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A reaction to counter the lonely, thankless, ..
And Altruism, glorious as it is in the lower stages of morality - Altruism itself - is lost in the Supreme Oneness of the human soul, in the absolute indivisibility of the Spirit in Man. While, however, we are still consciously separate. Altruism may rightly be regarded as the Law of Life, based on a common origin in the Divine, based in the common training, the pilgrimage which every soul of man must tread, based also in common experience, in that life after life where we have to learn every lesson, acquire all knowledge, share the various possibilities of human lot, and build out of common material a sublime character. In that life our destiny is one, the perfection of a divine humanity; one in origin, one in training, one in destiny, what shall avail to separate Man from Man and to build up walls of division between brothers?
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is the use of evil. The life that is in you cannot manifest its higher capacities unless you are placed under conditions in which you can develop yourselves by struggling against opposition. Evil is, as it were, the weight opposing the muscle, and as you develop the body by struggling against the opposing external weight; so do you develop the moral character by struggling against evil which is the opposite of every virtue. Every virtue has its opposite evil. Truth and falsehood, courage and cowardice, compassion and hatred, humility and pride. All these things are, pairs of opposites. How can you develop truth save by struggling against the false, save by realising that in the world around you there is falsehood on every side of you? What can you do when you realise the force of this, save contradict it and place yourself in opposition to it, and yourself be true? Never let a false word escape your lips; never let a false thought find habitation in your brain, never let a false action disfigure your conduct, and the result of the recognition of falsehood will be to develop in you the necessary power for truth. As you struggle against the tendency to falseness, there is developed in you the increasing power to be true. Now what is Truth? Truth is Brahman: Truth is life: Truth is the essence of what we call the Divine Life; and we reach it by struggling against falsehood, developing, as it were, the virtue which is the receptacle of the Divine Life, and as you enlarge it and increase it by your struggling against falsehood - as the muscle grows larger by practice against the weight you are making your character a receptacle for the Divine Life, that Divine Life which shall flow in ever-increasing volume and give you greater power. Thus you are developing those qualities of Truth which without opposition you could never have evolved, and which, in proportion to the energies evolved by your efforts against falsehood, will purify your nature from falsity, and render true the life which you are developing. So also with every other virtue. Courage is developed in the presence, not in the absence, of an object which you fear. If there were no objects which gave rise to the sensation of fear, then courage could never be evolved. But the presence of these objects that give the sensation of fear increases the experience of that Soul and gradually evolves courage. Have you ever noticed in an infant, that that which at first was terrifying to it, that which was an object of terror to it when first seen, gradually loses its terrifying quality as it becomes more and more familiar? See how timid a little child is; see how he sees even in a strange face an object which terrifies him. How shall that child lose that timidity and become brave in the face of men? Not by shutting him up in a room where he will never see anybody. If you keep him in a room where there is no strange face the child has no fear. Fear is generated by letting him face unknown objects, and presently he begins to understand them, until out of constant experiences fear is eliminated, and strength and courage take its place.
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Looking thus at every man as Divine at heart, we begin to ask: If that be the meaning of spirit and spiritual life, what is the method for its unfolding? The first step is that which has just been mentioned, to get people to believe in it, to throw aside all that has been said about the heart of man being “desperately wicked”; to throw aside all that is said about original sin. “There is no original sin save ignorance, and into that we are all born, and we have slowly to grow out of it by experience, which gives us wisdom. That is the starting point, as the conscious sense of unity is the crown. And the method of spiritual life is that which enables the life to show itself forth in reality as it ever is in essence. The inner Divinity of man, that is the inspiring thought which we want to spread through all the Churches of the West, which too long have been clouded by a doctrine exactly the reverse. When man once believes himself Divine, he will seek to justify his inner nature.
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Let us examine into the cause of the darkness, for though, while it is upon us, all merely theoretical knowledge breaks down under our feet, yet that knowledge may help to clear it away more rapidly, when once it begins to lighten. Nothing but repeated practical experience can keep us as steady and as serene in the darkness as in the light, but theoretical knowledge has its place in the evolution of the mind.
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At a very early stage of real apprenticeship to the higher life, darkness - less absolute than that above described, but sufficiently trying to the as yet undeveloped soul - will strain and test his powers. The earnest aspirant soon finds that fits of gloom, the cause of which he cannot discover, descend upon him and subject him to much distress. He is apt, in the over-sensitiveness which accompanies this stage of growth, to blame himself for these accesses of sadness, and to take himself sharply to task for the loss of the serenity which he has put before himself as his ideal. When the gloom is upon him, every surrounding object takes an unwonted and exaggerated shape. Small annoyances loom large, distorted by the mists that surround him, petty troubles grow into great shadows that over-cloud the sun, and friction that in happier seasons would pass unnoticed now rasps every nerve and tortures every sensibility. He feels that he has fallen from the place to which he had climbed by prolonged efforts, and that all his past struggles are wasted and their fruits rent away from his grasp. As has been well said: “It is wonderful how the Powers of the Dark seem to sweep away as it were in one gust all one’s spiritual treasures, garnered with such pain and care after years of incessant study and experience.” What wonder that the trembling and bewildered soul of the neophyte feels a touch almost of despair as the spoils of victory on many a hard-fought field crumble into ashes in his hands.
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By the end of the poem however, the narrator experiences transcendence, as she comes to the realization that through the act of imagination she is able to see far more than the limited view her eyes provided her with....