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From the standpoint of religion the lives of good” men and women may be divided into two great classes, viz., those who do no active wrong, whose conduct is based upon the “ thou shalt nots” of the Bible, the law, and society, and those whose every thought is to do some active good.
I am far more interested in the latter than the former class. I am not content simply to forego doing wrong. I want to do, to be. Hence when the idea of Living a Radiant Life took hold of me, it sank deep, and is now part of my inner self. It was natural, therefore, that I should seek to formulate my thoughts as to what I desired to radiate. This seeking soon taught me that I already was a radiant being; every thought, every act, every word written or spoken was a radiant act, having its influence for good or evil upon my fellows, and that, therefore, I must decide speedily what I wanted to avoid radiating, and that which I would radiate.
The following pages are some of the results of my earnest cogitations, deliberations, reflections, and decisions. Consequently they partake strongly of personal preachments applied to myself. They may be regarded as a record of personal aspirations and longings, of spiritual hopes, of living prayers, and desires. And they are purposely written in the personal form in the sincere hope that they will help others to put into similar form their own half-formed thoughts, desires, and aspirations.
This book is not offered as a complete manual of life. It is merely a suggestion to others of the larger, wider, better, nobler thing they may do for themselves. It is my desire to arouse thought, to stimulate ardent longings for something beyond the gratification of the senses, to lead my readers to strive more earnestly for unselfish living, and to encourage them in their endeavors to find, realize, and live those spiritual truths which redeem human beings from their mortal inheritance of imperfection.
The main test of any system of religion or code of life is : Does it work? If it is not practical; applicable to all the events of daily life; enabling one to cope with problems as they arise; making one more helpful to mankind, less selfish, less censorious, less vain, less proud, less obstinate, less cruel, less thoughtless, less despondent; and, on the other hand, exciting and stimulating one to be more humane, more tender and compassionate with sinning humanity, more humble and ready to learn, more amenable to the suggestions of the wise and good, more kind, more considerate, more generous, more noble, more aspiring, then, indeed, has it proven itself to be a broken reed, instead of a tried staff upon which one may lean.
No longer to me is religion a question of “ Thou shalt not." The “ don'ts” of life are of far less importance than the “dos." He whose life is occupied with doing good has little time or thought for doing harm. Christ's method of living was positive and active, rather than negative and passive. He went about, doing good. He said:
Do unto others as ye would have them do unto you." He taught love in action: Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which de
, spitefully use you, and persecute you.
Hence I earnestly hope that every one of the following pages will contain some helpful thought for all who are seeking the more perfect life; and also for those who are sitting in the darkness of discouragement, under the depressing temptation to regard life as a “ failure.” There is no man living, no matter how low in body, mind, or soul, but can be helped into happiness; no woman so utterly lost to all good who may not live to feel the sprouting of angel wings because of the birth within her soul of helpful, unselfish love.
Goethe's cry was for “more light,” and as life comes with light in the material world, so light and life are inseparably connected in the mental and spiritual world. There is no real darkness in life. There may be a temporary withdrawal of solar light, but we know that as surely as all the
days of the past have dawned, so the sun will shine again to-morrow. And through all the seeming mists of doubt, fear, and pain the true spiritual light forever shines to give immortal life. Let us take Life then as God's gift, and as we progress daily to a more perfect expression of freedom from all that would wrongfully enthrall us, let us seek diligently to “ let our light shine” around who seem to live in the shadows.
I would come, in these pages, as the glorious sun, bringing warmth, healing, and purification. I would come as the stimulating breeze that vivifies and refreshes the breeze that has its birth on the vast Pacific where all impurities are scrubbed out of it in a thousand miles of storms, then floats gently over the orange and lemon groves, the rose gardens and violet beds, the sweet scented blossoms of ten thousand times ten thousand shrubs of California; then, laden with sweet odors and charged with the bromine and ozone of the ocean, climbs over the steep Sierran heights and becomes cool and filtered through the vast pine and juniper forests, and adds the balsams of health and strength, distilled from a million trees and shrubs, ere it falls to the desert and is there rendered aseptic and antiseptic. Like such a health-laden breeze would I come to weary men and women, tired and exhausted with the battle of life, sick of its complexities and frivolities, longing for spiritual as well as physical health, and seeking the happiness that comes alone when we live for the happiness of others.
My desire is to send forth a message that will bless body, mind, and soul, just as a triple song, whose melodies blend in perfect harmony, carries healing, strength, and inspiration. For he indeed is thrice blessed who knows the joy of life in its threefold manifestation, who has a body that is vigorous and healthy, a mind alert and active, quick to observe and reflect, to discern and classify, and a soul whose emotions and aspirations are ever to help, encourage, comfort, and purify humanity.
The conditions for such a life are in the Everywhere” waiting to be born into the “ Here," and God's time is now.
Many of these chapters originally appeared in the pages of Physical Culture Magazine, and to my good friends, its editor and founder, Bernarr Macfadden, and the present editor, John Brennan, I tender my cordial thanks for the privilege of reprinting which they have generously accorded.
Gorge Whartor fones