Sunrise Magazine Online

Greater Than We Seem

By Katherine Tingley

A promise of eternal progress is stamped upon all human hearts; everything in Nature proclaims it. Why should we not have the same trust in our essential divinity that the flowers have in the beneficence of the sun?

To what purpose are the ideals we cherish unspoken, the secret, noble, and unfulfilled aspirations; the questions we put to life? To what end are the agonies and despairs; the unrest and intense longing to be so much more than we can ever attain to being, now, before death takes us? Were they born in a day, these thoughts of ours that stir us sometimes almost to the point of revelation? Were they fashioned of the experience we have gathered in the few years since our bodies were born?

Their word to us is always that we are greater than we seem; that there are no limits to the power of the Soul; that though our knowledge of this beautiful universe will go on increasingly forever and ever, we shall never attain a dead finality of understanding. We have all eternity in which to work out the magnificence of the Law, and there is no break in the everlasting continuity. One may falter today and fail, but tomorrow brings another chance; for do we not live many lives, again and again the same in essence though different in aspect — we Immortal Beings, natives of Eternity made subject here to mortality and time?

Life is not innately cruel; for there can be no injustice in the ultimate plan. Experience and pain are our teachers, reminding us constantly by the very difficulties we have to overcome of the majestic mercy of the Law. Life exists only for service: we live in order that we may serve. If man can hold to that idea in the hour of trouble, and accept his difficulties graciously, he will not think of them as pangs and burdens to be endured, but as beautiful fires to purify and set free.

Not that one should be humble in the ordinary sense. We should hold our heads high; there is altogether too much of the other thing. We are quite too submissive to our own weaknesses. If you have strived with your whole soul and with a trust impossible to break, and still the thought is forced upon you that your position has not changed nor your stumbling-block been removed; if you find yourself compelled to say, "Though I have lifted myself up toward my ideals, and approached the Divine within me daily, I am not set free" — take courage yet again; it is the time to do so. The thing you have struggled against in vain may become a blessing. It may be the very saving power in your life — holding you firm in the place where alone you could learn the lesson you most need to learn.

Thus, though our minds have been under serious shadows, adversity should but leave us with the solution of our problems, teaching us the secret of readjusting our lives — because it is the aspirations of our own souls that kindle the fires in which we are tried. We may in time come to know a glory in suffering, disappointment, and heartache, the sublime comfort of the change called death.

If the errors of the past did not produce their results that we might learn from them the lessons they are to teach; if life were without struggle, work, and effort, we should be things on the face of the earth, and not souls as we are. Only so can we find the way to live the real life, which is altogether cheerful, optimistic, radiant with generous affection: the life that sees no limit to its vistas in birth or death.

We are not brought into existence by chance, nor thrown up into earth-life like wreckage cast along the shore; but are here for infinitely noble purposes. All humanity should know its heritage, constantly and constantly striving to become and overcome, yet never depending on forces outside of self. Rising in the morning, we should be conscious of the Divinity within; retiring at night, we should be enfolded in the protection of the Law. For none of us is overlooked, left out, or forgotten in this scheme of life, of whose sweeping beneficence each is a part. In all situations from the most trivial to the most important, in all temptations from the smallest to the largest, a man can find in his own reflections that which will convince him that he is more than he seems — a knowledge that leads not to egoism or self-importance, but to great simplicity, impersonality, and balance. For Man is the Soul, and there is no wisdom so divine that he cannot attain it.

The soul can rest on nothing this side of infinity: it loses its vitality if it seeks to do so. All eternity awaits it. How should it be satisfied with the half-life we live and the many imperfections that mar us? The nature of the soul is to be winging its flight forever towards the boundless; to be working, hoping, and conquering.

We advance from age to age and from heights to greater heights forever. Understanding this, the old become young again in spirit, and the young look out on the world with a new joy.

The days are long and the path is wide: Go forward, then, with far-seeing hope and trust.

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We are all acquainted with the individual who has a vast knowledge of the many different philosophies and religions of the world, yet has not attained that inner tranquillity that he so avidly sought. Some have even gone to Tibet to sit on a mountain peak and breathe rarefied air, only to come home broken in mind and body. Like Sir Launfal in his long, arduous search for the Holy Grail, all must find that Truth is as near to them as their own souls. When we seek to work in harmonious cooperation with nature, instead of trying to overcome it; when we substitute spiritual conviction, love and faith for indifference, hate, and fear; when we work together for the welfare of the human race rather than for our selfish interests alone; when we learn to accept that spirit within as our partner on life's journey — when we do these things, then we will be on our way to discovering not only truth, but that inner peace that passeth all understanding. — M. Harold Burke