Who of us can say: I am strong, I am ready? We sometimes think we have strength and are ready for more power. Then all at once we find ourselves down, and have but to be thankful for not having been given more power, because surely we should abuse it and work mischief. How easy it would be to be strong if some messenger would come and tell us: Now be careful and hold fast, your trial is to begin, and if you stand it you will be accepted. But lo! That would be like an examination of a university student, who, after passing his examination, soon forgets most of what he has learned. Such a forgetting is not admissible in real development, and therefore we are never told to prepare for a trial, but must prove continually ready. Trials come when we are least aware of them, and only when they are over do we begin to see their meaning. Then only we conceive of the wise ruling hand that held back powers which would have been our ruin.
Strength means capacity of resistance. The stronger a bridge the more it can carry; we are that much stronger the more misery we can bear.
The molecules of steam are stronger according as they are more or less squeezed together or expanded by heat. The strength of our globe is its power of keeping together under the action of accumulated force whereby it whirls about in space. If at a single moment our globe could not resist, it would be shattered to pieces. With us exactly the same; we must be so strong as to resist at every moment and not at some moments, continually and not at some examination time prepared beforehand. We need not trouble ourselves about trials and impose such or such little torments on us like an Indian fakir, but we must be ready to resist whenever trials come to us. They are sure to come in their regular order without ourselves conjuring them up — our Karma will take care of that.
The beast is always ready to be beastly, and so long as we identify ourselves with the beast, we are it. It is only when we take a higher standpoint, above the beast, and tell him: No, I will not let you! that we have strength. But it is of no use to be the beast and try not to be beastly; this is unnatural. Thus it all depends where we place ourselves, and thus it depends entirely on ourselves and on no other power in the universe.
We have only to go there where strength is and take it and use it, and not try to gain it where there is none. We need strength on the physical, the moral and the intellectual planes before we can attain to spiritual power. Strength on the physical plane means endurance of physical pain and resistance to the senses, when they are stirred up by Kama. (1) Strength on the moral plane means to be able to support apparent injustice, uncongenial surroundings and direct kamic attacks before the senses are reached. By strength on the intellectual plane is meant the doing of one's own thinking and the turning off of uncongenial thought waves from without. The strength to do all this resides, as I said before, on the spiritual plane, whereto we must strive if we want to become our own master physically, morally and intellectually. This tendency alone will give us strength and will lead ultimately to spiritual power, which may then manifest itself on the three planes mentioned. Thus becomes evident the utter foolishness of some people who wish for power before they have strength, as the former without the latter is an impossibility and can neither be gained nor conferred.
Some people think that having done all that seems to them necessary, why do they not make more progress. This lack of progress is a sure sign that they are not strong enough and may fail at some new trial. Thus they had better be on their guard and keep ready for whatever may come to them. Think of even such a high being as Gautama, the Buddha, and of the severe trials he had to pass, before he became the channel through which the highest truths flowed for the benefit of millions of men.
Our strength depends on our will, and the time to gain it depends on our past Karma, of which more or less is drawn upon us in a given time, as we will it. The will cannot modify our Karma, but it can call up the effects of past deeds, and thoughts to work on us in less time. The path is surely one of sorrow, but by patiently enduring, our strength increases, and at no time have we to carry more then we can bear.
1. Kama, the passional nature. (return to text)
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