THE CONDUCT OF LIFE.
Speak to the Earth and it shall teach thee.
The proper conduct of life is every man's right, and possibility. But the duty and re sponsibility of it are left to him. If some hid den force were constantly active within us, un failingly impelling us along the proper line of action, the task would be simple. As it is, how ever, we are left to choose and decide. The garden of Eden into which we are born is a place of beautiful riches. Everything is ours. But the moment we desire the fruits of this garden, we discover that we may have them only on certain conditions. These conditions are two in number : 1. Do not seek out evil.
2. The price is the sweat of the brow.
There is a classic tale which relates that a god once came to earth. Passing a pigpen he saw a friend, also a god, who had wandered away from home and had become changed into a pig. He spoke to him, and entreated him to return to Mount Olympus; but his friend merely grunted his contentment, and replied that the pigpen, the trough, and the litter of little pigs suited him exactly. And the god turned away, feeling convinced that, until his friend was willing to help himself, he would remain a pig.
If, as one philosopher has expressed it, men are but gods in disguise, how low are we fallen from our Olympian estate! We are, in fact, like the pig in the fable, doomed to the life of pen and trough until the dawning of hope and ambition prompts us to help ourselves. When they move us, a god is speaking, reminding us that we have wandered from home and missed the heritage that is rightfully our own. And the god speaks truly. There is better fortune awaiting us than we have found. If we will listen to him and believe, the door will open and we shall be at liberty to recognize and to earn what belongs to us. As we step forth, Life smiles a welcome to us and says : "Everything is free to you on these condi tions," and she gives us the contract in which we read : z. Do not seek out 2. The price is the sweat of the brow.
If the words of the god have really reached us we will accept these conditions. If they have not, we will turn away, saying: "It is considerable trouble to climb to the summit of Mount Olympus, on these condi. tions, so I will save my strength." }or what? In order to be a pig in a pen, contented with the mud, the litter of little pigs, and the swill in the trough.
The attitude toward life which persuades us that the sweat of the brow is a fair exchange for the prizes we desire to win in the struggle with environment, can result only from the generation of a new order of thought. This new order of thought permits a man to rise every morning with the conviction that he can make a fresh start. Let him not hesitate to call this New Thought, for vitalizing dynamic thought is certainly new to most of us. Once he sees the justice in the equation which reads, Being equals Doing, the voltage of his thought power increases amazingly.
Thereafter when the morning comes he is as sured that the dead weight of yesterday has dropped away. The dream that troubled his sleep is forgotten. He is a Columbus sailing unknown seas in search of a dew world, and hourly he is drawing nearer to it.
He begins to think this new order of thought the moment he awakens. He is thankful for the opportunity of another day. He feels that the past is forgiven and forgotten. He is eager to meet the world with a glad heart and a smile of welcome. Above all, he craves his work, for he realizes that it offers him the only oppor tunity he can find to give himself expression.
This comes through working with conditions as they are. "The secret of power in any occupation, whether art or business, is con centration, and concentration is developed by adverse conditions. The quiet life weakens the resisting power of the mind, and concentration degenerates into mere 'mooning' and having `great thoughts,' which are worthless because they have not been hammered out on the anvil of reality." Environment crowds upon the man countless suggestions and temptations. He goes through it as through a jungle, making his path with difficulty; admiring as he proceeds, the beauty that lies about him, but keeping on unhesitat ingly and winning his goal at every step.
In living thus, day by day, the maximum of a man's energy is employed. He attains a habit of thought that vitalizes him, for he is con vinced that an inexhaustible reservoir of power is open to him.
He now understands why it is that living in the old way fills the streets with people long since dead; people who, not knowing they are dead, continue to wander aimlessly about. Old thoughts, old fears, old negations have killed them.
Vital thought makes a new man, creates a new and inspiring countenance, gives life to the eye and zest to all being.
Hence this vital thought is the oldest thought in the world. Noah must have dwelt with it, for it is said of him: "He walked with God." This means that he kept close to the source of his being. The Saviour referred to it when he said : "Knock, and it shall be opened." That on which we are bidden to knock is the portal of the kingdom of heaven, which, by the way, is within us, and by seeking, we find this king dom.
To acquire an abundance of vital thought, is simple : We must keep close to the source of our being.
We must cease to nurse dead griefs and yes terday's troubles, to mistrust ourselves, or to suspect our neighbor. "Never is a man his own master till, like the centurion with his soldiers, he can say to Joy, 'come,' and to Grief and Anxiety, `go;' and be obeyed of these." We must cease to think that heaven is some where outside of ourselves. The address we want is within. A trusty servant with a still, small voice will answer if we knock.
All negatives and minus quantities are the brigands and highwaymen of mental life. They are fear, worry, anxiety, hate and all of their kind. It is through these primarily that we are led to seek out evil. If we slay them we can keep to the first condition of the contract.
Positive thoughts of hope, faith, and cheer are ministering angels. We have only to en tertain them and, unawares, our path is made to lead away from evil.
The lusterless eye, the death-mask face, the inactive body, all spell separation. With these, one is like a bay of stagnant water, unmoved and unsweetened by the flow of the great tide impulse. Thus cut off from the source we think we are alone and unobserved. We try to find an independence of life that leaves the divine source out of consideration. But we cannot. When we are separated from the ocean of universal life, we are forever at low tide, and the odor of the separation is bad for the nostrils.
But if we break down the barrier between ourselves and the ocean of life, we are again moved by its tide throb, once for the hours of the day, once again for the hours of the night.
To make a fresh start every morning, to sail the seas in search of a new world which we know is somewhere ahead, makes the payment exacted by the sweat of the brow seem trivial beside the reward that is bestowed upon us.