Possible Evolution Of An Individual
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
What am I?
What am I capable of becoming?
From the strong and restless cravings of the animal spirit, all along the line of human development to the deep and rational meditation of the cultured, masterful soul, these questions spring with a constantly increasing in-tensity of earnestness, sincerity, appreciation, aspiration. The fear and anxiety of the individual tossed on the wild seas of passion may have given place to the calmness of experience and the assurance that only good can come to the one who knows the Laws and complies therewith; nevertheless, the questions remain and they are not answered in their fullness, even by the wisest of earth.
These questionings are necessary to turn one from the gratification of desire to the definite seeking of good. The individual who has passed from childlike innocence to any maturity of wisdom knows that he is capable of evil. He shrinks from what he might. possibly become. He knows that unrestrained indulgence of desire would be destructive.
To abstain from the gratification of desire frequently seems like self-denial. If the gratification would have been harmful, this is but a temporary misapprehension. How easy it is to state, and how difficult it is always to see and to believe, that no good can come from evil !
There is a Constructive Principle within the very heart of man. If he could always detect this Constructive Principle and conform his life thereto, there would be no such thing as self-denial. On the contrary, every step onward and upward would be toward self-realization.
The nature of an individual !
The possible evolution of an individual !
Are there any grander, more inspiring, more profitable topics to discuss? Such discussion is personal; it is practical; it is vitally important.
What am I? What am I capable of becoming? These questions are worthy of a rational, intelligent human being. Even their definite formulation as specific personal problems demonstrates his endowment of Intelligence and Reason. Their solutions furnish an index of the degree of his Intelligence and the quality of his Reason.
If these questions do not arise in the mind as definite inquiries, it would seem to be evident that the individual has not become aware of his nature, his possibilities, his privileges.
This awareness may come very slowly and after many years. But, whenever it comes, it marks an epoch in the individual life. It is a distinct advance in self-consciousness. It is an awakening to direct perception of realities. It is a definite seeking of the most valuable knowledge. It is the beginning of great experiences.
How many plan and deliberately determine to increase their knowledge of themselves and to develop their powers? How many grasp life's opportunity? How many realize their highest possibilities ? How many work for self-realization as ardently as they would for any other good thing?
To those who have discovered something- of life's meaning, to those who have conquered ignorance and passion to some extent, to those who have attained a measure of equipoise and calm, more knowledge and inspiration will be given in due course.
Nature's reward is amply satisfying with each step traversed on the road onward and upward. The steady advance of the evolutionary forces marks the highest attainments thus far made by man. All the powers of life and light are at the service of the intelligent, purposeful, courageous individual, for yet greater achievements. The attainments of long centuries may now be appropriated in a few years of earnest study, and while life is still fresh and buoyant, a strong soul may grasp the necessary elements for gaining heights above all past standards of human aspiration.
The intelligent soul may mount on the prayers and hopes, the strength and courage, the aspirations and attainments, of millions of the noblest heroes who have used the planet heretofore. All who have lived to some good end have served the present generation. It is our duty and privilege to use our inheritance with lofty devotion and heroic determination.
He who would explore the realities of the universe may well begin with himself. What other men have been, he is in potentiality. Learning them, he knows himself. Knowing himself, he knows them if he follows the same course of exploration in himself which they followed. Thus, in proportion as a man knows himself he knows others.
But, practically, it is a matter of profound wonderment and pity that so few really know themselves, and yet how wise they think they are about other people. The tyro professes to be thoroughly familiar with human nature. To the earnest student after years of study within and with-out, his knowledge seems but a dim candle casting a faint gleam into unknown depths.
Some knowledge of one's own faculties, capacities and powers evidently precedes correct and adequate knowledge of the environment. For these faculties, capacities and powers are the tools with which we work, and it is evident that the results depend somewhat upon the tools, but more upon the facility with which they are used, and much more upon the intelligence which directs their use.
The factors of success in the use of our natural endowment seem to be:
2. Knowledge of the Environment.
4. Control of the Environment.
And the specific endowment of faculties, capacities and powers which are distinctively human and which are not found in any other organism are :
The basis for the evolution of an individual soul is its constitution, or natural endowment. The degree of success in this evolution depends upon the intelligent cooperation of the individual in securing and assimilating the culture and power indicated by the Four Factors of Table R.
THE CONSTITUTION OF THE SOUL.
"Animals possess and manifest Consciousness but no particular Self-Consciousness. Consciousness is that faculty or capacity of the individual intelligence, ego, soul, or entity, by and through which it becomes aware of a world outside itself as well as a world of demands within. Through this faculty or capacity, the appetites, passions, desires, impulses, affections, emotions, instincts and intuitions make their impression upon the individual entity and command recognition. Through this faculty or capacity the physical senses convey their messages to the entity itself and have them recorded."
"Self-consciousness is that character, degree or quality of consciousness which enables man to know and to under-stand himself. It is that which enables us to perform our acts knowingly and intentionally."
—The Great Psychological Crime, page 317.
The Stoics and others regarded the soul as a blank page which experience gradually filled with character and meaning. Consciousness is the name of that remarkable capacity of this blank page which enables experience to make any record.
At first the Consciousness may seem merely like a mirror in that it reflects objects within the radius of its inherent power. But Life gradually charges this mirror with feeling which is instinct with intelligence. The child's eyes as mechanisms are perfect long before the mind is developed to understand the significance of what it sees. The child learns to watch the reflections in the mirror. In other words, the child reflects upon what it sees and the feelings created within, its desires, dislikes, etc., and thus its education proceeds.
The process of education of the ego begins with perceptions. The intelligence employs the materials. thus gathered for reflection, and the result is knowledge, more or less accurate or complete. Knowledge of one's own capacities and powers is essential to the intelligent and well-directed acquisition of other knowledge. The two chief tools for this work are Consciousness and Will.
2. WILL, OR VOLITION.
"Animal volition is the semi-automatic obedience to appetites, passions, affections, emotions, desires and instincts." Human will is that ability which is used to control self or the environment. The power to act is the Will. Volition is the will in action.
The passive qualily of Consciousness may be so energized by the Will as to become positive attention, or Consciousness focalized. Thus the power of Thought is produced and developed. Reason is the highest form of this power.
Will is the index of personal power, but it is important to distinguish between obstinacy and firmness. Obstinacy proceeds from a nature which is determined to have its own way whether right or wrong. Firmness proceeds from an intelligent discrimination and a conviction of right or wrong.
Reason is the power to perceive the relations of things, facts, or thoughts. Reason is the power of analysis and synthesis. Reason is the right activity of the intellect. Reason is the use of intelligence and knowledge; or, the endeavor to apply them.
4. INDEPENDENT CHOICE.
The power of individual choice in the animal is so nearly a reflex of the physical appetites, passions, emotions, desires and instincts that it apparently does not possess the element of independence to a very large extent. The animal is controlled by its feelings and desires.
Man has the power to differentiate between his animal feelings and his own best interests. The degree of his power of individual choice is the register of his human development over the animal and of his attainment of an ethical nature.
The right of Independent Choice is sacred. Hypnotism, mesmerism and mediumship are great evils because they interfere with the ability of the individual to exercise this sacred right and inherent responsibility.
No person has any right to change another person's belief or influence his conduct through hypnotic or other compulsory means. That the hypnotist thinks he is right and his subject wrong makes no difference with the ethical status of the crime. This method of making converts to an idea ranks with the methods of sword and fire.
Conscience is the endeavor to discern the difference between right and wrong conduct. The development of Con-science indicates the moral capacity of the individual. Conscientiousness is the healthful activity of the Conscience.
Conscientiousness is the constructive moral principle in human nature.
The sense of honor also indicates the healthfulness of the Conscience. Conscientiousness is characteristic of a truly awakened soul. Conscientiousness is the foundation of moral character and character building.
Conscientiousness depends upon . Self-Consciousness, Intelligence, Moral Capacity and a realization of Personal Responsibility. It denotes an individual who appreciates his own character and possibilities. Laws, policemen, courts and punishments are not needed for the individuals who appreciate their own capacities, powers, possibilities and destinies.
A man's present and future states (of mind) are deter-mined by his obedience to his Conscience. Even dense ignorance will be outgrown where there is genuine devotion to what is considered true and right. In other words, the Conscience is a power to uplift in every realm and undertaking.
Faith is intuitive perception of, and confidence in, higher attainments by means and methods included in nature's evolutionary plan for the race.
Faith is not belief in the unseen and unknown; that is rather Credulity.
Faith is not Credulity. Faith requires conscientious and earnest striving to know the Truth. Faith consists as much in the rejection of that which seems false as in the acceptance of that which seems true.
"What is Truth ?" Each soul must find out. Each soul must assume the responsibility for every decision, even for negative and weak attempts to avoid decision. Faith imparts complete rest and confidence that no permanent harm can come when a Knowledge of Truth is earnestly desired and sought.
Hope is desire for, and anticipation of, that which Rea-son and Conscience approve. Without enthusiastic Hope no great or good thing could be accomplished. Intelligent Hope is based upon some knowledge of the law of cause and effect in each case and upon constructive efforts.
Both Faith and Hope are moral elements and are constructive in their natures.
Love is not desire for the gratification of oneself. Love is the unselfish desire to give, to benefit, to assist.
Love is the highest activity of the soul. Love is the natural relationship of harmonious souls. Love is the normal response to that which is good and beautiful in people and in nature. A normal man or woman will inevitably admire everything good and beautiful.
INNATE POWERS OF THE INDIVIDUAL.
There are many ways of analyzing the personality. The method obtained by regarding the individual as a combination of potentialities is certainly inspiring.
We have the natural productive energies of human souls. We have embryonic powers capable of coming into full being and manifestation. We have capacities for exercising particular kinds of force. We have capabilities for accomplishing certain definite results. We are embodiments of dynamics.
Some of these characteristic activities may be manifested, controlled or modified by themselves individually. Some potentialities are managed by others or by the combination. All the capacities and powers which are within our own control and which are subject to our own desires and cultivation compose the true being, the entity, the soul.
An analysis of the essential entity of every intelligent human being discloses among others the following inherent potentialities :
We study what "Potentiality" means and we find that it is the state of being potential, the inherent capability of developing some actual state or quality. The POTENTIAL ENERGY of great thoughts, great deeds, great accomplishments, resides within us. The mere suggestion of the POTENTIAL EXISTENCE of faculties and capacities awakens our attention. The evident fact of a PREPAREDNESS for higher, greater and better things than are now realized, arouses one to action. We say, Who knows what it may be possible for me to accomplish ?
The discovery of the nature of man and his true line of development in order to realize his own inherent potentialities and possibilities, is the basis for correct conduct. What principle of life and action can be more correct than that which enables man to realize himself, to know what nature has made him capable of becoming?
It is not necessary to prove that there is a purpose in nature if it is discerned that in every normal man and woman there are high potencies and great possibilities which can be realized by a system of conduct equally applicable to all. But those who think they discern a purpose and call it "the will of God," are entitled to their interpretation.
The possible development of an individual is unlimited and incalculable. Every intelligent person should en-courage great aspirations. Ambitions should be governed and controlled, but aspirations are the soul's inherent potentialities coming to consciousness. Aspirations are the soul's yearnings for its own growth, free life, and highest attainments. Attainments depend upon effort.
The incentive to effort is found in the depths of human nature—the longing for happiness. The methods of growth are found in the use and discipline of the capacities, faculties and powers. The means of growth are found in the object lessons furnished by nature and in all the past and present institutions, arts; sciences, philosophies and religions. The law Of growth is the attraction or repulsion of the elements thus furnished. The test of healthfulness is a certain sincerity and genuineness in the grand work of self-development and helpfulness to others.
The personal knowledge of the individual and his application of it determine the nature of his development. His discernment of the greatness of life's opportunities deter-mines the intensity of his love for Truth and Right. The cheerful assumption of personal responsibility and the willing cooperation with nature's evolutionary, progressive impulse, determine the rate and quality of attainment.
Every individual is compelled to start where he is when his consciousness awakens. No individual should waste time in regrets but consent to heredity, environment and general conditions as unchangeable for the past and providing the one ground where he is compelled to fight his battle. Hegel says,—"I am at once the combatants and the conflict and the field that is torn with the strife." We cannot transfer the struggle to any more favorable situation. We must grow our own way out.
The education and discipline of all the powers constitute the true occupation of life. The clearer the realization of the opportunities offered, the more definite and decided will be the progress. Every normal individual has sufficient impulse to action in the joy of labor and the hope of results. Natural labor is the free use of our strongest and highest faculties. Such harmonious exercise is in itself a joy.
Nature is now revealed as an overshadowing power, intelligent in operation and beneficent in offered possibilities. Every individual is allowed to make his own analysis and his own synthesis and to live his own life. There is no instrument which can measure the dynamics of an Idea or an Ideal.
Only just such conditions as are provided could develop rational and moral human beings. When we become intelligent concerning our own power to triumph over every difficulty we will rejoice in the present possibilities. There is ample reward in every honest, earnest effort.
Life is full of glorious opportunities. Happiness is the normal state. We have not all reached it but we can if our courage fail not.