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I often panic, and worry that I might go mad....
[Articles] > I often panic, and worry that I might go mad....
The basic thing to be understood is that you are not the mind -- neither the bright one nor the dark one. If you get identified with the beautiful part, then it is impossible to disidentify yourself from the ugly part; they are two sides of the same coin. You can have it whole, or you can throw it away whole, but you cannot divide it.
And the whole anxiety of man is that he wants to choose that which looks beautiful, bright; he wants to choose all the silver linings, leaving the dark cloud behind. But he does not know that silver linings cannot exist without the dark cloud. The dark cloud is the background, absolutely necessary for silver linings to show.
Choosing is creating trouble for yourself.
The moment you are not choosing, all worry disappears. A great acceptance arises, that this is how the mind has to be, this is the nature of the mind -- and it is not your problem, because you are not the mind. If you were the mind, there would have been no problem at all. Then who would choose and who would think of transcending? And who would try to accept and understand acceptance?
But you are being an observer who gets identified with anything that he finds pleasant -- and forgets that the unpleasant is coming just behind it as a shadow. You are not troubled by the pleasant side -- you rejoice in it. The trouble comes when the polar opposite asserts -- then you are torn apart.
But you started the whole trouble. Falling from being just a witness, you became identified. The biblical story of the fall is just a fiction. But this is the real fall -- the fall from being a witness into getting identified with something and losing your witnessing.
Just try once in a while: Let the mind be whatever it is. Remember, you are not it. And you are going to have a great surprise. As you are less identified, the mind starts becoming less powerful, because its power comes from your identification; it sucks your blood. But when you start standing aloof and away, the mind starts shrinking.
And with the mind disappears the self. Then there is only a certain quality of awareness, with no "I" in it. At the most you can call it something similar to "am-ness," but not "I-ness." To be even more exact, it is "is-ness" because even in am-ness some shadow of the "I" is still there. The moment you know its is-ness, it has become universal.
I remind you of the story The Goose is Out. It is concerned with the mind and your is-ness.
The master tells the disciple to meditate on a koan: A small goose is put into a bottle, fed and nourished. The goose goes on becoming bigger and bigger and bigger, and fills the whole bottle. Now it is too big; it cannot come out of the bottle's mouth -- the mouth is too small. And the koan is that you have to bring the goose out without destroying the bottle, without killing the goose.
What can you do? The goose is too big; you cannot take it out unless you break the bottle, but that is not allowed. Or you can bring it out by killing it; then you don't care whether it comes out alive or dead. That is not allowed either.
Day in, day out, the disciple meditates, finds no way, thinks this way and that way -- but in fact there is no way. Tired, utterly exhausted, a sudden revelation... suddenly he understands that the master cannot be interested in the bottle and the goose; they must represent something else. The bottle is the mind, you are the goose... and with witnessing, it is possible. Without being in the mind, you can become identified with it so much that you start feeling you are in it!
He runs to the master to say that the goose is out. And the master says, "You have understood it. Now keep it out. It has never been in."
If you go on struggling with the goose and the bottle, there is no way for you to solve it. It is the realization that, "It must represent something else; otherwise the master cannot give it to me. And what can it be?" -- because the whole function between the master and the disciple, the whole business is about the mind and awareness.
Awareness is the goose which is not in the bottle of the mind. But you are believing that it is in it and asking everyone how to get it out. And there are idiots who will help you, with techniques, to get out of it. I call them idiots because they have not understood the thing at all.
Mind is just a procession of thoughts passing in front of you on the screen of the brain. You are an observer. But you start getting identified with beautiful things -- those are bribes. And once you get caught in the beautiful things you are also caught in the ugly things, because mind cannot exist without duality.
Awareness cannot exist with duality, and mind cannot exist without duality.
Awareness is non-dual, and mind is dual. So just watch. I don't teach you any solutions. I teach you the solution: Just get back a little and watch. Create a distance between you and your mind.
Whether it is good, beautiful, delicious, something that you would like to enjoy closely, or it is ugly -- remain as far away as possible. Look at it just the way you look at a film. But people get identified even with films.
I have seen, when I was young... I have not seen any movie for a long time. But I have seen people weeping, tears coming down -- and nothing is happening! It is good that in a movie house it is dark; it saves them from feeling embarrassed. I used to ask my father, "Did you see? The fellow by your side was crying!"
My father said to me, "If you are raising questions about people's reactions then you cannot enjoy the film."
I said, "I can enjoy the film, but I don't want to cry; I don't see any enjoyment in it. I can see it as a film, but I don't want to become a part of it. These people are all becoming a part of it."
My grandfather had an old barber who was an opium addict. For something which was possible to do in five minutes he would take two hours, and he would talk continuously. But they were old friends from their childhood. I can still see my grandfather sitting in the chair of the old barber... And he was a lovely talker. These opium addicts have a certain quality, a beauty of talking, telling stories about themselves, what is happening day-to-day; it is true.
My grandfather would simply be saying, "Yes, right, that's great..."
He said, "What do you want? That man is an opium addict..."
In India razor blades are not used; things almost like six-inch long knives are used as razor blades. "Now what do you want me to say? -- with that man who has a knife, a sharp knife in his hand, just on my throat. To say no to him... he will kill me! And he knows it. He sometimes tells me, `You never say no. You always say yes, you always say great.' And I have told him, `You should understand that you are always under the influence of opium. It is impossible to talk with you, to discuss with you or to disagree with you. You have a knife on my throat, and you want me to say no to something?'"
I said, "Then why don't you change from this man? There are so many other barbers, and this man takes two hours for a five-minute job. Sometimes he takes half your beard and then he says, `I am coming back, you sit.' And he is gone for an hour, because he gets involved in a discussion with somebody and forgets completely that a customer is sitting in his chair. Then he comes and says, `My God, so you are still sitting here?'"
And my grandfather would say, "What can I do? I cannot go home with half the beard shaved. You just complete it. Where have you been?"
The barber would say, "I got in such a good argument with somebody that I completely forgot about you. It is good that that man had to go; otherwise you would have been sitting here the whole day. And sometimes I don't even close the shop at night. I simply go home, just forget to close, and once in a while a customer is still sitting in the chair and I am sleeping. Somebody has to say to him, `Now you can go; that man will not be seen again before tomorrow morning. He is fast asleep in his home. He has forgotten to close his shop and he has forgotten about you.'"
And if you were angry... Sometimes new people got into his shop, and became angry. He would say, "Calm down. At the most you need not pay me. I have cut only half of the beard; you can just go. I don't want to argue. You need not pay me; I don't ask even half payment."
But nobody can leave his chair with half the beard shaved -- or half the head shaved! You ask him just to shave the beard and he starts shaving your head, and by the time you notice, he has already done the job. So he asks you, "Now what do you want? -- because almost one-fourth of the work is done. If you want to keep it this way I can leave it; otherwise I can finish it. But I will not charge for it because if you say that you never wanted it to be cut, then it is my fault and I should take the punishment. I will not charge you."
This man was dangerous! But my grandfather used to say, "He is dangerous but he is lovely and I have become so much identified with him that I cannot conceive that if he dies before me I will be able to go to another barber's shop. I cannot conceive... for my whole life he has been my barber. The identity has become so deep that I may stop shaving my beard, but I cannot change my barber."
You get identified with anything. People get identified with persons and then they create misery for themselves. They get identified with things, then they get miserable if that thing is missing.
Identification is the root cause of your misery. And every identification is identification with the mind.
And soon you will be able to see that there is no problem at all -- the goose is out. You don't have to break the bottle, you don't have to kill the goose either.
Weblog2001November
(via [PaperQuote]) [Ralph Waldo Emerson] : Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God's handwriting.
[Cicero] : [The Six Mistakes of Man]
[Mother Teresa] : The minute you begin to do what you want to do, it's really a different kind of life.
[Thomas Paine] in [The Age of Reason] : It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving, it consists in professing to believe what one does not believe.
After reading [Andre Durand]'s [Global Consciousness 1.0|http://discuss.andredurand.com/stories/storyReader$187], I have an idea about combining this thought with [Quaker]ism... Why not we implement a system where members can raise 1 issue per day and only 1 a day, Every other member can post their opinion after careful thought and it would be possible to edit the opinion only a few times within the next 1/2 hour ! and That's it ! - I will try to refine it !
A hypocrite is a person who professes beliefs and opinions that they do not hold
[Ralph Waldo Emerson] : "Shall I tell you the secret of the true scholar? It is this: Every man I meet is my master in some point, and in that I learn of him."
[Mother] : Always remember to love thy mother, because you only have one mother in your lifetime... I would replace mother with parents...
[Stephen Hawking] in [A Brief History of Time] : As we shall see, the concept of time has no meaning before the beginning of the universe. This was first pointed out by St. Augustine. When asked: What did God do before he created the universe? Augustine didn't reply: He was preparing Hell for people who asked such questions. Instead, he said that time was a property of the universe that God created, and that time did not exist before the beginning of the universe.
[Joel Spolsky] : It's about time that I updated my crufty old list of recommended books. What books should I have up there? - [Vote for ONE Book|http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=934]
[Tim Pozar] : One of my main "themes" in life is to give tools to the world that help them express their ideas. I have this rather utopian idea that if everyone has the tools to exchange ideas then the world will be a better place.
[Kalpana Mohan] : I live in a place where a million dollars is loose change for most people. I live in a place where people lease Mercs while they await their Porsches. It's a place where every minuscule movement of the NASDAQ rumbles into a seismological event. A place where deals are made - to be broken when options vest...
[Peter J. Denning]'s new book is [The Invisible Future: The Seamless Integration of Technology into Everyday Life]
I sent an email to [Jonathan Abrams] several months ago and he prompty responded by stating that 'the request will be forwarded to Development' - Let us see...
[Viktor Frankl] : Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.
[Free Alina Lebedeva|http://www.geocities.com/elsvenjo/FreeAlina.html] : ...This site is in support of Alina Lebedeva from Latvia. Alina is the schoolgirl who gave Prince Charles a slap in the face with  a bunch of flowers in protest over Britain's involvement in the war against Afghanistan. She is provisionally charged with endangering the life of foreign dignitary. If found guilty she could face up to 15 years in prison...
[Mira Art] [quotes|http://surprise.editthispage.com/2001/11/08] Mark Twain : Always do right. That will gratify some of the people, and astonish the rest.
[Swami Sivananda] : From [ABANDON BODY-CONSCIOUSNESS|http://www.dlsmd.org/sdr/11-sdr%20nov/1109.htm] : ...This body which is full of impurities, urine, pus and faecal matter etc., is perishable. It is like froth or bubble or mirage. It is despised by its enemies. It remains like a useless log of wood on the ground when prana (life) leaves it. It is the cause of pain and suffering. It is your enemy. You should treat this body with contempt, as dung. Why should you cling to it and worship it with scents, powders and flowers? Do not be silly and foolish in adorning it with fine silks and ornaments. It is dire ignorance only...
[Freeman Thomas], head of advanced product design for DaimlerChrysler : "A lot of people in the design business are full of BS. They want to create the facade of an extreme individual. I don't want to be someone who can't be approached."
Fast Company's [Who's Fast 2002|http://www.fastcompany.com/online/52/wf_intro.html] : ...Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Our fourth-annual Who's Fast issue arrives at a time when our feelings about work, life, business, and purpose need thoughtful recalibration...
[William Damon] coauthor of [Good Work] : "We're getting people to overcome the sense that to have a good career, you've got to compromise or cut
corners, that you've got to go along to get along. We
think that's bad advice."
Try this : add [mama_pendse] to your Yahoo Messenger and send message 'help'
The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Rules the World
[Articles] > The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Rules the World
Anbe Sivamayam Satyame Parasivam! Tonight we are going to talk about a vast subject, one that is important to every Hindu family: stri dharma, the dharma of the Hindu wife and mother. In Sanskrit stri means "woman." Dharma is a rich word which encompasses many meanings: the path to God Siva, piety, goodness, duty, obligation and more. Stri dharma is the woman's natural path, while purusha dharma, we can say, is the man's.
There is much controversy about the role of the woman in society these days. In the West, a strong women's liberation movement has been at work for many years, and now there has arisen an equally vigorous opposition which defends traditional values. The so-called struggle for women's liberation has affected women the world over--in India, Iran, Europe, Japan and elsewhere. In North America, I began a campaign informally called the Hindu women's liberation movement. It is not what you might expect. Its purpose is to liberate our Hindu women from the liberators, to save them from worldliness and to allow them to fulfill their natural dharma as mother and wife. For a religious woman, being liberated starts with resigning from her job and coming home. Once she is home, she is liberated and liberated and liberated. Working in the world keeps her in the outer dimensions of consciousness, while being at home allows her to live in the depth of her being. I have seen this work many times. There are so many distractions and influences in the world today that divert women away from being a wife and mother. In the West a woman is a wife first and a mother second, but in the East her duties as a mother are foremost. She is trained from early childhood in the arts of homemaking, trained by her mother who was trained in exactly the same way by her mother, and so on right down through history. It's an old pattern.
Don't forget that in the East the ties of the extended family are very close. Women live in a community, surrounded by younger and older women, often living in the same house. They enjoy a rewarding life which includes helping the younger ones and being helped by those who are more mature. Several generations work together in sharing the joys as well as the burdens of household culture. It is different in the West. Women here usually do not have the advantages of close association with other family members. Naturally, they become a little lonely, especially if they do not have a religious community of friends. They get lonely and want to get out in the world and enjoy life a little. This is another reason women leave the home. It is very unfortunate.
In the East there is a better balance of the masculine and feminine forces. In the West the masculine is too strong, too dominant. The feminine energies need to be allowed greater expression. But that does not mean women should start doing what men do. No. That only confuses the forces more. A better balance must be found. In the East the woman is protected. She is like a precious gem. You don't leave it unattended. You protect it. You guard it well because you don't wish to lose it. Hindu women are guarded well. They are not allowed to become worldly. They are not exposed to the looks and thoughts of a base public, nor must they surrender their modesty to contend with business affairs. She can be perfectly feminine, expressing her natural qualities of gentleness, intuitiveness, love and modesty. The home and family are the entire focus of a Hindu woman's life.
Many of you here tonight are too young to know that this was also the pattern in the West until about seventy-five years ago. Before World War I, women were very strict in the West. It was that war and the one that followed that broke down the ancient roles of men and women. The men were taken away from industry by the army, and women were forced out of the home into the factories and businesses so that production could continue. Earlier they had been protected, seldom seen unaccompanied in public. Throughout history, women had been the caretakers of the home and the defenders of virtue. They valued their purity, their chastity, and were virgins when they married. Many people don't know that the old values were followed most strictly up until 1915 or so. Then the two world wars broke up the family and disturbed the balance between men and women. For the first time, women were seen alone in public. For the first time, they left the home and competed with men for their jobs.
I speak often of the change humanity is going through in moving out of the agricultural era and into the technological age. This change has affected the dharma of the woman and the dharma of the man in an interesting way. During the tens of thousands of years of the agricultural age, families lived and labored mostly on farms or in craft guilds. The entire family worked on the farm. The men all worked in the fields; the women and children worked in the home. Children were a great asset. More children meant more help, a bigger farm. There were many chores that a young boy or girl could do. When harvest time came, everyone joined in. It was a one team, and everyone contributed. When the crop was sold, that was the income for a combined effort from all members--men, women and even children. In a very real sense, everyone was earning the money, everyone was economically important.
In the technological era, only the man of the house earns the family income. Everyone else spends it. The husband goes to work in a factory or large company office while his wife and children stay at home. There is not much they can do to help him during the day with his work. His work and his wife's are not as closely related as in the old days. He is the provider, the producer now; she and the children are consumers. Because the children cannot help much, they have become more of an economic liability than an asset. This, coupled with the population problems on the Earth, devalues the economic importance of the woman's traditional role as wife and mother. Whereas raising children and taking care of the farmhouse used to be a woman's direct and vital contribution toward the family's livelihood and even the survival of the human race, today it is not. Whereas they used to be partners in a family farm business, today he does all the earning and she feels like a dependent. The answer is not to have women join their men in the factories and corporations. The answer is to bring traditional religious values into the technological era, to find a new balance of karma that allows for the fulfillment of both the man's and the woman's dharma.
When young couples marry, I help them write down their vows to one another. He must promise to support her, to protect her, to give her a full and rewarding life. She must promise to care for him, to manage the home, to maintain the home shrine and to raise fine children. I ask them each to respect the other's realm, to never mentally criticize the other and to make religion the central focus of their life together. I ask the young bride to stay in the home, to be a little shy of involvement in the world.
A mother's place is within the home and not out in the world working. When she is in the home all day, she brings love and security to the children, sensitivity and stability to the husband. By raising her children, she changes the course of history. How does she do that? She raises strong children, good and intelligent children. They will grow up to be the great men and women in the community, the leaders of the nation. They will be the farmers, artists, businessmen, the teachers, the doctors, the lawyers, the architects, the presidents and, most importantly, the spiritual leaders. They will be the mothers, the homemakers and child-raisers, scientists and inventors, pioneers and poets, artists and sculptors and creators in all dimensions of life. It is such men and women who change the course of human history. This is the great power held by the mother and by no one else: to properly mold the mind and character of her children. And she trains her daughters to do the same by example and gentle guidance.
Of course, she also holds the opposite power, expressed through neglect, to allow her children to grow up on their own, on the streets where they will learn a base life. Such children will as surely change society and human history, but negatively. They will be the common men and women, or fall into mental and emotional abysses, there to express man's instinctive nature and become the exemplars of violence and lust, of dependence and crime. The very direction of humankind is right there in the early years, to be turned toward a great potential through love and attentiveness or allowed to decay through neglect. The mother is the child's first guru, and she alone can shape the mind in those impressionable years. So, you can all see the truth in the old saying: "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world."
Take the case of a mother who is at home every day, morning and night, attending to her children. As she rocks the cradle, her love and energy radiate out to the infant who then feels a natural peacefulness and security. She has time for the child, time to sing sweet lullabies and console when the tears come, time to teach about people, about the world, about the little things in growing up, time to cuddle for no reason except to express her love. On the other hand, the working mother has no time to do extra things. When the infant cries, she may, out of her own frustrations of the day, become impatient and scold him, demanding that he keep quiet. "I told you to be quiet!" she shouts. The infant doesn't even understand English yet. You can imagine this helpless child's feelings as he receives an emotional blast of anger and frustration directed toward his gentle form. Where is he to turn? He cannot find refuge even in his mother's arms. What will the next generation be like if all the children are raised under such circumstances? Will it be strong and self-assured? Will it radiate kindness to others, never having had kindness given to it? Will it be patient and understanding? No. It is a proven fact that most of the people in prison were neglected or beaten as children. It is also a proven fact that nearly all parents who mistreat their children were themselves mistreated by their parents. Unless mothers care for and love their children, society will inherit an entire generation of frustrated adults who were once frustrated children. These will later be the people who rule the world. Then what happens? They in turn raise their children in the same manner, for that is the only example of parenthood they have. They will think that neglect is natural, that children can get along on their own from an early age or be raised by a governess or nurse or at a day-care center. It's a circle: a childhood of neglect produces a bitter adult life; a childhood of love and trust produces a loving and happy adult life.
We learn so many important things from the mother. This learning is not just from the things she explains to us, but from the way she lives her life. If she is patient, we learn patience. If she is angry and unhappy, then we learn to be angry and unhappy. How wonderful it is for a mother to be in the home and give her children the great gifts of life by her example. She can teach them so many things, bring them into profound understandings about the world around them and offer them basic values and points of view that will sustain them throughout their life. Her gift of love is directly to the child, but indirectly it is a gift to all of humanity, isn't it? A child does not learn much from the father until he is older, perhaps eight or nine, or ten years of age.
Let me tell you a sad story. We have a book in our library which describes a plan, made by the Christians, to destroy Hinduism in Sri Lanka and India. One of their major tactics is to get the Hindu women out of the homes and working in the world. They knew that the spiritual force within the home is created by the unworldly woman. They knew that a secure woman makes for a secure home and family, a secure husband and a secure religion. They knew that the Hindu woman is the key to the perpetuation of Hinduism as long as she is in the home. If the woman is in the home, if she is happy and content and the children are nurtured and raised properly, then the astral beings around the home will be devonic, friendly and beneficial. But if she is out of the home and the husband is out of the home, the protective force-field around the home disintegrates, allowing all kinds of astral asuric beings to enter. Such a neglected home becomes inhabited by base, asuric beings on the lower astral plane. You cannot see these beings, but they are there, and you can sense their presence. Things just don't feel right in a home inhabited by negative forces. You have the desire to leave such a home as soon as you enter it. The children absorb these vibrations, these feelings. Children are open and psychically sensitive to such influences, with little means of self-protection. They will become disturbed, and no one will know the reason why. They will be crying and even screaming. They will be constantly disobedient. Why should they become disobedient? There is no positive, protective force field of religion established by the mother. This leaves the inner force field vulnerable to negative and confusing forces of all kinds, especially in modern, overpopulated cities where destructive psychic influences are so strong. These negative vibrations are penetrating the inner atmosphere of the home, and the children are psychic enough to pick them up and suffer.
Religion begins in the home under the mother's influence and instruction. The mother goes to the temple to get strong. That is the reason Hindus live near a temple. They go to the temple to gain the strength from the shakti of the Deity, and they return to the home where they maintain a similar vibration in which to raise the next generation to be staunch and wonderful citizens of the world, to bring peace on Earth, to keep peace on Earth. There is an ancient Tamil proverb which says one should not live in a city which has no temple.
If a child is screaming in its cradle, and the baby sitter is yelling at him and couldn't care less about his feelings, and the mother is out working, that child is not a candidate for peace on Earth. That child is going to keep things confused, as they are today. So, it's all in the hands of the mother; it's not in the hands of the father. Religion and the future of society lie solely in the hands of the mother. It is in the hands of the father to allow or not to allow the mother to be under another man's mind out in the world.
Just as the two world wars took women out of the home, so did another recent change affect mankind. When the automobile came, people forgot about breeding. The automobile did one terrible thing: it made people forget how to breed and how to take care of one another. When people had horses, horses were a part of the family. People had to care for their horses and in the process learned to care for one another. People also had to breed their horses, and in that process learned about the value of intelligent breeding. In those days, you often heard of the "well-bred" person. You don't hear of the well-bred person anymore. People no longer consider that humans, too, are involved in the natural process of breeding. They have become forgetful of these important laws, and this has led to lack of discipline, to bodies indiscriminately creating more bodies. Who is living in them nobody quite knows. That's what we, as a society, forgot when the automobile replaced the horse. When you had a horse, you had to feed it, you had to train it, curry it, stable it and breed it. In breeding it, you had to choose a stud for your mare or find a suitable mare for your stallion. The qualities on both sides were closely observed, and the combination of genetics consciously planned. It was, therefore, natural for people in those days to seek proper mates for their children, and the results were the vital, creative and industrious children of the children. As a civilization, we are slowly forgetting such things, being more careless about our children's future, about their lives and minds.
Television has not helped the matter. In fact, it has virtually stopped the proper education of the child in those communities where it is watched for hours each day. Instead of developing a curiosity by adventuring for hours through a forest or climbing a tree, instead of discovering the wonders of nature and art and music, instead of becoming involved in sports and hobbies, children are mentally carried along by television stories through positive and negative states of mind. They become uncreative, inactive, never learning to use their own minds. Not all television is negative. Some of it can be quite educational; but hours and hours each day of passive absorption are not good for the child's mental and emotional development. Children need to be active, to involve themselves in a wide variety of experiences. If the mother is there, she can intelligently guide their television, being careful that they do not get in the habit of watching it for hours on end, and watching that bold sex, violence and other bad influences are not a daily experience. When the program is over, she can send them out to play. Of course, if she is gone, they will watch anything and everything. For the young, television is one of the most senseless pastimes there is, carrying the mind further and further away from the true Self. I think you will all agree that our values, the values found in the holy Vedas, Tirukural and other sacred scriptures are not found on television. Instead, TV gives our children a brutal and unbalanced view of life which distorts in their minds how life really is. These are very serious questions. It is the mother who protects her children from negative influences, guiding their young minds into positive channels of expression.
Take the case of a farmer who raises livestock, who milks cows and goats. He works hard. He gets up early and takes care of his animals. He cannot succeed if he is also working part-time in the grocery store downtown. He just can't do it. Those animals need attention. There is no sensible man who would run a farm, with cows and goats and chickens, and not be there to take care of them, because those animals need a lot of help. He stays there and takes care of his business. He is a farmer and that is his duty, and he knows it.
Well, what's more important than the child? He needs 24-hour-a-day care. He is learning to walk, to speak, to think. He falls down and needs consoling. He catches the flu and needs to be nursed back to health. It is the mother's duty to provide that care. No one else is going to do it for her. No one else can do it for her. She brought that child into the world, and she must prepare that child for a positive and rewarding life. If the farmer neglects his animals, he creates a karma. The animals suffer. The farm suffers. The community suffers when the farm fails, and the man himself suffers. There is a grave karma, too, for the woman who neglects her stri dharma, who goes out into the world and does not nurture the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs of her children. She knows this within herself, but she may be influenced by ill-advised people, or by a mass movement that tells her that she has only one life to live and that she cannot find fulfillment in the home but must express herself, venture out, seek her own path, her own fortune. You have all heard these ideas. I tell you that they are wrong. They spell the disillusionment of the mother who heeds them, then the disintegration of the family that is sacrificed by her absence. Finally, they result in her own unhappiness as she despairs at the loss suffered by her family and herself.
From the point of view of the Second World, or astral plane, the home is the family temple, and the wife and mother is in charge of that spiritual environment. Man can come into that sanctum sanctorum but should not bring the world into it. He will naturally find a refuge in the home if she is doing her duty. He will be able to regain his peace of mind there, renew himself for the next day in the stressful situations that the world is full of. In this technological age a man needs this refuge. He needs that inner balance in his life. When he enters that sanctuary and she is in her soul body and the child is in its soul body, then he becomes consciously conscious in his soul body. He leaves the conscious mind, which is a limited, external state of mind and not a balanced state of mind. He enters the intuitive mind. He gets immediate and intuitive answers to his worldly problems. How can he not be successful in his purusha dharma in the outside world when he has the backing of a good wife? She is naturally perceptive, naturally intuitive. She balances out his intellect, softens the impact of the forces which dash against his nervous system from morning to night. Encouragement and love naturally radiate out from her as she fulfills stri dharma. Without these balancing elements in his life, a man becomes too externalized, too instinctive and sometimes brutal.
If a woman is working, she cannot provide this balance. She has to start thinking and acting like a man. She has to become a little harder, create a protective shell around her emotions. Then the home loses its balance of the masculine and the feminine forces. Take for example the situation in which the wife rushes home from work fifteen minutes before the husband. She's upset. The children come over from grandmother's house or she tells the baby sitter to go home. She scurries to prepare something before he comes home, then rushes to get herself looking halfway decent. Emotionally upset, she tries to calm herself, tries to relax and regain her composure. Her astral body is upset. The children's astral bodies are upset. The husband enters this agitated environment--upset by being in the world anyway--and he becomes more disturbed. He was looking forward to a quiet evening. He feels neglected, disappointed, and that leads him to become distraught, even angry. No wonder he beats his wife and abuses his child. He's mad. He gets more and more disturbed until there is nothing left to do but walk out. It's a totally impossible situation. Furthermore, it's not going to get better but exceedingly worse.
The situation I have just described is one of the main reasons that marriages today have become less stable, that so many married couples--sixty to seventy percent, I'm told--are experiencing difficulties and breaking up. People never get married with the intent of breaking up. Never. The forces do it. You put two magnets together one way and they attract one another. Turn one around, and they repel each other. The same force that brought the people together, when it is not handled right, makes them pull apart and hate each other. They can't see eye to eye. Then to make up, they go out to dinner to talk it over--in another frustrating asuric situation, as far out in the world as they can get--to try to make up. When that doesn't help, they come home, still frustrated. If they went to the nearby temple and worshiped the Deity together, that would help. They would return home in a different state of mind, and discover that their vibration had changed. Why does it help to go to the temple? Because the Deity is in the temple. The Deity is there to adjust the forces of the inner nerve system, to actually change the forces of mind and emotion.
In the home the mother is likened to the Shakti Deity. She is the power of the home. None other. So she has to be there. She has to be treated right. She has to be given the things she needs. It is the man's duty to provide for her and for the children. The husband should provide her with all the fine things, with a good house which she then makes into a home, with gold and jewels and clothes, gold hanging down until her ears hurt, more bracelets, more things to keep her in the home so she is feeling secure and happy. In return she provides a refuge, a serene corner of the world where he can escape from the pressures of daily life, where he can regain his inner perspective, perform his spiritual sadhana and meditations then enjoy his family. Thus, she brings happiness and peace of mind to the family, to the community and to the world.
This working together of the home and the temple brings up the culture and the religion within the family. The family goes to the temple; the temple blesses the family's next project. The mother returns home. She keeps an oil lamp burning in the shrine room on the altar. It's a beautiful thing. All this happens because her astral body is not fretted by the stresses and strains of a worldly life, not polluted by the lustful thoughts of other men directed to her. She is not living in the emotional astral body. She is living in her peaceful soul body of love, fulfilling her dharma and radiating the soulful presence called sannidhya. She was born to be a woman, and that's how a woman should behave.
If she does not do her dharmic duty--this means the duty of birth--then she accrues bad karma. Every time she leaves the home to go out to work, she is making kukarma. Yes, she is. That negative karma will reflect on her astral body and on her husband's astral body and on the astral bodies of their children, causing them to become insecure.
The Christian-Judaic-Islamic idea of a one life, that "you have to get everything out of this life because when you're gone, you're gone, so grab all the gusto that you can out of life" has given the modern Western woman the idea that she is not getting what she should, by being a woman, and therefore the world looks doubly attractive because she is just passing through and will never come back and doesn't want to miss anything. So, living a man's life is very, very attractive. She doesn't want to stay home all the time and not see anything, not meet anybody, go through the boredom of raising a family, taking care of the children. She wants to be out with life, functioning in a man's world because she is told that she is missing something. Therefore, you can understand her desire to get out and work, start seeing and experiencing life and mixing with people, meeting new people. The Hindu woman does not look at life like that. The Hindu woman knows that she was born in a woman's body--this soul has taken an incarnation for a time in a woman's body--to perform a dharma, to perform a duty for the evolution of the soul. The duty is to be a mother to her children, wife to her husband, to strengthen the home and the family, which are the linchpin of society. She knows that the rewards are greater for her in the home. She knows that all she is missing is a man's strenuous work and responsibility, that her stri dharma is equally as great as a man's purusha dharma, even though they are quite different by nature. Because she knows these things, she fulfills her dharma joyously.
Now, a woman may wonder, "If I don't work, how are we going to pay the bills?" The real reason that most women work is economic. The economy of the world is becoming more and more difficult, and the first answer to money problems, especially in the West, where the family unit is not too strong these days, is to have the woman go to work. This is an unhappy solution. The sacrifices are greater than the rewards. It is a false economy. Many times I have told young wives to stay home with their children. They worry. Their husbands worry. But with the wife at home, working to strengthen her husband, he soon becomes confident, creative, energetic. He is reinspired and always finds a way to make things work.
Of course, religion must be the basis of the home to make it all work. When women leave the home to work in the world, they sacrifice the depth of their religion; their religious life then simply becomes a social affair. This is true of both Eastern and Western religions. As long as the mother is home, the celestial devas are there, hovering in and around the home. How many of you were raised with your mother staying at home? Well, then you know what I mean. Now, what if she wasn't at home when you were a child? You came home and mother wasn't there. You had to fix your own snack in an empty house. You didn't feel much cared for. You were alone in an empty house, perhaps frightened, and you went around seeing if someone was hiding in the closet. You didn't feel that motherly, protective feeling. When mother finally does come home, she has other things on her mind. She is tired. She has worked hard, and now she has to work even more. She is not thinking about the little helpless kid who can't take care of himself or herself. She may get home and think to herself, "I just can't forget about that good-looking man I met at the office. I even see him in my dreams. I have a husband and I shouldn't be thinking about such things, but" And on and on and on. Arguments begin to happen for the first time in the home. What do you do? You worry for awhile. You cry a little. As soon as you can, you start fending for yourself. You work out ways to take care of yourself or even to get away from the unhappy situation as soon as you can. You end up out on your own in the world at a young age, before you are mature enough to cope with it.
The Hindu woman knows that she is born in a woman's body to perform a woman's dharma, to perform her duty and not to emulate the men. The duty is to be a mother to her children and a wife to her husband, whom she looks to as her lord. She performs that duty willingly as does the man perform his duty which arises out of being born in a man's body. The Hindu woman is trained to perform her stri dharma from the time she is a little girl. She finds ways to express her natural creativity within the home itself. She may write poetry or become an artist. Perhaps she has a special talent for sewing or embroidery or gardening or music. She can learn to loom cloth and make the family's clothing. If needed, she can use her skills to supplement the family income without leaving the home. There are so many ways for a Hindu wife and mother to fully use her creative energies, including being creative enough to never let her life become boring. It is her special blessing that she is free to pursue her religion fully, to study the scriptures, to sing bhajana and keep her own spiritual life strong inside.
Then there is the situation in which the wife is working for her husband in the home. This is not ideal, but it is far better than having her out, away from her husband, under another man's mind. At least the family is working together toward a single goal, and the mother is there to care for the child and answer questions. Of course, if working in the home does not allow for closeness of mother and children, then it is to be avoided--if, for instance, the work is so demanding that the mother is never free to play with the young ones or is so pressured by her other duties that she becomes tense and upset. Otherwise, it is a positive situation. From the child's point of view, mother is home. She is there to answer questions, to make a dosai or say "Go make yourself a nice dosai."
The University of Hard Knocks
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The School That Completes Our Education
"He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his
And thus our life, exempt from public haunt,
"Can I get the lecture in book form?" That continuous question from
II. THE COLLEGE OF NEEDLESS KNOCKS, the bumps that we bump
III. THE COLLEGE OF NEEDFUL KNOCKS, the bumps that bump into
ones shake up and the little ones shake down--The barrel of life
notices--You cannot uplift people with derrick--No laws can
equalize--Help people to help themselves--We cannot get things till
first step at hand--All can be greatest--Where to find great
life--Most "advantages" are disadvantages--Buying education for
VII. THE SALVATION OF A "SUCKER"--You can't get something for
orations--My maiden sermon--The books that live have been
experience--Theory and practice--Tuning the strings of life
X. GOING UP LIFE'S MOUNTAIN--The defeats that are victories--
only the delivery wagon. When the delivery wagon comes to your
you some of the multiplication table of life--not mine, not yours
Can Only Pull the Plug!
Every audience has a different temperature, and that makes a
the woodshed to get a bucket of sorghum from that barrel.
squirt. It would come out slowly and reluctantly, so that I would
the sorghum is "The University of Hard Knocks." I can only pull the
plug. I cannot make it run. That will depend upon the temperature
of this audience. You can have all you want of it, but to get it to
size of the bucket he brings to get it in. A big bucket can get
greatest stream. With no bucket you can get nothing at Niagara.
That often explains why one person says a lecture is great, while
two or three simple little ideas of life, that our education is our
growing up from the Finite to the Infinite, and that it is done by
our own personal overcoming, and that we never finish it.
Have you noticed that no sentence, nor a million sentences, can
bound life? Have you noticed that every statement does not quite
cover it? No statement, no library, can tell all about life. No
success rule can alone solve the problem. You must average it all
We are told that the stomach needs bulk as well as nutriment. It
If you get the feeling that the first personal pronoun is being
overworked, I remind you that this is more a confession than a
lecture. You cannot confess without referring to the confesser.
family. I believe in your Inside, not in your Outside, whoever you
hypocrisy and human frailty are the Outside that must be chipped
I believe the Hard Knocks cannot injure the Angel, but can only
I hope you are getting your Hard Knocks.
I care little about your glorious or inglorious past. I care little
about your present. I care much about your future for that is to
not get that bump again. We do not need it. We have traveled past
matter with us, so that we do not learn the lesson of the bump we
have just gotten, then that bump must come back and bump us again.
was a sentence in my grammar that disgusted me. It was by some
And thus our life, exempt from public haunt,
"Tongues in trees," I thought. "Trees can't talk! That man is
no running brooks. They'd get wet. And that sermons in stones! They
But I am happy today that I have traveled a little farther. I am
happy that I have begun to learn the lessons from the bumps. I am
happy that I am learning the sweet tho painful lessons of the
University of Adversity. I am happy that I am beginning to listen.
they have to get bumped just where we got bumped, to learn that two
and two always makes four, and "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall
As we get bumped and battered on life's pathway, we discover we get
two kinds of bumps--bumps that we need and bumps that we do not
Bumps that we bump into and bumps that bump into us.
We discover, in other words, that The University of Hard Knocks has
The Bumps That We Bump Into
say that. It was back at the time when I was trying to run our home
That day they had the little joy and sunshine of the family in his
I became enamored with that coffee-pot. I decided I needed that
in three years that that woman had not meddled into.
And that day when I wanted the coffee-pot--I did want it. Nobody
how I desired that coffee-pot. "One thing thou lackest," a
I was reaching over to get it, that woman said, "Don't touch that!"
has that woman to meddle into my affairs all the time? I have stood
O-o-o-o-o-o! I can feel it yet!
There were weeks after that when I was upholstered. They put
it, knowing that it would burn me. She would say, "Don't." Then she
the well after that and she would not look at me. I do not argue
that this is the way to raise children, but I insist that this was
cruel with that angel child. But the neighbors did not know what
Mother knew that to argue with me was to flatter me. Tell me, serve
That was the quickest and kindest way to teach me.
I learned very quickly that if I did not hear mother, and heed, a
coffee-pot would spill upon me. I cannot remember when I disobeyed
my mother that a coffee-pot of some kind did not spill upon me, and I
inflicter. Father attended to that in the laboratory behind the
And thru the bumps we learn that The College of Needless Knocks
Anything that goes downward will run itself. Anything that goes
She said, "It hain't your fault. You wasn't born right. You was
born under an unlucky star." You don't know how that comforted me.
to learn the lesson of the bump and find the right path, so that
when I see that bump coming again I can say, "Excuse me; it hath a
are you going to learn to see as well as that blind man? He learns
Let me repeat, things that go downward will run themselves. Things
that go upward have to be pushed. Going upward is overcoming.
Notice that churches, schools, lyceums, chautauquas, reform
movements--things that go upward--never run themselves. They must
upward to larger life.
If you are making no effort in your life, if you are moving in the
Look over your community. Note the handful of brave, faithful,
brave minority of thinking, self-sacrificing people that decides
the tomorrow of communities that go upward. Majorities are not
drift and be amused and follow false gods that promise something
People are like sheep. The shepherd can lead them to heaven--or to
Human life is the story of the Prodigal Son. We look over the fence
in that unknown realm we fondly imagine is happiness.
"I can do wrong and not get bumped. I have no feelings upon the
subject," somebody says, You can? You poor old sinner, you have
bumped your conscience numb. That is why you have no feelings on
the subject. You have pounded your soul into a jelly. You don't
so that they will not think upon their ways! How he keeps the music
"Remember, son, to stay away from the sticky flypaper. That is
where your poor dear father was lost." And Johnny Fly remembers for
place to skate. Just see how close I can fly over it and not get
can't catch us. They were too strict with me back home."
naturally bright young life. Afterwhile, tho, he stubs his toe and
First he puts one foot down and pulls it out. That is a lot of fun.
It shows he is not a prisoner. He is a strong-minded fly. He can
same way--they can play in the sticky flypaper or let it alone,
The Bumps That Bump Into Us
BUT occasionally all of us get bumps that we do not bump into. They
bump into us. They are the guideboard knocks that point us to the
It broke your heart. You have had your heart broken. I have had my
heart broken more times than I care to talk about now. Your home
was darkened, your plans were wrecked, you thought you had nothing
But I am discovering that life only gets good after we have been
We all must learn, if we have not already learned, that these blows
is--material that needs more Needful Knocks to make it more useful
most of these knocks--who have faced the great crises of life and
that these lives are the gold tried in the fire.
I can see you back in your callow beginnings, when you were just a
Did you get the meaning of that, children? I hope you are green.
You got your lessons, combed your hair, went to Sunday school and
That is why you were bumped--because you were good! There came a
But shake, Mr. Piano. That is why you are on this stage. You were
throwing out of that hole what I thought was red mud.
"Kind sir, why are they throwing that red mud out of that hole?" I
"That hain't red mud. That's iron ore, an' it's the best iron ore
"It hain't worth nothin' here; that's why they're movin' it away."
There's red mud around every community that "hain't worth nothin'"
When it was done roasting they stopped. Have you noticed that they
roasted yet again and rolled thin into a junior. Some of that went
it in glass cases. Many people admired it and said, "Isn't that
If a ton of that red mud had become watch-springs or razor-blades,
a larger life. The diamond and the chunk of soft coal are exactly the
There is no human diamond that has not been crystallized in the
crucibles of affliction. There is no gold that has not been refined
coming here. I have the feeling that I spoke the words, but you are
said. "I have been in pain most of my life. But I have learned all
that I know sitting in this chair. I have learned to be patient and
had everything that money could buy. But her money seemed unable to
you are not happy is that you haven't been bumped enough."
more than tables of logarithms. Only those who have suffered can
There is no backward step in life. Whatever experiences come to us
We think this is true of the good things that come to us, but we do
this Babylon that I have builded?" And about that time there comes
Think of what might happen to you today. Your home might burn. We
don't want your home to burn, but somebody's home is burning just
now. A conflagration might sweep your town from the map. Your
business might wreck. Your fortune might be swept away. Your good
look out! Some of your friends would say, "I am so sorry for you.
You are down and out." Do not believe that you are down and out,
you are down and out. He wants you to sympathize with yourself. You
The truth is, another chapter of your real education has been
greatness. We go up in life. We become educated. Let me bring you
All I could figure out was that there was only one layer of the
Then I calmed down. Did the groceryman do that on purpose? Does
until that day on the train that the groceryman does not put the
need to do it. It does itself. It is the shaking of the barrel that
You laugh? You don't believe that? Maybe your roads are so good
and smooth that things do not shake on the road to town. But back
I saw that for thirty years before I saw it. Did you ever notice
that when I played marbles. The big marbles would shake to the top
You children try that tomorrow. Do not wait thirty years to learn
that the big ones shake up and the little ones shake down. Put some
When things find their place, you can shake on till doomsday, but
you cannot change the place of one of the objects.
Lectures in Cans
Let us try that right on the platform. Here is a glass jar and
simple and crude apparatus before you in a lecture, but I ask your
forbearance. I am discovering that we can hear faster thru the eye
than thru the ear. I want to make this so vivid that you will never
If there are sermons in stones, there must be lectures in cans.
This is a canned lecture. Let the can talk to you awhile.
Note that I mix them all up and then shake. Note that they arrange
Suppose those objects could talk. I think I hear that littlest bean
See, the can shakes. Back to the bottom shakes the little bean. And
I hear him say, "King's ex! I slipped. Try that again and I'll
The can shakes. The little bean again shakes back to the bottom. He
is too small to stay up. He cannot stand prosperity.
Then I hear Little Bean say, "Well, if I cannot get to the top, you
But I shake the can, and the big ones go right back to the top with
the same shakes that send the little ones back to the bottom.
There is only one way for those objects to change their place in
the can. Lifting them up or putting them down will not do it. But
change their size!
The Shaking Barrel of Life
O, fellow apples! We are all apples in the barrel of life on the
of life. That barrel is shaking all the time. Every community is
live or work is shaking. Life is a constant survival of the
The same law that shakes the little ones down and the big ones up
in that can is shaking every person to the place he fits in the
barrel of life. It is sending small people down and great people
And do you not see that we are very foolish when we want to be
the eternal law of life.
ready for places before we can get them and keep them.
The very worst thing that can happen to anybody is to be
destiny. There is destiny--that jar.
shall have a great destiny. We cannot dodge our destiny.
The objects in that jar cannot change their size. But thank God,
there so long as we stay that size.
If we wish to change our place, we must first change our size. If
place. If he shrinks up he will rattle. Nobody can stay long where
So you young people should keep in mind that you will shake into
the places you fit. And when you are in your places--in stores,
shops, offices or elsewhere, if you want to hold your place you
cannot keep you down. You do not ask for promotion, you compel
promotion. You grow greater, enlarge your dimensions, develop new
capabilities, do more than you are paid to do--overfill your place,
would say, "Go shake the jar, Charlie. That is the way you get
You will promote yourself."
This jar tells me so much about luck. I have noted that the lucky
people shake up and the unlucky people shake down. That is, the
shook down and the big ones shook up. The bump that was bad luck to
to size. Every business concern can tell you stories like that of
Do you remember that green things grow?
made many blunders. But it is now recalled that she never made the
she had been put at, she would discover something else that ought
rules of the union! Without being told, mind you. She had that rare
Within three months every other girl in that office was asking
questions of the little Dutch girl. She had learned more about
confidence that it was the rankest favoritism ever known. "There
some questions about the machine, which he answered fairly well.
pulpmill. He replied, "No, I don't know nothing about that,
Going out of the building, I asked the foreman, "Do you see that
The foreman's face clouded. "I hate to talk to you about that man.
So he had begun to rattle. Nobody can stay where he rattles. It is
Life's Barrel the Leveler
same chance, and presently notice that one is going up and the
Some of us begin life on the top branches, right in the sunshine of
We can grow. Everybody can grow.
And afterwhile we are all in the barrel of life, shaken and bumped
of that tree did you grow?" But they often inquire, "Are you big
Now life is mainly routine. You and I and everybody must go on
But if we let life become routine, we are shaking down. The very
routine of life must every day flash a new attractiveness. We must
The success, joy and glory of life are in learning, growing, going
forward and upward. That is the only way to hold our place.
journals labeled "Finishing Schools," and "A Place to Finish Your
that. You can't tell me anything about that." He is generally
They can't get along without me." For I feel that they are getting
ready to get along without him. That noise you hear is the
I am sorry for the man, community or institution that spends much
We young people come up into life wanting great places. I would not
place, that sized place will generally come seeking us.
All life is preparation for greater things.
We can be a pumpkin in one summer, with the accent on the "punk."
We can be a mushroom in a day, with the accent on the "mush." But
we cannot become an oak that way.
The danger is that the hero of them may get to leaning upon them.
ones. I look back over my lyceum life and see that I hindered my
Alas! How often I have learned that when I did return the hall that
When you get to the place where you can stand aside and "see
yourself go by"--when you can keep still and see every fibre of you
and your work mercilessly dissected, shake hands with yourself and
rejoice, for the kingdom of success is yours.
The victims of the artificial uplift cannot stay uplifted. They
rattle back, and "the last estate of that man is worse than the
You cannot uplift a beggar by giving him alms. You are using the
derrick. We must feed the hungry and clothe the naked, but that is
not helping them, that is propping them. The beggar who asks you to
You can only help a man to help himself. Help him to grow. You
cannot help many people, for there are not many people willing to
And so every day that beggar got to be more of a beggar. The public
Artful Dodger of Section Sixteen. When the whistle would blow--O,
the section-house, why I was not president of that bank. I wondered
Did you ever hear that line of conversation? It generally comes
I am so glad now that I did not get to be president of the bank.
enchanted up into a king. But life's good fairies see to it that
But I had not seen that it wouldn't matter which end was the top,
cannot fix the barrel. You can only fix the people inside the
Have you ever noticed that the man who is not willing to fix
That Cruel Fate
Do you not see that "cruel fate" is our own smallness and
today all we can stand today. More would wreck us. More would start
And this blessed old barrel of life is just waiting and anxious to
WE go up as we grow great. That is, we go up as we grow up. But so
life expansion.
The higher we rise, the better we see that life on this planet is
The world says that to get greatness means to get great things. So
Life is a failure." All outside life is a failure. Real life is in
They got very busy pursuing greatness, but I do not read that they
"O, Master," said the mother, "grant that these my two sons may sit,
of greatness that can ever stand: "Whosoever will be great among
you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among
you, let him be your servant."
That is we cannot be "born great," nor "have greatness thrust upon"
We cannot buy a great arm. Our arm must become a great servant, and
We cannot buy a great mind. Our mind must become a great servant,
We cannot buy a great character. It is earned in great moral
This is the Big Business of life--going up, getting educated,
it is that the first step is always nearest at hand. We do not have
become great. It is a great stairway that leads from where our feet
spectacular stride of a thousand steps at one leap. That is why we
upward currents. And so as our problems disappear and our life
As we grow greater our opportunities grow greater. That is, we
ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me." That great ocean is
of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had."
treasury. That is not why we give. We give to become great. The
Becoming great is overcoming our selfishness and fear. He that
saveth his life shall lose it, but he that loseth his life for the
cannot get to do. Rejoice in doing the things you can get to do.
service, there is an alchemy that transmutes every gift into gold.
floor. But I do know that the one who made the floor--and the one
the community heart in the precious handful who believe that the
that go upward.
the happy ones, happy for the larger vision that comes as they go
higher by unselfish service. They are discovering that their
course. But I learned that he had all to do with it. He had sold
The great people are so busy serving that they have little time to
uplift movements that his name gets into the papers about every day,
think that a vacation means going off somewhere and stretching out
"What are you going to do in life?" Perhaps the young man would
Sometimes they were right about that.
But he that saveth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his
life in loving service finds it returning to him great and
the by-products. His life of service for others makes him
This Chicago man gives his life into the service of humanity, and
If he had begun life by "taking care of himself" and "looking out
yourself that afterwhile you are going to give great things and do
great things. Give it now! Give your dollar now, rather than your
for life. All other kinds of "preparedness" fade into
insignificance before this. The history of nations shows that their
struggling and overcoming--that nation was strong. It was "prepared."
Has the American nation reached that period?
education our money can buy."
generally means getting out of his way. Many an orphan can be
grateful that he was jolted from his life-preserver and cruelly
"We are going to give our children the best education our money can buy."
They think they can buy an education--buy wisdom, strength and
Father and mother cannot buy their children education. All they can
acquired in a life of struggle." As well expect the athlete to give
in a long life of prayer.
They can show the children the way, but each child must make the
The hands lived in the little dirty houses and worked six days of
There was a little, old man who went about that mill, often saying,
The little old man often said, "I'm going to give that boy the best
education my money can buy."
silver platter. Gussie went thru that university about like a steer
You remember, then, that after he matriculates--after he gets the
goes riding thru on that endless cable from his A-B-C's to his
from department to department until he is canned.
They "canned" Gussie. He had a man hired to study for him. He rode
a wreck. The monument of a father's lifetime was wrecked in two
After that a good many people said it was the college that made a
that way for a good while.
But now I see that Bill went up in spite of his handicaps. If he
say to the book and the college, "Give us an education." They cannot
do that. You cannot get an education from the book and the college
any more than you can get to New York by reading a travelers' guide.
You cannot get physical education by reading a book on gymnastics.
people liberally educated who cannot write their own names. But
That is why they say, "All my life I have been handicapped by lack of
Get the best tools you can. But remember diplomas, degrees are not
end-ment. You will discover with the passing years that life is
Go out with your fine equipment from your commencements into the
school of service and write your education in the only book you
ever can know--the book of your experience.
That is what you know--what the courts will take as evidence when
tragedy of our American civilization today.
fine homes and large bank accounts, so often think they can give
greatness to their children--they can make great places for them in
life and put them into them.
his boy was not there to hear it. But that good, deluded father now
I rarely tell of it on a platform that at the close of the lecture
from that community.
ignorant of the fact that the barrel shakes.
they have. I'm fixed for life."
No, you are unfixed. You are a candidate for trouble. You are going
to rattle. Father and mother can be great and you can be a peanut.
You must solve your own problems and carry your own loads to have
can do for yourself--anybody who gives you regularly what you can
earn for yourself, is robbing you of your birthright.
Father and mother can put money in your pocket, ideas in your head
and food in your stomach, but you cannot own it save as you digest
it--put it into your life.
came a monstrosity that soon died. It had an over-developed body
and under-developed wings. He learned that helping the insect was
that envelope that was needed to reduce its body and develop its
somewhere. Just work that gets us three meals a day and a place to
the sorghum mill. Round and round that horse went, seeing nothing,
that way. They regard work as a necessary evil. They are
But getting a vision of life, and working to grow upward to it,
that is the work that brings the joy and the greatness.
even the packhorse job, because it is our "meal ticket" that
was "right" that I helped. They were runts. One of them was a regular
Children, you must crack your own shells. You must overcome your
own obstacles to develop your own powers.
A rich boy can succeed, but he has a poorer chance than a poor boy.
character, for the joy of having a larger life. I am pleading with
upward. It is the proof that we are progressing.
cannot find happiness in our work, we have the wrong job. Find the
work that fits your talents, and stop watching the clock and
of myself and watching for symptoms that I became a physical wreck.
When we love our work, it is not work, it is life.
I am not saying that he should attend my lecture, but I am grieving
to the nation. The crowd that drifts and lives for amusement is the
crowd that finds itself back near the caboose, and as the train of
That is why the crowd is not furnishing the strong men and women.
We must have amusement and relaxation. Study your muscles. First
they contract, then they relax. But the muscle that goes on
community, the nation that goes on relaxing without
The more you study your muscles, the more you learn that while one
muscle is relaxing another is contracting. So you must learn that
your real relaxation, vacation and amusement, are merely changing
log-cabin, save that there the necessity for struggle that brings
struggle and service that makes for strength and greatness. And as
that young person comes to the city and shakes in the barrel among
the weaklings of the artificial life, he rises above them like the
sunshine, air and freedom that the crowded cities cannot have.
"Many people say that. But they don't understand. If these people
insane. No two of them can agree upon how to get together and how
to break out. So a few of us can hold them."
thinking ever since that about three-fourths of the small towns of
America have one thing in common with the asylum folks--they can't
get together. They cannot organize for the public good. They break
promising place for the young people. No home town can afford to
spend its years raising crops of young people for the cities. That
coming back. That is the drain that devitalizes the home towns more
school into competing groups, so that the student who had no
struggle in his life would at least have to struggle with the
that he was initiating an individual or class effort to win. The
I am anxiously awaiting the results. I am hoping that the boys and
not be rows of lithographed cans on the shelves of life. I am
it stimulated and unfettered. I am anxious that they be not
men--great men. I am anxious that the modern school have the modern
that each student come in vital touch with great men. We get life
from life, not from laboratories, and we have life more abundantly
Many a small school struggling to live thinks that all it needs is
endowment, when the fact is that its struggle for existence and the
calamities in the financial prosperity that has engulfed them.
Can we keep men before millions, and keep our ideals untainted by
foundations? That is the question the age is asking.
learning one sentence, "You can't get something for nothing." I
For that sentence utters one of the fundamentals of life that
I have had the feeling ever since that you and I come into this
neck. That is about all there is either to us or to the fiddle. We
When the human fiddles are about six years old they go into the
school and go fiddling thru life on this one string!
them the full complement of strings for their life symphonies.
Why is a violin? To wear strings? Gussie got that far and gave a
and college can do is to give the strings--the tools. After that
the violin must go into the great tuning school of life. Here the
continents of Truth. That is the true happiness of
life--discovering Truth. We read things in a book and have a hazy
little feeling, "Yes, that is so." We hear the great truths of life
falsehood that excites--until we discover it in our lives. Until we
I did not learn it. I wish I had learned by reading it that if I
"You Can't Get Something for Nothing"
Yes, I was thirty-four years learning that one sentence. "You can't
get something for nothing." That is, getting it in partial tune. It
took me so long because I was naturally bright. It takes that kind
longer than a human being. They are so smart you cannot teach them
That sentence takes me back to the days when I was a "hired man" on
you might not believe that I had ever trained an orphan calf to
hand many a time. You might not think that I had ever driven a yoke
you may remember that at the county fair all the people sort out to
their own departments. Some people go to the canned fruit
"suckers"! Did you ever notice where they go? That is where I
that--in a city all of one size get together.
became too sultry he would move to greener pastures. On that table
on that middle shell. I felt bad. It seemed like robbing father.
I went over to the other side of the fairgrounds and sat down. That
When anybody says that he is due for a return date.
"Gentlemen, I am introducing this new medicinal soap that cures all
work) in his hands and grab that bill cake. But the bill
I grew older and people began to notice that I was naturally bright
to lock up. You get the pathos of that--the investments nobody
open that drawer and "view the remains."
I had in that drawer the deed to my Oklahoma corner-lots. Those
I had in that drawer my deed to my rubber plantation. Did you ever
hear of a rubber plantation in Central America? That was mine.
I had in that drawer my "Everglade" farm. Did you ever hear of the
Nobody could know while I kept that drawer shut. As I looked over
my gold and silver mine stock, I often noticed that it was printed
melon! I have heard that all my life and never got a piece of the rind.
increased my faith that the next ship would be mine. Good, honest,
new enterprise that had millions in it--in its prospectus. I would
stock. That was doubling and trebling my money over night. An old
banker once said to me, "Why don't you invest in something that
will pay you five or six per cent. and get it?"
had no imagination! Nothing interested me that did not offer fifty
Were you ever selected? If you were, then you know the thrill that
rent my manly bosom as I read that letter from this man who said he
a prominent citizen and have a large influence in your community.
"Because of your tremendous influence you have been selected to go
Did you get that? I hope you did. I did not! But I took a night
respect not my feelings. I am not going to tell you a thing that
happened in St. Louis. It is none of your business!
dollars to corner the wheat market of the world. That is all I paid
That bump set me to thinking. My fever began to reduce. I got the
had made up to that time, for I got the most out of it. I do not
feel that we should endow them. How else can we save a sucker? You
cannot tell him anything, because he is naturally bright and knows
It is worth eleven hundred dollars every day to know that one
sentence, You cannot get something for nothing. Life just begins to
subscription to that paper. I simply will not take a paper with
that ad in it, for I have graduated from that class.
Today when I get a confidential letter that starts out, "You have
just as quick as you can. I was selected!
O, Absalom, Absalom, my son, my son! Learn it early in life. The
You can't get something for nothing. If you do not learn it, you
I wish you could see the thousands of hard-earned dollars that go
as you described. The saddest part of it is that the money nearly
always goes out of the pockets of the people who can least afford
Learn that the gambler never owns his winnings. The man who
have earned and stored in your life, not merely in your pocket,
To me that is one of the great arguments for eternal life--how slowly
that life is one infinite succession of commencements and
truths that you have memorized, but not vitalized.
that is not knowing them. You cannot know them until you have lived
but you can never really say that until you know it by struggling
but you cannot really say that until you have pulled on the oar.
They gave me six weeks in which to load the gospel gun and get
worked that sermon up into the most beautiful splurges and spasms.
You know about gestures--these things you make with your arms in
the air as you speak. You can notice it on me yet.
life is expression. But you have to get something to express. Here
a mirror for six weeks, day by day, and said the sermon to the
and that sermon would not have hesitated.
large and enthusiastic concourse delivered that maiden sermon more
it was in me. But I certainly got it all out that day!
that earlier. I wish now I had sat down before I got up. I was the
bad, bub, I've heerd worse than that. You're all right, bub, but
that the old man was right. I had wonderful truth in that sermon.
So, children, when you prepare your commencement oration, write
peal from that part of your audience unrelated to you.
the books that do live, you note that they are the books that have
been lived. Perhaps the books that fail have just as much of truth
vital impulse. They come out of the author's head. The books that
live must come out of his heart. They are his own life. They come
We study agriculture from books. That does not make us an
agriculturist. We must take a hoe and go out and agricult. That is
You Must Live Your Song
heart, chaperoned by the diaphragm. You cannot sing a song you have
attended to. She sang that afternoon in the tent, "The Last Rose of
The audience politely endured Jessie. That night a woman sang in
Berlin, but she had lived that song. She didn't dress the notes
"this is the best singing lesson you have ever had. Your study is
all right and you have a better voice than that woman, but you
cannot sing "The Last Rose of Summer" yet, for you do not know very
never know the ache and disappointment you must know before you can
sing that song, for it is the sob of a broken-hearted woman. Learn
lives? That is why they "execute" them.
"How did you get your songs known? How did you know what kind of
said. "I have had such a struggle in my life. I have lived on one
only home I had, that I began to write songs. I wrote them for my
own relief. I was writing my own life, just what was in my own
surprised and grateful that the world seems to love my songs and
simple little songs so full of the pathos and philosophy of life
that they tug at your heart and moisten your eyes.
song, but only the skeleton into which our own life must breathe
the life of the song.
loneliness, she never would have been able to write the songs that
The popular song is the song that best voices what is in the
songs that are trashy and voice the tawdriest human impulses, yet
it is a tribute to the good elements in humanity that the
My friends, I am not arguing that you and I must drink the dregs of
defeat, or that our lives must fill up with poverty or sorrow, or
around me in the affairs of everyday life, that none of us will
ever know real success in any line of human endeavor until that
came from the life of Carrie Jacobs-Bond.
There are a thousand who can tell you what is the matter with
things to one person who can give you a practical way to fix them.
He was a remarkable man--a great reader and with a memory that
retained it all. That man could recite chapters and volumes.
practical life. He seemed to be unable to think and reason for
of that man as an intellectual cold storage plant.
Tuning the Strings of Life
ones. You have cried yourselves to sleep, some of you, and walked
the floor when you could not sleep. You have learned that "beyond
You came here thinking that perhaps you would forget your trouble
your hearts you are asking, "What is this all about? What is that
You are going to be bumped. You are going to cry yourselves to
sleep. You are going to walk the floor when you cannot sleep. Some
through your Gethsemane. You will see your dearest plans wrecked.
You will see all that seems to make life livable lost out of your
For all lives have about the same elements. Your life is going to
bumps and the tears, that all these things somehow are necessary to
divine and harmonies celestial come from the same old strings that
Thus we know that our education is progressing, as the evil and
That is getting in tune.
That is growing up.
evident that I could have handled a pretty good-sized spoon. But
sheaves. That night I was proud when that farmer patted me on the
cheerful old miser put a nickel in my blistered hand. That nickel
That "Last Day of School"
handle it, hence the tale that follows.
I was sixteen years old and a school teacher. Sweet sixteen--which
means green sixteen. But remember again, only green things grow.
haven't changed much since. I kept still about my age. I was
several dollars the lowest bidder. They said out that way, "Anybody
can teach kids." That is why I was a teacher.
that I thought would make it go. My first rule was, Make 'em study.
My second, Make, em recite. That is, fill 'em up and then empty 'em.
My third and most important rule was, Get your money!
I walked thirteen miles a day, six and a half miles each way, most of
old back-country "last day of school exhibition"? The people that
literature that day. Execute is the word that tells what happened
to literature in District No. 1, Jackson Township, that day. I can
shut my eyes and see it yet. I can see my pupils coming forward to
back of the ears! And into them! So many of them wore collars that
I can see them speaking their "pieces." I can see "The Soldier of
the Legion lay dying in Algiers." We had him die again that day,
and he had a lingering end as we executed him. I can see "The boy
stood on the burning deck, whence all but he had fled." I can see
now that if Patrick Henry had been present, he would have said,
got up before that "last day of school" audience and opened my
spatter on my six-dollar suit.
"due at corncutting," as we termed that annual fall-time paying up
scarcely know whether to look up or down as I say that. He never
I was paid thousands in experience for that first schoolteaching,
from the books, that it takes less wisdom to make money, than it
And he has gotten his lecture out of that home town. The heroes and
for I will sa-a-a-a-ave you!" or words to that effect.
could live in that hotel was a superior order of being. But the
I held thanksgiving services that night. I could see better. I had
a picture of the school in that town that had been taken twenty-one
I got a truer perspective of life that night. Did you ever sit
alone with a picture of your classmates taken twenty-one years
genius-esses and things like that.
appointed for that purpose took Jim back of the schoolhouse and
broke the news to him that they were going to let him graduate, but
speech that would do credit to such a brilliant class. They hid Jim
home telephone exchange, and had become absolutely indispensable to
a lot of men working for him. The committee that took him out
stood that night.
Dull boy or girl--you with your eyes tear-dimmed sometimes because
you do not seem to learn like some in your classes can you not get
Hours pass, and still as I sat in that hotel room I was lost in
that school picture and the twenty-one years. There were fifty-four
young people in that picture. They had been shaken these years in
the barrel, and now as I called the roll on them, most of them that
I expected to go up had shaken down and some that I expected to
Out of that fifty-four, one had gone to a pulpit, one had gone to
When that picture was taken the oldest was not more than eighteen,
The twenty-one years that followed had not changed their courses.
The only changes had come where God had come into a life to uplift
that the foolish dreams of success faded before the natural
unfolding of talents, which is the real success. I saw better that
to their own reprobate offspring, "Why can't you be like Harry?
jail." But Model Harry sat around all his life being a model. I
I have said little about the girls of the school. Fact was, at that
white, loving life radiated far.
all the struggle taken out of his life. He never followed his
finally ended his wasted life with a bullet fired by his own hand.
committed. Ben Hur did not get a fair trial. Nobody can get a fair
trial at the hands of this world. That is why the great Judge has
alone have that.
That seems to be your life and my life. In the kitchen or the
the oar and pulling under the sting of the lash of necessity. Life
look across the street and see somebody who lives a happier life.
That one is chained to no oar. See what a fine time they all have.
How blind we are! We can only see our own oar. We cannot see that
stronger forearms. They are bands of steel that swell in the
Sooner or later you and I are to learn that Providence makes no
galleys of life by pulling on the oar.
That is why I thanked God as I stood at the grave of my classmate.
and for the circumstances that compelled it.
get out of the county." That is a fact, but he is not trying to get
know that he has to go hundreds of miles south. He is only trying
relative to die and bequeath him some water. That is a beautiful
thought! He has water enough to start south, and he does that.
My friends, here is one of the best pictures I can find in nature
Value of a Goal in Life." But the direction is vastly more
important than the goal. Find the way your life should go, and then
we flow. All of us can start! And then go on south!
more natural life, so that we can hear the call. We are all called.
That is why I am making it the slogan of my life--GO ON SOUTH AND
GROW GREATER! I hope I can make you remember that and say it over
GROW GREATER. For this is life, and there is no other. This is
education--and religion. And the only business of life.
them. "I must congratulate you upon your success. You have arrived."
So many of those young goslings believe that. They quit and get
canned. They think they have gotten to the Gulf of Mexico when they
We can protect ourselves fairly well from our enemies, but heaven
Success is so hard to endure. We can endure ten defeats better than
Nine out of ten stenographers who apply for positions can write a
think that is being a stenographer, when it is merely a symptom of
Nine out of ten workmen cannot be trusted to do what they advertise
Half of our life is spent in getting competents to repair the
No matter how well equipped you are, you are never safe in your job
is the opiate that Nature administers to deaden the pains of mediocrity.
A-B-C's. I do not utter that as a bit of sentiment, but as the
great fundamental of our life. I hope the oldest in years sees that
understand. Just beginning to know about life."
compound interest! They are dead. This is life.
You children cheer up. Your black hair and auburn hair and the other
of your gray hair or baldness. If they get on the inside of the head,
to employ gray-headed men? They have found that so many of them
outside, but has kept young and fresh on the inside. Put that
whole world going to that person for direction, advice, vision,
I am happy today as I look back over my life. I have been trying to
invectives against the bureaus and ungrateful audiences that were
From what I can learn of Methuselah, he never grew past copper-toed
inspiring. No obstacle can daunt her. Losing a leg does not end her
"That's all right. But, my man, how old are you?"
"Senator, I'm old in body and old in spirit. I'm past sixty."
The senator at ninety-two was younger than the man "past sixty,"
When I was a little boy I saw them bring the first phonograph that
screeched and stuttered. You would not have it in your barn today
to play to your ford!
who did not believe that Mr. Edison had succeeded. His name was
Mr. Edison has said that his genius is mainly his ability to keep
other day, and she wrote me that the great inventor showed her one
before I hit upon that."
"I know more than seven thousand ways now that won't work."
That is success supreme. Not "succeeded" but "succeeding."
death and life. Are you "ed-ing" or "ing-ing"?
eighty. He went on south into the extra editions after that!
orations on "The Age of the Young Man" and the Ostler idea that you
I would see his scandalized friends gather around him. "Moses! Moses!
can hardly keep up. Moses is eighty-five and busier and more
They appoint a committee to bury Moses. You cannot do anything in
Then I see the committee waiting on Moses. That is what a committee
Why, boys, every hour is taken next Thursday. I simply cannot
They cannot bury Moses. He cannot attend. You cannot bury anybody
who is too busy to attend his own funeral! You cannot bury anybody
Moses is eighty-six and the committee 'phones over, "Moses, can you
to hold that funeral until I get this work pushed off so I can
Moses is ninety-five and burning the candle at both ends.
absorbed in our going that we'll fool the "committee."
So another crop of Americans came into the limelight. If we modern
Americans do not go on south we will join the Indians, the auk
clock that runs down.
tribulations, and I'll be in that bright and happy land." What will
child and I'm not happy now. Them was the best days of my life
Wake up! Your clock has run down. Anybody who wants to be a child
again is confessing he has lost his memory. Anybody who can remember
anybody who gets shortchanged regularly, it is a child. I am so
that correctly, but I know I was reared in a parsonage. About all
I inherited was a Godly example and a large appetite. That was
about all there was to inherit. I cannot remember when I was not
that my heart does not go out to them. I remember when I did that.
I can only remember about four big meals in a year. That was
had it we had it on that table. All the jelly that ever "jelled"
The hungriest one of that assemblage would have to go in the next
the next room that heaven would be a place where everybody would
Many a time after that, Elder Berry would come into the room where
I was starving. He would say, "Brother Parlette, is this your
My head was not the place that needed the benediction.
you are seeing the best days of your life right now as a child."
The dear old liar! I was seeing the worst days of my life. If there
is anybody shortchanged--if there is anybody who doesn't have a
good time, it's a child. Life has been getting better ever since,
Seeing your best days as a child? No! You are seeing your worst
days. Of course, you can be happy as a child. A boy can be happy
A child can be full of happiness and only hold a pint. But
for joy. Our life is one continual unfolding as we go south.
So we cannot grow old. Our life never stops. It goes on and on
forever. Anything that does not stop cannot grow old or have age.
will never grow old, for God cannot grow old. You and I will go on
And I have to say that to many questions, "I do not know." I often
Go to Keokuk, Iowa, for your answer.
river cannot go on south. Watch him. He rises higher than the
So that is why they spent the millions to build the obstacle--to
That is exactly what happens when you and I overcome our obstacles.
be developed. So many of us do not understand that. We look
obstacles. The presence of the obstacles means that there is a lot
shall have no more obstacles to overcome!" When that time comes,
Life is going on south, and overcoming the obstacles. Death is
The fact that we are not buried is no proof that we are alive. Go
Here we come to the most wonderful and difficult thing in life. It
is the supreme test of character. That is, Why go on south? Not for
for anything outside, but for the happiness that comes from within.
drainage canal pollutes him. The flat, lazy Platte, three miles
those streams that unite to form the treacherous, sinful,
purifying them and making them a part of himself. Nothing can
Wonderful the book in the running brook! We let our life stream
along such a heart full of the injuries that other people have done
us, that sometimes we are bank to bank full of poison and a menace
to those around us. We say, "I can forgive, but I cannot forget."
Oh, forget it! Drop it all. Purify your life and go on south all
As you go on south and bless your valley, do you notice the valley
does not bless you very much? Have you sadly noted that the people
others because that is the way to be happy, but do not wait for a
receipt for your goodness; you will need a poultice every time you
There is nobody who does not have that to meet. The preacher, the
church, the school, the lyceum and chautauqua, the work that makes
Stop! You are not saying that. The evil one is whispering that into
your heart. His business is to stop you from going south. His most
successful tool is discouragement, which is a wedge, and if he can
get the sharp edge started into your thought, he is going to drive
You do not go south and overcome your obstacles and bless the
YOU ARE SAVING YOURSELF BY SAVING OTHERS. GO ON SOUTH!
ourselves that we are working to do good, when as we do the good,
us a medal or resolutions, we want to quit. That is why there are
I thank God that I had gone a little farther southward in my own
life. Father of Waters, you have fought a good fight. You are
conquering gloriously. You bear upon your bosom the commerce of
many nations. I know why. I saw you born, saw your struggles, saw
you get in the right channel, saw you learn the lessons of your
knocks, and saw that you never stopped going southward.
Going Up Life's Mountain
The Defeats that are Victories
blessing that we have not the million. Perhaps it would make us
Necessity is the ballast in our life voyage.
preparing? Do you ever think of the times that orator tried to
discipline, experience and grim resolve that made him succeed.
necessary to produce that finish and grace? That is the story of
Do you note that the tropics, the countries with the balmiest
climates, produce the weakest peoples? Do you note that the
conquering races are those that struggle with both heat and cold?
Do you note that people grow more in lean years than in fat years?
they turn to God when hunger hits them. "Is not this Babylon that
You have to shoot many men's eyes out before they can see. You have
to crack their heads before they can think, knock them down before
they can stand, break their hearts before they can sing, and
bankrupt them before they can be rich.
Do you remember that they had to lock John Bunyan in Bedford jail
that some of us will have to go to jail to do our best work.
Do you remember that one musician became deaf before he wrote music
the world will always hear? Do you remember that one author became
Do you remember that Saul of Tarsus would have never been
remembered had he lived the life of luxury planned for him? He had
Do you not see all around you that success is ever the phoenix
commencement day with your diplomas in your hands, and when your
relatives and friends say, "Success to you!" I shall take your hand
For that is the only way to say, "Success to you!"
passing year. We learn that you are cruel only to be kind. We learn
that you are saving us from ourselves. But O, how most of us must
great bump that struck me one morning in Los Angeles. It seemed as
tho twelve years of my life had dropped out of it, and had been
That is why I climbed Mount Lowe that day. I wanted to get alone.
up half a mile into Rubio Canyon, to the engineering miracle, the
triangular car that hoists them out of the hungry chasm thirty-five
Here they find that Echo Mountain is but a shelf on the side of
Mount Lowe. Here they take an electric car that winds five miles on
rockwall where his life depends upon the honesty of the man who drove
The car is five thousand feet high where it stops on that last shelf,
Alpine Tavern. One cannot ride farther upward. This is not the summit,
but just where science surrenders. There is a little trail that winds
To go up that last eleven hundred feet and stand upon the flat rock
cannot be described with this poor human vocabulary. It must be
lived. On a pure, clear day one looks down this sixty-one hundred
distances. You throw the pebble and it falls upon your toes!
All alone I scrambled up that three-mile trail to the summit. All
that mountain sanctuary, for I was not searching for sublimity. I
down upon clouds. I thought of the cloud that had covered me in the
that first mile. The sun was shining upon me, the sky was all blue
that seem so great down in the valley, seem so small as I look down
clearly the plan of a human life. The rocks, the curves and the
steepness of the ascent. The bumps are lifts. The things that seem
Today I look back to the bump that sent me up Mount Lowe. I did not
see how I could live past that bump. The years have passed and I now
know it was one of the greatest blessings of my life. It closed one
Late that day I was clambering down the side of Mount Lowe. Down in
That means, go on up!
showed the way that dark day. There I heard the "sermons in stones."
for them that love Him."
We are not growing old. We are going up to Eternal Life.
The Big Business of Life
This book proves that the real big business is that of getting our
"The Big Business of Life is a real joy to read. It is big and
"In The Big Business of Life we have the practical philosophy
that it is everyone's business to abolish work and turn this
world into a playground. Who will not confess that many
mortals take their work too seriously, and that to them it is a
within, and not among the things that lie at our feet. The
Many who have read The Big Business of Life
write us that they think it is even better than "The
You Can't Get Something for Nothing
Instruct us to send one of these booklets to your friends. It will
delight them more than any small present you can make.
Six Questions That Can Change Your Life
[Books] > Six Questions That Can Change Your Life
# How Can I Be True To Myself? vs. How Can I Gain Approval?
LifeWithoutPrinciple
[Principles] > LifeWithoutPrinciple
( source http://eserver.org/thoreau/life1.html )
AT A LYCEUM, not long since, I felt that the lecturer had chosen a theme too foreign to himself, and so failed to interest me as much as he might have done. He described things not in or near to his heart, but toward his extremities and superficies. There was, in this sense, no truly central or centralizing thought in the lecture. I would have had him deal with his privatest experience, as the poet does. The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer. I am surprised, as well as delighted, when this happens, it is such a rare use he would make of me, as if he were acquainted with the tool. Commonly, if men want anything of me, it is only to know how many acres I make of their land- since I am a surveyor- or, at most, what trivial news I have burdened myself with. They never will go to law for my meat; they prefer the shell. A man once came a considerable distance to ask me to lecture on Slavery; but on conversing with him, I found that he and his clique expected seven eighths of the lecture to be theirs, and only one eighth mine; so I declined. I take it for granted, when I am invited to lecture anywhere- for I have had a little experience in that business- that there is a desire to hear what I think on some subject, though I may be the greatest fool in the country- and not that I should say pleasant things merely, or such as the audience will assent to; and I resolve, accordingly, that I will give them a strong dose of myself. They have sent for me, and engaged to pay for me, and I am determined that they shall have me, though I bore them beyond all precedent.
So now I would say something similar to you, my readers. Since you are my readers, and I have not been much of a traveller, I will not talk about people a thousand miles off, but come as near home as I can. As the time is short, I will leave out all the flattery, and retain all the criticism.
This world is a place of business. What an infinite bustle! I am awaked almost every night by the panting of the locomotive. It interrupts my dreams. There is no sabbath. It would be glorious to see mankind at leisure for once. It is nothing but work, work, work. I cannot easily buy a blank-book to write thoughts in; they are commonly ruled for dollars and cents. An Irishman, seeing me making a minute in the fields, took it for granted that I was calculating my wages. If a man was tossed out of a window when an infant, and so made a cripple for life, or seared out of his wits by the Indians, it is regretted chiefly because he was thus incapacitated for business! I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself, than this incessant business.
There is a coarse and boisterous money-making fellow in the outskirts of our town, who is going to build a bank-wall under the hill along the edge of his meadow. The powers have put this into his head to keep him out of mischief, and he wishes me to spend three weeks digging there with him. The result will be that he will perhaps get some more money to board, and leave for his heirs to spend foolishly. If I do this, most will commend me as an industrious and hard-working man; but if I choose to devote myself to certain labors which yield more real profit, though but little money, they may be inclined to look on me as an idler. Nevertheless, as I do not need the police of meaningless labor to regulate me, and do not see anything absolutely praiseworthy in this fellow's undertaking any more than in many an enterprise of our own or foreign governments, however amusing it may be to him or them, I prefer to finish my education at a different school.
Most men would feel insulted if it were proposed to employ them in throwing stones over a wall, and then in throwing them back, merely that they might earn their wages. But many are no more worthily employed now. For instance: just after sunrise, one summer morning, I noticed one of my neighbors walking beside his team, which was slowly drawing a heavy hewn stone swung under the axle, surrounded by an atmosphere of industry- his day's work begun- his brow commenced to sweat- a reproach to all sluggards and idlers- pausing abreast the shoulders of his oxen, and half turning round with a flourish of his merciful whip, while they gained their length on him. And I thought, Such is the labor which the American Congress exists to protect- honest, manly toil- honest as the day is long- that makes his bread taste sweet, and keeps society sweet- which all men respect and have consecrated; one of the sacred band, doing the needful but irksome drudgery. Indeed, I felt a slight reproach, because I observed this from a window, and was not abroad and stirring about a similar business. The day went by, and at evening I passed the yard of another neighbor, who keeps many servants, and spends much money foolishly, while he adds nothing to the common stock, and there I saw the stone of the morning lying beside a whimsical structure intended to adorn this Lord Timothy Dexter's premises, and the dignity forthwith departed from the teamster's labor, in my eyes. In my opinion, the sun was made to light worthier toil than this. I may add that his employer has since run off, in debt to a good part of the town, and, after passing through Chancery, has settled somewhere else, there to become once more a patron of the arts.
The ways by which you may get money almost without exception lead downward. To have done anything by which you earned money merely is to have been truly idle or worse. If the laborer gets no more than the wages which his employer pays him, he is cheated, he cheats himself. If you would get money as a writer or lecturer, you must be popular, which is to go down perpendicularly. Those services which the community will most readily pay for, it is most disagreeable to render. You are paid for being something less than a man. The State does not commonly reward a genius any more wisely. Even the poet laureate would rather not have to celebrate the accidents of royalty. He must be bribed with a pipe of wine; and perhaps another poet is called away from his muse to gauge that very pipe. As for my own business, even that kind of surveying which I could do with most satisfaction my employers do not want. They would prefer that I should do my work coarsely and not too well, ay, not well enough. When I observe that there are different ways of surveying, my employer commonly asks which will give him the most land, not which is most correct. I once invented a rule for measuring cord-wood, and tried to introduce it in Boston; but the measurer there told me that the sellers did not wish to have their wood measured correctly- that he was already too accurate for them, and therefore they commonly got their wood measured in Charlestown before crossing the bridge.
The aim of the laborer should be, not to get his living, to get "a good job," but to perform well a certain work; and, even in a pecuniary sense, it would be economy for a town to pay its laborers so well that they would not feel that they were working for low ends, as for a livelihood merely, but for scientific, or even moral ends. Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.
It is remarkable that there are few men so well employed, so much to their minds, but that a little money or fame would commonly buy them off from their present pursuit. I see advertisements for active young men, as if activity were the whole of a young man's capital. Yet I have been surprised when one has with confidence proposed to me, a grown man, to embark in some enterprise of his, as if I had absolutely nothing to do, my life having been a complete failure hitherto. What a doubtful compliment this to pay me! As if he had met me half-way across the ocean beating up against the wind, but bound nowhere, and proposed to me to go along with him! If I did, what do you think the underwriters would say? No, no! I am not without employment at this stage of the voyage. To tell the truth, I saw an advertisement for able-bodied seamen, when I was a boy, sauntering in my native port, and as soon as I came of age I embarked.
The community has no bribe that will tempt a wise man. You may raise money enough to tunnel a mountain, but you cannot raise money enough to hire a man who is minding his own business. An efficient and valuable man does what he can, whether the community pay him for it or not. The inefficient offer their inefficiency to the highest bidder, and are forever expecting to be put into office. One would suppose that they were rarely disappointed.
Perhaps I am more than usually jealous with respect to my freedom. I feel that my connection with and obligation to society are still very slight and transient. Those slight labors which afford me a livelihood, and by which it is allowed that I am to some extent serviceable to my contemporaries, are as yet commonly a pleasure to me, and I am not often reminded that they are a necessity. So far I am successful. But I foresee that if my wants should be much increased, the labor required to supply them would become a drudgery. If I should sell both my forenoons and afternoons to society, as most appear to do, I am sure that for me there would be nothing left worth living for. I trust that I shall never thus sell my birthright for a mess of pottage. I wish to suggest that a man may be very industrious, and yet not spend his time well. There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living. All great enterprises are self-supporting. The poet, for instance, must sustain his body by his poetry, as a steam planing-mill feeds its boilers with the shavings it makes. You must get your living by loving. But as it is said of the merchants that ninety-seven in a hundred fail, so the life of men generally, tried by this standard, is a failure, and bankruptcy may be surely prophesied.
Merely to come into the world the heir of a fortune is not to be born, but to be still-born, rather. To be supported by the charity of friends, or a government pension- provided you continue to breathe- by whatever fine synonyms you describe these relations, is to go into the almshouse. On Sundays the poor debtor goes to church to take an account of stock, and finds, of course, that his outgoes have been greater than his income. In the Catholic Church, especially, they go into chancery, make a clean confession, give up all, and think to start again. Thus men will lie on their backs, talking about the fall of man, and never make an effort to get up.
As for the comparative demand which men make on life, it is an important difference between two, that the one is satisfied with a level success, that his marks can all be hit by point-blank shots, but the other, however low and unsuccessful his life may be, constantly elevates his aim, though at a very slight angle to the horizon. I should much rather be the last man- though, as the Orientals say, "Greatness doth not approach him who is forever looking down; and all those who are looking high are growing poor."
It is remarkable that there is little or nothing to be remembered written on the subject of getting a living; how to make getting a living not merely holiest and honorable, but altogether inviting and glorious; for if getting a living is not so, then living is not. One would think, from looking at literature, that this question had never disturbed a solitary individual's musings. Is it that men are too much disgusted with their experience to speak of it? The lesson of value which money teaches, which the Author of the Universe has taken so much pains to teach us, we are inclined to skip altogether. As for the means of living, it is wonderful how indifferent men of all classes are about it, even reformers, so called- whether they inherit, or earn, or steal it. I think that Society has done nothing for us in this respect, or at least has undone what she has done. Cold and hunger seem more friendly to my nature than those methods which men have adopted and advise to ward them off.
The title wise is, for the most part, falsely applied. How can one be a wise man, if he does not know any better how to live than other men?- if he is only more cunning and intellectually subtle? Does Wisdom work in a tread-mill? or does she teach how to succeed by her example? Is there any such thing as wisdom not applied to life? Is she merely the miller who grinds the finest logic? It is pertinent to ask if Plato got his living in a better way or more successfully than his contemporaries- or did he succumb to the difficulties of life like other men? Did he seem to prevail over some of them merely by indifference, or by assuming grand airs? or find it easier to live, because his aunt remembered him in her will? The ways in which most men get their living, that is, live, are mere makeshifts, and a shirking of the real business of life- chiefly because they do not know, but partly because they do not mean, any better.
The rush to California, for instance, and the attitude, not merely of merchants, but of philosophers and prophets, so called, in relation to it, reflect the greatest disgrace on mankind. That so many are ready to live by luck, and so get the means of commanding the labor of others less lucky, without contributing any value to society! And that is called enterprise! I know of no more startling development of the immorality of trade, and all the common modes of getting a living. The philosophy and poetry and religion of such a mankind are not worth the dust of a puffball. The hog that gets his living by rooting, stirring up the soil so, would be ashamed of such company. If I could command the wealth of all the worlds by lifting my finger, I would not pay such a price for it. Even Mahomet knew that God did not make this world in jest. It makes God to be a moneyed gentleman who scatters a handful of pennies in order to see mankind scramble for them. The world's raffle! A subsistence in the domains of Nature a thing to be raffled for! What a comment, what a satire, on our institutions! The conclusion will be, that mankind will hang itself upon a tree. And have all the precepts in all the Bibles taught men only this? and is the last and most admirable invention of the human race only an improved muck-rake? Is this the ground on which Orientals and Occidentals meet? Did God direct us so to get our living, digging where we never planted- and He would, perchance, reward us with lumps of gold?
God gave the righteous man a certificate entitling him to food and raiment, but the unrighteous man found a facsimile of the same in God's coffers, and appropriated it, and obtained food and raiment like the former. It is one of the most extensive systems of counterfeiting that the world has seen. I did not know that mankind was suffering for want of old. I have seen a little of it. I know that it is very malleable, but not so malleable as wit. A grain of gold gild a great surface, but not so much as a grain of wisdom.
The gold-digger in the ravines of the mountains is as much a gambler as his fellow in the saloons of San Francisco. What difference does it make whether you shake dirt or shake dice? If you win, society is the loser. The gold-digger is the enemy of the honest laborer, whatever checks and compensations there may be. It is not enough to tell me that you worked hard to get your gold. So does the Devil work hard. The way of transgressors may be hard in many respects. The humblest observer who goes to the mines sees and says that gold-digging is of the character of a lottery; the gold thus obtained is not the same same thing with the wages of honest toil. But, practically, he forgets what he has seen, for he has seen only the fact, not the principle, and goes into trade there, that is, buys a ticket in what commonly proves another lottery, where the fact is not so obvious.
After reading Howitt's account of the Australian gold-diggings one evening, I had in my mind's eye, all night, the numerous valleys, with their streams, all cut up with foul pits, from ten to one hundred feet deep, and half a dozen feet across, as close as they can be dug, and partly filled with water- the locality to which men furiously rush to probe for their fortunes- uncertain where they shall break ground- not knowing but the gold is under their camp itself- sometimes digging one hundred and sixty feet before they strike the vein, or then missing it by a foot- turned into demons, and regardless of each others' rights, in their thirst for riches- whole valleys, for thirty miles, suddenly honeycombed by the pits of the miners, so that even hundreds are drowned in them- standing in water, and covered with mud and clay, they work night and day, dying of exposure and disease. Having read this, and partly forgotten it, I was thinking, accidentally, of my own unsatisfactory life, doing as others do; and with that vision of the diggings still before me, I asked myself why I might not be washing some gold daily, though it were only the finest particles- why I might not sink a shaft down to the gold within me, and work that mine. There is a Ballarat, a Bendigo for you- what though it were a sulky-gully? At any rate, I might pursue some path, however solitary and narrow and crooked, in which I could walk with love and reverence. Wherever a man separates from the multitude, and goes his own way in this mood, there indeed is a fork in the road, though ordinary travellers may see only a gap in the paling. His solitary path across lots will turn out the higher way of the two.
Men rush to California and Australia as if the true gold were to be found in that direction; but that is to go to the very opposite extreme to where it lies. They go prospecting farther and farther away from the true lead, and are most unfortunate when they think themselves most successful. Is not our native soil auriferous? Does not a stream from the golden mountains flow through our native valley? and has not this for more than geologic ages been bringing down the shining particles and forming the nuggets for us? Yet, strange to tell, if a digger steal away, prospecting for this true gold, into the unexplored solitudes around us, there is no danger that any will dog his steps, and endeavor to supplant him. He may claim and undermine the whole valley even, both the cultivated and the uncultivated portions, his whole life long in peace, for no one will ever dispute his claim. They will not mind his cradles or his toms. He is not confined to a claim twelve feet square, as at Ballarat, but may mine anywhere, and wash the whole wide world in his tom.
Howitt says of the man who found the great nugget which weighed twenty-eight pounds, at the Bendigo diggings in Australia: "He soon began to drink; got a horse, and rode all about, generally at full gallop, and, when he met people, called out to inquire if they knew who he was, and then kindly informed them that he was 'the bloody wretch that had found the nugget.' At last he rode full speed against a tree, and nearly knocked his brains out." I think, however, there was no danger of that, for he had already knocked his brains out against the nugget. Howitt adds, "He is a hopelessly ruined man." But he is a type of the class. They are all fast men. Hear some of the names of the places where they dig: "Jackass Flat"- "Sheep's-Head Gully"- "Murderer's Bar," etc. Is there no satire in these names? Let them carry their ill-gotten wealth where they will, I am thinking it will still be "Jackass Flat," if not "Murderer's Bar," where they live.
The last resource of our energy has been the robbing of graveyards on the Isthmus of Darien, an enterprise which appears to be but in its infancy; for, according to late accounts, an act has passed its second reading in the legislature of New Granada, regulating this kind of mining; and a correspondent of the "Tribune" writes: "In the dry season, when the weather will permit of the country being properly prospected, no doubt other rich guacas [that is, graveyards] will be found." To emigrants he says: "do not come before December; take the Isthmus route in preference to the Boca del Toro one; bring no useless baggage, and do not cumber yourself with a tent; but a good pair of blankets will be necessary; a pick, shovel, and axe of good material will be almost all that is required": advice which might have been taken from the "Burker's Guide." And he concludes with this line in Italics and small capitals: "If you are doing well at home, STAY THERE," which may fairly be interpreted to mean, "If you are getting a good living by robbing graveyards at home, stay there."
It is remarkable that among all the preachers there are so few moral teachers. The prophets are employed in excusing the ways of men. Most reverend seniors, the illuminati of the age, tell me, with a gracious, reminiscent smile, betwixt an aspiration and a shudder, not to be too tender about these things- to lump all that, that is, make a lump of gold of it. The highest advice I have heard on these subjects was grovelling. The burden of it was- It is not worth your while to undertake to reform the world in this particular. Do not ask how your bread is buttered; it will make you sick, if you do- and the like. A man had better starve at once than lose his innocence in the process of getting his bread. If within the sophisticated man there is not an unsophisticated one, then he is but one of the devil's angels. As we grow old, we live more coarsely, we relax a little in our disciplines, and, to some extent, cease to obey our finest instincts. But we should be fastidious to the extreme of sanity, disregarding the gibes of those who are more unfortunate than ourselves.
In our science and philosophy, even, there is commonly no true and absolute account of things. The spirit of sect and bigotry has planted its hoof amid the stars. You have only to discuss the problem, whether the stars are inhabited or not, in order to discover it. Why must we daub the heavens as well as the earth? It was an unfortunate discovery that Dr. Kane was a Mason, and that Sir John Franklin was another. But it was a more cruel suggestion that possibly that was the reason why the former went in search of the latter. There is not a popular magazine in this country that would dare to print a child's thought on important subjects without comment. It must be submitted to the D.D.'s. I would it were the chickadee-dees.
I hardly know an intellectual man, even, who is so broad and truly liberal that you can think aloud in his society. Most with whom you endeavor to talk soon come to a stand against some institution in which they appear to hold stock- that is, some particular, not universal, way of viewing things. They will continually thrust their own low roof, with its narrow skylight, between you and the sky, when it is the unobstructed heavens you would view. Get out of the way with your cobwebs; wash your windows, I say! In some lyceums they tell me that they have voted to exclude the subject of religion. But how do I know what their religion is, and when I am near to or far from it? I have walked into such an arena and done my best to make a clean breast of what religion I have experienced, and the audience never suspected what I was about. The lecture was as harmless as moonshine to them. Whereas, if I had read to them the biography of the greatest scamps in history, they might have thought that I had written the lives of the deacons of their church. Ordinarily, the inquiry is, Where did you come from? or, Where are you going? That was a more pertinent question which I overheard one of my auditors put to another one- "What does he lecture for?" It made me quake in my shoes.
To speak impartially, the best men that I know are not serene, a world in themselves. For the most part, they dwell in forms, and flatter and study effect only more finely than the rest. We select granite for the underpinning of our houses and barns; we build fences of stone; but we do not ourselves rest on an underpinning of granitic truth, the lowest primitive rock. Our sills are rotten. What stuff is the man made of who is not coexistent in our thought with the purest and subtilest truth? I often accuse my finest acquaintances of an immense frivolity; for, while there are manners and compliments we do not meet, we do not teach one another the lessons of honesty and sincerity that the brutes do, or of steadiness and solidity that the rocks do. The fault is commonly mutual, however; for we do not habitually demand any more of each other.
That excitement about Kossuth, consider how characteristic, but superficial, it was!- only another kind of politics or dancing. Men were making speeches to him all over the country, but each expressed only the thought, or the want of thought, of the multitude. No man stood on truth. They were merely banded together, as usual one leaning on another, and all together on nothing; as the Hindoos made the world rest on an elephant, the elephant on a tortoise, and the tortoise on a serpent, and had nothing to put under the serpent. For all fruit of that stir we have the Kossuth hat.
Just so hollow and ineffectual, for the most part, is our ordinary conversation. Surface meets surface. When our life ceases to be inward and private, conversation degenerates into mere gossip. We rarely meet a man who can tell us any news which he has not read in a newspaper, or been told by his neighbor; and, for the most part, the only difference between us and our fellow is that he has seen the newspaper, or been out to tea, and we have not. In proportion as our inward life fails, we go more constantly and desperately to the post-office. You may depend on it, that the poor fellow who walks away with the greatest number of letters, proud of his extensive correspondence, has not heard from himself this long while.
I do not know but it is too much to read one newspaper a week. I have tried it recently, and for so long it seems to me that I have not dwelt in my native region. The sun, the clouds, the snow, the trees say not so much to me. You cannot serve two masters. It requires more than a day's devotion to know and to possess the wealth of a day.
We may well be ashamed to tell what things we have read or heard in our day. I did not know why my news should be so trivial- considering what one's dreams and expectations are, why the developments should be so paltry. The news we hear, for the most part, is not news to our genius. It is the stalest repetition. You are often tempted to ask why such stress is laid on a particular experience which you have had- that, after twenty-five years, you should meet Hobbins, Registrar of Deeds, again on the sidewalk. Have you not budged an inch, then? Such is the daily news. Its facts appear to float in the atmosphere, insignificant as the sporules of fungi, and impinge on some neglected thallus, or surface of our minds, which affords a basis for them, and hence a parasitic growth. We should wash ourselves clean of such news. Of what consequence, though our planet explode, if there is no character involved in the explosion? In health we have not the least curiosity about such events. We do not live for idle amusement. I would not run round a corner to see the world blow up.
All summer, and far into the autumn, perchance, you unconsciously went by the newspapers and the news, and now you find it was because the morning and the evening were full of news to you. Your walks were full of incidents. You attended, not to the affairs of Europe, but to your own affairs in Massachusetts fields. If you chance to live and move and have your being in that thin stratum in which the events that make the news transpire- thinner than the paper on which it is printed- then these things will fill the world for you; but if you soar above or dive below that plane, you cannot remember nor be reminded of them. Really to see the sun rise or go down every day, so to relate ourselves to a universal fact, would preserve us sane forever. Nations! What are nations? Tartars, and Huns, and Chinamen! Like insects, they swarm. The historian strives in vain to make them memorable. It is for want of a man that there are so many men. It is individuals that populate the world. Any man thinking may say with the Spirit of Lodin-
Not without a slight shudder at the danger, I often perceive how near I had come to admitting into my mind the details of some trivial affair- the news of the street; and I am astonished to observe how willing men are to lumber their minds with such rubbish- to permit idle rumors and incidents of the most insignificant kind to intrude on ground which should be sacred to thought. Shall the mind be a public arena, where the affairs of the street and the gossip of the tea-table chiefly are discussed? Or shall it be a quarter of heaven itself- an hypaethral temple, consecrated to the service of the gods? I find it so difficult to dispose of the few facts which to me are significant, that I hesitate to burden my attention with those which are insignificant, which only a divine mind could illustrate. Such is, for the most part, the news in newspapers and conversation. It is important to preserve the mind's chastity in this respect. Think of admitting the details of a single case of the criminal court into our thoughts, to stalk profanely through their very sanctum sanctorum for an hour, ay, for many hours! to make a very bar-room of the mind's inmost apartment, as if for so long the dust of the street had occupied us- the very street itself, with all its travel, its bustle, and filth, had passed through our thoughts' shrine! Would it not be an intellectual and moral suicide? When I have been compelled to sit spectator and auditor in a court-room for some hours, and have seen my neighbors, who were not compelled, stealing in from time to time, and tiptoeing about with washed hands and faces, it has appeared to my mind's eye, that, when they took off their hats, their ears suddenly expanded into vast hoppers for sound, between which even their narrow heads were crowded. Like the vanes of windmills, they caught the broad but shallow stream of sound, which, after a few titillating gyrations in their coggy brains, passed out the other side. I wondered if, when they got home, they were as careful to wash their ears as before their hands and faces. It has seemed to me, at such a time, that the auditors and the witnesses, the jury and the counsel, the judge and the criminal at the bar- if I may presume him guilty before he is convicted- were all equally criminal, and a thunderbolt might be expected to descend and consume them all together.
By all kinds of traps and signboards, threatening the extreme penalty of the divine law, exclude such trespassers from the only ground which can be sacred to you. It is so hard to forget what it is worse than useless to remember! If I am to be a thoroughfare, I prefer that it be of the mountain brooks, the Parnassian streams, and not the town sewers. There is inspiration, that gossip which comes to the ear of the attentive mind from the courts of heaven. There is the profane and stale revelation of the bar-room and the police court. The same ear is fitted to receive both communications. Only the character of the hearer determines to which it shall be open, and to which closed. I believe that the mind can be permanently profaned by the habit of attending to trivial things, so that all our thoughts shall be tinged with triviality. Our very intellect shall be macadamized, as it were- its foundation broken into fragments for the wheels of travel to roll over; and if you would know what will make the most durable pavement, surpassing rolled stones, spruce blocks, and asphaltum, you have only to look into some of our minds which have been subjected to this treatment so long.
If we have thus desecrated ourselves- as who has not?- the remedy will be by wariness and devotion to reconsecrate ourselves, and make once more a fane of the mind. We should treat our minds, that is, ourselves, as innocent and ingenuous children, whose guardians we are, and be careful what objects and what subjects we thrust on their attention. Read not the Times. Read the Eternities. Conventionalities are at length as had as impurities. Even the facts of science may dust the mind by their dryness, unless they are in a sense effaced each morning, or rather rendered fertile by the dews of fresh and living truth. Knowledge does not come to us by details, but in flashes of light from heaven. Yes, every thought that passes through the mind helps to wear and tear it, and to deepen the ruts, which, as in the streets of Pompeii, evince how much it has been used. How many things there are concerning which we might well deliberate whether we had better know them- had better let their peddling-carts be driven, even at the slowest trot or walk, over that bride of glorious span by which we trust to pass at last from the farthest brink of time to the nearest shore of eternity! Have we no culture, no refinement- but skill only to live coarsely and serve the Devil?- to acquire a little worldly wealth, or fame, or liberty, and make a false show with it, as if we were all husk and shell, with no tender and living kernel to us? Shall our institutions be like those chestnut burs which contain abortive nuts, perfect only to prick the fingers?
America is said to be the arena on which the battle of freedom is to be fought; but surely it cannot be freedom in a merely political sense that is meant. Even if we grant that the American has freed himself from a political tyrant, he is still the slave of an economical and moral tyrant. Now that the republic- the respublica- has been settled, it is time to look after the res-privata- the private state- to see, as the Roman senate charged its consuls, "ne quid res-PRIVATA detrimenti caperet," that the private state receive no detriment.
So is the English Parliament provincial. Mere country bumpkins, they betray themselves, when any more important question arises for them to settle, the Irish question, for instance- the English question why did I not say? Their natures are subdued to what they work in. Their "good breeding" respects only secondary objects. The finest manners in the world are awkwardness and fatuity when contrasted with a finer intelligence. They appear but as the fashions of past days- mere courtliness, knee-buckles and small-clothes, out of date. It is the vice, but not the excellence of manners, that they are continually being deserted by the character; they are cast-off-clothes or shells, claiming the respect which belonged to the living creature. You are presented with the shells instead of the meat, and it is no excuse generally, that, in the case of some fishes, the shells are of more worth than the meat. The man who thrusts his manners upon me does as if he were to insist on introducing me to his cabinet of curiosities, when I wished to see himself. It was not in this sense that the poet Decker called Christ "the first true gentleman that ever breathed." I repeat that in this sense the most splendid court in Christendom is provincial, having authority to consult about Transalpine interests only, and not the affairs of Rome. A praetor or proconsul would suffice to settle the questions which absorb the attention of the English Parliament and the American Congress.
A commerce that whitens every sea in quest of nuts and raisins, and makes slaves of its sailors for this purpose! I saw, the other day, a vessel which had been wrecked, and many lives lost, and her cargo of rags, juniper berries, and bitter almonds were strewn along the shore. It seemed hardly worth the while to tempt the dangers of the sea between Leghorn and New York for the sake of a cargo of juniper berries and bitter almonds. America sending to the Old World for her bitters! Is not the sea-brine, is not shipwreck, bitter enough to make the cup of life go down here? Yet such, to a great extent, is our boasted commerce; and there are those who style themselves statesmen and philosophers who are so blind as to think that progress and civilization depend on precisely this kind of interchange and activity- the activity of flies about a molasses- hogshead. Very well, observes one, if men were oysters. And very well, answer I, if men were mosquitoes.
Lieutenant Herndon, whom our government sent to explore the Amazon, and, it is said, to extend the area of slavery, observed that there was wanting there "an industrious and active population, who know what the comforts of life are, and who have artificial wants to draw out the great resources of the country." But what are the "artificial wants" to be encouraged? Not the love of luxuries, like the tobacco and slaves of, I believe, his native Virginia, nor the ice and granite and other material wealth of our native New England; nor are "the great resources of a country" that fertility or barrenness of soil which produces these. The chief want, in every State that I have been into, was a high and earnest purpose in its inhabitants. This alone draws out "the great resources" of Nature, and at last taxes her beyond her resources; for man naturally dies out of her. When we want culture more than potatoes, and illumination more than sugar-plums, then the great resources of a world are taxed and drawn out, and the result, or staple production, is, not slaves, nor operatives, but men- those rare fruits called heroes, saints, poets, philosophers, and redeemers.
What is called politics is comparatively something so superficial and inhuman, that practically I have never fairly recognized that it concerns me at all. The newspapers, I perceive, devote some of their columns specially to politics or government without charge; and this, one would say, is all that saves it; but as I love literature and to some extent the truth also, I never read those columns at any rate. I do not wish to blunt my sense of right so much. I have not got to answer for having read a single President's Message. A strange age of the world this, when empires, kingdoms, and republics come a-begging to a private man's door, and utter their complaints at his elbow! I cannot take up a newspaper but I find that some wretched government or other, hard pushed and on its last legs, is interceding with me, the reader, to vote for it- more importunate than an Italian beggar; and if I have a mind to look at its certificate, made, perchance, by some benevolent merchant's clerk, or the skipper that brought it over, for it cannot speak a word of English itself, I shall probably read of the eruption of some Vesuvius, or the overflowing of some Po, true or forged, which brought it into this condition. I do not hesitate, in such a case, to suggest work, or the almshouse; or why not keep its castle in silence, as I do commonly? The poor President, what with preserving his popularity and doing his duty, is completely bewildered. The newspapers are the ruling power. Any other government is reduced to a few marines at Fort Independence. If a man neglects to read the Daily Times, government will go down on its knees to him, for this is the only treason in these days.
Those things which now most engage the attention of men, as politics and the daily routine, are, it is true, vital functions of human society, but should be unconsciously performed, like the corresponding functions of the physical body. They are infrahuman, a kind of vegetation. I sometimes awake to a half-consciousness of them going on about me, as a man may become conscious of some of the processes of digestion in a morbid state, and so have the dyspepsia, as it is called. It is as if a thinker submitted himself to be rasped by the great gizzard of creation. Politics is, as it were, the gizzard of society, full of grit and gravel, and the two political parties are its two opposite halves- sometimes split into quarters, it may be, which grind on each other. Not only individuals, but states, have thus a confirmed dyspepsia, which expresses itself, you can imagine by what sort of eloquence. Thus our life is not altogether a forgetting, but also, alas! to a great extent, a remembering, of that which we should never have been conscious of, certainly not in our waking hours. Why should we not meet, not always as dyspeptics, to tell our had dreams, but sometimes as eupeptics, to congratulate each other on the ever-glorious morning? I do not make an exorbitant demand, surely.

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