The Man Who Knew
by Ralph Waldo Trine
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There are supreme and epoch-making moments in the life of the world. There are supreme and light and power-bringing moments in the lives of individuals.
A supreme moment in the life of the world is when some great prophet, seer, sage, or saviour appears with a great elemental truth, and is able to impart it to others with a persuasive beauty and power.
A supreme moment in the lives of individuals is when they come face to face with such a truth -- when it comes clearly and convincingly to them. Such truth must not only be uttered, but, to have authority and power, it must be lived by him who utters it. Moreover it must be a truth that becomes an inspiration and a real help in the daily lives of common men and women -- men and women who have their problems to meet, their fears to face, their battles to fight, their bread to win.
The greatest saying in the world's history, when adequately understood, was given utterance by a young palestinian Jew, some nineteen hundred years ago -- and how short a time, comparatively, that is in the life of the human race.
He started life humbly, the son of a carpenter, and worked some years at his father's trade, but his life and influence became so great that time stopped and began again from the date of his birth; or rather, the measuring of time began again for practically the entire human race.
It is a life, if men were sensible, most easily understood; but by virtue of inherited mental and spiritual inhibitions it has become one of the most misunderstood in the world, and with an incalculable loss to the world.
A sympathetic and unbiased study of such a life would seem to be something of both interest and value -- of real concrete value. Real greatness, lasting greatness, comes only through unusual human service. There must therefore be something unusually helpful in his life.
Reference has been made to 'the greatest saying in the world's history.' It fortunately took the form of a direct answer to a direct question that was put to him in public, so that many heard both question and answer. What were the facts surrounding this occurrence? For a full understanding of the statement, the following brief facts are essential:
The people of Judea were a portion of a race that had been devout and, as they felt, particularly favoured by Divine Providence. Many great prophets and teachers had appeared among them. They led primarily a pastoral life, which was conducive to the highest inspiration, and the inception, therefore, of a pure and vital type of religion. A strikingly large number of their prophets were husbandmen and shepherds.
Out in the open, tilling their fields, or herding their flocks, with their hearts and their minds open to the voice of their God, they made it possible for the revelation of great truths to come to them; and such revelations did come to them. We can recall numbers of wonderful sayings of Hebrew prophets, containing various elemental truths of life, many of them taking great beauty of form.
As time passed, however, their religion became stereotyped, as is so often and so generally the case. Organisation, form, ceremony -- and at times even cant and hypocrisy, with its established order of priests, scribes, and interpreters -- took the place of the vital truths that had come from their prophets, open-windowed to their God. For close on three hundred years, through this deadening influence, no prophet had spoken.
All inspiration, and all chance for inspiration, had gone. The people became settled in the dead level of the commonplace, through tradition and dogma, nourished and systematically cultivated by a thoroughly entrenched ecclesiastical institution.
The priests, arrayed in their fine raiment, sat in the seats of authority and regarded themselves as something apart from the life of the people, and with a vested authority that made them not 'servants,' but would-be masters of the people.
All religious teaching emanating from them took set forms: 'It is said,' 'It is written,' 'Moses has said,' 'The prophets have said,' and even, 'Thus saith the Lord.' The soul's windows were not kept open to Jehovah as formerly. They were open, when open at all, toward Jerusalem, where ritual in its ever-increasing forms waxed stronger.
So the religious life of the people, and with it their entire life, became one where the spirit was dead. The empty form alone remained.
The priests and ecclesiastical orders became their overlords; and the condition of the people, as is always true in any country or nation where this comes about, was pitiable.
To add to their burdens, they had fallen under the yoke of an alien power -- Rome. Tiberius Caesar was the Roman emperor. Under him was Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor or representative of Judea.
Rome conducted its campaigns -- its raids threw great numbers of its captives into slavery, and exacted tribute, under its well-established policy of conquest. But Rome was already in its decadence, and its people required continually greater amounts to satisfy this desire for show, and all that wasteful expenditure summed up in the phrase panem et circenses.
This oppression, combined with the oppression of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, made the life and the condition of the people of Judea hard, discouraging, and pitiable. There was a tradition among them, which had persisted for some time, that a Deliverer would be sent them, and this, on account of their hard conditions, they were ready and even eager to believe.
Into these surroundings or conditions came a young Rabbi, or teacher, a successor once more to their long line of prophets; but one with such a supreme aptitude for discerning the things of the mind and the spirit that he became the greatest prophet, and therefore teacher, of them all.
He was the son, the eldest son, of poor but highly thought-of parents -- Joseph and Mary. Joseph was a carpenter, in the little, and at that time comparatively unknown, village of Nazareth. There were four other sons, we are told, whose names were common names in the little village. There were daughters; how many and their names we are not told, but two are mentioned.
The eldest son was named Joshua
(Jesus) and was known as Joshua Ben Joseph -- Joshua son of Joseph.
After the custom of the time and place, he followed the vocation of a
carpenter, and as a carpenter worked with his father. What his
schooling and his training were we do not know. Of this portion of his
life, so important and so interesting, there is no record.
GETTING THIS, YOU HAVE ALL
We are learning much of late of the finer forces of the universe and of life. The law underlying the finer forces that has made the radio possible, or rather our apprehension of that law, indicates still finer forces that we are yet to apprehend, understand, and formulate in terms of law.
Can we state the Master's fundamental teaching in the terms of law? Through our continually enlarging knowledge of the finer forces of the universe, within us and about us, the law can be stated in this form: The realisation of the real Self -- as the indwelling spirit of Life -- brings about the condition wherein the individual life becomes a focal-point, and in turn a centre of the Universal Life force. Becoming thus attuned to it, it takes to itself, in an ever-increasing degree, its qualities and its powers, and becomes thereby an ever-increasing centre of creative force and power.
It was that eminent English Churchman, Archdeacon Wilberforce, who said: 'The secret of optimism is the mental effort to abide in conscious oneness with the Supreme Power, the Infinite Immanent Mind evolving a perfect purpose . . . .Our slow-moving minds may be long in recognising it, and our unspiritual lives may seem to contradict it; but deep in the centre of the being of every man there is a divine self to be awakened, a ray of God's life which Paul calls "the Christ in you." Jesus is the embodiment of the universal principle of the immanence of God in man. Thus is Jesus the "Mediator," or uniting medium between God and man.
'The principle of what is called Christianity is the immanence of our Father-God in humanity; the fact that individual men are separate items in a vast solidarity in which Infinite Mind is expressing Himself. Jesus has shown us what the ideal is to which that principle will lead . . . . The mystic Christ will win us here or hereafter. To find him within us now, to let him conquer us now, to recognise him as Emmanuel, God with us, God for us, God in us, is the secret and the soul of spiritual progress.'
It was the divinity of man that the Master revealed -- the true reality of man -- in distinction from the degradation of man. This it was that he realised in himself, and that he pleaded with all men to realise in themselves.
It is a life foundation that will never have to shift its base in order to conform to an advancing knowledge or science. It is true to the best that our modern psychology is finding. If a child or a man is taught and believes that he is a worm of the dust, he will act as a worm of the dust. If he is taught, really taught, that he is a child of God, he will live and act as a child of God.
One of the greatest educators in the world's history, Froebel, built his entire educational system, as it is given in that great book, "The Education of Man," upon this truth.
In fact, the pith, the fundamental principle of his entire life, thought and teaching, is epitomised in his following brief statement: 'It is the destiny and life-work of all things to unfold their essence, hence their divine being, and, therefore, the Divine Unity itself -- to reveal God in their external and transient being. It is the special destiny and life-work of man, as an intelligent and rational being, to become fully, vividly, and clearly conscious of his essence, of the divine effluence in him, and, therefore, of God.'
The Master concerned himself but little with externals. He perceived and taught that the springs of life are all from within. As is the inner, therefore, so always will be the outer.
Therefore get right at the Centre, and life -- the whole of life -- will flow forth in an orderly and satisfactory manner. This is the natural and the normal way of living. Anything else is a perversion, and there is no satisfaction in it. Love that higher life, that life of God that is within you. Realise it as the Source of your life. And again I say, 'Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.' And again I repeat, lest you forget, 'The Kingdom of God is within you.'
There is a definite law that operates here; otherwise there would be no truth in the Master's oft-repeated statement or injunction. His wonderful aptitude for discerning the things of the spirit, the fundamental laws of life, enabled him to apprehend it, to live it, to reveal and to teach it.
It is for us to know then that the Infinite Spirit of Life and Power illumines, and works in and through the individual life, when in our thought we become in tune with it, and realise it as the life and the power within us. The Infinite, the Central, power is always working; but we must definitely and consciously make contact with it in order that it may illumine, radiate, and work through us.
If the Master, with his wonderful insight and understanding, said, 'Of myself I can do nothing,' how can we expect, if we believe his word at all, to attain our highest unless we realise this same fact, and live likewise in the realisation of the oneness of our life with the Father's life -- the Divine rule, the Kingdom of God within us?
So essential, so fundamental is this, that some of his most striking parables are set forth to emphasise it, so that it will be made to grip out minds, and to sink into our consciences. The Kingdom of God is, in his mind, the one all inclusive thing.
It is the pearl, he said, the pearl of great price. The merchant is seeking goodly pearls. He finds one of great value; and he goes immediately, sells all that he has, and buys it.
The Way that the Master taught is more a Way of Life than a religion. At the same time it is the very essence of religion, for the essence of all religion is the conscious- ness of God in the mind and the soul of man. It was this that he so clearly taught.
Reduced to its lowest and simplest terms, the Master's teaching might be stated: get right within, and all of your outward acts will then take care of themselves.
If we miss this great revelation of the Master -- that to love God is to realise this inner Divine life within us, to open ourselves to it, and to live always under its guidance and its care; and its component part, that of love for the neighbour -- we miss the very essence and heart of his revelation to the world.
We can hear him say: Love and live under the guidance of that higher life -- the God life that is within you. When you do this you will realise it as the source of your neighbour's life -- of all other men -- therefore, all men are your brothers. Then kindness, sympathy, mutuality, co-operation, born of love, will be the guide and the watchword in all of your relations. And because this is the law of the universe, it will become the way of self-interest, as well.
Under this law of life and
will come the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth; but it comes in the lives
of men and women first, then it blossoms and brings in the Kingdom of
Heaven upon the earth. I have realised this, and now am revealing it
unto you. If you believe what I say, and do as I say, then are you my
disciples. . . .
THE LOVE AND POWER OF LIFE
Does my religion or what I term my religion depending upon whether or not it becomes a real vital creative force in my life--find its basis in the teaching of the Master that he so continually repeated, 'Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you' ? That there be no mistaking his meaning he likewise often said, 'Say not Lo here! or Lo there! for behold the Kingdom of God is within you.'
It is that Divine Centre within, from which every thought and every act in life must spring. It is the 'I am' of every man.
'Of myself I can do nothing,' he so often said. 'It is the Father that worketh in me; my Father works and I work.' Here undoubtedly is the true significance of the vitality of his statement: 'I and my Father are one.' Here undoubtedly is the true significance and vitality of his teaching: 'As I am you shall be.' Here undoubtedly is the truth of his teaching in regard to prayer that he so continually made use of, and so continually advised all others to make use of.
Advising against public prayer, for show or for its rhetorical effects, he enjoined: 'But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet [that is, a place apart], and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. Here undoubtedly lies the significance of his statement that he repeated so often in one form or another: 'According to your faith be it unto you.
Seek this Divine Centre of light, of truth, of illumination, and power--the God within you; Love and reverence and live in this realisation and then, do not worry about your life.
God is Spirit, he taught, and Spirit is life. It is the One life, the universal source and spirit of life, manifesting in all individual expressions of life, in love, and direction, and power, and supply, in the degree that the individual rises to the consciousness, and lives in the consciousness, of that which is his life.
This again is unquestionably what Jesus meant when he said: 'I am come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly.'
Each has life, but it is this more abundant life, this living in the vital consciousness of the life of God within, which is the thing that counts. It is this that culminates in a life lived to its full possibilities, and the joy that results from it. That the joy of life might be greater, might be full -- he speaks of this so many times in one form or another.
The realisation that this Divine Source, this Divine Centre of life, is within, cannot bring other than joy in life, but it must be realised and lived in. It must be the dominating love, and force, and guide. To long for it, to invite it, to believe and live in it, brings, and automatically, that more abundant and more joyous life.
He was always in dead earnest to help his fellow men, and went right down among those who needed help the most. No pious phrases, no institutionalism, no dogma, no peddling of any system -- but help, real God-given human help.
With that wonderful inheritance,
wonderful and almost absolute aptitude for discerning the things of the
mind and the spirit, with that keen but simple mind and heart, fired
finally to the point of evangelism through an undoubtedly long and
devoted period of preparation, he begins his memorable mission as a
wandering teacher, by proclaiming to a little group out in the open in
his own native Galilee: 'The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God
is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. This and its
amplification, often in simple, homely parable form, which all who
heard him might understand, constituted the essence of his entire