Would You Like a Better Life?
A life of unlimited experiences, riches and freedom?
Then seek the Eternal Laws of the Universe;
And bring your life into harmony with them.
How can I live my life to the fullest? How can I know the true secret of power? How can I attain true and lasting greatness? How can I fill my entire life with a happiness, a peace, a joy, and a satisfaction so rich and enduring that it never loses its luster, never becomes boring?
No questions have been asked more often than these. Millions asked them in the past, billions ask them today, and many more will ask them in the future.
Is there an answer? A true and realistic one for the millions of people who are eagerly seeking it in all parts of the world? Are you interested, my dear reader, in the answer? The fact that you have read even this far indicates that you are,—that you are but one of the innumerable company already mentioned.
All of these questions are but another way of asking the great question that has passed throughout time – “What is the Purpose of Life?”
There have been countless numbers who gladly would have given all they had to find an honest and reliable answer. Does it exist? Can we find an answer, true and satisfactory to ourselves?
There is an answer: follow closely, and so that our findings may be more conclusive, question what is said at every step if you choose, and tell me at the end if it is not true and satisfactory.
There is one great, one simple principle which, if firmly understood and made the central principle of one’s life, will make that life a grand success, truly great and genuinely happy, loved and blessed by all in just the degree in which it is applied.
This principle could, if universally applied, wonderfully change this old world in which we live. In place of gloom and despair it would bring light, hope and contentment.
This idea would bring to the life of the fashionable society woman, now spending her days and nights seeking nothing but her own pleasure, such a flood of true and genuine pleasure, happiness and satisfaction that it would make the poor, weak something she calls by this name pale in comparison.
She would quickly see that she has yet to know what true pleasure is, and that what she has been mistaking for the real and genuine is similar to a baser metal being compared to the purest of gold, as a cut piece of glass is compared to the rarest of diamonds.
It would make the rich realize that the poor are their brothers and sisters, because children of the same Father. It would make the poor appreciate their lives, because they are beautiful and happy and sweet in humility.
It would give us a nation of statesmen, in place of a nation of politicians, each bent upon the acquisition of personal power at the expense of the greater good. This alone would go far toward solving the great and hard pressing social problems which we currently face.
The principle would, in short, make each man a prince among men, and each woman a queen among women.
Supreme happiness is found in lives where this principle has been understood and applied. Lives that didn’t have much of a purpose before learning this principle are transformed; the people become strong, useful and determined. To them, the days that used to drag along wearily, now seem all too short.
Under the influence of this great, simple principle, those whose lives seem to not have much purpose, could be made so rich, so important, and so happy that they would wonder why they have followed the wrong path for so long. But those who pursue happiness wrongly do not do so by choice, they do so because they do not know of the right one, the true path.
Let us then discuss this Universal Law of Success, examine it closely, question its merits, and if it is true, let us rejoice that we have found it, build upon it, and tell others of it. The last four words have flung open the doors of knowledge, and contain the secret of greatness.
The idea has prevailed in the past, and the idea dominates the modern world, that self is the great concern. That if someone wants to find success, greatness, and happiness, they must give all attention to themselves, and to self alone. This has been the great mistake, the fatal error, the direct opposite of the right path.
The truth is set forth in this great immutable law —we find our own lives in losing them in the service of others, in longer form—the more of our lives we give to others, the fuller and the richer, the greater and the grander, the more beautiful and the more happy our own lives become.
This is an expression of one of the greatest truths, of one of the greatest principles of practical ethics the world has thus far seen. In a single word, it is service,—not of ourselves, but of others that brings us happiness. How can you use what you have to make the world a better place? What can you give to the world that no one else can? That, is your purpose in life.
We shall soon see, however, that our love, our service, our helpfulness to others, invariably comes back to us, intensified sometimes a hundred or a thousand or a million times over, and this is due to a great, immutable law.
A Master Teacher, many years ago, taught a great truth of human life and destiny when he said “He that is greatest among you shall be your servant”. This master lived his whole life as an embodiment of this principle or truth.
He healed the sick; clothed the naked; bound up the broken-hearted; sustained the weak; befriended the poor; condemned the proud, the vain, and the selfish; and through it all he taught people to love and help others.
“He that is greatest among you shall be your servant,” means, he who wants to be truly great will find it in the capacity of a servant. And what is a servant? One who spends his days rendering service to others. This does not mean to be their slave, it means to use the power that you have to improve the lives of others – each and every day.
Freed of its associations and looked at in the light of its right and true meaning, there is no greater word in language than “servant”; and in this context, as we shall soon see, every life that has been truly great and happy has been that of a servant, and apart from the life of a servant, no great life has ever been or ever can be lived.
Those of you who are chasing power, status, wealth and happiness by focusing on what you can get from such things are on the wrong path. Grasp this great eternal truth and apply it in your life and you will advance toward your goal much more rapidly. Focus on giving, and you will never again worry about receiving.
Are you seeking to make a name for yourself? Do you want to be remembered? Unless you grasp this mighty truth and live your life accordingly, when the great clock of time ticks on and all things come to their proper level according to their merits, as they inevitably do, you will be surprised to find our how very low your level is. Your name and memory will be forgotten long before the minute-hand has passed even a single time across the great dial; while your fellow-man who grasps this simple but necessary truth, and forgets himself in the service of others, will find himself ascending higher and higher until he stands among the few who have found peace, happiness, and satisfaction. His name and memory when his life here is finished will live in the minds and hearts of his fellow-men, as fixed and eternal as the stars.
The Universal Principle: there is no such thing as finding true happiness by searching for it directly. It must come, if it come at all, indirectly, or by the service, the love, and the happiness we give to others.
It always, without a single exception has come indirectly in this way, and it is not likely that this great eternal law is going to be changed to suit any particular case or cases. Recognize this truth, put your life into harmony with it, and reap the rewards of its observance, or fail to recognize it and pay the penalty; for the law itself will never change.
The men and women whose names we honor and celebrate are those whose lives were based primarily upon this great law. Think for a moment, if you will, of every truly great life in the world’s history, among those living and the so-called dead, and try to think of one case where a great life was not spent in the service of others, either directly, or indirectly, such as when we say—”he served his country”.
Whenever one seeks status, fame, honor, or happiness for his own personal gain, they never receive it, because seeking those things for yourself alone is proof enough that you do not deserve greatness, at least to any degree worthy of the name. It may seem to come for a time, but a great law says that such a person gets so far and no further. Sooner or later, generally sooner, there comes an end.
Human nature seems to work this way, seems to be governed by a great paradoxical law which says, a man who is self-centered, who thinks of and lives for only himself, who strives for status and honor, is unfit for such rewards.
The very fact that he places importance on such things is a sufficient indication that he is too small to receive them, and mankind refuses to grant them.
On the other hand – the person who forgets himself and makes it his chief aim in life to help, aid, and serve others, by these very actions makes it known that he is large enough and great enough to have such rewards, and his fellow-men instinctively bestow them upon him.
This is a great law which many would profit by to recognize. Proof that it’s true is proven by the fact that the praise of mankind instinctively and universally goes out to our heroes; but can you name a hero who was praised as such by doing something for himself? In all cases, heroes have done something for others.
Monuments and statues are gratefully erected to the memory of those who have helped and served their fellow-men, but never to those who have lived for themselves alone.
I have seen many monuments and statues erected to the memories of philanthropists, but I have never seen one erected to a miser; many to generous, noble-hearted men, but never one whose whole life was that of a sharp bargain-driver, and who clung with a sort of semi-idiotic grasp to all that came into his temporary possession.
I have seen many erected to statesmen, but never to mere politicians; many to true orators, but never to mere demagogues; many to soldiers and leaders, but never to men who were not willing, when necessary, to risk all in the service of their country.
No, you will find that the world’s monuments and statues have been erected and its praises and honors have gone out to those who were large and great enough to forget themselves in the service of others, who have been servants, true servants of mankind, who have been true to the great truth that we find our own lives by losing them in the service of others. Not honor for themselves, but service for others.
But notice the strange, wonderful, beautiful transformation as it returns upon itself,—honor for themselves, because of service to others.
We start our investigation of this Universal Law by studying the lives of people we know to be great. Time and time again you can study the lives of those who achieved greatness, past and present, and in each case you will find a great central principle which served as the foundation of their lives.
No person who built their life upon this principle ever failed to become great, and no person who disregarded this principle ever succeeded in doing the same.
It would be a matter of exceedingly great interest to verify the truth of what has just been said by looking at a number of people who are regarded as the world’s great sons and daughters, those who have earned life’s honors and praises in order to see why this is true; to study what makes humans label other humans as “great”.
There comes to mind the name and figure of he whose praises are sung and whose name and memory are honored and blessed by millions in all parts of the world today, and will be by millions yet unborn, the beloved Abraham Lincoln. Why is Lincoln regarded as one of the greats? One sentence of his tells us the answer.
During the famous series of public debates in Illinois with Stephen A. Douglas in 1858, speaking at Freeport, Mr. Douglas said, “I care not whether slavery in the Territories be voted up or whether it be voted down, it makes not a particle of difference with me.”
Mr. Lincoln, speaking from the fullness of his great and royal heart, said in reply, with emotion, “I am sorry to perceive that my friend Judge Douglas is so constituted that he does not feel the lash the least bit when it is laid upon another man’s back.”
Does Lincoln sound like a man thinking only of himself? Not for a moment. Did he think of others? Always. He recognized that in the slaves he had four million brothers for whom he had a service to perform. It would seem almost grotesque to use the word self-ish in connection with this great name.
Lincoln very early, while still in a humble and lowly station in life, either consciously or unconsciously grasped this great truth. He made the great underlying principle of his life to serve, to help his fellow-men. He never spent time asking what he could do to attain greatness, popularity, or power. He did not focus on what would perpetuate his name and memory. He simply asked how he could help, how he could be of service to his fellow-men, and continually did all the work he was able to do.
Abraham Lincoln simply put his life into harmony with the great principle; and by so doing put himself in favor with Life and its Creator — securing the reverence which countless men have spent their lives searching for.
Let us look at another princely soul, one who loved all the world, and one whom all the world now loves and honor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His time on Earth was not spent pursuing greatness; but rather it was spent ensuring the chains of discrimination were thrown from his fellow men.
He spent his life pursuing the inalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness – not only for himself, but for anyone shackled by the chains of discrimination. Today, men and women of all colors and creeds recognize the greatness of Reverend King. Not because he sought greatness, but because he sought a better life for his fellow man. Losing yourself in the service of others brings you the immortality that millions spend their lives trying to claim.
“Cast thy bread upon the waters, waft it on with praying breath,
In some distant, doubtful moment it may save a soul from death.
When you sleep in solemn silence, ’neath the morn and evening dew,
Stranger hands which you have strengthened may strew lilies over you.”
Our good friend, Henry Drummond, in one of his most beautiful and valuable works said that “love is the greatest thing in the world.” Have you this greatest thing? Yes. How, then, how does it manifest itself? In kindliness, in helpfulness, in service, to those around you? If so, well and good, you have it.
If not, then I suspect that what you have been calling love is something else; and you have been greatly fooled. In fact, I am sure it is; for if it does not manifest itself in this way, it cannot be true love, for this is the one grand and never-failing test. Love is the result of helpfulness and service, the former necessary to the latter, but the latter are more powerful, as action is always more powerful than potential; and, were it not for helpfulness and service, love might as well not be.
Helpfulness, kindliness, service, is but the expression of love. It is love in action; and unless love manifests itself in action, it is an indication that the love is of a weak and sickly nature that needs exercise, growth, and development so that it may grow and become strong, healthy, vigorous, and true, instead of remaining little, weak, indefinite, and sentimental something or nothing.
It was but yesterday that I heard one of the world’s greatest thinkers and speakers, one of our keenest observers of human affairs, state as his opinion that selfishness is the root of all evil. Now, if it is possible for any one thing to be the root of all evil, then I think there is a world of truth in the statement. But, leaving out of account for the present purpose whether it is true or not, it certainly is true that he who can’t get beyond self robs his life of its chief charms, and more, defeats the very ends he has in view.
It is a well-known law in the natural world about us that whatever hasn’t use, that whatever serves no purpose, shrivels up. So it is a law of our own being that he who makes himself of no use, of no service to the great body of mankind, who is concerned only with his own small self, finds that self, small as it is, growing smaller and smaller, and those finer and better and grander qualities of his nature, those that give the chief charm and happiness to life, shriveling up.
Such an one lives, keeps constant company with his own diminutive and stunted self; while he who, forgetting self, makes the object of his life service, helpfulness, and kindliness to others, finds his whole nature growing and expanding, himself becoming large-hearted, magnanimous, kind, loving, sympathetic, joyous, and happy, his life becoming rich and beautiful. For instead of his own little life alone he has entered into and has part in a hundred, a thousand, ay, in countless numbers of other lives; and every success, every joy, every happiness coming to each of these comes as such to him, for he has a part in each and all. And thus it is that one becomes a prince among men, a queen among women.
Why, one of the very fundamental principles of life is, so much love, so much love in return; so much love, so much growth; so much love, so much power; so much love, so much life,—strong, healthy, rich, exulting, and abounding life. The world is beginning to realize the fact that love, instead of being a mere indefinite something, is a vital and living force, the same as electricity is a force, though perhaps of a different nature. The same great fact we are learning in regard to thought,—that thoughts are things, thatthoughts are forces, the most vital and powerful in the universe, that they have form and substance and power, the quality of the power determined as it is by the quality of the life in whose organism the thoughts are engendered; and so, when a thought is given birth, it does not end there, but takes form, and as a force it goes out and has its effect upon other minds and lives, the effect being determined by its intensity and the quality of the prevailing emotions, and also by the emotions dominating the person at the time the thoughts are engendered and given form.
Science, while demonstrating the great facts it is to-day demonstrating in connection with the mind in its relations to and effects upon the body, is also finding from its very laboratory experiments that each particular kind of thought and emotion has its own peculiar qualities, and hence its own peculiar effects or influences; and these it is classifying with scientific accuracy. A very general classification in just a word would be—those of a higher and those of a lower nature.
Some of the chief ones among those of the lower nature are anger, hatred, jealousy, malice, rage. Their effect, especially when violent, is to emit a poisonous substance into the system, or rather, to set up a corroding influence which transforms the healthy and life-giving secretions of the body into the poisonous and the destructive. When one, for example, is dominated, even if for but a moment by a passion of anger or rage, there is set up in the system what might be justly termed a bodily thunder-storm, which has the effect of souring or corroding the normal and healthy secretions of the body and making them so that instead of life-giving they become poisonous. This, if indulged in to any extent, sooner or later induces the form of disease that this particular state of mind and emotion or passion gives birth to; and it in turn becomes chronic.
We shall ultimately find, as we are beginning to so rapidly to-day, that practically all disease has its origin in perverted mental states or emotions; that anger, hatred, fear, worry, jealousy, lust, as well as all milder forms of perverted mental states and emotions, has each its own peculiar poisoning effects and induces each its own peculiar form of disease, for all life is from within out.
Then some of the chief ones belonging to the other class—mental states and emotions of the higher nature—are love, sympathy, benevolence, kindliness, and good cheer. These are the natural and the normal; and their effect, when habitually entertained, is to stimulate a vital, healthy, bounding, purifying, and life-giving action, the exact opposite of the others; and these very forces, set into a bounding activity, will in time counteract and heal the disease-giving effects of their opposites. Their effects upon the countenance and features in inducing the highest beauty that can dwell there are also marked and all-powerful. So much, then, in regard to the effects of one’s thought forces upon the self. A word more in regard to their effects upon others.
Our prevailing thought forces determine the mental atmosphere we create around us, and all who come within its influence are affected in one way or another, according to the quality of that atmosphere; and, though they may not always get the exact thoughts, they nevertheless get the effects of the emotions dominating the originator of the thoughts, and hence the creator of this particular mental atmosphere, and the more sensitively organized the person the more sensitive he or she is to this atmosphere, even at times to getting the exact and very thoughts. So even in this the prophecy is beginning to be fulfilled,—there is nothing hid that shall not be revealed.
If the thought forces sent out by any particular life are those of hatred or jealousy or malice or fault-finding or criticism or scorn,. these same thought forces are aroused and sent back from others, so that one is affected not only by reason of the unpleasantness of having such thoughts from others, but they also in turn affect one’s own mental states, and through these his own bodily conditions, so that, so far as even the welfare of self is concerned, the indulgence in thoughts and emotions of this nature are most expensive, most detrimental, most destructive.
If, on the other hand, the thought forces sent out be those of love, of sympathy, of kindliness, of cheer and good will, these same forces are aroused and sent back, so that their pleasant, ennobling, warming, and life-giving effects one feels and is influenced by; and so again, so far even as the welfare of self is concerned, there is nothing more desirable, more valuable and life-giving. There comes from others, then, exactly what one sends to and hence calls forth from them.
And would we have all the world love us, we must first then love all the world,—merely a great scientific fact. Why is it that all people instinctively dislike and shun the little, the mean, the self-centred, the selfish, while all the world instinctively, irresistibly, loves and longs for the company of the great-hearted, the tender-hearted, the loving, the magnanimous, the sympathetic, the brave? The mere answer—because—will not satisfy. There is a deep, scientific reason for it, either this or it is not true.
Much has been said, much written, in regard to what some have been pleased to call personal magnetism, but which, as is so commonly true in cases of this kind, is even to-day but little understood. But to my mind personal magnetism in its true sense, and as distinguished from what may be termed a purely animal magnetism, is nothing more nor less than the thought forces sent out by a great-hearted, tender-hearted, magnanimous, loving, sympathetic man or woman; for, let me ask, have you ever known of any great personal magnetism in the case of the little, the mean, the vindictive, the self-centred? Never, I venture to say, but always in the case of the other.
Why, there is nothing that can stand before this wonderful transmuting power of love. So. far even as the enemy is concerned, I may not be to blame if I have an enemy; but I am to blame if I keep him as such, especially after I know of this wonderful transmuting power. Have I then an enemy, I will refuse, absolutely refuse, to recognize him as such; and instead of entertaining the thoughts of him that he entertains of me, instead of sending him like thought forces, I will send him only thoughts of love, of sympathy, of brotherly kindness, and magnanimity. But a short time it will be until he feels these, and is influenced by them. Then in addition I will watch my opportunity, and whenever I can, I will even go out of my way to do him some little kindnesses. Before these forces he cannot stand, and by and by I shall find that he who to-day is my bitterest enemy is my warmest friend and it may be my staunchest supporter. No, the wise man is he who by that wonderful alchemy of love transmutes the enemy into the friend,—transmutes the bitterest enemy into the warmest friend and supporter. Certainly this is what the Master meant when he said: “Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you and despitefully use you: thou shalt thereby be heaping coals of fire upon their heads.” Ay, thou shalt melt them: before this force they cannot stand. Thou shalt melt them, and transmute them into friends.
“You never can tell what your thoughts will do
In bringing you hate or love;
For thoughts are things, and their airy wings
Are swifter than carrier doves.
They follow the law of the universe,
Each thing must create its kind;
And they speed o’er the track to bring you back
Whatever went out from your mind.”
Yes, science to-day, at the close of this nineteenth century, in the laboratory is discovering and scientifically demonstrating the great, immutable laws upon which the inspired and illuminated ones of all ages have based all their teachings, those who by ordering their lives according to the higher laws of their being get in a moment of time, through the direct touch of inspiration, what it takes the physical investigator a whole lifetime or a series of investigators a series of lifetimes to discover and demonstrate.