his epoch. In some deep ways the twelfth century had advantages over the twentieth. It practiced meditation. The twentieth does Sandow exercises. Meditation (I speak only for myself) is the least dispensable of the day's doings. What do I force my mind to meditate upon? Upon various things, but chiefly upon one.

Namely, that Force, Energy, Life -- the Incomprehensible has many names -- is indestructible, and that, in the last analysis, there is only one single, unique Force, Energy, Life. Science is gradually reducing all elements to one element. Science is making it increasingly difficult to conceive matter apart from spirit. Everything lives. Even my razor gets "tired." And the fatigue of my razor is no more nor less explicable than my fatigue after a passage of arms with my mind. The Force in it, and in me, has been transformed, not lost. All Force is the same force.

Science just now has a tendency to call it electricity; but I am indifferent to such baptisms. The same Force prevades my razor, my cow in my field, and the central me which dominates my mind: the same force in different stages of evolution. And that Force persists for ever. In such paths do I compel my mind to walk daily. Daily it has to recognize that the mysterious Ego controlling it is a part of that divine Force which exists from everlasting to everlasting, and which, in its ultimate atoms, nothing can harm. By such a course of training, even the mind, the coarse, practical mind, at last perceives that worldly accidents don't count.

“But," you will exclaim, "this is nothing but the immortality of the soul over again!" Well, in a slightly more abstract form, it is. (I never said I had discovered anything new.) I do not permit myself to be dogmatic about the persistence of personality, or even of individuality after death. But, in basing my physical and mental life on the assumption that there is something in me which is indestructible and essentially changeless, I go no further than science points. Yes, if it gives you pleasure; let us call it the immortality of the soul. If I miss my train, or my tailor disgraces himself, or I lose that earthly manifestation of Force that happens to be dearest to me, I say to my mind: "Mind, concentrate your powers upon the full realization of the fact that I, your master, am immortal and beyond the reach of accidents."

And my mind, knowing by this time that I am a hard master, obediently does so. Am I, a portion of the Infinite Force that existed billions of years ago, and which will exist billions of years hence, going to allow myself to be worried by any terrestrial physical or mental event? I am not. As for the vicissitudes of my body, that servant of my servant, it had better keep its place, and not make too much fuss. Not that any fuss occurring in either of these outward envelopes of the eternal me could really disturb me. The eternal is calm; it has the best reason for being so.

So you say to yourselves: “Here is a man in a penny weekly paper advocating daily meditation upon the immortality of the soul as a cure for discontent and unhappiness! A strange phenomenon!" That it should be strange is an indictment of the epoch. My only reply to you is this: Try it. Of course, I freely grant that such meditation, while it "casts out fear," slowly kills desire and makes for a certain high indifference; and that the extinguishing of desire, with an accompanying indifference, be it high or low, is bad for youth. But I am not a youth, and today I am writing for those who have tasted disillusion: which youth has not. Yet I would not have you believe that I scorn the brief joys of this world. My attitude towards them would fain be that of Socrates, as stated by the incomparable Marcus Aurelius: “He knew how to lack, and how to enjoy, those things in the lack whereof most men show themselves weak; and in the fruition, intemperate."

Besides commanding my mind to dwell upon the indestructibly and final omnipotence of the Force which is me, I command it to dwell upon the logical consequence of that unity of force which science is now beginning to teach. The same essential force that is me is also you. Says the Indian proverb: “I met a hundred men on the road to Delhi, and they were all my brothers." Yes, and they were all my twin brothers, if I may so express it, and a thousand times closer to me even than the common conception of twin brothers. We are all of us the same in essence; what separates us is merely differences in our respective stages of evolution. Constant reflection upon this fact must produce that universal sympathy which alone can produce a positive content. It must do away with such ridiculous feelings as blame, irritation, anger, resentment.

It must establish in the mind an all-embracing tolerance. Until a man can look upon the drunkard in his drunkenness, and upon the wife-beater in his brutality, with pure and calm compassion; until his heart goes out instinctively to every other manifestation of the unique Force; until he is surcharged with an eager and unconquerable benevolence towards everything that lives; until he has utterly abandoned the presumptuous practice of judging and condemning -- he will never attain real content. “Ah!” you exclaim again, "he has nothing newer to tell us than that ' the greatest of these is charity'!” I have not. It may strike you as excessively funny, but I have discovered nothing newer than that. I merely remind you of it. Thus it is, twins on the road to Delhi, by continual meditation upon the indestructibility of Force, that I try to cultivate calm, and by continual meditation upon the oneness of Force that I try to cultivate charity, being fully convinced that in calmness and in charity lies the secret of a placid if not ecstatic happiness. It is often said that no thinking person can be happy in this world. My view is that the more a man thinks the more happy he is likely to be. I have spoken. I am overwhelmingly aware that I have spoken crudely, abruptly, inadequately, confusedly.


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