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18 . . . The Thinking UNIVERSE
While Infinité Life is not divisible and is everywhere in all things, we will for the present accommodate ourselves to our habit of thought and think of it and its Expressions separately. At once we can find a common viewpoint—we are all Living. We do not all live alike, because by heredity and environment we are not so constituted as to reason all alike. Heredity and environment affect our ideas of values. We do not all like the same things. To the Esquimaux in the frozen North a piece of whale blubber, disgusting to differently bred residents of a milder climate, is a savory morsel. Even amongst people inhabiting the same zone, of the same race, and very much the same religion, there are many superficial differences as to ways of living. The carpenter, the blacksmith, the clerk, the farmer, the professional man, in the ordinary routine of living, works as he thinks, and the monotony of his life is great or small according to the amount of thought he devotes to his work. Until recently women's tasks
were less varied and more monotonous than those of . men, and it is no wonder they considered their daily
routine of housekeeping and dish-washing, cooking, and sewing, and bed-making, and scrubbing, insufferably dull. Because their tasks excited but little reasoning, they did little living.
To get a yet nearer viewpoint of Living, let us drop all differences as to ways of “making a living” and glance at the social life of two modern homes. The home of the wealthy man is luxurious, but not necessarily happy. Leisure does not always cause good reasoning, and where good reasoning is absent good conduct cannot be found. If all the reasoning in the home is about money, fashion, pleasure, all the conversation will be about such things. In the poor man's home necessity may cause money to be a topic frequently discussed, together with the absence of pleasure, variety, and ease, and the result is the same—poor living because of poor reasoning.
Let us get nearer still. The wife and mother is on her deathbed. In both homes alike the griefstricken family is gathered about the loved one who is about to pass away. The grief in both cases is heartfelt, the anguish of parting acute. Both homes have come to the same door, and as it opens and the spirit flutters out they stand on the same plane, they are confronted by a general principle, that living Here and Now must terminate. They are uplifted and purified to the extent of their conception of what this so-called Death means, but in no case do they really feel that living is over for THEM, though it may be for HER. They do not wish, they do not even attempt to lie down and die with her, no matter what their love for her may have been. Why? The Urge of Life is too strong within them to entertain such a thought. They go about their tasks as usual, and the agony of grief is a thing folded up and laid away. The business man, the inventor, the speculator, the adventurer, fails, but he tries again. Why? There is an Urge within him that keeps him from giving up. Human persistence would be incredible, non-existent, if it were not for that something within us which persists in spite of failures. The world is said to love a lover and to hate a quitter. The Universe is held together by the attraction of things to their kind, but there is no such thing as quitting in the Infinite; everything is continuous in some form. No man commits suicide until he has made up his mind that it is Right for HIM to do so. Worry, overwork, fear, a weariness of reasoning what to do next, may put the physical machinery by which he expresses himself out of order, but you may be sure that even in his deranged state he reasons he is doing right when he puts himself out of his sensuous body. Even the pessimist, that unfortunate creature of whom it has been said that of two evils he chooses both, does not “quit,” though we often wish he would. Why? Because there is something better, more hopeful, in him, than he expresses. He is only trying to make an average for himself by seeking to bring his fellowmen down to the low level of weariness of all things as they are.
We will see before we get very far in these studies how many of the commonest expressions we so frequently use are full of meaning that we have never appreciated, and we will cease to doubt the presence within us of the Infinite Urge to Rightness that is continually shaping the phrases by which we express ourselves. For instance, have you ever stopped to consider where you “go” when you “go to sleep,” or where people “go” when they “go crazy,” or what becomes of the sound when it “dies away,” or the light when it “goes out”? Did you ever ask yourself why you “must have some excuse” before you do anything of doubtful propriety? Now that your attention is called to it, you will remember often having used or heard the old saying, “Be sure you are right, then go ahead.” How do you get sure you “are right,” and how do you “go ahead”? We so seldom consider our mental processes. Simple as they are when we come to understand them, it is not strange that we so often find ourselves in a mental fog, and rashly accuse LIFE of being unintelligible or stupid, while the stupidity is ours and LIFE is unintelligible only because we have not sincerely sought to understand it. “All that a man hath will he give for his life.” This oft-quoted text does not overstate the case, yet every day we are made aware that men, consumed by passion or lust, risk their lives by slaying their fellows, or in some hazardous attempt to obtain money or fame, while yet others, unheeding the strongest human instinct, self-preservation, endanger or lose their lives to save their fellow-creatures. Why? What is the mainspring of life? Why are some people diseased, distorted, while others are apparently well and happy? Why is there any sickness at all, any such thing as we call death? Why are some rich and prosperous, while others are poverty-stricken and appear to be helpless in their fight for their share? Why are some happy and hopeful while others are miserable and despairing? Why Job’s ancient and anguished cry, “If a man die, shall he live again?” Theologians and scientists are as wide apart as the poles in answering these questions, and fail to satisfy that which we call Reason.
Why? Is Reason a thing to be satisfied?
Is it worth your while to seek the law of your Being P. As you cannot escape Being and should seek to know how to Be Right, the answer seems easy. To the open-minded and thoughtful the appeal of well-founded and concentrated Reason should not be difficult and should receive careful and honest