The Secret of Life & Success | Elbert Hubbard Audio Books

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Now, on to today’s reading, which has been edited an adapted from the work of Elbert Hubbard, collected in the book The American Bible by Alice Hubbard, published in 1911.


Ideas are born; they have their infancy, their youth — their time of stress and struggle — they succeed, they grow senile, they nod, they sleep, they die; they are buried and remain in their graves for ages. And then they come again in the garb of youth, to slaughter and slay — and inspire and liberate. And this death and resurrection goes on forever.

In Time, there is nothing either new or old: there is only the rising and the falling of the Infinite Tide. Each one of us starts from a single cell, this seized upon by another, and out of the Eternal comes a particle of the Divine Energy that makes these cells its home. Growth follows, cell is added to cell, and there develops a man or woman — a person whose body, two-thirds water, can be emptied by a single dagger-thrust and the spirit given back to its Maker in a moment.

No word of choice had we in the selection of our father and mother; no voice in the choosing of environment. Brought into life without our consent, and pushed out of it against our will — battling, striving, hoping, cursing, waiting, loving, praying; torn by passion, checked by fear, reaching for friendship, longing for sympathy, hungering for love, clutching for something, my heart goes out to all of you, because I cannot conceive of any being greater, nobler, more heroic, more tenderly loving, loyal, unselfish, and enduring than you are.

All the love I know is human love. All the forgiveness I know is human forgiveness. All the sympathy I know is human sympathy. And thus I address myself to my fellow citizens — to you — and you I would serve. The fact that you are a human being brings you near to me. It is the bond that unites us.

I understand you because you are a part of myself. You may like me, or not — it makes no difference. If ever you need my help I am with you. Often we can help each other most by leaving each other alone; at other times, we need the hand- grasp and the word of cheer. I am only a man — a mere man — but in times of loneliness think of me as one who loves his kind.

What your condition is in life will not prejudice me either for or against you. What you have done or not done will not weigh in the scale. If you have been wise and prudent I congratulate you, unless you are unable to forget how wise and good you are — then I pity you.

If you have stumbled and fallen and been mired in the mud, and have failed to be a friend to yourself, then you of all people need friendship, and I am your friend. I am the friend of convicts, insane people, and fools — successful and unsuccessful, college-bred and illiterate. You all belong to my church. I could not exclude you if I would — for if I should shut you out, I would then close the door upon myself and be a prisoner indeed.

The spirit of friendship that flows through me, and of which I am a part, is your portion, too. The human race is one, and we trace to a common Divine ancestry. I offer you no reward for being loyal to me, and surely I do not threaten you with pain, penalty, and dire disaster if you are indifferent to me.

You cannot win me by praise, promises, or adulation. You cannot shut my heart toward you, even though you deny and revile me. Only the good can reach me, and no thought of love you send me can be lost or mis-sent. All the kindness you feel for me should be given those nearest you, and it shall all be passed to your credit, for you yourself are the record of your thoughts, and no error can occur in the count.

You belong to my church, and always and forever my friendship shall follow you, yet never intrude. I do not ask you to incur obligations, nor make promises. There are no dues. I do not demand that you shall do this or not do that. I issue no commands. I cannot lighten your burden, and perhaps I should not even if I could, for we grow strong through bearing our burdens.

If I can, I will show you how to acquire strength to meet all your difficulties and face the duties of the day. It is not for me to take charge of your life. If you err, it is not for me to punish you. We are punished by our sins, not for them. Sooner or later, I know you will realize the eternal law that to do right brings good, and to do wrong brings misery.

I cannot change these laws — I cannot make you exempt from your own blunders and mistakes. And you cannot change the eternal laws for me. But perhaps I can point you the pathway that leads to love, truth, and usefulness, and this I want to do because I am your friend. And then by pointing you the way, I find it myself.

You belong to me — you are a member of my church. All are members of my church. None is excluded nor can be excluded. So over the plains and prairies, over the mountains and seas, over the cities and towns, in palaces, tenements, cottages, trains, and autos, in solitary cells behind prison-bars, or wandering out under the stars, my heart goes out to you, whoever you are, wherever you are, and I wish you well.

Only love do I send and a desire to bless and benefit. We all live under the domain of Natural Law as much as bees. We succeed only by working with others and for others. The business of men and women is to work — to surmount difficulties, to endure hardship, to solve problems, to overcome the inertia of our own nature: to turn chaos into cosmos by the aid of system — this is to live!

Keep in your heart a shrine to the ideal, and upon this altar let the fire never die. A child does not need a religion until he or she is old enough to evolve one, and then they must not be robbed of the right of independent thinking by having a fully prepared plan of salvation handed out to them.

Take an inventory of your spiritual assets. How do you stand on these assets that follow? Mark yourself ten where you are perfect; then the rest mark down to about where you are, and see how it looks. Faith, system, energy, service, loyalty, purpose, kindness, economy, industry, courtesy, initiative, intention, frankness, evolution, education, fellowship, patience, courage, responsiveness, tenacity, ambition, harmony, prudence, integrity, obedience, thoroughness, mutuality, mastership, fraternity, endurance, enthusiasm, equanimity, good-cheer, reciprocity, cleanliness, helpfulness, personality, self-respect, orderliness, punctuality, self-control, co-operation, self-reliance, truthfulness, self-sacrifice, perseverance, individuality, and concentration.

Be a creator, not merely a creature and a consumer. Nature is the best guide of which we know, and the love of simple pleasures is next, if not superior, to religion. A wise person does not need advice, and a fool will not take it.

We flatter only those we fear — the highest applause is silence. We are brothers and sisters to all who have trod the earth. We want to do what is best for ourselves, and we have discovered that what is best for ourselves is best for others. No one is damned eternally as long as they try.

Inaction is only a gathering together of forces for the coming leap: the fallow years are just as natural, just as necessary, as the years of plenty. To know the worst is peace — it is uncertainty that kills.

The secret, which I am about to tell you, is the most valuable and far-reaching of any known to human kind. It is the key to health, happiness, wealth, power, success. It is the open sesame to Paradise, here and now. A secret is something known only to a few. But often the best way to retain a secret is to let others help you to keep it. Just as the only way to retain love is to give it away — art and religion the same.

This secret, which I am about to impart, will cause no thrill, save in the hearts of those who already know it. And all I can do for you, anyway, is to tell you the things you know, but which possibly you do not know you know until I tell you.

So, here, then, is the secret: Let Motion equal Emotion. Must I explain? Very well, I will: There is only one thing in the world, and that is Energy. This Energy takes a myriad million forms; and its one peculiarity is that it is always in motion.

In Nature there is nothing inanimate. Everything is alive; everything is going somewhere, or else coming back; nothing is static. Fixity is the one impossible thing. And the fallacy of fixity has been the one fatal error of theology and all philosophies in the past.

Progress consists in getting away from the idea of the static. Nature’s one business is to absorb and to dissipate — to attract and repel — to take in and give out. And everything which Nature makes is engaged in the same business.

To be healthy and sane and well and happy, you must work with your hands as well as with your head. The cure for grief is motion. The recipe for strength is action. To have a body that is free from disease and toxins, you must let motion equal emotion. Love for love’s sake creates a current so hot that it blows out the fuse. But love that finds form in music, sculpture, painting, poetry, and work is divine and beneficent beyond words.

Emotion without motion tends to madness and despair. EXPRESSION must equal impression. If you study, you must also create, write, teach, give out. Otherwise, you will become a plaster-of-Paris cat or a brass monkey. If great joy has come to you, pass it along, and thus do you double it. You are the steward of any gift the gods have given you, and you answer for their use with your life.

Realize that you are a Divine Transformer! Make motion equal emotion, and you will eliminate the fear that stifles action. Don’t be neutral or a camp-follower. Get in the fight and stand back to the wall. Be one of a glorious minority. When the time arises, dare to stand alone, to fight alone. Otherwise, you will not live at all — you will only exist.

Remember that conformists die, but heretics live on forever, and that it will be character that locates your place in another world, if there is one, just as it is your character that fixes your place here. We are weaving character every day, and the way to weave the best character is to be kind and to be useful. Think right, act right; it is what we think and do that makes us what we are.


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