THE LIFE PRINCIPLE YIELDS ITS POWER
THE LIFE PRINCIPLE YIELDS ITS POWER TO MAN IN PROPORTION AS MAN COMES INTO AN INTELLECTUAL UNDERSTANDING OF IT: THERE IS NO LIMIT TO THE SUPPLY: THERE NEED BE NO LIMIT TO THE DEMAND.
DESIRE, just as we all recognise it in ourselves and others a hundred times a day, is the Principle of Attraction in its external expression through all things—plants, animals and man.
Desires increase with increasing intelligence; hence, man has more and more varied desires than any life below him; and his desires will constantly increase in numbers and daring as he goes on gaining ideas and working out the possibilities contained in the Principle of Attraction.
As these possibilities are unlimited, man's power gets to be unlimited also, in proportion as he becomes consciously, or intelligently, one with the Life Principle, which he does by learning his relation to it.
The race, as it stands today, has almost no recognition of the truths I am trying to make apparent to the reader. It has made for itself a personal God, on whom it has bestowed such powers as its limited intelligence has been able to suggest. But even from this God it has divorced itself in belief, and has devised various ways of becoming one with Him.
It is a little singular how close an approach this comes to the true saving thought. Theology believes the race to be separated from God, and that it must make the atonement (at-one-ment) with Him before it can be saved; before it can become whole or "holy."
Its mistake is in supposing that God is a person; what theologians call God is really the Principle of Attraction, which runs through all things and is impersonal, and truly omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, which it is beyond the power of a personal being to be, no matter how great a God He is.
Theology declares that man has to make a conjunction with its God, by prayers, in order to be saved. Science says that a man must make a conjunction with the Principle of Attraction, through an understanding of it and of his relation to it, in order to be saved. Theology goes no further in the matter than the prospective saving of the soul. Science declares that, through an intelligent recognition of the truth, the body can be saved.
There is a close resemblance in these two plans; no doubt the first is a foreshadowing of the second.
But I must speak further of the God of theology. If anyone doubts that He was the creation of an infant race, he has but to examine His character in order to believe it. In what I am saying I wish to appeal to the reason of the reader; and I ask him to put aside his inherited prejudices and think for himself. He will probably consider me irreverent in much that I say, simply because he will not reason, but prefers to cling to the foolish beliefs of a dead past, and die with these beliefs, rather than to think for himself upon lines of truth that are new to him.
With regard to a personal God, what but a baby race could imagine that a great being would be pleased with an unfailing stream of obsequious praise, poured constantly into His listening ears? What but a baby race could suppose that this unbroken deluge of flattery was a necessity to the happiness of a great being, or that it would turn the tide of His wrath away from the unfortunate wretches He had made, apparently on purpose to curse, if they failed to render Him the proper amount of praise?
That this personal God was the creation of the half-civilised chieftains of a semi-barbarous race is to be seen by its resemblance to its creators. The chieftains loved power and praise and spoils, and were unmerciful to those who refused to yield to their demands. The God they invented was no larger than themselves. No men can create a God larger than themselves. Having made a God in their own likeness and of their own size, they supplemented His deficiency by giving Him some supernatural power, either to destroy or bless. And this, with some improvements due to the growth of the race, is the God of theology at this time. Is it any wonder that theology is alarmed at the falling away from the creeds? It surely has a right to be.
It is because the word "God" does really mean, in the eyes of the public, just what I have described that I cannot use it to express my meaning. If the word was universally accepted as meaning the Principle of Attraction that runs through, and infuses with life, every atom in the universe, I would use it. But there are only a few who give it this meaning.
To be divorced from this personal God, if such a being could exist, would be no great disaster. Indeed, the race would be better off without Him than with Him.
But to be divorced from the universal spirit of life—the Principle of Attraction—would be instant annihilation. On the other hand, to know more of the Principle of Attraction than we know now would be to have more life, more health, more strength, more intelligence, more beauty, more opulence. Or rather, it would be to be these things, instead of having them. To mental creatures, such as we become by our conjunction with the Life Principle through our ability to recognise it, knowing more is being more.
The crying want of the race is a remedy for present conditions of sickness, poverty, the feebleness of old age, and death. The whole strength of my effort in writing is to furnish a clue to this remedy. Now is the time to be saved. Tomorrow will not only bring its own needs, but its own remedies.
The great and comprehensive statement of Mental Science is this: Man is conjoined to the eternal Life Principle. He is that principle its very self in objectivity; and in proportion as he becomes intellectually conscious of this, the greatest of all truths, he finds an unfailing supply to all his needs, and grows constantly more and more into a knowledge of his own mastery.
We are manifestations of the unchanging Life Principle; of the Universal Spirit of Being: the inextinguishable "I AM." This hidden fund of vital power is the internal man. Man is the external of it. And the seeming two are one. Whoever sees this truth and believes it perfectly has made the atonement—the at-one-ment—and he can proceed in the road of eternal knowing until he has conquered every disability in life—disease, weakness, old age, poverty and death.
When the race understands the truth I have just made plain, it will appreciate its own dignity and worth and power; and then there will be no more trouble, no more shedding of tears, no more poverty or sorrow, no more anxiety or fear. We shall know that we are one with the deathless, diseaseless, opulent Life Principle, and that our progression through the realms of the universe will be by constantly knowing more and more of the power of the principle which is the vital spark within us.
A condensed expression of the ideas I have been giving you would read as follows: There is but one substance; this substance is both seen and unseen. On the unseen side it is the Universal Principle of Attraction; on the seen side it is intelligence, or mind, falsely called dead matter.
All nature is but the comprehension or the understanding of the Principle of Attraction. All nature is intelligence in a myriad varying shades of recognition of the power of the Life Principle. Intelligence is not to be confounded with the words soul or spirit, for intelligence is substance; the substance that is mistakenly called dead matter. It is a thing to be seen and handled and smelled and tasted. All of the so-called matter in the universe is intelligence or mind; it is not dead; it thinks. It is the recognition of the Law of Attraction inherent in all things. That which recognises is intelligence; it may be called brain; it is a particled substance, and all the visible things are made of it; and it is not dead.
The Life Principle yields its power to man in proportion as man comes into an intellectual understanding of it. There is no limit as to the supply one may receive. There need be no limit to anyone's demand.
All growth is by desire. In the animal desire seems not to soar away from the body, but to be expressed in it and through it. Thus, the little amoeba, which is but a tiny drop of protoplasm, becomes hungry. It floats in the water, and, in coming in contact with some other form of life which will serve it as food, it folds its body about it, holding it enclosed as one might hold an acorn in his hand. When it has absorbed the nutriment it unfolds its body, and allows the residue to fall out, as one would open one's hand to let the acorn fall.
The amoeba has neither mouth, hands, feet, eyes, ears, nor anything resembling a digestive system; but it has a desire for food. In a higher organisation, to which it would seem that the desire of this little creature had ascended, the demand increases, and the result of this increased demand is a compulsion upon nature to furnish it with a better digestive system. So it, or the desire within it, evolves to higher and still higher forms of life, growing stronger in its demands with each upward step—calling louder, and yet louder, upon nature for better means of supplying its desires, until it comes to possess not only a digestive system, but eyes to see its prey, olfactory nerves to smell it, ears to hear it, feet to run after it, and claws to capture it.
All this is the development of use, through blind and unconscious desire. It is by this kind of development that the body of the man has been built, and his brain ripened to his present plane of intelligence.
But he may stand at this point till the crack of doom, and be nothing more than the animal man, unless he begins to make his brain serve him in his farther development. It was at this point that the characters of the Old Testament stopped. They were a splendid type of men on the unconscious plane of growth, but they had not advanced to the conscious plane; that plane where men can shape their lives as they please through their reasoning power. And no man can conquer disease and death until he arrives at this point in development.
The moment man's brain begins to serve him in a reasoning capacity he is passing out of the domain of unconscious, unreasoning or blind growth into the realm of conscious or reasoning growth.
There was never a time during the period of man's unconscious growth when he could have escaped the penalty of unconscious life, which is death.
Desire is the infusing principle of man, and of all things below him. Desire is the Principle of Attraction drawn to organisation through recognition.
All desire points to the attainment of more light, more life, more intelligence, whether the creature that projects the desire is conscious of it or not. A man may think he desires nothing but wealth; but it is not so; his desire is surely pointing beyond wealth to the high knowledge that will redeem him from all his disabilities.
The upward struggle of the immortal mind is always from darkness to light; from ignorance to intelligence; from death to life. The animals have desired this light and intelligence and life unconsciously, and their desire has met with ready response; their aspirations have been answered; gradually the principle of desire, as expressed individually in the lower order of creatures, has lifted all expressions of life from low to higher until man is here as the highest of all.
How does it happen that man is so in the dark concerning himself?
To answer this question will be to go over a good deal that has already been said. But this matter is so new in public thought, and so difficult to understand, that I must repeat many things again and again, even though I violate all literary precedent. I am not trying to do brilliant writing; I am trying to make the greatest idea that ever came into the world so plain that everyone who reads may understand. I know that this idea is true, and that it embraces the salvation of the race here, in the world where we live; and how can I attach importance to the manner in which I communicate it? I have tried to systematise the subject so as to avoid repetition, but it is too big; I can only handle it in detached masses. The reader will have to connect the parts as the entire argument becomes familiar to him or her.
My question, "How does it happen that man is so in the dark concerning himself?" will at least take the subject from a different standpoint and help to make it clearer.
It is because man was not created a perfect creature; it is because his individual existence is of a comparatively short duration; it is because he is a growth that is still growing, and has not yet attained the full stature of the truly wise man.
Man has created himself little by little all through the ages. Always latent in the Principle of Attraction as a possibility, yet there was a time when two or three atoms—tiny points of recognition impelled by desire—came together and formed the beginning of his personality. These points of intelligence being fused into one, became a magnet of greater potency than the single magnets or atoms around them, and as a centre of attraction had more power to draw others to themselves; and individual growth commenced.
The tiny creature thus begun kept on growing all the time, both internally and externally, as its desires increased. The more it recognised as needful to its use the more effort it put forth. Its trust in the Principle of Attraction was not clouded by doubt as man's is. Doubt is one of the firstfruits of reason, and reason had not yet arrived. Doubt came later and did all it could do to kill desire and to destroy the individual life; but the refining intellect of the constantly developing creature reached the stage of clearer perception, and grew out of the doubt that kills into the faith that cures.
The basis of all growth is desire. Desire is the unacknowledged factor in the evolution of man. It is the "corner stone" which the builders have rejected.
The Life Principle in man has only one mode of expression, only one voice; it is the voice of desire. It is the feeling of some want. It is, as it were, the projection of a little voice that cries, "More," "more!"
The mighty power of this tiny voice—not loud, but never relaxing its insistence—has proved more magical than the enchanted wand, even in its first faint, almost inaudible cry. A mere speck, invisible through the most powerful microscope; an almost infinitesimal drop of protoplasm, perhaps, yet so much incarnate desire, and crying for food; crying for a more enlarged life; a wider comprehension of truth—the little voice reaching upward and expanding outward, and the very universe stooping to fill the baby mouth, as it always stoops in beneficent motherhood to the demand of desire.
The first life that sent out its cry for "more," "more," became a standing demand upon the infinite life, and the supply was equal to the demand; is always equal to all demand, when the demand is accompanied by faith.
All through the period of unconscious growth the little beginners of life never lost faith in the mother. Such intelligence as they possessed never once suggested the idea of curtailing their demands or of crucifying their desires. To crush their desires was to crush their lives.
Desire is the Law of Attraction individualised in the creature. In other words, the Principle of Attraction expresses itself individually in desire. The Principle of Attraction becomes clothed upon by the recognition of the creature, and individuality is the result.
So the desire in a man is the deathless principle in him; it is the Principle of Attraction drawn to cohesion by his recognition or understanding.
A belief in our desires is necessary to insure their manifestation on the external plane.
All through the period of our unconscious or unreasoning growth we did not question our desires; we obeyed them; we yielded them a blind obedience, and what was the result? Why this, that desire was drawn forth to organisation until the tiny drop of protoplasm had created itself a digestive system, and a most complex and beautiful form, adapted to every possible emergency. Speaking from a mechanical standpoint, desire, which we will say corresponds to steam, had built itself a splendid engine, and even an engineer (the brain) that was to direct the engine. But the engineer at first did not know his duty, and for thousands of years he has been trying to learn it. It has taken him all this time to get acquainted with his engine and the power that propels it.
As it is man's highest privilege to make mistakes, since it is the only way he has of learning how not to make them, his first mistake was to imagine that his propelling power—the steam in his boiler, his desire—was a dangerous foe, and to endeavour to repress it.
"I must crucify my desire," was the first exclamation he made upon becoming conscious of its presence. "Desire is the devil," shouted the voice of the clergy for two thousand years; and numberless monasteries were built in whose seclusion it was easy to crucify desire; easy to dam up the Principle of Attraction in the man and prevent it from flowing forth.
It is a matter of history how even kings and princes voluntarily submitted to whipping on the bare back as a penalty for having entertained desire. Desire was the inveterate foe of the race. Desire was the serpent in Eden that tempted Eve. Put it this way, and let us see how that fable stands.
Let us say that the Garden of Eden was man's condition of unconscious or unreasoning growth; it was that early condition in which he conformed to the demands of his animal being unquestioningly. There was never a conscientious scruple to trouble him in the gratification of his wants; his life, though on the animal or unreasoning plane, was whole in itself; no side feeling ever pulled him from the path of his leading inclination; he devoured other animals without compunction; he regretted nothing; consequently he was in a condition of ease, or repose.
This was the animal Eden; it was man's condition before his reasoning faculties were awakened to vex him with questions he could not answer, and to arouse his doubts concerning many things. In this Eden he did not work for a living; he lived off what came to his hand. But Eve, the intuitional part of man, whose desires reached upward into aspiration, partook of the tree of knowledge in the midst of the garden, and her eyes were opened so that she knew good from evil.
Here came to the race the first faint intimation of the existence of a principle of justice, and this feeling kept growing until it gradually brought some illumination to the dull intellect, and pushed conditions to a higher level. Thus was the animalised life broken into. Life and its relations assumed a moral aspect, and the first Eden, the Eden of unthinking animal ease, had disappeared. Men began to labour for their bread; their growing brains projected new questions for solution, and these questions were answered by the faint light of such intelligence as they had; and false beliefs—beliefs in their own weakness and helplessness—were the result. They were intellectually weak and their opinions were weak also.
In the old Eden only the brute instinct was recognised; this instinct was devoid of conscience. But the mother love for the child, and, farther on, the mother sympathy for other mothers, interposed a check. Eve has always moulded Adam. Her tenderer nature has constantly stood at the portals of his more robust intelligence, and when he saw her as she really was he saw that she had the apple in her hand. She had eaten first of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and she begged him to eat. He did so, and the primitive Eden of animal content was closed to the race forever.
They went forth (if I may pursue the fable) to learn the lesson of how to attain another Eden—that Eden in which they shall have conquered all the "curses" they were doomed to pass through, and become masters over them.
These curses were only curses in name; they were blessings in disguise, because they were experiences that strengthened the intellect of man, and made him a more powerful creature. He began to conquer the earth, and his conquests demonstrated his own power of mastery to himself. He began to get an idea of his own strength and ability; he began to trust himself more, and to lean less on the imaginary God that he had previously been leaning on; the God upon whom he had leaned for thousands of years before finding out that there was no help to be obtained from Him; that the only help a man could have, had to be evolved out of his own creativeness.
This is the great lesson he has been so many centuries in extracting from his experiences. These experiences have seemed very hard to him; the more so because he did not know what they were for. Hundreds of generations he waded through them, finding life to be little more than the Slough of Despond, and never learning any better during the term of his earthly existence.
The race was gradually improving, but it almost seemed as if it was at the expense of the individual, whose sufferings were building a foundation of hope for it in the future.
And all of this gradual growth was by the increasing desire or aspirations of the people for something better than they had known.
Desire is the unacknowledged factor in personal growth.
But is not desire a selfish thing?
It certainly appears to be a selfish thing, but self is the basis of individual existence, and selfishness must continue in the individual until an understanding of high truth comes to him. Then, by degrees, from selfishness is evolved selfhood, and, with this more intelligent form of selfishness there proceeds a gradually growing sense of justice that modifies the injurious effects of primordial selfishness.
As the intelligence grows, the selfish principle, without ever ceasing to be the principle of self, ceases to manifest its power on the animal plane. Growth in knowledge eventually makes all things right.
Selfishness is the basis of individualism. Perhaps I had better say "self," instead of "selfishness," for in the long run this word self is the proper one. But let it go; let the word selfishness remain, and let it stand in its blackest colours until the explanation comes that will convert it into an angel of light.
Self or selfishness is the basis of individualism; and individualism is the one potent fact that stands head and shoulders above every other fact, except that great and inclusive truth, that the Law of Attraction exists and fills all space, being absolutely omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, and that mind or intelligence is the visible expression of it.
Individualism, then, is the interpreter of the Law of Attraction; and the Law might as well not exist as not to have the interpreter, who has the wisdom to render its power apparent on the external side of life.
Individualism is, therefore, the necessity of the Law; and, while it begins in a grade of intelligence so low as to be rightly called ignorance, instead of intelligence, yet, like everything else, it grows out of its narrow bounds until it sees in its neighbour another self, and one similar to the self it finds in its own body; and its brain goes to work to bring forth an adjustment that culminates, first, in a sense of justice, and later still, in the lovingness that is to become the breath of the new life in the whole race. This change from what appears to be the very fiend of individuality to the God-man, with supernal powers, both to do and to love, is a mere matter of growth through the acquisition of knowledge.
Every living creature, no matter how selfish or ignoble it may appear to be, is an interpreter of the Law of Attraction; it is the spoken word of the Life Principle. Wherever the Life Principle speaks, it utters but one word, and that word is the indivisible "I."
And so man's selfishness, or what appears to be selfishness, is based upon the fact that he is the spoken word of that universal spirit of life which is the Grand Unit or Universe, and which cannot speak a word that would invalidate its wholeness; a word that is less than "I."
And thus it is that every man, and everything on its way up toward man, is a unit and only knows one word; only knows and recognises the "I." This is imputed to him as selfishness, and is selfishness, until knowledge comes to correct his mistakes and to justify him in his self-love.
So it is now seen how man is the representative of all. "Man is a microcosm," said one who was beginning to see the light. "Man is a macrocosm," said another, who saw far and away over the head of the other.
Man is a macrocosm because he is nothing less than a universe. This is the fact he must learn; it is in learning this fact that he will know that he is no longer under the dominion of disease and death.
I have written much of the Principle of Attraction, and how it is expressed in the individual as desire; often as desire of an intensely selfish character; but I have now justified it by showing its origin. As life proceeds, a better word may be substituted for desire—a word that will seem to draw atoms into closer relationship with each other: that word is Love.
With every step in evolution from lower to higher, our desires become not only more numerous, more complex and varied, but they also become stronger and warmer. They are felt to be the moving spirit of every action, as, indeed, they ought to be, for they are nothing less than the voice of the one eternal Life Principle, that for all these years men have supposed to be a personal God.