Chapter 13 – A New Beginning

Chapter XIII
W. John Murray
The Realm of Reality
Divine Science Publishing Assoc.
New York, 1922.

“I will pull down my barns, and build greater.”
–Luke 12:18

[146] The idea which Jesus had in mind when he used this parable was that of illustrating the folly of adding riches to riches for the mere sake of having riches, without any consideration of their ethical value. Jesus knew that the pursuit of wealth for its own sake, without any regard for what it will enable its possessor to do to ameliorate human suffering, could end only in that form of idolatry which we term as mere “money worship.”

Every day some man somewhere is thinking about retiring from business, but the great majority of these are dissuaded either by their friends or by their own counter impulses. A man starts out to acquire a certain amount which he is sure will be enough to enable him to do all he has set his heart on doing, but when he arrives at that amount there is a conflict in his soul, providing he remembers his good resolution of years ago, which many so easily forget.

[147] He finds himself arguing with himself, and it is as if one self said to the other, “It is ridiculous for you to think of retiring now. You have only just got your stride; from now on it will be all easy money.” And he listens as he should, and it is all easy money, for wealth is like a snowball, which seems to increase of its own momentum. It exceeds his fondest expectations, but he neither retires nor uses even the interest on his investments, so great is it. You ask him what he is doing with it all, and he tells you he is putting it back into his business. When you inquire why, he looks at you as if you were foolish to ask such a question. He is wondering if it is possible that you do not realize that putting money back into the business is the surest way to make money work for you while you rest.

Then, if you are as courageous as you are inquisitive, you ask him if he is doing anything to make it easier for the hospitals which depend on charity to give good service to those who are unfortunate enough to have to become inmates. He is quite likely to tell you that he has serious intentions of building a hospital that will be more to his liking than those to which he now refuses his support. If he does not do it before he dies, he will surely do it after he dies, but, as Henry Ward Beecher once said of such a person, “He is dead already.”

The man in the parable found himself, as so many men are finding themselves today, with more wealth than he could use. Such a man paid [148] $85,000 for a fur coat for his wife a few years ago. I hope it will keep her warm, but it will not if she remembers that over in Europe the mothers of new-born babies only last year had to wrap those babies in paper, because they had neither cotton, wool, silk, nor linen for the purpose. I suppose if those mothers should complain, some little preacher for the foolish rich–for there are rich who are not foolish–might call to their attention the fact that Jesus was born in a stable, and I have no doubt some would derive comfort from the reflection. But just the same it would still be hard on the European baby.

We may argue that the person who pays such a vast amount of money for a fur coat is putting the money into circulation; but on this principle one might contend that a man who lives extravagantly and riotously is putting his money into circulation. Of course it is all a question of relativity, but there is one comparison that such a person could make in a very practical way which would show that between some things there is no similarity. For instance there is no comparison between the state of mind induced by the comfort from wearing an $85,000 sable coat, and that induced as a result of going without it and wearing something cheaper while 80,000 children are being fed for three days.

It is all a state of consciousness, but there are some people who could sleep better if they knew that they had just provided 40,000 blankets at $2.00 a pair for baby cribs. It is this dissatisfaction [149] with good coats of a reasonable price, in order to put on others of a price that, from any point of view save that of vulgar display is out of all reasonable requirement, that makes the parable of Jesus so applicable today. There is no harm in keeping money in circulation, and indeed that is what it is for, but no one but a fool will contend that any woman with a grain of commonsense will not get more happiness out of keeping 40,000 babies warm than she will get out of being herself overdressed.

When the man in a parable had concluded to “eat, drink, and be merry,” he was called a fool and told that that night his soul would be required of him. How short-lived are the joys we refuse to share with others! Now, just as every cloud has its silver lining, so every parable has a positive as well as a negative side. There is a sense in which a man may say, “I will pull down my barns, and build greater,” and still be in harmony with the Law, for there are barns, and barns.

Here is a man whose barn is a job by which he is held captive, so that he can neither improve himself where he is, nor spare the time to look for something better. Growing demands press upon his slender resources until he either shrivels up in his barn or he says within his soul, “I will pull down my barn, and build a greater one.” If a man’s barn is a job in a place where there is no possibility for further expansion and improvement, [150] he may stay with it until old age makes him even less serviceable; or he may make a resolution on the New Year’s Day of his ambition to pull down his barn by refusing to believe that it is the only job to be had. This does not necessarily mean that he shall throw out the dirty water before he gets the clean, but it does mean that he shall not hypnotize himself into the belief that it is this job, or none.

A man may be in one barn, or job, physically while he is in another mentally, and, while he is so, he is mentally tearing one barn down while he is building another in prospect, so that he will step from one into the other without disturbing anyone. When this is not possible it is better to quit and take one’s chances than to have the walls of the barn close in on one to a point of suffocation.

On the first day of the first month it was a custom of the Jews to celebrate the setting up of the tabernacle. This was to call to their remembrance the day when their forefathers quit their jobs under Pharaoh and started out for the new country of larger promises. Under the guidance of Moses they had pulled down their old barns long before they had built new ones, on the principle that if they did not immediately get new ones they would at least never go back to positions outgrown. It was a case of burning their bridges behind them.

In the “days of ‘49” men gave up good positions to go out to California, not altogether in a [151] spirit of adventure, but because the walls of their respective barns were restricting their movements. They had nothing in sight but a prospect; but a prospect without a job is sometimes preferable to a job without a prospect. Today there are greater barns in California than were ever dreamed of in Maine or New Hampshire. But this could not have been so if pioneering New Englanders had not been willing to pull down their barns, or, to use their own expression, “pull up stakes.”

A man’s barn may not be a job which he is afraid to give up; it may be a building of limitations which he has erected for himself by persistent negative thinking. There is a story told of an Italian nobleman who, in order to punish a woman who had been unfaithful to him, caused her to be placed in a little niche just large enough for her to stand in. Then he ordered masons to lay a row of bricks around her until one row rose on top of another. By degrees a wall rose until she was left standing in her living tomb. It is a horrible story, but it serves to illustrate how men build their own barns around themselves by accepting limitations as if they were imposed upon them by God, and therefore incurable.

It does not matter that the walls of one man’s barn are built of gold bricks, or accumulated riches, or whether another man’s are built of the mud of accumulated fears, each must decide to do what the man in the parable resolved to do. [152] He must say to his soul, with all the strength of his character, “I will pull down my barn, and build greater.” Here is one whose barn is neither a job which he is afraid to lose, nor one whose walls he has built by his own accumulated fears. This person’s walls have been built by others, but he accepts them as the boundaries of his own restricted opportunities. This barn is what to others might seem a luxurious home. There is no lack of anything, save the right to expand. A young man or a young woman, more frequently a young woman, is made to feel that if he or she leaves the parental roof for the establishment of a new home it will hasten the end of a mother who is considering her own happiness more than that of her grown child, though she would never admit it even to herself. The mother is all too frequently of hardy stock, so that such sons and daughters live in these particular barns until they are not fit to live in any other.

There is a certain kind of love which builds the walls of this particular barn, but it is a barn nevertheless, and all too frequently a cage in which some dear soul is imprisoned by its unwilling consent, if there is such a state of mind. Have we not seen men and women who have spent the best part of their lives in a barn which they have called home when all that was fine in them cried for a home of their own, in which they could be their real selves? This accounts for the willingness of young people to leave luxurious homes for much less pretentious ones. [153] When a young woman marries and leaves a beautiful home to go into a small apartment with the man of her choice she is pulling down her barn in order to build a greater, for she is about to develop into something bigger than she could ever become in what she calls her [parents] home. In a material way she is giving up something better than she is getting, but in a spiritual way she is getting something bigger than she is giving up. It does not mean that she is to despise the home of her parents simply because she is now the mistress of a home of her own. She merely pulls one down, in which she is more or less of a dependent, in order to build another up in which she shall be the ruling spirit.

It is in some such way as this that the man who has built around himself a wall of wealth must learn to tear it down, not in order to throw this wealth away but in order to do more good with it. It is well that he built the old barn, but now he needs more room. A man has not expanded to his fullest capacity when he has become merely fabulously rich. This is only the beginning of his normal development for, with all his acquisitiveness, he requires those riches of the intellect by means of which to appreciate art, music and literature. And in addition to these he acquires those riches of soul by means of which to appreciate the needs of suffering humanity.

When the rich man senses those personal needs he resolves to become of service. Theodore Roosevelt might have been content with his particular [154] barn of social and financial security, but he saw the need of men in his station of life taking an active interest in politics. Hitherto politics was largely the profitable pursuit of the unclean, but when Mr. Roosevelt saw that this was leading to national immorality he said, if not in word, in deed, “I will pull down my barns (or respectable seclusion) and build greater.” He might have continued to live in his barn of personal comfort and been content to cast his vote like every other citizen, but that was not his way. He pulled down the barn of his private life and became a public character such as has not been seen in many a day.

Consider the case of young Father Damien of Belgium whose life might have been spent in the quiet of a monastery, but he early recognized that this would have been merely an easy method of saving his own soul. He had read of those eastern lepers who were taken to the Island of Molokai from their homes as soon as the dread disease manifested itself. On that island they were left with no one to care for them but lepers like themselves, since no one dared to run the risk of contracting the horrible malady. When Father Damien volunteered to go to Molokai he was informed that it would be the place of his burial, since no one was ever permitted to leave after once setting foot on its soil. It was indeed the place of his burial for, after many years spent in ministering to the physical as well as the spiritual welfare [155] he finally died of the disease, which he contracted through such ministry. It was his way of tearing down his barn and building a greater one.

History teems with glorious deeds of similar character but time is not long enough for us to recount even a tithe of them. It is enough for us to know that there is a positive side to his parable of the Master. At the close of this year and the opening of another year it may be that we have discovered that our particular barn is not large enough, and as the New Year approaches we may be making those inner resolutions which are the necessary forerunners of better things to follow. It may be that some of us are not so dissatisfied with our barns as are others, for not all men are victims of discontent. There are those who feel that they are doing the best they can with the means at hand. But are they?

A man’s barn is never big enough until there is not room enough for another good act. When a man’s barn is big enough to satisfy him he has stopped growing. There is always room for expansion. In one sense it is scientific not to admit our limitations; in another it is wise to recognize that our possibilities are much greater than our performances. When a man realizes that his mental barn is cluttered with a lot of junk in the form of negative and unproductive thoughts he ought to clean it up. If on the other hand it is full of a sound philosophy which [156] he is making very little use of, then he needs to pull it down and build a greater one where there will be room for the application of all he knows.

Sometimes a man’s barn is a habit which he has built around himself, and which stands in the way of his progress. When this is the case he must not conclude that his habit is too strong ever to be broken. Let him fall back upon the sustaining Infinite in his own soul, and say to himself, “I will pull down this barn, this debilitating habit, and build a greater habit, a habit of temperance and sobriety. I will use all my mental energy in the direction of proving my God-given superiority over everything that robs me of self-respect. I will build a barn, a habit of thought, that will stand against every wind of temptation, that will be a place into which I can retreat when the storm of passion threatens to overwhelm me. It will be a temple of pure thoughts at the very center of my thinking being, erected thought by thought, and day by day; the walls will be like the walls of a fortress, impervious to any assault that may be made upon them. The barn that I shall build, in place of the one that I shall pull down, will be the habitual dependence upon Spirit instead of matter, for through Spirit and my reliance upon it, I shall be more than conqueror.”

If the barn that we have builded is the habit of regarding ourselves as invalids and therefore [157] unable to do the one thing our hearts desire to do, in this also must we be resolute. If we have built for ourselves a barn, the walls of which are fear and doubt, depression and discouragement, we must again say within our souls, “I will pull down my barn and build a greater. I will build those ‘more stately mansions’ of the soul, out of that Rock that is higher than I, that spiritual Truth which quiets the mind and heals the body at the same time.

“With the passing of the old year there will be a passing also of all my old false beliefs, for the New Year of spiritual awakening has brought with it the revelation of Christ in me, the perfect expression of a perfect God. I shall not look back and darken a beautiful present by regrets for what might seem to be an aimless past. I shall regard it as a traveler on an ocean liner regards the refuse which is thrown overboard–I shall say to my soul ‘You have seen the last of the old barn, for the new barn, the New Year with all its glorious possibilities, is to be constructed.’

“I shall press forward to the completion of that spiritual building in consciousness, that building ‘not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,’ that structure in which is nothing ‘that maketh or worketh a lie,’ that Creation of Pure Thought, wherein is no sin and sickness, no pain and no poverty, that building which is not less real, because it is not of matter, but of Mind. Having [158] pulled down the barn of my old misconceptions, I shall build a greater structure on that solid foundation of my understood relation to that Eternality which, to know aright, is Life Eternal.”

Chapter 14

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