Among thy sons O God! let me be one.
- Edward Egleston.
To live divinely is man's work.
- Theodore Parker.
The thing we long for that we are
For one transcendent moment, E'er yet the present poor and bare
Can make its sneering comment. Still through our paltry stir and strife,
Glows the wished Ideal, And Longing moulds in clay, what Life
Carves in the marble Real.
I have suggested in previous sections that it is the picture in the mind that is of importance; that the Imagination is the creative power. I wish now to intensify this thought. All things are but material reflections of mental images. You realize this in the statue and the painting, the temple and the machine. On my wall hangs a most beautiful painting, "The Coming Light." The light is breaking through brilliant clouds, "In hues that envious make the pearl-shell, gem and flower." This picture is but a faint representation of the picture that was in the Soul of the painter. He did his best to catch it with canvas and brush. Had it not existed for him before the brush was in his hand, it would not have become my joy. There stands a statue in yonder museum that I love to gaze upon. Story saw that "Greek Slave" long before he took marble and chisel; but when the Idea possessed him It carved itself. A mental picture then; now it stands a marble dream, for the delight of man for ages.
Which is the real and which ideal? Which is transitory and which is permanent? Which is Truth and which illusion? Which is the thing, and which is the reflection? Fire, flood, age, neglect, may destroy the picture and the statue, but the idea cannot be destroyed. The eternal thing is the Idea; the transitory is its reflection in the sense-material. That which eternally exists is the unseen and the permanent; is the Ideal, created by the Human Mind from Divine Ideas. I wish you to memorize that most beautiful extract at beginning of this section from Lowell. It is scientific and better yet, it is Truth. And Oliver Wendell Holmes has something only a little less perfect which is also worth remembering:
Deal gently with us, ye who read!
Our largest hope is unfulfilled - The promise still outruns the deed -
The tower but not the spire we build. Our whitest pearls we never find;
Our ripest fruit we never reach; The flowering moments of the mind
Drop half their petals in our speech. These are my blossoms; if they wear
One streak of morn or evening's glow, Accept them; but to me more fair,
The buds of song that never blow.
This is but repeating in Holmes' beautiful way, the adage, "Men preach better than they practice!" And this is the most important fact I have for you in this lesson in Concentration. No progress without this Idealism. No practice without preaching proceeds it.
To see the buds mentally is to create them, and they will bloom not only in the eternal realm but also in the objective life. They lose beauty only when compared with their reflection in the realm of decay and death. Dr. Holmes and James Russell Lowell will find the greatest joy in creating, now they are freed from this sense-limitation of expression. The creator - Mind - is superior to the created - things - and the creation is, that the creator may still more perfectly create. We are now devotees to appearances, to creations, to things,
Emerson tells us: -
Things are in the saddle And ride mankind.
He tells us also that this "Law for Things," "Doth man unking," and adds: -
And what if Trade sow cities
Like shells along the shore, And thatch with towns the prairie broad,
With railway ironed o'er? They are but sailing foam-bells
Along Thought's causing stream, And take their shape and color,
From him that sends the dream.
And again he says of England's abbeys and the pyramids: -
Out of Thought's interior sphere These wonders rose to upper air.
I add to these words of Emerson these other words from him, prefacing them with that great line of Richard
Realf s : -
Vast the create and beheld, but vaster the inward creator!
Emerson looking to the "Over-soul," says of human creations:
These wonders grew as grows the grass,
Art might obey but not surpass.
The passive Master lent his hand
To the vast Soul that o'er him planned!
Mazzini, the Italian patriot and statesman, said to his countrymen: -
Love and reverence the Ideal; it is the country of the Spirit; the city of the Soul!
In no other country can the Human Mind live. The Imagination is the "home of the Soul." No happiness save the Ideal. Hope dwells there and Peace makes the Ideal her habitation. From that realm come all the manifestations of Thought. Man, through thought, is creator. His workshop is the unseen. His material, divine ideas. His tool, the Imagination. The product, Ideals. Amid Ideals, we live. They are our only companions. No man buys, wears, marries, or buries aught but his Ideals. He lives among them always and enjoys or suffers only through the creations of his mind. Life, world, men, conditions, the hereafter are to me what I think them; are to me what my Ideals of them are. It is important that you realize this, for your health, happiness, and success depend upon your realization of your creative power.
To realize that you possess, and that you do, either consciously or unconsciously, create every condition, is for you to become a conscious creator at all times, so that by creating Ideals to your desire and concentrating upon them, they become material actualities. Concentration is the only mental attitude under which Ideals shape themselves into the physical life. As long as you hold an Ideal before you, that long is it shaping itself in your body, your business and your social life. When you change your Ideal, then the new begins to shape itself. What has been your practice? Have you, like the sculptor, held to one Ideal till it "Carves itself in the marble real?" Or have you taken the Life-block and placed it in the hands of an Ideal to-day, changing to another to-morrow, and then to another, till you have had as many Ideals as there are days? Have you not changed the details of the work every hour? You decided in the morning you would have a statue of Health, but before noon you changed it to Pain, at midday to Grief, at mid-afternoon to Success, and at sunset to a Satyr laughing at Failure, and at bedtime to Remorse, and awaken at morn with a statue of Hope? Is not your life a composite of all these and a thousand more? And this because you have not held one picture before it long enough for the picture to become fixed as a mental habit.