To formulate rules in detail that will apply to each individual case is neither possible nor necessary. All have not the same present needs nor the same previous training; but there are certain general principles that apply to all, and these, if followed according to the individual viewpoint, will produce the results desired. If the proper beginning is made, the subsequent results will not only be greater and be realized in less time, but much useless experience and delay will be avoided. These principles, or prime essentials, are as follows:
1. Learn to be still.
When you undertake to live an ideal life and seek to promote your advancement in every direction, you will find that much cannot be gained until your entire being is placed in a proper condition for growth; the reason being that the ideal is ever advancing toward higher ideals, and you must improve yourself before you can better your life. It has been found that all laws of growth require order, harmony and stillness for proper action; therefore, to live peacefully, think peacefully, act peacefully and speak peacefully are important essentials. This will not only put the entire being into proper condition for growth, but will also conserve energy, and when you begin to live the larger life you will want to use properly all your forces; neither misusing or wasting anything.
To acquire stillness never "try hard," but simply exercise general self control in everything you do. Never be anxious about results, and they will come with less effort, and in less time. Whenever you have a moment to spare relax the whole person, mind and body; just let everything fall into the easiest position possible. Make no effort to relax, simply let go. So long as you try to relax you will not succeed. While in this relaxed condition be quiet; do not move a muscle; breathe deeply but gently, and think only of peace and stillness. Before you go to sleep at night relax your entire system, and fall asleep with peace in your mind; bathe your mind and body, so to speak, in the crystal sea of the beautiful calm. These methods alone will work wonders in a few weeks.
While you are at work hold yourself from anxious hurry or disturbed action; work in the attitude of poise and you will accomplish much more in the same given time and you will be a far better workman. Train yourself to come into the realization of perfect peace by gently holding a deep strong desire for peace and by ordering all your actions to harmonize with the peaceful goal in view. The result will be "the peace that passeth understanding," and for this alone your gratitude will be both boundless and endless.
2. Rejoice and be glad.
Cheerfulness is not only a good medicine, but it is food for mind and body. The cheerful life will fill every atom with new life, and it is to the faculties of the mind what sunshine is to the flowers and trees. To be happy always is one of the greatest things that man can do, and there are few things that are more profitable in every sense of that term. No matter what comes, be glad; and live in the conviction that all things are working together for good to you. As your conviction is so is your faith; and as your faith is so it shall be unto you. When you live in the conviction that all things are working together for good you will cause all things to work together for good, and you will understand the reason why when you begin to apply the real science of ideal living. No matter how dark the cloud, look for the silver lining; it is there, and when you always look at the bright side of things you develop brightness in yourself.
This brightness will strengthen all your faculties so that you can easily overcome what obstacles may be in your way, and thus gain the victory desired. Direct your attention constantly to the bright side of things; refuse absolutely to consider any other side. At first this may not be possible in the absolute sense, but perseverance never fails to win. However, do not try hard; gently direct your attention to the bright side and know that you can. Ere long it will be second nature for you to live on the sunny side. The value of this attainment is very great; first, because joyousness will increase life, power, energy and force; this we all know from personal experience, and we wish to have all the life and power that we can possibly secure; second, because the happiest soul never worries, which is great gain. Worry has crippled thousands of fine minds and brought millions to an early grave. We simply cannot afford to worry and must never do so under any condition whatever.
If we have that habit we can remove it at once by the proper antidote, which is joyousness. After you have trained yourself to look only for the bright and the best, the bright and the best will come to you, because you will be using your powers to bring those very things to pass; therefore, rejoice and be glad every moment. Let your heart and your soul sing at all times. When you do not feel the joyous music within, produce it with your own imagination, and ere long it will come of itself with greater and greater abundance; your soul will want to sing because it feels music, and there are few joys that equal the joy that comes when music is felt in the soul. There are so many things that are sweet and beautiful in life that when we once find the key to harmony we shall always rejoice. In the meantime, be happy for the good you have found, and through that very attitude you will develop the power to attract better things than you ever had before. This personal existence is brimful of good things and happy souls will find them all.
3. Love everybody and be kind.
If you wish your path to be strewn with roses, just be kind. Give your best to the world, and the best will come to you without fail; if it does not come today, never mind; just go on being kind and refuse to consider disappointments. Never hold in mind those things that you do not wish to retain; you thus cause those things to pass away. This "shall also pass away" is true of everything that is not pleasant; but unpleasant things will not pass away so long as we hold them in thought. That which you let go from your mind will pass away from you entirely. Train yourself to be kindness in a permanent state of mind, because you cannot afford to criticize, condemn or be angry at any time.
We know that anger not only disturbs the mind, but also destroys the cells of the body, and no one can be angry without losing a great deal of life and energy. To find fault never pays; it simply brings enmity, discord and criticisms; besides, the faults we constantly see in others will develop in ourselves. The critical mind is destructive and the critical attitude is weakening to the entire system; therefore, no one can be his best who permits himself to think or talk about the flaws of life. Be good and kind to everybody; it is one of the royal paths to happiness and peace. When anyone does wrong, do not condemn; help him out; help him find the better way. "Cast your bread upon the waters;" it will surely return; sometimes more quickly than you expect it. Therefore, give abundantly of all that is best in your life, and nothing is better than kindness and love. When you begin to live an ideal life you will desire more and more to live the largest life possible, and to accomplish this you must learn to be much to everybody.
Your purpose must be to be useful in the largest and truest sense of that term; and nothing can promote this purpose so thoroughly and so extensively as universal kindness. This does not imply, however, that you are to permit yourself to be imposed upon or unjustly used by the unscrupulous. It is our duty, as well as our privilege to demand the right at all times, and to demand justice for everybody and from everybody, but this should be done in kindness, with the antagonistic attitude eliminated. The love that loves everybody is not the love that seeks to gain personal possession of some object of affection. We refer to that larger kindness that excludes no one from our whole-souled good wishes. This form of love is the greatest power in the world, and the one who loves the most in this larger, truer sense will accomplish the most. The reason why is found in the fact that a great love invariably brings out all that is large, great and extraordinary in human nature. To state that the one who takes the greatest interest in the welfare of the world does the most to promote his own interests may seem to be a contradiction of terms; but it is true, and it proves conclusively that the one who gives his best to the world will invariably receive the best in return.
Never permit yourself to say that you cannot love every creature that lives; say that you do love everything that lives, and mean it. What you say you are doing that you will find yourself doing. This greater love illumines the mind, gives new life to every fiber in your being, removes almost every burden and eases the whole path of existence. Love removes entirely all anger, hatred, revenge, ill will, and similar states, a matter of great importance, for no one can live an ideal life while such states of mind remain. To have a sweet temper and loving disposition and a kind heart is worth more than tons of gold. We are all finding this to be true, and we realize fully that the person who loves everybody with that larger loving kindness has taken a long step upward into that life that is real life. This is not mere sentiment, but the expression of an exact scientific fact. A strong, continuous love will bring all good to any one who lives and acts as he inwardly feels.
4. Have faith in abundance.
Have faith in God; have faith in man; have faith in yourself; have faith in faith. Believe in everything, and you relate yourself to the best that is in everything. We all know the value of self-confidence, but faith is infinitely deeper, larger and higher. Self-confidence helps us to believe in ourselves, as we are at present, and thus helps us to make a better use of the talents we now possess; but faith elevates the mind into the consciousness of our larger and superior possibilities, and thus increases perpetually the power, the capacity and the efficiency of the talents we now possess. Faith brings out the best that is within us and puts that best to work now. He who follows faith may frequently go out upon the seeming void, but he always finds the solid rock, The reason is that faith has superior vision and goes instinctively to the very thing we desire to find. Faith does not expect things to come of themselves.
Faith never stands and waits; it does things; but while at work believes that the goal will be reached and the undertaking accomplished. The person who works in the attitude of faith can never fail; because through faith he draws upon the inexhaustible. The person who works in the attitude of doubt can never be at his best. Through the feeling of doubt he lowers his own ability; he holds back his best power and employs but a portion of his capacity; but the one who works in faith will press on to the very limit of his present capacity and then go on further still, because the more faith he has the more fully he realizes that there is no limit to his capacity, that the seeming void that lies before is positively solid rock all the way and he may safely proceed. Whatever you do believe that you can succeed in; do not for a moment permit yourself to doubt; know that the Infinite is your source, that you live in the universal and have the boundless upon which to draw for supply. If people or things do not come up to your ideal never mind; give them time; continue to have faith in their better selves; they will also scale the heights.
Expect them all to do their best, and most of them will do so now; the others will soon follow, if you live in the faith that they will. The unbounded faith of one soul can elevate the lives of thousands. This is a statement that is just as true as it is great, and we should constantly give it the highest place in mind. The man who has faith in the whole race is an inspiration to everybody. Many a person has risen rapidly in the scale because some one had faith in him. Faith is the greatest elevating power that we know in the world. Faith can convert any failure into success and can promote the advancement of everybody, no matter what the circumstances may be. Have faith in yourself and you will advance as you never advanced before. Have faith in others and they will inevitably follow. Have faith in the Infinite and the Supreme Power will always be with you. This power will see you through, whatever your goal may be. Therefore, if you would enter the new life, the better life, the ideal life, and inspire others to do the same, have faith in abundance.
5. Pray without ceasing.
The true prayer is the whole-souled desire for the larger, the higher and the better while the mind is stayed upon the Most High; and to pray without ceasing is to constantly live in that lofty desire. The forces of mind and body always follow our desires; therefore, if we would use our powers in building up a larger life we must have high desires and true desires. Turn your desires upward and keep them there; desire the greater things only; never desire anything less.
Those powers within you will cause you to become as true, as great and as perfect as your heart has prayed that you might become. To cause our desires, thoughts and states of consciousness to rise to the very highest states of being, we should employ the silence daily; that is, we should enter into the absolute stillness of the secret life of the soul. Through the silence we shall find the secret of secrets, the path to that inner world from which everything proceeds. To begin, be alone and comfortably seated. Or, you may enter the silence in association with someone that is in perfect harmony with yourself. Relax mind and body; close your eyes and be perfectly quiet; turn your attention upon the inner life of the soul and gently hold your mind upon the thoughts of stillness and peace.
Affirm with deep, quiet feeling,
"Peace is mine."
"I am resting in the stillness of the spirit."
"I have entered the beautiful calm."
"I am one with the Infinite."
“I am in the kingdom of the great within."
“I am in the secret places of the Most High,"
and similar states.
While you make these statements feel that you are peaceful and still and that you are now in that inner world where all is quiet and serene. When you feel this deep, sublime stillness you can use other affirmations according to your present needs. You may affirm that you are well and strong and happy and harmonious, and that you have full possession of all those qualities that you know have existence in real life. To feel the perfect peace of the soul, however, is the first essential. After that is attained your consciousness will deepen and you will enter the great within to a greater and greater degree.
While the mind is in this interior state of being every thought you think will be a power, and every desire you express will modify or change everything in your life according to the nature of that desire and in proportion to its depth and unity with the Supreme. For this reason you should train yourself to think only right thoughts and create only the truest desires while you are in the silent state. That which you think or do while in the silence will have a greater effect upon your life than that which you may attempt while on the surface of outer consciousness.
Therefore, everything that is important should be taken into the silence and through the silence to the Infinite. This corresponds perfectly with the statement
"Take it to the Lord in prayer."
The real purpose of the silence is to enable the mind to enter the inner life and not only recreate all thought according to the higher truth, but to enter into a more perfect touch with the divine source of things. The silence should be entered every day for ten, twenty or thirty minutes. This is a daily practice of extreme value.
Though you may not have any real results at first, simply continue; you will reach your goal. When you begin to become conscious of your interior life and begin to live more or less in touch with the world beautiful that is within you, you will find that you can live in this high, peaceful state the greater part of the time and thus be in the silence almost constantly. This is not only a most desirable attainment, but it is the one great attainment toward which every soul should work.
When a person can live in these higher realms always and constantly, and desire the realization of the highest and the best that he knows, the prayer without ceasing, the true spiritual prayer is being fulfilled. Such a prayer will be answered eternally. Every day will bring us something that we truly wished for, and every moment will be supplied with all that is necessary to make the present full and complete.
6. Think the truth.
When we learn to think the truth we have actually come to the "parting of the ways." Here we find where the old leaves off and the new begins. In this state the wrong disappears and the right is discerned and realized in an ever-increasing manner. The foundation of all truth is expressed in the basic statement "MAN IS A SPIRITUAL BEING CREATED IN THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF GOD". Being created in the image of God man is now divine and in possession of all the divine attributes. Each individual is now in possession of infinite wisdom, infinite power, infinite love, eternal life, perfect peace, everlasting joy, universal truth, universal freedom, universal good, divine wholeness, spotless virtue, boundless supply.
True, these attributes exist principally in the potential state, that is, they are possibilities waiting in the within for unfoldment, development and expression; nevertheless, they do exist in every soul and to a degree that is limitless. Therefore, every soul does actually possess those attributes, and to speak the truth we must recognize their existence and even now claim their possession. To think the truth you must think that you are divine in your true being, and that you possess these attributes, because this is the truth. You are divine in your true being, because you are created in the image of God, and you do possess the divine attributes just mentioned because that which is divine must necessarily possess the attributes of the divine.
To think contrary to this would be wrong thought, and from wrong thought comes all the wrong in the world. The average person does think contrary to this thought; therefore, he is almost constantly in bondage to sin, sickness or trouble of some kind. Divine wholeness, that is, perfect health of body and mind is yours now, always was and always will be; therefore it would be wrong for you to say, "I am sick." Your real being is never sick, never will be, because it is divine and you are the real being; you are not the body; you possess a body, and that body may be indisposed, if you create wrong thought, but that body is not you. You are a spiritual being created in the image of God, therefore you are always well.
When sickness appears on the surface, that is, in the body, know that it is on the surface only; that sickness is not in you; you are real being, and in real being perfect health reigns absolutely and eternally. The sickness that sometimes appears in the body is the result of a recognition of untruth, either expressed in wrong thinking or wrong living. Right thought, that is, that thought that invariably follows the recognition of absolute truth, would not produce sickness; and no person could become sick that is always filled and protected with the power of right thought. When the light reigns supremely, darkness cannot enter. Wrong thought comes from a false conception of yourself, and false conceptions will continue to form in mind so long as you are ignorant of the truth.
When you know the truth, that you are the image of God, perfect in your own true being, you will think this truth and all your thought will; consequently, only right conditions can exist in your life, and all will henceforth be well with you. When you see yourself as you are in your true being, that you are even now strong and well, in full possession of peace, love, power, wisdom, freedom and all the good that is in God, you will think of yourself accordingly and such thought is right thought. The result will be right conditions in mind and body. From center to circumference your entire being will be well and perfect, as it always was and ever will be in the truth.
To think the absolute truth at first seems a contradiction of known facts, because we are so used to judging from appearances, but when we find that appearances are simply the result of thought, that right thought produces good appearances, and wrong thought produces adverse appearances, and learn that true being is the image of God, we shall no longer see contradiction in thinking absolute truth. When we think the truth about ourselves we shall always think the truth about others; we shall, therefore, not think of them as they appear on the surface but as they are in the perfection of real spiritual being. We shall overlook, forgive and forget the wrong appearance, knowing that it is but a temporary effect of wrong thought, and we shall proceed to inspire everyone to change that appearance by thinking right thought, the thought of truth.
7. Live in the spirit.
To express this statement in its simplest terms, we would say that to live in the spirit is to live in the upper story of mind and thought, or to live on the good side, the bright side and the true side of everything. To the beginner this is sufficient, because this simple change in living must come before the higher spiritual consciousness can be realized; but the change though simple at first will completely revolutionize life. Ere long, however, the consciousness of the true side and the better side will become so clear that to live in the spirit will mean infinitely more than to simply dwell in the upper story of mind, and when this larger experience comes we shall know from our own illumined understanding what it means to live in the spirit. When we begin to think the truth all kinds of illusions and false beliefs will gradually vanish, and we shall not only understand that we are spiritual beings, but we shall feel that we are all that divine life can be.
We shall positively know that we are eternal souls living in a spiritual world now, expressing ourselves in a physical world, and we shall realize that we are actually created in the image and likeness of the Infinite, united with the Infinite and living in the life of Infinite being. Through the fuller realization of truth we will learn that the spiritual is not some vague, far away something that saints alone can know, but that spirit is the essence of all things, the very life of all things visible and invisible, and that spirit is in itself absolutely good and perfect. We will realize that there is but one substance from which all things proceed and that substance is the expression of spirit; we will see that there is but one life, the spiritual life, and that there is but one law, the eternal coming forth in a greater and greater measure of life.
We will find that spirit is the basis of all things, the soul of all things, and that therefore all things are in reality very good and very beautiful. We will find through the spirit that evil is but a temporary condition produced by man's understanding of the goodness and the completeness of real being and that to so live that we realize the absolute goodness and the perfect harmony of the whole universe is to live in the spirit. When we realize this we are on the true side of all things and we feel that we are. When we are in harmony with all things we are in harmony with the Infinite and can feel His presence always; and we also find that to "dwell in the secret places of the Most High" is to realize that we are in that great sea of life, the great spiritual sea, the universal state of being, the world of divine existence. While we are in this upper state, that is, in the spirit, we are away from the false, and actually in the true. We are in the spirit, and from the light of the spirit we can see clearly the truth concerning everything.
From this place we may ascend to other and greater heights and enter into the ever-increasing realms of life where existence becomes fairer and higher, too beautiful for tongue to ever describe. What is held in store for the soul that lives in the spirit, eternity alone can reveal, but that the life that is lived in the spirit is the only true life thousands have learned, both in this age and in ages gone by. To the beginner, however, the first essential is to get away from material life, that is, the common, the gross, the superficial, the ordinary, the perverted and the wrong; then to go up higher, to enter the world of light and live in the more beautiful realms of sublime existence. To live in the spirit, live in the highest and most perfect state now, and do not for a moment come down.
At first this state will simply be a life that is finer, larger and more harmonious, where things move more smoothly and where the value of life seems to constantly increase; but ere long living in the spirit will mean far more than merely a pleasing state of existence, and the further we advance the more this wonderful life will be, until we begin to understand the great soul who declared: "Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for them that love Him."
In this connection we must bear in mind that it is not necessary to reach the supreme heights in spiritual life before we can live in the spirit. We can live in the spirit no matter where we may be in the scale of life, because the spiritual life has just as many degrees as there are human souls. Live in the realization that this universe has soul, that this soul is divine, and that you live and move and have your being in that great soul. Realize this as fully as your present state of development will permit, and you have begun to live in the spirit.
The realization of the divinity of the soul side of all things will reveal to your mind the great truth that all things are perfect in their real state of being, and that the real of everything lives in a universe of spirit, a universe that is everywhere within us all and about us all. However, before we begin we must be convinced of the great truth that the spiritual life is not mere sentiment nor a mere feeling of mind and soul. The spiritual life is the real life, the foundation of all life, the essence of all life, the soul of all life, and every true statement concerning the spiritual life is an exact scientific fact readily demonstrated by anyone who will apply the principle. And happy is the soul that does apply this principle, for such a soul will find life in the spirit, not only to be real, but to be infinitely more perfect, more wonderful and more beautiful than anyone has ever dreamed.