How very wonderful it would be if all humanity could every day in the year find their Easter in themselves, in their souls, in their friends, in nature, in the divine. What a wonderful world we should have -- and it is possible to do this today and ever afterwards. The divine light that is ever attempting to shine in the hearts of men is an ever-present, divine power. But humanity has drifted so far away from the realization of its own essential divinity and its royal heritage that it has lost its way -- yet not lost it entirely, as is proved by the fact that at every Easter we do find ourselves meeting together, touched more deeply, perhaps, than at other times with the outward manifestation of gladsome nature which we to our loss so little understand.
The Easter celebration is very ancient in its origin. For thousands of ages before Jesus Christ, people absolutely believed in their own essential divinity. Not just an individual here and there, but the great sweeping mass of the people in those olden times had a firm belief in the essential divinity of man's soul. They were aware of the beautiful possibilities of following the divine urge in us, while we have been drifting steadily downwards. No matter how much wealth or intellect or education or culture we have in the outward sense, what man really needs to give him the secret of living, the worthwhileness of life, is that quality of the soul and of the heart which bespeaks the divinity within. Each one of us has known it at some time and under some circumstances, otherwise we could not smile, we could not love anything, we would be at cross purposes with everything. It is the eternal, divine life growing in the hearts of men.
Nature awaits all the time our recognition of the wonderful, invisible forces of the inner life. The reason we do not take into our souls the sweeping forces of these divine, eternal, permanent qualities is that we have lost faith in ourselves, in our fellow men, and in our inner god. If it were not so, we would have no war, no semblance of war. We would all be living together peacefully, doing the duties of everyday life, but spiritually conscious of the inner life, drinking in the strength and the beauty of the eternal life. Every man, when he tests his strength, when he challenges his own soul, reaches out into the sunshine of life and finds that life is worth living.
In the ancient days, ages before the time of Jesus Christ, the pagans understood the symbology of Eastertime; and simply because in later days they introduced many things that were not right, the pagans have been much looked down upon. But the celebration of Easter was originally a pagan festival, which the Church Fathers later adopted and turned into a Christian observance when they found that the ideas associated with it were so ingrained into the very lives of the multitude that it was of no use to attempt to change them. The real purpose of the ancient Easter festival was to impress upon the minds of men the power of the Christos or Christ-spirit that is in every man.
We have opportunities continuously of making every day an Easter festival, a day of the resurrection or the evoking of the spiritual side of our natures, for every man is a Christ in degree. But we and our ancestors before us have been moving along under the psychology of the ages, half-blinded with the teaching that Jesus alone was the special Son of God, and that the rest of humanity were miserable sinners whose only salvation lay in something outside themselves. Such a conception deprives humanity of its rightful spiritual heritage.
But on a day like this, when millions are celebrating the Easter festival all over the world, people are very much affected by the idea of the resurrection, even though they do not fully understand its meaning. For the time being it takes one away from the limitations of worldly things, away from the distractions and allurements that blind so many, away from one's peculiarities, his idiosyncrasies, fears, doubts, mistakes, and the pains of everyday existence. These all disappear when one can realize that the meaning of the resurrection is the coming of the spiritual soul in man into its own splendor.
We are all travelers along life's pathway, aiming to reach perfection. Reincarnation is the great process by which it is possible for man to advance towards this goal of perfection. Keeping these thoughts in mind, and invoking the power of the higher imagination, we can all create ideals in our own lives, and then work for them, strive for them, and realize them in degree. A recognition of man's essential divinity is the spiritual basis on which to stand.
Easter is a day of invocation not only to nature and the gods but to every human being, to awaken, to arouse himself from half-sleeping, half-thinking, and to step out into a new world of beauty and great possibilities, bringing the divine man to the conscious recognition of the masses. It is a fact that humanity has been moving along half-asleep ever since the time when Christianity was established. In saying this it should be remembered that much in Christianity is very beautiful, and much of this was found also in the pagan religions; but the forms of the Christian religion were fashioned by the minds of men. A religion that constantly reminds one of his sins, of his mistakes, and of his weaknesses appeals principally to the negative side of man's nature, especially when the effort is forever repeated to have him realize that the only way by which he can be "redeemed" is by resting all hope of spiritual advancement upon faith alone or on a power outside himself.
Jesus was a great initiate, one of the few great men who at different epochs have arisen to a position where they have consciously known their essential divinity and have lived in it and have rejoiced in it. Jesus loved humanity: he served it gloriously and magnificently. And the saving power of the divine that was in him is in all of us, if we could only reach it, if we could only be aroused and awakened, as Jesus was, if we would look forward and accept the spiritual heritage that belongs to all humanity.
With this conception, and with a conviction of the truth of reincarnation, which gives man opportunity after opportunity in his different lives at the various stages of his progress, we can face the inmost weaknesses of our own natures with the bright picture ever before us of the godlike qualities lying hid in man. But these must be aroused, developed, accentuated if man is to advance in self-directed evolution.
Man cannot face the universe with that quality of trust that is the working of the spark of divinity within him, until he is generous enough to see that some of this same spiritual life is in all humanity. This is the meaning of the New Day: it is the opportunity for man to challenge himself, to look within himself for the divine ray that is his real self. It is a superb day for making new resolutions and holding to them. No matter what the difficulties are, no matter what the sorrows are, no matter how poor and forgotten and ignored and apparently helpless one may be, this is the right of every man.
But each must find the path for himself, each must seek the way of salvation through his own efforts rather than to wear his soul out, weighed down with the consciousness of his weaknesses and of his mistakes, depending upon everything but the godlike qualities within himself. Bear in mind, this negative attitude of thought leads a man away from his rightful spiritual heritage. No wonder, then, that he ceases effort and follows the downward path of degeneration along with those who lack the spiritual knowledge that should be theirs.
The man who believes not in his own essential divinity, who has in his thought no future beyond the one life on earth, is verily to be pitied, for truly he has lost his way. But not even he is permanently lost, for there is another chance for him too. However disturbing the psychology of the age, it cannot affect the real deeper divinity of man, which the spiritually awakened man alone has the sacred privilege of understanding.
Today, now, this very moment, is an appropriate time for man to invoke something new and better within himself. He cannot help others until he believes in himself. He must know the inner quality of his divine nature, he must feel its presence constantly -- its support, its inspiration. He must feel that inner urge which accentuates the fact that all men are immortal, that inner urge which makes humanity like unto a host of young gods traveling along the path to perfection.
Why waste your time in fears and doubts or in discouragement and despair? Learn to respect the holy part of man's nature -- the divine soul -- that each life may be pure and true and strong and clean and forceful. Above all things, realize the sacredness of human life. This is what every awakened man and woman must do. And it is the easier way, it is the way that will keep the sun shining in one's heart and eyes, even when he is parting from his tired and worn-out body.
Can you not go with me in thought for a moment to a sick-room, where the immortal soul of someone is winging its way to the eternal while the body is breathing its last on this plane? Can you not see how differently one meets death who believes in his own essential divinity, who knows his spiritual rights, who has moved along the path of self-directed evolution: how different such a one meets death from the one who accepts merely on faith the philosophy of redemption through another. Death is very beautiful, for in death the spiritual soul, the inner life of man, finds its place -- it is resurrected. The body is tired and worn out, but the change for the next life is advancement, progress, for those who wish it; those who turn away from it will have to wait for their next turn, their next incarnation.
Consider the glorious picture of a man in his godlike qualities, convinced of the truth of reincarnation, going forward along the path fully alive, pregnant with bright hope and divine trust, believing in this life and another and still another, and meeting eternity with the courage of a god. With this consciousness pulsating in his very blood, he would set his difficulties behind him and become a glorious and splendid example of the Christ-spirit.
If we could step forth into the silence of nature with new courage, new trust, new hope, seeking within ourselves the eternity of things, it would not be long before the very trees and the flowers would talk to us, and the swish of the ocean washing the shores would sing a new song to us, and the sun would shine more gloriously: the very silence of nature would preach to us the greatness of the Christos-spirit in man; of man living in his divinity, in the consciousness of his power, making every moment so sacred and sweet and clean as to wipe out the record of past mistakes and prejudices and hatreds and dislikes; bathing in the light of man's godlike nature, feeling the whole universe alive with the possibilities ahead for the world's children -- for you and for me! Why not set ourselves to do right in the thought that on this glorious new day of the resurrection we should prepare ourselves for the battle of life, which will mean victory and permanence for all those things which go towards the enlightenment and uplifting of the human race?
The great thing is at all times to hold within oneself the consciousness of the essential divinity of man to such a degree that nothing can uproot its power. This is one of the greatest treasures and most blessed privileges that anyone can have. When one reaches this point, he will not have to talk so much in order to make people understand even a little. His very soul will be illuminated and his voice will speak in tones that he has never made before. His very presence will sing to the world in the silence of the glories of the higher law, of the eternal man, of the peace of the world, and of love for all humanity. Then, if one allows his imagination to spread out a little farther, he will vision the marvelous triumphs that mankind will achieve even in one life. But of course it takes time -- everything worth while requires time to consummate.
Many good people suffer today unnecessarily because they do not understand the meaning of life's apparent injustices. So they become discouraged and lose faith in themselves and then they lose faith in humanity. It is time that we brought again to the attention of the world the great philosophy of the ancient wisdom, that humanity may know what it holds for them. Then our minds would be in accord with all that lives, our souls would be enlightened on the journey along the eternal path, our vista would be enlarged, every truth would have a mighty meaning.
The very best remedy today for most of the ills that humanity suffers from is the practice of self-control. But how can we expect human beings to practice self-control without the key that unlocks the secrets of acquiring self-control? This key is the knowledge of man's essential divinity. This is the key that opens the door to many of the mysteries of life and explains them. It makes a golden road for man to tread along the journey of his life. Conscious of his essential divinity, of his spiritual dignity, of his sacred responsibilities, man may walk verily like a god. There are, of course, different degrees of godhood -- I am referring to the godlike qualities in man, for there is innate divinity in man and he will find it after a while, after many experiences on earth, after many trials and failures in different lives.
Life can be made very beautiful in spite of the fact that it is so often made the other way. But what an insult to the great central source of light for anyone to accept the idea that the Creator established this earth to be filled with millions of human beings, who have seemingly nothing to do with their coming into existence, who have no choice in the matter, and that then this same Creator allowed his own creatures to be born in sin and condemned them to go through life powerless to meet their difficulties and to overcome their weaknesses. What a horrible thing to think of -- what chance has humanity, if such a doctrine be true?
Today is the beginning of a new time! Nature is pleading with us, singing the song of the soul-life of man. But the message of this new day is the message of reform in the highest sense -- the knowledge of the universal life ever in us and with us and working ever for us, and of our essential divinity to believe in, to live in, and to become.
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