READ AND REFLECT.
"WHATEVER is worth doing is worth doing well;"—an age-worn saying but one which cannot be rung too often on human ears. We are mostly selfish—and all blame to us!—and this because the Light of the Lord within us is so bedimmed by the darkness of the lower nature.
Our deeds are accomplished best when we put heart in them; when we see some gain accruing to us. Need I prove this?
What is the Central pivot we turn upon? Attraction;—and its opposite, Repulsion. We take an interest in certain things. The former gives us a touch of pleasure, the latter causes pain. Both act diametrically; and the will, unable to assert itself, is unable to draw to itself the happiness-giving objects. Pain racks the soul.
The aim of philosophy is to put an end to pain. It does not bring down upon us the gloom of despair, but the sunshine of Cheerfulness. Applying this to our actions we see how philosophy, in the positive sense, is a true helper. It hands us a weapon which cuts through difficulties. The weapon is Wisdom.
By Wisdom I mean a light which is self-luminous. Man has an infinite field of Consciousness. This sphere, as it widens out, realises for us all that we want rightly. Our actions become linked together symmetrically and at the end of the chain of wise activity is the desired object.
It is hence wise to acquire wisdom. How to do it? By unfolding the consciousness. How to unfold? Well, there are many methods, most difficult; but I am going to give you a very easy one, applying which, success is as sure as that morning follows night.
In the ordinary course of things we walk at a snail's pace, and progress is woefully slow. But we can quicken the pace and climb swiftly by taking ourselves in hand, by training the mind.
The mind is a queer storehouse. The school-boy bakes his brain on a dry course of lessons daily. Why? To train the mind. That is education: Controlling the well-nigh uncontrollable: the ever-moving, ever-vibrating mind.
We read a good deal and all to no purpose. Dry learning never brings peace of mind. It never gives control over the mind. It never develops the will, nor does it unfold the consciousness. It simply leads to brain-fag; mental cramp.
Diffusion of thoughts leads to confusion of results. Now suppose the brain to be a road filled with mud. A carriage rolls down the road. The wheels have left a deep, straight track right along the road. Another
carriage passes on and deepens the track. It is exactly so with the brain. One thought passes through it and a track is made through the grey matter. The intensity of the thought will determine the depth of the track.
As we think, nerve-tracks are created and the repetition of the same thought deepens that nerve-track. New sets of atoms start into activity. Brain-cells are multiplied, and fresh layers of matter cover up these tracks. A similar thought gives them a blow and they are shaken up, as it were, into new life.
Reading conveys suggestions to the brain and induces certain trains of thought. The human will, if it presses a thought with vigor, increases in force and mental electricity is thus generated. This is "thought-force" in a nutshell.
Now far greater pressure is exerted if we think by ourselves. The fine nerves of the brain put themselves in a state of tension, more life flows into them, and, as this goes on, the inner powers of consciousness, of which the brain is only an instrument, are called forth from their potential into an active, vigorous condition.
We should read only those books which yield us fresh strong thoughts, in a line with our own aims and aspirations in life. People take up a book and start reading page after page with the speed of an express train. The mind is in a state of utter confusion and but faint impressions are being made. This is most foolish. Haste makes waste, remember!
If these thoughts are clean, pure, uplifting, stimulating, and instructive in nature, we should pause upon them and suck all the life out of them.
Let a student sit down to read. Let him read a sentence slowly; then let him try to grasp the thought, and think it over intently. One thought suggests other thoughts. Thus let him think; stretch his imagination in connection with that thought as far as possible, and drop it only when he has found a clear-cut, distinct conclusion. Let him thus continue for fifteen teen minutes. He will possibly feel quite tired at the end. But as he continues the practice of deliberate thinking, he will feel a new assurance of power awakening in his mind. "Read for five minutes; think for ten"—there you have the whole secret.
The above practice is very easy, yet most valuable. It will expand your brain and unfold your Higher Consciousness.
The fact is there is too little manhood in men. Earnestness of the right sort is conspicuous by its absence. Such things as spiritual Unfoldment—the conquest of self, are striven after by but few men. Hence when they resolve upon achieving these, the initial difficulties quench their ardour.
First of all we must idealise these Higher Teachings, if we have not done so in the past. We must love them as the only things worthy of achievement. It is not the passion of selfish growth that should grip us, but the
clear, cheerful atmosphere of purity that should be our guide.
Then when the thoughts of mind are strung up to action we should find nothing difficult of achievement.
Come day, go day, we must stick to our resolve like grim death. Nothing can crush the spirit, when it has learned to recognise itself.
Hence let us cherish, nourish, and embellish our Higher Nature by taking upon our shoulder a little of the heavy Karma of the world. Let us do all that we can for our growth, but let us remember that selfishness when it develops is "like a serpent that warms to life by the heat of our hands." Do not then nurse this viper in your bosom. Be as helpful as you can.