Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Freedom of Life by Annie Payson Call

Part 1 out of 2

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Created by: Steve Solomon ssolomon@soilandhealth.org




_Author of "Power Through Repose,"

"As a Matter of Course," etc._


_LORD GOD of Israel,--
Where Thou art we are free!
Call out Thy people, Lord, we pray,
From Egypt unto Thee.
Open our eyes that we may see
Our bondage in the past,--
Oh, help us, Lord, to keep Thy law,
And make us free at last!_

_Lord God of Israel,--
Where Thou art we are free!
Freed from the rule of alien minds,
We turn our hearts to Thee.
The alien hand weighs heavily,
And heavy is our sin,--
Thy children cry to Thee, O Lord,--
Their God,--to take them in._

_Lord God of Israel,--
Where Thou 'art we are free
Cast down our idols from on high,
That we may worship Thee.
In freedom we will live Thy Love
Out from our inmost parts;
Upon our foreheads bind Thy Law,--
Engrave it on our hearts!_



















INTERIOR freedom rests upon the principle of non-resistance to
all the things which seem evil or painful to our natural love of
self. But non-resistance alone can accomplish nothing good unless,
behind it, there is a strong love for righteousness and truth. By
refusing to resist the ill will of others, or the stress of
circumstances, for the sake of greater usefulness and a clearer
point of view, we deepen our conviction of righteousness as the
fundamental law of fife, and broaden our horizon so as to appreciate
varying and opposite points of view. The only non-resistance that
brings this power is the kind which yields mere personal and selfish
considerations for the sake of principles. Selfish and weak yielding
must always do harm. Unselfish yielding, on the other hand,
strengthens the will and increases strength of purpose as the petty
obstacles of mere self-love are removed. Concentration alone cannot
long remain wholesome, for it needs the light of growing
self-knowledge to prevent its becoming self-centred. Yielding alone
is of no avail, for in itself it has no constructive power. But if
we try to look at ourselves as we really are, we shall find great
strength in yielding where only our small and private interests are
concerned, and concentrating upon living the broad principles of
righteousness which must directly or indirectly affect all those
with whom we come into contact.


_The Freedom of Life_

I AM so tired I must give up work," said a young woman with a very
strained and tearful face; and it seemed to her a desperate state,
for she was dependent upon work for her bread and butter. If she
gave up work she gave up bread and butter, and that meant
starvation. When she was asked why she did not keep at work and
learn to do it without getting so tired, that seemed to her absurd,
and she would have laughed if laughing had been possible.

"I tell you the work has tired me so that I cannot stand it, and you
ask me to go back and get rest out of it when I am ready to die of
fatigue. Why don't you ask me to burn myself, on a piece of ice, or
freeze myself with a red-hot poker?"

"But," the answer was, "it is not the work that tires you at all, it
is the way you do it;" and, after a little soothing talk which
quieted the overexcited nerves, she began to feel a dawning
intelligence, which showed her that, after all, there might be life
in the work which she had come to look upon as nothing but slow and
painful death. She came to understand that she might do her work as
if she were working very lazily, going from one thing to another
with a feeling as near to entire indifference as she could
cultivate, and, at the same time, do it well. She was shown by
illustrations how she might walk across the room and take a book off
the table as if her life depended upon it, racing and pushing over
the floor, grabbing the book and clutching it until she got back to
her seat, or, how she might move with exaggerated laziness take the
book up loosely, and drag herself back again. This illustration
represents two extremes, and one, in itself, is as bad as the other;
but, when the habit has been one of unnecessary strain and effort,
the lazy way, practised for a time, will not only be very restful,
but will eventually lead to movement which is quick as well.

To take another example, you may write holding the pen with much
more force than is needful, tightening your throat and tongue at the
same time, or you may drag your pen along the paper and relieve the
tendency to tension in your throat and tongue by opening your mouth
slightly and letting your jaw hang loosely. These again are two
extremes, but, if the habit has been one of tension, a persistent
practice of the extreme of looseness will lead to a quiet mode of
writing in which ten pages can be finished with the effort it
formerly took to write one.

Sometimes the habit of needless strain has taken such a strong hold
that the very effort to work quietly seems so unnatural as to cause
much nervous suffering. To turn the corner from a bad habit into a
true and wholesome one is often very painful, but, the first pain
worked through, the right habit grows more and more easy, until
finally the better way carries us along and we take it

For the young woman who felt she had come to the end of her powers,
it was work or die; therefore, when she had become rested enough to
see and understand at all, she welcomed the idea that it was not her
work that tired her, but the way in which she did it, and she
listened eagerly to the directions that should teach her to do it
with less fatigue, and, as an experiment, offered to go back and try
the "lazy way" for a week. At the end of a week she reported that
the "lazy way" had rested her remarkably, but she did not do her
work so well. Then she had to learn that she could keep more quietly
and steadily concentrated upon her work, doing it accurately and
well, without in the least interfering with the "lazy way." Indeed,
the better concentrated we are, the more easily and restfully we can
work, for concentration does not mean straining every nerve and
muscle toward our work,--it means _dropping everything that
interferes,_ and strained nerves and muscles constitute a very
bondage of interference.

The young woman went back to her work for another week's experiment,
and this time returned with a smiling face, better color, and a new
and more quiet life in her eyes. She had made the "lazy way" work,
and found a better power of concentration at the same time. She knew
that it was only a beginning, but she felt secure now in the certain
knowledge that it was not her work that had been killing her, but
the way in which she had done it; and she felt confident of her
power to do it restfully and, at the same time, better than before.
Moreover, in addition to practising the new way of working, she
planned to get regular exercise in the open air, even if it had to
come in the evening, and to eat only nourishing food. She has been
at work now for several years, and, at last accounts, was still
busy, with no temptation to stop because of overfatigue.

If any reader is conscious of suffering now from the strain of his
work and would like to get relief, the first thing to do is to
notice that it is less the work that tires him than his way of doing
it, and the attitude of his mind toward it. Beginning with that
conviction, there comes at first an interest in the process of
dropping strain and then a new interest in the work itself, and a
healthy concentration in doing the merest drudgery as well as it can
be done, makes the drudgery attractive and relieves one from the
oppressive fatigue of uninteresting monotony.

If you have to move your whole body in your daily work, the first
care should be to move the feet and legs heavily. Feel as if each
foot weighed a ton, and each hand also; and while you work take
long, quiet breaths,--breaths such as you see a man taking when he
is very quietly and soundly sleeping.

If the work is sedentary, it is a help before starting in the
morning to drop your head forward very loosely, slowly and heavily,
and raise it very slowly, then take a long, quiet breath. Repeat
this several times until you begin to feel a sense of weight in your
head. If there is not time in the morning, do it at night and recall
the feeling while you are dressing or while you are going to work,
and then, during your work, stop occasionally just to feel your head
heavy and then go on. Very soon you become sensitive to the tension
in the back of your neck and drop it without stopping work at all.

Long, quiet breaths while you work are always helpful. If you are
working in bad air, and cannot change the air, it is better to try
to have the breaths only quiet and gentle, and take long, full
breaths whenever you are out-of-doors and before going to sleep at

Of course, a strained way of working is only one cause of nervous
fatigue; there are others, and even more important ones, that need
to be understood in order that we may be freed from the bondage of
nervous strain which keeps so many of us from our best use and

Many people are in bondage because of doing wrong, but many more
because of doing right in the wrong way. Real freedom is only found
through obedience to law, and when, because of daily strain, a man
finds himself getting overtired and irritable, the temptation is to
think it easier to go on working in the wrong way than to make the
effort to learn how to work in the right way. At first the effort
seems only to result in extra strain, but, if persisted in quietly,
it soon becomes apparent that it is leading to less and less strain,
and finally to restful work.

There are laws for rest, laws for work, and laws for play, which, if
we find and follow them, lead us to quiet, useful lines of life,
which would be impossible without them. They are the laws of our own
being, and should carry us as naturally as the instincts of the
animals carry them, and so enable us to do right in the right way,
and make us so sure of the manner in which we do our work that we
can give all our attention to the work itself; and when we have the
right habit of working, the work itself must necessarily gain,
because we can put the best of ourselves into it.

It is helpful to think of the instincts of the beasts, how true and
orderly they are, on their own plane, and how they are only
perverted when the animals have come under the influence of man.
Imagine Baloo, the bear in Mr. Kipling's "Jungle Book," being asked
how he managed to keep so well and rested. He would look a little
surprised and say: "Why, I follow the laws of my being. How could I
do differently?" Now that is just the difference between man and
beast. Man can do differently. And man has done differently now for
so many generations that not one in ten thousand really recognizes
what the laws of his being are, except in ways so gross that it
seems as if we had sunken to the necessity of being guided by a
crowbar, instead of steadily following the delicate instinct which
is ours by right, and so voluntarily accepting the guidance of the
Power who made us, which is the only possible way to freedom.

Of course the laws of a man's being are infinitely above the laws of
a beast's. The laws of a man's being are spiritual, and the animal
in man is meant to be the servant of his soul. Man's true guiding
instincts are in his soul,--he can obey them or not, as he chooses;
but the beast's instincts are in his body, and he has no choice but
to obey. Man can, so to speak, get up and look down on himself. He
can be his own father and his own mother. From his true instinct he
can say to himself, "you must do this" or "You must not do that." He
can see and understand his tendency to disobedience, and _he can
force himself to obey._ Man can see the good and wholesome animal
instincts in himself that lead to lasting health and strength, and
he can make them all the good servants of his soul. He can see the
tendency to overindulgence, and how it leads to disease and to evil,
and he can refuse to permit that wrong tendency to rule him.

Every man has his own power of distinguishing between right and
wrong, and his own power of choosing which way he shall follow. He
is left free to choose God's way or to choose his own. Through past
and present perversions, of natural habit he has lost the delicate
power of distinguishing the normal from the abnormal, and needs to
be educated back to it. The benefit of this education is an
intelligent consciousness of the laws of life, which not only adds
to his own strength of mind and body, but increases immeasurably his
power of use to others. Many customs of to-day fix and perpetuate
abnormal habits to such an extent that, combined with our own
selfish inheritances and personal perversions, they dim the light of
our minds so that many of us are working all the time in a fog, more
or less dense, of ignorance and bondage. When a man chooses the
right and refuses the wrong, in so far as he sees it, he becomes
wise from within and from without, his power for distinguishing
gradually improves, the fog lifts, and he finds within himself a
sure and delicate instinct which was formerly atrophied for want of

The first thing to understand without the shadow of a doubt, is
that, man is not in freedom when he is following his own selfish
instincts. He is only in the appearance of freedom, and the
appearance of freedom, without the reality, leads invariably to the
worst bondage. A man who loves drink feels that he is free if he can
drink as much as he wants, but that leads to degradation and
delirium tremens. A man who has an inherited tendency toward the
disobedience of any law feels that he is free if he has the
opportunity to disobey it whenever he wants to. But whatever the law
may be, the results have only to be carried to their logical
conclusion to make clear the bondage to which the disobedience
leads. All this disobedience to law leads to an inevitable,
inflexible, unsurmountable limit in the end, whereas steady effort
toward obedience to law is unlimited in its development of strength
and power for use to others. Man must understand his selfish
tendencies in order to subdue and control them, until they become
subject to his own unselfish tendencies, which are the spiritual
laws within him. Thus he gradually becomes free,--soul and
body,--with no desire to disobey, and with steadily increasing joy
in his work and life. So much for the bondage of doing wrong, and
the freedom of doing right, which it seems necessary to touch upon,
in order to show clearly the bondage of doing right in the wrong
way, and the freedom of doing right in the right way.

It is right to work for our daily bread, and for the sake of use to
others, in whatever form it may present itself. The wrong way of
doing it makes unnecessary strain, overfatigue and illness. The
right way of working gives, as we have said before, new power and
joy in the work; it often turns even drudgery into pleasure, for
there is a special delight in learning to apply one's self in a true
spirit to "drudgery." The process of learning such true application
of one's powers often reveals new possibilities in work.

It is right for most people to sleep eight hours every night. The
wrong way of doing it is to go to sleep all doubled up, and to
continue to work all night in our sleep, instead of giving up and
resting entirely. The right way gives us the fullest possible amount
of rest and refreshment.

It is right to take our three meals a day, and all the nourishing
food we need. The wrong way of doing it, is to eat very fast,
without chewing our food carefully, and to give our stomachs no
restful opportunity of preparation to receive its food, or to take
good care of it after it is received. The right way gives us the
opportunity to assimilate the food entirely, so that every bit of
fuel we put into our bodies is burnt to some good purpose, and makes
us more truly ready to receive more.

It is right to play and amuse ourselves for rest and recreation. We
play in the wrong way when we use ourselves up in the strain of
playing, in the anxiety lest we should not win in a game, or when we
play in bad air. When we play in the right way, there is no strain,
no anxiety, only good fun and refreshment and rest.

We might go through the narrative of an average life in showing
briefly the wonderful difference between doing right in the right
way, and doing right in the wrong way. It is not too much to say
that the difference in tendency is as great as that between life and

It is one thing to read about orderly living and to acknowledge that
the ways described are good and true, and quite another to have
one's eyes opened and to act from the new knowledge, day by day,
until a normal mode of life is firmly established. It requires
quiet, steady force of will to get one's self out of bad, and well
established in good habits. After the first interest and relief
there often has to be steady plodding before the new way becomes
easy; but if we do not allow ourselves to get discouraged, we are
sure to gain our end, for we are opening ourselves to the influence
of the true laws within us, and in finding and obeying these we are
approaching the only possible Freedom of Life.


_How to Sleep Restfully_

IT would seem that at least one might be perfectly free in sleep.
But the habits of cleaving to mistaken ways of living cannot be
thrown off at night and taken up again in the morning. They go to
sleep with us and they wake with us.

If, however, we learn better habits of sleeping, that helps us in
our life through the day. And learning better habits through the day
helps us to get more rest from our sleep. At the end of a good day
we can settle down more quickly to get ready for sleep, and, when we
wake in the morning, find ourselves more ready to begin the day to

There are three things that prevent sleep,--overfatigue, material
disturbances from the outside, and mental disturbances from, within.

It is not uncommon to hear people say, "I was too tired to sleep"
--but it is not generally known how great a help it is at such times
not to try to sleep, but to go to work deliberately to get I rested
in preparation for it. In nine cases out of ten it is the
unwillingness to lie awake that keeps us awake. We wonder why we do
not sleep. We toss and turn and wish we could sleep. We fret, and
fume, and worry, because we do not sleep. We think of all we have to
do on the following day, and are oppressed with the thought that we
cannot do it if we do not sleep. First, we try one experiment to see
if it will not make us sleep, and when it fails, we try another, and
perhaps another. In each experiment we, are watching to see if it
will work. There are many things to do, any one of which might help
us to sleep, but the _watching to see if they will work keeps us

When we are kept awake from our fatigue, the first thing to do is to
say over and over to ourselves that we do not care whether we sleep
or not, in order to imbue ourselves with a healthy indifference
about it. It will help toward gaining this wholesome indifference to
say "I am too tired to sleep, and therefore, the first thing for me
to do is to get rested in order to prepare for sleep. When my brain
is well rested, it will go to sleep; it cannot help it. When it is
well rested, it will sleep just as naturally as my lungs breathe, or
as my heart beats."

In order to rest our brains we want to lie quietly, relaxing all our
muscles, and taking even, quiet breaths. It is good when we can take
long, full breaths, but sometimes that is too fatiguing; and then we
must not only take moderately long, breaths, but be careful to have
them gentle, quiet, and rhythmic. To make a plan of breathing and
follow it keeps the mind steadily concentrated on the breathing, and
gives the rest of the brain, which has been working on other things,
a chance to relax and find its own freedom and rest. It is helpful
to inhale while we count seven, exhale while we count seven, then
rest and breathe naturally while we count seven, and to repeat the
series of three for seven times; but to be strict with ourselves and
see that we only do it seven times, not once more nor once less.
Then we should wait a little and try it again,--and so keep on for a
number of times, repeating the same series; and we should always be
sure to have the air in our bedrooms as fresh as possible. If the
breathing is steady and rhythmical it helps very much, and to inhale
and exhale over and over for half an hour has a very pleasant,
quieting effect--sometimes such exercises make us nervous at first,
and, if we are very tired, that often happens; but, if we keep
steadily at work, the nervousness disappears and restful quiet
follows which very often brings restoring and refreshing sleep.

Another thing to remember--and it is very important--is that an
overtired brain needs more than the usual nourishment. If you have
been awake for an hour, and it is three hours after your last meal,
take half a cup, or a cup of hot milk. If you are awake for another
two hours take half a cup more, and so, at intervals of about two.
hours, so long as you are awake throughout the night. Hot milk is
nourishing and a sedative. It is not inconvenient to have milk by
the side of one's bed, and a little saucepan and spirit lamp, so
that the milk can be heated without getting up, and the quiet simple
occupation of heating it is sometimes restful in itself.

There are five things to remember to help rest an overtired brain:
1. A healthy indifference to wakefulness. 2. Concentration of the
mind on simple things. 3. Relaxation of the body. 4. Gentle rhythmic
breathing of fresh air. 5. Regular nourishment. If we do not lose
courage, but keep on steadily night after night, with a healthy
persistence in remembering and practising these five things, we
shall often find that what might have been a very long period of
sleeplessness may be materially shortened and that the sleep which
follows the practice of the exercises is better, sounder, and more
refreshing, than the sleep that came before. In many cases a long or
short period of insomnia can be absolutely prevented by just these
simple means.

Here is perhaps the place to say that all narcotics are in such
cases, absolutely pernicious.

They may bring sleep at the time, but eventually they lose their
effect, and leave the nervous system in a state of strain which
cannot be helped by anything but time, through much suffering that
might have been avoided.

When we are not necessarily overtired but perhaps only a little
tired from the day's work, it is not uncommon to be kept awake by a
flapping curtain or a swinging door, by unusual noises in the
streets, or by people talking. How often we hear it said, "It did
seem hard when I went to bed tired last night that I should have
been kept awake by a noise like that--and now this morning, I am
more tired than when I went to bed."

The head nurse in a large hospital said once in distress: "I wish
the nurses could be taught to step lightly over my head, so that
they would not keep me awake at night." It would have been a
surprise to her if she had been told that her head could be taught
to yield to the steps of the nurses, so that their walking would not
keep her awake.

It is resistance that keeps us awake in all such cases. The curtain
flaps, and we resist it; the door swings to over and over again, and
we resist it, and keep ourselves awake by wondering why it does not
stop; we hear noises in the street that we am unused to, especially
if we are accustomed to sleeping in the stillness of the country,
and we toss and turn and wish we were in a quiet place. All the
trouble comes from our own resistance to the noise, and resistance
is nothing but unwillingness to submit to our conditions.

If we are willing that the curtain should go on flapping, the door
go on slamming, or the noise in the street continue steadily on, our
brains yield to the conditions and so sleep naturally, because the
noise goes through us, so to speak, and does not run hard against
our unwillingness to hear it.

There are three facts which may help to remove the resistance which
naturally arises at any unusual sound when we are tired and want to
get rest.

One is that in almost every sound there is a certain rhythm. If we
yield to the sound enough to become sensitive to its rhythm, that,
in itself, is soothing. and what before was keeping us awake now
_helps us to go to sleep._ This pleasant effect of finding the
rhythm in sound is especially helpful if one is inclined to lie
awake while travelling in sleeping cars. The rhythm of sound and
motion in sleeping cars and steamers is, in itself, soothing. If you
have the habit of feeling as if you could never get refreshing sleep
in a sleeping car, first be sure that you have as much fresh air as
possible, and then make up your mind that you will spend the whole
night, if necessary, in noticing the rhythm of the motion and sound
of the cars. If you keep your mind steadily on it, you will probably
be asleep in less than an hour, and, when the car stops, you will
wake only enough to settle comfortably into the sense of motion when
it starts again. It is pleasant to notice the gentleness with which
a good engineer starts his train at night. Of course there is a
difference in engineers, and some are much more gentle in starting
their engines than others, but the delicacy with which the engine is
started by the most expert is delightful to feel, and gives us many
a lesson on the use of gentle beginnings, with other things besides
locomotive engines, and especially in our dealings with each other.

The second fact with regard to yielding, instead of resisting, in
order to get to sleep is that listening alone, apart from rhythm,
tends to make one sleepy, and this leads us at once to the third
fact, that getting to sleep is nothing but a healthy form of

If true concentration is dropping everything that interferes with
fixing our attention upon some wholesome object, it means merely
bringing the brain into a normal state which induces sleep when
sleep is needed. First we drop everything that interferes with the
one simple subject, and then we drop that, and are unconscious.

Of course it may take some time to make ourselves willing to submit
to an unusual noise if we have the habit of feeling that we must
necessarily be disturbed by it, and, if we can stop the noise, it is
better to stop it than to give ourselves unnecessary tasks in

Then again, if we are overtired, our brains are sometimes so
sensitive that the effect of any noise is like that of being struck
in a sore spot, and then it is much more difficult to bear it, and
we can only make the suffering a little less by yielding and being
willing that it should go on. I cannot go to sleep while some one is
knocking my lame arm, nor can I go to sleep while a noise is hitting
my tired brain; but in such cases we can give up expecting to go to
sleep, and get a great deal of rest by using our wills steadily not
to resist; and sometimes, even then, sleep will come upon us

With regard to the use of the will, perhaps the most dangerous
pitfall to be avoided is the use of drugs. It is not too much to say
that they never should be used at all for cases of pure
sleeplessness, for with time their power to bring sleep gradually
becomes exhausted, and then the patient finds himself worse off than
before, for the reactionary effect of the drugs leaves him with
exhausted nerves and a weakened will. All the strengthening, moral
effect which can be gained from overcoming sleeplessness in
wholesome ways is lost by a recourse to drugs, and character is
weakened instead of strengthened.

When one has been in the habit of sleeping in the city, where the
noise of the street is incessant, a change to the perfect silence of
the country will often keep sleep off quite as persistently as
noise. So with a man who has been in the habit of sleeping under
other abnormal conditions, the change to normal conditions will
sometimes keep him awake until he has adjusted himself to them, and
it is not uncommon for people to be so abnormal that they resist
rhythm itself, such as is heard in the rolling of the sea, or the
rushing of a river.

The re-adjustment from abnormal to normal conditions of sleeping may
be made surely if we set about it with a will, for we have all
nature on our side. Silence is orderly for the night's rest, and
rhythm only emphasizes and enhances the silence, when it is the
rhythm of nature.

The habit of resistance cannot be changed in a single day--it must
take time; but if the meaning, the help, and the normal power of
non-resistance is clearly understood, and the effort to gain it is
persistent, not only the power to sleep, but a new sense of freedom
may be acquired which is quite beyond the conception of those who
are in the daily habit of resistance.

When we lie down at night and become conscious that our arms and our
legs and our whole bodies are resting heavily upon the bed, we are
letting go all the resistance which has been left stored in our
muscles from the activities of the day.

A cat, when she lies down, lets go all resistance at once, because
she moves with the least possible effort; but there are very few men
who do that, and so men go to their rest with more or less
resistance stored in their bodies, and they must go through a
conscious process of dropping it before they can settle to sleep as
a normal child does, without having to think about how it is done.
The conscious process, however, brings a quiet, conscious joy in the
rest, which opens the mind to soothing influences, and brings a more
profound refreshment than is given even to the child--and with the
refreshment new power for work.

One word more about outside disturbances before we turn to those
interior ones which are by far the most common preventatives of
refreshing sleep. The reader will say: "How can I be willing that
the noise should go on when I am not willing?" The answer is, "If
you can see clearly that if you were willing, the noises would not
interfere with your sleep, then you can find the ability within you
to make yourself willing."

It is wonderful to realize the power we gain by compelling and
controlling our desires or aversions through the intelligent use of
the will, and it is easier to compel ourselves to do right against
temptation than to force ourselves to do wrong against a true
conviction. Indeed it is most difficult, if not impossible, to force
ourselves to do wrong against a strong sense of right. Behind an our
desires, aversions, and inclinations each one of us possesses a
capacity for a higher will, the exercise of which, on the side of
order and righteousness, brings into being the greatest power in
human life. The power of character is always in harmony with the
laws of truth and order, and although we must sometimes make a great
effort of the will to do right against our inclinations the ease of
such effort increases as the power of character increases, and
strength of will grows steadily by use, because it receives its life
from the eternal will and is finding its way to harmony with that.

It is the lower, selfish will that often keeps us awake by causing
interior disturbances.

An actor may have a difficult part to play, and feel that a great
deal depends upon his success. He stays awake with anxiety, and this
anxiety is nothing but resistance to the possibility of failure. The
first thing for him to do is to teach himself to be willing to fail.
If he becomes willing to fail, then all his anxiety will go, and he
will be able to sleep and get the rest and new life which he needs
in order to play the part well. If he is willing to fail, then all
the nervous force which before was being wasted in anxiety is set
free for use in the exercise of his art.

Looking forward to what is going to happen on the next day, or
within a few days, may cause so much anxiety as to keep us awake;
but if we have a good, clear sense of the futility of resistance,
whether our expected success or failure depends on ourselves or on
others, we can compel ourselves to a quiet willingness which will
make our brains quiet and receptive to restful sleep, and so enable
us to wake with new power for whatever task or pleasure may lie
before us.

Of course we are often kept awake by the sense of having done wrong.
In such cases the first thing to do is to make a free acknowledgment
to ourselves of the wrong we have done, and then to make up our
minds to do the right thing at once. That, if the wrong done is not
too serious, will put us to sleep; and if the next day we go about
our work remembering the lesson we have learned, we probably will
have little trouble in sleeping.

If Macbeth had had the truth and courage to tell Lady Macbeth that
both he and she were wicked plotters and murderers, and that he
intended, for his part, to stop being a scoundrel, and, if he had
persisted in carrying out his good intentions, he would never have
"murdered sleep."



A MAN once grasped a very hot poker with his hand, and although he
cried out with pain, held on to the poker. His friend called out to
him to drop it, whereupon the man indignantly cried out the more.

"Drop it? How can you expect me to think of dropping it with pain
like this? I tell you when a man is suffering, as I am, he can think
of nothing but the pain."

And the more indignant he was, the tighter he held on to the poker,
and the more he cried out with pain.

This story in itself is ridiculous, but it is startlingly true as an
illustration of what people are doing every day.

There is an instinct in us to drop every hot poker at once; and
probably we should be able to drop any other form of unnecessary
disagreeable sensation as soon as possible, if we had not lost that
wholesome instinct through want of use. As it is, we must learn to
re-acquire the lost faculty by the deliberate use of our
intelligence and will.

It is as if we had lost our freedom and needed to be shown the way
back to it, step by step. The process is slow but very interesting,
if we are in earnest; and when, after wandering in the bypaths, we
finally strike the true road, we find our lost faculty waiting for
us, and all that we have learned in reaching it is so much added

But at present we are dealing in the main with a world which has no
suspicion of such instincts or faculties as these, and is suffering
along in blind helplessness. A man will drop a hot poker as soon as
he feels it burn, but he will tighten his muscles and hold on to a
cold in his head so persistently that he only gets rid of it at all
because nature is stronger than he is, and carries it off in spite
of him.

How common it is to see a woman entirely wrapped up, with a
handkerchief held to her nose,--the whole body as tense as it can
be,--wondering "Why does it take so long to get rid of this cold?"
To get free from a severe cold there should be open and clear
circulation throughout the whole body. The more the circulation is
impeded, the longer the cold will last. To begin with, the cold
itself impedes the circulation; and if, in addition, we offer
resistance to the very idea of having a cold, we tighten our nerves
and our bodies and thereby impede our circulation still further. It
is curious that the more we resist a cold the more we hold on to it,
but it is a very evident fact; and so is its logical corollary, that
the less we resist it the sooner it leaves us.

It would seem absurd to people who do not understand, to say:--

"I have caught cold, I must relax and let it go through me."

But the literal truth is that when we relax, we open the channels of
circulation in our bodies, and so allow the cold to be carried off.
In addition to the relaxing, long, quiet breaths help the
circulation still more, and so help the cold to go off sooner.

In the same way people resist pain and hold on to it; when they are
attacked with severe pain, they at once devote their entire
attention to the sensation of pain, instead of devoting it to the
best means of getting relief. They double themselves up tight, and
hold on to the place that hurts. Then all the nervous force tends
toward the sore place and the tension retards the circulation and
makes it difficult for nature to cure the pain, as she would
spontaneously if she were only allowed to have her own way.

I once knew a little girl who, whenever she hit one elbow, would at
once deliberately rub the other. She said that she had discovered
that it took her mind away from the elbow that hurt, and so stopped
its hurting sooner. The use of a counterirritant is not uncommon
with good physicians, but the counter-irritant only does what is
much more effectually accomplished when the patient uses his will
and intelligence to remove the original irritant by ceasing to
resist it.

A man who was troubled with spasmodic contraction of the throat once
went to a doctor in alarm and distress. The doctor told him that, in
any case, nothing worse than fainting could happen to him, and that,
if he fainted away, his throat would be relieved, because the
fainting would relax the muscles of the throat, and the only trouble
with it was contraction. Singularly, it did not seem to occur to the
doctor that the man might be taught to relax his throat by the use
of his own will, instead of having to faint away in order that
nature might do it for him. Nature would be just as ready to help us
if we were intelligent, as when she has to knock us down, in order
that she may do for us what we do not know enough to do for

There is no illness that could not be much helped by quiet relaxing
on the part of the patient, so as to allow nature and remedial
agencies to do their work more easily.

That which keeps relief away in the case of the cold, of pain, and
of many illnesses, is the contraction of the nerves and muscles of
the body, which impedes the curative power of its healing forces.
The contraction of the nerves and muscles of the body is caused by
resistance in the mind, and resistance in the mind is unwillingness:
unwillingness to endure the distress of the cold, the pain, or the
illness, whatever it may be; and the more unwilling we are to suffer
from illness, the more we are hindering nature from bringing about a

One of the greatest difficulties in life is illness when the hands
are full of work, and of business requiring attention. In many eases
the strain and anxiety, which causes resistance to the illness, is
even more severe, and makes more trouble than the illness itself.

Suppose, for instance, that a man is taken down with the measles,
when he feels that he ought to be at his office, and that his
absence may result in serious loss to himself and others. If he
begins by letting go, in his body and in his mind, and realizing
that the illness is beyond his own power, it will soon occur to him
that he might as well turn his illness to account by getting a good
rest out of it. In this frame of mind his chances of early recovery
will be increased, and he may even get up from his illness with so
much new life and with his mind so much refreshed as to make up, in
part, for his temporary absence from business. But, on the other
hand, if he resists, worries, complains and gets irritable, he
irritates his nervous system and, by so doing is likely to bring on
any. one of the disagreeable troubles that are known to follow
measles; and thus he may keep himself housed for weeks, perhaps
months, instead of days.

Another advantage in dropping all resistance to illness, is that the
relaxation encourages a restful attitude of mind, which enables us
to take the right amount of time for recovery, and so prevents
either a possible relapse, or our feeling only half well for a long
time, when we might have felt wholly well from the time we first
began to take up our life again. Indeed the advantages of
nonresistance in such cases are innumerable, and there are no
advantages whatever in resistance and unwillingness.

Clear as these things must be to any intelligent person whose
attention is turned in the right direction, it seems most singular
that not in one case in a thousand are they deliberately practised.
People seem to have lost their common sense with regard to them,
because for generations the desire for having our own way has held
us in bondage, and confused our standard of freedom; more than that,
it has befogged our sense of natural law, and the result is that we
painfully fight to make water run up hill when, if we were to give
one quiet look, we should see that better things could be
accomplished, and our own sense of freedom become keener, by being
content to let the water quietly run down and find its own level.

It is not normal to be ill and to be kept from our everyday use, but
it is still less normal for a healthy, intelligent mind to keep its
body ill longer than is necessary by resisting the fact of illness.
Every disease, though it is abnormal in itself, may frequently be
kept within bounds by a certain normal course of conduct, and, if
our suffering from the disease itself is unavoidable, by far our
wisest course is to stand aside, so to speak, and let it take its
own course, using all necessary remedies and precautions in order
that the attack may be as mild as possible.

Many readers, although they see the common sense of such
non-resistance, will find it difficult to practise it, because of
their inheritances and personal habits.

The man who held the hot poker only needed to drop it with his
fingers; the man who is taken ill only needs to be willing with his
mind and to relax with his nerves in order to hasten his recovery.

A very useful practice is to talk to ourselves so quietly and
earnestly as to convince our brains of the true helpfulness of being
willing and of the impediment of our unwillingness. Tell the truth
to yourself over and over, quietly and without emotion, and steadily
and firmly contradict every temptation to think that it is
impossible not to resist. If men could once be convinced of the very
real and wonderful power they have of teaching their own brains, and
exacting obedience from them, the resulting new life and ability for
use would make the world much happier and stronger.

This power of separating the clear, quiet common sense in ourselves
from the turbulent, willful rebellion and resistance, and so
quieting our selfish natures and compelling them to normal behavior,
is truly latent in us all. It may be difficult at first to use it,
especially in cases of strong, perverted natures and fixed habits,
because in such cases our resistances are harder and more interior,
but if we keep steadily on, aiming in the right direction,--if we
persist in the practice of keeping ourselves separate from our
unproductive turbulences, and of teaching our brains what we _know_
to be the truth, we shall finally find ourselves walking on level
ground, instead of climbing painfully up hill. Then we shall be only
grateful for all the hard work which was the means of bringing us
into the clear air of freedom.

There could not be a better opportunity to begin our training in
non-resistance than that which illness affords.


_Hurry, Worry, and Irritability_

PROBABLY most people have had the experience of hurrying to a train
with the feeling that something held them back, but not many have
observed that their muscles, under such conditions, actually _do_
pull them back.

If any one wants to prove the correctness of this observation let
him watch himself, especially if it is necessary for him to go
downstairs to get to the station, while he is walking down the
steps. The drawing back or contracting of the muscles, as if they
were intelligently trying to prevent us from reaching the train on
time, is most remarkable. Of course all that impeding contraction
comes from resistance, and it seems at first sight very strange that
we should resist the accomplishment of the very thing we want to do.
Why should I resist the idea of catching a train, when at the same
time I am most anxious to do so? Why should my muscles reflect that
resistance by contracting, so that they directly impede my progress?
It seems a most singular case of a house divided against itself for
me to want to take a train, and for my own muscles, which are given
me for my command, to refuse to take me there, so that I move toward
the train with an involuntary effort away from it. But when the
truth is recognized, all this muscular contraction is easily
explained. What we are resisting is not the fact of taking the
train, but the possibility of losing it. That resistance reflects
itself upon our muscles and causes them to contract. Although this
is a practical truth, it takes us some time to realize that the fear
of losing the train is often the only thing that prevents our
catching it. If we could once learn this fact thoroughly, and live
from our clearer knowledge, it would be one of the greatest helps
toward taking all things in life quietly and without necessary
strain. For the fact holds good in all hurry. It is the fear of not
accomplishing what is before us in time that holds us back from its

This is so helpful and so useful a truth that I feel it necessary to
repeat it in many ways. Fear brings resistance, resistance impedes
our progress. Our faculties are paralyzed by lack of confidence, and
confidence is the result of a true consciousness of our powers when
in harmony with law. Often the fear of not accomplishing what is
before us is the _only_ thing that stands in our way.

If we put all hurry, whether it be an immediate hurry to catch a
train, or the hurry of years toward the accomplishment of the main
objects of our lives,--if we put it all under. the clear light of
this truth, it will eventually relieve us of a strain which is
robbing our vitality to no end.

First, the times that we _must_ hurry should be minimized. In nine
cases out of ten the necessity for hurry comes only from our own
attitude of mind, and from no real need whatever. In the tenth case
we must learn to hurry with our muscles, and not with our nerves,
or, I might better say, we must hurry without excitement. To hurry
quietly is to most people an unknown thing, but when hurry is a
necessity, the process of successive effort in it should be pleasant
and refreshing.

If in the act of needful hurry we are constantly teaching ourselves
to stop resistance by saying over and over, through whatever we may
be doing, "I am perfectly willing to lose that train, I am willing
to lose it, I am willing to lose it," that will help to remove the
resistance, and so help us to learn how to make haste quietly.

But the reader will say, "How can I make myself willing when I am
not willing?"

The answer is that if you know that your unwillingness to lose the
train is preventing you from catching it, you certainly will see the
efficacy of being willing, and you will do all in your power toward
yielding to common sense. Unwillingness is resistance,--resistance
in the mind contracts the muscles, and such contraction prevents our
using the muscles freely and easily. Therefore let us be willing.

Of course there, is. a lazy, selfish indifference to catching a
train, or accomplishing anything else, which leaves the tendency to
hurry out of some temperaments altogether, but with that kind of a
person we are not dealing now. And such indifference is the absolute
opposite of the wholesome indifference in which there is no touch of
laziness or selfishness.

If we want to avoid hurry we must get the habit of hurry out of our
brains, and cut ourselves off, patiently and kindly, from the
atmosphere of hurry about us. The habit gets so strong a hold of the
nerves, and is impressed upon them so forcibly as a steady tendency,
that it can be detected by a close observer even in a person who is
lying on a lounge in the full belief that he is resting. It shows
itself especially in the breathing. A wise athlete has said that our
normal breathing should consist of six breaths to one minute. If the
reader will try this rate of breathing, the slowness of it will
surprise him. Six breaths to one minute seem to make the breathing
unnecessarily slow, and just double that seems about the right
number for ordinary people; and the habit of breathing at this
slower rate is a great help, from a physical standpoint, toward
erasing the tendency to hurry.

One of the most restful exercises any one can take is to lie at full
length on a bed or lounge and to inhale and exhale, at a perfectly
even, slow rate, for half an hour. It makes the exercise more
restful if another person counts for the breathing, say, ten slowly
and quickly to inhale, and ten to exhale, with a little pause to
give time for a quiet change from one breath to another.

Resistance, which is the mental source of hurry, is equally at the
root of that most harmful emotion--the habit of worrying. And the
same truths which must be learned and practised to free ourselves of
the one habit are applicable to the other.

Take the simple example of a child who worries over his lessons.
Children illustrate the principle especially well, because they are
so responsive that, if you meet them quietly with the truth in
difficulties of this kind they recognize its value and apply it very
quickly, and it takes them, comparatively, a very little time to get

If you think of telling a child that the moment he finds himself
worrying about his lesson he should close his book and say:

"I do not care whether I get this lesson or not."

And then, when he has actually persuaded himself that he does not
care, that he should open his book and study,--it would seem, at
first sight, that he would find it difficult to understand you; but,
on the contrary, a child understands more quickly than older people,
for the child has not had time to establish himself so firmly in the
evil habit.

I have in mind a little girl in whom the habit had begun of worrying
lest she should fail in her lessons, especially in her Latin. Her
mother sent her to be taught how not to worry. The teacher, after
giving her some idea of the common sense of not worrying, taught her
quieting exercises which she practised every day; and when one day,
in the midst of one of her lessons, Margaret seemed very quiet and
restful, the teacher asked:--

"Margaret, could you worry about your Latin now if you tried?"

"Yes," said Margaret, "I am afraid I could."

Nothing more was said, but she went on with her lessons, and several
days after, during the same restful quiet time, the teacher ventured

"Now, Margaret, could you worry about your Latin if you tried?"

Then came the emphatic answer, _"No, I could not."_

After that the little girl would say:

"With the part of me that worries, I do not care whether I get my
Latin or not; with the part of me that does not worry, I want to get
my Latin very much; therefore I will stay in the part of me that
does not worry, and get my Latin."

A childish argument, and one that may be entirely incomprehensible
to many minds, but to those who do comprehend, it represents a very
real and practical help.

It is, in most cases, a grave mistake to, reason with a worry. We
must first drop the worry, and then do our reasoning. If to drop the
worry seems impossible, we can separate ourselves from it enough to
prevent it from interfering with our reasoning, very much as if it
were neuralgia. There is never any real reason for a worry, because,
as we all know, worry never helps us to gain, and often is the cause
of our losing, the things which we so much desire.

Sometimes we worry because we are tired, and in that case, if we can
recognize the real cause, we should use our wills to withdraw our
attention from the object of worry, and to get all possible rest at
once, in the confident belief that rest will make things clear, or
at least more clear than they were when we were tired. It would be
hard to compute the harm that has been done by kindly disposed
people in reasoning with the worry of a friend, when the anxiety is
increased by fatigue or illness. To reason with one who is tired or
ill and worried, only increases the mental strain, and every effort
that is made to reason him out of it aggravates the strain; until,
finally, the poor brain, through kindly meant effort, has been
worked into an extreme state of irritation or even inflammation. For
the same reason, a worried mind should not be laughed at. Worries
that are aroused by fatigue or illness are often most absurd, but
they are not absurd to the mind that is suffering from them, and to
make fun of them only brings more pain, and more worry. Gentle,
loving attention, with kindly, truthful answers, will always help.
By such attention we are really giving no importance to the worry,
but only to our friend, with the hope of soothing and quieting him
out of his worries, and when he is rested he may see the truth for

We should deal with ourselves, in such cases, as gently as we would
with a friend, excepting that we can tell the truth to ourselves
more plainly than we can to most friends.

Worrying is resistance, resistance is unwillingness. Unwillingness
interferes with whatever we may want to accomplish. To be willing
that this, that, or the other should happen seems most difficult,
when to our minds, this, that, or the other would bring disaster.
And yet if we can once see clearly that worrying resistance tends
toward disaster rather than away from it, or, at the very least,
takes away our strength and endurance, it is only a matter of time
before we become able to drop our resistance altogether. But it is a
matter of time; and, when once we are faced toward freedom, we must
be patient and steady, and not expect to gain very rapidly. Theirs
is indeed a hard lot who have acquired this habit of worry, and
persist in doing nothing to gain their freedom.

"Now I have got something to worry about for the rest of my life,"
remarked a poor woman once. Her face was set toward worrying;
nothing but her own will could have turned it the other way, and yet
she deliberately chose not to use it, and so she was fixed and
settled in prison for the rest of her life.

To worry is wicked; it is wickedness of a kind that people often do
not recognize as such, and they are not fully responsible until they
do; but to prove it to be wicked is an easy matter, when once we are
faced toward freedom; and, to get over it, as I have said, is a
matter of steady, persistent patience.

As for irritability, that is also resistance; but there are two
kinds of irritability,--physical and moral.

There is an irritability that comes when we are hungry, if we have
eaten something that disagrees with us, if we are cold or tired or
uncomfortable from some other physical cause. When we feel that kind
of irritability we should ignore it, as we would ignore a little
snapping dog across the street, while at the same time removing its
cause as quickly as we can. There is nothing that delights the devil
more than to scratch a man with the irritability of hunger, and have
him respond to it at once by being ugly and rude to a friend; for
then the irritation immediately becomes moral, and every bit of
selfishness rushes up to join it, and to arouse whatever there may
be of evil in the man. It is simple to recognize this merely
physical form of irritability, and we should no more allow ourselves
to speak, or act, or even _think_ from it, than we should allow
ourselves to walk directly into foul air, when the good fresh air is
close to us on the other side.

But moral irritability is more serious; that comes from the soul,
and is the result of our wanting our own way. The immediate cause
may be some physical disturbance, such as noise, or it may be
aroused by other petty annoyances, like that of being obliged to
wait for some one who is unpunctual, or by disagreement in an
argument. There are very many causes for irritability, and we each
have our own individual sensitiveness or antipathy, but, whatever
the secondary cause, the primary cause is always the
same,--resistance or unwillingness to accept our circumstances.

If we are fully willing to be disturbed, we cease to be troubled by
the disturbance; if we are willing to wait, we are not annoyed by
being kept waiting, and we are in a better, more quiet humor to help
our friend to the habit of promptness. if we are willing that
another should differ from us in opinion, we can see more clearly
either to convince our friend, if he is wrong,--or to admit that he
is right, and that we are wrong. The essential condition of good
argument is freedom from personal feeling, with the desire only for
the truth,--whether it comes from one party or the other.

Hurry, worry, and irritability all come from selfish resistance to
the facts of life, and the only permanent cure for the waste of
force and the exhausting distress which they entail, is a
willingness to accept those facts, whatever they may be, in a spirit
of cheerful and reverent obedience to law.


_Nervous Fears_

TO argue with nervous anxiety, either in ourselves or in others, is
never helpful. Indeed it is never helpful to argue with "nerves" at
all. Arguing with nervous excitement of any kind is like rubbing a
sore. It only irritates it. It does not take long to argue excited
or tired nerves into inflammation, but it is a long and difficult
process to allay the inflammation when it has once been aroused. It
is a sad fact that many people have been argued into long nervous
illnesses by would-be kind friends whose only intention was to argue
them out of illness. Even the kindest and most disinterested friends
are apt to lose patience when they argue, and that, to the tired
brain which they are trying to relieve, is a greater irritant than
they realize. The radical cure for nervous fears is to drop
resistance to painful circumstances or conditions. Resistance is
unwillingness to endure, and to drop the resistance is to be
strongly willing. This vigorous "willingness" is so absolutely
certain in its happy effect, and is so impossible that it should
fail, that the resistant impulses seem to oppose themselves to it
with extreme energy. It is as if the resistances were conscious
imps, and as if their certainty of defeat--in the case of their
victim's entire "willingness "--roused them to do their worst, and
to hold on to their only possible means of power with all the more
determination. Indeed, when a man is working through a hard state,
in gaining his freedom from nervous fears, these imps seem to hold
councils of war, and to devise new plans of attack in order to take
him by surprise and overwhelm him in an emergency. But every sharp
attack, if met with quiet "willingness," brings a defeat for the
assailants, until finally the resistant imps are conquered and
disappear. Occasionally a stray imp will return, and try to arouse
resistance on what he feels is old familiar ground, but he is
quickly driven off, and the experience only makes a man more quietly
vigilant and more persistently "willing."

Perhaps one of the most prevalent and one of the hardest fears to
meet, is that of insanity,--especially when it is known to be a
probable or possible inheritance. When such fear is oppressing a
man,--to tell him that he not only can get free from the fear, but
free from any possibility of insanity, through a perfect willingness
to be insane, must seem to him at first a monstrous mockery; and, if
you cannot persuade him of the truth, but find that you are only
frightening him more, there is nothing to do then but to be willing
that he should not be persuaded, and to wait for a better
opportunity. You can show him that no such inheritance can become an
actuality, unless we permit it, and that the very knowledge of an
hereditary tendency, when wholesomely used, makes it possible for us
to take every precaution and to use every true safeguard against it.
The presence of danger is a source of strength to the brave; and the
source of abiding courage is not in the nerves, but in the spirit
and the will behind them. It is the clear statement of this fact
that will persuade him The fact may have to be stated many times,
but it should never be argued. And the more quietly and gently and
earnestly it is stated, the sooner it will convince, for it is the
truth that makes us free.

Fear keeps the brain in a state of excitement. Even when it is not
consciously felt, it is felt sub-consciously, and we ought to be
glad to have it aroused, in order that we may see it and free
ourselves, not only from the particular fear for the time being, but
from the subconscious impression of fear in general.

Is seems curious to speak of grappling with the fear of insanity,
and conquering it by being perfectly willing to be insane, but it is
no more curious than the relation of the centrifugal and the
centripetal forces to each other. We need our utmost power of
concentration to enable us to yield truly, and to be fully willing
to submit to whatever the law of our being may require. Fear
contracts the brain and the nerves, and interrupts the circulation,
and want of free circulation is a breeder of disease. Dropping
resistance relaxes the tension of the brain and nerves, and opens
the channels for free circulation, and free circulation helps to
carry off the tendency to disease. If a man is wholesomely willing
to be insane, should such an affliction overtake him, he has dropped
all resistance to the idea of insanity, and thus also to all the
mental and physical contractions that would foster insanity. He has
dropped a strain which was draining his brain of its proper
strength, and the result is new vigor to mind and body. To drop an
inherited strain produces a great and wonderful change, and all we
need to bring it about is to thoroughly understand how possible and
how beneficial it is. If we once realize the benefit of dropping the
strain, our will is there to accomplish the rest, as surely as it is
there to take our hand out of the fire when it burns.

Then there is the fear of contagion. Some people are haunted with
the fear of catching disease, and the contraction which such
resistance brings induces a physical state most favorable to
contagion. There was once a little child whose parents were so full
of anxious fears that they attempted to protect him from disease in
ways that were extreme and ridiculous. All his toys were boiled,
everything he ate or drank was sterilized, and many other
precautions were taken,--but along with all the precautions, the
parents were in constant fear; and it is not unreasonable to feel
that the reflection upon the child of the chronic resistance to
possible danger with which he was surrounded, had something to do
with the fact that the dreaded disease was finally caught, and that,
moreover, the child did not recover. If reasonably healthy
conditions had been insisted upon, and the parents had felt a
wholesome trust in the general order of things, it would have been
likely to make the child more vigorous, and would have tended to
increase his capacity for throwing off contagion.

Children are very sensitive, and it is not unusual to see a child
crying because its mother is out of humor, even though she may not
have spoken a cross word. It is not unusual to see a child contract
its little brain and body in response to the fears and contractions
of its parents, and such contraction keeps the child in a state in
which it may be more difficult to throw off disease.

If you hold your fist as tight as you can hold it for fifteen
minutes, the fatigue you will feel when it relaxes is a clear proof
of the energy you have been wasting. The waste of nervous energy
would be much increased if the fist were held tightly for hours; and
if the waste is so great in the useless tightening of a fist, it is
still greater in the extended and continuous contraction of brain
and nerves in useless fears; and the energy saved through dropping
the fears and their accompanying tension can bring in the same
proportion a vigor unknown before, and at the same time afford
protection against the very things we feared.

The fear of taking cold is so strong in many people that a draught
of fresh air becomes a bugaboo to their contracted, sensitive
nerves. Draughts are imagined as existing everywhere, and the
contraction which immediately follows the sensation of a draught is
the best means of preparing to catch a cold.

Fear of accident keeps one in a constant state of unnecessary
terror. To be willing that an accident should happen does not make
it more likely to happen, but it prevents our wasting energy by
resistance, and keeps us quiet and free, so that if an emergency of
any kind arises, we are prepared to act promptly and calmly for the
best. If the amount of human energy wasted in the strain of nervous
fear could be measured in pounds of pressure, the figures would be
astonishing. Many people who have the habit of nervous fear in one
form or another do not throw it off merely because they do not know
how. There are big and little nervous fears, and each and all can be
met and conquered,--thus bringing a freedom of life which cannot
even be imagined by those carrying the burden of fear, more or less,
throughout their lives.

The fear of what people will think of us is a very common cause of
slavery, and the nervous anxiety as to whether we do or do not
please is a strain which wastes the energy of the greater part of
mankind. It seems curious to measure the force wasted in
sensitiveness to public opinion as you would measure the waste of
power in an engine, and yet it is a wholesome and impersonal way to
think of it,--until we find a better way. It relieves us of the
morbid element in the sensitiveness to say, "I cannot mind what
so-and-so thinks of me, for I have not the nervous energy to spare."
It relieves us still more of the tendency to morbid feeling, if we
are wholesomely interested in what others think of us, in order to
profit by it, and do better. There is nothing morbid or nervous
about our sensitiveness to opinion, when it is derived from a love
of criticism for the sake of its usefulness. Such a rightful and
wise regard for the opinion of others results in a saving of energy,
for on the one hand, it saves us from the mistakes of false and
shallow independence, and, on the other, from the wasteful strain of
servile fear.

The little nervous fears are countless. The fear of not being exact.
The fear of not having turned off the gas entirely. The fear of not
having done a little daily duty which we find again and again we
have done. These fears are often increased, and sometimes are
aroused, by our being tired, and it is well to realize that, and to
attend at once carefully to whatever our particular duty may be, and
then, when the fear of not having done it attacks us, we should
think of it as if it were a physical pain, and turn our attention
quietly to something else. In this way such little nagging fears are
relieved; whereas, if we allowed ourselves to be driven by them, we
might bring on nervous states that would take weeks or months to
overcome. These nervous fears attack us again and again in subtle
ways, if we allow ourselves to be influenced by them. They are all
forms of unwillingness or resistance, and may all be removed by
dropping the resistance and yielding,--not to the fear, but to a
willingness that the fear should be there.

One of the small fears that often makes life seem unbearable is the
fear of a dentist. A woman who had suffered from this fear for a
lifetime, and who had been learning to drop resistances in other
ways, was once brought face to face with the necessity for going to
the dentist, and the old fear was at once aroused,--something like
the feeling one might have in preparing for the guillotine,--and
she suffered from it a day or two before she remembered her new
principles. Then, when the new ideas came back to her mind, she at
once applied them and said, "Yes, I _am afraid,_ I _am awfully
afraid._ I am _perfectly willing to be afraid," _and the ease with
which the fear disappeared was a surprise,--even to herself.

Another woman who was suffering intensely from fear as to the
after-effects of an operation, had begun to tremble with great
nervous intensity. The trembling itself frightened her, and when a
friend told her quietly to be willing to tremble, her quick,
intelligence responded at once. "Yes," she said, "I will, I will
make myself tremble," and, by not only being willing to tremble, but
by making herself tremble, she got quiet mental relief in a very
short time, and the trembling disappeared.

The fear of death is, with its derivatives, of course, the greatest
of all; and to remove our resistance to the idea of death, by being
perfectly willingly to die is to remove the foundation of all the
physical cowardice in life, and to open the way for the growth of a
courage which is strength and freedom itself. He who yields gladly
to the ordinary facts of life, will also yield gladly to the supreme
fact of physical death, for a brave and happy willingness is the
characteristic habit of his heart:--

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will."

There is a legend of the Arabs in which a man puts his head out of
his tent and says, "I will loose my camel and commit him to God,"
and a neighbor who hears him says, in his turn, "I will tie my camel
and commit him to God." The true helpfulness from non-resistance
does not come from neglecting to take proper precautions against the
objects of fear, but from yielding with entire willingness to the
necessary facts of life, and a sane confidence that, whatever comes,
we shall be provided with the means of meeting it. This confidence
is, in itself, one of the greatest sources of intelligent endurance.



SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS may be truly defined as a person's inability to
get out of his own way. There are, however, some people who are so
entirely and absolutely self-conscious that everything they do, even
though it may appear spontaneous and ingenuous, is observed and
admired and approved of by themselves,--indeed they are supported
and sustained by their self-consciousness. They are so completely in
bondage to themselves that they have no glimpse of the possibility
of freedom, and therefore this bondage is pleasant to them.

With these people we have, at present, nothing to do; it is only
those who have begun to realize their bondage as such, or who suffer
from it, that can take any steps toward freedom. The self-satisfied
slaves must stay in prison until they see where they are--and it is
curious and sad to see them rejoicing in bondage and miscalling it
freedom. It makes one long to see them struck by an emergency,
bringing a flash of inner light which is often the beginning of an
entire change of state. Sometimes the enlightenment comes through
one kind of circumstance, sometimes through another; but, if the
glimpse of clearer sight it brings is taken advantage of, it will be
followed by a time of groping in the dark, and always by more or
less suffering. When, however, we know that we are in the dark,
there is hope of our coming to the light; and suffering is nothing
whatever after it is over and has brought its good results.

If we were to take away the prop of self-approval entirely and
immediately from any one of the habitually self-satisfied people,
the probable result would be an entire nervous collapse, or even a
painful form of insanity; and, in all changes of state from bondage
to freedom, the process is and must be exceedingly slow. No one ever
strengthened his character with a wrench of impatience, although we
are often given the opportunity for a firm and immediate use of the
will which leaves lasting strength behind it. For the main growth of
our lives, however, we must be steadily patient, content to aim in
the true direction day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. If we
fall, we must pick ourselves up and go right on,--not stop to be
discouraged for one instant after we have recognized our state as a
temptation. Whatever the stone may be that we have tripped over, we
have learned that it is there, and, while we may trip over the same
stone many times, if we learn our lesson each time, it decreases the
possible number of stumbles, and smooths our paths more than we

There is no exception to the necessity for this patient, steady
plodding in the work required to gain our freedom from
self-consciousness. It is when we are aware of our bondage that our
opportunity to gain our freedom from it really begins. This bondage
brings very real suffering, and we may often, without exaggeration,
call it torture. It is sometimes even extreme torture, but may have
to be endured for a lifetime unless the sufferer has the clear light
by which to find his freedom; and, unfortunately, many who might
have the light will not use it because they are unwilling to
recognize the selfishness that is at the root of their trouble. Some
women like to call it "shyness," because the name sounds well, and
seems to exonerate them from any responsibility with regard to their
defect. Men will rarely speak of their self-consciousness, but, when
they do, they are apt to speak of it with more or less indignation
and self-pity, as if they were in the clutches of something
extraneous to themselves, and over which they can never gain
control. If, when a man is complaining of self-consciousness and of
its interference with his work in life, you tell him in all
kindness that all his suffering has its root in downright
selfishness, he will, in most cases, appear not to hear, or he will
beg the question, and, having avoided acknowledging the truth, will
continue to complain and ask for help, and perhaps wonder whether
hypnotism may not help him, or some other form of "cure." Anything
rather than look the truth in the face and do the work in himself
which, is the only possible road to lasting, freedom. Self-pity, and
what may be called spiritual laziness, is at the root of most of the
self-torment in the world.

How ridiculous it would seem if a man tried to produce an electric
burner according to laws of his own devising, and then sat down and
pitied himself because the light would not burn, instead of
searching about until he had found the true laws of electricity
whose application would make the light shine successfully. How
ridiculous it would seem if a man tried to make water run up hill
without providing that it should do so by reaching its own level,
and then got indignant because he did not succeed, and wondered if
there were not some "cure" by means of which his object might be
accomplished. And yet it is no more strange for a man to disobey
habitually the laws of character, and then to suffer for his
disobedience, and wonder why he suffers.

There is an external necessity for obeying social laws which must be
respected, or society would go to pieces; and there is just as great
an internal necessity for obeying spiritual laws to gain our proper
self-control and power for use; but we do not recognize that
necessity because, while disrregarding the laws of character, we can
still live without the appearance of doing harm to the community.
Social laws can be respected in the letter but not in the spirit,
whereas spiritual laws must be accepted by the individual heart and
practiced by the individual will in order to produce any useful
result. Each one of us must do the required work in himself. There
is no "cure," no help from outside which can bring one to a lasting

If self-consciousness makes us blush, the more we are troubled the
more it increases, until the blushing may become so unbearable that
we are tempted to keep away from people altogether; and thus life,
so far as human fellowship goes, would become more and more limited.
But, when such a limitation is allowed to remain within us, and we
make no effort of our own to find its root and to exterminate it, it
warps us through and through. If self-consciousness excites us to
talk, and we talk on and on to no end, simply allowing the selfish
suffering to goad us, the habit weakens our brains so that in time
they lose the power of strong consecutive thought and helpful

If self-consciousness causes us to wriggle, and strain, and stammer,
and we do not recognize the root of the trouble and shun it, and
learn to yield and quietly relax our nerves and muscles, of course
the strain becomes worse. Then, rather than suffer from it any
longer, we keep away from people, just as the blushing man is
tempted to do. In that case, the strain is still in us, in the back
of our brains, so to speak--because we have not faced and overcome

Stage fright is an intense form of self-consciousness, but the man
who is incapable of stage fright lacks the sensitive temperament
required to achieve great power as an artist. The man who overcomes
stage fright by getting out of his own way, and by letting the
character he is playing, or the music he is interpreting, work
through him as a clear, unselfish channel receives new power for his
work in the proportion that he shuns his own interfering

But it is with the self-consciousness of everyday life that we have
especially to do now, and with the practical wisdom necessary to
gain freedom from all its various discomforts; and, even more than
that, to gain the new power for useful service which comes from the
possession of that freedom.

The remedy is to be found in obedience to the law of unselfishness,
carried out into the field of nervous suffering.

Whatever one may think, however one may try to dodge the truth by
this excuse or that, the conditions to be fulfilled in order to gain
freedom from self-consciousness are _absolutely within the
indidivual who suffers._ When we once understand this, and are faced
toward the truth, we are sure to find our way out, with more or less
rapidity, according to the strength with which we use our wills in
true obedience.

First, we must be willing to accept the effects of
self-consciousness. The more we resist these effects the more they
force themselves upon us, and the more we suffer from them. We must
be willing to blush, be willing to realize that we have talked too
much, and perhaps made ourselves ridiculous. We must be willing to
feel the discomforts of self-consciousness in whatever form they may
appear. Then--the central point of all--we must know and
understand, and not dodge in the very least the truth that the _root
of self-consciousness is selfishly caring what other people think of
us,--and wanting to appear well before them._

Many readers of this article who suffer from self-consciousness will
want to deny this; others will acknowledge it, but will declare
their inability to live according to the truth; some,--perhaps more
than a few,--will recognize the truth and set to work with a will to
obey it, and how happily we may look forward to the freedom which
will eventually be theirs!

A wise man has said that when people do not think well of us, the
first thing to do is to look and see whether they are right. In most
cases, even though they way have unkind feelings mingled with their
criticism, there is an element of truth in it from which we may
profit. In such cases we are much indebted to our critics, for, by
taking their suggestions, we are helped toward strength of character
and power for use. If there is no truth in the criticism, we need
not think of it at all, but live steadily on, knowing that the truth
will take care of itself.

We should be willing that any one should think _anything_ of us, so
long as we have the strength of a good conscience. We should be
willing to appear in any light if that appearance will enhance our
use, or is a necessity of growth. If an awkward appearance is
necessary in the process of our journey toward freedom, we must not
resist the fact of its existence, and should only dwell on it long
enough to shun its cause in so far as we can, and gain the good
result of the greater freedom which will follow.

It is because the suffering from self-consciousness is often so
intense that freedom from it brings, by contrast, so happy and so
strong a sense of power.

There is a school for the treatment of stammerers in this country in
which the pupils are initiated into the process of cure by being
required to keep silence for a week. This would be a most helpful
beginning in a training to overcome self-consciousness. We should
recognize first that we must be willing to endure the effects of
self-consciousness without resistance. Secondly, we should admit
that the root of self-consciousness lies entirely in a selfish
desire to appear well before others. If, while recognizing these two
essential truths and confirming them until they are thoroughly
implanted in our brains, we should quietly persist in going among
people, the practice of silent attention to others would be of the
greatest value in gaining real freedom. The practice of attentive
and sympathetic silence might well be followed by people in general
far more than it is. The protection of a loving, unselfish silence
is very great: a silence which is the result of shunning all
selfish, self-assertive, vain, or affected speech; a silence which
is never broken for the sake of "making conversation," "showing
off," or covering selfish embarrassment; a silence which is full of
sympathy and interest,--the power of such a silence cannot be

If we have the evil habit of talking for the sake of winning
approval, we should practise this silence; or if we talk for the
sake of calling attention to ourselves, for the sake of winning
sympathy for our selfish pains and sorrows, or for the sake of
indulging in selfish emotions, nothing can help us more than the
habit of loving and attentive silence.

Only when we know how to practise this--in an impersonal, free and
quiet spirit, one which is not due to outward repression of any
kind--are we able to talk with quiet, loving, helpful speech. Then
may we tell the clean truth without giving unnecessary offence, and
then may we soothe and rest, as well as stimulate in, wholesome ways;
then, also, will our minds open to receive the good that may come to
us through the words and actions of others.


_The Circumstances of Life_

IT is not the circumstances of life that trouble or weigh upon us,
it is the way we take them. If a man is playing a difficult game of
chess, the more intricate the moves the more thoughtfully he looks
over his own and his opponent's men, and the more fully he is
aroused to make the right move toward a checkmate. If, when the game
became difficult, the player stopped to be depressed and
disheartened, his opponent would probably always checkmate him;
whereas, in most cases, the more difficult the game the more
thoroughly the players are aroused to do their best, and a difficult
game is invariably a good one,--the winner and the loser both feel
it to be so,--even though the loser may regret his loss. But--the
reader will say--a game of chess is a game only,--neither one's
bread and butter nor one's life depend upon winning or losing it.
If, however, we need to be cool and quiet and trustful for a game,
which is merely an amusement, and if we play the game better for
being cool and quiet and trustful, why is not a quiet steadiness in
wrestling with the circumstances of life itself just as necessary,
not only that we may meet the particular problem of the moment
truly, but that we may gain all the experience which may be helpful
in meeting other difficult circumstances as they present themselves.

We must first convince ourselves thoroughly of the truth that

They are not by any means opportunities for taking us in the
direction that our own selfishness would have us go; they are
opportunities which are meant to guide us in the direction we most
need to follow,--in the ways that will lead us to the greatest
strength in the end.

The most unbelieving of us will admit that "there is a destiny which
shapes our ends, rough hew them as we may," and it is in the stupid
resistance to having our ends shaped for us that we stop and groan
at what we call the limitations of circumstances.

If we were quickly alert to see where circumstances had placed the
gate of opportunity, and then steadily persisted in going through
it, it would save the loss of energy and happiness which results
from obstinately beating our heads against a stone wall where there
is no gate, and where there never can be a gate.

Probably there is hardly a reader who will not recall a number of
cases in which circumstances appear to have been only limitations to
him or to his friends; but if he will try with a willing mind to
find the gate of opportunity which was not used, he will be
surprised to learn that it was wide open all the time, and might
have led him into a new and better country.

The other day a little urchin playing in the street got in the way
of a horse, and just saved himself from being run over by a quick
jump; he threw up his arms and in a most cheerful voice called out,
"It's all right, only different!" If the horse had run over him, he
might have said the same thing and found his opportunity to more
that was good and useful in life through steady patience on his bed.
The trouble is that we are not willing to call it _"all right"_
unless it is _the same,_--the same in this case meaning whatever may
be identical with our own personal ideas of what is "all right."
That expressive little bit of slang is full of humor and full of
common sense.

If, for instance, when we expect something and are disappointed, we
could at once yield out of our resistance and heartily exclaim, "it
is all right, only different," how much sooner we should discover
the good use in its being different, and how soon we should settle
into the sense of its being "all right!" When a circumstance that
has seemed to us _all wrong_ can be made, through our quiet way of
meeting it, to appear all right, only different, it very soon leads
to a wholesome content in the new state of affairs or to a change of
circumstances to which we can more readily and happily adjust

A strong sense of something's being "all right" means a strong sense
of willingness that it should be just as it is. With that clear
willingness in our hearts in general, we can adjust ourselves to
anything in particular,--even to very sudden and unexpected
changes. It is carrying along with us a background of powerful
non-resistance which we can bring to the front and use actively at a
moment's notice.

It seems odd to think of actively using non-resistance, and yet the
expression is not as contradictory as it would appear, for the
strength of will it takes to attain an habitual attitude of
wholesome non-resistance is far beyond the strength of will required
to resist unwholesomely. The stronger, the more fixed and immovable
the centre, the more free and adaptable are the circumferences of
action; and, even though our central principle is fixed and
immovable, it must be elastic enough to enable us to change our
point of view whenever we find that by so doing we can gain a
broader outlook and greater power for use.

To acquire the strength of will for this habitual non-resistance is
sometimes a matter of years of practice. We have to compel ourselves
to be "willing," over and over again, at each new opportunity;
sometimes the opportunities seem to throng us; and this, truly
considered, is only a cause for gratitude.

In life the truest winning often comes first under the guise of
failure, and it is willingness to accept failure, and intelligence
in understanding its causes, and using the acquired knowledge as a
means to a higher end, that ultimately brings true success. If we
choose, a failure can always be used as a means to an end rather
than as a result in itself.

How often do we hear the complaint, "I could do so well if it were
not for my circumstances." How many people are held down for a
lifetime by the habitual belief in circumstances as limitations, and
by ignoring the opportunities which they afford.

"So long as I must live with these people I can never amount to
anything." If this complaint could be changed to the resolve: "I
will live with these people until I have so adjusted myself to them
as to be contented," a source of weakness would be changed into a
source of strength. The quiet activity of mind required to adjust
ourselves to difficult surroundings gives a zest and interest to
life which we can find in no other way, and adds a certain strength
to the character which cannot be found elsewhere. It is interesting
to observe, too, how often it happens that, when we have adjusted
ourselves to difficult circumstances, we are removed to other
circumstances which are more in sympathy with our own, thoughts and
ways: and sometimes to circumstances which are more difficult still,
and require all the strength and wisdom which our previous
discipline has taught us.

If we are alive to our own true freedom, we should have an active
interest in the necessary warfare of life. For life is a
warfare--not of persons, but of principles--and every man who loves
his freedom loves to be in the midst of the battle. Our tendencies
to selfish discontent are constantly warring against our love of
usefulness and service, and he who wishes to enjoy the full
activity of freedom must learn to fight and to destroy the
tendencies within himself which stand in the way of his own
obedience to law. But he needs, for this, the truthful and open
spirit which leads to wise self-knowledge; a quiet and a willing
spirit, to make the necessary sacrifice of selfish pride. His quiet
earnestness will give him the strength to carry out what his clear
vision will reveal to him in the light of truth He will keep his
head lifted up above his enemies round about him, so that he may
steadily watch and clearly see how best to act. After periods of
hard fighting the intervals of rest will be full of refreshment, and
will always bring new strength for further activity. If, in the
battle with difficult circumstances, we are thrown down, we must
pick ourselves up with quick decision, and not waste a moment in
complaint or discouragement. We should emphasize to ourselves the
necessity for picking ourselves up immediately, and going directly
on, over and over again,--both for our own benefit, and the benefit
of those whom we have the privilege of helping

In the Japanese training of "Jiu Jitsu," the idea seems to be to
drop all subjective resistance, and to continue to drop it, until,
through the calmness and clearness of sight that comes from quiet
nerves and a free mind, the wrestler can see where to make the fatal
stroke. When the right time has arrived, the only effort which is
necessary is quick, sharp and conclusive. This wonderful principle
is often misused for selfish ends, and in such cases it leads
eventually to bondage because, by the successful satisfaction of
selfish motives, it strengthens the hold of our selfishness upon us;
but, when used in an unselfish spirit, it is an ever-increasing
source of strength. In the case of difficult circumstances,--if we
cease to resist,--if we accept the facts of life,--if we are willing
to be poor, or ill, or disappointed, or to live with people we do
not like,--we gain a quietness of nerve and a freedom of mind which
clears off the mists around us, so that our eyes may see and
recognize the gate of opportunity,--open before us.

It is the law of concentration and relaxation. If we concentrate on
being willing, on relaxing until we have dropped every bit of
resistance to the circumstances about us, that brings us to a quiet
and well-balanced point of view, whence we can see clearly how to
take firm and decided action. From such action the re-action is only
renewed strength,--never painful and contracting weakness. If we
could give up all our selfish desires and resistances,
circumstances, however difficult, would have no power whatever to
trouble us. To reach such absolute willingness is a long journey,
but there is a straight path leading nearer and nearer to the happy
freedom which is our goal.

Self-pity is one of the states that interferes most effectually with
making the right use of circumstances. To pity one's self is
destruction to all possible freedom. If the reader finds himself in
the throes of this weakness and is helped through these words to
recognize the fact, let him hasten to shun it as he would shun
poison, for it is progressively weakening to soul and body. It will
take only slight difficulties of any kind to overthrow us, if we are
overcome by this temptation.

Imagine a man in the planet Mars wanting to try his fortunes on
another planet, and an angel appearing to him with permission to
transfer him to the earth.

"But," the angel says, "of course you can have no idea of what the
life is upon the new planet unless you are placed in the midst of
various circumstances which are more or less common to its

"Certainly," the Martian answers, "I recognize that, and I want to
have my experience on this new planet as complete as possible;
therefore the more characteristic and difficult my circumstances are
the better." Then imagine the interest that man would have, from the
moment he was placed on the earth, in working, his way through, and
observing his experience as he worked.

His interest would be alive vivid, and strong, from the beginning
until he found himself, with earthly experience completed, ready to
return to his friends in Mars. He would never lose courage or be in
any way disheartened. The more difficult his earthly problem was,
the more it would arouse his interest and vigor to solve it. So many
people prefer a difficult problem in geometry to an easy one, then
why not in life? The difference is that in mathematics the head
alone is exercised, and in life the head and the heart are both
brought into play, and the first difficulty is to persuade the head
and heart to work together. In the visitor from Mars, of course, the
heart would be working with the head, and so the whole man would be
centred on getting creditably through his experience and home again.
If our hearts and heads were together equally concentrated on
getting through our experience for the sake of the greater power of
use it would bring,--and, if we could trustfully believe in getting
home again, that is, in getting established in the current of
ordinary spiritual and natural action, then life would be really
alive for us, then we should actually get the scent of our true
freedom, and, having once had a taste of it, we should have a fresh
incentive in achieving it entirely.

There is one important thing to remember in an effort to be free
from the bondage of circumstances which will save us from much
unnecessary suffering. This has to do with the painful associations
which arise from circumstances which are past and over.

A woman, for example, suffered for a year from nervous exhaustion in
her head, which was brought on, among other things, by
over-excitement in private theatricals. She apparently recovered her
health, and, because she was fond of acting, her first activities
were turned in that direction. She accepted a part in a play; but as
soon as she began to study all her old head symptoms returned, and
she was thoroughly frightened, thinking that she might never be able
to use her head again. Upon being convinced, however, that all her
discomfort came from her own imagination, through the painful
associations connected with the study of her part, she returned to
her work resolved to ignore them, and the consequence was that the
symptoms rapidly disappeared.

Not uncommonly we hear that a person of our acquaintance cannot go
to some particular place because of the painful events which
occurred there. If the sufferer could only be persuaded that, when
such associations are once bravely faced, it takes a very short time
for the painful effects to disappear entirely, much unnecessary and
prolonged discomfort would be saved.

People have been kept ill for weeks, months and years, through.
holding on to the brain impression of some painful event.

Whether the painful circumstances are little or great, the law of
association is the same and, in any case, the brain impression can
be dropped entirely, although it may take time and patience to do
it. We must often talk to our brains as if we were talking to
another person to eliminate the impressions from old associations.
Tell your brain in so many words, without emotion, that the place or
the circumstance is nothing, nothing whatever,--it is only your idea
about it, and the false association can be changed to a true one.

So must we yield our selfish resistances and be ready to accept
every opportunity for growth that circumstances offer; and, at the
same time, when the good result is gained, throw off the impression
of the pain of the process entirely and forever. Thus may we both
live and observe for our own good and that of others; and he who is
practising this principle in his daily life can say from his
heart:--"Now shall my head be lifted up above mine enemies round
about me."


_Other People_

HOWEVER disagreeable other people may be,--however unjust they may
be, however true it may be that the wrong is all on their side and
not at all on ours,--whatever we may suffer at their hands,--we can
only remedy the difficulty by looking first solely to ourselves and
our own conduct; and, not until we are entirely free from resentment
or resistance of any kind, and not until we are quiet in our own
minds with regard to those who may be oppressing or annoying us,
should we make any effort to set them right.

This philosophy is sound and absolutely practical,--it never fails;
any apparent failure will be due to our own delinquency in applying
it; and, if the reader will think of this truth carefully until he
feels able to accept it, he will see what true freedom there is in
it,--although it may be a long time before he is fully able to carry
it out.

How can I remain in any slightest bondage to another when I feel
sure that, however wrong he may be, the true cause of my discomfort
and oppression is in myself? I am in bondage to myself, and it is to
myself that I must look to gain my freedom. If a friend is rude and
unkind to me, and I resent the rudeness and resist the unkindness,
it is the resentment and resistance that cause me to suffer. I am
not suffering for my friend, I am suffering for myself; and I can
only gain my freedom by shunning the resentment and resistance as
sin against all that is good and true in friendship. When I am free
from these things in myself,--when, as far as I am concerned, I am
perfectly and entirely willing that my friend should be rude or
unjust, then only am I free from him. It is impossible that he
should oppress me, if I am willing that he should be unjust or
unkind; and the freedom that comes from such strong and willing
non-resistance is like the fresh air upon a mountain. Such freedom
brings with it also a new understanding of one's friend, and a new
ability to serve him.

Unless we live a life of seclusion, most of us have more than one
friend, or acquaintance, or enemy, with whom we are brought into
constant or occasional contact, and by whom we are made to suffer;
not to mention the frequent irritations that may come from people we
see only once in our lives. Imagine the joy of being free from all
this irritability and oppression; imagine the saving of nervous
energy which would accompany such freedom; imagine the possibility
of use to others which would be its most helpful result!

If we once catch even the least glimpse of this quiet freedom, we
shall not mind if it takes some time to accomplish so desirable a
result, and the process of achieving it is deeply interesting.

The difficulty at first is to believe that so far as we are
concerned, the cause Of the trouble is entirely within, ourselves.
The temptation is to think:--

"How can I help resenting behavior like that! Such selfishness and
lack of consideration would be resented by any one."

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest