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Chapter 9
Major Aids to Spiritual Advancement
IN a vague and nebulous way, because those in our educational institutions advocate
them, there is a general impression that in some manner society is benefitted by
certain kinds of music, literature, dramatic art, nature interests and social affairs. And
with an uncertainty that leads to recurrent controversy as to which is better and which
worse, it is likewise felt that some music is degrading, that the published works of
some writers are corroding, that even some poetry is not fit for the public eye, that the
movies must be censored, the stage made subject to police regulations, and certain
social contacts, such as the so-called night-life in our cities, should be discouraged or
even prohibited by legislation. But the man in the street commonly has no means of
gauging either the value or the menace of any of these things.
Consequently, because it is his work to encourage all those things beneficial to
society, and to discourage all those which detract from human progress, the spiritual
alchemist should furnish a yardstick by which all such things can correctly be
measured.
The arts, various interests and social contacts have a value in that they contribute
either to length of life or to its breadth. Most of them, in addition to furnishing variety
of experiences, increase the range of information. But in addition to the facts they
furnish, and of more importance to man's progress, they each also appeal to the
emotions and tend to make desires of a certain type habitual. The desires thus
cultivated through repeated stimulation may be coarse, brutal, degrading, selfish and
directed to the gratification of the individual at the expense of the welfare of others.
And in so much as this is true the production or interest is a detriment to the individual
and the race, for it tends to restrict and limit life in its most important dimension. On
the other hand, the desires so aroused and habitually indulged may be those seeking
refinement, aspiration to higher accomplishment, those associated with noble intent
and the zealous determination to make whatever sacrifice of purely selfish aims is
necessary for the welfare of others and general human advancement. To the extent
such desires are encouraged to become mans companions the contacts stimulating
them are beneficial to the individual and the race; for they increase the dominant
vibratory rate and give life height as well as length and breadth through lifting it to a
higher spiritual level.
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Mans actions are directed by his desires, and he desires and is attracted toward that
which gives him pleasure. That he may have desires that spur him to actions that give
him the experiences that enrich his life he should be encouraged to enjoy life to the
utmost. But at the same time he should recognize that the most enjoyment is not to be
had through those things which degrade and make gross.
One who has experienced merely the pleasures of the animal appetites has missed
intense enjoyment. A dog, no doubt, enjoys his food; but the enjoyment is of a very
inferior nature to that experienced by a cultured man with his favorite music. The
pleasures of the drunkard, of those who dissipate, and of others who gain something
for themselves through the oppression of those less vigorous, are not in the same
class, but much inferior in quality to the enjoyments of those who have trained their
minds and nervous systems to higher appreciations.
The more refined the organism and the more trained in its appreciations the more
enjoyment it is capable of experiencing. Refined enjoyments, through making the
proper desires habitual, lend themselves to the advancement of the individual and the
progress of the race. In addition to their utility in directing the behavior into channels
beneficial to the race, they are experiences which in themselves give breadth and
height to the life of the individual undergoing them.
We should not think of seeking enjoyment as materialistic. If we conduct ourselves
wisely, when we pass to the next life we there also will seek enjoyments; for in that
realm as well as in this one they afford a means of directing the energies into channels
that are best. If sorrow and privation come, here or hereafter, let us meet them bravely
and gain spiritual values from them all through the methods of spiritual alchemy. But
let us not seek misery. On the contrary, let us seek the highest enjoyments, which
come only from those things which call out the tenderest and most exalted desires in
behalf of others, and the flaming zeal for high accomplishment.
Music
--Of these enjoyments, and one capable of considerable quality cultivation by
almost everyone, is that obtained from music. Music is good for us, or bad for us, in
proportion to the elevation or degradation of the impulses which it arouses.
It has a language all its own by which it communicates to us any possible emotional
state or combination. It speaks rather definitely, but not in words. Through rhythm,
melody and harmony it may arouse longing, wistfulness, despair, elation, joy,
happiness, sorrow, passion, lust, frenzy, hatred, greed, envy, revenge, or any other
emotion of which the soul is capable. Its vibratory rates reach the astral form through
the consciousness without the medium of definite images, and set up changes in the
astral body much as do images of the most powerful intensity. The feelings
engendered thus are such as might be aroused by any set of thoughts or by any kind of
objective experiences. And because they do thus awaken such feelings, the behavior
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consequent upon them is that which might equally result from intense thought or
objective experience. Thus does music have a power to direct our conduct.
But a peculiar thing about music, and one that should cause us to avoid hasty
judgment as to which kinds are good and which kinds are bad, is that at first hearing a
type to which we are not accustomed is usually most unattractive.
Melody, undoubtedly, is the creative energy in musical production. But what
constitutes melody is very difficult to define. Certain notes that when first heard
seem quite unrelated sounds, when heard repeatedly come to be considered melody
of exceptional beauty and power. The later developments of what was originally
known as jazz, much of it, aside from its syncopation, is denounced by many as harsh
and discordant. How are we to judge?
It would seem that musical productions, to prove their worth, must undergo a period
of presentation. It may be that great treasures of music are sometimes discarded
because the audience cannot educate itself to their true worth. It may be that
Wagner's composition of late life which was discarded, although he held it to be his
greatest, is better than his earlier productions. But in the long run music stands or falls
through the appreciation of its public. And so far in musical history only those works
have endured as great which men have come to recognize as built on melodies of
power and beauty.
The music of the West has been erected on the diatonic scale of thirteen equal-value
semi-tones to the octave. The East deals with smaller intervals; implying ears more
delicately adjusted. Certain music from the Orient, of singularly haunting charm,
makes use of intervals in which our semi-tones are divided into four parts. But these
smaller divisions, giving greater freedom of melody, are sadly handicapped in
another essential; they offer an obstacle to harmony. Such small intervals when they
enter into a harmonic structure sound to us as though something were desperately
wrong.
Because, as already mentioned, something new sounds incomprehensible or even
diabolical at first, is no criterion as to its real beauty. But if on subsequent renderings
it continues to sound horrible, we may be sure that people will not accept it. Some
there are who have tried to use quarter tones in modern composition, and some others
have attempted to found schools not on harmony, but on frankly unresolved
dissonance. But these rackets, called music by their creators, have so violently
distressed the nerves of their listeners who have been grounded in the traditional
concepts of harmony, that they have not gained an appreciable footing.
At the same time, their originators are to be commended. Because good music has
been produced only by conforming to certain rules is no indication that other and
better methods may not yet be discovered. It may be that a hundred new forms will be
brought to light and experimented with before something really better than we now
have comes to light. But if, in the long run as the result of all this experimenting,
something of real value is added to musical expression, the work of these inventors in
the realm of sound will have been well worth while.
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Yet so long as these new forms tend to disrupt, through their violent and prolonged
clashes, the nervous poise of those hearing them, we cannot consider their effects for
the better. Life depends upon harmony; and discord tends toward dissolution.
Discords entering human consciousness as alleged music, through the sympathetic
response of the finer body tends to arouse discords in the astral form, and these. in
turn, attract misfortune in the external environment. The material success of the
individual, as well as his poise and happiness, depends upon his inner harmonies.
I presume in the later adaptations of what was originally called jazz we have
something that will add somewhat to the richness of musical expression. From the
weird cries and crude force of its syncopations one might think such music came
from the jungle. But as a matter of research, those who have sought to trace it do not
find it there, but conclude that its intense, ceaseless movement is the interpretation, in
musical language, of the hurry, strife and industrialization of American life. The
inexhaustible rhythms and its blue notes bear the label, "Made in America."
It is really not a new music, but a new language through which old music is presented.
It has been shown, for instance, that "Yes, We Have No Bananas," is note for note
and in exact rhythm Handel's magnificent "Hallelujah" chorus in its opening, and
that in its second part it appropriates "I Dwelt in Marble Halls," from Balfe's
"Bohemian Girl" "Avalon" had to pay damages in court to Puccini as being taken
from the tenor aria in the last act of "Tosca"; and many others have been shown to be
but classical compositions that have been given this new dress. So while jazz and its
derivatives may contribute something permanent in the way of expression, up to the
present moment those using it have created almost nothing.
Without emotion life is a very thin rind. Yet music, in these days of radio, is an easy
means of giving it greater depth. The most complex form that has yet evolved, and
that requires greatest training fully to appreciate, is the symphony orchestra. The
interweaving of contrapuntal threads, the richness and variety of tone and coloring,
and the interrelation of rhythms give it a liberty that nowhere else can find
expression. In fact, its creations are limited not by its technical requirements, but by
the receptivity and discriminatory powers of the human ear.
Like almost anything else really worth while in life, the ability to appreciate good
music, and thus through it elevate the emotions to sublime heights, requires training
and effort. Being in its presence, listening to it, and endeavoring to feel its meaning,
is an avenue to this training. And he who can enter completely into the enjoyment of a
symphony orchestra always feels well repaid in pleasure alone for whatever effort
such appreciation has cost.
Most people, however, find the symphony too heavy except for an occasional
addition to the musical diet. But on the screen and stage and over the radio a wide
variety of really good music is now easily available; and it is a healthy sign, just at the
moment this is being written, to find the public demanding less and less of the
so-called "swing", and more and more of what are considered to be better
productions. Grand opera, vocal solo work, and instrumental recitals seem to be
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gaining new life. These types of music are mostly good in that they stimulate a desire
for unselfish work, pity for those in misfortune, and such other feelings as are not
antagonistic to race welfare.
Some of the derivatives of jazz, on the contrary, in their wild shrieks and maudlin
whinings give rise to the impulse to abandon all self-control; to such lack of restraint
and dignity as may be commonly witnessed only in those drunk. To shout and laugh
and have a hilarious time is a detriment to no one; but to be drunk with wine or with
emotion to an extent that neglects any thought of the effect of actions on oneself or on
others is certainly most detrimental. And there are other forms of undesirable music
that stimulate lust and base desires; forms that invite man to selfish gratification at
the cost of pain to others, or that degrade and lower him to thoughts and feelings that
are coarse and brutal.
Such music as expresses, and therefore stimulates, hate, blood lust, frenzy, fury,
rage, licentiousness, self-abandonment and other anti-social emotions should be
shunned by those aspiring to spirituality. Consequently, the cosmic alchemist uses
such influence as he has to create a popular demand for the types of music that lift the
soul of man above these sordid emotions, any one of which lowers the dominant
vibratory rate and hence the spirituality.
Drama and Fiction
--With a radio in nearly every home, and twenty million people in this country
attending the movies every day, where music also commonly is heard, music must
have a profound influence upon the spiritual trend of our people. And as their
emotions are so repeatedly played upon by the heroes and villains of screen, stage
and radio, the drama also must be given a place of importance in determining the
popular emotional trend.
With these so numerous avenues of entertainment at hand that require almost no
effort to enjoy, it is impossible to determine to what extent the realm of literature is
being also used for relaxation and entertainment and is consequently influencing the
general emotional level. But as publishers still report a high sale of novels, and the
newsstands are prospering from their sale of magazines, we may conclude that the
printed page, while not having so unrivaled an influence as it once had, is still of
arresting importance.
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Through music and dancing the emotions are played upon directly in such a way as to
stimulate aspirations and desires and perhaps suggest images and events that take
place in time. In sculpture and painting some great moment, or conception, or
feeling, or the outcome of something that has taken place in time, is fixed and made
permanent. But fiction, whether presented in print as a story, or over the radio or on
the screen or stage as a play, presents the images of actors or the sound of their voices
together with events rather than merely suggesting them as music does; and it has a
greater freedom than sculpture and painting in that it presents them during the
passage of time. It thus much more closely resembles the experience of actual life.
The play and the story are very much the same thing except that each is presented in a
medium that has its own technical restrictions. In the printed page, for instance, the
author by means of words must be able to persuade his reader to see the images of
people doing certain things amid certain surroundings. Not only must he be skillful to
convey just the images he wishes to his reader; but at best it places more burden of
work upon the reader to imagine the various people, settings and actions described
than it does actually to see them as presented to him from stage or screen, or to hear
them talk to the accompaniment of suggestive sound effects.
On the other hand, a stage or screen presentation is greatly limited as to the number of
scenes and the amount of detail that can be given, because the whole action of the
story must be compressed within a few hours at most. And an even greater restriction
to the stage or screen play is that no analysis of the motives is possible during the
interchanges; and no explanation as to the bearing of a scene just witnessed in
relation to the main plot can be made. In radio presentations explanations can be
made of thoughts, motives, or anything else that otherwise is not clear, after the
manner of the printed story; but it is even more limited than stage or screen in the
amount of time into which the whole must be compressed. Thus there is time only for
the briefest of explanations. Yet the author of a story commonly goes thoroughly into
the thoughts of at least his main character, and is careful after each scene to explain
just what bearing it has on the development of the plot as a whole.
Other than these natural restrictions imposed on each form of presentation, the story
and the play are handled in much the same manner, and their effect upon the public is
not diverse enough to call for entirely separate discussion.
Other than the forms mentioned, the realm of literature holds serious books that are
non-fiction in character. In the magazines are to be found articles, and on the screen
are presented travelogues and educational themes that frankly and openly are
informative in character. In so far as the information they present is reliable they are
to be encouraged; because man cannot acquire too much information. But even such
serious material often is so artistically clothed and beautifully handled as to lend it a
grace and charm that results in emotional pleasure. And in so much as it does this,
through calling up delightful images and pleasantly stimulating the imagination,
these works by means of the emotional impressions they engender, add a richness to
life that may become a spiritual asset. In addition to their power of intellectual
instruction they educate to finer feelings as well.
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Novels differ from short stories--and both are often given screen and radio
presentation--in that the novel commonly goes into the enterprises of various
characters, while the short story, to be typical, is concerned with the attempt of some
central character to accomplish something, or at some critical point to make an
important decision. The serial is a long short story with the installments ending in a
suggestion that something menacing and sinister is about to happen. In the novelette
two groups are commonly involved, often contending for the same prize. And it is
usually handled by the cut and flash method in which the thoughts and actions of each
group are alternately presented. The novelette, as well as the novel, affords room to
show the development of character.
But whether a story is unified by the effort of one character to accomplish something
or to make a decision of importance, or whether, as in most novels the minute details
that contribute to the development of character amid certain surroundings are set
forth, editors, reflecting the demands of the public, are more and more exacting in
that all descriptions of places and typical conditions shall be accurate. If the story is
laid in New York, the author must be familiar with, and picture to the reader, New
York as it actually exists. If the plot takes the hero into South American jungles, the
author must be able to give the reader an authentic conception of just such a jungle.
Even the swift-action pulp magazines, in which the characters are permitted to do
quite miraculous things, have a present-day requirement that descriptions of places
shall be true to fact. And thus, the reading of almost any current fiction has
commendable informative value.
We must not overlook, however, that the reading of fiction and the movie and radio
habit sometimes become a vice. While absorbed in them we escape from the world of
reality. We live in an imaginary world in which the duties and cares of external life
are, for the time being, forgotten and neglected. The living in fantasy removes us,
while it lasts, from the harsh contacts of daily existence, and thus affords our jaded
nerves the opportunity for a more harmonious adjustment. As a temporary surcease
from the impacts of external environment, therefore, such recreation is highly
beneficial; for it conduces to higher efficiency in the real work of life.
But if, instead of using such avenues merely as temporary relief from conditions that
have become too hard, the individual permits himself to form the habit of fleeing
from reality in order permanently to avoid its harshness, he is on a road that is of
benefit neither to himself nor to society.
To make a success of life on any plane it is essential that the problems of that plane be
courageously faced and the energies concentrated upon them. Consequently, to
persist in living in an imaginary world such as is created by movies and the radio and
books of fiction, to the neglect of the practical, though more harsh, affairs of life, is to
hinder adaptation to the real environment and thus encourage and hasten dissolution.
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One can narcotize oneself into inability to cope with the real problems of life in many
ways. I have known people so to saturate themselves with nicotine from cigarettes
that it became too much effort to meet the common responsibilities of providing a
livelihood. I have known others to get so much satisfaction from their radio that they
worked as little as possible and spent day after day for weeks, in which they could
have accomplished something worth while, merely dreamily listening to it. And so it
is with the fiction of the printed page or on the screen; if substituted for the effort that
should be used in accomplishment it destroys initiative and is decidedly pernicious.
Yet as a relaxation that permits greater effort later toward accomplishing something
really worth while, it may prove of high value; particularly when it is selected with a
view to the higher culture of the emotional nature.
I have already spoken of the swift-action stories of the pulp magazines; and how the
things that the chief characters do in these stories are often quite impossible and at
other times highly improbable. Here in the interest of imaginative pleasure the mind
is called upon to visualize situations that a little analysis would cause it completely to
reject. Yet if the mind accustoms itself to accept without question these unplausible
feats, it is cultivating a habit of uncritical acceptance that probably will be carried
over into the more practical affairs of life.
When some bizarre creature--a mouse, a cat, a rabbit or a dog--in an animated
screen cartoon leaps from mountain peak to mountain peak, rides a whale across the
ocean, and clubs some farmer into insensibility, this may be very entertaining; but
unless the critical faculties at once assert themselves in a protest at the impossibility
of such behavior, in a day or two one may find oneself listening with growing
conviction to another fairy story told by a real estate agent who is determined to get
one's name on the dotted line.
If we do not carefully discriminate in all our fiction between what is plausible and
what is not, it also becomes increasingly difficult for us to discern the subtle fictions
that tend to pass for truth in our daily papers and magazines. Most periodicals that are
not devoted entirely to fiction desire to exert a political influence in a given direction.
Often they owe their very existence to the power they possess to create public
sentiment favorable to some financial clique. But if we do not dull our powers of
discernment by accepting unplausible fiction of other kinds, it usually is not too
difficult to perceive just what ends such subversive propagandists seek, and to
recognize the cunning manner in which each scrap of important news, each
noteworthy current event, each factual article, and each story published is given ever
so slight a twist to make it apparently prove their contention or suggest the
advisability of that which most they favor.
For the most part, the fiction published in the slick-paper magazines has credibility in
detail, is presented in a polished style, and contains considerable in the way of
analysis of feeling, thought and motive; while the prime requisites of the pulp
magazines are excitement and violent action.
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Even in magazine reading, therefore, it will be seen that there is a difference in
appeals to the emotional palate. Those less sensitive get no satisfactory taste unless
there is constant physical clash, just as there are those who must cover their food with
strong condiments in order to enjoy it. Their taste is so blunt that finer savors entirely
escape their notice. And in reading, likewise, the subtle movements of the story, the
delicate analyses of emotion, the humanness of the motives, and the portrayals of
traits that should be recognized as possessed by their acquaintances, are missed by
them. Yet by cultivating their tastes to an appreciation of these less obvious literary
elements their enjoyment in reading would be greatly increased.
Certain Types of Fiction
--We are, and should be, anxious to learn as much as possible about life about the
way people live in the different social strata, and about the conditions that exist in
parts of the world either physically or socially far removed One claim to our interest,
therefore, is made by an author who presents to us something that is unusual.
It is even good for us to know, through stories and screen and radio portrayals, what
the thoughts, feelings, outlook and circumstances are of those who choose the less
desirable paths of life. And it is good for us to learn what there is to be known about
certain diseases; but if we are wise we shall avoid either too much physical contact
with, or too much thinking about, any disease. Diseases, both physical and social,
have a way of spreading themselves through intimacy.
It is well to see one or two pictures of the wild night life of the city, to become
informed on such conditions as they actually exist; but to steep oneself in stories
dealing with it, or night after night to witness such carousels on the screen or hear
them over the radio, breeds a familiarity that through its suggestive power tends to
encourage an attitude of too great tolerance.
Also, we need to know the facts about gang warfare, about bootleggers, about
smuggling rings bandits and robbers. Of course, in the interest of public morals these
anti-social characters, after a long period of success, are made to come to a bad end.
But with the magazines, the screen and the radio so constantly filled with characters
who defy the law, and at least for a time lead a glorious life of excitement and
opulence, such malefactors in actual life are beginning, more and more, to be taken
for granted; and such conditions, more and more, are being accepted as less
deplorable than formerly was thought.
This type of story, in which the chief actor is a villain, and finally meets just
retribution, is the least desirable of them all. Of course he receives his final
punishment. And it may be that his mal-treatment of less powerful figures in the story
calls out a commendable pity for them. Such pity, arousing the desire to defend the
weak and minister to those in distress, has much spiritual value. But in such a story as
we are considering--which is typical of the gangland setting--the interest centers
chiefly in an undesirable character. The emotional response, therefore, if the story is
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successful--aside from admiration for such unselfish tendencies as the gangster
exhibits--is that of ardently hoping, wishing and desiring that he shall meet
destruction. And while, in the interest of self-preservation or the preservation of
others, destruction at times may be necessary, the emotions accompanying it, or the
desire to injure another, or to see another meet punishment or suffer, are coarse, gross
and disruptive.
As cosmic alchemists then, let us recognize that such stories as arouse the feeling of
hate, anger, lust, resentment, desire for vengeance or the downfall and destruction of
another, lower the dominant vibratory rate and detract from the spirituality, as do
those also which too frequently bring people into intimate contact with the debasing
side of life. I am not suggesting censorship; as censorship too frequently suppresses
that which is most worth while in the interest of narrow conventions. But I am
suggesting that the better class of stories should receive as much encouragement as
possible.
Of course, even in the more desirable stories, there is often a villain that the reader or
audience is called upon to hate. Because the progress of life throughout has been so
dependent upon the successful repulse of invasion, it is very easy to arouse the
emotion of hate. Politicians constantly make use of this tendency. They know if they
can find some flaw in their opponent it will be very easy, through attacking this, to
persuade others to join with them in throwing mud. And thus it is also that the writers
of stories, realizing how easy it is to get people excited by pointing out something to
hate, quite commonly add to the interest of their presentation by portraying some
character that everyone is keen to have destroyed.
In some of the very best stories none of the characters is either very good or very bad,
but all are just human beings subject to the pressure of circumstances. In the better
type of stories, even though there is a villain, the desire for frustration or destruction
of anyone plays a very subordinate part. Instead, in the accomplishment story the
desire aroused chiefly is that certain individuals shall gain a well-merited reward;
and in the story of decision that such decisions as are made shall conform to a high
and unselfish standard of conduct.
An author, to the extent he is a competent artist, perceives certain beauties, certain
things of significance, certain glorious conceptions, that others, absorbed in their
daily pursuits, miss. These he points out to us, and gives to what was commonplace a
new allure and an enhanced emotional association. When we have read of a certain
place, or of a certain type of person as portrayed by a skilled writer, and then in the
course of time we visit the place, or some other place that suggests it, or when we see
someone who resembles the type thus encountered in fiction, there is an added charm
and a pleasant thrill that we should have missed but for our reading.
For lack of space I cannot discuss in detail the ecstatic pleasures to be gleaned from
poetry, or even from the better class of fiction. But if the emotions thus stimulated are
expansive, tending to move away from self-centeredness; if they increase the desire
to benefit others, to rise above the sordid and spread the spiritual wings, so to speak;
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if the feelings and desires thus cultivated are elevating and noble; we may be sure that
the life has not only been broadened, but that it also has been heightened through the
increase of the dominant vibratory rate. Through literature, through stage and screen,
and through the radio it is possible to make more habitual those emotional states
which increase the spirituality. The cosmic alchemist, consequently, encourages
such vibratory rate lifting productions.
Social Contacts
--Through social contacts also there is opportunity to raise the vibratory rates. Of
course, when the tide of conversation turns to gossip, when envy is engendered
because another has more wealth or prestige or receives more favors, the results
derived from social gatherings are detrimental. After all, it is so much easier to tear
down --and in the process lower the dominant vibratory rate--than to build. It is so
much easier to criticize those who receive unusual notice than it is to do something
constructive. Inwardly dissatisfied with themselves, there are those who find little
good in anyone; and because their temperament runs thus they criticize the
government no matter what it does, find fault with their families on little or no
pretext, and always can think of something derogatory to say about those who are
looked upon as having attained some measure of success.
Yet to listen sympathetically to such expressions of envy, to become intrigued by the
reputed misdeeds of others, or habitually to scan with interest such gossip as appears
in the daily papers, is to cultivate emotions that are coarsening in nature and lower the
spirituality.
Nevertheless, social gatherings in which there is a pleasant exchange of ideas afford
opportunity for elevating emotional culture. It is true that the mere exchange of
commonplaces gives rise to few emotional responses. But conversation may take
place on almost any vibratory level, and when the discussion has to do with
something worth while the impact of thought upon thought awakens new
realizations. Viewed from many angles, and with additional information contributed
first by one and then by another, there comes to be a clearer comprehension of the
subject. This broadens the life. But also often in association with such a satisfactory
intellectual exchange there is a peculiar and high emotional Hush that has a keen
though subtle flavor. Even the silent company of those with whom there is complete
sympathy and understanding holds an element of fine enjoyment. And thus our
various social contacts, if chosen with discrimination, may be made to yield intense
pleasures that lift the emotional level and therefore contribute to the spirituality.
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Nature Communion
--Yet above all other external contacts for refining the body, thoughts and feelings,
and stimulating the most spiritual emotions, to one who can develop such an
appreciation, is the intimate association with Nature out-of-doors. Sunrise on the
desert, or sunset seen from some majestic mountain peak, gives to the Nature lover an
unspeakable joy. That intimate friendship with flowers, with birds, with the little
rodents that can be coaxed to eat from one's hand, is an avenue by which the ecstatic
rapture of cosmic consciousness may rapidly be attained. Yet it is appalling how
many people know almost nothing of the lives of creatures other than men.
I have deliberately curtailed to a minimum the space here devoted to this subject,
because it is one about which I realize I am apt to be over enthusiastic. In addition to
my occult pursuits, in the section where I reside I also am recognized as a naturalist.
As an avocation, in addition to lecturing and giving radio talks on wild life, over a
period of seventeen years I led one or two field trips each month for clubs and
societies interested in Nature study; a program interrupted by the approach of World
War II. I know the birds both by sight and song, can call the trees and plants by their
first names, and when we walk afield have at least a speaking acquaintance with such
lower orders of life as we meet. At ebb tide the creatures that crowd the tide pools are
my acquaintances. And even as I learn the habits and receive the confidences of my
human companions, so also I like to know the habits and problems of my non-human
friends of field, of forest, of seashore, and of the mountain. But if this were merely an
intellectual pursuit it would do no more than add breadth to my life. Yet,
incomprehensible as it no doubt appears to many of those who have accompanied me
on these jaunts into the desert, into the mountains, along the streams, or by the
seashore, I feel, and enter into a sympathetic relationship with, the lives of the
creatures thus contacted.
This avenue of giving both breadth and height to the life I must discuss from the
personal standpoint, because it is an avenue less widely recognized than those
previously mentioned. Yet it is the avenue which, as I followed the streams, made
intimate friends of the trees, talked to the birds, and entered into the very soul and
consciousness of all the denizens of the wild, as a boy led me into the paths of
occultism. True friendship is rich in vibratory-raising emotions. It engenders the
desire to benefit all and to harm none. An understanding is established. And this
understanding friendship with creatures and plants in their native state that came to
me as I walked through woods and field as a boy brought me to whatever insight I
have of Nature's forces and occult laws.
Because of the personal bias I should be sure to exhibit were I to discuss more
extensively the value of actual contacts with Nature out-of-doors, I shall not express
fully my enthusiasm for it. After all, what the artist attempts to present to the attention
of others is something pleasing, inspiring, or notable that he has discovered. And the
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Nature lover, while finding pleasure in the works of the artist, gets even greater joy in
making interesting discoveries and reveling in them at first hand.
Each flower has a message for the Nature lover. The birds, the bees, the katydids and
crickets, each are conscious entities with which he communes. The lightning and the
storm and the waving tree tops exalt him as manifestations of power, the rugged
mountain peaks offer him a friendly challenge, and the warm rains of summer enfold
him in a soft embrace. Feeling thus, no ignoble or sordid thought can reach his mind,
his soul is elevated to the highest, he enters into true cosmic consciousness, and reaps
a rich reward of spiritual treasure.
Prayer and Devotional Exercises
--The mind of one person is not insulated from the minds of other persons or from
the minds of other life-forms by some impervious wall. No more than the individual
thought-cells and thought structures within the soul are walled off from each other.
Each has a separate organization, and therefore a separate identity; but each also is
capable of exchanges with others through the principle of resonance and the Law of
Association.
While your mind contains innumerable thought-cell structures, each under the Law
of Association capable of communicating its state of consciousness to any others, all
are, or should be under the guidance of the over-all authority which is you. The
organism as a whole has a purpose. And all the various factors which enter into the
organism should, irrespective of their individual desires, cooperate in realizing the
objectives you have set for yourself.
Thus also should we, to the best of our intelligence and ability, cooperate with other
souls in assisting to realize the purpose of the over-all cosmic authority which we
speak of as Deity.
Each ego, or spirit, is a spark, or emanation from Deity, and has the potential of
developing and exercising deific powers. And each soul is a cell of consciousness
within the universal consciousness, capable of extending itself to partake of the
thoughts and feelings not only of other souls and groups but in some measure, and on
the vibratory level to which its aspirations raise it, of the all-pervading intelligence
and power of Deity.
Before a prayer is offered there should be clearly formulated in the mind that the soul
is one with the universe, that the spirit is an emanation of Deity, just what it is that the
prayer is expected to accomplish, and why the all-pervading intelligence and power
of Deity should grant the prayer.
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A worthy prayer, one that can be expected to contact the all-pervading intelligence
and power of Deity on a benevolent level, not only must not be to gain some unfair
advantage or to injure some other person, but must have within it elements the
realization of which will in some measure also aid in the realization of God's Great
Plan.
A prayer should not only be linked up with the intention of cooperating in the divine
scheme of things, but its purpose should be clear. One of the most effective means of
raising the dominant vibratory rate and thus increasing the spirituality is through
prayer and devotional exercises. If this is the purpose, it should be clearly formulated
in the mind before the prayer is commenced, and the effort made during it, or during
any devotional exercise employed for this purpose, to arouse strong emotions and lift
them to as high a level as possible. A prayer of thanksgiving should express thanks. A
prayer for health should clearly state that health is desired. A prayer for character
development should make this purpose unequivocal. All should be stated explicitly
and with positiveness, and nothing in the prayer should be ambiguous.
Before the prayer is offered it is well for the devotee to contemplate his relation to the
universe and to Deity.
The recognition that his spirit is an emanation from Deity will lend him a confidence
and an inner power that otherwise he may fail to attain.
And the recognition that his soul is not some isolated unit, but is in rapport with the
soul of the universe, and is cooperating with it for a common purpose--a grand
purpose which in some small measure will be furthered by the realization of the
purpose of the prayer--will aid in gaining for the realization of the prayer the
cooperation of any inner-plane intelligences that may be contacted. And it will aid
the devotee, through the Law of Association, to contact the all-pervading power and
intelligence of Deity on which he relies to bring the prayer's fulfillment.
To get the relation clearly established it may be well for the devotee after
withdrawing his consciousness from consideration of external things--withdrawing
his consciousness to the inner plane to the extent he has ability to do so--to repeat
earnestly a few times: My Soul is one with the universe my Spirit an emanation from
Deity."
When he feels this relationship has been firmly established in his consciousness, he is
then ready to make more specific contact and appeal to Deity. If he is a Church of
Light member he does this by starting his prayer thus: "O Thou Eternal Spirit, in
Whom I Live, Move, Breathe and have my Being!" The mind should be lifted at this
point in aspiration and devotion as high as possible. It is not thought, but the emotion
which accompanies it, which is able to lift the soul to high basic vibratory levels and
there contact the all-pervading intelligence and power of Deity.
This high level of feeling should be maintained throughout the offering of the
selected prayer. The prayer may be offered either silently or audibly, but it should
have earnestness, positiveness and emotional energy behind it. It may be offered
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only once, or it may be repeated as many times as desired. A good plan is to set aside
several short intervals daily for employing the same prayer. Asking for too many
things at one time, or changing the prayer from day to day to different purposes,
divides the mental energies necessary to make proper contact and gain realization.
And one prayer backed by earnest devotion and powerful aspirations is far more
potent than giving mere lip service to some prayer daily for a year.
Even as the salutation to Deity with which the prayer begins will vary according to
the religion in which the devotee believes, so the ending of the prayer also will be
different. Instead of "Amen," those of The Religion of the Stars find it preferable,
due to the operation of the Law of Association and because a more positive effect is
acquired, to close the prayer with the affirmation, "So Shall It Be!"