Excerpts from

"What All The World's A-Seeking"
by Ralph Waldo Trine

Order in Adobe PDF eBook or printed form for $4.95 (+ printing charge)

or click here to order from Amazon.com for $26.95 (or less)


HENRY DRUMMOND whose nature was at once so beautiful and so princely, and whose work here, though brief, was so unique and so vital never perhaps gave utterance to a greater truth than when he said, “And half the world is on the wrong scent in the pursuit of happiness.”

He might well have uttered the same truth in regard to those seeking for power, in regard to those seeking for greatness, or in regard to those seeking even for the true life itself, the true life with all its attendant riches and glories and powers in distinction from the poor excuses of lives that the great majority of people are living today, not only in America and in England, but the world over.

If the statement is true, and true it unquestionably is, what, let us ask, is the reason? When we come to search closely, we shall find that ignorance is at the root of the entire matter -- ignorance of the laws of the real life. Moreover, no one will willingly continue to live a life of the little, dwarfed, and stunted type, if they once vitally realize the facts of the larger, fuller, and richer life that awaits them; and if, in addition to this, they understand clearly the laws and forces governing it, so as to be able wisely and fully to use them.

Inspired teachers, seers, and sages, as well as most able writers, have at various times and in many ways pointed out the laws and forces underlying the real, and hence more abundant life; but so many times it has been through the mediumship of purely abstract teachings. The result has been that the larger portion of the people, unable clearly to see them from the same standpoint with those who would teach them, have many times entirely failed vitally to grasp them. And so failing, they have been unable to take them and infuse them into everyday life, so as to mould it in all its details in accordance with what they would have it, as every individual life can and should be moulded.

It is the author's purpose in the pages that follow to present these laws and forces in a manner so simple and so concrete, that no one can fail vitally to grasp them. It is, moreover his aim to present them in such a manner that those who do thus vitally grasp them will be impelled by such an irresistible desire so to use them that they will immediately enter upon the more abundant life that will inevitably follow.



Would you find that wonderful life supernal, That life so abounding, so rich, and so free?
Seek then the laws of the Spirit Eternal, With them bring your life into harmony.

How can I make life yield its fullest and best? How can I know the true secret of power? How can I attain to a true and lasting greatness? How can I fill the whole of life with a happiness, a peace, a joy, a satisfaction that is ever rich and abiding, that ever increases, never diminishes, that imparts to it a sparkle that never loses its lustre, that ever fascinates, never wearies?

No questions, perhaps, in this form or in that have been asked oftener than these. Millions in the past have asked them. Millions are asking them today. They will be asked by millions yet unborn. Is there an answer, a true and safe one for the millions who are eagerly and longingly seeking for it in all parts of the world today, and for the millions yet unborn who will as eagerly strive to find it as the years come and go? Are you interested, my dear reader, in the answer? The fact that you have read even thus far in this little volume, whose title has led you to take it up, indicates that you are -- that you are but one of the innumerable company already mentioned.

It is but another way of asking that great question that has come through all the ages: What is the summum bonum, the supreme good in life?, and there have been countless numbers who gladly would have given all they possessed to have had the true and satisfactory answer. Can we then find this answer, true and satisfactory to ourselves; surely the brief time spent together must be counted as the most precious and valuable of life itself. There is an answer: follow closely, and that our findings may be the more conclusive, take issue with me at every step if you choose, but tell me finally if it is not true and satisfactory.

There is one great, one simple principle, which if firmly laid hold of, and if made the great central principle in one's life, around which all others properly arrange and subordinate themselves, will make that life a grand success, truly great and genuinely happy, loved and blessed by all in just the degree in which it is laid hold upon. A principle which, if universally made thus, would wonderfully change this old world in which we live, that would transform it almost in a night. And it is for its coming that the world has long been waiting; that in place of the gloom and despair in almost countless numbers of lives would bring light and hope and contentment, and no longer would it be said as so truly today, that “man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn.” It would bring to the life of the fashionable society woman, now spending her days and her nights in seeking for nothing but her own pleasure, such a flood of true and genuine pleasure and happiness and satisfaction as would make the poor, weak something she calls by this name so pale before it, that she would quickly see that she has not known what true pleasure is, and that what she has been mistaking for the real, the genuine, is but as a baser metal compared to the purest of gold, as a bit of cut glass compared to the rarest of diamonds, and that would make this same woman who scarcely notices the poor woman who washes her front steps, but who, were the facts known, may be living a much grander life, and consequently of much more value to the world than she herself, see that this poor woman is after all her sister; because child of the same Eternal Father. It would make the humble life of this same poor woman beautiful and happy and sweet in its humility, and would give us a nation of statesmen in place of, with now and then an exception, a nation of politicians, each one bent upon his own personal aggrandizement at the expense of the general good. It would go far, very far, toward solving our great and hard-pressing social problems with which we are already face to face; and, in short, would make each man a prince among men, and each woman a queen among women.

I have seen the supreme happiness in lives where this principle has been caught and laid hold of, some lives that seemed not to have much in them before, but which under its wonderful influences have been so transformed and so beautified, that have been made so sweet and so strong, so useful and so precious, that each day seems to them all too short, the same time that before, when they could scarcely see what was in life to make it worth the living, dragged wearily along. So there are countless numbers of people in the world with lives that seem not to have much in them among the wealthy classes and among the poorer, who might under the influence of this great, this simple principle, make them so precious, so rich, and so happy, that time would seem only too short, and they would wonder why they have been so long running on the wrong track, for it is true that much the larger portion of the world today is on the wrong track in the pursuit of happiness; but almost all are there, let it be said, not through choice, but by reason of not knowing the right, the true one.

The fact that really great, true, and happy lives have been lived in the past and are being lived today gives us our starting-point. Time and again I have examined such lives in a most careful endeavour to find what has made them so, and have found that in each and every individual case, this that we have now come to has been the great central principle upon which they have been built. I have also found that in numbers of lives where it has not been, but where almost every effort apart from it has been made to make them great, true, and happy, they have not been so; and also that no life built upon it in sufficient degree, other things being equal, has failed in being thus.

Let us then to the answer, examine it closely, see if it will stand every test, if it is the true one, and if so, rejoice that we have found it, lay hold of it, build upon it, tell others of it. The last four words have already entered us at the open door. The idea has prevailed in the past, and this idea has dominated the world, that self is the great concern; that if one would find success, greatness, happiness, he must give all attention to self, and to self alone. This has been the great mistake, this the fatal error, this the direct opposite of the right, the true as set forth in the great immutable law that we find our own lives in losing them in the service of others; in longer form: the more of our lives we give to others, the fuller and the richer, the greater and the grander, the more beautiful and the more happy our own lives become. It is, as that great and sweet soul who when with us lived at Concord said, the generous giving or losing of your life which saves it.

This is an expression of one of the greatest truths, of one of the greatest principles of practical ethics, the world has thus far seen. In a single word, it is service not self but the other self. We shall soon see, however, that our love, our service, our helpfulness to others invariably comes back to us, intensified sometimes a hundred or a thousand or a thousand, thousand fold and this by a great, immutable law.


Are you seeking for greatness, O brother of mine,
As the full, fleeting seasons and years glide away?
If seeking directly and for self alone,
The true and abiding you never can stay.
But all self forgetting, know well the law,
It's the hero, and not the self-seeker, who’s crowned.
Then go lose your life in the service of others,
And, lo! with rare greatness and glory 'twill abound.

Is it your ambition to become great in any particular field, to attain to fame and honour, and thereby to happiness and contentment? Is it your ambition, for example, to become a great orator, to move great masses of men, to receive their praise, their plaudits? Then remember that there never has been, that there never will, there never can be, a truly great orator without a great purpose, a great cause behind them. You may study in all the best schools in the country, the best universities, and the best schools of oratory. You may study until you exhaust all these, and then seek the best in other lands. You may study thus until your hair is beginning to change its colour, but this of itself will never make your a great orator. You may become a demagogue, and, if self-centred, you inevitably will; for this is exactly what a demagogue is--a great demagogue, if you please. It is hard for one to call to mind a more contemptible animal, and the greater the more contemptible. But without laying hold of and building upon this great principle you never can become a great orator.

Call to mind the greatest in the world's history, from Demosthenes Men of Athens, march against Philip, “your country and your fellow-men will be in early bondage unless you give them your best service now,” down to our own Phillips and Gough, Wendell Phillips against the traffic in human blood. John B. Gough against a slavery among his fellow-men more hard and galling and abject than the one just spoken of; for by it the body merely is in bondage, the mind and soul are free, while in this, body, soul, and mind are enslaved. So you can easily discover the great purpose, the great cause for service, behind each and every one.

The person who cannot get beyond self and their own aggrandizement and interests, must of necessity be small, petty, personal, and at once marks their own limitations; whilst one whose life is a life of service and self-devotion has no limits, for they thus puts themselves at once on the side of the Universal, and this more than all else combined gives a tremendous power in oratory. Such a one can mount as on the wings of an eagle, and Nature herself seems to come forth and give a great soul of this kind means and material whereby to accomplish their purposes, whereby the great universal truths go direct to the minds and hearts of their hearers to mould them, to move them; for the orator is one who moulds the minds and hearts of their hearers in the great moulds of universal and eternal truth, and then moves them along a definite line of action, not one who merely speaks pieces to them.

How thoroughly Webster recognized this great principle is admirably shown in that brief but powerful description of eloquence, and here let us listen to a sentence or two as he says: “True eloquence indeed does not consist in speech.... Words and phrases may be marshalled in every way, but they cannot compass it.... Affected passion, intense expression, the pomp of declamation, all may aspire to it; they cannot reach it....” “The graces taught in the schools, the costly ornaments and studied contrivances of speech, shock and disgust men when their own lives and the fate of their wives and their children and their country hang on the decision of the hour. Then words have lost their power, rhetoric is vain, and all elaborate oratory contemptible. Even genius itself then feels rebuked and subdued, as in the presence of higher qualities. Then patriotism is eloquent, then self-devotion is eloquent. The clear conception, out-running the deductions of logic, the high purpose, the firm resolve, the dauntless spirit speaking on the tongue, beaming from the eye, informing every feature and urging the whole man onward, right onward to his object, this, this is eloquence.” And note some of the chief words he has used self-devotion, patriotism, high purpose. The self-centred can never know these, and much less can they make use of them.

True, things that one may learn, are the freeing of the bodily agents, the developing of the voice, and so on, that all may become the true reporters of the soul, instead of limiting or binding it down, as is so frequently the case in public speakers, these are all valuable, and are very important and very necessary, unless one is content to live below his highest possibilities, and he is wise who recognizes this fact; but these in themselves are but as trifles when compared to those greater, more powerful, and all-essential qualities.

Is it your ambition to become a great statesman? Note the very first thing, then, the word itself states-man, a man who gives his life to the service of the State. And do you not recognize the fact that, when one says a man who gives his life to the service of the State, it is but another way of saying a man who gives his life to the service of his fellow-man; for what, after all, is any country, any State, in the true sense of the term, but the aggregate, the great body of its individual citizenship. And he who lives for and unto himself, who puts the interests of his own small self before the interests of the thousands, can never become a statesman; for a statesman must be a larger man than this.

Call to your mind the greatest of the world, among those living and among the so-called dead, and you will quickly see that the life of each and every one has been built upon this great principle, and that all have been great, and are held as such, in just the degree in which it has been. Two of the greatest among Americans, both passed away, would today, and even more as time goes on, be counted still greater had they been a little larger in one aspect of their natures--large enough to have recognized to its fullest extent the eternal truth and importance of this great principle, and had they given the time to the service of their fellow-man that was spent in desiring the Presidency and in all too plainly making it known. Having gained it could have made them no greater, and having so plainly shown their eager and childish desire for it has made them less great. Of the many thousands of men who have been in our American Congress since its beginning, and of the very, very small number comparatively that you are able to call to mind, possibly not over fifty, which would be about one out of every six hundred or more, you will find that you are able to call to mind each one of this very small number on account of his standing for some measure or principle that would to the highest degree increase the human welfare, thus truly fulfilling the great office of a statesman.

The one great trouble with our country today is that we have but few statesmen. We have a great swarm, a great hoard of politicians; but it is only now and then that we find a man who is large enough truly to deserve the name statesman. The large majority in public life today are there, not for the purpose of serving the best interests of those whom they am supposed to represent, but they are there purely for self, purely for self-aggrandizement, in this form or in that, as the case may be. Especially do we find this true in our municipalities. In some the government, instead of being in the hands of those who would make it such in truth, those who would make it serve the interests it is designed to serve, it is in the hands of those who are there purely for self, those who will resort to any means to secure their ends, at times even to honourable means, should they seem to serve best the particular purpose in hand. We have but to look around us to see that this is true. The miserable, filthy, and deplorable condition of affairs the Lexow Committee in its investigations not so long ago laid bare to public gaze had its root in what? In the fact that the offices in that great municipality have been and are filled by men who are there to serve in the highest degree the public welfare, or by men who are there purely for self-aggrandizement? But let us pass on. This degraded condition of affairs exists not only in this great city, but there are scarcely any that are free from it entirely. Matters are not always to continue thus, however. The American people will learn by and by what they ought fully to realize today that the moment the honest people, the citizens, in distinction from the barnacles, mass themselves and stay massed, the notorious, filthy political rings cannot stand before them for a period of even twenty-four hours. The right, the good, the true, is all-powerful and will inevitably conquer sooner or later when brought to the front. Such is the history of civilization.

Let our public offices Municipal, State, and Federal be filled with men and women who are in love with the human kind, large-hearted people, those whose lives are founded upon this great law of service, and we will then have them filled with statesmen. Never let this glorious word be disgraced, degraded, by applying it to the little, self-centred whelps who are unable to get beyond the politician stage. Then enter public life; but enter it as a man, not as a barnacle; enter it as a statesman, not as a politician

Is it your ambition to become a great preacher, or better yet, with the same meaning, a great teacher? Then remember that the greatest of the world have been those who have given themselves in thorough self-devotion and service to their fellow-man, who have given themselves so thoroughly to all they have come in contact with that there has been no room for self. They have not been seekers after fame, or men who have thought so much of their own particular dogmatic ways of thinking as to spend the greater part of their time in discussing dogma, creed, theology, in order, as is so generally true in cases of this kind, to prove that the ego you see before you is right in its particular way of thinking, and that their chief ambition is to have this fact clearly understood--an abomination, I believe, in the sight of God Himself, whose children in the meantime are starving, are dying for the bread of life, and an abomination, I am sure, in the sight of the great majority of mankind. Let us be thankful, however, for mankind is finding less use for such year by year, and the time will soon come when they will scarcely be tolerated at all.

It is to a very great extent on account of men of this kind, especially in the early history, that the true spirit of religion, of Christianity, has been lost sight of in the mere form. The basket in which it has been deemed necessary to carry it has been held as of greater import than the rare and divinely beautiful fruit itself. The true spirit, that which quickeneth and giveth life and power, has had its place taken by the mere letter, that that alone blighteth and killeth.


If you'd have a rare growth and unfoldment supreme, and make life one long joy and contentment complete, Then with kindliness, love, and good-will let it teem, And with service for all make it fully replete.

If you'd have all the world and all heaven to love you, And that love with it's power would you fully convince, Then love all the world; and men royal and true, Will make cry as you pass--“God bless him, the Prince!”

One beautiful feature of this principle of love and service is that this phase of one's personality, or nature, can be grown. I have heard it asked, If one hasn't it to any marked degree naturally, what is to be done? In reply let it be said, forget self, get out of it for a little while, and, as it comes in your way, do something for someone, some kind service, some loving favour, it makes no difference how small it may appear. But a kind look or word to one weary with care, from whose life all worth living for seems to have gone out; a helping hand or little lift to one almost discouraged, it may be that this is just the critical moment, a helping hand just now may change a life or a destiny. Show yourself a friend to one who thinks he or she is friendless. Oh! there are a thousand opportunities each day right where you are; not the great things far away, but the little things right at hand. With a heart full of love do something: experience the rich returns that will come to you, and it will be unnecessary to urge a repetition or a continuance. The next time it will be easier and more natural, and the next. You know of that wonderful reflex-nerve system you have in your body; that which says that whenever you do a certain thing in a certain way it is easier to do the same thing the next time, and the next, and the next, until presently it is done with scarcely any effort on your part at all, it has become your second nature. And thus we have what? Habit. This is the way that all habit is, the way that all habit must be formed, and have you ever fully realized that life is, after all, merely a series of habits, and that it lies entirely within one's own power to determine just what that series shall be?

I have seen this great principle made the foundation principle in an institution of learning. It is made not a theory merely as I have seen it here and there, but a vital, living truth. And I wish I had time to tell of its wonderful and beautiful influences upon the life and work of that institution, and upon the lives and the work of those who go out from it. A joy indeed to be there. One cannot enter within its walls even for a few moments without feeling its benign influences. One cannot go out without taking them with him. I have seen purposes and lives almost or quite transformed; and life so rich, so beautiful, and so valuable opened up, such as the persons never dreamed could be, by being but a single year under these beautiful and life-giving influences.

I have also seen it made the foundation principle of a great summer congress, one that has already done an unprecedented work, one that has a far greater work yet before it, and chiefly by reason of this all-powerful foundation upon which it is built, conceived and put into operation as it was by a rare and highly illumined soul, one thoroughly filled with the love of service for all the human kind. There are no thoughts of money returns, for everything it has to give is as free as the beautiful atmosphere that pervades it. The result is that there is drawn together, by way of its magnificent corps of lectures as well as those in attendance, a company of people of the rarest type, so that everywhere there is a manifestation of that spirit of love, helpfulness, and kindliness, that permeates the entire atmosphere with a deep feeling of peace, that makes every moment of life a joy.

So enchanting does this spirit make the place, that very frequently the single day of some who have come for this length of time has lengthened itself into a week, and the week in turn into a month; and the single week of others has frequently lengthened itself, first into a month, then into the entire summer. There is nothing at all strange in this fact, however; for wherever one finds sweet humanity, he there finds a spot where all people love to dwell.

Making this the fundamental principle of one's life, around which all others properly arrange and subordinate themselves, is not, as a casual observer might think, and as he sometimes suggests, an argument against one's own growth and development, against the highest possible unfoldment of one’s entire personality and powers. Rather, on the other hand, is it one of the greatest reasons, one of the greatest arguments in its favour; for, the stronger the personality and the greater the powers, the greater the influence in the service of mankind. If, then, life be thus founded, can there possibly be any greater incentive to that self-development that brings one up to their highest possibilities? A development merely for self alone can never have behind it an incentive, a power so great; and, after all, there is nothing in the world so great, so effective in the service of mankind, as a strong, noble, and beautiful manhood or womanhood. It is this that in the ultimate determines the influence of everyone upon their fellow-man. Life, character, is the greatest power in the world, and character it is that gives the power; for in all true power, along whatever line it may be, it is, after all, living the life that tells. This is a great law that but few who would have great power and influence seem to recognize, or, at least, that but few seem to act upon.

Are you a writer? You can never write more than you yourself are. Would you write more? Then broaden, deepen, enrich the life. Are you a minister? You can never raise men higher than you have raised yourself. Your words will have exactly the sound of the life whence they come. Hollow the life? Hollow-sounding and empty will be the words, weak, ineffective, false. Would you have them go with greater power, and thus be more effective? Live the life, the power will come. Are you an orator? The power and effectiveness of your words in influencing and moving masses of people depends entirely upon the altitude from which they are spoken. Would you have them more effective, each one filled with a living power? Then elevate the life, the power will come. Are you in the walks of private life? Then, wherever you move, there goes from you, even if there be no word spoken, a silent but effective influence of an elevating or a degrading nature. Is the life high, beautiful? Then the influences are inspiring, life-giving. Is it low, devoid of beauty? The influences, then, are disease-laden, death-dealing. The tones of your voice, the attitude of your body, the character of your face, all are determined by the life you live, all in turn influence for better or for worse all who come within your radius. And if, as one of earth's great souls has said, the only way truly to help a man is to make him better, then the tremendous power of merely the life itself.

Why, I know personally a young man of splendid qualities and gifts, who was rapidly on the way of ruin, as the term goes, gradually losing control of himself day after day, self-respect almost gone, already the thought of taking his own life had entered his mind, who was so inspired with the mere presence and bearing of a royal-hearted young man, one who had complete mastery of himself, and therefore a young man of power, that the very sight of him as he went to and fro in his daily work was a power that called his better self to the front again, awakened the God nature within him, so that he again set his face in the direction of the right, the true, the manly; and today there is no grander, stronger, more beautiful soul in all the wide country than he. Yes, there is a powerful influence that resolves itself into a service for all in each individual strong, pure, and noble life, that resolves itself into a service for all.

And have the wonderful possibilities of what may be termed an inner or soul development ever come strongly to your notice? Perhaps not, for as yet only a few have begun to recognize under this name a certain great power that has always existed, a power that has never as yet been fully understood, and so has been called by this term and by that. It is possible so to develop this soul power that, as we stand merely and talk with a person, there goes out from us a silent influence that the person cannot see or hear, but that they feel, and the influences of which they cannot escape; that, as we merely go into a room in which several persons are sitting, there goes out from us a power, a silent influence that all will feel and will be influenced by, even though not a word be spoken, This has been the power of every man, of every woman, of great and lasting influence in the world's history.

It is just beginning to come to us through a few highly illumined souls that this power can be grown; that it rests upon a great natural law that the Author of our being has instituted within us and about us. It is during the coming years that we are to see many wonderful developments along this line; for in this, as in many others, the light is just beginning to break. A few, who are far up on the heights of human development, are just beginning to catch the first few faint flushes of the dawn. Then live to your highest. This of itself will make you of great service to mankind, but without this you never can be. It makes no difference how hard you may try; and know, even so far as your own highest interests are concerned, that the true joy of existence comes from living to one’s highest. This life, and this alone, will bring that which I believe to be one of the greatest characteristics of a truly great individual--humility; and when one says humility, he necessarily implies simplicity, for the two always go hand in hand. The one is born of the other. The proud, the vain, the haughty, those striving for effect, are never counted among the world's greatest personages. The very fact of one's striving for effect of itself indicates that there is not enough in the person to make them really great; while one who really is great never need concern themselves about it, nor do they ever. I can think of no better way for one to attain to humility and simplicity than for one to have their mind off of self in the service of others. Vanity, that most dangerous quality, and especially for young people, is the outcome of one's always regarding self.

Mrs. Henry Ward Beecher once said that, when they lived in the part of Brooklyn known as the Heights, they could always tell when Mr. Beecher was coming in the evening from the voices and the joyous laughter of the children. All the street urchins, as well as the more well-to-do children in the vicinity, knew him, and would often wait for his coming. When they saw him in the distance, they would run and gather around him, get hold of his hands, into those large overcoat pockets for the nuts and the good things he so often filled them with before starting for home, knowing as he did full well what was coming, tug at him to keep him with them as long as they could, he all the time laughing or running as if to get away, never too great--rather let me say, great enough--to join with them in their sports.

That mysterious dignity of a man less great therefore with less of humility and simplicity, with mind always intent upon self and his own standing, would have told him that possibly this might not be just the ‘proper thing’ to do. But even the children, street-urchins as well as those well-to-do, found in this great loving soul a friend. Recall similar incidents in the almost daily life of Abe Lincoln and in the lives of all truly great men. All have that beautiful and ever-powerful characteristic, that simple, child-like nature.

Another most beautiful and valuable feature of this life is its effect upon one's own growth and development. There is a law which says that one cannot do a kind act or a loving service for another without its bringing rich returns to his own life and growth. This is an invariable law. Can I, then, do a kind act or a loving service for a brother or a sister, and all are such to me because children of the same Father, why, I should be glad--doubly glad of the opportunity. If I do it thus out of love, forgetful of self, for all I know it may do me more good than the one I do it for in its influence upon the growing of that rich, beautiful, and happy life it is mine to grow; though the joy and satisfaction resulting from it, the highest, the sweetest, the keenest this life can know, are of themselves abundant reward.

In addition to all this it scarcely ever fails that those who are thus aided by some loving service may be in a position somehow, somewhere, some-when, either directly or indirectly, and at a time when it may be most needed or most highly appreciated, to do in turn a kind service for him who, with never a thought of any possible return, has dealt kindly with them.


    “Cast your bread upon the waters, far and wide your treasures strew,
    Scatter it with willing fingers, shout for joy to see it go!
    You may think it lost forever; but, as sure as God is true,
    In this life and in the other it will yet return to you.”

Have you sorrows or trials that seem very heavy to bear? Then let me tell you that one of the best ways in the world to lighten and sweeten them is to lose yourself in the service of others, in helping to bear and lighten those of a fellow-being whose, perchance, are much more grievous than your own. It is a great law of your being which says you can do this. Try it, and experience the truth for yourself, and know that, when turned in this way, sorrow is the most beautiful soul-refiner of which the world knows, and hence not to be shunned, but to be welcomed and rightly turned.

There comes to my mind a poor widow woman whose life would seem to have nothing in it to make it happy, but, on the other hand cheerless and tiresome, and whose work would have been very hard had it not been for a crippled child she dearly loved and cared for, and who was all the more precious to her on account of its helplessness. Losing herself and forgetting her own hard lot in the care of the little cripple, her whole life was made cheerful and happy, and her work not hard, but easy, because lightened by love and service for another. And this is but one of innumerable cases of this kind. So you may turn your sorrows, you may lighten your burdens, by helping bear the burdens, if not of a crippled child, then of a brother or a sister who in another sense may be crippled, or who may become so but for your timely service. You can find them all about you: never pass one by.

By building upon this principle, the poor may thus live as grandly and as happily as the rich, those in humble and lowly walks of life as grandly and as happily as those in what seem to be more exalted stations. Recognizing the truth, as we certainly must by this time, that one is truly great only so far as this is made the fundamental principle of his life, it becomes evident that the longing for greatness for its and for one's own sake falls away, and none but a diseased mind cares for it; for no sooner is it grasped than, as a bubble, it bursts, because it is not the true, the permanent, but the false, the transient. On the other hand, one who, forgetting self and this kind of greatness, falsely so called, in the service of their fellow-man, by this very fact puts themselves on the right track, the only track for the true, the genuine; and in what degree it will come to them depends entirely upon their adherence to the law.

And do you know the influence of this life in the moulding of the features, that it gives the highest beauty that can dwell there, the beauty that comes from within--the soul beauty, so often found in the paintings of the old masters. True beauty must come, must be grown, from within. That outward veneering, which is so prevalent, can never be even a poor imitation of this type of the true, the genuine. To appreciate fully the truth of this, it is but necessary to look for a moment at that beautiful picture by Sant, the “Soul's Awakening,” a face that grows, more beautiful each time one looks at it, and that one never tires of looking at, and compare with it the fractional parts of apothecary shops we see now and then or so often, to speak more truly on the streets. A face of this higher type carries with it a benediction wherever it goes.

A beautiful little incident came to my notice not long ago. It was a very hot and dusty day. The passengers on the train were weary and tired. The time seemed long and the journey cheerless. A lady with a face that carries a benediction to all who see her entered the car with a little girl, also of that type of beauty that comes from within, and with a voice musical, sweet, and sparkling, such as also comes from this source.

The child, when they were seated, had no sooner spoken a few words before she began to enlist the attention of her fellow-passengers. She began playing peek-a-boo with a staid and dignified old gentleman in the seat behind her. He at first looked at her over his spectacles, then lowered his paper a little, then a little more, and a little more. Finally, he dropped it altogether, and, apparently forgetting himself and his surroundings, became oblivious to everything in the fascinating pleasure he was having with the little girl. The other passengers soon found themselves following his example. All papers and books were dropped. The younger folks gave way to joyous laughter, and all seemed to vie with each other in having the honour of receiving a word or a smile from the little one.

The dust, the heat, the tired, cheerless feelings were all forgotten; and when these two left the car, the little girl waving them goodbye, instinctively, as one person, all the passengers waved to her in return, and two otherwise dignified gentlemen, leaving their rests, passed over to the other side, and looked out of the window to see her as long as they could. Something as an electrical spark seemed to have passed through the car. All were light-hearted and happy now; and the conditions in the car, compared to what they were before these two entered, would rival the work of the stereopticon, so far as completeness of change is concerned. You have seen such faces and have heard such voices. They result from a life the kind we are considering. They are but its outward manifestations, spontaneous as the water from the earth as it bursts forth a natural fountain.

We must not fail also to notice the effect of this life upon one's manners and bearing. True politeness comes from a life founded upon this great principle, and from this alone. This gives the true gentleman--gentle-man - a man gentle, kind, loving, courteous from nature. Such a one can't have anything but true politeness, can't be anything but a gentle-man; for one can't truly be anything but himself. So the one always intent upon and thinking of self cannot be the true gentleman, notwithstanding the artful contrivances and studied efforts to appear so, but which so generally reveal his own shallowness and artificiality, and disgust all with whom he comes in contact.


If you'd live a religion that's noble, That's God-like and true,
A religion the grandest that men or that angels can,
Then live, live the truth of the Brother who taught you,
It's love to God, service and love to the fellow-man.

Social problems are to be among the greatest problems of the generation just moving on to the stage of action. They, above all others will claim the attention of mankind, so they are already claiming it across the waters even as at home. The attitude of the two classes toward each other, or the separation of the classes, will be by far the chief problem of them all. Already it is imperatively demanding a solution. Gradually, as the years have passed, this separation has been going on, but never so rapidly as of late. Each has come to regard the other as an enemy, with no interests in common, but rather that what is for the interests of the one must necessarily be to the detriment of the other.

The great masses of the people, the working classes, those who as much, if not more, than many others ought to be there, are not in our churches today. They already feel that they are not wanted there, and that the Church even is getting to be their enemy. There must be a reason for this, for it is impossible to have an effect without a preceding cause. It is indeed time to waken up to these facts and conditions; for they must be squarely met. A solution is imperatively demanded, and the sooner it comes the better; for if allowed to continue thus, all will come back to be paid for, intensified a thousandfold, to be paid for even by the innocent ones.

Let this great principle of service, helpfulness, love, and self-devotion to the interests of one's fellow-man, be made the fundamental principle of all lives, and see how simplified these great and all-important questions will become. They will almost solve themselves. It is the man all for self, so small and so detestable that he can't get beyond his own selfish interests, that has done more to bring about this state of affairs than all other causes combined. Remove the cause, and then note the results.

For many years it has been a teaching even of political economy that an employer buys his help just as he buys his raw material or any other commodity; and this done, he is in no way responsible for the welfare of those he employs. In fact, the time isn’t so far distant when the employed were herded together as animals, and were treated very much as such. But, thanks be to God, a better and a brighter day is dawning. Even the employer is beginning to see that practical ethics, or true Christianity and business, cannot and must not be divorced; that the man he employs, instead of being a mere animal whose services he buys, is, after all, his fellow-man and his brother, and demands a treatment as such; and that when he fails to recognize this truth, a righteous God steps in, demanding a penalty for its violation.

He is recognizing the fact that whatsoever is for the well-being of the one he employs, that whatever privileges he is enabled to enjoy that will tend to grow and develop his physical, his mental, and his moral life, that will give him an agreeable home and pleasant family relations, that whatever influences tend to elevate him and to make his life more happy, are a direct gain, even from a financial standpoint for himself, by its increasing for him the efficiency of the man’s labour. It is already recognized as a fact that the employer who interests himself in these things, other things being equal, is the most successful. Thus the old and the false are breaking away before the right and the true, as all inevitably must sooner or later; and the divinity of the working man is being more and more recognized.

In the very remote history of the race there was one who, violating a great law, having wronged a brother, asked, “Am I my brother's keeper?” Knowing that he was, he nevertheless deceitfully put the question in this way in his desire, if possible, to avoid the responsibility. Many employers in their selfishness and greed for gain are asked this same question in this same way. They have thought they could thus defeat the sure and eternal laws of a Just Ruler, but have thereby deceived themselves the more. These more than any others have to a great degree brought about the present state of affairs in the industrial and social world. Just as soon as the employer recognizes the falsity of these old teachings and practices, and the fact that he cannot buy his employee's services the same as he buys his raw material, with no further responsibility, but that the two are on vastly different planes; that his employee is his fellow-man and his brother, and that he is his brother's keeper, and will be held responsible as such; that it is to his own highest interests, as well as to the highest interests of those he employs and to society in general, to recognize this; and just as soon as he who is employed fully appreciates his opportunities and makes the highest use of all, and in turn takes an active, personal interest in all that pertains to his employer's welfare, just that soon will a solution of this great question come forth, and no sooner.

It is not so much a question of legislation as of education and right doing, thus a dealing with the individual, and so a prevention and a cure, not merely a suppression and a regulation, which is always sure to fail; for, in a case of right or wrong, no question is ever settled rightly.

The individual dealing with the individual is necessarily at the bottom of all true social progress. There can't be anything worthy the name without it. The truth will at once be recognized by all that the good of the whole depends upon the good of each, and the good of each makes the good of the whole. Attend, then to the individual and the whole will take care of itself. Let each individual work in harmony with every other, and harmony will pervade the whole. The old theory of competition, that in order to have great advancement, great progress, we must have great competition to induce it is as false as it is savage and detrimental in its nature. We are just reaching that point where the larger men and women are beginning to see its falsity. They are recognizing the fact that not competition, but co-operation, reciprocity, is the great, the true power to climb, not by attempting to drag, to keep down one's fellows, but by aiding them, and being in turn aided by them, thus combining, and so multiplying the power of all instead of wasting a large part one against the other.

And grant that a portion do succeed in rising, while the other portion remain in the lower condition, it is of but little value so far as their own peace and welfare are concerned; for they can never be what they would be were all up together. Each is but a part, a member, of the great civil body; and no member, let alone the entire body, can be perfectly well, perfectly at ease, when any other part is in dis-ease. No one part of the community, no one part of the nation, can stand alone: all are dependent, interdependent. This is the uniform teaching of history from the remotest times in the past right through to the present. A most admirable illustration of this fact--if indeed the word ‘admirable’ can be used in connection with a matter so deplorable--was the unparalleled labour trouble we had in our great Western city but three summers ago. The wise man is he who learns from experiences of this terrific nature.

No, not until this all-powerful principle is fully recognized, and is built upon so thoroughly that the brotherhood principle, the principle of oneness, can enter in, and each one recognizes the fact that his own interests and welfare depend upon the interests, the welfare of each, and therefore of all, that each is but a part of the one great whole, and each one stands shoulder to shoulder in the advance forward, can we hope for any true solution of the great social problems before us, for any permanent elevation of the standard in our national life and welfare.

Purchase the complete book:

"What All The World's A-Seeking" by Ralph Waldo Trine

Order in Adobe PDF eBook or printed form for $4.95 (+ printing charge)

or click here to order from Amazon.com for $26.95 (or less)