29 Dec Spirituality & The Art of Living | New Thought Podcasts
New Thought Podcast Transcript: Welcome to the Inspirational Living podcast, creators of the new hardcover book, Evergreen: 50 Inspirational Life Lessons. Get motivated to begin your new year with a bright new attitude. Learn more at InspirationalLifeLessons.com. Today’s podcast has been edited and adapted from the book Message of New Thought by Abel Allen, published in 1914.
To know the art of living, we must know much of Nature. Until we catch its deeper meanings, until it kindles in us a sense of beauty, of order, of proportion and sublimity, the valuable ideals of life have evaded us. When we can recognize an intelligence behind the rose, possessing a spirit of sense and beauty; when we can discern the symmetry and proportion of the tree, the grandeur of the landscape, the splendor of the sunset, as the expression and handiwork of a divine intelligence, we recognize a kinship with the grass blade and flower and feel the touch of the universal soul.
A kinder impulse stirs our nature; the grosser things of life fade away; the finer instincts rule and govern our lives. Without these conceptions, how commonplace is life, how little Nature yields! We live in the midst of beauty and see it not; we are encompassed by music and hear it not. Life’s melodies are wasted on the unheeding soul. “See deep enough,” says Thomas Carlyle, “and you see musically; the heart of Nature being everywhere music.” We miss the value of Nature’s ideals; we reject her best gifts to humanity; we spurn her richest bounties; we enjoy only the common things of life.
Of all the enslavements, the most debasing is a slavery to dogmas, creeds, and institutions. After that, the most oppressive servitude is the tyranny of things, and a great many of us voluntarily bend our necks to its galling yoke. Things are the masters of the majority; things (not mind, not soul) are the controlling factors in life. The love of things overshadows the love of humanity.
We carry our gifts to the shrine of things. We bestow our care, our patience, and industry on things. Things monopolize thought; they dominate life. Things do have their value, but also their limitations. Their use and value must not be unduly minimized, neither must they be overvalued. Things are obedient servants, but harsh task-masters. They are good or bad according as they serve or as they master.
Beautiful things awaken beauty in the soul when it is attuned to beauty. When not so attuned, they awaken rather the feelings of vanity and display.
What we call “being civilized” is actually, in part, being a barbarian. We instinctively crave display; we assume the superior attitude; we love to dazzle with gaudy splendor. For want of riches within, we worship riches without. Lacking charms of soul, we love to charm with external splendor. We imitate royalty that employs pomp and circumstance to dazzle the multitude. We parade apparel and jewels for the same vulgar effect.
So many of us have not learned that externals cannot bring permanent satisfaction and content, that they are only for an hour and then pass away before the higher demands of the soul. When we have found the peace and serenity that come from within, that externals cannot give, then we have caught a glimpse of the art of living. When we have learned to be alone, but not lonely, isolated but not alone, to be content without luxury, tranquil in adversity, hopeful in defeat, then we have become master over things and know something of the art of living.
Many make possessions the chief purpose in life and mistakenly believe that these furnish the real basis of living. It is true that wealth gives opportunities, but how often does it blight the finer instincts and impulses of the soul. Gold sometimes develops a metallic quality in the soul, which rings only with the cold, unfeeling sound of the metal.
Some people use the dollar as the yardstick to measure life’s values. They do not discover the finer sensibilities or the real friendships of life. The dollar friendship vibrates only to the selfish touch. What do the worshipers of Midas know of the finer impulses of the soul, of the comradeship and riches of culture, of the joy of giving, of the peace of the tranquil soul? The soul is bankrupt in the presence of riches. The glitter of conventionality is as cold as the Arctic stream.
Money alone does not pay returns on life. The real dividends on life are love, service, friendship; the good, the true, the beautiful. These bring that inner peace to the soul, that surpasseth understanding and expression.
Before we discover the true art of living or the secret of the essential life, we must learn to exercise a fine judgment and tolerance in adjusting and tranquilizing the contingencies of life. Until we are able to judge others with the same consideration and judicial fairness that we employ in judging ourselves, we lack the essential qualities of a well-developed life. Until then we have not learned the secret of avoiding the conflicts and antagonisms of life.
We must be able to view life’s facts from another’s standpoint. We must judge others and ourselves by the same rules and standards. This is not an easy task. It requires a fine judicial temperament to submerge self to the point where the scales of justice will evenly balance between ourselves and another. It requires a fine discipline to develop these qualities to that state of perfection.
With most of us, self outweighs all other considerations in pronouncing the judgments of life. But in the last analysis, the standard of even justice is the only rule to employ in dealing with our fellow citizens. Unless we adopt it, we shall in time disown our own judgments.
You may say it is impossible to overcome the lingering relic of selfishness in us, so that we can deal as justly with our neighbors as ourselves. But why should that be? The difficulty simply lies in our inability to view situations from the same angle as others do. We criticize others for not observing the square deal; yet most of us merit the same censure. It is the little person in life who can see only their own rights. It is only the big person who can say, “I am wrong.”
The difficulties of life arise largely out of trifles. The little rift widens into a gulf that might have been bridged over with a word or a smile. The sad tragedies of domestic life usually begin with the trivial. We are too proud to retreat (too stubborn to yield) and so the breaches of life widen. A little word of kindness, a little look of love, might have healed them all. How useless and uncalled for are the usual tragedies of life!
One of life’s most valuable secrets is to avoid conflicts and contentions. Prevention, in troubles as in disease, is always the best remedy. Prevention is more effective and acts more speedily than cures. Too often we condemn without knowing the facts. We view situations from one angle only. Our judgments are based on imperfect knowledge. How little we know of the circumstances and environments that influence another’s acts.
We cannot always see or understand the silent forces that shape situations and events. Yet we are always quick to judge. How much better to exercise a little charity, a little patience, and a little consideration, in our travels along the paths of life. A little tolerance would soothe and tranquilize the passions of humanity, the streams of life would run a little more smoothly, and the world would move a little farther toward the goal of peace.
Again and again, after all our wanderings through the fields of philosophy, we come back to that wonderful bit of wisdom, spoken 20 centuries ago, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” How little do we reckon with this great truth in the strifes and tragedies of life. In these few words are a universal truth. We forget that if we judge, we shall be judged.
If we send out judgements, we invite judgements. If we judge harshly, we are judged harshly; we solicit what we send. This law is but an exemplification of the law of giving. We receive what we give, nothing more. It is the law of attraction. We attract that which we send; like attracts like. Until we employ this philosophy in meeting the situations of life, in adjusting its relationships, we are still strangers to the art of living and cannot feel the joys and delights of the life essential.
A good memory is essential to a well-rounded life. Without it we cannot cultivate and practice that fine sense of gratitude that good breeding and true culture require. Memory should retain impressions of the pleasant, worthy, and agreeable events of life. It should also be trained to forget those things that bring with them a train of sad and disagreeable reminiscences.
Some things in life are too sacred to forget — the memories of childhood, of family, of friends, the kindnesses and pleasantries of life. Such memories are constructive and keep alive the finer instincts of the soul. Likewise the memories of the disagreeable experiences of life are destructive and disturb the peace and serenity of the soul.
We should cultivate the art of forgetting, as well as the art of remembering. Discrimination is necessary in training the forces and powers of memory. Forgetting the unpleasant and disagreeable incidents of life, the memories of wrongs and injuries, and retaining in their place only the agreeable and pleasant, is one of the valuable arts of life.
Forgetting and remembering: the one is as fine an art as the other. A good memory is a fine forgetting. It is the ability to leave off the useless for the useful, the sad for the pleasant, hatred for love, the deformed for the beautiful. It is planting in the subconscious a rose instead of a thistle, a seed of kindness instead of hatred, which in due time will blossom forth in the full radiance of their beauty — in the personality, life, and character of the individual.
We cannot live a well-rounded life until we are able to eliminate and banish fears, anxieties, worries, and frettings from our minds. These negatives do not add any strength or value to life, but on the contrary undermine and sap the energies and potencies of mind. They impair the judgement and unfit it for its highest duties and functions. They introduce confusion and disturbances into the mind, when calmness and strength are the primal qualities necessary for the solution of our problems.
When we live in an atmosphere of serenity and calmness, we gain poise and confidence to carry with us into our daily tasks; we give our faculties opportunity to act and bring to the solution of life’s problems the highest degree of efficiency.
We live in the great present, the eternal now, the grandest epoch in all the ages. Our ideals must be great, to harmonize with the great present. We cannot live the full life by taking our standards from the past. We must feel the thrill of the present, to develop the best within us.
As this is the age of progress, an age of development, our lives must be kindled by the same spirit, to meet life’s demands and requirements. Our present age gives much and requires much. It imposes a great responsibility on every actor in life’s drama. If we act well our part, we must accept the responsibilities imposed, in whatever walk of life — for it is our responsibilities that encourage us to develop the strength, courage, and wisdom to solve life’s problems properly.
Let us pick up these threads of philosophy and weave them into the web and wool of the fabric of life. Let us realize that the constructive is the only life; that to create is a joy; that to build is life’s purpose and humanity’s function.
Let us each remember that the latent possibilities of a divine soul are inherent within us, slumbering perhaps, but only waiting to be called into development and expression.
Let us remember that we can create, that we can build, that we can be a positive force in the world, that we can lift the burden from some struggling life, that we can radiate joy and kindness, gratitude and love from our lives, that we can leave the world a little brighter and humankind a little better than we found it.
Let us not forget that we hear the sweet symphonies of life only as we listen to the voice of our own soul; that we walk in the paths of peace only as we are illumined by the light within; that we see the facts of life aright only as we trust our own inner vision; that these are the true pilots to guide us safely over the turbulent seas of life.
Let us build to these ideals and the world will move forward, some life will be made a little happier, some pathway will be strewn with roses, and we shall feel the glow of a heart at peace with itself.
Finally, face the end with equanimity and unfaltering step, and as you gaze across the borderland to the infinite paths that stretch out before you, inviting you to higher achievement, to greater accomplishment, you will feel the conscious joy of a life well spent and that you have mastered the art of living.
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