GETTING A LIVING.
The worth of a state in the long run, is the worth of the inhabitants composing it.
Much has been written of the genuine sat isfaction there is to be found in the simple life, of the blessings of little, and of the heavy burden of great possessions. It is easy, how ever, so to misunderstand these matters as to lock one's self up in a small room, when with a proper attitude toward life, its rewards and conditions, one could just as well occupy a mansion.
The expression "getting a living" is invari ably translated into terms of so much a week and an occasional struggle with one's employ er for a higher wage. It is worth while to inquire if this is all there is to it: There is, as we have seen, a man back of mind, body and environment. This higher self, the true individual, is that one possessing the Master Faculty which Epictetus main tained was the one real and essential power worth while. With that power constantly in working order, he insisted, we should never be distracted by the objects of environment ; never drawn out of our orbit by appearances; never led to place false values upon things out side of ourselves.
The Master Faculty of Epictetus is the Pagan philosopher's equivalent for what in our time is referred to as the soul. If one feels uncomfortable or uncertain about the use of this word, let him turn to the dictionary and ascertain there what reasonable thinkers have said about it. Thus proceeding, he will find a definition that is at least fixed in its nature and extent.
Soul is defined thus : "The spiritual, ration al, and immortal part in man." This definition imposes upon us the further necessity of looking up the meanings of the words "spiritual," "rational," and "immortal." Having done this we can then formulate a definition of soul and express it in simple terms: Spiritual: life, or living substance, consid ered independently of corporeal existence; an intelligence conceived of apart from any phys ical organization or embodiment; vital essence, force, or energy as distinct from matter.
Rational: relating to reason; not physical; mental.
Immortal: exempt from the liability to die.
The soul, then, is that part of us which is independent of corporeal existence, having the gift of reason, and being exempt from the liability to die.
Thus, by acquainting ourselves with the nature of that governing and fundamental part of ourselves, we arrive at the conclusion that it is a wonderful and precious thing. It is a rare guest that dwells in the physical body ; a rare guest of the inn before whom there is spread a remarkable feast.
What shall be the attitude of the guest to ward the feast? Shall he govern himself and be prompted to action by his own lofty nature, or shall he permit himself to be attracted, to run from table to table at the feast and take possession of all he can carry away or hire others to carry away for him? If it be kept in its purity, the "rational part" in man is not only a wonderful guest but a wonderful guide. If it follows the Greek pre cept and knows itself, the things of the earth are no longer tempting in themselves. The mo ment one begins to live in tune with his lofty nature, all lesser things are readily compre hended, and, curiously enough, they are "added unto him," often, it would seem, without his effort.
Getting a living, then, is not a cause in life. It is distinctly a result. The cause at work in earning and attaining is the man "higher up" in nature; he who is conscious of himself. If, in the run of early years of life, he learns to know himself ; if he determines upon his work in life, comprehending the purpose of the equipment of mind, body and environment, he will gradually build for himself an ideal not of riches alone, but of being.
The reasonable construction of this ideal of being makes not for riches to have, but for riches to use. A man thus becomes not a hoarder of things, but a dispenser of them. As he learns to know himself, and to see with out shadow or cloud how the fruit of the gar den may be given as food to others, he begins to realize the joy of having become his brother's keeper.