The New Alinement of Life
by Ralph Waldo Trine
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1913. Concerning the mental laws of a grater personal and public power. Master's alignment of life; Jesus' habits of life and thought; Early church of the disciples; Science and modern research in their verdict on an infallible Pope, bible and church; Modern spiritual revival and the temper of our time; Imperative reformation of Christian faith that is now demanded; Vitalizing power of the Master's message and life; Modern philosophic thought and the Master's great fundamental of religion and life; Thinking Man's religion; Ideal mental day; Healthy mind in a healthy body; Mental law of habit; Our two greatest bug bears, fear and worry.
FOREWORD—DIRECTIONS OF ALINEMENT
The interest of thinking men and women the world over is being directed toward, is being focused upon, we might almost say, a very definite and a very significant field of thought. Life, life and the things that pertain most directly to it are, after all, they are finding, the things that really count.
There is a Religious, a Philosophical, and a Political Renaissance, so to speak, that has come into being among us. It is unquestionably of a very definite and clear-cut nature. It is more far-reaching in its scope and its influence than the Renaissance of history, in that it is practically world-wide in its inclusiveness.
There are new laws and forces that we are coming into the knowledge of, that are changing the very foundations of life, and that are leading, for many, to a more effective, a saner, a sweeter, and a more light-hearted way of living. There are new lights that are illumining the minds, and that are kindling with a warmer glow the hearts,—and that are therefore changing and renewing the outlook—of the lives of men and women everywhere. We are discarding many old and too-long-held, they-say, half-truths, once of value, now a hindrance, for better founded newer truths.
On the part of large groups of men and women, questions identical with or akin to the following are being asked: Is there a finer balance in Life? Am I up to, and am I keeping myself up to "par" in my mental and physical life? Am I making an adequate or anywhere near an adequate use of the inner powers and forces—the "hidden energies" of life—in my everyday living? Am I concerning myself primarily with life, or with its accessories? Am I contributing my due share to the friends', the neighbours'—the world's work, needs, problems, joys?
To the consciousness of a large and representative group of men among us, are continually arising questions of the nature of the following: Why, although I have made a great success of my undertakings, with thousands at my beck and call, and have accumulated my millions—why am I continually haunted with the sense of a lack of something, something greater than all this, a haunting that will not down, and that keeps away from me the satisfaction that I dreamed was to be mine? Why is it that in the very middle of life I am a broken, shaking man, already with a sense of life primarily behind me, unable to enjoy the things I have so persistently worked for and that I can now have to unlimited extent? Why is it that my wealth and position and success do not satisfy; that they are not what I thought them; that something within continually cries out for something else and that allows me no peace? How have I miscalculated? What is it that I have missed? What overlooked? Wherein is my lack? Great God! have I really missed the road?
Whenever a man or a woman gives more thought, more time and attention to the mere accessories of life than to the life itself, there is an inner something that arises to protest and that will not down. If one refuses to heed it, there is no abiding satisfaction then to be found. Moreover when the cloudy or the dark day comes, as come it inevitably does now and then in every life, there is no refuge to fall back upon.
So when a friend, a man of a very wide experience, said in conversation a little while ago, "It is after all a good thing for one to have a little philosophy in his life," he voiced a truth that increasing multitudes of men and women everywhere are feeling, indeed even saying for themselves. They are finding such a basis not only advantageous, but many are finding it essential. Others are finding that their standing-ground, their help, their source of abiding satisfaction rests in Religion.
Philosophy is being more closely related to life. It is being made more concrete, practical, helpful,—it is therefore becoming the priceless possession of ever increasing numbers of thinking men and women.
When, therefore, Henri Bergson, with his marvellous insight and intuition, comes to the metropolis—the commercial metropolis, if you please—of the New World, for a series of lectures, thousands lay by their work to go up to hear him, and as many thousands are turned away through lack of room for their admittance. Men and women are inspired to greater depths of thought and feeling—and who could help being so inspired—by his spiritual basis of life, his system of "creative evolution," his teachings of self-help, and of the almost limitless possibilities of human life and endeavour, that "joy and happiness are great impulses to prolonged and more highly developed life."
Even then he is formulating and systematising, but with a wonderful grasp, the thoughts that have stirred already in the minds of other men and women of depth and insight. The following extract from a recent letter from that clear thinker and keen observer and one of our foremost men of letters, John Burroughs, seems therefore not strange but natural:
"I am going to New York next week to hear Bergson. He has turned my head with the finest philosophical wine I ever drank—real champagne of the spirit. His work comes home to me because I was a Bergsonian fifty years ago."
Out from the little Old World city of Jena—forever associated with the life and thought and the personality of Goethe and Schiller and Fichte and Hegel and Schelling, Rudolf Eucken comes to the same metropolis, as well as to various centres of learning, with his wonderful inspiration for both mind and heart, and gives to Religion and to a more Christian Christianity an impetus that attracts and enthralls great numbers of men and women. Of a wonderful religious insight in addition to his keen philosophical perceptions, his philosophy of "Activism"—reflection and meditation to be followed by active creative effort—is giving to multitudes that better balance of life that so many in our day are finding they stand so keenly in need of.
By virtue of his own native and deep-seated interest in religion and Christianity, he is helping, as perhaps no other individual of the present time, to free, especially the latter, from the encrustations that have fastened around it, that are tending to stifle and to kill its Spirit, robbing it thereby of its power to draw, impress, and move men, as all things that become institutionalised in time inevitably do. This is why it is so absolutely essential that things be often referred back to their beginnings.
His is not a "call to the cross," but a call to a far more valuable and useful thing—a call to the life and the teachings of Jesus. On account of his unusual twofold religious and philosophical basis, he is unquestionably one of the greatest and most valuable forces in contemporary religious and philosophical thought in the world today.
And then in our own midst, William James, too large to be cabined and confined by the influences, the thought, the terminologies of academic walls, or to give time to the disquisitions that not one in a score of thousands find interest in, because they are more interested in the actual helps to free, active, wholesome living,—gives to the world his philosophy of "Use." It is a philosophy pre-eminently of life, in that it helps one concretely to know himself and his inner powers and forces; in that it helps men and women by the thousands to live, instead of giving merely thoughts about thoughts about some particular terminology or concepts or even phases of living.
Through his recognition of the element of "use" in the daily living of men and women, and his simple, concrete, and therefore effective presentation of his philosophy and metaphysics, he becomes world-wide in his influence and helpfulness. He becomes the most significant—the greatest man in his chosen field—that has ever been connected with any American institution of learning.
With such, shall we say giants, as guides, is it any wonder that earnest men and women everywhere are getting helps that are further calling out and that are supporting those intuitive perceptions and realisations of their own, those Divine inner promptings, those voices of God speaking within their own souls? It is not to be marvelled at that multitudes are now getting hold of a philosophy of life, a religion of life: they are finding that such a philosophy and such a religion is a real, vital, telling thing—something different from that they had formerly supposed.
Where formerly was doubt, fear, weakness, darkness,—even blackness at times,—there is now faith and hope and courage and greater love and more abundant power—the fulness and the glow and the satisfaction of effective active living.
These are finding that there is no such thing as "Fate" in the sense of something that has been determined and fastened upon one from without. They are finding that a man determines his own "fate" by the thoughts and the emotions he entertains and lives most habitually with; by the Centre which through the medium of his mental life he relates himself to, and that his thoughts and therefore his acts—his entire life—radiate from.
The greatest teachers in the world's history have somehow been those who have led the minds and the hearts of men most intimately to a comprehension, and then to a realisation, of their own personal relations to their Source. The eternal questions are always personal questions with every human soul. What is the Source of our life? What is the Source and the substance of our strength? Wherein lies our salvation?
Every life, to be successful or even satisfying, must have a Centre to which it definitely relates itself, and from which all its aspirations, all its thoughts, and all its acts radiate. The one who as a great world teacher has brought to mankind most completely this knowledge, was a simple Judaean Carpenter, with a Divine self-realisation at once so natural and so complete, that it gave him a personality uniquely powerful and pleasing, through which poured a great life message that captivates, that inspires, and that redeems all men and women who really grasp, who appropriate, and who live it.
He did not come to found a new Religion. His sole purpose was to give a simple, clear-cut statement of Life, through which he hoped to arouse the people of the age in which he lived to the Spirit of religion, in distinction from the dead ecclesiasticism and formalism that prevailed so completely among them. His message—that he first realised and lived and then thought—was, so startling and so unique, that it was difficult for most of those to whom he directly delivered it, on account of their formalism and their tendency to material interpretation, fully to grasp it. When, then, many years later a great complex organisation was built around his personality, by an age and a people incapable of understanding the real spiritual content of his simple, direct, open-air teachings, as also his life, a foundation was used that was false in its conception, and that has inevitably led to the same formalism and materialism that he found in his day, that he condemned and that he endeavoured so earnestly to have removed, that the spirit of the Living God could once again emerge and dominate the minds and hearts of men. We are therefore now a long way from the simple Fundamental of Life as given—and devoid of all mystery—by the supreme Master of Life on those clear Judaean hills so many years ago.
Modern scientific discovery, Darwin with his epoch-making theory of evolution, archaeological findings of most significant import—all have combined during the past fifty years or so to throw streams of converging light into early beginnings. The result is that many sections of foundations have crumbled, and an infallible Pope, an infallible Bible, an infallible Church have gone forever.
An intense earnestness in the quest of Religion—a religion of the spirit that relates itself intimately to the affairs of everyday life, is animating vast numbers of men and women everywhere, and is making them profoundly dissatisfied with modern Ecclesiasticism with many of its now untenable tenets. Many are even questioning as to whether organised religion as we have it in Christendom today, is not standing directly in the way of the vitalising and redeeming message of life that the great Judaean teacher gave to the world. Thinking men and women everywhere are therefore demanding that there be a complete reformation of Christian faith to meet the light and temper of the times. And the great beauty of it all is that as organised Christianity has been gradually losing its hold, through an ecclesiastical system complex and complexing, all classes and conditions of men are getting an ever deeper admiration and love for the unique and winsome personality of the Carpenter. All over the world increasing numbers, independently of creed and organisation, are seizing his great Fundamental, with results that are making the old, for them, forever impossible again. Jesus is too great a character, his is too great a message, to be allowed longer to remain the property of any organisation, and the bonds that have held them are now bursting asunder.
As there is no such thing as a real religion or a philosophy of any vitality that divorces itself from life—and every act of everyday life—so there is no such thing as a religion or a philosophy that does not project itself into the life of one's community and straight into matters of village, city, state, and national government—into practical politics. As religion and philosophy need the contact with active affairs to keep them from a weakly and selfish sentimentality, so political life needs the broadening and the unself-centering influences of religion and philosophy to make the machinery of government a true expression of the will of the people; to serve their purposes, instead of allowing it to get into the hands of bosses and political rings and gangs for the purposes of exploitation and loot, and thereby the eventual degradation of the people.
The one great cause of our undesirable political conditions, and the reason our machinery breaks down, especially in connection with our municipal life, is the fact that the average citizen—you and I—does not give the time and attention to these, our matters, that we should give to them, but instead we allow little groups of men to get hold of affairs and do our governing for us.
The fact of the coming of Democracy, world-wide in its entry, and differing from anything in Democracy the world so far has ever known, and advancing everywhere with rapid strides, is probably the most pronounced and the most significant fact of this our time. The thought and the endeavours of the best men and women of the time are now giving themselves to its fuller consummation. To them in great measure is to be attributed this political Renaissance that is among us. Political expressions of the type of the following, recently given utterance to by Woodrow Wilson—now President Wilson—give abundant evidence of this:
"We are upon the eve of a great reconstruction. . . . We stand in the presence of a revolution—not a bloody revolution, America is not given to the spilling of blood—but a silent revolution whereby America will insist upon recovering in practice those ideals which she has always professed, upon securing a government devoted to the general interest and not to special interests.
"I believe, as I believe in nothing else, in the average integrity and the average intelligence of the American people, and I do not believe that the intelligence of America can be put into commission anywhere. I do not believe that there is any group of men of any kind to whom we can afford to give that kind of trusteeship.
"I want to belong to a nation, and I am proud that I do belong to a nation, that knows how to take care of itself. If I thought that the American people were reckless, were ignorant, were vindictive, I might shrink from putting the Government into their hands. But the beauty of democracy is that when you are reckless you destroy your own established conditions of life: when you are vindictive, you wreak vengeance upon yourself; the whole stability of democratic polity rests upon the fact that every interest is every man's interest."
Blessed is the nation whose young men and women early get their lives grounded upon a working basis of religion or philosophy, even though either or both be very simple and fundamental in their nature. And fortunate also are the young men and women, in that the helps born of these are available for the greater portion, rather than for merely the latter portion of their lives.
They are more fully equipped thereby for the realisation of "The Dream" of the exquisite little sonnet by Edwin Markham:—
"Great it is to believe the dream
When we stand in youth by the starry stream;
But a greater thing is to fight life thru
And say at the end, 'The dream is true!' "
It is the author's aim to present in as simple, as concrete, and it is admitted, in as interesting a form as possible, various facts pertaining to these fields of thought—facts that may prove of everyday value, to some at least,—in this our common life.
R. W. T.
Sunnybrae Farm, Croton-on-Hudson,
THE MASTER'S ALINEMENT OF LIFE
There are supreme moments in the life of the race. There are supreme moments in the lives of individuals. The significantly supreme moments in the history of the race occur when some elemental and vital truth in connection with human life and conduct is given utterance to by some great prophet or seer, "open-windowed to God." The supreme moments in the individual life occur when such truths are realised, appropriated, and are thereby made to vitalise aspiration and life.
The greatest saying in the world's history was given utterance to by a comparatively young man in an Oriental town some nineteen hundred years ago. It was in a country at the time under the domination of Roman rule. He was a young Galilean, with but a very limited education of the schools, according to the manner of the times. He had been a country carpenter and he was also the son of a country carpenter. His family was of sterling worth, but very poor, and of no special social standing or note in or about his native village. Notwithstanding these facts he had manifested from his early youth a great desire for learning, and had displayed a marked aptitude for discerning the things of the Spirit. He worked with his father at carpentering, and together for some years they journeyed to and fro, in and through the adjoining districts of his native village.
He was pre-eminently one of the "common people"; he shared their burdens and came and went with them, and with them he smarted under the injustices, and at times the cruelties and even the horrors of the then well-entrenched Roman rule. Before he was thirty he began to address little groups of hearers—to teach certain truths that had taken a strong hold on him. He seemed to have possession of certain truths, and a certain unique and effective way of presenting them, in marked distinction from those of his time. His teaching, and especially his manner of presenting it, was in marked contrast with the custom of the time—and there was much custom then even as there is now.
For some time he had been speaking to these little groups of hearers that had gathered in and about the market-places, on the hillsides, and elsewhere, of a wonderful truth that had taken possession of him, and that continually cried out for utterance. As time passed he spoke to larger and ever larger open-air gatherings and in larger places;—the crowds were increasing in size as the knowledge of his message and of his unusual way of presenting it became more generally known. We find him now in many large places, among them the larger centres where some of the chief places of worship were located.
The most striking feature of his method was that he cited no authorities for his statements, as was the invariable prevailing custom, but spoke always out of the fulness of his own mind and heart. This element was so marked that it even astonished the multitude—as had also his teachings.
It was a religious people, or rather its ancestors for many generations, even centuries back, had been, though the immediate ones to whom he spoke had lost, apparently, all religious sense, and its place had gradually been taken by a well-grounded system of ecclesiasticism in which dogma, the observance of form and ceremony, continual reference to authority, had taken the place of all spontaneous and of all active spiritual life. This seemed to be Stationary, lifeless, dead.
This was so noticeable to this young Galilean carpenter-teacher, to whom his mother and father had given the name Jesus, that he had spoken of it often in their presence. It seemed to affect him so peculiarly that he spoke of it in strong and, at times, sarcastic language, and always in condemnatory terms. In connection with all of his teachings there was a sort of frankness and independence in his manner and in his message that no one could fail to recognise and that no one failed to marvel at. It was so different from what they were accustomed to.
Particularly noticeable was this characteristic on the day he gave utterance to a certain great truth, which he put in such a form that it has become a statement of the greatest truth of all time. Numbers of questions had been asked him as he spoke that day, some genuine and sincere, some with an effort to discredit him, even to make fun of him, partly perhaps because of his lack of standing and education according to the measure of the schools, partly because he was a Nazarene—one of the most "common" of the orders of the people of the time—primarily and unquestionably because his message and his manner of presenting it were so much at variance with that to which the people had been accustomed.
Then a certain lawyer arose and had his fling. A lawyer was a Scribe, an interpreter or teacher of the Ecclesiastical Law and observances—chiefly the latter. His question was: "Master, which is the great commandment in the law? "Jesus said unto him, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
I have called this the greatest saying in the world's history. It is so not because it was given form and utterance to by this wonderful Galilean teacher, though the fact of its coming from him, as his after life and influence have so abundantly demonstrated, gives it a tremendous weight. In its expanded form it is the basis of all religion and the basis of all idealistic and practical philosophy. It is revolutionary, in a constructive sense, in that it will revolutionise the lives of all who grasp and appropriate it, and when grasped and appropriated by a sufficient number it will revolutionise and reconstruct human society from top to bottom.
As he said so often in expanding it—It is the sum and substance of all religion. As he taught repeatedly also, it was the secret of his own wonderful and matchless life, and subsequently of his everlasting influence. The kingdom of God has come nigh—the conscious union of the human with the Divine—open-minded, open-hearted, "open-windowed to God"—the voice of God speaking immediately to and through the soul of man, the one and only source of all divine guidance as well as of all inspiration. It is the conscious, vital realisation of our essential oneness with the Universal Divine Life that is the source and the essential essence of all life. It is in essence the same as his injunction: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness and all these things shall be added to you," followed by the kindred injunction: "Neither shall they say, 'Lo here' or 'Lo there,' for, behold, the Kingdom of God is within you."
His teachings and his personality so astonished them and so enthused them, that they said, "Never man spake as this man." He vouchsafed no authority for his teachings because they were of such a nature that they needed no authority. They appealed so to the inner consciousness of the people, that they recognised, intuitively and at once, that the truths he was uttering contained their own authority.
They had only to be heard for the consciousness of those who heard them to spring forward and recognise them as great personal and universal truths. We can scarcely wonder that the people heard him gladly and went to hear him again and again, and that soon great multitudes came. Why? Truth uttered simply, forcibly, impersonally, by one whose Spirit has been touched by the Divine fire, arrests, captivates, impresses, and moves all honest men and women the world over and in all times.
The young Galilean teacher's vivid and thoroughly crystallised conception and presentation of the allness of God, and of the right and the duty of every man realising and living continually in the thought of his oneness with the Divine life and power, reveals and releases the hidden springs of wisdom and insight and power within. God in the soul of man speaking directly—the seat of all authority and religion. It is the one all-inclusive thing which brings all other things as a matter of sequence. It puts man into such relations with God that it saves him from dead forms, as well as the fears and forebodings that these dead forms are usually built upon. It saves him from an ecclesiastical formalism that has so many times so hidden the light and stultified the soul, that the spirit of the living God dwelling intimately within if consciously and vitally realised, has found no recognition.
It is this great fundamental truth that was the basis of Jesus' life and that was the sum and substance as well as the crowning glory of his teachings. It is so absolutely universal in its application that it needs no authority other than its own inherent truth, to do for us today and for any age, what Jesus worked so ardently and so faithfully for it to do for those with whom he came into more intimate contact, and who listened directly to his teachings.
"The New Alinement of Life"
by Ralph Waldo Trine
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