The Hidden Power, by Thomas Troward , at sacred-texts.com
THERE are two kinds of submission: submission to superior force and submission to superior truth. The one is weakness and the other is strength. It is an exceedingly important part of our training to learn to distinguish between these two, and the more so because the wrong kind is extolled by nearly all schools of popular religious teaching at the present day as constituting the highest degree of human attainment. By some this is pressed so far as to make it an instrument of actual oppression, and with all it is a source of weakness and a bar to progress. We are forbidden to question what are called the wise dispensations of Providence and are told that pain and sorrow are to be accepted because they are the will of God; and there is much eloquent speaking and writing concerning the beauty of quiet resignation, all of which appeals to a certain class of gentle minds who have not yet learnt that gentleness does not consist in the absence of power but in the kindly and beneficent use of it.
Minds cast in this mould are peculiarly apt to be misled. They perceive a certain beauty in the picture
of weakness leaning upon strength, but they attribute its soothing influence to the wrong element of the combination. A thoughtful analysis would show them that their feelings consisted of pity for the weak figure and admiration for the strong one, and that the suggestiveness of the whole arose from its satisfying the artistic sense of balance which requires a compensation of this sort. But which of the two figures in the picture would they themselves prefer to be? Surely not the weak one needing help, but the strong one giving it. By itself the weak figure only stirs our pity and not our admiration. Its form may be beautiful, but its very beauty only serves to enhance the sense of something wanting--and the something wanting is strength. The attraction which the doctrine of passive resignation possesses for certain minds is based upon an appeal to sentiment, which is accepted without any suspicion that the sentiment appealed to is a false one.
Now the healthful influence of the movement known as "The Higher Thought" consists precisely in this--that it sets itself rigorously to combat this debilitating doctrine of submission. It can see as well as others the beauty of weakness leaning upon strength; but it sees that the real source of the beauty lies in the strong element of the combination. The true beauty consists in the power to confer strength, and this power is not to be acquired by submission, but by the exactly opposite method of continually asserting our determination not to submit.
Of course, if we take it for granted that all the sorrow, sickness, pain, trouble, and other adversity in the world is the expression of the will of God, then doubtless we must resign ourselves to the inevitable with all the submission we can command, and comfort ourselves with the vague hope that somehow in some far-off future we shall find that
"Good is the final goal of ill,"
though even this vague hope is a protest against the very submission we are endeavouring to exercise. But to make the assumption that the evil of life is the will of God is to assume what a careful and intelligent study of the laws of the universe, both mental and physical, will show us is not the truth; and if we turn to that Book which contains the fullest delineation of these universal laws, we shall find nothing taught more clearly than that submission to the evils of life is not submission to the will of God. We are told that Christ was manifested for this end, that he should destroy him that hath the power of death--that is, the devil. Now death is the very culmination of the Negative. It is the entire absence of all that makes Life, and whatever goes to diminish the living quality of Life reproduces, in its degree, the distinctive quality of this supreme exhibition of the Negative. Everything that tends to detract from the fulness of life has in it this deathful quality.
In that completely renovated life, which is figured
under the emblem of the New Jerusalem, we are told that sorrow and sighing shall flee away, and that the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick. Nothing that obscures life, or restricts it, can proceed from the same source as the Power which gives light to them that sit in darkness, and deliverance to them that are bound. Negation can never be Affirmation; and the error we have always to guard against is that of attributing positive power to the Negative. If we once grasp the truth that God is life, and that life in every mode of expression can never be anything else than Affirmative, then it must become clear to us that nothing which is of the opposite tendency can be according to the will of God. For God (the good) to will any of the "evil" that is in the world would be for Life to act with the purpose of diminishing itself, which is a contradiction in terms to the very idea of Life. God is Life, and Life is, by its very nature, Affirmative. The submission we have hitherto made has been to our own weakness, ignorance, and fear, and not to the supreme good.
But is no such thing as submission, then, required of us under any circumstances? Are we always to have our own way in everything? Assuredly the whole secret of our progress to liberty is involved in acquiring the habit of submission; but it is submission to superior Truth, and not to superior force. It sometimes happens that, when we attain a higher Truth, we find that its reception requires us to re-arrange the truths which we possessed before: not, indeed, to lay any of them
aside, for Truth once recognised cannot be again put out of sight, but to recognise a different relative proportion between them from that which we had seen previously. Then there comes a submitting of what has hitherto been our highest truth to one which we recognise as still higher, a process not always easy of attainment, but which must be gone through if our spiritual development is not to be arrested. The lesser degree of life must be swallowed up in the greater; and for this purpose it is necessary for us to learn that the smaller degree was only a partial and limited aspect of that which is more universal, stronger, and of a larger build every way.
Now, in going through the processes of spiritual growth, there is ample scope for that training in self-knowledge and self-control which is commonly understood by the word "submission." But the character of the act is materially altered. It is no longer a half-despairing resignation to a superior force external to ourselves, which we can only vaguely hope is acting kindly and wisely, but it is an intelligent recognition of the true nature of our own interior forces and of the laws by which a robust spiritual constitution is to be developed; and the submission is no longer to limitations which drain life of its livingness, and against which we instinctively rebel, but to the law of our own evolution which manifests itself in continually increasing degrees of life and strength.
The submission which we recognise is the price that
has to be paid for increase in any direction. Even in the Money Market we must invest before we can realise profits. It is a universal rule that Nature obeys us exactly in proportion as we first obey Nature; and this is as true in regard to spiritual science as to physical. The only question is whether we will yield an ignorant submission to the principle of Death, or a joyous and intelligent obedience to the principle of Life.
If we have clearly grasped the fact of our identity with Universal Spirit, we shall find that, in the right direction, there is really no such thing as submission. Submission is to the power of another--a man cannot be said to submit to himself. When the "I AM" in us recognises a greater degree of I AM-ness (if I may coin the word) than it has hitherto attained, then, by the very force of this recognition, it becomes what it sees, and therefore naturally puts off from itself whatever would limit its expression of its own completeness.
But this is a natural process of growth, and not an unnatural act of submission; it is not the pouring-out of ourselves in weakness, but the gathering of ourselves together in increasing strength. There is no weakness in Spirit, it is all strength; and we must therefore always be watchful against the insidious approaches of the Negative which would invert the true position. The Negative always points to some external source of strength. Its formula is "I AM NOT." It always
seeks to fix a gulf between us and the Infinite Sufficiency. It would always have us believe that that sufficiency is not our own, but that by an act of uncertain favour we may have occasional spoonfuls of it doled out to us. Christ's teaching is different. We do not need to come with our pitcher to the well to draw water, like the woman of Samaria, but we have in ourselves an inexhaustible supply of the living water springing up into everlasting life.
Let us then inscribe "No Surrender" in bold characters upon our banner, and advance undaunted to claim our rightful heritage of liberty and life.