When we consider that hundreds of thousands of earths like our own could be taken into the sun through one of the holes on its surface which we call "sun spots," and that this sun is but as a single grain of sand com pared with the number of the heavenly bodies, we get a faint idea of the earth's littleness, and of the immensity of the universe.
The idea that, literally,
"All are but parts of one stupendous whole Whose body Nature is and God the soul," that there is but one principle running through the universe, one life, one truth, one reality, and that this principle is divinely beneficent, is the most inspiring, encouraging idea that ever entered the human mind.
When we realize that we are actually one with our neighbor we cannot help loving him as ourselves, because he is one with us in his oneness with the great universal principle which underlies ail being, which is the truth of all truths. It is our ignorance of this oneness of life, our failure to realize this marvelous unity of being that gives us a false sense of life. This is what makes us selfish. This is why we grab things from our neighbor because we do not know that he is really ourself.
To contemplate the oneness of all creation, to hold fast to the truth that all things are but a manifestation of the creative thought of God, not only draws all people closer to God and to one another, but it enlarges the mind and enriches the nature as nothing else can. The habit of looking upon all human beings as one kills ill-will and hatred. It removes all prejudice against unfortunate human beings who have gone astray, sinned greatly, or become criminals. The thought of our oneness with the Creator gives us a new view of life, a new thought of man and a new thought of God.
This idea of man's unity with God captured the imagination of Edgar Allan Poe, who said: "Think that the sense of individual identity will be gradually merged in the general consciousness; that man, for example, will at length attain that awfully triumphant epoch when he shall recognize his existence as that of Jehovah! . . . This is not an atheistic banishment of God and His holy angels, but is, on the contrary, the enthronement of a new Jehovah - a God that has become conscious and potent in the human mind."
The full realization of our oneness with God; that we actually live, move, and have our being in Him will elevate our standards, will give us wider, nobler views of life.
Selfishness will then disappear because it will not mean anything, or rather because we shall see that it only hurts us, since all are working for the same end. We have no desire to cheat ourselves, to get something desirable away from ourselves; and when we realize that we are all parts of one life, branches of the same parent vine, we shall have no desire to get things away from others, to take advantage of them, to cheat them, because that would only mean cheating and robbing ourselves. It would be like a man taking money out of one pocket and putting it into the other and trying to convince himself that he had made a good bargain, that he had gained something. If my brother is myself, and I know it, I can have no desire to take advantage of him.
The truth is that love is the great mind opener, the great heart opener, the great developer. It is what holds society together. It is the source of all peace and harmony. If children in all countries were trained to love humanity, to love all countries and their inhabitants as they are taught to love their own Country and countrymen, there would be no wars. But even the great war now devastating the earth, is teaching us the unity of human interests, in that what injures one injures all. We are all, in greater or less degree, suffering from its effects. And so unless we all work together now and after this war is over to bring good out of evil, the suffering and the sacrifices it has involved will be in vain.
We have been drawn into this tragic war in defense of justice and democracy, and we are going to see to it that it shall be the end of war. The world has tried the hatred way, the way of war, the butchering way all up through the centuries, and they have never worked. Force has always been a failure. Civilization has tried all sorts of ways which have failed; only one way has worked under all sorts of conditions, and that is love's way. It is the only way which will banish wars and human strife, hatred and revenge, selfishness and greed from the world. A principle which always works; which fits every case and every emergency, must be a universal principle.
The time will come when man will think of his neighbor as himself, because all men will then see the oneness of all life, of all truth, of all principle. The coming man will know that whatever hurts his neighbor will hurt himself, because we are all one with the One. The coming man will see that he is not a separate unit, but that he bears the same relation to mankind as a whole as a drop of water bears to the ocean. He will know that "the thought and will of God are in every particle of the substance of the universe, in every manifestation of energy, power or force, and in every manifestation of life."
Already we are beginning to find that all human beings are so closely related that one suffers or rejoices, is happy or miserable, according as others are affected. Our welfare, our prosperity, our happiness, are not separate from the general welfare, prosperity and happiness; they are interdependent. And the time will come when we shall not consider any city or town either moral or beautiful so long as it tolerates cancer spots, black spots of poverty and squalor, crime and misery in its midst.
"No man has come to true greatness," says Phillips Brooks, "who has not felt in some degree that his life belongs to his race, and that what God gives him, He gives him for man kind." We cannot lay claim to real humanity, let alone greatness, until we have conquered all inclination to enrich ourselves at the expense of our neighbor, to take advantage of him in any way. Only in so far as we treat our neighbor as ourselves will we find true happiness and success.