Want fewer things but want those few things more.
- Elizabeth Towne.
Hunger goes selfishly thinking of food; Evil lies painfully yearning for Good.
- John Boyle O'Reily.
I only ask a will resigned, O Father, to thine own!
The one prudence of life is concentration; the one evil, dissipation. Everything is good which takes away one plaything and delusion more, and drives us home to add one more stroke of faithful work.
"Will concentration bring me what I desire? 0! I want something so much?" thus writes a friend of many years.
What is desire? I must consider it, as the consciousness of the pressure of the unfolding soul. Could consciousness be given the rose-bud in spring-time, I think it would be filled with desire; outward pressure is ex-pressure. So desire in the Human consciousness is but the demand of the soul for expansion through expression. Every desire must be gratified. Hunger is the prophecy of food. The hunger would not be were there not that which can satisfy it. Hunger and food are the two sides of one fact. Hunger the subjective side and food the objective. So is it with every desire; it not only can be but it is gratified.
But here is one important thought, one which will help you to an understanding of my assertion. There is here all the difference between principle and detail; between the universal and the individual; between desire and the thing desired; all the difference there is between hunger in the abstract and hunger for a particular food. Desire is soul-hunger - for what? For expression only. The soul, like the starling in Sterne's essay, cries, "I want to get out !" But it does not cry for any particular way or place in which to get out. Desire is of the subjective, of the spiritual life. That which gratifies desire is of the reason, of experience, of the objective life. When you ask me, "Will my desire be gratified?" I answer yes. "Will my desire for that particular thing be gratified?" That depends upon your choice, your persistency, your will. Desire causes us to want. Then we ask ourselves, what we want. Often in this condition we wish. Wishing is weakness; is dissipation of our forces. In wishing the Ideal is held momentarily and is changed so often that life becomes a composite of many pictures, none of which have taken shape and given satisfaction to the conscious mind; but because there has been expression in wishing and the soul has partial satisfaction.
No habit is more weakening than that of wishing - day-dreaming. It is idling away hours, vitiating the stream of life with mental poison, "vain imaginings," that simply flit through the mind leaving it weak, because as Will, the Ego is not trained to hold any one of them till it makes an impression upon the objective life. Desire, taking form in a mental picture held by the Will until it materializes, gives satisfaction to the conscious mind. Lowell says: -
But, would we learn that heart's full scope
Which we are hourly wronging, Our lives must climb from hope to hope
And realize our longing.
Then aside with wishing, day-dreaming, absent-minded hours, where we drift without helm or rudder; and in their stead, select that thing, or that condition, which will satisfy desire; lop off all others; give away one more delusion and go home through this concentration of desire to more faithful, because more earnest, work. Be sincere in your desire for things; be persistent in your desire for any one thing; then you must win. Desire things less, and desire growth, unfoldment, and expression more. It is not the thing that is of benefit, but the power to thus express: -
"I've found some wisdom in my quest
That's richly worth retailing; I've learned when one has done his best,
There is no harm in failing. I may not reach what I pursue
Still will I keep pursuing; Nothing is vain that I can do,
Since soul-growth comes of doing."
Desire less things in number but desire those less things tremendously, but not anxiously nor nervously. Keep at it with as steady a pull as do the crack crew of the college. Jesus gave the law which is never failing: - "Seek first the kingdom of Go(o)d and its righteousness and all things will be added." I think if I state the law thus you will understand it: - Seek first the consciousness of Power within your soul where All-power centers; live in accordance with soul laws, then things become subject to you. Before you can make effort to the attainment of anything, you must feel it is possible for you to attain it. There must be the Affirmation first of all - I desire this. Then there must arise the sense of power to have, to do, and to be, which finds expression in, I can! Then there must come the important decision I Will! Now comes the tug of war, the point where so many fail. They will to do, and do not. Having willed, you must put that decision into the keeping of the Will, and know, that at that moment you possess the thing desired. The affirmation for this, be it a thing desired, is I have! Be it an action, the Affirmation is I do! Do you desire health? Follow the evolution of the thought thus: - I have power to heal myself because Infinite Life finds expression through me.
Being infinite I can heal myself. Because I can, and desire it, I will! Because I have the power, desire and will, and have so decreed I am healed."
From the moment you make this decision let not that mental picture of health pass from your mind. The healing must begin at Cause, which is your mind, and the effect will show as health in your body. This desire for expression is seen in children. They want to do something. Wise parents and teachers give them something to do. Soul demands expression. When it is denied to children in a channel we desire for them, they take the one that offers, and we call it mischief, if we do not brand it, evil. But remember the law of all force. It moves in the line of least resistance. Human desire is a manifestation of force. It will move in the easiest line if not directed. The same tendency to do, and to let, blind desire lead them is seen in grown people. "What to do?" is their cry. And when there is not purpose, direction and self-control, they move in ways we deem unwise. Ills, evils and crimes are but the results of undirected desire. All desire will find expression. It says: - "I'll find a way or make one!"
And it must make one, for the individual must express or die, because what we call Life is the expression of Soul through the body.
Therefore where you have desire, give it expression, for if the way is not chosen and direction is not given, it will find some way. Repressed desires, and repressed emotions arising from them are the cause of every ill of body, mind or estate. You are even to remember, that you as Will must take charge of your judgment, must direct desire, or it will run riot. Directed desire is the source of all success. Undirected desire is the cause of all that we term evil. Desire is soul-force. Never forget this, then you will never ask: "Will my desire be gratified?" Force will find expression. Desire is your Life demanding expression. Will you diffuse it like heat lightning on a summer's night, or will you confine and direct it till it is the light upon your path and the motor power to your success? A story is told of a student who upon entering college placed over the door of his room a large red V. "What is it for?" he was often asked, but he never told. There it remained during the four years of his college life. He came out the valedictorian. On his last evening in his room, he invited his friends and pointing to the V, said: - "Now, you know what V stands for. I have won. I determined when I entered here to be valedictorian.
That was placed there to keep in mind my decision."
Is this not what is meant by "keeping thine eye single, then shall thy whole body be full of light." This young man, ignorant of the law, acted under it. He may, in his concentration upon this one thing, have lost his health, but it illustrates this principle, that you cannot scatter your mental powers over too many mere wishes. You must "climb from hope to hope and realize your longings," by holding them as mental images and letting them materialize. Can you realize your desire? Yes. This lesson tells you how. Will you pay the price? Is it worth your endeavor? Will it give you satisfaction? How many of the illusions and playthings in your life will you give up for it? You cannot have every little whim gratified, and then have some great desire satisfied also. Put your powder into Fourth of July explosions and your energy into social dissipation and you will have no power for defense, and no energy for the battle. "Why do I fail?" so many ask me. Here is your answer: - Dissipation of your energies by the satisfying of mere whims, in the dream born of temporary wants; by mental pyrotechnics; by living under ignoble motives, sacrificing to superficial social pleasures or directed by low aims. Concentrate upon something worth while and then stick.
You will then win and the result in the treasury of Eternity is Character. It is the sticking that counts. Hence this is your Affirmation - I am persevering. I never fail.
Memorize these glorious lines of Emerson and never doubt your ability again:
Laurel crowns cleave to deserts, And power to him who power exerts. Hast not thy share? On winged feet Lo! it flyeth thee to meet. All that nature made thine own, Floating in air or pent in stone, Will rive the hills, and swim the sea, And like thy shadow follow thee.