Character Building & The Law of Reciprocity | Inspirational Podcasts

Podcast Transcript: Welcome to the Inspirational Living podcast, brought to you in part by Book of Zen, makers of wearable inspiration for a better world. Today’s podcast has been edited and adapted from The Rhythm of Life by Charles Brodie Patterson, published in 1915.

IF there is any one question of more importance than another in life, it is certainly that of character building, because character, or the lack of it, makes or unmakes the man and woman.

We have the power within ourselves to feel, to think, and to act — and it is the use or misuse of this power that makes for character or the lack of it. The ideal person is the individual who is thoroughly rounded out, who has used to the full the attributes of soul, the faculties of mind, and the physical senses — and who through their use has developed soul, and mind, and body to their fullest extent.

When we say that a person has a strong character, we mean that they are living life in a strong, true way — that they have strength of mind and purpose, and that they are able to carry both into their daily work. Such an individual commands the respect of their neighbors and co-workers. But the weak, characterless person (the one who is negative in all their thinking and doing) is neither respected nor trusted by those around them.

It is character that counts in life. The person who is independent and self-reliant, who thinks clearly, and who acts from conviction, brings a far greater influence to bear upon life than could any number of weak, negative-minded people.

If character, then, is so necessary to life, it should be a part of wisdom not only to desire it, but to work for it — because character, like everything else, has to be worked out.

None of us in life receives anything that is worth having, save through working for it. But we all know that two people may do equally hard work and one far out-strip the other — both in regards to the quantity and the quality of the work.

Now what constitutes the difference between the two? The answer is that one person is putting greater intelligence into their work, and because of this is getting larger results. A person may be strong physically without being able to accomplish much in the world; a person may be mentally and physically strong, and succeed in accomplishing much more; but the person who is mentally, physically, and SPIRITUALLY strong, will be the one who will do the really great things in life — for when you are developed in all three aspects of your nature, you are thoroughly equipped to do the things that come to you to do.

Let me explain: the spiritual is the inner emotion or feeling, it is the dynamic energy of life; mind is thought and reason, it perceives the form that things should take; and the body or physical organism is the plane of expression belonging to both mind and soul, where thoughts and feelings later take form and are expressed.

As heart and mind and body all work in harmony with each other, we are able to do our complete, our perfect work. Character, then, is developed through the use of all three, and no one can become fully rounded out unless they are functioning on all planes.

This leads us to the concept of reciprocity. Everything in life depends upon the great law of reciprocity, of giving and receiving. We give of our possessions, and through doing this enter into larger possessions. Nature exacts of us no indiscriminate giving, but a wise, orderly, benevolent giving that considers both the object and the end of the giving.

There is a wise way of doing everything, and if that way is known and followed, we get the best results. The body is strengthened and renewed when the mind chooses exercise of a normal, natural kind to strengthen alike all parts of the body. In this way, the health of the body is being worked out, and it is being saved from weakness, pain, or disease.

That which holds good as regards the body, holds good in a larger way concerning the mind. The weak or negative minded person need never hope to develop a strong, vigorous mind, as long as they continue to allow their mind to dwell upon the negative things of life.

If we would bring strength out of our weaknesses, it must come from a continuous effort toward clear, concise, positive thinking. Strength of mind can only come through a concentrated use of the mind. Mental work is as necessary for the strengthening of the mind as physical work is for the body.

The individual who uses their mind each day and hour of their life, in an effort to deal in a true way with everything they may have to do (giving thoughtful consideration to their every act), will have far less reason to regret the things done or left undone than the one who goes ahead blindly without taking thought.

People who fail to use their minds to think and to reason, usually form what might be called biased opinions of almost everything in life; and because of this mental condition they are constantly making mistakes, which interfere not only with their own welfare but with the welfare of others.

It is necessary that each one of us should make a mental effort to see all sides of any given question — for the one who does this, is far better able to judge, not only what is going to be best for themselves, but also what is in the best interest of others.

No one need ever expect to attain any lasting success in life, if such success is the result of someone else’s loss; for with reciprocity, giving and receiving is the real law of living. Character is founded on righteousness — that is to say: feeling, thinking, and acting in the right (in the best) way is the manner in which each one of us forms or develops our own character.

We may profit by accepting the advice of others, but in the end we must do our own thinking. For if anyone is going to see and know life as it is, they must bring their own thought to bear upon it, and not the thought of by-gone ages, not even the thought of those whom a person may regard as better thinkers than themselves.

It is, of course, wise to be thoroughly conversant with the thought of the past, and we must be willing to listen to, and be tolerant of, the thoughts of others, but in the last analysis, we must fall back on our own highest and best thoughts; for only in this way can we hope to strengthen our own minds. We can no more grow mentally strong by proxy than we can grow physically strong by having another do our physical exercises.

Now, we come to the next step in the progress of life, which is more essential than either of the others; and that is the development of our spiritual nature; this again is accomplished through individual work, but work of an order that is more subtle yet more effective.

In working out the physical body, we deal with the physical. It is a work which, while under the direction of the mind, is nevertheless of a thoroughly objective nature. In our mental work, while less objective, we are able to form in mind thought-pictures which in turn deal with the objective phases of life. But when we come to develop our spiritual nature, we have neither the physical, nor the mind’s more refined pictures or ideals.

It is quite as if we are entering a new world when we enter into the spiritual realm of our being; for in this state the old consciousness is left behind, that is, the consciousness of objective life, or the mental consciousness composed of thoughts and ideas that partook of our objective lives.

The new consciousness consists of what we feel; that great world of feeling which has many names for its different states: such as faith, joy, hope, love, and kindness. Now one might say that it is easy to work on the physical or mental plane, but how can one work on a plane where all seems to be so ethereal, so transcendental?

The spiritual plane is where the master artisan comes into being. On the first two planes, everything is largely of a transient nature. The work we do there always has a beginning and an ending. The new consciousness knows nothing of beginning or ending. It is the consciousness of being; it looks neither backward to the things of the past, nor forward to the things of the future; it lives in the eternity of the present.

How can we exercise or develop this consciousness? Through a constant use of feeling — by relating feeling to thought, so that each thought we think is made beautiful because of the melody, color, and rhythm that comes from feeling.

Feeling is the soul of all music; and it can truthfully be said that only as we enter into the everlasting consciousness of love have we entered into the Kingdom of God, and become attuned to the music of the spheres.

Heaven is not dependent upon our environment, but upon the love of rhythm in our own lives — for when the inner melody is established, the outer harmony takes permanent form, not in a hard or set way, but rather in a plastic way that leaves it possible for one to make new and harmonious adjustments, wherever and whenever there exists the necessity for so doing.

Sir Oliver Lodge once said that there are two great facts that the scientific world is absolutely agreed on. The first of these is energy, and the second is motion. Energy is a state of ceaseless motion, but there is a third factor quite as important, and that is, that energy is ever in a state of rhythmic motion, so that the waves produced by sound, color, electricity, and light vibrations are definite rhythmic waves which can be mathematically measured and counted.

Energy, rhythm, and motion pervade the whole universe. They constitute the creative and sustaining principles in life — principles that affect every part of the visible and invisible universe. If law governs the whole, then law must govern the part. If energy in rhythmic motion creates all form, then our own body can no more be exempt from such creation than any other form or forms in the universe.

All proceeds from one Source; all are the results of one Law. We may designate by different names the different degrees of the workings of law, but that in no way changes the law. Universal law and order prevail throughout the universe.

Researchers say that in the last 300 years there has been an increase in pitch, and that the concert pitch of today is higher than it was a hundred years ago, also that we see far more of color than we did a century ago. There is an ever-ascending scale of being, and we are daily and hourly engaged in climbing the heights of being when the inner and outer life are attuned through the rhythm and melody of the inner — and the beauty and harmony of the outer.

It is a wonderful thought that through the aid of the divine music that lives within us, we are trying to give expression to a new song of life. Our own earth in its movement around the sun, in its turning on its axis, in its response to the energy given out from the sun, must be making music, and the very atmosphere in which it moves must have an octave of music all its own — which, yet, may be only one of the notes in the grand harmonies of creation.

So our body, which epitomizes, in a small way, the planet, may be an octave of music which in turn forms a note in the harmonies of humanity.

The effect of music upon character-building and the calling out of that which is highest and best in us, is perhaps greater and better than anything else in life, because it speaks directly to the heart, awakening the best impulses, thoughts, and actions.

Music is filled with the optimism of the Spirit. Not only does it bring to us joy and happiness in our every-day living, but it can be used to unfold the mysteries, the wonder and beauty of another — a new world of consciousness, and of love.

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