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Some Methods of Attainment
After this study of the teachings of the Divine Master let us know this.
It is the material that is the transient, the temporary; and the mental
and spiritual that is the real and the eternal. We must not become
slaves to habit. The material alone can never bring happiness -- much less
satisfaction. These lie deeper. That conversation between Jesus and the
rich young man is full of significance for us all, especially in this
ambitious, striving, restless age.
Abundance of life is determined not alone by one's material possessions,
but primarily by one's riches of mind and spirit. A world of truth is
contained in these words: "Life is what we are alive to. It is not a
length, but breadth. To be alive only to appetite, pleasure, mere luxury
or idleness, pride or money-making, and not to goodness and kindness,
purity and love, history, poetry, and music, flowers, God and eternal
hopes, is to be all but dead."
Why be so eager to gain possession of the hundred thousand or the
half-million acres, of so many millions of dollars? Soon, and it may be
before you realise it, all must be left. It is as if a man made it his
ambition to accumulate a thousand or a hundred thousand automobiles. All
soon will become junk. But so it is with all material things beyond what
we can actually and profitably use for our good and the good of
others -- and that we actually do so use.
A man can eat just so many meals during the year or during life. If he
tries to eat more he suffers thereby. He can wear only so many suits of
clothing; if he tries to wear more, he merely wears himself out taking
off and putting on. Again it is as Jesus said: "For what shall it profit
a man, if he gain the whole world and lose his own life?" And right
there is the crux of the whole matter. All the time spent in
accumulating these things beyond the reasonable amount, is so much taken
from the life -- from the things of the mind and the spirit. It is in the
development and the pursuit of these that all true satisfaction lies.
Elemental law has so decreed.
We have made wonderful progress, or rather have developed wonderful
skill in connection with things. We need now to go back and catch up the
thread and develop like skill in making the life.
Little wonder that brains are addled, that nerves are depleted, that
nervous dyspepsia, that chronic weariness, are not the exception but
rather the rule. Little wonder that sanitariums are always full; that
asylums are full and overflowing -- and still more to be built. No wonder
that so many men, so many good men break and go to pieces, and so many
lose the life here at from fifty to sixty years, when they should be in
the very prime of life, in the full vigour of manhood; at the very age
when they are capable of enjoying life the most and are most capable of
rendering the greatest service to their fellows, to their community,
because of greater growth, experience, means, and therefore leisure.
Jesus was right -- What doth it profit? And think of the real riches that
in the meantime are missed.
It is like an addled-brain driver in making a trip across the continent.
He is possessed, obsessed with the insane desire of making a record. He
plunges on and on night and day, good weather and foul -- and all the time
he is missing all the beauties, all the benefits to health and spirit
along the way. He has none of these when he arrives -- he has missed them
all. He has only the fact that he has made a record drive -- or nearly
made one. And those with him he has not only robbed of the beauties
along the way; but he has subjected them to all the discomforts along
the way. And what really underlies the making of a record? It is
primarily the spirit of vanity.
When the mental beauties of life, when the spiritual verities are
sacrificed by self-surrender to and domination by the material, one of
the heavy penalties that inexorable law imposes is the drying up, so to
speak, of the finer human perceptions -- the very faculties of enjoyment.
It presents to the world many times, and all unconscious to himself, a
stunted, shrivelled human being -- that eternal type that the Master had
in mind when he said: "Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required
of thee." He whose sole employment or even whose primary employment
becomes the building of bigger and still bigger barns to take care of
his accumulated grain, becomes incapable of realising that life and the
things that pertain to it are of infinitely more value than barns, or
houses, or acres, or stocks, or bonds, or railroad ties. These all have
their place, all are of value; but they can never be made the life. A
recent poem by James Oppenheim presents a type that is known to nearly
I heard the preacher preaching at the funeral:
He moved the relatives to tears telling them of
the father, husband, and friend that was dead:
Of the sweet memories left behind him:
Of a life that was good and kind.
I happened to know the man,
And I wondered whether the relatives would
have wept if the preacher had told the truth:
Let us say like this:
"The only good thing this man ever did in his life,
Was day before yesterday:
But he didn't even do that of his own volition....
He was the meanest man in business on Manhattan Island,
The most treacherous friend, the crudest and stingiest husband,
And a father so hard that his children left home as soon as they were
Of course he had divinity: everything human has:
But he kept it so carefully hidden away that he might just as well not
have had it....
"Wife! good cheer! now you can go your own way and live your own life!
Children, give praise! you have his money: the only good thing he ever
Friends! you have one less traitor to deal with....
This is indeed a day of rejoicing and exultation!
Thank God this man is dead!"
An unknown enjoyment and profit to him is the world's great field of
literature, the world's great thinkers, the inspirers of so many through
all the ages. That splendid verse by Emily Dickinson means as much to
him as it would to a dumb stolid ox:
He ate and drank the precious words,
His spirit grew robust,
He knew no more that he was poor,
Nor that his frame was dust;
He danced along the dingy days,
And this bequest of wings
Was but a book! What liberty
A loosened spirit brings!
Yes, life and its manifold possibilities of unfoldment and avenues of
enjoyment -- life, and the things that pertain to it -- is an infinitely
greater thing than the mere accessories of life.
What infinite avenues of enjoyment, what peace of mind, what serenity of
soul may be the possession of all men and all women who are alive to
the inner possibilities of life as portrayed by our own prophet, Emerson, when he said:
Oh, when I am safe in my sylvan home,
I tread on the pride of Greece and Rome;
And when I am stretched beneath the pines,
Where the evening star so holy shines,
I laugh at the lore and pride of man,
At the Sophist schools and the learned clan;
For what are they all in their high conceit,
When man in the bush with God may meet?
It was he who has exerted such a world-wide influence upon the minds and
lives of men and women who also said: "Great men are they who see that
spirituality is stronger than any material force: that thoughts rule the
world." And this is true not only of the world in general, but it is
true likewise in regard to the individual life.
One of the great secrets of all successful living is unquestionably the
striking of the right balance in life. The material has its place -- and a
very important place. Fools indeed were we to ignore or to attempt to
ignore this fact. We cannot, however, except to our detriment, put the
cart before the horse. Things may contribute to happiness, but things
cannot bring happiness -- and sad indeed, and crippled and dwarfed and
stunted becomes the life of every one who is not capable of realising
this fact. Eternally true indeed is it that the life is more than meat
and the body more than raiment.
All life is from an inner centre outward. As within, so without. As we
think we become. Which means simply this: our prevailing thoughts and
emotions are never static, but dynamic. Thoughts are forces -- like
creates like, and like attracts like. It is therefore for us to choose
whether we shall be interested primarily in the great spiritual forces
and powers of life, or whether we shall be interested solely in the
material things of life.
But there is a wonderful law which we must not lose sight of. It is to
the effect that when we become sufficiently alive to the inner powers
and forces, to the inner springs of life, the material things of life
will not only follow in a natural and healthy sequence, but they will
also assume their right proportions. They will take their right places.
It was the recognition of this great fundamental fact of life that Jesus
had in mind when he said: "But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and
all these things shall be added unto you," -- meaning, as he so distinctly
stated, the kingdom of the mind and spirit made open and translucent to
the leading of the Divine Wisdom inherent in the human soul, when that
leading is sought and when through the right ordering of the mind we
make the conditions whereby it may become operative in the individual
The great value of God as taught by Jesus is that God dwells in us. It
is truly Emmanuel -- God with us. The law must be observed -- the conditions
must be met. "The Lord is with you while ye be with him; and if ye will
seek him, he will be found of you." "The spirit of the living God
dwelleth in you." "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that
giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given
him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering." That there is a Divine
law underlying prayer that helps to release the inner springs of wisdom,
which in turn leads to power, was well known to Jesus, for his life
abundantly proved it.
His great aptitude for the things of the spirit enabled him intuitively
to realise this, to understand it, to use it. And there was no mystery,
no secret, no subterfuge on the part of Jesus as to the source of his
power. In clear and unmistakable words he made it known -- and why should
he not? It was the truth, the truth of this inner kingdom that would
make men free that he came to reveal. "The words that I speak unto you
I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the
works." "My Father worketh hitherto and I work.... For as the Father
hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in
himself.... I can of mine own self do nothing." As he followed the
conditions whereby this higher illumination can come so must we.
The injunction that Jesus gave in regard to prayer is unquestionably the
method that he found so effective and that he himself used. How many
times we are told that he withdrew to the mountain for his quiet period,
for communion with the Father, that the realisation of his oneness with
God might be preserved intact. In this continual realisation -- I and my
Father are one -- lay his unusual insight and power. And his distinct
statement which he made in speaking of his own powers -- as I am ye shall
be -- shows clearly the possibilities of human unfoldment and attainment,
since he realised and lived and then revealed the way.
Were not this Divine source of wisdom and power the heritage of every
human soul, distinctly untrue then would be Jesus' saying: "For every
one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him
that knocketh, it shall be opened." Infinitely better is it to know that
one has this inner source of guidance and wisdom which as he opens
himself to it becomes continually more distinct, more clear and more
unerring in its guidance, than to be continually seeking advice from
outside sources, and being confused in regard to the advice given. This
is unquestionably the way of the natural and the normal life, made so
simple and so plain by Jesus, and that was foreshadowed by Isaiah when
he said: "Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard that the everlasting
God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not,
neither is weary? He giveth power to the faint and to them that have no
might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
and the young men shall utterly fall. But they that wait upon the Lord
shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint."
Not that problems and trials will not come. They will come. There never
has been and there never will be a life free from them. Life isn't
conceivable on any other terms. But the wonderful source of consolation
and strength, the source that gives freedom from worry and freedom from
fear is the realisation of the fact that the guiding force and the
moulding power is within us. It becomes active and controlling in the
degree that we realise and in the degree that we are able to open
ourselves so that the Divine intelligence and power can speak to and can
work through us.
Judicious physical exercise induces greater bodily strength and vigour.
An active and alert mental life, in other words mental activity, induces
greater intellectual power. And under the same general law the same is
true in regard to the development and the use of spiritual power. It,
however, although the most important of all because it has to do more
fundamentally with the life itself, we are most apt to neglect. The
losses, moreover, resulting from this neglect are almost beyond
To establish one's centre aright is to make all of life's activities and
events and results flow from this centre in orderly sequence. A modern
writer of great insight has said: "The understanding that God is, and all there is, will establish you upon a foundation from which you can
never be moved." To know that the power that is God is the power that
works in us is knowledge of transcendent import.
To know that the spirit of Infinite wisdom and power which is the
creating, the moving, and the sustaining force in all life, thinks and
acts in and through us as our own very life, in the degree that we
consciously and deliberately desire it to become the guiding and the
animating force in our lives, and open ourselves fully to its leadings,
and follow its leadings, is to attain to that state of conscious oneness
with the Divine that Jesus realised, lived and revealed, and that he
taught as the method of the natural and the normal life for all men.
We are so occupied with the matters of the sense-life that all
unconsciously we become dominated, ruled by the things of the senses.
Now in the real life there is the recognition of the fact that the
springs of life are all from within, and that the inner always leads and
rules the outer. Under the elemental law of Cause and Effect this is
always done -- whether we are conscious of it or not. But the difference
lies here: The master of life consciously and definitely allies himself
in mind and spirit with the great central Force and rules his world from
within. The creature of circumstances, through lack of desire or through
weakness of will, fails to do this, and, lacking guiding and directing
force, drifts and becomes thereby the creature of circumstance.
One of deep insight has said: "That we do not spontaneously see and know
God, as we see and know one another, and so manifest the God-nature as
we do the sense-nature, is because that nature is yet latent, and in a
sense slumbering within us. Yet the God-nature within us connects us as
directly and vitally with the Being and Kingdom of God within, behind,
and above the world, as does the sense-nature with the world external to
us. Hence as the sense-consciousness was awakened and established by the
recognition of and communication with the outward world through the
senses, so the God-consciousness must be awakened by the corresponding
recognition of, and communication with the Being and Kingdom of God
through intuition -- the spiritual sense of the inner man.... The true
prayer -- the prayer of silence -- is the only door that opens the soul to
the direct revelation of God, and brings thereby the realisation of the
God-nature in ourselves."
As the keynote to the world of sense is activity, so the keynote to
spiritual light and power is quiet. The individual consciousness must be
brought into harmony with the Cosmic consciousness. Paul speaks of the
"sons of God." And in a single sentence he describes what he means by
the term -- "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the
sons of God." An older prophet has said: "The Lord in the midst of thee
is mighty." Jesus with his deep insight perceived the identity of his
real life with the Divine life, the indwelling Wisdom and Power, -- the
"Father in me." The whole course of his ministry was his attempt "to
show those who listened to him how he was related to the Father, and to
teach them that they were related to the same Father in exactly the same
There is that within man that is illumined and energised through the
touch of His spirit. We can bring our minds into rapport, into such
harmony and connection with the infinite Divine mind that it speaks in
us, directs us, and therefore acts through us as our own selves. Through
this connection we become illumined by Divine wisdom and we become
energised by Divine power. It is ours, then, to act under the guidance
of this higher wisdom and in all forms of expression to act and to work
augmented by this higher power. The finite spirit, with all its
limitations, becomes at its very centre in rapport with Infinite spirit,
its Source. The finite thereby becomes the channel through which the
Infinite can and does work.
To use an apt figure, it is the moving of the switch whereby we connect
our wires as it were with the central dynamo which is the force that
animates, that gives and sustains life in the universe. It is making
actual the proposition that was enunciated by Emerson when he said:
"Every soul is not only the inlet, but may become the outlet of all
there is in God." Significant also in this connection is his statement:
"The only sin is limitation." It is the actualising of the fact that in
Him we live and move and have our being, with its inevitable resultant
that we become "strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." There
is perhaps no more valuable way of realising this end, than to adopt the
practice of taking a period each day for being alone in the quiet, a
half hour, even a quarter hour; stilling the bodily senses and making
oneself receptive to the higher leadings of the spirit -- receptive to the
impulses of the soul. This is following the master's practice and
example of communion with the Father. Things in this universe and in
human life do not happen. All is law and sequence. The elemental law of
cause and effect is universal and unvarying. In the realm of spirit law
is as definite as in the realm of mechanics -- in the realm of all
If we would have the leading of the spirit, if we would perceive the
higher intuitions and be led intuitively, bringing the affairs of the
daily life thereby into the Divine sequence, we must observe the
conditions whereby these leadings can come to us, and in time become
The law of the spirit is quiet -- to be followed by action -- but quiet, the
more readily to come into a state of harmony with the Infinite
Intelligence that works through us, and that leads us as our own
intelligence when through desire and through will, we are able to bring
our subconscious minds into such attunement that it can act through us,
and we are able to catch its messages and follow its direction. But to
listen and to observe the conditions whereby we can listen is essential.
Jesus' own words as well as his practice apply here. After his
admonition against public prayer, or prayer for show, or prayer of much
speaking, he said: "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet,
and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret;
and thy Father which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." Now
there are millions of men, women, and children in the world who have no
closets. There are great numbers of others who have no access to them
sometimes for days, or weeks, or months at a time. It is evident,
therefore, that in the word that has been rendered closet he
meant -- enter into the quiet recesses of your own soul that you may thus
hold communion with the Father.
Now the value of prayer is not that God will change or order any laws or
forces to suit the numerous and necessarily the diverse petitions of
any. All things are through law, and law is fixed and inexorable. The
value of prayer, of true prayer, is that through it one can so harmonise
his life with the Divine order that intuitive perceptions of truth and a
greater perception and knowledge of law becomes his possession. As has
been said by an able contemporary thinker and writer: "We cannot form a
passably thorough notion of man without saturating it through and
through with the idea of a cosmic inflow from outside his world
life -- the inflow of God. Without a large consciousness of the universe
beyond our knowledge, few men, if any, have done great things.[C]
I shall always remember with great pleasure and profit a call a few days
ago from Dr. Edward Emerson of Concord, Emerson's eldest son. Happily I
asked him in regard to his father's methods of work -- if he had any
regular methods. He replied in substance: "It was my father's custom to
go daily to the woods -- to listen. He would remain there an hour or
more in order to get whatever there might be for him that day. He would
then come home and write into a little book -- his 'day-book' -- what he had
gotten. Later on when it came time to write a book, he would transcribe
from this, in their proper sequence and with their proper connections,
these entrances of the preceding weeks or months. The completed book
became virtually a ledger formed or posted from his day-books."
The prophet is he who so orders his life that he can adequately listen
to the voice, the revelations of the over soul, and who truthfully
transcribes what he hears or senses. He is not a follower of custom or
of tradition. He can never become and can never be made the subservient
tool of an organisation. His aim and his mission is rather to free men
from ignorance, superstition, credulity, from half truths, by leading
them into a continually larger understanding of truth, of law -- and
therefore of righteousness.
It was more than a mere poetic idea that Lowell gave utterance to when
The thing we long for, that we are
For one transcendent moment.
To establish this connection, to actualise this God-consciousness, that
it may not be for one transcendent moment, but that it may become
constant and habitual, so that every thought arises, and so that every
act goes forth from this centre, is the greatest good that can come into
the possession of man. There is nothing greater. It is none other than
the realisation of Jesus' injunction -- "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God
and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." It
is then that he said -- Do not worry about your life. Your mind and your
will are under the guidance of the Divine mind; your every act goes out
under this direction and all things pertaining to your life will fall
into their proper places. Therefore do not worry about your life.
When a man finds his centre, when he becomes centred in the Infinite,
then redemption takes place. He is redeemed from the bondage of the
senses. He lives thereafter under the guidance of the spirit, and this
is salvation. It is a new life that he has entered into. He lives in a
new world, because his outlook is entirely new. He is living now in the
Kingdom of Heaven. Heaven means harmony. He has brought his own personal
mind and life into harmony with the Divine mind and life. He becomes a
coworker with God.
It is through such men and women that God's plans and purposes are
carried out. They not only hear but they interpret for others God's
voice. They are the prophets of our time and the prophets of all time.
They are doing God's work in the world, and in so doing they are finding
their own supreme satisfaction and happiness. They are not looking
forward to the Eternal life. They realise that they are now in the
Eternal life, and that there is no such thing as eternal life if this
life that we are now in is not it. When the time comes for them to stop
their labours here, they look forward without fear and with anticipation
to the change, the transition to the other form of life -- but not to any
other life. The words of Whitman embody a spirit of anticipation and of
adventure for them:
Joy, Shipmate, joy!
(Pleas'd to my soul at death I cry)
One life is closed, one life begun,
The long, long anchorage we leave,
The ship is clear at last, she leaps.
Joy, Shipmate, joy!
They have an abiding faith that they will take up the other form of life
exactly where they left it off here. Being in heaven now they will be in
heaven when they awake to the continuing beauties of the life subsequent
to their transition. Such we might also say is the teaching of Jesus
regarding the highest there is in life here and the best there is in the
Links to Additional Media for Higher Powers of Mind and Spirit by Ralph Waldo Trine such as audio and ebooks are located at the bottom of this web page.