That men and women are not greater than they are, and that more is not accomplished in the grand advancement of the human race, is very largely because real knowledge is lacking. The differences among men are so marked all over the world that there is continual warfare going on, and at any time we may be overwhelmed with the outer aspects of war. The brutal side is in control when any man is ready to kill his brothers. War is savagery, and because it is accepted by the so-called civilized world, this is no proof that it has the favor of God.
It is dreadful to think of the millions that are spent in preparation for war, and how little is done to keep our boys and girls from going to dope for the want of that quality of education that would give them a balance of all the faculties — physical, mental, moral, and spiritual. Mothers and fathers are bringing their children up with a fear of the possibilities of what may happen to those children in the wrong direction, and yet day by day and year by year they seem to be growing less competent to ward off the catastrophe. What promise or surety has a mother of anything that is permanent in this world for her children so long as human beings will encourage warfare? Yet man can attain perfection. If this is true and feasible, then we have the possibility of something new happening for all.
The real man is not some special individual of unusual and remarkable gifts who will lead us to the heights. The real man is he who is conscious of his own essential divinity and acts accordingly. This divinity is a power that shows to every man the god in himself, that brings home to the minds of men and women the fact that, being immortal souls and parts of the great scheme of eternal life, they have sacred duties to perform. So instead of expecting the real man to come from some unexpected quarter, heralded by the angels, let us look for him even in our midst, wherever we may be, because it is possible for any man to have the knowledge of his own essential divinity. Once he has that, he has a key that opens up his whole nature. It carries him out into such an atmosphere and realm of thought, into such a breadth of vision, that he no longer accepts the limitations that were his yesterday.
This morning I looked out over the blue Pacific, saw its beauty, felt the touch of its wonderful appeal, and I asked myself, what does man get out of life? Everything is so imperfect, so uncertain at the present time. People find themselves disappointed not only in themselves, but in their nearest friends — sometimes it is a shock. All over the world we see degradation, dissipation, and the deathly forces that are at work upon the youth right at hand. For proof of this all one has to do is to read the daily papers or walk along the street and make ordinary observation of those who pass him. Is not this something to think of?
Once man becomes conscious of his own essential divinity, that he is a part of the eternal scheme of life, and holds to this state of consciousness in faith and absolute confidence, he opens up his whole nature and finds a revelation within himself. Where he was weak, he becomes strong; where he was ignorant, he acquires knowledge; where he had the limited idea of one life, he has the conception of many lives, and so on. He is in himself an epitome of life. All the best books in the world cannot give to man the knowledge that he has within himself, right within his own heart.
No matter how disappointed or discouraged we may be, let us remember that we all belong to deity's great family. Let us accept the fact that there is not a moment's time to be spent, then, in the question: Is this right or wrong? The real man knows what is right and wrong. He is inspired, he is affected to such a degree that if you could look into the inner part of his being, you would find the very atoms of his blood going through changes. The whole constitution of his life is changing, so that he is no longer the same man he was yesterday. He is ready to accept anything and everything that is right, that he may live the life, that he may become, that he may win the victory and be the living example for all men.
The beautiful part of it is that one strives then for all humanity. He has not to know all humanity, nor to be recognized by all humanity. But if he is living to serve humanity, he is writing down in the very atmosphere in which he lives the foundation and basic thoughts that every man should have: that man is his own redeemer and that he either blesses or curses his own life, according to his choice, because man has all choice.
Man lacks in knowledge in many ways because he has had only faith, but not until he reaches a certain point of knowledge can he avoid the extreme, imaginary, and foolish ideas everywhere current today. Such a man will not be flooded with the spirit of the age — for this is not a desirable age. But what one man can be, all men can be. There is no need of waiting until tomorrow to begin, nor of depending upon a so-called new-coming Messiah. We are waiting only for each man to find the Christos-spirit in himself, by himself, in the silence of his own heart, in the inner chamber of his own life.
Look at the youth of today: a few years ago, they were little innocent children. Look at them today as you see them on the street — these exemplify the facts that we have to meet. We do not have to go anywhere else to see them: we can go even into our own towns and see the devastation, and the degradation, and the awful pressure that is brought upon the youth particularly, because of the lack of that inner knowledge which young and old should possess.
If we wish to bring humanity to something new and better, let us accentuate more than ever the idea of man's essential divinity. Let me take as an example a man whose life has not been flooded with the influences of the age, who has risen above them and is standing out conscious of these things that I have told you about. The very fact that he is aspiring is a wonderful thing. But we can aspire and aspire, and if we do not act it is of little use. But if a man takes up every duty as conscientiously as he would if he were to die tomorrow and be brought to the judgment seat, how different life would be.
But the real man that I speak of has the courage of his convictions. Where different attributes of his nature were weakened or enervated or negative, they become positive and strong through the application of the human mind to the realization that man is essentially divine and, being essentially divine, that he has potent inner dualities, which we seem not to know much about. But man can be eternally seeking them, eternally aspiring, eternally advancing. And if he is, the records are being imprinted continually in his own inner nature.
These records are not imprinted by telling him and assuring him of his growth and praising him. But he realizes that he has begun to think in a new way; that most of the thinking he did before was just surface-thinking. He never took time to think deeply into his own nature; he never knew anything about his higher states of consciousness; he never applied his mind to the possibility that there are more worlds than one, that there are thousands and millions of worlds, and countless ages before us and behind us. He is no longer satisfied with merely mental activity: he goes above it. He pushes on in his investigation, to strengthen his life, to purify it, to beautify it, and to perfect it.
When he has this consciousness of something divine in him, something he cannot go away from, it is so absolutely fascinating that he commences to train every part of his nature. A revelation comes to him — not in the sense that many might imagine, but it is a conscious power. He reaches another state of consciousness. When he reaches this state, he is likely at first to be confused, to doubt because he has not yet reached the full state or the better state, which everyone can reach in this one life. Not until he reaches the third degree of thinking can the confusion and doubts vanish.
How easy it is to compare this inner development with the study of music. When you started to learn your notes, did you ever dream for a good long while that you could do anything more than run up and down the scales and play a few simple pieces? You did not expect to find yourself coming out before the public as known musicians; and it is the same with all classes of men who work in that way. They work on one line.
But the real man works on all lines. First he makes his physical body a fitting house for his spiritual soul — the immortal man. He keeps himself pure and clean and strong, not only in the outward sense, but he keeps his inner life so as well. Then he realizes that for thousands of years men's minds have been weighed down with teachings that are impossible to accept in the light of reason. He realizes further that he has not heretofore reasoned deeply about them; he has let others do his reasoning for him. He passes through this and reaches another state of consciousness, where the higher soul speaks, where the immortal man speaks. He receives the light of the living power that is in each of us, from the smallest to the greatest, from the weakest to the strongest — the power of the inner divinity of man. This will carry us through the ages and change the whole aspect of life. It will take man right to the point of understanding nature.
How much do we know about nature? How much do we know of what happened to our children before they were born — of the prenatal conditions and all that preceded? We cannot know much because we are hemmed in and psychologized by the influence of the age, by the teachings of the past that have held us. The minds of men have fashioned our lives, the minds of men have fashioned the system of living, while it is our own souls that wish to speak. It is our own souls that are ready to proclaim to us these great truths, while we may be living away from the world, unrecognized by many. But the growth, the ascent, is taking place. And if one can do it, all can do it.
If a man can astonish the world with the extraordinary, seemingly phenomenal results of his achievements in music, in art, in invention, and so forth, we call him great. But great as he is, how small he is in comparison with the man who has discovered within himself that sweeping, rushing, pulsating, ever-living power of his own divine soul. You cannot move away from it. It will hold you forever. Your eyes may become dim in time, and your hair grow gray, and your body look tired and worn, but the soul is alive. There is no aloneness any more: there is the realization of the higher state of consciousness, the consciousness of the companionship of the gods, so to speak.
I have never had any children of my own, but I have seen very beautiful children: I have looked into the eyes of a little innocent child, and at such times I have felt that if I could have been entirely true to myself in other lives, and if I had had even the knowledge that I have now, that child could, without a word, without a sermon, but just by its presence and in its eyes or its manners, reveal to me many of the secrets of life.
I believe many of these children come prepared to give us our life's message, but we do not hear them. Instead we commence to train them just as grandfather or great-grandfather did, according to a certain system. We do not give them any chances at all. And so they grow up, and then we blame them afterwards when they are all out of tune, when things go wrong. After a while some of them may be so far off the track that they go to prison, and a few of them are hanged. Isn't it pitiful? They are not wholly to blame. We cannot blame anybody or anything except ourselves. And even in doing this, we should not bring ourselves to embarrassment, but rather should we feel the importance of reaching the light, of pushing our way along the path until we reach the heights and know the truth and become! Real life is joy, even here on this earth. If you do not find the joy of life, that is your own fault.
Have some conception of the nature of a real man or a real woman! It is not so far away from anyone, if those who have aspirations can try to reach the point of believing in themselves, ignoring all the old conceptions of fear and dread of punishment, of hell and death, and look upon them in another way. Consider death as the most divine phase of life. This brings home to you something that nothing else can. Those who are tired and think, perhaps, they are nearing the end of life, let them realize that theirs is a glorious prospect. Death is wonderful! When the old coat — the body that we have had to wear in order to keep ourselves together in our mortal life — is about to be changed, do not believe that the great, eternal source of light and life is going to give you less privileges than just everyday nature has. Even the trees reincarnate, so to speak.
So do not limit yourself in your thought — drive out of your minds this picture of a life of only seventy-seven years, and then your hells and your eternal punishment and your revengeful God. See all eternity before you for the completion of your life. Find new hope and new courage, for life is joy, the real man is possible, and wonderful changes in human nature can happen when men are ready. Everything is ready; but alas! we are not.