07 Sep The Power of Sincerity & Authenticity
Podcast Transcript: Welcome to the Inspirational Living podcast. Coming up this weekend on Our Sunday Talks we’ll be discussing Spirituality & The Creative Mind, as viewed in the writings of Ernest Holmes, a fascinating figure from the New Thought school which flourished during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. To learn how you can gain access to our Sunday series, dedicated to spiritual topics, please visit LivingHour.org/Sunday.
Now, on to today’s reading, which was edited and adapted from The Eight Pillars of Prosperity, by James Allen, published in 1911.
Human society is held together by its sincerity. A universal falseness would beget a universal mistrust, which in turn would bring about a universal separation, if not destruction. Life is made sane, wholesome, and happy, by our deep rooted belief in one another.
It is easy for the insincere to imagine that everybody is like themselves, and to speak of the “rottenness of society.” People who cannot see anything good in the constitution of human society, should overhaul themselves. Their trouble is near home. They call good, evil. They have dwelt cynically and peevishly on evil till they cannot see good, and everything and everybody appears evil.
“Society is rotten from top to bottom”, I heard a man say recently; and he asked me if I did not think so too. I replied that I should be sorry to think so; that while society had many blemishes, it was sound at the core, and contained within itself the seeds of perfection.
An individual of profound sincerity is a great moral force, and there is no force – not even the highest intellectual force – that can compare with it. Men and women are powerful in influence according to the soundness and perfection of their sincerity. Morality and sincerity are so closely bound up together, that where sincerity is lacking, morality (as a power) is lacking also — for insincerity undermines all the other virtues, so that they crumble away and become of no account.
Even a little insincerity robs a character of all its nobility, and makes it common and contemptible. I remember once a friend of mine telling me how she was very pleased by the attentions she was receiving from a particular gentleman, but that she would not marry him. “Why not?” I asked. “Something about him doesn’t ring true”, she replied.
Ring true, now that is a term full of meaning. It harkens back to the old silver coins which, when tested by their ring, emitted a sound that revealed the sterling metal throughout, without the adding of any base material. By its ring, we knew that the coin came up to the standard, and would pass anywhere and everywhere for its full value.
So it is, with men and women. Their words and actions emit their own peculiar influence. There is in them an inaudible sound which all others inwardly hear and instinctively detect. We know the false ring from the true, yet know not how we know. As the outer ear can make the most delicate distinctions in sounds, so the inner ear can make equally subtle distinctions between souls.
The soul’s judgement is perfect; so perfect than in literature, art, science, invention, religion – in every department of knowledge – it divides the good from the bad, the worthy from the unworthy, the true from the false, zealously guarding and preserving the former, and allowing the latter to perish.
The works, words, and deeds of great men and women are the heirlooms of the human race, and the world is not careless of their value. A thousand authors write a book — one only is a work of original genius. Yet the world singles out that one, elevates and preserves it, while it consigns the nine hundred and ninety nine copyists to oblivion. Ten thousand people utter a sentence under a similar circumstance — one only is a sentence of divine wisdom. Yet the world singles out that saying for the guidance of posterity, while the other sentences are heard no more.
It is true that world slays its prophets, but even that slaying becomes a test which reveals the true ring, and we detect its vibrations. The slain one has come up to the standard, and the deed that led to their slaying is preserved as furnishing infallible proof of their greatness.
As the counterfeit coin is detected, and cast back into the melting pot, while the sterling coin circulates among all people, and is valued for its worth, so the counterfeit word, deed, or character is perceived, and is left to fall back into the nothingness from which it emerged, a thing unreal, powerless, dead.
Trueness is valuable. The sound-hearted individual becomes an exemplar; they are more than a man or woman; they are a reality; a force, a molding principle. By falseness all is lost – even individuality dissolves, for falseness is a nonentity, nothingness. By trueness everything is gained, for trueness is fixed, permanent, real. It is all-important that we be real; that we harbor no wish to appear other than what we are; that we simulate no virtue, assume no excellency, adopt no disguise. The hypocrite thinks they can hoodwink the world and the eternal law of the world. There is but one person that they hoodwink, and that is themselves.
If any person thinks that they can build up a successful career on false pretenses and appearances, let them pause before sinking into the abyss of shadows — for insincerity provides no solid ground, no substance, no reality; there is nothing on which anything can stand, and no material with which to build; but there is loneliness, poverty, shame, confusion, fears, suspicions, weeping, groaning, and lamentations.
There are four beautiful traits that adorn the mind of the sincere woman and man. They are:
Number 1. Simplicity. Number 2. Attractiveness. Number 3. Penetration. Number 4. Power.
Simplicity is naturalness. It is simple being, without fake or foreign adornment. Why are all things in nature so beautiful? Because they are natural. We see them as they are, not as they might wish to appear — for in truth they have no wish to appear; for in truth, they have no wish to appear otherwise. There is no hypocrisy in the world of nature outside of human nature.
One of the modern social cries is, “Back to nature”. It is generally understood to mean moving to the country, and obtaining a piece of land to cultivate. However, it will be of little use to go into the country if we take our shams with us; and any veneer which may cling to us, can as well be washed off just where we are. It is good that they who feel burdened with the conventions of society should fly to the country, and court the quiet of nature, but it will fail if it is anything but a means to that inward redemption which will restore us to the simple and the true.
Although humanity has wandered from the natural simplicity of the animal world, it is moving towards a higher, divine simplicity. Men and women of great genius are such because of their spontaneous simplicity. They do not feign; they are. Lesser minds study style and effect. They wish to cut a striking figure on the stage of the world, and by that unholy wish they are doomed to mediocrity.
It is by retaining our intellect and moral powers, and returning to simplicity, that we become great. We forfeit nothing real. Only the shams are cast aside, revealing the standard gold of character. Where there is sincerity, there will always be simplicity – a simplicity of the kind that we see in nature, the beautiful simplicity of truth.
Attractiveness is the direct outcome of simplicity. This is seen in the attractiveness of all natural objects, but in human nature it is manifested as personal influence. Remember that attractiveness cannot be bought and sold, and put on and off like powder and paint. Nor can people who are anxious to be thought attractive, likely to become so, for their vanity is a barrier to it. The very desire to be thought attractive is, in itself, a deception, and it leads to the practice of numerous deceptions. It infers, too, that such people are conscious of lacking the genuine attractions and graces of character, and are on the lookout for a substitute. But there is no substitute for beauty of mind and strength of character.
Attractiveness, like genius, is lost by being coveted, and possessed by those who are too solid and sincere of character to desire it. There is nothing in human nature — not talent, not intellect, not affection, not beauty of features — that can compare in attractive power with that soundness of mind and wholeness of heart which we call sincerity.
There is a perennial charm about a sincere man or woman, and they draw about themselves the best specimens of human nature. There can be no personal charm apart from sincerity. Infatuation there may be, and is, but this is a kind of disease, and is vastly different from the indissoluble bond by which sincere people are attached. Infatuation ends in painful disillusionment, but as there is nothing hidden between sincere souls (and they stand upon the solid ground of reality) there is no illusion to be confronted.
Sincere people do not think of themselves, of their talent, their genius, their virtue, their beauty — and because they are so unconscious of themselves, they attract all, and win their confidence, affection, and esteem.
Penetration belongs to the sincere. All shams are unveiled in their presence. All simulators are transparent to the searching eye of the sincere man and woman. With one clear glance they see through the flimsy pretenses of others. Tricksters wither under their strong gaze, and want to get away from it. The individual who has rid their heart of all falseness, and entertains only that which is true, has gained the power to distinguish the false from the true in others. We are not deceived when we are not self-deceived.
As a person (looking around on the objects of nature) infallibly can distinguish between a snake, a bird, a horse, a tree, a rose, and so on — so the sincere individual distinguishes between the variety of characters. They perceive in a movement, a look, a word, an act, the nature of the other person, and acts accordingly. They are on their guard without being suspicious. They are prepared for the pretender without being mistrustful. They act from positive knowledge, and not from negative suspicion. People are an open book, and they read the contents. Their penetrating judgement pierces to the center of actions. Their direct and unequivocal conduct strengthens in others the good, and shames the bad, and they are a staff of strength to those who have not yet attained to the same soundness of heart and head.
Power goes with penetration. An understanding of the nature of actions is accompanied with the power to meet and deal with all actions in the right and best way. Knowledge is always power, but knowledge of the nature of actions is superlative power, and those who possess it become a Presence to all hearts, and modify their actions for good. Long after their bodily presence has passed away, they are still a molding force in the world and a spiritual reality working subtly in the minds of women and men, shaping them towards sublime ends.
The sincere individual stamps their character upon all that they do, and also upon all people with whom they come in contact. They speak a word of kindness and someone is impressed; the influence is communicated to another, and another, and presently some despairing soul ten thousand miles away hears it and is restored. Such a power is prosperity in itself, and its worth is not to be valued in coin.
Money cannot purchase the priceless jewels of character, but labor in right doing can, and you who make yourself sincere, who acquire a robust soundness throughout your entire being, will become a person of singular success and rare power.
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