Whatever we know ourselves to be deficient in, that is the one thing we should try to cultivate. Life can only be understood in a whole and in a complete way through knowing it and living it. We may say that we can profit to some degree by the experience of others, but after all it is only the one who has lived who really knows, and life is intended to be lived to its full, not in some things but in everything that will make for harmonious living. In striking the keys of life, we shall not always produce harmony; but it is through the constant practice that the real knowledge and harmony is attained. We should remember, too, that whatever we bring to life we receive from it again. The discords we create for others come back to us redoubled. The harmonies we are able to bring to brighten and uplift our fellow-men are returned to us in an increased way to bless and to comfort our own lives. This is the law, and all may reap the joy and the gladness of life, the love and the hope of life, if they so will. We come to know and understand things or people aright only through learning to love them. It is through loving understanding that the clouds of life are dispelled and the real appreciation of any thing or person comes; so, if any person be lacking in what some term the musical sense, let him desire to know, to understand, and to feel music, and through such desire must come the love and the appreciation of music, and this in turn will tend to the enlargement of his mental and spiritual horizon.
Sometimes we speak of people as being discordant. A discordant person is one who is not attuned, one in whom the melody, rhythm, and harmony of life are absent. To produce accord it will be necessary to establish all three. While each individual is a unit, the unit may be said to have three phases through which it expresses itself: soul, mentality, and sense. Love and the deepest feelings of joy, faith, hope, and peace are all soul states; logic, imagination, thought, reason, and judgment are all mind states; while the five senses are most closely allied to man's physical organism. As all three fulfil their purpose, man strikes the major chord of his being. If he is using mind and sense alone, the two only make an incomplete chord. The great object of life must ever be to produce a full chord and, having done this on any scale of being, man is preparing the way for the sounding of a new chord on a still higher octave or plane of being.
The fundamental note of the highest music in life is love. It is like the white ray which when broken up discloses the seven prismatic colours. So love, when differentiated, expresses itself through faith and hope, through peace and joy, through goodness and gentleness, and all these give to life its real character, and its rhythm, its melody, and its colour. Life is a constant process of development. One step taken in the right direction brings with it the necessary vision for still another. The ideals we hold in mind are always a little beyond our performance, and with every -effort we make to live life in the best possible way the ideal is ever enlarging. We never arrive at any ultimate end, for what seems to be the end of one phase of living is only the beginning of another. Progress is eternal.
Soul-satisfying music must come from the soul. For only in this way can music become the universal language that can be heard and understood by all people. The thoughts expressed through words, whether those words be spoken or sung, do not necessarily tell their story to ears unfamiliar with the language used; but when heart speaks to heart from the depths of inner feeling, then none are so deaf but that they may hear. Music may be made such a potent factor that it will awaken the very highest feelings in the life of man, and through the awakening will come a life such as he was intended to live from the beginning. The whole life will become a vibrant melody filled with the real joy of living. If we could only realise that as life progresses there is an ever-increasing wonder of music and colour, but that only through inner development can come the appreciation of it, then we should look forward, not with doubts and fears to sorrowful, or painful, or evil consequences that may befall us in the future time, but with pleasurable anticipation to the greater joys that we know await us.
The greatest of all music must be the product that comes, as it were, directly from the soul - music that is coloured by the highest emotions. All music that changes and passes away is of the purely superficial emotional kind which may produce disturbances of mind and body, but never affects man's soul for good or for ill. As the soul can only recognise the real in the music of life, the more we use the highest and best music we already have, the more shall we be able to enter into that higher consciousness from which all divine music is drawn. Every great composer, poet, painter, or sculptor has, at one time or another in his life, done certain work that, in a way, transcended that which his mind was able, in a sense, to conceive. It was as though something else worked within him to will and to do, that his work was more an expression of his deepest feelings than his best thought. Although his thought was necessary to the giving of form to his work, nevertheless, the work held far more of what he had felt than of what he had thought. We call this inspiration, and inspiration is drawn from one great Source. It comes through the soul, the individual being brought into contact with the Universal Soul. It is through such contact that the highest state of feeling in man's soul is brought into activity; and, in turn, this activity becomes the factor that is going to renew the mind of man, and through this renewing power will come the true outer expression of whatever one is doing, be it music or poetry, painting or sculpture. The expression takes its form from the new and living ideal that has entered the mind from the divine Source of Being. It is told that Fra Angelico gave himself up to hours of prayer before he began to paint, and one need only to look at his pictures in order to feel something of that sanctity and ideality he was able to put into them. Michael Angelo, too, must have been inspired when he painted the wonderful frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, and his "Last Judgment;" also when he sculptured the incomparable statue of Moses. Beethoven's symphonies, at times, seem to have been inspired by something which transcended the mind of man, and Wagner, in certain parts of his operas that have to deal with the more spiritual side of life, is able to appeal to the very highest and deepest within the life of man.