"The Wayfarer on the Open Road"
by Ralph Waldo Trine
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A CREED OF THE OPEN ROAD
To be observed today, to be changed tomorrow, or abandoned, according to tomorrows light.
To live to our highest in all things that pertain to us, and to lend a hand as best we can to all others for this same end.
To aid in righting the wrongs that cross our path by pointing the wrong-doer to a better way, and thus aid him in becoming a power for good.
To turn toward and to keep our faces always to the light, knowing that we are then always safe, and that we shall travel with joy the open road.
To love the fields and the wild flowers, the stars, the far-open sea, the soft, warm earth, and to live much with them alone; but to love struggling and weary men and women and every pulsing, living creature better.
To do our own thinking, listening quietly to the opinions of others, but to be sufficiently men and women to act always upon our own convictions. To do our duty as we see it, regardless of the opinions of others-seeming gain or loss, temporary blame or praise.
To remain in nature always sweet and simple and humble and therefore strong.
To play the part of neither fool nor knave by attempting to Judge another, but to give that same time to living more worthily ourselves.
To get up immediately when we stumble, face again to the light, and travel on without wasting even a moment in regret.
To love and to hold due reverence for all people and all things, but to stand in awe or fear of nothing save our own wrong doing.
To recognize the good lying at the heart of all people, of all things, waiting for expression all in its own good way and time.
To know that it is the middle ground that brings pleasure and satisfaction, and that excesses have to be paid for always with heavy and sometimes with frightful costs. To know that work, occupation, something definite and useful to do, is one of the established conditions of happiness in life.
To realize always clearly that thoughts are forces, that like creates like and like attracts like, and that to determine one's thinking therefore is to determine his life.
To take and to live always in the attitude of mind that compels gladness, looking for and thus drawing to us continually the best in all people and all things, being thereby the creators of our own good fortunes.
To know that the ever-conscious realization of the essential oneness of each life with the Divine Life is the Greatest of all knowledge, and that to open ourselves as opportune channels for the Divine Power to work in and through us is the open door to the highest attainment, and to the best there is in life.
In brief- to
honest, to be fearless, to be
just, joyous, kind. This will make our part in life's great and as yet
not fully understood play one of greatest glory, and we need then stand
in fear of nothing-life nor death; for death is life. Or rather, it is
the quick transition to fife in another form; the putting off of the
old coat and the putting on of the new; a passing not from light to
darkness, but from light to light according as we have lived here; a
taking up of life in another form where we leave it off here; a part in
life not to be shunned or dreaded or feared, but to be welcomed with a
glad and ready smile when it comes in its own good way and time.
1. To live to our highest in all things that pertain to us, and to lend a hand as best we can to all others for this same end.
DOES it pay? Are there any real, substantial reasons that we live to our highest?
The fact that we have ideals and aspirations, and that we always feel better the more fully we follow them, indicates that it pays. That we are conscious that something is not right, and that we suffer when we do violence to that which we know or which we feel to be the better thing, indicates that there is a law written in the universe through the inexorable operation of which we are pushed onward and upward, unless we are wise enough to go of our own accord.
drinking, as excesses of
every nature bring with them something that convinces an ordinarily
bright mind that they don't pay, is an indication that there is a law
of moderation, the observance of which brings good, the violation of
which brings its opposite, pain and loss; as to live in discord with,
in hatred or envy or jealousy of one's fellows brings its own peculiar
destructive results, indicating that there is a law of love, of
kindness, of mutuality, that will admit of no violation without
striking home its punishments and inflicting its losses, so the lack of
self-respect, the sense of loss, the general feeling that we have
missed the higher and the satisfying in pursuing or being contented
with the lower and the transient, indicates that the higher, the
better, really pays, and that to follow it is a manifestation of simply
good everyday common sense.
2. To aid in righting the wrongs that cross our path by pointing the wrong-doer to a better way, and thus aid him in becoming a power for good.
WRONGS and injustices of one type or another come to our notice almost daily. They seem worthy of condemnation, many times of punishment. Wise however is he who is able to differentiate between the perpetrator of the wrong and the wrong that is done.
Only he who is perfect himself is in a consistent position even to judge another, to say nothing of condemning. The truly wise therefore will be slow to judge, and he will refuse to condemn. This must ever be so until he who would judge be perfect himself. We are all in the process of attaining - none have yet arrived.
The one whose zeal for justice is so keen can, moreover, rest at least in part peace when he is able once for all to realize that every wrong-doing carries with it its own punishment, that such is a fundamental law, and that by virtue of it the perpetrator of a wrong or an injustice suffers many times more than the one against whom it is directed.
3. To turn toward and to keep our faces always to the light, knowing that we are then always safe, and that we shall travel with joy the open road.
A KNOWLEDGE of the fact that we grow into the likeness of those things we contemplate, of those things that we live mostly with in our mental world, is one of the greatest assets of human life. Thought is at the bottom of all progress or retrogression, of all that is desirable or undesirable in life. We have it entirely in our own hands to determine what type of thought we entertain and habitually live with; thereby it is that we are the makers of our own good or ill fortunes.
A knowledge also
fact that it is not what we
actually accomplish at any particular time or times, but what we
earnestly endeavor to accomplish, makes the road easier and should make
all effort even a joy. It is the law of the reflex nerve system that
whenever one does or endeavors to do any given thing in a certain way,
a modicum of power is added whereby it is a trifle easier at the next
effort, an added trifle at the next and the next, until that which is
difficult and is done only with great effort in the beginning becomes
easy of accomplishment - that which we do haltingly and stumblingly at
first, bye and bye, so to speak, does itself, and with scarcely or even
without any conscious effort on our part. This is the law; it is the
secret of habit forming, character building, of all attainment.
4. To love the fields and the wild flowers, the stars, the far-open sea, the soft, warm earth, and to live much with them alone; but to love struggling and weary men and women and every pulsing, living creature better.
OUR complex modern life, especially in our larger centers, gets us running so many times into grooves that we are prone to miss, and sometimes for long periods, the all-round, completer life. We are led at times almost to forget that the stars come nightly to the sky, or even that there is a sky; that there are hedgerows and groves where the birds are always singing and where we can lie on our backs and watch the treetops swaying above us and the clouds floating by an hour or hours at a time; where one can live with his soul or, as Whitman has put it, where one can loaf and invite his soul.
We need changes from the duties and the cares of our accustomed everyday life. They are necessary for healthy, normal living. We need occasionally to be away from our friends, our relatives, from the members of our immediate households. Such changes are good for us; they are good for them. We appreciate them better, they us, when we are away from them for a period, or they from us.
We need these
occasionally in order to find
new relations-this in a twofold sense. By such changes there come to
our minds more clearly the better qualities of those with whom we are
in constant association; we lose sight of the little frictions and
irritations that arise; we see how we can be more considerate,
5. To do our own thinking, listening quietly to the opinions of others, but to be sufficiently men and women to act always upon our own convictions.
SINCERITY and honesty in thought is a characteristic essential to a commanding, to say nothing of a self-respecting, manhood or womanhood. It distinguishes always the man and the woman of influence.
Essentially true are the words of Robert Louis Stevenson: ''If you teach a man to keep his eyes upon what others think of him, unthinkingly to lead the life and hold the principles of the majority of his contemporaries, you must discredit in his eyes the authoritative voice of his own soul. He may be a docile citizen; he will never be a man. It is ours, on the other hand, to disregard this babble and chattering of other men better and worse than we are, and to walk straight before us by what light we have. They may be right; but so, before heaven, are we. They may know; but we know also, and by that knowledge we must stand or fall. There is such a thing as loyalty to a man's own better self; and from those who have not that, God help me, how am I to look for loyalty to others?" To live not as slaves to, nor as unthinking or blind followers of the thought of others, under the mental domination of no man or woman or organization, in family life, in religious life, in community life, on the one hand, and to be not bigoted nor to pose as eccentric in thought and consequent act on the other, to yield and to use good sense in yielding quickly and quietly in non-essentials where peace and harmony will be preserved and where injury will be done no one thereby, is the part of the wise.
True and abundantly suggestive is the thought of Edward Carpenter:
"Him who is not
detained by mortal adhesions, who
walks in the world, yet not of it - Taking part in everything with
equal mind, with free limbs and senses unentangled - Giving all,
accepting all, using all, enjoying all, asking nothing, shocked at
nothing- Him all creatures worship - all men and women bless."
6. To do our duty as we see it, regardless of the opinion of others - seeming gain or loss, temporary blame or praise.
INDEPENDENCE in the performance of one's duty as he sees it, in living his life as it comes to him to live it, is the natural concomitant of sincerity and independence in thought. To live one's life as it comes to him, to live it in essentials, considerate always of the feelings, the beliefs, the customs, the welfare of others in non-essentials, brings a completeness and a balance to life that makes for contentment as well as for growth and continual attainment.
Handing one's individuality over to the beliefs of the whims or the customs of others is productive of good to no one. Kingly and never too oft-repeated are the words of intrepid Walt Whitman:
"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, Going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will divesting Myself of the holds that would hold me."
truth had Channing in mind when
he said: ''In proportion as a man suppresses his conviction to save his
orthodoxy from suspicion, or distorts language from its common use that
he may stand well with his party, in that proportion he clouds and
degrades his intellect, as well as undermines the integrity of his
character." The blind following of party simply because one chances to
belong to a particular party, and many times because his father or
uncle - in some tomorrow his mother or his aunt - belonged to it, has
been one of the chief causes of the most notorious political corruption
and debauchery. It is due to this fact more than to anything else that
bosses and machines have been able to get and to retain the hold they
have gotten, and in the name of party fealty have been able to thieve
the rights and the natural possessions of the people for their own
aggrandizement and enrichment. It is only when you and I and all
average men fully comprehend the moral obligation that is contained in
the phrase, "Independence in party action," that we will see the power
of corruption that they now hold slipping from their hands. It is when
we not only make it known by quick and decisive action that we will
support our own party when its platform is essentially the best and
when it is constructed for the purpose of being fulfilled and not for
the pure purpose of deception, in whole or in part, and again when its
candidates are the best men that can be named; but that we will as
quickly support the opposing party when platform and candidates in it
are the better, that we will give birth to a revolution of tremendous
import in our political and social traditions and life.
7. To remain in nature always sweet and simple and humble, and therefore strong.
SWEETNESS Of nature, simplicity in manners and conduct, humility without self-abasement, give the truly kingly quality to men, the queenly to women, the winning to children, whatever the rank or the station may be. The life dominated by this characteristic, or rather these closely allied characteristics, is a natural wellspring of joy to itself and sheds a continual benediction upon all who come within the scope of its influence. It makes for a life of great beauty in itself, and it imparts courage and hope and buoyancy to all others.
If the life find its lot in the more common, the more lowly walks, then for one to go about the daily work and duties doing all things well and with cheerful mind and heart, happy in the present and with full faith as to the working out of all things well and as is for the greatest good in the future, such a life is one of most royal success.
And oh the vast numbers of such kingly and queenly lives in our so-called common walks - men and women doing their daily work, rearing their children, meeting their problems, even their losses or apparent losses, with smiles on their lips and faith and therefore courage in their hearts, turning what would otherwise be drudgery and heartless and unremitting toil into triumphant living. It is this great army that constitutes the very backbone of our nation - of any nation. The very contemplation of this multitude is in itself an inspiration; and it recalls us to a renewed and more steadfast faith in our common human nature.
On the other hand
is no quality that
constitutes a more accurate earmark of real greatness and nobility of
character in the case of the prosperous and successful, the better
known, than the preservation of due humility and simplicity; the life
of every man truly great is permeated always with these qualities. An
undue sense of one's importance or of one's achievements or
possessions, or an undue propensity for show or desire for recognition,
indicates always a weak mental strain that may make an otherwise
successful and honorable life a failure.
8. To play the part of neither fool nor knave by attempting to judge another, but to give that same time to living more worthily ourselves.
HE Who is perfect is in the position, were he so minded, of judging another. No man is perfect; no man therefore stands fully in such position.
The fool or the knave alone will do so. The fool because he hasn't sense sufficiently keen to grasp the inconsistency, the foolhardiness of one, imperfect himself, assuming to judge the life of another likewise imperfect. The knave because although keen enough to realize his own shortcomings, his own imperfect life, he voluntarily assumes the role of the hypocrite in passing judgement upon another.
Only the perfect
the all - wise is in the
position to judge the innermost life - the springs of the outer life of
his fellowmen. Such, however, would be most deliberate in his
conclusions and most lenient in his judgements. Deliberate because of
his knowledge of the warrings, the weaknesses, and the at times poor or
one-sided equipment in the majority of lives which makes their efforts
seem almost god-like, could we see all, even when for the time being
the entire battle would seem lost. Deliberate, also, because of his
refusal to pass judgement upon a life not yet complete. Lenient in his
judgement because of the remembrance of his own weaknesses and
struggles and failures - better known to himself than to any others -
that he passed through in attaining his present perfect state.
Purchase the complete book:
"The Wayfarer on the Open Road" by Ralph Waldo Trine
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