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Chapter 20

The Creative Power of Faith and Courage

That the Master was not only a teacher of courage, but he himself a splendid example of a man of courage, every thought and every act of his life attests. It took supreme courage continually to face the members and the agents of that thoroughly entrenched religious hierarchy, who became through fear the deadly enemies of both himself and his teachings. He kept right on, however, with an inner knowledge of what it would probably lead to.

This supreme courage he evoked and manifested in the garden of Gethsemane, as he viewed his fate and reached the decision that it was best to give his life for the greater good of his truth.

That is a personal courage — a man living his teachings. But the courage that means the most to the men and women of the world is the courage that would undoubtedly take first rank in his mind and heart; for it was always the element of human service that fired both his interest and his zeal. It is this order of courage that has its birth and its being in the quality, or rather the order of thought, which he had in mind when so many times he used the word faith.

No one perhaps, or certainly no one before him, had a clear understanding of the power of thought — that thought is a force, and therefore both creative and building in its effects. Our later findings, especially during the last fifty years or so, only confirm the fact of his knowledge of this, as we get it from both his words and his acts. There were those before him who had at least a partial knowledge.

‘They can because they think they can.’ It was the Roman poet and thinker, Vergil, who said this; he said it of the crew that in his mind would win the race.

Translating it into a statement of actual concrete fact it means: The belief and the ideal of this belief, steadily held by them, will infuse a force into and through their bodies, their very muscles, that will give them the power to win. And, said many years ago, it agrees thoroughly with the best that we are finding in our modern science and psychology.

This was said but a few decades before Jesus, the greatest teacher of the power of thought that the world perhaps has ever known. Filled with potency are his continually repeated sayings and his direct teachings concerning the power of the moulding and creative process of thought — in the form of faith.

Thoroughly he understood that thought is a force. Intuitively he understood it, and gaining a first-hand knowledge of its laws and using it to a supreme degree himself, he then proclaimed its vital creative and building power to others. Otherwise he never could have said — and repeated — those remarkable things about faith. ‘According to your faith be it unto you,’ occurs in this or in similar form time and time again.

Faith, in the sense that he used it, and the sense that we must understand it today if it is to become a force — a creative and moulding force — in life, is but a positive, clear-cut type of thought, which, clearly pictured, held to and kept watered with expectation, becomes creative in its action. It makes all effort positive, dynamic, constructive; just as fear — its opposite — and fear’s attendant forebodings weaken, neutralise, and finally defeat all effective effort, all accomplishment.

There seems to be a law — there is a law, the truth and the force of which we are, as it were, just beginning intelligently to grasp. It can be stated in this form: There is something in the universe that responds to brave, intrepid thought. The Power that holds and moves the stars in their courses, sustains, illumines and fights for the brave and the upright. Courage has power and magic in it.

To form one’s ideal, clearly to sec it, and then to make the start, is the first essential of all attainment and achievement. To take captive the best things in life, we must proceed always through the channel of brave, intrepid thought. He who knows the power of the forward look — the silent, subtle building power of faith and hope and courage — realises that unforeseen helps will spring up all along the way, for him who makes the start, who determines to arrive and who works true to the pattern.

There is perhaps no trait that more people in the world today, right down in their hearts long for — eagerly long for — than the quality of courage. Every individual has his problems. There is no one who has not. Life is not conceivable on any other terms.

It was Shakespeare’s keen vision and graphic power of expression that gave us the memorable and suggestive thought :’Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.’ The start is not made; and with no start there can be no arriving, no achievement, or the innate joy that comes from achievement.

The initiative lies always within ourselves. There are helps, both within and without, which stand ready to respond to the vision and the call of every brave, clearseeing, and determincd man and woman. The springs of power are all from within, and through this channel we can make contact with sources of power, or the Source of Power, that tremendously augments our own efforts.

Wonderful statements in this realm of thought have come to us from some of the early Hebrew prophets, many showing great inspiration, some great beauty of phrase.

To one there came: ‘And thou shalt hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right and when ye turn to the left.’ To another there came: ‘There is a spirit in Man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understanding.’ To another: ‘The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty.’

We have become so used to Some of these sayings through familiar association, that we are apt to lose sight of their reality. If we looked at them in a more matter-of-fact and common-sense way, we would get a great deal more out of them. Much of their value is lost, unless we recognise them as statements of facts in connection with great fundamental laws, and translate them into working facts or forces in our common everyday shall we say bread-and-butter lives.

With their minds always open to the voice of their God — Jehovah — these early prophets made it possible for the higher inspirations, the higher revelations of truth and power, to come to them.

They did have contact with the Divine, and the Divine life and power made itself manifest to and through them. The result is that here and there the Old Testament portion of our Christian Bible contains some of the greatest statements of practical philosophy, of mystical and religious thought, embodied at times in arresting beauty of form, that can be found anywhere in the literature of the world. The quiet of their life and surroundings made this type of inspiration and revelation easier and more natural for them, perhaps, than for the great majority of us today. But our need of it is just as great. Shall we say, it is greater.

The thing for us to remember primarily is this: The laws are the same now as then. If we take time to find, to know, to observe them, the results will be the same with us as with them.

One of those earlier prophets said something that revealed his grasp and his understanding of a certain law, which should make every man and woman and child among us today sit up and take notice: ‘Thou shalt decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee.’

If there is truth in this statement, then there is a force which we possess and which can be so used that as the cause it produces the effect — ‘it shall be established unto thee.’

Slowly we have been coming upon the fact that thought is a force, and whether or not we realise it fully yet, it is the great building force, and therefore power, in our lives.

As we think, so we become. Such is the law. This is why we are at last finding that the life always and inevitably follows the thought.

There is no more fundamental law of life. Old as the world, but to be filled ever with fresh meaning for each individual is the truth: ‘As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.’ The is part is but the cumulative effects of his prevailing life thoughts.

There is a positive, constructive, success-bringing type of thought, and there is a negative, destructive, failure-bringing type or order of thought.

It was primarily of the former that the Master had so much to say. Some of his statements of its power would be almost unbelievable were it not for the fact that he had such a supreme aptitude, such a unique power, for discerning the things of the mind and the spirit.

He uses over and over again in this connection the word faith. ‘According to your faith,’ said he, ‘be it unto you.’ And again, ‘If you can but believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.’ To these and almost identical statements he gives dynamic utterance time and time again.

When he used the word ‘faith,’ he practically in every case used it in the sense of ‘thought.’ He never used it in the sense of having faith in, or believing in, some thing or system, for he himself taught no system. The truth of the laws of life was his sole interest and purpose and concern in his life mission of becoming the light-bearer for other men.

And faith, in the sense in which he in practically all cases uses the term, is nothing more or less than a clear-cut, positive type of thought which, set into operation and held to, becomes dynamic and formative in its operations.

It is because he understood that thoughts are forces, and are continually creating or moulding conditions, each according to its kind, that he could speak so positively and frequently of the power of faith. Wa are, as it were, just beginning to understand the real, vital truth of these sayings, just beginning to catch up with him.

This law of the continually creative and building power of thought is, as I have said, in a sense the most fundamental law of life, so far as conduct and achievement — or lack of achievement — are coneerned.

We are now learning that when a man’s mind is lifted up, his whole estate — body, spirit and all of his affairs — is lifted up. All successful men are men of great faith; and in them this positive, constructive type of thought, working always and unceasingly as a creative force, is clothing in material form that which at first was but the idea, the vision.

It is necessary, though, that we not only get but keep the vision. In our modern kind of life we are so apt to allow ourselves to become enmeshed with things, and so often with things trivial compared with the great facts and verities. We allow ourselves to get mentally, nervously, and thereby physically, depleted — fagged out, below par — through noise, commotion, motion. This we do to a degree by going to too many places, keeping too many social engagements, staying up too late at night, indulging in excesses of various sorts which rob us of the healthy balance nature demands and will have if any life is to be happy and normal and contented.

It is when we become tired and overtaxed and run down that we allow fear and worry the more easily to enter and dominate and the dark and doleful picture to present itself. It is then that we begin to lose our grip, that our vision becomes distorted, that we lose faith and courage and the never-say-die spirit.

Because of this so many men, good men, among us commit suicide, victims, when they should have been masters, of circumsrance. Discouragement creeps in and gradually assumes control, and the game is up.

How little our big things become! How little some of our supposed big men become, how impotent, and often how utterly insignificant, when a great economic crisis arrives and they are compelled to stand out in their true form: temporarily rich in things, but pygmies in mental and spiritual possessions. True it is as Emerson said: ‘Thus do all things preach the indifference of circumstance. The man is all.’

It is time we began to take stock, for the safety of our social structure, as well as for the safety, the integrity, the peace and happiness of our individual lives. Through putting ourselves more fully in harmony with the laws of life, we become more fully masters of the forces of life. To do this we must take more time and opportunity to know their laws. We must become better ‘listeners.’

There is no practice in life perhaps that can be productive of such good as the habit of taking a little time each day in quiet — alone — to make ourselves open and receptive to that inner guidance and power which are the heritage of every man and woman who will create the conditions whereby they can manifest themselves. This practice is of supreme value in making and keeping our connection with the infinite Spirit of life and power which works in and through all — the life of all — in the degree that we do not inhibit it. We inhibit too much. We do not give sufficient time to the ‘Inner Light.

This is true prayer. Prayer is active, sincere desire, followed by quiet receptivity, and then by direction and power and realisation. That able industrialist, Henry Ford, once said to a friend: ‘We pray, we do things for the good of men and women, but we do not properly relate ourselves to the Great Enveloping, Permeating Spirit.’

The Way-shower set us a great example. He took himself continually to the quiet place, in order to keep his connection with the great permeating life — ‘the Father,’ as was his term. He found, and we will find, that this is the true source of direction and power.

All around us men are learning, more than ever before, the power of faith and hope and courage; and in the face of severe handicaps and discouragements, many are learning in a telling way the truth that a man may be down, but never out — unless he thinks he is. Taking heart then with the day, they begin again and turn what otherwise would be inevitable failure into success and achievement and the joy that comes from achievement - if it is achievement worthwhile.


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