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Living the Radiant LifeA Personal NarrativeByGeorge Wharton James
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Living the Radiant Life
A Personal Narrative
George Wharton James
CHAPTER I. THE RADIANCIES OF NATURE
CHAPTER II. THE RADIANT AURA
CHAPTER III. A FEW WORDS IN PASSING
CHAPTER IV. VARIED RADIANCIES
CHAPTER V. RADIANCIES OF INDIVIDUALITY
CHAPTER VI. CONFLICTING RADIANCIES
CHAPTER VII. RADIANCIES OF FEAR
CHAPTER VIII. THE RADIANCY OF REBUKE
CHAPTER IX. WHAT I WOULD RADIATE TO THE WRONG DOER
CHAPTER X. THE RADIANCIES OF TOLERATION
CHAPTER XI. OUT OF DOOR RADIANCIES
CHAPTER XII. RADIANCIES OF JOY, INSPIRATION, AND SERENITY
CHAPTER XIII. RADIANCIES OF THE WILL
CHAPTER XIV. RADIANCIES OF CHEERFULNESS
CHAPTER XV. RADIANCIES OF MORAL COURAGE
CHAPTER XVI. RADIANCIES OF CONTENT AND DISCONTENT
CHAPTER XVII. RADIANCIES OF SINCERITY
CHAPTER XVIII. RADIANCIES OF SERVICE
CHAPTER XIX. RADIANCIES OF HUMOR
CHAPTER XX. RADIANCIES OF THE "ETERNAL NOW"
CHAPTER XXI. RADIANCIES OF EXTREMES
CHAPTER XXII. ABSORPTION IN RELATION TO RADIATION
CHAPTER XXIII. RADIANCIES OF DEATH
From the standpoint of religion the lives of "good" men and women may be divided into two great classes, viz., those who do no active wrong, whose conduct is based upon the "thou shalt nots" of the Bible, the law, and society, and those whose every thought is to do some active good.
I am far more interested in the latter than the former class. I am not content simply to forego doing wrong. I want to do, to be. Hence when the idea of Living a Radiant Life took hold of me, it sank deep, and is now part of my inner self. It was natural, therefore, that I should seek to formulate my thoughts as to what I desired to radiate. This seeking soon taught me that I already was a radiant being; every thought, every act, every word written or spoken was a radiant act, having its influence for good or evil upon my fellows, and that, therefore, I must decide speedily what I wanted to avoid radiating, and that which I would radiate.
The following pages are some of the results of my earnest cogitations, deliberations, reflections, and decisions. Consequently they partake strongly of personal preachments applied to myself. They may be regarded as a record of personal aspirations and longings, of spiritual hopes, of living prayers, and desires. And they are purposely written in the personal form in the sincere hope that they will help others to put into similar form their own half-formed thoughts, desires, and aspirations.
This book is not offered as a complete manual of life. It is merely a suggestion to others of the larger, wider, better, nobler thing they may do for themselves. It is my desire to arouse thought, to stimulate ardent longings for something beyond the gratification of the senses, to lead my readers to strive more earnestly for unselfish living, and to encourage them in their endeavors to find, realize, and live those spiritual truths which redeem human beings from their mortal inheritance of imperfection.
The main test of any system of religion or code of life is: Does it work? If it is not practical; applicable to all the events of daily life; enabling one to cope with problems as they arise; making one more helpful to mankind, less selfish, less censorious, less vain, less proud, less obstinate, less cruel, less thoughtless, less despondent; and, on the other hand, exciting and stimulating one to be more humane, more tender and compassionate with sinning humanity, more humble and ready to learn, more amenable to the suggestions of the wise and good, more kind, more considerate, more generous, more noble, more aspiring, then, indeed, has it proven itself to be a broken reed, instead of a tried staff upon which one may lean.
No longer to me is religion a question of "Thou shalt not." The "don'ts" of life are of far less importance than the "dos." He whose life is occupied with doing good has little time or thought for doing harm. Christ's method of living was positive and active, rather than negative and passive. He went about, doing good. He said: "Do unto others as ye would have them do unto you." He taught love in action: Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.
Hence I earnestly hope that every one of the following pages will contain some helpful thought for all who are seeking the more perfect life; and also for those who are sitting in the darkness of discouragement, under the depressing temptation to regard life as a "failure." There is no man living, no matter how low in body, mind, or soul, but can be helped into happiness; no woman so utterly lost to all good who may not live to feel the sprouting of angel wings because of the birth within her soul of helpful, unselfish love.
Goethe's cry was for "more light," and as life comes with light in the material world, so light and life are inseparably connected in the mental and spiritual world. There is no real darkness in life. There may be a temporary withdrawal of solar light, but we know that as surely as all the days of the past have dawned, so the sun will shine again to-morrow. And through all the seeming mists of doubt, fear, and pain the true spiritual light forever shines to give immortal life. Let us take Life then as God's gift, and as we progress daily to a more perfect expression of freedom from all that would wrongfully enthrall us, let us seek diligently to "let our light shine" upon those around who seem to live in the shadows.
I would come, in these pages, as the glorious sun, bringing warmth, healing, and purification. I would come as the stimulating breeze that vivifies and refreshes—the breeze that has its birth on the vast Pacific where all impurities are scrubbed out of it in a thousan+d miles of storms, then floats gently over the orange and lemon groves, the rose gardens and violet beds, the sweet scented blossoms of ten thousand times ten thousand shrubs of California; then, laden with sweet odors and charged with the bromine and ozone of the ocean, climbs over the steep Sierran heights and becomes cool and filtered through the vast pine and juniper forests, and adds the balsams of health and strength, distilled from a million trees and shrubs, ere it falls to the desert and is there rendered aseptic and antiseptic. Like such a health-laden breeze would I come to weary men and women, tired and exhausted with the battle of life, sick of its complexities and frivolities, longing for spiritual as well as physical health, and seeking the happiness that comes alone when we live for the happiness of others.
My desire is to send forth a message that will bless body, mind, and soul, just as a triple song, whose melodies blend in perfect harmony, carries healing, strength, and inspiration. For he indeed is thrice blessed who knows the joy of life in its threefold manifestation, who has a body that is vigorous and healthy, a mind alert and active, quick to observe and reflect, to discern and classify, and a soul whose emotions and aspirations are ever to help, encourage, comfort, and purify humanity.
The conditions for such a life are in the "Everywhere" waiting to be born into the "Here," and God's time is now.
Many of these chapters originally appeared in the pages of Physical Culture Magazine, and to my good friends, its editor and founder, Bernarr Macfadden, and the present editor, John Brennan, I tender my cordial thanks for the privilege of reprinting which they have generously accorded.
George Wharton James
OH, ALMIGHTY GOD, Thou radiant source of all power, life and love, Thou free giver of sun and earth, clouds and wind, flowers and trees, fruits and birds, bees and butterflies, work and play, tenderness and unselfishness, sympathy and love, so fill us with Thyself that we shall become radiant beings like Thyself. Make us innocent as little children, simple as the young animals of the hills and fields, beautiful in soul as are the flowers, heaven-aspiring as are the trees, soothing as are the gentle breezes of night, warming as is the sun, fluid to meet all needs as water, restful as night, eager for work as the dawn, joyous in all life as the birds, and thankful for labor as the busy bees. Give us the needy to bless, the loveless to love, the sinful to stimulate and encourage to goodness, purity, and truth, the orphan to father, the degraded to uplift, and at the same time the wise to be our teachers and the serene to lead us into peace. Be Thou our Constant Vision, longing and aspiration—nay, be Thou our never-failing companion, counselor and friend. So shall we become radiant, true children of Thine, possessed of Thy likeness and radiating the glory and beauty of Thyself.
Everything in Nature is radiant. Use the term in its broad sense and there is nothing to which it does not apply. The sun radiates light and heat, and without it life would be impossible. The moon radiates light, but practically no heat. Its light is reflected and of an entirely different character from that of the sun, so that no one ever mistakes the one for the other. The stars have a light all their own which they, though so many millions of miles away from us, radiate in varying intensities. And many of these stars are so individualistic in their radiancies that each one, though perfect, is different from each other one, and may readily be detected by its own peculiarities. Every flower that grows, from the night-blooming cereus on the desert to the most perfect amaryllis developed by Burbank, radiates its own colors, odors, and general appearance. One familiar with them may close his eyes and detect in a moment, by the odor of each—the violet, rose, lily, cosmos, verbena, and a thousand others, and there are those whose olfactory nerves are highly sensitive who can discern, by smell alone, the varieties of each flower.
Every species of tree radiates its own qualities, so that, to the student, they become growingly wonderful in what they give out. A distinguished botanist whom I know is so familiar with the radiancies of the various pines of the Pacific Slope that he can sketch and perfectly describe the complete tree as soon as he sees the cone, or, blindfolded, smells its odor.
Every rock has its own radiancies of color, texture, weight, and density. One of John Ruskin's most useful and beautiful books is his Ethics of the Dust, and those who have not read it should do so to understand how many things a wise and good man has felt radiated from the rocks.
Shakspere felt the potency of this truth or he would never have written that he saw "tongues in trees; books in the running brooks; sermons in stones, and good in everything."
Every landscape radiates its own personality. Some are quietly pastoral, as the valleys in Connecticut. The prairies of Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska are wide and impressive; the wastes of the Colorado Desert are vast and appalling; the varied colorings of the Painted Desert are weird and startling. The orange, lemon, and other orchards of Southern California delight the senses, the forests of the north and the High Sierras stir the soul by their expansiveness, and the groves of Big Trees overpower by their height and size. The ocean is restless and resistless; the stars pitiless at times, soothing at others. Each scene, whether pastoral, picturesque, wild, rugged, grand, or weird, has its peculiar radiancies, and some scenes possess many qualities, all of which are felt or perceived by the sensitive onlooker. For instance, as one stands on the rim of the Grand Canyon he feels the radiancies of overwhelming vastness, profound depth, far-reaching length, expansive width, vivid and extraordinary coloring, bizarre and strange carvings, and, in the lower depths of the Inner Gorge, where flows the solemn and sullen Colorado, a strangeness and mystery found nowhere else in the known world.
In his Kreutzer Sonata, Tolstoi contends that certain music radiates damning influences, and though I do not agree with him (perhaps because I have never felt or seen such evil), his attitude of mind serves as a further illustration of my proposition. We all are aware of certain radiancies of certain kinds of music, even though unaccompanied with words. The Dead March in Saul; the Threnody in Bach's Passion Music; the Death of the King in Grieg's Peer Gynt, and Chopin's Funeral March, all radiate the solemnity and sadness of death, while Sousa's various marches, Chopin's March Militaire, and a hundred other similar compositions radiate the arousement either of active life or passionate war. The Glorias of Mozart and Pergolesi, and Handel's Hallelujah Chorus speak—even though the words are unheard—of the joy of the world at the Savior's birth, and the Requiems of Verdi, Bach, and Gounod of the sadness of soul felt at His cruel death.
Every picture radiates the spirit of its artist at the period of creation, and every piece of music the influences that overpower the soul of the composer; and even every piece of furniture radiates to some extent the spirit of the age in which it was created, or the animating spirit of its creator.
It should not be overlooked that, although these radiant properties are possessed for all persons alike, they are not discerned by all alike. All people are not equally receptive, equally sensitive, equally apperceptive. Human beings are like soil—some is stony ground and the seed takes no root, other is thorny, and the seeds, springing up, are choked, other still is good ground and bears fruit, some thirty, some sixty, some an hundred fold. In other words the state of our own responsiveness determines the effect upon us of the radiancy of the objects with which we come in contact.
The quartz picked up from a ledge may be full of valuable mineral, but to the ignorant it is "a piece of rock and nothing more."
The ordinary traveler on the desert sees a large black beetle. Knowing nothing of beetles, it is to him "only a bug." But the scientific entomologist, seeing the same beetle, is carried away with delight, for he recognizes the rare Dinapate Wrightii, one of the least seen and most rare of American beetles.
Most travelers seeing the cactuses of the desert note but a few varieties, but the trained observer revels in hundreds of differences in mammillaria, opuntias, echinocactuses, and agave.
Some see no beauty in them, some delight in their many and diverse charms; to some their thorns are hideous and repulsive, to others both interesting and beautiful in their arrangement and design.
According to our receptivity do these objects of Nature affect us—some in one way, some another. The more sensitive our minds and souls are to what they perceive, the more we receive, absorb, gain, and, therefore, the more we in turn radiate to others, but we must remember that the character and quality of that which we receive will be reflected, therefore it is necessary to be constantly in that attitude of mind which is receptive to good only.
Swedenborg, who was one of the most eminent of scientists and engineers, as well as the founder of the religious system that bears his name, asserted that various "aura" surrounded all living beings, and that the mental or spiritual state radiates, just as light and heat radiate from the sun, and cold from the snow. When one was angry, he said, he gave out the aura of anger which enveloped him as a cloud. Hatred had its aura, as well as love, sympathy, purity, impurity, kindliness, charity, jealousy, courage, justice, and the like.
He also asserted that, to those who were simple, natural, and unspoiled by false reasoning—those who were spiritually inclined—these varied aura were clearly perceptible, and were as certainly felt or seen as were heat, cold, whiteness, blackness by the senses.
Rudyard Kipling bases his story, "They," which appeared some years ago in Scribner's Magazine, upon this statement of Swedenborg's, and in this light it becomes an extra fascinating story to read.
A great modern French scientist has made many exhaustive studies of these aura, and claims to have photographed them.
In the Panama-Pacific Exposition, one of the exhibits contained a series of interesting pictures, or diagrams, which purported to be exact representations of the various aura of people under different mental conditions. In an article on this subject, written by a well-known authority, we are told that:
It is not around the human body alone that an aura is to be seen; a similar cloud of light surrounds or emanates from animals, trees, and even minerals, though in all these cases it is less extended and less complex than that of man.
The occultists assert that the aura is extremely complex in its character, in other words, that there are several aura superposed one upon the other. The first appearance is of a luminous cloud, extending some eighteen inches or two feet from the body, assuming a somewhat oval shape. Careful study, however, reveals that this first appearance is resolvable into several component parts, or separate aura, of different degrees of tenuity, and, apparently, superposed. Five of these have been defined. The first, or most material, is that pertaining to the physical body. In a state of health this is composed of separate, orderly, and nearly parallel lines, which radiate from the body in every direction.
When one suffers from disease the lines in the neighborhood of the part affected become erratic, and radiate less actively but in the wildest confusion, or, if the whole body be affected, all the lines are consequently erratic.
For a long time it was not known what kept these lines straight and approximately parallel in the case of the healthy person, until a second radiating aura was discovered. This comes from a healthy body in pulsating waves, with such vigor as to compel the rigidity of the health lines. These waves may be compared to the pulsations of the heated air which rise from the ground on a very hot day. Baron Reichenbach made experiments with certain sensitives who declared they could see these radiations, and he called them "the magnetic flame."
When these "waves" come from a sickly or weakly body they not only lose power, but seem to give a confused direction to the health lines.
Many observations also have led to the conclusion that when the lines are kept straight by the force of the pulsating waves from a healthy and vigorous body, "it seems to be almost entirely protected from the attack of evil physical influences, such as germs of disease—such germs being repelled and carried away by the outrush of the life-force: but when from any cause—through weakness, through wound or injury, through over-fatigue, through extreme depression of spirits, or through the excesses of an irregular life—an unusually large amount of vitality is required to repair damage or waste, within the body, and there is consequently a serious diminution in the quantity radiated, this system of defense becomes dangerously weak, and it is comparatively easy for the deadly germs to effect an entrance."
The third aura is that which expresses one's desires—a kind of mirror in which every feeling, every desire, every thought almost, of the personality is reflected. This changes constantly, in some people, accordingly as they are swayed by their impulses. Its colors, brilliancy, rate of pulsations, alter from moment to moment, or minute to minute. "An outburst of anger will charge the whole aura with deep-red flashes on a black ground; a sudden fright in a moment will change everything to a mass of ghastly livid gray."
Connected with this, and yet, seemingly, of a separate character, are the radiations of the aura that express the progress of the personality into higher and better appreciation of the things of mind and spirit. The more intellectual and spiritual one becomes the more steady and beautiful are the colors and radiations of this aura, and the variations and distressing manifestations of the evil desires of the third aura become less apparent and distinct.
The fifth aura is the highest at present discernible. It manifests the spiritual development of the individual and is of almost inconceivable delicacy and beauty. It seems to be a cloud of living light—the word cloud being used for want of a better term.
In the concrete examples of aura that were presented at the Exposition, that which radiated from a wise mother showing her protective love for her infant, was in the form of outspread wings of a beautiful rosy tint, the wings held together at the articulations by a sheaf-like mass of golden yellow.
Selfish ambition, sudden fear, explosive anger, selfishness, grasping animal affection, greed, jealousy, jealousy mixed with anger, gloom, murderous hatred, were all displayed in peculiar, hideous, and repulsive forms and colors.
Pure, radiating affection, on the other hand, was represented in the form and color of a round body exhaling rays as from a rosy sun. Strange to say, though I had never read anything explicit upon this subject before, I had always conceived of pure affection as giving forth radiations of this exact appearance.
Whether this "occult" explanation of the radiation of aura be a true one or not, it serves to give one a beautiful conception, viz., that every soul may strive so to live within that he sheds upon his fellows glorious rays of light, serenity, warmth, comfort, blessing, joy, happiness that help them to the attainment of like felicities.
In the earlier part of this chapter Swedenborg's assertion will be recalled that those who were unspoiled, real children of Nature, could actually perceive these aura, and that their acts were guided or influenced by them just as ours are by the perceptions of our five senses.
When I began to visit the Hopi Indians in Northern Arizona, who celebrate that wonderfully thrilling religious ceremony known as the Snake Dance, I found that their lives conformed exactly to this aura assumption. They handle deadly rattlesnakes with fearlessness, putting small ones into their mouths so that nothing but their heads protrude, and larger ones, up to five feet in length, in their teeth, head on one side of the mouth, the writhing, wriggling body on the other. Young boys, from three to six and ten years of age—neophytes of the Antelope Clan, which, with the Snake Clan, has charge of this ceremonial prayer for rain—hold these snakes during a part of the ceremony with an indifferent carelessness that is appalling to most onlookers. On the other hand those who are alive to the dangers attending the handling of snakes assert positively that the reptiles must have their fangs removed, as otherwise they would bite, and either cause death or dangerous sicknesses.
Yet both classes of observers are in error. The snakes are not handled carelessly, nor are their fangs removed. Apparent carelessness is often the result of years of training, the ease and readiness that come with much experience. Fearlessness is another result of experience and knowledge. But, once in a while, a member of the Snake Clan is afraid, and at such times he is not allowed to dance. In this exclusion is a strong suggestion that the Hopis fully believe that not only do the aura of our mental and spiritual states surround us, but that even to the lower animals they are as perceptible as light, heat, and cold. It may be true that the truly occult, or clairvoyant, by pure and simple living, return to the clarity of spiritual perception of the child and the lower animals, and they likewise see and understand. In the case of the snakes, the Hopis believe that if a dancer is afraid it makes the snake afraid. In other words, the reptile sees or discerns the "fear aura," and, at once, its own fear is awakened. When afraid it assumes the defensive, for that is its only mode of protection. It coils ready to strike, and rattles in warning: Beware!
On the other hand, when the dancer is unafraid and handles the reptile in the true Hopi spirit, viz., as his Elder Brother—for, according to Hopi mythology, the Snake Clan originates with the Snake Mother, and therefore all members of it are younger brothers to all snakes—the aura of friendliness and brotherly kindliness surrounds him, which, being perceived by the snake, it is at once soothed and allows itself to be handled with restfulness and assurance of safety. And in the thirteen times that I have witnessed the Snake Dance (and several times been privileged to see and take part in the secret ceremonials of the underground chambers where the snakes are handled and washed), only twice have I known any one to be bitten.[A]
Perhaps the majority of human beings do not really live: they merely exist for a time in the flesh and for the flesh. And as all are constantly reminded that such existence is temporary and fleeting it is a very common belief that only in youth can one "have a good time." Old age is dreaded because we have been taught to expect a greater or lesser degree of decrepitude, pain, and physical disability when we shall pass the so-called "Bible-limit" of three-score years and ten, and, therefore, we anticipate losing our powers of enjoyment. Fathers and mothers encourage their children to "make the most of their youth," and to "get all out of life they can while they have the opportunity," thus fostering and cultivating a high state of nervous tension in young people that is demoralizing in every way.
I believe this attitude is wrong, and yet I believe fully in "having a good time." I believe God intended that all living beings should be happy, and that it is possible to order our lives—our habits, actions, thoughts, desires, and ambitions—so that every conscious hour of every day will be full of real joy. I believe in the buoyancy, the happiness, the radiancy, the perfection of life. Browning expresses my thought in Rabbi Ben Ezra, and in Saul. In the latter he says:
Oh, our manhood's prime vigor! No spirit feels waste,
Not a muscle is stopped in its playing nor sinew unbraced,
Oh, the wild joys of living!...
How good is man's life, the mere living, how fit to employ
All the heart and the soul and the senses forever in joy!
And in Rabbi Ben Ezra he says:
Grow old along with me!
The best [of life] is yet to be.
And why should not old age be the best part of life? Does experience count for nothing? Can we not learn as the years roll along? Do we grow more foolish as we grow old? If so it might be advisable to let the facetious suggestion of the celebrated Dr. Osier be carried out in order that all men might be chloroformed at the age of fifty. If, however, history and experience teach us that the intellectual faculties and reasoning powers of a man in normal health do not decrease with age, let us protest vigorously against the false and injurious statement that youth is the best part of life, and let us advocate that we should all possess greater mental and spiritual ability at ninety than at thirty, with physical powers of endurance ample for every need.
It is recorded in the Bible that many of the ancients lived to be several hundred years old, and some of them were vigorously active at great age. We are told that Cornaro lived many years more than a century, and I have personally known Indians of great physical power and keen mentality who were over one hundred years old. Doubtless all are familiar with instances of great mental and physical ability at an advanced age, and this is an encouragement for us to believe that health and happiness and usefulness are not confined to the early decades of human life. My words, therefore, are not addressed merely to the young, but to those of all ages, for it is never too late to gain more of that mental health which strengthens body, mind, and soul—the real life which is manifested in love, joy, and all goodness, and constantly radiates life-giving qualities. Radiancy is a condition of all life, as I use the term in these pages. No person can rightly live and retain within himself that which he possesses in abundance. We must give out in order to live. Christ never spake a truer word than when He declared: "He that loveth his life shall lose it." Those who are so careful to keep all of their lives for themselves, who never give of themselves to others, who know nothing of the joy of self-sacrifice, of service, of helpfulness—these people defeat the very object of their selfishness by losing that which they are so determined to retain. On the other hand, "he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." Or, as Joaquin Miller exquisitely and forcefully puts it in his unequaled couplet:
For all you can hold in your dead, cold hand,
Is what you have given away.
So, then, radiation of the good of ourselves becomes an essential condition in itself of real life. This law of radiation is apparent everywhere in life. For, consciously or unconsciously, willingly or unwillingly, each man and woman radiates what is within. The moment you come into the presence of some men you feel their uprightness, their integrity, their truth. Other men impress you in a moment as untruthful, dishonorable, and unreliable. Some radiate confidence, so that the weak and uncertain rely upon them; others the hesitancy and fear of incertitude. Others are radiant centers of conceit and overweening self-esteem, which is an entirely different radiancy from that of self-confidence and true self-reliance combined with good sense and modesty. Some people radiate gluttony, others drunkenness, others impurity, others dishonesty. You have not been in the presence of some persons five minutes before you feel that they radiate "Every man has his price." It is a great temptation when I come into the presence of such people to ask, "What is your price?" and then myself to give the answer: "Thirty cents, and it is twenty-nine cents too dear."
During a recent little outing trip I could not help witnessing the varying radiancies of a friend and the thirty students that he invited to accompany us. One young man was full of physical energy, good nature, and helpfulness. With keen eye he was prompt to notice any failure to keep up in the less strong of the girls, and, with jollity and jest, but with real consideration and helpfulness, he aided the weaklings whenever and wherever possible. One of the girls radiated an abundance of joyous healthfulness that made it a pleasure to watch her. Another was a thoughtless go-ahead young miss, who led a large part of the group a mile or two out of the way. Two of the girls were fault-finders, three were radiators of efficient initiative when time came for preparing lunch, and half a dozen were "ready to help," but had no idea how to go to work until directed by some one else. One was able to determine somewhat the real character of the persons by that which they radiated. Of course, that is not always a sure guide, for one may pretend, or affect the possession of qualities that are not inherent. Yet if we lived the true life and never dulled the keenness of our sense perceptions, we should be like the animals and able to rely absolutely upon what we felt of the radiancies of others. Who has not seen the keen readiness of a horse to "sense" the mental condition of the man who was driving him? Suppose two men sit in the buggy. One holds the lines, but is unused to driving and especially nervous in a city. He radiates nervousness and fear, uncertainty and hesitancy. The horse feels these radiancies and himself is nervous, fretful, fearful, hesitant, and uncertain. Seeing this, his friend takes the lines. Almost instantly, though the horse has "blinders" on and cannot possibly know by any ordinary sense perception that a change has taken place in his driver, he calms and quiets down, and goes ahead without further fear, hesitancy, or nervousness.
With dogs, every one knows that to be afraid of a barking, yelping, aggressive cur is to invite him to bite you. But if you advance upon him boldly and without any fear he will retreat in snarling dismay, and if you make a bold dash at him he turns tail like the veriest coward and runs. In my many visits to Indian villages and camps I have tested this again and again. I have had a dozen dogs run out as if they would tear me to pieces. Had I turned and run there is no doubt that, unless their owners had interfered, I should have been bitten. But, knowing the nature of the ill-bred curs of the Indians, I advanced boldly upon them, kicking to left and right, if the animals were more than usually persistent, and invariably following into his own place of refuge the animal that seemed to be the leader, and there giving him one or two sharp blows or decisive kicks. The result was always the same. So long as I stayed in that camp I was never bothered again. They readily and quickly understood the radiancy of boldness and that of kindness when they ceased their fierce aggressiveness, and never pestered me again.
This same radiant power of others is often recognized by lawless men and by criminals. A fearless woman can go into places of great danger with absolute safety, and a fearless and honest officer can arrest the most desperate and dangerous men far more easily than can a dozen fearful and dishonest ones.
Thus it will be apparent that:
Every person, animal, and thing, consciously or unconsciously, willingly or unwillingly, radiates good or evil.
As human beings we radiate that which we possess, or that which possesses us, and we influence those with whom we come in contact by our radiancies.
The questions, then, that every true-hearted man and woman must, and will, ask are: "Am I radiating good or evil? If evil, why? If good, am I radiating as much as I might and should?"
For myself I want every man and woman I meet or shake hands with, to feel that I am physically strong, healthy, and vigorous; that I have vigor and health of mind; that I think for myself, rather than accept the opinions of others, and that in character, in spirit, in soul, I am healthy, vigorous, sincere, pure, true; that my emotions, my aspirations, my ambitions are noble and upward. I want to radiate spiritual health. Do you?
Man is a part of Nature, but he is more than that which we mean by the words, "mere Nature." He is Nature plus. There is given to him more than is possessed by sun or flower. He has within him that spirit which renders him nearer the divine than sun or flower. Mind and soul make him a superior being. Hence it is the divine plan that he should radiate in his enlarged sphere as the sun and flower do in theirs.
Unfortunately, while we are in the body, our imperfect and evil qualities are radiated as well as our good. This is our misfortune, and should be our distress. For certainly every true man and woman would desire to radiate only truth, purity, sincerity, courage, good judgment, self-control, stamina, or perseverance in good endeavor, energy, love of knowledge, mental capacity, justice, tact, ability, executive power, regard for the rights of others, kindliness, individuality, self-reliance, readiness to avail one's self of the wisdom of others, self-dependence, attractiveness of person, companionable qualities, good manners, good taste in dress, attractiveness of mind and soul (this as differentiated from mere attractiveness of person), cheerfulness, optimism, and altruism, readiness to see and have faith in the good of others, and good humor.[B]
Who could ever resist the radiating influences of a Mark Tapley, such as Dickens so vividly pictures? Such radiancies penetrate so deeply that nothing can obliterate them. The greater the cause for wretchedness and misery, the greater the opportunity to "come out strong" and show that his spirit of cheerfulness was greater than any untoward circumstance. Happy is that man or woman who gives out such radiancies, and blessed are those who come in contact with them.
Certain men and women radiate gloom and the abnormal recognition of their physical ills. You greet them with a cheery "Good morning" and they respond with an explicitly detailed wail of their ailments. Their rheumatism is "so bad," and their liver is out of order. Their backache is worse, and their headache is "simply frightful."
Brooding over their pains and aches has magnified them so that they overshadow all things else in the universe. An earthquake and fire that destroy a great city are of less importance to them than the recital of their own woes.
How different the cheery radiancies of the happy man—like Dickens's Cheeryble Brothers—who gives out breezy healthfulness on every hand. The clasp of the hand radiates physical vigor that in itself is a tonic to the body; their bright and cheerful words brace up the mind; and their God-like optimism and altruism lift up the soul so that—above the mists and fogs of mortal error—we see God and enjoy His smile.
Some persons radiate selfishness. I was riding in the train the other day. A woman had two whole seats, that is, her suit case took up one and she sat on the other. The car was filled with people; every other seat occupied. At the next station eight or ten people came aboard, and all found places by the side of some one else, except one woman. Walking down to where the whole seat was occupied by the suit case she asked the owner if she might have the seat. "I suppose if there's no other you can have it!" she replied in a surly and gruff tone. God save us from radiating selfishness like this!
It is an almost daily occurrence to see a tired man or woman get upon a street car and no one makes a move to give a seat, when that is all it needs—just a little sitting nearer. This may be thoughtlessness, but all the same it is selfishness; a forgetfulness of the sweet privilege of helping others, no matter who.
The wife of Sir Bartle Frere once sent a servant to meet her husband, who was just returning from Africa, an illness preventing her from going. The man did not know Sir Bartle, and he asked for a description. "The only description you will need," said his wife, "is this: Look out for a fine-looking man who is helping some poor woman carry a baby, or a basket, or a load." And, sure enough, when the train arrived he found the distinguished diplomat, the great statesman, helping a poor laundry woman carry her large basket of soiled linen. Ah, Sir Bartle, I greet you a nobleman indeed, for you have radiated unselfishness, thoughtful helpfulness, to me, and through me, to others, and thus out and on forever.
Some persons radiate cynical distrust of their fellows. "There are no honest men!" "I wouldn't believe in the integrity of that man under oath." "Believe every man dishonest until he has proven himself honest, and even then, watch out. He'll be liable to catch you if you nap." "Do others as they would do you, but do it first," said David Harum. "A profession of religion is but a cloak for evil." "If your bank cashier is a Sunday-school Superintendent, watch him!" "Look out for the man who has no open vices."
These are the catchwords of this class of persons. How pernicious and evil are their radiancies.
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