Courage For Future Events
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
"I am discoursing among philosophers. . . Keep yourself strong and fit for the uses of life and initiated by being exercised in action.— Epictetus.
MAN'S ability to influence matter and mind in the present guarantees power over the so-called future, since the future is but the logical sequence of the present. This seeming common-place is like the sea for depth and vastness of suggestion.
In projecting influence upon objects and persons, both in the present and in the future, we pursue two methods:
The direct method of ordinary conduct,familiar to all;
The indirect method affecting some universal medium so that it shall continue to work out natural sequences beyond the present. Let us examine these methods in their order.
DIRECT AND INDIRECT ACTION ON THE FUTURE.
The direct method involves physical contact, the operation of conduct, the use of language, and so on. This method by manipulation of present realities—persons, objects, actions—modifies the relations of such realities and the reactions of the outcomes upon the per-son employing it. The sentence merely indicates the method of everyday life. We may compare the method to the complex activity involved in manipulating various objects and vessels floating on a sheet of water, where the now-effects would be due to present action on the part of the manipulator, and the later effects to momentum and consequent interaction taking place among the objects, and final outcome-reaction upon the person doing the work suggested. On the "sea of life," of course, these "objects" and "vessels" are material things and human beings.
The indirect method involves all the elements of the direct, but is indirect because it modifies, through this familiar influence, some universal medium under-lying all life, or pervading all life, which medium always maintains its integrity and unity, yet is capable of modifications in the present that shall continue and develop character and complexity because of the nature of the medium and the natural interaction of the movements secured within it by such modifications. We are thinking now, not alone of the surface of the human sea, but of the whole depth and body of it — which is more or less influenced by any movement taking place within or upon it. All that occurs on the surface influences in some way every part of its vastness, and the final effects are due not only to the direct action of persons and objects on our human surface, but also to ultimate sequences of interaction of all the effects and effects of effects throughout the illimitable mass — so long as the original modifications identically continue.
Two such universal, permanent and unitary existences are present to our thought: the Universal Ether, and the Infinite Life or Reality. We proceed now to consideration of these media through which we may influence the future.
1. THE ETHER AS MEDIUM FOR PSYCHIC DEMAND.
The ether of space may be regarded as the matrix of all material and living forms. "The assumption is that matter is composed, in some way, of electrons ; which again must be considered to be essentially peculiarities, or singularities, or definite structures, in the ether itself." "The ether of space is a continuous, in-compressible, stationary (relatively to the earth), fundamental substance or perfect fluid; matter is composed of modified and electrified specks, or minute structures of ether, which are amenable to mechanical as well as electrical force." The etherial matrix also bears relation to the psychic factor in living forms. " We know that matter has a psychical significance, since it can constitute brain, which links together the physical and the psychical worlds. If any one thinks that the ether, with all its massiveness and energy, has probably no psychical significance, I find myself unable to agree with him" (Lodge). "It is as true as any physical fact can be that every movement of an individual — change of attitude, gesture, or expression of countenance — must produce a corresponding change in his field (the surrounding ether), and tend to bring about in others similar movements." " So far as mental action depends upon brain structure, any changes in the latter must produce corresponding changes in the brain field, and there must be a brain field." Every activity of and among the living and psychic forms of existence affects the boundless etheric ocean, and affects its shifting present state not only directly, but also indirectly through the sequences of the direct influence. When you strike a blow, have a thought, utter a word, put forth a volition, you set in motion the universal ether, that is, induce some sort of change therein, which change can be no other than a mode of motion, and the final outcomes of such movements depend, in the matter of reach and character, upon the degree and quality of the original force employed.
Since we, the actors, remain, year after year, and continue on the changing scene (both of matter, mind and ether), we see that the subsequent etheric movements must in time react upon ourselves. This statement is evidently true on the surface of things in every-day life. We influence objects and persons, and are, therefore, correspondingly influenced ourselves by ultimate outcomes of the activities thus induced. Such a thought is perfectly familiar. But the ongoing and interacting movements, coming about by our own action and that of others, react upon us when we arrive into their midst, for good or for ill, in a similar way.
All influences which we inaugurate and the out-comes of which react upon us, have their origin in the present. Speaking generally, future etheric reaction upon us is what present etheric action determines.
This proposition is so true that we may formulate practical demands on the future, in rational confidence, by so thinking now and so acting now as to insure logical coming sequences which shall react upon us in a general way very much as we desire — and more and more, if we develop ability, as we particularly desire. We proceed, then, to an analysis of psychic demand.
FIRST ANALYSIS OF PSYCHIC DEMAND: General Factors. Psychic demand may be analyzed into the factors of thought and action. In other words, it is ours to influence the future for good and welfare as follows:
(a) By demand-thought which claims now-welfare more and more to realize in the future;
(b) By such appropriate present activity, incessantly held, incessantly improving, as shall continuously create "channels" or "wires" along which the etheric outcomes may realize in the desired responses to demands.
Observe! This realization or fulfilment of demand is more than outcome of practical ability or activity. The practical activity is indispensable, but the psychic demand is itself a compelling force which multiplies the efficiency of activity many fold. Nevertheless, the demand-responses can only come to you as you create "channels," or erect "wires," for their arrival, by activity of the best and completest character possible in your case.
You cannot sit at ease and indolently wish good fortune with any assurance of influencing the universal medium of stellar spaces. On the other hand, scattering and non-energetic activity has no power to stir the depths of the ether-world-sea and institute movements therein that shall hold on through the years and react in due time upon you according to your wish. The thought must be intelligent and concentrated, and the activity must be consistent, unwearied and confident. But if your thinking and your acting harmonize and represent intelligence and concentration, consistency and unwearied confidence, it is law that you may expect fulfilment in welfare and goods of this two-fold demand which you thus set up and maintain — according to the influencing power of your personality at any stage of your life. You cannot get out of a machine more than its nature makes possible, though you can always get out of any machine less than its nature makes possible. You have probably been getting out of your-self, the greatest machine, as man, less than your personality provides for. Moreover, you are a ma-chine of life and psychic factor, capable of development indefinitely. Hence the encouragement that the limits of your ability to influence the future by psychic demand have probably never been reached, and that you may so improve the psychic and physical elements of your personality now, always now, that these limits may extend, more and more, through all the years of your career.
SECOND ANALYSIS OF PSYCHIC DEMAND : Particular Qualities. Psychic demand requires further definition by way both of inclusion and of exclusion. Let us observe:
1. Psychic demand must not be vague and in-definite. In fact, there is no true demand if the objects of demand are unclear, kaleidoscopic and confused in thought.
(z) Psychic demand must be clear and definite. Your thought should embrace precisely what you want and why and (approximately) when you want it.
Substitute (z) for 1.
2. Psychic demand must not be negative: doubtful, associated with uncertainty of desire, modified by questions, such as, " Is it best?" " Is it right?" and the like.
(y) Psychic demand must be positive: emphatic, believing, self-satisfying, self-filling, unmodified by any consideration whatever.
Substitute (y) f r 2.
3. Psychic demand must not be alternative: carrying the double intention of a first choice "if passible," but a second choice "if the first fails." The idea, of failure is foreign to psychic demand. Such a demand violates (y) and is a mere wish.
(x) Psychic demand must be exclusive, at the time, of every alternative. Moreover, the demand should never be, "This or nothing," because "nothing" needs no demanding. Let the demand always be, "This definite thing!"
Substitute (x) for 3.
4. Psychic demand must not be composed of variables and mixtures. One can demand one thing to-day, forget it to-morrow, and another thing then. This sort of thinking merely constructs a chain of wishes, the chain being no stronger than its weakest element. And one can wish many things all at once, and thus construct a mere fagot of mind-stuff, lacking in continuity, self-convincing power, and so "pulsating" all sorts of impulses into the ether, none of which is effective.
(w) Psychic demand should refer to one definite thing at once a time, and should call for that with the entire power of the self. Do not permit your demands to "cross" one another, nor to coalesce, nor to become "tangled up." Of course one may demand many things, taking the matter by and large, but this should mean simply that you concentrate on one of the desires at a time while demanding that, then passing on to another, and so on.
Substitute (w) for 4.
5. Psychic demand must not be unreasonable. What the unreasonable is with any person must be intuited by that person in the process of psychic growth and practical experience interpreted by good sense. As the self unfolds, and as practical affairs bring common sense to bear "upon the desires, the reasonable demand will appear as a conviction, " This is for me to claim."
(v) Psychic demand must be courageous in interpreting the reasonable. The reasonable is not merely your present notion of unfitness or inability to bring the desire to pass. Here is the point where courage must be assumed and maintained. It will be well, when a desire seems unreasonable for your life, to look around you and ask the questions: "Other people seem to possess goods and welfare of certain kinds and degrees; why should not I? Why are such benefits unreasonable for me when others have them?" There is surely enough for all; therefore, these things are perfectly reasonable as objects of your demand.
Substitute (v) for 5.
6. Psychic demand must not be irrational in the nature of things. You cannot rationally demand what your conduct naturally makes impossible. You can-not rationally demand, say, all-round business ability in ten days. And so on. It will not do to imagine that we can do anything we like with the laws of the Universe, as it does not do to reduce life to mere material grind in harmony with man-made laws. Yourself is power, but all power manifests through harmony with the nature of things.
(u) Psychic demand must be rationally based on the elements, Nature, time, space, growth, power of self, and human relation. Psychic demand properly relates you to the Universal System and its contents and laws. True demand will not seek to violate real natural law, to ignore time, to act regardless of space, to expect results independently of personal growth, nor to leap beyond the present power of self (nor deny future power as possible merely because of lack of present power), nor to contradict relations which necessarily obtain among human beings.
Substitute (u) for 6.
7. Psychic demand must not be made in mere mental statements - must not be confined to propositions of the intellect. People often assume that if they mentally speak a demand, in the top of the head, as it were, they have made a psychic demand. And because results do not follow as wished, efforts are discontinued in disbelief. We have here a case of manipulation of telegraphic keys with no electric current in connection. There is really no power in such mental propositions. It is at this point, for one thing, that the whole subject of demand is misunderstood. One interprets words in terms of one's own thought; if that thought has no room for the very idea of psychic demand, the statements made in relation to it are conceived in terms of the person's present understanding: that is, misconceived. It is common experience that we live with propositions for years, putting our own interpretation upon them, and finally, in some moment of inspiration, suddenly discover a new meaning which now seems as plain as anything could possibly be that is, discover that what we have supposed we under-stood we did not understand at all. Precisely so with psychic demand. The power is one which must be acquired through psychic understanding of the law and reality of demand itself. When such understanding comes about, you will see that there is no demand-power in mere mental propositions concerning goods or welfare.
(t) Psychic demand is a subconscious affair: begun in the ordinary conscious thinking, put there into words, but then projected into the deeper "within" by an effort to feel the thought no less than to think it, and to believe for results, so that in time the demand becomes an assured conviction influencing all the per-sonal contemporaneous life.
Substitute (t) for 7.
To summarize the analysis, we see that psychic demand is (with consistent, unwearied and confident action) intelligent and concentrated thought-claim (for goods and welfare) which is clear, definite, positive, exclusive, single, reasonable, courageous, rational, a matter of conviction, and subconsciously maintained. Such a demand might be formulated, for example, as follows:
"I demand (name the thing desired clearly and distinctly), singly, exclusively, without alternative or doubt, and I emphatically expect the fulfilment of this demand within such a time because I am living for it, because it is surely for me, and because my best life requires precisely that."
II. THE INFINITE REALITY AS MEDIUM FOR PSYCHIC DEMAND.
Science assumes the existence of the universal ether as a ground for the explanation of matter and various natural forces. The doctrines of the conservation of energy and the correlation of force involve such a medium. There is a sum-total of physical energy in our Universe which holds on, under innumerable forms or manifestations, from eon to eon of its history, and the "deepest" medium in which such energy "abides" is the ether that reveals in heat, light, electricity, and so on. This energy reveals in force, and hence exhibition of force is result of transformation merely, never is a new-creation, in the form of energy's expression. Every display of physical force is but a manifestation of etheric conditions.
Similarly, seeking a ground for explanation of ether, matter, force, life, mind, we assume the existence of one Infinite and Eternal Reality. This is the Central Energy, the Universal Source of force, whose Thoughts are Universes and their contents, Nature, the human self, and other supposable beings. " In Him we live and move and have our being."
In practical life we always appeal to — make demands on — this Infinite Reality: in farming, by sowing, planting, cultivating; in invention, by investigating, molding matter, combining parts, adjusting forms, observing laws; and so on. Here we see that thought and action constitute the common phases of psychic demand on the Infinite Reality.
Now and then an individual has arisen who has passed beyond common human venture and made the most extraordinary demands on this august Universal Medium. By psychic demand Joseph frustrated his brothers and became lord of Egypt. By psychic demand Abram acquired greatness of soul and founded a deathless race. By psychic demand Moses received the great fundamentals of religion. By psychic demand Plato uncovered the divine "Ideas" and Jesus deified the human as the goal of evolution. By psychic demand Phidias coerced the beauty of Venus to live in marble and Raphael fixed upon canvas the world's ideal of Motherhood. By psychic demand Shakespeare achieved the impossible in the mind of a poacher and held the mirror of Nature up to the astonished soul of man. By psychic demand was Art created, Music discovered, Industry fashioned, Government builded, Religion brought forth, Wealth accumulated, Progress conceived, Power seized, Civilization unfolded.
By psychic demand the animal came to be man, and man followed on to conscious self, and conscious self realized in mind, and mind arrived at lordship over all. The Infinite has forced nothing upon man, yet all that man has achieved has the Infinite vouchsafed to human demand — to common toil and to psychic faith. This is not because the Infinite has arbitrarily given or withholden. It is because the Infinite Reality is the Infinite Medium for human expression, and is in such relation to the human, as underlying Ground of all existences, that the right psychic demand of man as truly calls to his aid the Infinite Reality itself as the right psychic demand calls to his aid the universal ether. We do not assume that science utilizes the etheric medium by guesswork, nor that, when its adjustments are made, the outcomes depend upon arbitrary caprice lurking somewhere in the Universe. The outcomes are matters of law. Similarly, utilization of the Infinite Reality, because of its established relation to man as Ground and Source of all things, need be no affair of guessing on our part. When right adjustments are made, the outcomes here also are surely subjects of immutable law.