Who is the Doer? There is a world of conjecture in this question, especially when the results of action bring acclaim or satisfaction. Our answer is dependent, perhaps, on our way of looking at things — through which end of the telescope. If we study the heavens and try to understand them from our earth-life experience, our comprehension is going to be correspondingly limited. If, however, we try to raise our consciousness so that in some measure, even though dimly, we glimpse the majesty of those starry spaces, our whole being will expand; and with this, in time, will come real understanding.
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I read a poem and it brought joy to my heart. Who wrote the poem? I do not know, but for the space of time that the poet's mind reflected the spirit of joy, genius was there.
I stood before a masterpiece in color: a landscape touched by sunlight, but swept here and there by lazy cloud-shadows. I, myself, wandered in that countryside. I learned what depth of beauty lay hidden in its hills; the many flowers that could be gathered from its meadows. Who painted the picture? I do not remember, but there was magic in the brush that touched paint to canvas.
"Cold" marble held me spellbound. But it was cold only to the touch, for life itself glowed within that sculptured form. What vision had the sculptor seen that he could tell it thus in stone? His name? Who knows — and yet he too brought gifts from heaven!
I listened to a symphony and knew in my own soul the heart-yearnings of the composer. There was anguish in that music, and then came final triumph and — peace. Who wrote this symphony? Does it matter?
Did the poet think the spirit of those joyous lines was his creation? Were the painter and the sculptor insensible of the source from whence their inspiration came? And did the musician suppose that his power to touch the hearts of men came from himself alone? Each may have had a few such moments of blindness; but when the fire of inspiration burned, each knew how insignificant a part he played, and saw his genius as a candle-flame lighted at some Cosmic altar-fire.
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Then, do we never achieve greatness by our efforts and in our own right?
Greatness lies not in the things accomplished, nor in him who achieves, except as he make himself a better instrument to express those "great ideas" which are the common heritage of all men.
"Colorless nonentity," you say. That can happen only when, for one reason or another, we fail to make ourselves fit channels for the stream of inspiration.
We may thrill with a stimulating feeling of self-realization when we think of ourselves as the Doer in some worth-while activity; but are we actually accomplishing as much in the role of minor deity, with a limited stream of inspiration, as we could if we recognized ourselves as transmitters of an infinite source of illumination? Once get the vastness of the idea and all that it implies, and the thought of helping to channel that energy is going to become more and more insistent.
Was it complete understanding of this urge that the dewdrop experienced when it slipped into the shining sea?