Keep a True Lent
THERE IS A divine goodness at the root of all existence. It is not necessary to give in detail the place of abode of each sentient part of this central goodness, for it is there, wherever you look, and whenever you look. No man is so lowly but that at the touch of its secret spring this divine goodness may be brought to light in him. Even the animals exhibit its regulating and directive power. This goodness sleeps in the recesses of every mind and comes forth when least expected. Many stifle it for years, maybe for ages, but eventually its day comes, and there is a day of reckoning. This is the law of universal balance–the equilibrium of Being. It cannot be put aside with transcendental philosophies or metaphysical denials any more than it can be smothered in the forces of the blind passions.
Men and women are loath to admit that there is within them a monitor with which they have sooner or later to cope, and they put off the day of reckoning as long as possible. They do not like to deal with this leveler of Spirit. It is too exact; it wants justice to the very limit.
Whoever has felt the prick of conscience has been spoken to by the Holy Spirit. Whoever has sat at the feet of his own inner convictions has been aware of God’s presence.
Man is never without a guide, no matter how loudly he may be crying out for leading. There is always at hand a sure torchbearer if he will but follow the light. It is too simple, too easy! Man has formed in his mind a far-off God who talks to him from some high mountain in invisible space. By thus looking afar for his God he ignores the spark of divinity shining in his own being.
Herein is man fooled into believing that he can do the things that are not in harmony with his ideas of goodness and yet escape the consequences. He presumes that God is too far away to behold his shortcomings and he loses sight of the fact that God is right with him every moment.
This is the meaning of the old saying that a man and his conscience are good friends as long as the way is smooth, but when it grows rugged they fall out. They fall out because man has reached a point where he begins to consider his ways and he looks carefully over the life he is leading. This brings him to a beholding state of mind. He sees that what he considered right in the clear light of divine good is not up to standard. Here the divergence takes place between man and his conscience. They were friends in appearance only before or during the period of license. The conscience may seem to assent to the derelictions of man, but it is ever the inner protestant that keeps knocking at the consciousness until the steps are arrested.
Worldly fortune is not always a blessing to man. In fact, under present customs it is apt to be just the reverse. As long as questionable methods are successful in bringing results, conscience has but a small chance for a hearing. It is only when failure follows the efforts of the misguided that conscience gets his ear. Then the field is surveyed with the eye of a general defeated in an unjust cause. The heat of battle blinded him, and he gave no thought to the lives he was uselessly sacrificing.
Here remorse gnaws the vitals of the unwise, and here the true wisdom is revealed. It is said that experience is a dear school, and only the wise learn therein. This carries with it its own nullification, like many of the intellect’s wise observations. Experience is the school of fools. The truly wise do not take lessons within her doors.
There are two ways to get understanding. One is to follow the guidance of the Spirit that dwells within, and the other is to go blindly ahead and learn by hard experience. These two ways are open to everyone. It is recognized by the man who has had experience that he can advise the one who has not and thus save him the laborious steps of that rocky road. In the light of omnipresent intelligence, is there not One who knows all things, all roads, all combinations, and what will be the outcome of every one?
Do not men and women by their constant efforts to peer into the future prophesy a wisdom that knows all future? They certainly do, and when man looks in the right direction he always finds such an oracle.
It is the prerogative of Spirit to know the future, and when man consults Spirit with pure heart and unselfish motives he has pointed out to him the very lines his life shall be cast in if he is obedient to his most high God.
It is no great achievement for one who follows the leading of Spirit within to forecast the future. To Spirit the future is a succession of events based on the ideas revolving in the mind at present. Whoever rides into his own ideal realm can read his future for himself. He finds there a chain of causes at work that he can easily see will produce certain results. It is not necessary for him to read the definite line along which each separate idea will travel to its ultimate. This is the method of reasoning from cause to effect. In Spirit, cause and effect are one. They appear as one, and the ultimate is just as clear as the inception. In mind, all things reach fruition the very instant they are conceived. Time not being a factor, how can there be a beginning and an ending? The architect plans a house and sees it finished in his mind before a single stone is laid or a pound of earth excavated. He can change his plan many times before the construction commences. He can destroy it entirely if he so desires. So man builds the house of his own conscience. If he has been planning to build a home for himself alone, in which there is but one room, he created in mind just such a plan, and it is complete and awaits its coming into visibility. If he has made a plan of a larger structure, in which are many rooms, this plan will also come into visibility.
Some persons build their houses far ahead in mind and say nothing to anyone. Such persons make very substantial plans, which are infused with the most enduring substance of the invisible. Such were the plans of Napoleon when he silently determined to be emperor and of the shepherd who resolved to be Pope. Vanderbilt’s rule of life, to which he attributed all his success, was to reveal his plans to no one.
Jesus said, “Let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay.” Talking is a waste of energy–a dissipater of power. If you want the greatest success, do not talk too much about your plans. Keep a reserve force of new ideas always on hand as a generative center. Let your work speak for itself.
The electrician recognizes a certain universal law of action in the revolutions he builds into his dynamo. The energy produced is based on the size and texture of the dynamo and rapidity of its motion. Mind has a law of dynamics equally as scientific. The character of an idea is the estimate of its size, and one’s active faith in it determines the rapidity of its motion. Ideas generate energy with a swiftness unparalleled in physical dynamics. Rather than moving inanimate things, they move men and women. Rather than temporarily lighting our streets for a few hours, they light the lamps of intelligence that burn eternally.
The secret of doing this successfully lies in knowing how to handle our ideas. The electrician constantly improves the efficiency of electricity by studying the machinery that generates the power. The same rule holds good in mental dynamics. We must study our ideas if we want to improve the service of our body, of our intelligence, and of our surroundings, for from these ideas flow forth the currents that move the machinery of all of them. If our ideas are based in Truth and we are satisfied that they will stand the test of the most rigid justice, we do not want to let the currents they produce in our mind leak away on some grounded wire.
The world is full of people who are filled with high and mighty resolves to do good, and they are sincere, but they are connected with grounded wires. We must keep our wires properly insulated, or our plant will not prove successful. For instance, we are holding an idea of health, which is generating currents in our mind that might flow out on the wires of faith and heal the world, but we have broken the current by believing that it should pass through a pill, a magnetic hand, or the mind of someone who we think is stronger than we. We must stop all this and send our idea of health straight to the mark on the wires of our own true word. We have an intuitively correct idea of the truth on every question that comes to our mind, but we do not trust the idea. We impede its free currents by believing that some book, some person, or some church organization has sifted the truth and somehow established it before we came into existence. This fallacy makes a menial of the genius and puts out the light of the world in the minds of generation after generation of sons of God. Spiritual ideas must have spiritual wires, or their power dissipates. So we need to watch both the ideas we hold and the words with which we set them free. If we have an ideal world in which we see things as we want them, yet think it an impossibility that that world may be realized here and now, we are dissipating the power that our ideas are generating. So throughout the category of thought generation, every idea must have a wire that corresponds to its circuit or current. Our words, our acts, and our whole life must be in accord with our ideas.
The realm of ideas is at the call of each of us; it is, in fact, the source from which we draw our real sustenance. It exists in Being as universal intelligence. Since it is the cause and source of all intelligence, sooner or later it must assert its unobstructed sway in the lives of all mankind. When this realm of ideas becomes so active in the consciousness that it attracts our special attention, we call it a quickening conscience. It is the universal intelligence of Being asserting its inherent moral equilibrium. Man cannot always distort the fair face of the God-Image, whose likeness he is. He may for a season wear the grotesque mask of the mountebank or the fool, but in God’s own good time he will be unmasked by that silent inner self that must be heard when its hour has come. God is not mocked, nor is the secret place of the Most High in every heart forever made a cave for thieves.
When conscience cries out in your heart, “Make straight the way of the Lord,” you will save time by heeding it. Let its cleansing waters of denial flow over you. Change your ideas. Be meek and lowly. Let your thoughts go up to the Christ Spirit. Acknowledge Him as one whom you, in your mortal consciousness, are not able to comprehend in the majesty of His spiritual understanding.
If you are of haughty domineering, self-sufficient will, you stand as Herod, the ruler of Judea. You are married to the passions of the human soul. These passions lead you into sense gratifications so deep, so degrading that you cut off the head of the conscience that would have turned you into the highway of good. But the reign of the sense man is short-lived. Your kingdom is taken from you, and you are banished from your native land. This was the fate of Herod after he beheaded John the Baptist. This is the fate of everyone who refuses to listen to the voice of his higher self.
The key to the development of Jesus of Nazareth’s great powers was in His meek and lowly submission to the Father. He disclosed this when He said, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Whoever makes himself nothing in the presence of God may be possessor of all things below God.
Man is open to God when he wills to be open. This opening is made by our attitude of absolute mental humility in the contemplation of spiritual realities. Thus, the likeness takes on the express image of the Father, and in no other way can it be done.
“I am meek and lowly in heart,” said the mighty Nazarene. “Not as I will, but as thou wilt,” was the mental attitude He always took when communing with the Father. It was always in the same spirit of love and willing obedience to the guidance of a wisdom that He knew transcended His own.
Jesus did not take the universe on His shoulders by affirming His self-sufficiency. He unloaded every burden and rested in the all-sufficiency of the Father. “I can of myself do nothing”; “the Father abiding in me doeth his works.” This is the total denial of self–the giving up of all personal desires, claims, and aims. Before man can do this successfully he must change his ideas–there must be a mental house cleaning.
The command, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself . . . and follow me,” is not broadly interpreted by the world. Some men think that self is denied sufficiently when they acknowledge God as mind, life, love, substance and all else as error; others think that they have only to give up the recognized sins of the world and believe in a personal Saviour, Jesus. But the denial of self goes deeper than all this. To be effective, it must reach the very depths of the consciousness and dissolve all the organic forms that the ideas held by the personal self have there precipitated. Every human body has its stratified layers of consciousness. These strata have, like the earth, been built up layer after layer through ages and ages of sidereal time. The body we live in is the result of a labor that we began millions of years ago. It is the stored-up memories of our experience in thought generation. We may have dissolved that body ten millions of times, but no part of its reality has ever been lost to us. Because we have failed to energize it to the perpetuation of its form indefinitely is no argument against its being the very body we have had for aeons upon aeons. The form of it changes, but the mental pictures we have formed in all those ages are intact somewhere in our own private gallery.
But now the clouds are clearing away from our world, the “sun of righteousness” is rising with “healing in its wings.” We are awakening to our powers and possibilities as sons of the Most High.
The day of selflessness has come. This day delivers us from all our burdens. We find that we do not have to bear any of the cares of existence on our shoulders. We say with Jesus, “All things have been delivered unto me of my Father.” We do not breathe for ourselves, but rather God breathes in and through us. We do not have lives of our own, but we feel the life of God surging through all our organs. We say to our feet, our hands, and every part of our body, “You are now one with God; you are perfect in His sight.” We do not think and speak by ourselves alone; we think and speak God’s thoughts after Him, which rush through our mind like a mighty wind. Then tongues of fire come upon us, because we are inspired by the Holy Spirit. Neither do we have possessions of our own nor cares nor troubles about our life or our families; we leave all these things to God–we are absolutely without responsibility when we have fully denied ourselves and followed the Christ. All responsibility drops from us when we let go of the idea that we are personal beings and possessed of parts, passions, and faculties that belong to us individually. Nothing like a personal man exists in the idea of God. The idea of God is Jesus Christ–one universal man. Men are but the mind organs of that one man–they do not possess of themselves anything whatever, but all that the Christ possesses flows through their consciousness when they have ceased to believe in personality. This is the at-one-ment–“I am in the Father, and the Father in me”–and the apprehension of that at-one-ment dissolves forever that inner monitor called accusing conscience.
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Keep a True Lent
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