All the elements of life are good in themselves, and should produce good results when in action; that is, when the action is properly directed; but when any action is misdirected, evil follows, and this is the only cause of the ills of human existence.
Everything that is wrong in the world has been produced by the perversion and the misuse of the good. Therefore, to eliminate wrong, man must learn to make the proper use of those things that exist in his sphere of action. The misuse of things comes either from ignorance or lack of character, or both. That person who does not understand the elements and the forces of the world in which he lives will make many mistakes, and he will make the wrong use of nearly everything unless he is guided by instructions of those who understand. The leadership of greater minds is therefore necessary to the welfare of the race, but this leadership is not sufficient. Guidance from great minds will help to a limited degree so long as the actions of the individual are simple, but when greater development is sought, with its more complex actions, the individual himself must learn to master the laws of life. He can no longer depend upon others.
Therefore, though the leadership of greater minds be necessary to the welfare of the race, it is also necessary for that leadership to be used, not for keeping the multitude in a state of simple-mindedness and dependence, but for promoting the intelligence of each individual until external guidance is needed no more. The true purpose of the strong is to promote greater strength in the weak, and not to keep the weak in that state where they are at the mercy of the strong. Our united purpose should be to develop more great men and women, and to do everything possible to lead the many from dependence to independence.
Every state of individual attainment is preceded by a childhood period, but this period should not be unnecessarily prolonged, nor will it be, when every strong mind seeks to develop strength in the weak instead of using the weakness of the weak for his own gain. Those who understand the laws of life may inform the ignorant what to do and what not to do, and may thereby prevent most of the mistakes that the ignorant would otherwise make. But this guidance will not prevent all the mistakes, as experience demonstrates, because it requires a certain amount of understanding to even properly apply the advice of another. Those who do not have the understanding will therefore misuse the elements of life at every turn, no matter how well they are guided by wiser persons, while those who do have this understanding will invariably begin to do things without consulting their so-called superiors. It is therefore evident that more understanding for every- body is the remedy, as far as this side of the subject is concerned, but there is also another side.
A great many people go wrong because they do not know any better. To them, a better understanding of life is the path to emancipation. They will be made free when they know the truth, but the majority of those who go wrong do know better. Then why do they go wrong. The cause is lack of character. When you fail to do what you want to do, your character is weak. The same is true when you preach one thing and practice another. When you fail to be as perfect, as good or as ideal as you wish to be, or fail to accomplish what you think that you can accomplish, your character is at fault. It is the character that directs the action of the mind. It is the lack of character, or a weak character that produces misdirections; and when you fail to accomplish what you feel you can accomplish, something is being misdirected.
What you feel that you can do that you have the power to do. Therefore, when you fail to do it, some of the powers of your being are being misdirected. To be influenced to do what you would not do if you were normal, means that your character is weak, and to be affected by surroundings, events, circumstances and conditions against your will, indicates the same deficiency. A strong character is never influenced against his will. He is never disturbed by anything, never becomes upset, offended or depressed. No one can insult him because he is above small states of mind, and is stronger than those things that may tend to produce small states of mind. All mental tendencies that are antagonistic, critical or resisting indicate a deficiency in character. The desire to criticise becomes less and less as the character is developed. It is the mark of a fine character never to be critical and to mention but rarely the faults of others. A strong character does not resist evil, but uses his strength in building the good. He knows that when the light is made strong, the darkness will disappear of itself. A strong character has no fear, never worries and never becomes discouraged. If you are in the hands of worry, your character needs development. The same is true if you have a tendency to submit to fate, give in to adversity, give up in the midst of difficulties, or surrender to failure or wrong. It may be stated, without any exceptions or modifications whatever, that the more temper, the less character. Anger is always a misdirection of energy, but it is the function of character to properly direct all energies. Therefore, there can be no anger when the character is thoroughly developed.
The mind that changes easily, that is readily carried away by every new attraction that may appear, and that does not retain a well-balanced attitude on any subject lacks character. A strong character changes gradually, orderly, and only as each step is thoroughly analyzed and found to be a real step forward. The more individuality, the more character, and the more one is oneself, the stronger the character. Practice being yourself, your very best self, and your very largest self, and your character will be developed. The more one is conscious of flaws and defects, the weaker the character, and the reason is because nearly everything is being misdirected when the character is weak. The strong character is conscious only of the right because such a character is right, and is causing everything in its sphere of action to do right.
To the average person, character is not important as far as this life is concerned; and as most theological systems have declared that it was repentance and not character that would insure human welfare in the world to come, the development of character has naturally been neglected. But when we realize that it is character that determines whether our actions in daily life are to go right or wrong and that every mistake is due to a lack of character, we shall feel that the subject requires attention.
It is the power of character that directs everything that is done in the human system or by the human system. Character is the channel through which all expressions must pass. It is character that gives human life its tone, its color and its quality, and it is character that determines whether our talents and faculties are to be their best or not.
The man who has a well-developed character is not simply good. He is good for something, because he has the power to turn all his energies to good account. A strong character not only turns all the elements and energies of life to good account, but has the power to hold the mind in the right attitude during the most trying moments of life, so that he will not make mistakes nor fall a victim to insidious temptation. A strong character will keep all the faculties and forces of life moving in the right direction, no matter what obstacles we may meet in the way. We shall turn neither to the right nor to the left, but will continue to move directly towards the goal we have in view, and will reach that goal without fail.
Thousands of people resolve every year to press on to higher attainments and greater achievements. They begin very well, but ere long they are turned off the track. They are misled or switched off by counter attractions. They have not the character to keep right on until they have accomplished what they originally set out to do. True, it is sometimes wisdom to change one’s plans, but it is only lack of character to change one’s plans without reason, simply because there is a change of circumstance. To change with every circumstance is to drift with the stream of circumstance, and he who drifts can only live the life of a log. He will be a victim of every external change that he may meet. He will control little or nothing, and he will accomplish little or nothing.
We all can develop the power to control circumstances or rather to cause all circumstances to work with us and for us in the promotion of the purpose we have in view; and this power is character. Never permit circumstances to change your plans, but give so much character to your plans that they will change circumstances. Give so much character to the current of your work that all things will be drawn into that current, and that which at first was but a tiny rivulet, will thus be swelled into a mighty, majestic stream.
When the various forces of the system are properly directed and properly employed, the development of the entire mentality will be promoted; and this means greatness. The power that directs the forces of the system is character, and it is character that causes the mind to use those forces in the best and most constructive manner. There must be character before there can be true greatness, because any deficiency in character causes energy to be wasted and misdirected. It is therefore evident that the almost universal neglect in the development of character is one of the chief reasons why great men and women are not as numerous as we should wish them to be. Many may argue, however, that great minds do not always have good characters, and also that some of our best characters fail to manifest exceptional ability. But we must remember that there is a vast difference between that phase of character that simply tries to follow the moral law, and real character–the character that actually is justice, virtue and truth. Then we must also remember that character does not mean simply obedience to a certain group of laws, but the power to use properly all the laws of life. That person who uses mental laws properly, but fails to comply with moral laws does not possess a complete character. Nevertheless, the character of this person is just as good as that of the person who follows moral laws while constantly violating mental laws.
In the study of character, it is very important to know that the violation of mental laws is just as detrimental as the violation of moral laws, though we have been in the habit of condemning the latter and excusing the former. That person who uses properly the mental laws, will to a degree promote the development of the mind even though he may neglect the moral laws; and this accounts for the fact that a number of minds have attained a fair degree of greatness in spite of their moral weakness. But it is a fact of extreme importance, that those minds who attain greatness in spite of their moral weakness could become two or three times as great if they had also developed moral strength. That person who complies with the mental laws but who violates the moral laws, wastes fully one-half of the energies of his mind, and sometimes more. His attainment and achievement will, therefore, be less than one-half of what they might be if he had moral character as well as mental character.
The same is true, however, of that person who complies with the moral laws, but who violates the mental laws; fully one-half of his energy is wasted and misdirected. This explains why the so-called good characters are not any more brilliant than the rest, for though they may be morally good, they are not always mentally good; that is, they do not use their minds according to the laws of mind, and therefore cannot rise above the level of the ordinary.
The true character tries to turn all the energies of the system into the best and most constructive channels, and it is the mark of a real character when all the various parts of the being of man are working together harmoniously for the building of greatness in mind and soul. When the character is weak, there is more or less conflict among the mental actions. Certain actions have a tendency to work for one thing, while other actions are tending to produce the very opposite. The same is true of the desires. A character that lacks development will desire one thing today, and something else tomorrow. Plans will change constantly, and little or nothing will be accomplished. In the strong character, however, all actions work in harmony and all actions are constructive. And this is natural because it is the one supreme function of character to make all actions in the human system constructive–to make every force in the human life a building force.
Be good and kind to everybody and the world will be kind to you. There may be occasional exceptions to this rule, but when they come pass them by and they will not come again.
Ideals need the best of care. Weeds can grow without attention, but not so with the roses.
Not all minds are pure that think they are. Many of them are simply dwarfed.
It does not pay to lose faith in anybody. It is beater to have faith in everybody and be deceived occasionally than to mistrust everybody and be deceived almost constantly.
When you meet a person who does not look well, call his attention to the sunny side of things, and aim to say something that will give him new interest and new life. You will thereby nip in the bud many a threatening evil, and carry healing with you wherever you go.