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The Freedom of Life by Annie Payson Call

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So any one might resent it, but that is no reason why we should. We
are not to make other people's standards our own unless we see that
their standards are higher than ours; only then should we
change,--not to win the favor of the other people, but because we
have recognized the superior value of their standards and are glad
to put away what is inferior for what is better. Therefore we can
never excuse ourselves for resentment or resistance because other
people resent or resist. There can be no possible excuse for
resistance to the behavior of others, and it is safe to say that we
must _never pit our wills against the wills of other people._ If we
want to do right and the other man wants us to do wrong, we must
pass by his will, pass under it or over it, but never on any account
resist it. There has been more loss of energy, more real harm done,
through this futile engagement of two personal wills than can ever
be computed, and the freedom consequent upon refusing such contact
is great in proportion. Obedience to this law of not pitting our
wills against the wills of other people leads to new freedom in all
sorts of ways,--in connection with little, everyday questions, as to
whether a thing is one color or another, as well as in the great and
serious problems of life. If, in an argument, we feel confident that
all we want is the truth,--that we do not care whether we or our
opponents are in the right, as long as we. find the right
itself,--then we are free, so far as personal feeling is concerned;
especially if, in addition, we are perfectly willing that our
opponents should not be convinced, even though the right should
ultimately prove to be on our side.

With regard to learning how always to look first to ourselves,--
first we must become conscious of our own resentment and resistance,
then we must acknowledge it heartily and fully, and then we must go
to work firmly and steadily to refuse to harbor it. We must relax
out of the tension of our resistance with both soul and body; for of
course, the resistance contracts the nerves of our bodies, and, if
we relax from the contractions in our bodies, it helps us to gain
freedom from resistance in our hearts and minds. The same resistance
to the same person or the same ideas may return, in different forms,
many times over; but all we have to do is to persist in dropping it
as often as it returns, even if it be thousands of times.

No one need be afraid of losing all backbone and becoming a "mush of
concession" through the process of dropping useless resistance, for
the strength of will required to free ourselves from the habit of
pitting one's own will against that of another is much greater than
the strength we use when we indulge the habit. The two kinds of
strength can no more be compared than the power of natural law can
be compared to the lawless efforts of human waywardness. For the
will that is pitted against the will of another degenerates into
obstinacy, and weakens the character; whereas the will that is used
truly to refuse useless resistance increases steadily in strength,
and develops power and beauty of character. Again, the man who
insists upon pitting his will against that of another is constantly
blinded as to the true qualities of his opponent. He sees neither
his virtues nor his vices clearly; whereas he who declines the
merely personal contest becomes constantly clarified in his views,
and so helped toward a loving charity for his opponent,--whatever
his faults or difficulties may be,--and to an understanding and love
of the good in him, which does not identify him with his faults.

When we resent and resist, and are personally wilful, there is a
great big beam in our eye, which we cannot see through, or under, or
over,--but, as we gain our freedom from all such resistance, the
beam is removed, and we are permitted to see things as they really
are, and with a truer sense of proportion, our power of use

When a person is arguing with all the force of personal wilfulness,
it is both pleasant and surprising to observe the effect upon him if
he begins to feel your perfect willingness that he should believe in
his own way, and your willingness to go with him, too, if his way
should prove to be right. His violence melts to quietness because
you give him nothing to resist. The same happy effect comes from
facing any one in anger, without resistance, but with a quiet mind
and a loving heart. If the anger does not melt--as it often does--it
is modified and weakened, and--as far as we are concerned--it cannot
touch or hurt us.

We must remember always that it is not the repression or concealment
of resentment and resistance, and forbearing to express them, that
can free us from bondage to others; it is overcoming any trace of
resentment or resistance within our own hearts and minds. If the
resistance is in us, we are just as much in bondage as if we
expressed it in our words and actions. If it is in us at all, it
must express itself in one way or another,--either in ill-health, or
in unhappy states of mind, or in the tension of our bodies. We must
also remember that, when we are on the way to freedom from such
habits of resistance, we may suffer from them for a long time after
we have ceased to act from them. When we are turning steadily away
from them, the uncomfortable effects of past resistance may linger
for a long while before every vestige of them disappears. It is like
the peeling after scarlet fever,--the dead skin stays on until the
new, tender skin is strong underneath, and after we think we have
peeled entirely, we discover new places with which we must be
patient. So, with the old habits of resistance, we must, although
turning away from them firmly, be steadily patient while waiting for
the pain from them to disappear. It must take time if the work is to
be done thoroughly,--but the freedom to be gained is well. worth
waiting for.

One of the most prevalent forms of bondage is caring too much in the
wrong way what people think of us. If a man criticises me I must
first look to see whether he is right. He may be partly right, and
not entirely,--but, whatever truth there is in his criticism, I want
to know it in order that I may see the fault clearly myself and
remedy it. If his criticism is ill-natured it is not necessarily any
the less true, and I must not let the truth be obscured by his
ill-nature. All, that I have to do with the ill-nature is to be
sorry, on my friend's account, and help him out of it if he is
willing; and there is nothing that is so likely to make him willing
as my recognizing the justice of what he says and acting upon it,
while, at the same time, I neither resent nor resist his ill-nature.
If the man is both ill-natured and unjust,--if there is no touch of
what is true in his criticism,--then all I have to do is to cease
resenting it. I should be perfectly willing that he should think
anything he pleases, while I, so far as I can see, go on and do what
is right

_The trouble is that we care more to appear right than to be right._
This undue regard for appearances is very deep-seated, for it comes
from long habit and inheritance; but we must recognize it and
acknowledge it in ourselves, in order to take the true path toward
freedom. So long as we are working for appearances we are not
working for realities. When we love to _be_ right first, then we
will regard appearances only enough to protect what is good and true
from needless misunderstanding and disrespect. Sometimes we cannot
even do that without sacrificing the truth to appearances, and in
such cases we must be true to realities first, and know that
appearances must harmonize with them in the end. If causes are
right, effects must be orderly, even though at times they may not
seem so to the superficial observer. Fear of not being approved of
is the cause of great nervous strain and waste of energy; for fear
is resistance, and we can counteract that terrified resistance only
by being perfectly willing that any one should think anything he
likes. When moving in obedience to law--natural and spiritual--a
man's power cannot be overestimated; but in order to learn genuine
obedience to law, we must be willing to accept our limitations and
wait for them to be gradually removed as we gain in true freedom.
Let us not forget that if we are overpleased--selfishly pleased--at
the approval of others, we are just as much in bondage to them as if
we were angry at their disapproval. Both approval and disapproval
are helpful if we accept them for the use they can be to us, but are
equally injurious if we take them to feed our vanity or annoyance.

It is hard to believe, until our new standard is firmly established,
that only from this true freedom do we get the most vital sense of
loving human intercourse and companionship, for then we find
ourselves working hand in hand with those who are united to us in
the love of principles, and we are ready to recognize and to draw
out the best in every one of those about us.

If this law of freedom from others--which so greatly increases our
power of use to them and their power of use to us--had not been
proved absolutely practical, it would not be a law at all. It is
only as we find it practical in every detail, and as obedience to it
is proved to be the only sure road to established freedom that we
are bound to accept it. To learn to live in such obedience we must
be steady, persistent and patient,--teaching ourselves the same
truths many times, until a new habit of freedom is established
within us by the experience of our daily lives. We must learn and
grow in power from every failure; and we must not dwell with pride
and complacency on good results, but always move steadily and
quietly forward.


_Human Sympathy_

A NURSE who had been only a few weeks in the hospital
training-school, once saw--from her seat at the dinner-table--a man
brought into the house who was suffering intensely from a very
severe accident. The young woman started up to be of what service
she could, and when she returned to the table, had lost her appetite
entirely, because of her sympathy for the suffering man. She had
hardly begun her dinner, and would have gone without it if it had
not been for a sharp reprimand from the superintendent.

"If you really sympathize with that man," she said, "you will eat
your dinner to get strength to take care of him. Here is a man who
will need constant, steady, _healthy_ attention for some days to
come,--and special care all this afternoon and night, and it will be
your duty to look out for him. Your 'sympathy' is already pulling
you down and taking away your strength, and you are doing what you
can to lose more strength by refusing to eat your dinner. Such
sympathy as that is poor stuff; I call it weak sentimentality."

The reprimand was purposely sharp, and, by arousing the anger and
indignation of the nurse, it served as a counter-irritant which
restored her appetite. After her anger had subsided, she thanked the
superintendent with all her heart, and from that day she began to
learn the difference between true and false sympathy. It took her
some time, however, to get thoroughly established in the habit of
healthy sympathy. The tendency to unwholesome sympathy was part of
her natural inheritance, along with many other evil tendencies which
frequently have to be overcome before a person with a very sensitive
nervous system can find his own true strength. But as she watched
the useless suffering which resulted in all cases in which people
allowed themselves to be weakened by the pain of others, she learned
to understand more and more intelligently the practice of wholesome
sympathy, and worked until it had become her second nature.
Especially did she do this after having proved many times, by
practical experience, the strength which comes through the power of
wholesome sympathy to those in pain.

Unwholesome sympathy incapacitates one for serving others, whether
the need be physical, mental, or moral. Wholesome sympathy not only
gives us power to serve, but clears our understanding; and, because
of our growing ability to appreciate rightly the point of view of
other people, our service can be more and more intelligent.

In contrast to this unwholesome sympathy, which is the cause of more
trouble in the world than people generally suppose, is the
unwholesome lack of sympathy, or hardening process, which is
deliberately cultivated by many people, and which another story will
serve to illustrate.

A poor negro was once brought to the hospital very ill; he had
suffered so keenly in the process of getting there that the
resulting weakness, together with the intense fright at the idea of
being in a hospital, which is so common to many of his class, added
to the effects of his disease itself, were too much for him, and he
died before he had been in bed fifteen minutes. The nurse in charge
looked at him and said, in a cold, steady tone:--

"It was hardly worth while to make up the bed."

She had hardened herself because she could not endure the suffering
of unwholesome sympathy, and yet "must do her work." No one had
taught her the freedom and power of true sympathy. Her finer senses
were dulled and atrophied,--she did not know the difference between
one human soul and another. She only knew that this was a case of
typhoid fever, that a case of pneumonia, and another a case of
delirium tremens. They were all one to her, so far as the human
beings went. She knew the diagnosis and the care of the physical
disease,--and that was all. She did the material work very well, but
she must have brought torture to the sensitive mind in many a poor,
sick body.

Another form of false sympathy is what may be called professional
sympathy. Some people never find that out, but admire and get
comfort from the professional sympathy of a doctor or a nurse, or
any other person whose profession it is to care for those who are
suffering. It takes a keen perception or a quick emergency to bring
out the false ring of professional sympathy. But the hardening
process that goes on in the professional sympathizer is even greater
than in the case of those who do not put on a sympathetic veneer. It
seems as if there must be great tension in the more delicate parts
of the nervous system in people who have hardened themselves, with
or without the veneer,--akin to what there would be in the muscles
if a man went about his work with both fists tightly clenched all
day, and slept with them clenched all night. If that tension of hard
indifference could be reached and relaxed, the result would probably
be a nervous collapse, before true, wholesome habits could be
established. but unfortunately it often becomes so rigid that a
healthy relaxation is out of the question. Professional sympathy is
of the same quality as the selfish sympathy which we see constantly
about us in men or women who sympathize because the emotion attracts
admiration and wins the favor of others.

When people sympathize in their selfishness instead of sympathizing
in their efforts to get free, the force of selfishness is increased,
and the world is kept down to a lower standard by just so much.

A thief, for instance, fails in a well-planned attempt to get a
large sum of money, and confides his attempt and failure to a
brother thief, who expresses admiration for the sneaking keenness of
the plan, and hearty sympathy in the regret for his failure. The
first thief immediately pronounces the second thief "a good fellow."
But, at the same time, if either of these apparently friendly
thieves could get more money by cheating the other the next day he
would not hesitate to do so.

To be truly sympathetic, we should be able so to identify ourselves
with the interests of others that we can have a thorough
appreciation of their point of view, and can understand their lives
clearly, as they appear to themselves; but this we can never do if
we are immersed in the fog,--either of their personal selfishness or
our own. By understanding others clearly, we can talk in ways that
are, and seem to them, rational, and gradually lead them to a higher

If a woman is in the depths of despair because a dress does not fit,
I should not help her by telling her the truth about her character,
and lecturing her upon her folly in wasting grief upon trifles, when
there are so many serious troubles in the world. From her point of
view, the fact that her dress does not fit _is_ a grief. But if I
keep quiet, and let her see that I understand her disappointment,
and at the same time hold my own standard, she will be led much more
easily and more truly to see for herself the smallness of her
attitude. First, perhaps, she will be proud that she has learned not
to worry about such a little thing as a new dress; and, if so, I
must remember her point of view, and be willing that she should be
proud. Then, perhaps, she will come to wonder how she ever could
have wasted anxiety on a dress or a hat, and later she may perhaps
forget that she ever did.

It is like leading a child. We give loving sympathy to a child when
it breaks its doll, although we know there is nothing real to grieve
about There is something for the child to grieve about, something
very real _to her;_ but we can only sympathize helpfully with her
point of view by keeping ourselves clearly in the light of our own
more mature point of view.

From the top of a mountain you can see into the valley round
about,--your horizon is very broad, and you can distinguish the
details that it encompasses; but, from the valley, you cannot see
the top of the mountain, and your horizon is limited.

This illustrates truly the breadth and power of wholesome human
sympathy. With a real love for human nature, if a man has a clear,
high standard of his own,--a standard which he does not attribute to
his own intelligence--his understanding of the lower standards of
other men will also be very clear, and he will take all sorts and
conditions of men into the region within the horizon of his mind.
Not only that, but he will recognize the fact When the standard of
another man is higher than his own, and will be ready to ascend at
once when he becomes aware of a higher point of view. On the other
hand, when selfishness is sympathizing with selfishness, there is no
ascent possible, but only the one little low place limited by the
personal, selfish interests of those concerned.

Nobody else's trouble seems worth considering to those who are
immersed in their own, or in their selfish sympathy with a friend
whom they have chosen to champion. This is especially felt among
conventional people, when something happens which disturbs their
external habits and standards of life. Sympathy is at once thrown
out on the side of conventionality, without any rational inquiry as
to the real rights of the case. Selfish respectability is most
unwholesome in its unhealthy sympathy with selfish respectability.

The wholesome sympathy of living human hearts sympathizes first with
what is wholesome,--especially in those who suffer,--whether it be
wholesomeness of soul or body; and true sympathy often knows and
recognizes that wholesomeness better than the sufferer himself. Only
in a secondary way, and as a means to a higher end, does it
sympathize with the painful circumstances or conditions. By keeping
our sympathies steadily fixed on the health of a brother or friend,
when he is immersed in and overcome by his own pain, we may show him
the way out of his pain more truly and more quickly. By keeping our
sympathies fixed on the health of a friend's soul, we may lead him
out of selfishness which otherwise might gradually destroy him. In
both cases our loving care should be truly felt,--and felt as real
understanding of the pain or grief suffered in the steps by the way,
with an intelligent sense of their true relation to the best
interests of the sufferer himself Such wholesome sympathy is alert
in all its perceptions to appreciate different. points of view, and
takes care to speak only in language which is intelligible, and
therefore useful. It is full of loving patience, and never forces or
persuades, but waits and watches to give help at the right time and
in the right place. It is more often helpful with silence than with
words. It stimulates one to imagine what friendship might be if it
were alive and wholesome to the very core. For, in such friendship
as this, a true friend to one man has the capacity of being a true
friend to all men, and one who has a thoroughly wholesome sympathy
for one human being will have it for all. His general attitude must
always be the same--modified only by the relative distance which
comes from variety in temperaments.

In order to sympathize with the best possibilities in others, our
own standards must be high and clear, and we must be steadily true
to them. Such sympathy is freedom itself,--it is warm and
glowing,--while the sympathy which adds its weight to the pain or
selfishness of others can really be only bondage, however good it
may appear.


_Personal Independence_

IN proportion as every organ of the human body is free to perform
its own functions, unimpeded by any other, the body is perfectly
healthy and vigorous; and, in proportion as every organ of the body
is receiving its proper support from every other, the body as a
whole is vigorous, and in the full use of its powers.

These are two self-evident axioms, and, if we think of them quietly
for a little while, they will lead us to a clear realization of true
personal independence.

The lungs cannot do the work of the heart, but must do their own
work, independently and freely; and yet, if the lungs should
suddenly say to themselves:

"This is all nonsense,--our depending upon the heart in this way; we
must be independent! It is weak to depend upon the other organs of
the body!" And if they should repel the blood which the heart pumped
into them, with the idea that they could manage the body by
themselves, and were not going to be weakly dependent upon the
heart, the stomach, or any other organ,--if the lungs should insist
upon taking this independent stand, they would very soon stop
breathing, the heart would stop beating, the stomach would stop
digesting, and the body would die. Or, suppose that the heart should
refuse to supply the lungs with the blood necessary to provide
oxygen; the same fatal result would of course follow. Or, even let
us imagine all the organs of the body agreeing that it is weak to be
dependent, and asserting their independence of each other. At the
very instant that such an agreement was carried into effect, the
body would perish.

Then, on the other hand,--to reverse the illustration,--if the lungs
should feel that they could help the heart's work by attending to
the circulation of the blood, if the heart should insist that it
could inhale and exhale better than the lungs, and should neglect
its own work in order to advise and assist the lungs in the
breathing, the machinery of the body would be in sad confusion for a
time, and would very soon cease altogether.

This imaginary want of real independence in the working of the
different organs of the body can be illustrated by the actual action
of the muscles. How often we see a man working with his mouth while
writing, when he should be only using his hands; or, working
uselessly with his left hand, when what he has to do only needs the
right! How often we see people trying to listen with their arms and
shoulders! Such illustrations might be multiplied indefinitely, and,
in all cases, the false sympathy of contraction in the parts of the
body which are not needed for the work in hand comes from a wrong
dependence,--from the fact that the pats of the body that are not
needed, are officiously dependent upon those that are properly
active, instead of minding their own affairs and saving energy for
their own work.

The wholesome working of the human organism, is so perfect in its
analogy to the healthy relations of members of a community, that no
reader should pass it by without very careful thought.

John says:--

"I am not going to be dependent upon any man. I am going to live my
own life, in my own way, as I expect other men to live theirs. If
they will leave me alone, I will leave them alone," and John
flatters himself that he is asserting his own strength of
personality, that he is emphasizing his individuality. The truth is
that John is warping himself every day by his weak dependence upon
his own prejudices. He is unwilling to look fairly at another main's
opinion for fear of being dependent upon it. He is not only warping
himself by his "independence," which is puffed up with the false
appearance of strength, but he is robbing his fellow-men; for he
cannot refuse to receive from others without putting it out of his
own power to give to others. Real giving and receiving must be
reciprocal in spirit, and absolutely dependent upon each other.

It is a curious and a sad study to watch the growing slavery of such
"independent" people.

James, on the other hand, thinks he cannot do anything without
asking another man's advice or getting another man's help; sometimes
it is always the same man, sometimes it is one of twenty different
men. And so, James is steadily losing the power of looking life in
the face, and of judging for himself whether or not to take the
advice of others from a rational principle, and of his own free
will, and he is gradually becoming a parasite,--an animal which
finally loses all its organs from lack of use, so that only its
stomach remains,--and has, of course, no intelligence at all. The
examples of such men as James are much more numerous than might be
supposed. We seldom see them in such flabby dependence upon the will
of an individual as would make them conspicuous; but they are about
us every day, and in large numbers, in their weak dependence upon
public opinion,--their bondage to the desire that other men should
think well of them. The human parasites that are daily feeding on
social recognition are unconsciously in the process of losing their
individuality and their intelligence; and it would be a sad surprise
to them if they could see themselves clearly as they really are.

Public opinion is a necessary and true protection to the world as it
is, because if it were not for public opinion, many men and women
would dare to be more wicked than they are. But that is no reason
why intelligent men should order their lives on certain lines just
because their neighbors do,--just because it is the custom. If the
custom is a good custom, it can be followed intelligently, and
because we recognize it as good, but it should not be followed only
because our neighbors follow it. Then, if our neighbors follow the
custom for the same intelligent reason, it will bring us and them
into free and happy sympathy.

Neither should a man hesitate to do right, positively and
fearlessly, in the face of the public assertion that he is doing
wrong. He should, of course, look himself over many times to be sure
that he is doing right, according to his own best light, and he
should be willing to change his course of action just as fearlessly
if he finds he has made a mistake; but, having once decided, he will
respect public opinion much more truly by acting quietly against it
with an open mind, than he would if he refused to do right, because
he was afraid of what others would think of him. To defy carelessly
the opinion of others is false independence, and has in it the
elements of fear, however fearless it may seem; but to respectfully
ignore it for the sake of what is true, and good, and useful, is
sure to enlarge the public heart and to help, it eventually to a
clearer charity. Individual dependence and individual independence
are absolutely necessary to a well-adjusted balance. It is just as
necessary to the individual men of a community as to the individual
organs of the body.

It is not uncommon for a person to say:--

"I must give up So-and-so; I must not see so much of him,--I am
getting so dependent upon him."

If the apparent dependence on a friend is due to the fact that he
has valuable principles to teach which may take time to learn, but
which lead in the end to greater freedom, then to give up such
companionship, out of regard for the criticism of others would, of
course, be weakness and folly itself. It is often our lot to incur
the severest blame for the very weaknesses which we have most
entirely overcome.

Many people will say:--

"I should rather be independently wrong than dependently right," and
others will admire them for the assertion. But the truth is, that
whenever one is wrong, one is necessarily dependent, either upon man
or devil; but it is impossible to be dependently right, excepting
for the comparatively short time that we may need for a definite,
useful purpose. If a man is right in his mental and moral attitude
merely because his friend is right, and not because he wants the
right himself, it will only be a matter of time before his prop is
taken away, and he will fall back into his own moral weakness. Of
course, a man can begin to be right because his friend is
right;--but it is because there is something in him which responds
to the good in his friend. Strong men are true to their friendships
and convictions, in spite of appearances and the clamor of their

True independence is never afraid of appearing dependent, and true
dependence leads always to the most perfect independence.

We cannot, really enjoy our own freedom without the growing desire
and power to help other people to theirs. Our own love of
independence will bring with it an equal love for the independence
of our neighbor; and our own love of true dependence--that is, of
receiving wise help from any one through whom it may be sent--will
give us an equal love for giving help wherever it will be welcome.
Our respect for our own independence will make it impossible that we
should insist upon trying to give help to others where it is not
wanted; and our own respect for true dependence will give us a
loving charity, a true respect for those who are necessarily and
temporarily dependent, and teach us to help them to their true

We should learn to keep a margin of reserve for ourselves, and to
give the same margin to others. Not to come too near, but to be far
enough away from every one to give us a true perspective. There is a
sort of familiarity that arises sometimes between friends, or even
mere acquaintances, which closes the door to true friendship or to
real acquaintance. It does not bring people near to one another, but
keeps them apart. It is as if men thought that they could be better
friends by bumping their heads together.

Our freedom comes in realizing that all the energy of life should
come primarily from a love of principles and not of persons,
excepting as persons relate to principles. If one man finds another
living on principles that are higher than his own, it means strength
and freedom for him to cling to his friend until he has learned to
understand and live on those principles himself. Then if he finds
his own power for usefulness and his own enjoyment of life increased
by his friendship, it would indeed be weak of him to refuse such
companionship from fear of being dependent. The surest and strongest
basis of freedom in friendship is a common devotion to the same
fundamental principles of life; and this insures reciprocal
usefulness as well as personal independence. We must remember that
the very worst and weakest dependence is not a dependence upon
persons, but upon a sin,--whether the sin be fear of public opinion
or some other more or less serious form of bondage.

The only true independence is in obedience to law, and if, to gain
the habit of such obedience, we need a helping hand, it is truly
independent for us to take it.

_We all came into the world alone, and we must go out of the world
alone, and yet we are exquisitely and beautifully dependent upon one

A great German philosopher has said that there should be as much
space between the atoms of the body, in relation to its size, as
there is between the stars in relation to the size of the
universe,--and yet every star is dependent upon every other
star,--as every atom in the body is dependent upon every other atom
for its true life and action. This principle of balance in the
macrocosm and the microcosm is equally applicable to any community
of people, whether large or small. The quiet study and appreciation
of it will enable us to realize the strength of free dependence and
dependent freedom in the relation of persons to one another. The
more truly we can help one another in freedom toward the dependence
upon law, which is the axis of the universe, the more wholesome and
perfect will be all our human relations.



TO most people self-control means the control of appearances and not
the control of realities. This is a radical mistake, and must be
corrected, if we are to get a clear idea of self-control, and if we
are to make a fair start in acquiring it as a permanent habit.

I am what I am by virtue of my own motives of thought and action, by
virtue of what my mind is, what my will is, and what I am in the
resultant combination of my mind and will; I am not necessarily what
I appear from the outside.

If a man is ugly to me, and I want to knock him down, and refrain
from doing so simply because it would not appear well, and is not
the habit of the people about me, my desire to knock him down is
still a part of myself, and I have not controlled myself until I am
absolutely free from that interior desire. So long as I am in hatred
to another, I am in bondage to my hatred; and if, for the sake of
appearances, I do not act or speak from it, I am none the less at
its mercy, and it will find an outlet wherever it can do so without
debasing me in the eyes of other men more than I am willing to be
debased. The control of appearances is merely outward repression,
and a very common instance of this may be observed in the effort to
control a laugh. If we repress it, it is apt to assert itself in
spite of our best efforts; whereas, if we relax our muscles, and let
the sensation go through us, we can control our desire to laugh and
so get free from it. When we repress a laugh, we are really holding
on to it, in our minds, but, when we control it by relaxing the
tension that comes from the desire to laugh, it is as if the
sensation passed over and away from us.

It is a well-known fact among surgeons that, if a man who is badly
frightened, takes ether, no matter how well he controls his outward
behavior, no matter how quiet he appears while the ether is being
administered, as soon as he loses control of his voluntary muscles,
the fear that has been repressed rushes out in the form of
excitement. This is a practical illustration of the fact that
control of appearances is merely control of the muscles, and that,
even so far as our nervous system goes, it is only repression, and
self-repression is not self-control.

If I repress the expression of irritability, anger, hatred, or any
other form of evil, it is there, in my brain, just the same; and, in
one form or another, I am in bondage to it. Sometimes it expresses
itself in little meannesses; sometimes it affects my body and makes
me ill; often it keeps me from being entirely well. Of one thing we
may be sure,--it makes me the instrument of evil, in one way or
another. Repressed evil is not going to lie dormant in us forever;
it will rise in active ferment, sooner or later. Its ultimate action
is just as certain as that a serious impurity of the blood is
certain to lead to physical disease, if it is not counteracted.

Knowing this to be true, we can no longer say of certain people
"So-and-so has remarkable self-control." We can only say, "So-and-so
represses his feelings remarkably well: what a good actor he is I"
The men who have real self-control do exist, and they are the leaven
that saves the race. It is good to know that this habitual
repression comes, in many cases, from want of knowledge of the fact
that self-repression is not self-control.

But the reader may say, "what am I to do, if I feel angry, and want
to hit a man in the face; I am not supposed to hit him am I, rather
than to repress my feelings?"

No, not at all, but you are supposed to use your will to get in
behind the desire to hit him, and, by relaxing in mind and body, and
stopping all resistance to his action, to remove that desire in
yourself entirely. If once you persistently refuse to resist by
dropping the anger of your mind and the tension of your body, you
have gained an opportunity of helping your brother, if he is willing
to be helped; you have cleared the atmosphere of your own mind
entirely, so that you can understand his point of view, and give him
the benefit of reasonable consideration; or, at the very least, you
have yourself ceased to be ruled by his evils, for you can no longer
be roused to personal retaliation. It is interesting and
enlightening to recognize the fact that we are in bondage to any man
to the extent that we permit ourselves to be roused to anger or
resentment by his words or actions.

When a man's brain is befogged by the fumes of anger and
irritability it can work neither clearly nor quietly, and, when that
is the case, it is impossible for him to serve himself or his
neighbor to his full ability. If another person has the power to
rouse my anger or my irritability, and I allow the anger or the
irritability to control me, I am, of course, subservient to my own
bad state, and at the mercy of the person who has the power to
excite those evil states just in so far as such excitement confuses
my brain.

Every one has in him certain inherited and personal tendencies which
are obstacles to his freedom of mind and body, and his freedom is
limited just in so far as he allows those tendencies to control him.
If he controls them by external repression, they are then working
havoc within him, no matter how thoroughly he may appear to be
master of himself. If he acknowledges his mistaken tendencies fully
and willingly and then refuses to act, speak, or think from them, he
is taking a straight path toward freedom of life and action.

One great difficulty in the way of self-control is that we do not
want to get free from our anger. In such cases we can only want to
want to, and if we use the strength of will that is given us to drop
our resistance in spite of our desire to be angry we shall be
working toward our freedom and our real self-control.

There is always a capacity for unselfish will, the will of the
better self, behind the personal selfish will, ready and waiting for
us to use it, and it grows with use until finally it overrules the
personal selfish will with a higher quality of power. It is only
false strength that supports the personal will,--a false appearance
of strength which might be called wilfulness and which leads
ultimately to the destruction of its owner. Any true observer of
human nature will recognize the weakness of mere selfish wilfulness
in another, and will keep entirely free from its trammels by
refusing to meet it in a spirit of resentment or retaliation.

Real self-control, as compared to repression, is delightful in its
physical results, when we have any difficult experience to
anticipate or to go through. Take, for instance, a surgical
operation. If I control myself by yielding, by relaxing the nervous
tension which is the result of MY fear, true self-control then
becomes possible, and brings a helpful freedom from, reaction after
the trouble is over. Or the same principle can be applied if I have
to go through a hard trial with a friend and must control myself for
his sake,--dropping resistance in my mind and in my body, dropping
resistance to his suffering, yielding my will to the necessities of
the situation,--this attitude will leave me much more clear to help
him, will show him how to help himself, and will relieve him from
the reaction that inevitably follows severe nervous strain. The
power of use to others is increased immeasurably when we control
ourselves interiorly, and do not merely outwardly repress.

It often happens that a drunkard who is supposed to be "cured,"
returns to his habit, simply because he has wanted his drink all the
time, and has only been taught to repress his appetite; if he had
been steadily and carefully taught real self-control, he would have
learnt to control and drop his interior _desire,_ and thus keep
permanently free. How often we see intemperance which had shown
itself in drink simply turned into another channel, another form of
selfish indulgence, and yet the victim will complacently boast of
his self-control. An extreme illustration of this truth is shown in
the case of a well-known lecturer on temperance. He had given up
drink, but he ate like a glutton, and his thirst for applause was so
extreme as to make him appear almost ridiculous when he did not
receive it.

The opportunities for self-control are, of course, innumerable;
indeed they constitute pretty much the whole of life. We are living
in freedom and use, real living use, in proportion as we are in
actual control of our selfish selves, and led by our love of useful
service. In proportion as we have through true self-control brought
ourselves into daily and hourly obedience to law, are we in the
freedom that properly belongs to our lives and their true uses.

When once we have won our freedom from resistance, we must use that
freedom in action, and put it directly to use. Sometimes it will
result in a small action, sometimes in a great one; but, whatever it
is, it must be _done._ If we drop the resistance, and do not use the
freedom gained thereby for active service, we shall simply react
into further bondage, from which it will be still more difficult to
escape. Having dropped my antagonism to my most bitter enemy, I must
do something to serve him, if I can. If I find that it is impossible
to serve him, I can at least be of service to someone else; and this
action, if carried out in the true spirit of unselfish service, will
go far toward the permanent establishment of my freedom.

If a circumstance which is atrociously wrong in itself makes us
indignant, the first thing to do is to drop the resistance of our
indignation, and then to do whatever may be within our power to
prevent the continuance of such wrong. Many people weaken their
powers of service by their own indignation, when, if they would
cease their excited resistance, they would see clearly how to remedy
the wrong that arouses their antagonism. Action, when accompanied by
personal resistance, however effective it may seem, does not begin
to have the power that can come from action, without such
resistance. As, for instance, when we have to train a child with a
perverse will, if we quietly assert what is right to the child, and
insist upon obedience without the slightest antagonistic feeling to
the child's naughtiness, we accomplish much more toward
strengthening the character of the child than if we try to enforce
our idea by the use of our personal will, which is filled with
resistance toward the child's obstinacy. In the latter case, it is
just pitting our will against the will of the child, which is always
destructive, however it may appear that we have succeeded in
enforcing the child's obedience. The same thing holds true in
relation to an older person, with the exception that, with him or
her, we cannot even attempt to require obedience. In that case we
must,--when it is necessary that we should speak at all,--assert the
right without antagonism to what we believe to be their wrong, and
without the slightest personal resistance to it. If we follow this
course, in most cases our friend will come to the right point of
view,--sometimes the result seems almost miraculous,--or, as is
often the case, we, because we are wholesomely open-minded, will
recognize any mistake in our own point of view, and will gladly
modify it to agree with that of our friend.

The trouble is that very few of us feel like working to remedy a
wrong merely for the sake of the right, and therefore we must have
an impetus of personal feeling to carry us on toward the work of
reformation. If we could once be strongly started in obedience to
the law from love of the law itself, we should find in that
impersonal love a clear light and power for effective action both in
the larger and in the smaller questions of life.

There is a popular cry against introspection and an insistence that
it is necessarily morbid, which works in direct opposition to true
self-control. Introspection for its own sake is self-centred and
morbid, but we might as well assert that it is right to have dirty
hands so long as we wear gloves, and that it is morbid to want to be
sure that our hands are clean under our gloves, as to assert that
introspection for the sake of our true spiritual freedom is morbid.
If I cannot look at my selfish motives, how am I going to get free
from them? It is my selfish motives that prevent true self-control.
It is my selfish motives that prompt me to the false control of
repression, which is counterfeit and for the sake of appearances
alone. We must see these motives, recognize and turn away from them,
in order to control ourselves interiorly into line with law. We
cannot possibly see them unless we look for them. If we look into
ourselves for the sake of freedom, for the sake of our greater power
for use, for the sake of our true self-control, what can be more
wholesome or what can lead us to a more healthy habit of looking out
from ourselves into the lives and interests of others? The farther
we get established in motives that are truly unselfish, the sooner
we shall get out of our own light, and the wider our horizon will
be; and the wider our horizon, the greater our power for use.

There must, of course, be a certain period of self-consciousness in
the process of finding our true self-control, but it is for the sake
of an end which brings us more and more fully into a state of happy,
quiet spontaneity. If we are working carefully for true self-control
we shall welcome an unexpected searchlight from another mind. If the
searchlight brings into prominence a bit of irritation that we did
not know was there, so much the better. How could we free ourselves
from it without knowing that it was there? But as soon as we
discover it we can control and cast it off. A healthy introspection
is merely the use of a searchlight which every one who loves the
truth has the privilege of using for the sake of his own growth and
wilfulness, and circumstances often turn it full upon us, greatly to
our advantage, if we do not wince but act upon the knowledge that it
brings. It is possible to acquire an introspective habit which is
wholesome and true, and brings us every day a better sense of pro.
portion and a clearer outlook.

With regard to the true control of the Pleasurable emotions, the
same principle applies.

People often grow intensely excited in listening to music,--letting
their emotions run rampant and suffering in consequence a painful
reaction of fatigue. If they would learn to yield so that the music
could pass over their nerves as it passes over the strings of a
musical instrument, and then, with the new life and vigor derived
from the enjoyment, would turn to some useful work, they would find
a great expansion in the enjoyment of the music as well as a new
pleasure in their work.

Real self-control is the subjugation of selfishness in whatever form
it may exist, and its entire subordination to spiritual and natural
law. Real self-control is not self-centred. In so far as we become
established in this true self-control, we are upheld by law and
guided by the power behind it to the perfect freedom and joy of a
useful life.


_The Religion of It_

THE religion of it is the whole of it. "All religion has relation to
life and the life of religion is to do good." If religion does not
teach us to do good in the very best way, in the way that is most
truly useful to ourselves and to other people, religion is
absolutely useless and had better be ignored altogether. We must
beware, however, of identifying the idea of religion with the men
and the women who pervert it. If an electrician came to us to light
our house, and the lights would not burn, we would not immediately
condemn all electric lighting as bosh and nonsense, or as
sentimental theory; we should know, of course, that this especial
electrician did not understand his business, and would at once look
about to find a man who did, and get him to put our lights in order.
If no electrician really seemed to know his business, and we wanted
our lights very much, the next thing to do would be to look into
the, laws of electricity ourselves, and find out exactly where the
trouble was, and so keep at work until we had made our own lights
burn, and always felt able, if at any time they failed to burn, to
discover and remedy the difficulty ourselves. There is not a man or
woman who does not feel, at some time, the need of an inner light to
make the path clear in the circumstances of life, and especially in
dealing with others. Many men and women feel that need all the time,
and happy are those who are not satisfied until the need is supplied
and they are working steadily in daily practical life, guided by a
light that they know is higher than theory. When the light is once
found, and we know the direction in which we wish to travel, the
path is not by any means always clear and smooth, it is often, full
of hard, rough Places, and there are sometimes miles to go over
where our light seems dim; but if we have proved our direction to be
right, and keep steadily and strongly moving forward, we are always
sure to come into open resting places where we can be quiet, gather
strength, and see the light more clearly for the next stage of the

"It is wonderful," some one remarked, "how this theory of
non-resistance has helped me; life is quite another thing since I
have practised it steadily." The reply was "it is not wonderful when
we realize that the Lord meant what He said when He told us not to
resist evil." At this suggestion the speaker looked up with surprise
and said: "Why, is that in the New Testament? Where, in what part of
it?" She never had thought of the sermon on the Mount as a working
plan, or, indeed, of the New Testament as a handbook of
life,--practical and powerful in every detail. If we once begin to
use it daily and hourly as a working plan of life, it is marvellous
how the power and the efficiency of it will grow on us, and we shall
no more be able to get along without it than an electrician can get
along without a knowledge of the laws of electricity.

Some people have taken the New Testament so literally that they have
befogged themselves entirely with regard to its real meaning, and
have put it aside as impracticable; others have surrounded it with
an emotional idea, as something to theorize and rhapsodize about,
and have befogged themselves in that way with regard to its. real
power. Most people are not clear about it because of the tradition
that has come to us through generations who have read it and heard
it read in church, and never have thought of living it outside. We
can have a great deal of church without any religion, but we cannot
have religion without true worship, whether the worship is only in
our individual souls, or whether it is also the function of a church
to which we belong, with a building dedicated to the worship of the
Lord to which we go for prayer and for instruction. If we could
clear ourselves from the deadening effects of tradition, from
sentimentality, from nice theory, and from every touch of emotional
and spurious peace, and take up the New Testament as if we were
reading it for the first time, and then if we could use it
faithfully as a working plan for a time, simply as an
experiment,--it would soon cease to be an experiment, and we should
not need to be told by any one that it is a divine revelation; we
would be confident of that in our own souls. Indeed that is the only
way any one can ever be sure of revelation; it must come to each of
us alone, as if it had never come to any one before; and yet the
beauty and power of it is such that it has come to myriads before us
and will come to myriads after us in just the same way.

But there is no real revelation for any one _until he has lived what
he sees to be true._ I may talk like an angel and assert with a
shining face my confident faith in God and in all His laws, but my
words will mean nothing whatever, unless I have so lived my faith
that it has been absorbed, into my character and so that the truths
of my working plan have become my second nature.

Many people have discovered that the Lord meant what He said when He
said: "Resist not evil," and have proved how truly practical is the
command, in their efforts to be willing to be ill, to be willing
that circumstances should seem to go against them, to be willing
that other people should be unjust, angry, or disagreeable. They
have seen that in yielding to circumstances or people
entirely,--that is, in dropping their own resistances,--they have
gained clear, quiet minds, which enables them to see, to understand,
and to practise a higher common sense in the affairs of their lives,
which leads to their ultimate happiness and freedom. It is now clear
to many people that much of the nervous illness of to-day is caused
by a prolonged state of resistance to circumstances or to people
which has kept the brain in a strained and irritated state so that
it can no longer do its work; and that the patient has to lay by for
a longer or a shorter period, according to his ability to drop the
resistances, and so allay the irritation and let his brain and
nervous system rest and heal.

Then with regard to dealing with others, some of us have found out
the practical common sense of taking even injustice quietly and
without resistance, of looking to our own faults first, and getting
quite free from all resentment and resistance to the behavior of
others, before we can expect to understand their point of view, or
to help them to more reasonable, kindly action if they are in error.
Very few of us have recognized and acknowledged that that was what
the Lord meant when He said: "Judge not that ye be not judged. For
with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what
measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why
beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but
considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou
say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and,
behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out
the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to
cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."

It comes with a flash of recognition that is refreshingly helpful
when we think we have discovered a practical truth that works, and
then see that it is only another way of putting what has been taught
for the last two thousand years.

Many of us understand and appreciate the truth that a man's true
character depends upon his real, interior motives. He is only what
his motives are, and not, necessarily, what his motives appear to
be. We know that, if a man only controls the appearance of anger and
hatred, he has no real self-control whatever. He must get free from
the anger itself to be free in reality, and to be his own master. We
must stop and think, however, to understand that this is just what
the Lord meant when He told us to clean the inside of the cup and
the platter, and we need to think more to realize the strength of
the warning, that we should not be "whitened sepulchres."

We know that we are really related to those who can and do help us
to be more useful men and women, and to those whom we can serve in
the most genuine way; we know that we are wholesomely dependent upon
all from whom we can learn, and we should be glad to have those
freely dependent upon us whom we can truly serve. It is most
strengthening when we realize that this is the true meaning of the
Lord's saying, "For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is
my brother, and my sister, and mother." That the Lord Himself, with
all His strength, was willing to be dependent, is shown by the fact
that, from the cross, He said to those who had crucified Him, "I
thirst." They had condemned Him, and crucified Him, and yet He was
willing to ask them for drink, to show His willingness to be served
by them, even though He knew they would respond only with a sponge
filled with vinegar.

We know that when we are in a hard place, if we do the duty that is
before us, and keep steadily at work as well as we can, that the
hard problem will get worked through in some way. We know that this
is true, for we have proved it over and over; but how many people
realize that it is because the Lord meant what He said when He told
us: to "take no thought for the morrow, for the morrow will take
thought for the things of itself."

I am reasoning from the proof of the law to the law itself.

There is no end to the illustrations that we might find proving the
spiritual common sense of the New Testament and, if by working first
in that way, we can get through this fog of tradition, of
sentimentality, and of religious emotion, and find the living power
of the book itself, then we can get a more and more clear
comprehension of the laws it teaches, and will, every day, be
proving their practical power in all our dealings with life and with
people. Whether we are wrestling with nature in scientific work,
whether we are working in the fine arts, in the commercial world, in
the professional world, or are dealing with nations, it is always
the same,--we find our freedom to work fully realized only when we
are obedient to law, and it is a wonderful day for any human being
when he intelligently recognizes and finds himself getting into the
current of the law of the New Testament. The action of that law he
sees is real, and everything outside he recognizes as unreal. In the
light of the new truth, we see that many things which we have
hitherto regarded as essential, are of minor importance in their
relation to life itself.

The old lady who said to her friend, "My dear, it is impossible to
exaggerate the unimportance of things," had learned what it meant to
drop everything that interferes, and must have been truly on her way
to the concentration which should be the very central power of all
life,--obedience to the two great commandments.

Concentration does not mean straining every nerve and muscle toward
obedience, it means _dropping every thing that interferes._ If we
drop everything that interferes with our obedience to the two great
commandments, and the other laws which are given us all through the
New Testament to help us obey, we are steadily dropping all selfish
resistance, and all tendency to selfish responsibility; and in that
steady effort, we are on the only path which can by any possibility
lead us directly to freedom.


_About Christmas_

THERE was once a family who had a guest staying with them; and when
they found out that he was to have a birthday during his visit they
were all delighted at the idea of celebrating it. Days
before--almost weeks before--they began to prepare for the
celebration. They cooked and stored a large quantity of good things
to eat, and laid in a stock of good things to be cooked and prepared
on the happy day. They planned and arranged the most beautiful
decorations. They even thought over and made, or selected, little
gifts for one another; and the whole house was in hurry and
confusion for weeks before the birthday came. Everything else that
was to be done was postponed until after the birthday; and, indeed,
many important things were neglected.

Finally the birthday came, the rooms were all decorated, the table
set, all the little gifts arranged, and the guests from outside of
the house had all arrived. Just after the festivities had begun a
little child said to its mother: "Mamma, where is the man whose
birthday it is--"

"Hush, hush," the mother said, "don't ask questions."

But the child persisted, until finally the mother said: "Well, I am
sure I do not know, my dear, but I will ask."

She asked her neighbor, and the neighbor looked surprised and a
little puzzled.

"Why," she said, "it is a celebration, we are celebrating his
birthday, and he is a guest in the house."

Then the mother got interested and curious herself.

"But where is the guest? Where is the man whose birthday it is?"
And, this time she asked one of the family. He looked startled at
first, and then inquired of the rest of the family.

"Where is the guest whose birthday it is?" Alas I nobody knew. There
they were, all excited and trying to enjoy themselves by celebrating
his birthday, and he,--some of them did not even know who he was! He
was left out and forgotten!

When they had wondered for a little while they immediately forgot
again, and went on with their celebrations,--all except the little
child. He slipped out of the room and made up his mind to find the
man whose birthday it was, and, finally, after a hard search, he
found him upstairs in the attic,--lonely and sick.

He had been asked to leave the guestroom, which he had occupied, and
to move upstairs, so as to be out of the way of the preparations for
his birthday. Here he had fallen ill, and no one had had time to
think of him, excepting one of the humbler servants and this little
child. They had all been so busy preparing for his birthday festival
that they had forgotten him entirely.

This is the way it is with most of us at Christmas time.

Whenever we think of a friend, or even an acquaintance, we think of
his various qualities,--not always in detail, but as forming a
general impression which we associate with his name. If it is a
friend whom we love and admire, we love, especially on his birthday,
to dwell on all that is good and true in his character; and at such
times, though he may be miles away in body, we find ourselves living
with him every hour of the day, and feel his presence, and, from
that feeling, do our daily tasks with the greater satisfaction and

Every one in this part of the world, of course, knows whose birthday
we celebrate on the twenty-fifth of December. if we imagine that
such a man never really existed, that he was simply an ideal
character, and nothing more,--if we were to take Christmas Day as
the festival of a noble myth,--the ideal which it represents is so
clear, so true, so absolutely practical in the way it is recorded in
the book of his life, that it would be a most helpful joy to reflect
upon it, and to try and apply its beautiful lessons on the day which
would especially recall it to our minds.

Or, let us suppose that such a man really did exist,--a man whose
character was transcendently clear and true, quiet, steady, and
strong,--a man who was full of warm and tender love for all,--who
was constantly doing good to others without the slightest display or
self-assertion,--a man who was simple and humble,--who looked the
whole world in the face and did what was right,--even though the
whole respectable world of his day disapproved of him, and even
though this same world attested in the most emphatic manner that he
was doing what was dangerous and wicked,--a man with spiritual sight
so keen that it was far above and beyond any mere intellectual
power,--a sight compared to which, what is commonly known as
intellectual keenness is, indeed, as darkness unto light; a man
with a loving consideration for others so true and tender that its
life was felt by those who merely touched the hem of his garment.
Suppose we knew that such a man really did live in this world, and
that the record of his life and teachings constitute the most
valuable heritage of our race,--what new life it would give us to
think of him, especially on his birthday,--to live over, so far as
we were able, his qualities as we knew them; and to gain, as a
result, new clearness for our own everyday lives. The better we knew
the man, the more clearly we could think of him, and the more full
our thoughts would be of living, practical suggestions for daily

But now just think what it would mean to us if we really knew that
this humble, loving man were the Creator of the universe--the very
God--who took upon Himself our human nature with all its hereditary
imperfections; and, in that human nature met and conquered every
temptation that ever was, or ever could be possible to man; thus--by
self-conquest--receiving all the divine qualities into his human
nature, and bringing them into this world within reach of the hearts
and minds of all men, to give light and warmth to their lives, and
to enable them to serve each other;--if we could take this view of
the man's life and work, with what quiet reverence and joy should we
celebrate the twenty-fifth of December as a day set apart to
celebrate His birth into the world!

If we ourselves loved a truthful, quiet way of living better than
any other way, how would we feel to see our friends preparing to
celebrate our birthday with strain, anxiety, and confusion? If we
valued a loving consideration for others more than anything else in
the world, how would it affect us to see our friends preparing for
the festival with a forced sense of the conventional necessity for

Who gives himself with his gift feeds three,--
Himself, his hungry neighbor, and Me."

That spirit should be in every Christmas gift throughout
Christendom. The most thoughtless man or woman would recognize the
truth if they could look at it quietly with due regard for the real
meaning of the day. But after having heard and assented to the
truth, the thoughtless people would, from force of habit, go on with
the same rush and strain.

It is comparatively easy to recognize the truth, but it is quite
another thing to habitually recognize your own disobedience to it,
and compel yourself to shun that disobedience, and so habitually to
obey,--and to obey it is our only means of treating the truth with
real respect. When you ask a man, about holiday time, how his wife
is, not uncommonly he will say:--

"Oh, she is all tired out getting ready for Christmas."

And how often we hear the boast:--

"I had one hundred Christmas presents to buy, and I am completely
worn out with the work of it."

And these very women who are tired and strained with the Christmas
work, "put on an expression" and talk with emotion of the beauty of
Christmas, and the joy there is in the "Christmas feeling."

Just so every one at the birthday party of the absent guest
exclaimed with delight at all the pleasures provided, although the
essential spirit of the occasion contradicted directly the qualities
of the man whose birthday it was supposed to honor.

How often we may hear women in the railway cars talking over their
Christmas shopping:--

"I got so and so for James,--that will do for him, don't you think

And, when her companion answers in the affirmative, she gives a sigh
of relief, as if to say, now he is off my mind!

Poor woman, she does not know what it means to give herself with her
gift. She is missing one of the essentials of the true joy of
Christmas Day. Indeed, if all her gifts are given in that spirit,
she is directly contradicting the true spirit of the day. How many
of us are unconsciously doing the same thing because of our--habit
of regarding Christmas gifts as a matter of conventional obligation.

If we get the spirit of giving because of Him whose birthday it is,
we shall love to give, and our hearts will go out with our gifts,--
and every gift, whether great or small, will be a thoughtful
message of love from one to another. There are now many people, of
course, who have this true spirit of Christmas giving, and they are
the people who most earnestly wish that they had more. Then there
are many more who do not know the spirit of a truly thoughtful gift,
but would be glad to know it, if it could once be brought to their

We cannot give in a truly loving spirit if we give in order that we
may receive.

We cannot give truly in the spirit of Christmas if we rush and
hurry, and feel strained and anxious about our gifts.

We cannot give truly if we give more than we can afford.

People have been known to give nothing, because they could not give
something expensive; they have been known to give nothing in order
to avoid the trouble of careful and appropriate selection: but to
refrain from giving for such reasons is as much against the true
spirit of Christmas as is the hurried, excited gift-making of

Even now there is joy in the Christmas time, in spite of the rush
and hurry and selfishness, and the spirit of those who keep the joy
alive by remembering whose birthday it is, serves as leaven all over
the world.

First let us remember what Christmas stands for, and then let us try
to realize the qualities of the great personality which gave the day
its meaning and significance,--let us honor them truly in all our
celebrations. If we do this, we shall at the same time be truly
honoring the qualities, and respecting the needs of every friend to
whom we give, and our gifts, whether great or small. will be full of
the spirit of discriminating affection. Let us realize that in order
to give truly, we must give soberly and quietly, and let us take an
hour or more by ourselves to think over our gifts before we begin to
buy or to make them. If we do that the helpful thoughts are sure to
come, and new life will come with them.

A wise man has described the difference between heaven and hell by
saying that in heaven, every one wants to give all that he has to
every one else, and that in hell, every one wants to take away from
others all they have. It is the spirit of heaven that belongs to


_To Mothers_

MOST mothers know that it is better for the baby to put him into his
crib and let him go quietly to sleep by himself, than to rock him to
sleep or put him to sleep in his mother's arms.

Most mothers know also the difficulty of getting the baby into the
right habit of going to sleep; and the prolonged crying that has to
be endured by both mother and baby before the habit is thoroughly

Many a mother gets worn out in listening to her crying child, and
goes to bed tired and jaded, although she has done nothing but sit
still and listen. Many more, after listening and fretting for a
while, go and take up the baby, and thus they weaken him as well as
their own characters.

A baby who finds out, when he is two months old, that his mother
will take him up if he cries, is also apt to discover, if be cries
or teases enough, that his mother will let him have his own way for
the rest of his life.

The result is that the child rules the mother, rather than the
mother the child; and this means sad trouble and disorder for both.

Strong, quiet beginnings are a most valuable help to all good things
in life, and if a young mother could begin by learning how to sit
quietly and restfully and let her baby cry until he quieted down and
went to sleep, she would be laying the foundation for a very happy
life with her children.

The first necessity, after having seen that nothing is hurting him
and that he really needs nothing, is to be willing that he should
cry. A mother can make herself willing by saying over and over to
herself, "It is right that he should cry; I want him to cry until he
has learned to go to sleep quietly by himself He will be a stronger
and a more healthy man for getting into all good habits as a child."

Often the mother's spirit is willing, or wants to be willing, but
her nerves rebel if, while she is teaching herself to listen
quietly, she will take long, quiet breaths very steadily for some
time, and will occupy herself with interesting work, she will find
it a great help toward dropping nervous resistance.

Children are much more sensitive than most people know, and readily
respond to the mother's state of mind; and even though the mother is
in the next room, if she is truly dropping her nervous resistance
and tension, the baby will often stop his crying all the sooner, and
besides, his mother will feel the good effects of her quiet yielding
in her care of the baby all day long. She will be rested instead of
tired when the baby has gone to sleep. She will have a more
refreshing sleep herself, and she will be able to care for the baby
more restfully when they are both awake.

It is a universal rule that the more excited or naughty the children
are, the more quiet and clear the mother should be. A mother who
realizes this for the first time, and works with herself until she
is free from all excited and strained resistance, discovers that it
is through her care for her children that she herself has learned
how to live. Blessed are the children who have such a mother, and
blessed is the mother of those children!

It is resistance--resistance to the naughtiness or disobedience in
the child that not only hurts and tires the mother, but interferes
with the best growth of the child.

"What!" a mother may say, "should I want my child to be naughty?
What a dreadful thing!"

No, we should not want our children to be naughty, but we should be
willing that they should be. We should drop resistance to their
naughtiness, for that will give us clear, quiet minds to help them
out of their troubles.

All vehemence is weak; quiet, clear decision is strong; and the
child not only feels the strength of the quiet, decisive action, but
he feels the help from his mother's quiet atmosphere which comes
with it. If all parents realized fully that the work they do for
their children should be done in themselves first, there would soon
be a new and wonderful influence perceptible all about us.

The greatest difficulty often comes from the fact that children have
inherited the evil tendencies of their parents, which the parents
themselves have not acknowledged and overcome. In these cases, most
of all, the work to be done for the child must first be done in the

A very poor woman, who was living in one room with her husband and
three children, once expressed her delight at having discovered how
to manage her children better: "I see!" she said, "the more I
hollers, the more the children hollers; now I am not going to holler
any more."

There is "hollering" of the voice, and there is "hollering" of the
spirit, and children echo and suffer from both.

The same thing is true from the time they are born until they are
grown up, when it should be right for them to be their own fathers
and mothers, so far as their characters are concerned, that they can
receive the greatest possible help from their parents through quiet
non-resistance to their naughtiness, combined with firm decision in
demanding obedience to law,--a decision which will derive its weight
and influence from the fact that the parents themselves obey the
laws to which they require obedience.

Thus will the soul of the mother be mother to the soul of her child,
and the development of mother and child be happily interdependent.

It is, of course, not resisting to be grieved at the child's
naughtiness,--for that grief must come as surely as penitence for
our own wrongdoing.

The true dropping of resistance brings with it a sense that the
child is only given to us in trust, and an open, loving willingness
leaves us free to learn the highest way in which the trust may be

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