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Friday, 22 August 2014

Power of Personality

All right, Sister, we are here; you guessed rightly as to Harry's and my wish to speak of our own work. You have had enough personal messages for a while, and we have been having experiences quite as interesting to you both as to ourselves. I refer to what we have been learning of the power of personality, and what that means, and why it is such a potent factor in world evolution as well as individual growth. Personality is that part of a soul each individual develops for or by his own will, coloured by circumstance, hardened and shaped by feeling, and unified or solidified by intelligent suffering. I speak of intelligent suffering advisedly, for without a rational understanding of cause and effect no experience registers any permanent mark on individual character. Suffering per se is futile, except to break down obstinate egotism. It sometimes does that, but unless the sufferer applies his reason to his pain, and investigates the why of it, he makes no conscious growth. Conscious development is what gives power and mastery. One cannot blunder into a fine character; one achieves that through effort, willpower, and a definite desire. Through a defined intelligent desire we attain self-mastery, which includes mastership elsewhere as well.

When any soul has acquired the brain and the reasoning faculty to a sufficient degree to link effect with cause, and lapse with punishment, he has his feet planted firmly on the upward path. To adapt means to ends, manners to morals, one must belong to the upper class, where permanent or future gain outweighs present comfort or benefit. The child mind and the child heart only sees what is within his hand's clutch. With him the desire to possess always outweighs the desire to give or the passion of service; he must handle what he sees and admires, and retain for his own whatever seems good to him; he may share more or less grudgingly with his fellow—but relinquish his treasure? Never, so long as he has power to fight or breath to protest. A primitive exhibition of power, isn't it—this holding on by main force, and at all costs, to what one fears to lose, and finds desirable to possess? To clutch and cling, and struggle and fight—a most undignified method of securing any good, isn't it? When one's grasp is loosened, beaten off, or what not, we sink in the sea of failure. Why? Think once, quite simply and quietly. Benefits are free as air; good is free, service is free, work is free, love, aspiration, ambition, achievement—all are free for all who care to accept the requirements. Large aims, sympathetic insight, scrupulous honesty and charity towards our neighbour, cheerful, helpfulness, an absence of criticism, thought or expressed, a boundless faith in the power of good, and the simple desire to do one's utmost to advance the whole, regardless of personal applause and individual advancement. Why should anyone care to exceed his neighbour's possessions, except as a means to help him? To bring it down to a simple illustration: a man buys a worn-out, dilapidated, little farm, in a poor, discouraged neighborhood. What is that man's duty, as well as his opportunity? He works to make his poor ground yield its utmost; he puts up neat buildings, shelters his tools, is humane to his stock—in fact he does his best along all lines.

His neighbours take courage; seeing what he has done, they begin to see hope ahead for them also; they imitate him, better their surroundings, do more work on the land, enter into a brotherly spirit, raise better crops, better stock, better children—because a stronger personality has blazed their trail and carried before them a lantern of hope. None are so dull as to escape this personal appeal. One man or woman inspired by the true spirit can lift any neighbourhood to any height, determined only by the quality of the example and the sympathy of the pathmaker. What do you suppose would have happened if Jesus had taught His philosophy unsympathetically, or to a single class? The human family is very simple in its relationships, and its power to comprehend. Fellowship and sympathy speak but one language, and all understand. Individual achievement is nothing; universal service is the insignia of the Master. Never belittle service, or bewail a lost ambition. Ambition to service is the only one which passes the barrier, and the mode of service should be trusted to those whose business it is to direct our lives to the end of larger service, greater personal ability, stronger personality, and deeper insight into the Law.

Harry and I have been studying the lives of so-called celebrities, and also those whose personal services have swept the race on nearer to its goal. The result has been illuminating, and, once holding the key, quite easy to see and comprehend. Now we try to apply the lesson —to live the theory. This is what shows whether we have learned or not. All of us have strong primitive feelings, and just as perfectly sane and intelligent persons may suddenly feel the grip of jealousy or fear, they revert suddenly and without warning to some primitive emotion which can only be eliminated by a great service with deep sympathy. Until they outgrow such savage and unreasoning impulses they must seek rebirth again and again, until they learn such things are not real, and belong only to the childhood of the soul. It is rather startling to have some primal emotion spring at one, after many so-called years of discretion have become habitual, and one feels secure in one's adult estate. The cave man and the cave woman lie just beneath the surface of us all, ready to break out whenever some race instinct is violated.

I see. Sister, this is going to be too long for you, so we must postpone the rest. Perhaps you may get something you value in just this.

With love as always,

Helen and Harry