Conclusion - The Symmetrical Existence
( Originally Published 1907 )
OUR labors are now nearly concluded. Hence forth it only remains to carry out in daily life the ideas of the preceding pages. The book is not a treatise; it seeks to be a teacher, and thus leaves much to the intelligence of the reader. If it prove suggestive and lead to practical efforts for culture of the Will, the devotion of the long period required for its mastery will surely be justified.
As M. Guizot said to his class in lecturing on the " History of Civilization":
" The good fortune to have all the faculties called into action, so as to ensure a full and free development of the various powers both of mind and body, is an ad-vantage not too dearly paid for by the labor and pain with which it is attended."
It is hoped that the following are among the results achieved:
The fundamentals of the mental constitution have been more fully disclosed.
The reader has been introduced to his own centre of power, the Will, and has perceived some of the tests and secrets of success in life.
A neglected fact has been made plain, that the Will may be cured when defective, and thus trained and developed.
Recognition of the reader's self has been aroused — as a psychic power possessed of two psychic instruments, body and mind.
Certain more specific results follow these considerations :
First. The body and the senses are better under-stood and controlled.
Life demands clear soul-windows.
Correct hearing allies with genius.
In the sense of smell the chemistry of instinct pre-pares for intelligent mastery.
The sense of taste foreruns the discriminations of a purposeful art.
The sense of touch advance-guards the soul's progress.
The nervous values of existence are measured by the degree of restraint imposed upon the nerve-system. The hands should be the great art-servants of the mind.
Nerves and muscles act rightly together as they are mastered by determined intelligence.
The Will enjoins health; and its power depends upon the amount of order obtaining within its kingdom.
The labor which involves these discoveries originates indomitable Will-power.
Second. The mind has become a new kingdom, surveyed and given government.
The mind that can master attention, achieves.
The gift of reading depends for value upon the focusing Will.
The attribute of thought is kingly according to the degree of concentrated personality behind it.
Masterful personality anticipates the future as its memory realizes the past.
The pioneer of life, which is the imagination, makes or destroys by as much as personality has willed moral or immoral purpose.
Willed moral purpose has absolute power over all habituated action.
Man's relations with his fellows is rightly masterful if the reasonable Will is dominant.
The ability to converse with the voiceless crowd, any ordinary audience, is not a gift nor a trick, but is an ex-tension of usual communication by the magnetic personality laboriously acquired.
The subtle secret of true magnetism is a mighty Will morally determined.
The Personal Atmosphere is a vibrant centre to be given moral quality by high-purposed Will.
The child may become the supreme benefactor of the man.
The labor which involves these discoveries originates self-conscious and indomitable power of Will.
Third. A deathless interest in such and further important discoveries appears.
Interest awakened in self hitherto largely unknown.
A wonderful domain has opened, causing astonishment that it should have been so long neglected.
Do educated people know themselves? Literature and schools abundant ! Meanwhile, the psychic self pores and bores, unmindful and uninstructed that it is psychic or has a power of Will, and that this is given to be grown, and nurtured, and trained for ultimate destiny.
Nowhere, today, probably, exists a college or university wherein the individual shall study and master himself to a degree, before engaging in the smaller con-quest of infinite worlds.
But what history so valuable as that of a man's own growing soul?
What science so imperative as that of a man's own bones, nerves, muscles, limbs, organs, senses, functions?
What psychology so important to know as your own?
What power so needful to understand as the electric nerve-force, the secreting and expanding dynamics of thought, the sovereign energy of Will?
Discovery of the value of systematic labor in the fundamental fields of self for its own improvement.
Is it not largely true that prevailing educational methods set minds at work upon tasks concerning ten thousand matters, more or less remotely related to the growth of mind, rather than upon matters in the mind directly related to these multitudinous facts, so-called?
It is like trying to improve a machine by working it on inconceivable miscellanies of tasks, when reason would suggest the definite understanding and improvement of the mechanism preparatory to its adapted work.
Man's education should first concern his own fundamental powers and possibilities.
This requires more than one régime with every department of his constitution.
The value, therefore, of systematic labor on as well as with the senses and the various mental powers can-not be overestimated.
This value should be directly and deliberately sought in the man's self, not merely in an universe, the worth of which, to him, depends wholly upon what he knows and masters of himself.
The universe, as a field of endeavor, reacts upon the individual, to be sure. But the true goal is to get the man to react rightly upon the universe. This requires self-development, sought by direct methods, as well as by the roundabout methods of objective analysis and attack.
The direct and conscious development of Will, under-stood as within, as the man's master or his servant, as his maker or his destroyer.
If this book has been worked into the student, he has emerged from its pages a joyous, conquering Will; — a masterful personality. He ought now to decide with the prompt and compelling power of a rifle-shot. He ought now to " brake his wheels " with divine authority. He ought now to persist and sleuth-hound his purposes with the tenacity of nature's laws.
He will not have transcended his original endowments, but his true possibilities will certainly have come to the fore. That is his whole measure of responsibility and success.
If he has become self-reliant — a man who can stand alone or go alone, as his real interest may demand, he has achieved the Mood of the gods, confidence in his own throne and dominion.
The book has undoubtedly suggested many possible exercises not found in its pages. This is a value; it implies power in the reader. All such suggestions should be tried, tested, and, if practicable and useful, adopted, for temporary purposes or for permanent régime.
Some additional chapters might have been written, as, for example, on the relation of the Will to knowledge, the place of Will in belief, the Will and the beautiful. But such chapters would prove afield of the end in view — a great Will. All exercises given tend to this end. Only in a secondary manner, probably, would practice in willing for belief or the cultivation of taste have so resulted.
It is a commonplace, however, that knowledge, in itself and as to its kind, demands willed purpose and willed selection ; that right beliefs are legitimately within the province of a healthy and determined Will, in the way of forcing honest investigation and true methods, etc. ; and that intelligent Will has much to do with the appropriation of art and the beautiful in general.
Will may determine aesthetics, either for a high or a low type, either for a, purpose or an influence that is essentially moral or morally indifferent. Transform an artist's or a people's moral character, and note the function of Will in the elevation of art.
A final prime result should now be perceived:
Fourth. The goal of the Symmetrical Life. Let us observe :
The Symmetrical Existence is the ultimate of the perfected Will.
Man is a kind of personality. Personality is body plus sensation plus consciousness plus sensibilities plus intellect plus reason plus conscience plus moral judgment plus spiritual states plus environment plus Will.
These facts outline for us the following synopsis:
I. Every human possesses: —
Physical life : Body, organs, muscles, nerves, functions ;
Mental life: Consciousness, sense-perception, sensibilities, memory, imagination, reason, intuitions, Will, consciousness ;
Moral life: Conscience, spiritual states, and perceptions, faith, affections, hope.
II> Every human acquires: —
Development or improvement ;
Consciousness of the same ;
Enjoyment or suffering from the same.
III. Every human works with: Heredity; Environment.
IV. Every human unfolds:
Hence, there are to be noted the Symmetrical and the Unsymmetrical Existences.
Examine these in the reverse order.
FIRST, THE UNSYMMETRICAL LIFE
The Unsymmetrical Life is always individual, not typical. In other words, it is more or less blame worthy.
I. It is burdened with defects of POSSESSION,-- cur-able, incurable.
1. Of the Physical life. The incurable must be borne by Will. The curable must by Will be sought out and eliminated.
Examination: Put yourself under the most rigid scrutiny as to curable defects,
Of body; examples — stoop-shoulders, toe-in, etc.;
Of senses ; examples — near-sightedness, dull hearing, etc. ;
Of organs ; examples — indigestion, weak lungs, etc.;
Of muscles ; examples flabby, unequally developed, etc. ;
Of nerves ; examples — weak, "touchy," etc. ;
Of functions ; example — slow hearing due to dull mind.
Resolve to cure all these defects! Begin the work now, desperately, with a high hand.
2. Of the Mental life. The incurable should be reluctantly recognized, then made the most of by indomitable Will. The curable must immediately be discovered.
Examination: As before, rigidly cross-examine the mind for these curable defects,
Of perception ; example scant and slow observation;
Of consciousness; examples — vague, confused, not studied ;
Of the sensibilities; examples -- unfeeling, too humorous;
Of memory; examples — for names, faces, dates ; Of imagination; examples — with past experiences, with future contingencies;
Of reason; example — hasty judgments;
Of Will ; example indecision;
Of " intuitions ",; example — personal antipathies.
Of the Moral life. The incurable should never be admitted. The moral always involves the Will. All defects, therefore, are curable. The Will must set about the task with the desperation of life battling against death.
Examination: Here, particularly, search out unceasingly, in body and mind, minutest defects, Of conscience ; example — in trade details ;
Of spiritual states and perceptions ; examples — in-difference to human interests or to Deity, imperfect ideas as to right and wrong in conduct;
Of belief and faith; examples —inadequate consideration of evidence, willful persistence in belief or disbelief in spite of alleged evidence; lack of confidence in an overruling Power;
Of the affections ; examples little thought as to the Golden Rule, ill will freely entertained;
Of hope ; examples indifference to moral consequences, mental lethargy as to a future existence.
II. The Unsymmetrical Life represents, further, wrong.
If the Will is right, what has been evilly acquired can be eliminated. If the Will is not right, it must be trained and developed. All acquired defects are cur-able. It is, first, a question of desire, and secondly a matter of Will.
Examination: Search every field of personality with minutest scrutiny for acquired defects. You enjoy them, it may be, and are not willing to perceive them. Look, hence, with the eyes of other people. Pass under honest review,
Each factor of the body which is under the control of Will;
Every department of the mind for inequalities and wrong habits ;
The moral nature, for wrong beliefs, dispositions, tendencies, etc. ;
The whole sphere of self-control, for indifference and acknowledged weakness, for vagaries and want of practical tone and balance;
Erroneous and misleading "intuitions or notions ;
Consciousness of abilities and growth, for lack of same, for undue recognition of, for inadequate appreciation of self ;
Enjoyment derived from such consciousness, for selfishness and the threat of sloth or arrogant pride;
Suffering caused by consciousness of defects, for reasonableness and relation to improvement;
Antipathies as to persons and things, groundless and uncontrolled.
III. The Unsymmetrical Life involves defects of HEREDITY and ENVIRONMENT.
Of Heredity. The incurable must be borne by Will, and may often be utilized for self-benefit. Example : the blind develop extraordinary acuteness in the other senses. The curable may be brought to light with proper labor and care. They are handicaps,
Of body ; examples consumptive tendencies, left handedness;
Of mind ; examples peculiar habits and traits which indicate abnormality;
Of morals ; example natural sharp bent in money matters.
Of Environment. The incurable must be made means for personal welfare in spite of their existence. This can be done only by the indomitable Will. The curable must be cautiously handled when discovered.
Examination: Be fair as to defects of family, of house, of neighborhood, of town, of society, of church, of climate, of state.
Four questions here appear :
How can you contribute to the reform of these environments?
How can you best adjust yourself to them, after such contribution?
How can you best secure different environments? How can you make the most of your environments which cannot be reformed or changed?
IV. The Unsymmetrical Life stands for wrong UNFOLDMENTS.
Your character is what you have made yourself. Of this, conduct is the truest expression. This book has had in view the growth of a power with which alone character can put forth right conduct and develop by its expression. Whatever you are, aside from incur-able heredity, is due to your use of the Will. If character is weak, wrong, etc., it is because, with your original make-up, you have permitted it to become or re-main so. Your standard is not some abstract ideal, but it is just this first nature and what you can make of it under all the circumstances of your life. Hence, all defects of character and conduct are curable.
Orison Swett Marden remarks suggestively "How many of us rank high in most respects, but our average is cut down very low by some contemptible weakness or some vicious habit. How easy it is to forget that the strength of the chain lies in its weakest, not the strongest link; that a small leak will sink a ship as surely as a large one, it being only a question of time."
IN THE SECOND PLACE, THE SYMMETRICAL LIFE.
The Symmetrical Life is, now, with the Unsymmetrical, always individual, not typical. In other words, the ideal is relative rather than absolute. With divisions as before, observe : —
I. AS to POSSESSIONS.
I. Here the possessions of the Physical Life require,-
That all the laws of health shall be obeyed; That intelligent exercise shall be carried on;
That a rational control of the body shall be maintained;
That all defects shall be remedied as far as possible; That a noble use of all powers shall characterize all movements.
2. The possessions of the Mental Life require, That all powers shall be cultivated for their own sake;
That they shall be coordinated in the best possible manner;
That the reason shall dominate ;
That the Will shall be conscious, intelligent and strong, yet judicious in exercise;
That the whole mind shall be rightly related to the surrounding life;
That life's abilities shall be enjoyed for the highest personal welfare ;
And that the mind shall always be open to the truth, and nothing but the truth,
3. The possessions of the Moral Life require, That the conscience shall be enlightened, quick and healthy;
That its dictates shall always be obeyed;
That it shall be nourished by the highest thought and action ;
That spiritual states shall be taught, classified, intensified and used;
That belief and faith shall be founded in reason, developed by search for light and encouraged by right relations with, and reliance on, appropriate objects;
That the affections shall follow, carefully, intelligently and persistently the Golden Rule and the sublimest axioms of religion ;
That hope shall be quickened by sensitive apprehension of moral qualities in things, ideas and actions, and rationally based in the nature of things as reverentially studied and ethically understood.
II. AS to ACQUISITIONS.
The acquisitions of the Symmetrical Life require, That defects shall be discovered and immediately eliminated ;
That every power of mind and body shall be assiduously developed ;
That every faculty of the entire self shall be con-trolled by supreme Will according to the dictates of morality and reason ;
That antipathies shall be banished if possible, and always regulated ;
That consciousness shall embrace the sum total of acquirements in order to best use, and be enjoyed, not merely in appreciation of the present, but as well in expectation of greater developments to come;
That " intuitions " shall be disciplined by sound common sense.
III. As to HEREDITY.
In the Symmetrical Life, heredity, if favorable, is to be utilized to the utmost; if unfavorable, overcome,
IV. AS to ENVIRONMENT.
In the Symmetrical Life, environment, if indifferent to progress, is to be dominated by positive qualities; if hostile, is to be conquered, or reformed, or given up for better; if favorable, is to be taken with all advantages, not to be permitted mastery, which is always the tendency of propitious surroundings, but to be seized and controlled with the masterful Will.
In nature, environment is the workshop of heredity; in man, environment ought to be the Throne Room of Will.
V. AS to CHARACTER.
Character, in the Symmetrical Life, if based upon heredity, is to be improved, corrected, or suppressed; if based upon right Will, is to be valued, studied, cherished and nourished, as eternal good;
VI. AS to CONDUCT.
Conduct, in the Symmetrical Life must be right to-ward self, right toward man, right toward truth and Deity.
This outline sets forth a-gigantic task. But life that is a failure involves gigantic toil, and it is an unspeakable ruin because it is Will-power regnant amid anarchy.
Let it, then, appear :
That the Will is not the man entire ;
That the perfect Will is the man matured;
That personality complete is the Will centering and ruling the maturing man — body, emotions, intellect, conscience, and all religious faculties.
All higher powers inhere in the Will. They are nothing without the Will.
They come to perfection through the Will. Their development involves culture of Will-power.
The Will is the centre from which all powers radiate to the circle of the perfected personality.
Hence, there can be no Symmetrical Life that is not determined, sought and secured by Will.
The Unsymmetrical Life is one in which Will fails, either to seek self-discovery and development, or to improve where defects and better possibilities are known. Here the radii of powers fail to extend out to the perfect circle of personality.
The majority of men are unnecessarily ignorant of their own defects and possibilities. The Will does not, thus, centre their selfhood.
A multitude of people recognize defects, but ignore them because of lack of Will to set about correction.
Discovery of fault should be instantly followed by remedy. This is often prevented by sloth, by fear of consequences, by dread of cost, by indifference to a true personality.
The Unsymmetrical Life is largely inexcusable. It is a promise of ultimate bankruptcy.
It is the threat of culpable suicide.
In the Symmetrical Life the man seeks to improve all powers to the utmost. He gives due regard to each, carefully, persistently. He strives to bring out each radius to the perfect circle. He endeavors to fill up every depression in the sphere of his being.
The Symmetrical Life, therefore, is independent of heredity; this is true because symmetry is not an abstract matter determined by reference to some universal standard, without regard to individuality, but is a concrete thing having reference to the man as originally endowed.
A rose is concrete symmetry, although it lacks the abstract symmetry of a glass imitation.
The Symmetrical Life starts with its own endowments, builds on its own foundation, develops according to its own laws.
Hence, there are grades in symmetry. Each grade has perfect value by as much as it is determined by intelligent Will.
The law and the privilege of life are that a man shall make the most of himself as heredity has really endowed him. He can develop symmetry in himself, however imperfect this may be as compared with others or an abstract ideal which is indifferent to his nature.
Superior beings and ideals merely assist in inspiring his symmetrical growth— the bringing out of his own powers. Such beings and ideals must never be regarded as discouraging standards.
The intelligent Will does not attempt the impossible.
The Symmetrical Life is, also, in a true sense, independent of environment. It cannot be destroyed, nor prevented by surroundings, provided its Will holds good.
A good Will adjusts to environment, and grows in its mastery.
A good Will conquers environment, and thus thrives on difficulty.
A good Will makes environment, and thus unfolds in triumph.
A good Will — at the last resort — forsakes old for new environment, and thus strengthens itself by a rational persistence.
Civilization attests all the above propositions. Every truly successful man is an epitome of the civilization of his own time.
The secret of the Will's power over self, over heredity and environment, lies in the fact that it is active, that it is intelligent, that it is individual, that it is a law unto itself and thus subject to law, and that, therefore, it is free.
But the ideally free Will is the ideally perfect Will. And the ideally perfected Will is the Symmetrical Existence.
In " Raja Yoga " there is this legend : A great God-sage, travelling everywhere, found a man who had been meditating until an ant-hill had been built up around his body. The man begged the sage to ask God to give him his ultimate freedom. Further on the traveler saw another man who was dancing and singing, and who begged him to ask the same boon. Later, the sage, returning, met the first petitioner, to whom he brought the message from heaven : " The Lord told me that you would attain freedom in four more births." And then the man began to mourn. But the sage met the second petitioner, to whom he said: " I have to tell you that as many leaves as there are on that Tamarind tree, so many times you will be born, and then you will attain your freedom." And the second man shouted: "I will have freedom after so short a time!" But a voice came, " My child, you will have freedom this minute."
The Symmetrical and the Unsymmetrical Existence are near or far according to the persistence and energy of the Will.
The following chart, which does not aim to be exhaustive, is now suggested for study and comparison with yourself. It should be read, again and again. " Know thyself." Indicate in writing on the chart your own photographic details, and resolutely set about the correction of defects, the improvement of excellences, and the bringing of all powers to a better condition and a greater harmony among themselves.
Permit no defect to continue.
Cultivate neglected faculties and capacities.
Make the best use of good qualities.
Compel your strong points to assist your weaker. Overcome hostile heredity.
Seek the circle of individual perfection.
Resolve on the ideal in character and conduct. The Symmetrical Existence is your ideal.
The ideal is absolute and relative.
The absolute ideal is never realized.
But the absolute ideal is the inspiration of the relative ideal.
The relative ideal is that of attainment just beyond and of high purpose now steadfastly entertained. The ideal of purpose is always shifting. So soon as it is realized in attainment, a substitution appears it is no longer ideal, but is actual, and the true ideal is discovered as a new goal.
The relative ideal of purpose is thus the impelling power of growth and progress. It is both the despair and the inspiration of the Symmetrical Life.
The reason why men are so unsymmetrical is largely the fact that the ideal is so seldom studied or sought.
The study and search for symmetry makes great demands on the Will.
Endeavors to attain symmetry become by all odds the supremest instructors and developers of Will power.
If you will honestly study the suggestions of this chapter, and resolutely and persistently devote your life to attainment of the Symmetrical Existence, you will fare on as a hero, a constantly growing soul and a creator of highest Will.
Your want of symmetry shows your need of alliance with the nature of things, with all noble spirits among men, and with that ruling "Power not ourselves that makes for righteousness."
The man who attempts to live without this is an anarchist. He contemns and disregards the law of best estate. He lives without the essence of life. He sluices out of himself all that guarantees and develops his human reality. He is slowly committing suicide.
You exist to help. This requires that you seek to know what the nature of things has designed for you. This is your goal none other your life, your immortality.
Said Wilhelm von Humboldt : " The end of man, or that which is prescribed by the eternal or immutable dictates of reason, and not suggested by vague and transient desires, is the highest and most harmonious development of his powers to a complete and consistent whole; the object towards which every human being must ceaselessly direct his efforts, and on which especially those who design to influence their fellow-men must ever keep their eyes, is the individuality of power and development."
John Stuart Mill, in comment, said: "Human nature is not a machine to be built after a model, and set to do exactly the work prescribed for it, but a tree, which requires to grow and develop itself on all sides, according to the tendency of the inward forces which make it a living thing."
And now, in all our work, it is best to remember that life is not a judgment to drudgery. It is a glory, a dignity, an opportunity, a prelude and a reward. The true life has deep content; —
In its worlds,
In its brotherhood,
In its death-swallowing hope.
And it is for the body to rest, as well as to toil. And it is for mind to relax and change, as well as to concentrate.
And it is for the man to play, to rejoice with the hills, to throb with the sea, to laugh with nature, as well as to struggle and pile up victories.
But it is for the Will to slumber not, to relax never, to go forth day and night, in the full majesty of con-quest.
FOR, TO THIS END CAME THE KING WITH HIS THRONE.