The whole thing started this way---Jane went out to dinner. Not that it was anything unusual for Jane to go out to dinner; she was always doing that, having a penchant for dining (which is perhaps a common trait of most human beings) ; but some way or other it was an eternally new stunt with her, for she sought as her companions men of experience and of varied nationalities.
For half an hour before she started, excitement reigned to such an extent that the very air snapped with preparation. She became quite French or Italian or Spanish in turn, and almost lost the use of her mother-tongue in the excitement. She was a seeker of atmosphere, pure and simple.
From what Marie said, together with Jane's un-intelligible chatter, we gathered that she was dining with a rather tempestuous Spaniard, who had already reached the danger line, if girth of waist is a sign. I f you are Epicurean, it is safe to have as a dinner companion a person with a broad expanse of waist line---he usually has ferreted out the finest cuisines.
Being assured that if we waited we would have a very thrilling report of both the dinner and the evening, we waited. Monte, the composer, an incessant talker, somewhat passe in his ideas of music, but still insistent on the beauty of the polka, of which from all appearances he was the father, had the floor. We lolled about the comfort of Number Forty-nine exchanging bits of interesting news, sipping tea and consuming an unmentionable quantity of cakes and scones. The teakettle was always boiling at Number Forty-nine.
For at least three cups of tea, Lena had been quiet. Lena was an analyst and sometimes she thought so hard it was almost audible. She adjusted her green hat and everyone knew that something was about to be said---Lena was English and discreet.
Monte was still talking about the polka and disparaging the American jazz when Lena spoke:
"You know," she said, talking to Marie, "I did not like the way that Spaniard said `good night' when he left---there was something in the tone of his voice that didn't ring just right to me." Marie was Jane's mother.
Nobody waited for Marie to respond. Everybody in the room had something to say and said it, except Kit, who had a way of sitting quietly by and not bothering with the things over which other people troubled their heads.
Ethel got the floor after the silence, which inevitably follows such an outburst, and said, "What is to be will be." Ethel was a little bit fatalistic, but her husband was not; he was a practical dreamer, who dreamed and made things that worked by the uses of light. "And what is to be must be good" he added. "Good must come out of everything; only we are so afraid of knowing it. We judge from appearances---first appearances---and cry at the cracking of a shell or the destruction of a cocoon, but later on we say, 'What a glorious bird, or butterfly!' and are willing to throw the cocoon and shell into the dust heap."
Monte thought this was beautiful philosophy and wondered if out of the chaos of jazz, the polka would be reborn and the Charleston and Black Bottom would die.
"Then we are helpless things," put in Lena, "and there is no good trying to change anything."
"Thinking that a thing is or is not so, does not change the facts of being; it only changes appearances to the thinker. None of the eternal facts of being have ever been changed by mere thinking. The world did not become flat because at one time everyone thought it was so," put in Kit.
Nothing stirs up such excitement as telling people who are essentially interested in thought, that thinking does not change things. And yet it is self-evident. No two people think the same thing about a given subject. What appears as one man's meat is another's poison. How can the same thing be meat and poison, except by the respective thinking? The man of the tropics would freeze in what the Eskimo would call a mild spring day.
It is the attitude of mind which counts, and, when we come to the place of seeing the working of God in and through the affairs of man, we come to understand that nothing but good can possibly come from a cause that is eternally good.
"I shall come as a thief in the night," is but a signal that at the most unexpected moment and in the most unforseen situation the lesson comes.
"I suppose there is a grain of truth in it all," said Monte as he listened to this philosophy which had been pieced together by many voices, "but I am a firm believer in an ounce of prevention."
"The ounce of prevention may have been duly swallowed in this case," put in Marie.
"We must ache and ache before a thing can come into expression," asserted Ravino, the poet, whose whole theory of life was the "aching to be born" sort of belief.
"And all your aching is not going to change things," answered Monte. It was evident that he had been aching to bring back the polka ever since the day of Gilbert and Sullivan.
Ethel got sort of panicky. "This all makes me feel rather helpless and hopeless and gives me a sinking feeling," she said, "I have been praying and making affirmations for years. I hate to think-there is nothing to prayer."
"There is a lot to prayer," answered her mate,
"every prayer is answered, only we do not recognize
Prayer is not a means of changing the
eternal law of the universe; it is the one and only
of aligning yourself with the law, ‘which to
know aright is life eternal.'
When we pray we
become one with God, and what mortal would deign
offer suggestions to the Omnipotent as to how to
his universe; but what a glorious thought to know that we can become one with
this law of harmony,
and function with it into
perfection and happiness."
Tea had long. since been over, when a latchkey rattled in the front door and footsteps were heard on the stairs. Evidently Jane was bringing her Spaniard back to the flat.
The door opened and in rushed Jane, out of breath and flushed with excitement. Everyone expected to see her followed by her Spanish escort; but instead she brought in the headwaiter of the cafe where she had dined---at least, he acted in that capacity that night. Bringing waiters, even head waiters, into English homes is not always done, even in these days of freedom; but he was in, that was sure. Between courses he had spoken to Jane in French, and by one of those queer workings of the law it all ended in his being in our midst.
He was not a very prepossessing man. There was nothing very startling about his appearance. But some way or other we learn, in looking back, that our teachers and masters who gave the most, appeared to have the least. A carpenter once gave a great message that found its way into Imperial Rome and later circled the globe with its refreshing sweetness and power---Watch! no man knoweth when I shall come nor yet in what raiment or guise.
After Jane had tried to describe the dinner and the meeting, and to make what excuses she could, all in the same breath, her friend with a peculiar sort of dignity took the floor and began to speak:
“I came to you," he said, "because as you sat here earnestly seeking the light, I heard your call. The fact that I was a headwaiter tonight does not mean anything; tomorrow I may be a banker, a beggar, a singer or anything else that means attaining the necessary end. You have heard it said, 'When the student is ready the Master will appear.' The mechanics of his appearing are as nothing. It is the end which must be accomplished. I came to you in what seems to be a miraculous way, or at least, an unusual way, but it was only miraculous because you are always looking to the mechanics of the law. There are no miracles or wonders in the law. They only appear so because you are not wholly centered in the understanding of the isness of good. You are still floundering about in the making of demonstrations, healings and cures. In one breath you proclaim that God is all and in the next you are recognizing conditions which you say are not of God and beseeching him to do away with them. Whence comes this wavering but from judging from appearances and recognizing two powers? Know ye not the law---'A house divided against itself must surely fall'? A house or consciousness that believes in two powers is divided against itself. Its fall is only a question of time.
" 'Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.' You cannot serve or love two masters. Either you will recognize the understanding and have done with the belief, or else you will still go on working with the mist of belief. The ‘I' of you, as long as you hold it in the beliefs deducted from' appearances, will be in the midst of evil, right in the God created universe, and in the midst of 'a God who 'is of too pure eyes to behold iniquity.'
"As long as man strays in the beliefs he will do what he calls 'thinking' but which in reality is only mis-thinking, for the results will be full of mistakes. What has thinking done in the belief world to change things? Over and over again you are asked if you cannot add one cubit to your stature by taking thought, why take thought for other things? And there is the command, 'Take no thought for the purse, the script, the body.' God must be and is the only thinker, and to become one with him is to receive direct the divine inspiration which makes for the bringing into visibility of the unmanifest and invisible. Unmanifest and invisible to whom? To you only. Because a thing is unmanifest to you, it is not necessarily so to every man.
You, in your present state, stand for great attainment to someone who does not see the light to the same degree that you do. Your present concept of prosperity may be small to you, but to one wallowing in the belief of a beggar, it appears that you are enjoying affluence and an abundance of all the things he desires. It is unmanifest to him in his own universe. He is looking over the wall of his limitations into your Garden of Eden and rankling with envy, while he has only to choose to enter and claim a garden of his own.
" `Choose ye this day.' The present tense of the word rings through eternity---`Choose ye this day.' You choose, when you pray aright, when you align yourself with the understanding of the allness of God as operating perfectly in his universe.. You choose when you come to the understanding that God could not make a mistake, and this very knowledge awakens you at once to the recognition off, the fact that the seeming mistake in your life, which you are trying to eliminate, is but the miasma of your belief thinking. Can God make a mistake? Can he fail to express himself?
" 'Choose ye this day.' You choose or decide about many things in your life. Even before you rise from your chair you make a definite decision to do so, and the mechanics take care of themselves. In fact, it is almost an unconscious act and thought. It is rather conscious recognition of the fact that you can and will rise. So it is with everything. But if you hesitate you do not rise and if you waver in your choosing of anything, you do not accomplish.
" 'Is anything hard for me?' asks God. 'Is anything impossible for me?' When man makes his decision everything in the universe rushes to serve him. Out of the nowhere comes his help. The seemingly most detrimental conditions turn and aid him. The most unexpected things transpire. 'I am the way' and 'I am always with you.' 'Look not to the right or left.' You have made your decision, not with the human -will power but with your alignment with God, and your decision is merely the willingness to 'let' the Power express through you. It is not lazily sitting about waiting for something miraculous to happen, but rising to the place of activity.
Nothing is too small to do, nothing too trivial to be performed, for how do you know in what so-called trivial thing is the sign of your on-going? Awake thou that sleepeth! arise! shine."
THE STORY OF THE HEADWAITER
"I was born the illegitimate son of a Belgian milkmaid and an itinerant workman. Soon after my birth my mother left the farm where she had been employed, leaving me behind. Until -I was nine years old I believed that I was a serf belonging to a hard taskmaster. I used to go to the fields alone day after day at sun up and stay until it was too dark to do more work. Undernourished, unloved or cared for, I lived in a little imaginary world that I created for myself. It assumed great and noble proportions, this make-believe world. There was plenty of food there, plenty of love, plenty of everything. I often ordered a gorgeous repast of; the most tempting foods, and one day when hunger was particularly annoying to me I accidentally stumbled on to the law of decision. I addressed the farm woman very definitely in my make-believe world---yes I brought it very close to me---I decided that I would have two eggs for my evening meal that very day. There was a feeling of finality about that decision and the nearness of it, but soon it slipped from my mind as I went on with my work. That night, much to my surprise, the farm woman placed two large eggs in front of me for the evening meal. Something new had been born in me---something definite even though vague. I did not know it then, but I was asking in the truest sense of the word---yes I had for that moment lifted myself up to a place where I had taken my good. 'When ye pray believe that ye receive (present tense) and it shall be so.'
"I went to the field next day well fed for the first time in my life that I remembered, and tingling with a self confidence. I stood alone and decided that from that time on I was no longer a slave, but free born. I revelled in my new freedom. It was a different sensation from the day dreaming I had been accustomed to. I decided that it was so. Nothing startling happened for several days, but each clay I stood on the point of decision that it was so, and one day I found that the entire menage where I had lived all these long hard years had gone to pieces. The farmer told me I must shift for myself, that he had no further use for me.
"I remember doing my little earthly belongings into a bundle and taking the long road that led to Paris. I was not unhappy for something in me seemed to say, 'Well, you made your decision for freedom; so stand on it. The human sense often asks for things that it does not recognize when they come. Freedom at that time meant release from the bondage of slavery, but it also meant giving up what seemed to be my only means of support and life. I learned here that we have to pay the price for the thing for which we ask. And as soon as we are willing to do this there is no price to be paid. 'Come eat, drink, without price.' Ways and means take care of themselves to the person who is ready to let things work into expression. So often we make a decision and then try to formulate a way by which it must come into expression, or else we stand hesitating to take the new gift because it does not come in the manner we have prescribed. I am the Way.
“ ‘Choose ye this day, whom ye will serve.' Have you chosen a god mixed with evil. Is the business of God's child that of getting rid of evil?
" 'The wisdom of man is foolishness in the eyes of God.' Why? because looking back over the years of human knowledge, we find that it has been changing constantly. The textbooks you used in your laboratory work are now obsolete. Many of the rules and regulations you had to learn in order to make your grade, are now found to be untrue. Man with his knowledge gained from human belief has adulterated the Truth of Being. The child never commits adultery, that must be the province of the adult. Hence the Truth is given unto the child. Not the child in years but the consciousness that can accept good irrespective of the sense testimonies.
"There is told the story of an ancient initiation which perfectly lays before man the power of decision.
The Neophite is taken blindfolded from the pyramids to the Sphinx. As he approaches the Sphinx his Master says to him. 'On a table before you are two goblets of wine. One is the wine of life the other is poison. Choose!' If he hesitates for one instant in stretching out his hand he is given the poison, and as he dies he is told this burning Truth--- 'The only poison in life is indecision.' When you stop for a moment you see the utter folly of a blindfolded man hesitating in his choice. Human reason gets in with its doubt and causes him to do evil where he would automatically do good. Every man seems to be blindfolded when he faces his decision. He is blinded by the mists of human appearance of things and when he begins to reason he gets confused. The fact that the Master (his inner lord) says 'Choose' bespeaks the truth that he has infinite ability to choose rightly without hesitation. Gradually man begins to understand that when Spirit speaks it brings with it the ability to perform that which it commands, even while the human belief is shrieking 'impossible----it cannot be done.'
"All the power of the universe moves with one who has come to a decision, especially if he follow the command of the Master to take no thought. If a man makes a decision and then throws himself into the how, the why, and the wherefore of its coming forth, he misses the goal. When the Master said 'Go into all the world'---'Take no thought,' he clearly implied that when man had made the decision to go ahead, all things would be provided without the troublesome worry of the human thought. Here the radical reliance on the Principle of life enters in.
"Making a decision is like silently broadcasting to the entire universe. Every agency and channel that is to aid in the bringing about of this decision comes to the foreground at just the right time to lend its aid in the fulfillment of the decision.
"When a man gets on a tram car he automatically picks up the velocity and motion of it, though he personally may remain perfectly quiet and relaxed in his seat. He discovers however if he tries to jump off in the opposite direction that he is thrown to earth. He actually throws himself down by not complying with the law of motion. So when a man makes a decision and it gathers all the power of the universe toward its fulfillment he finds that by changing his mind and breaking his decision an ugly reaction sets in.
"A noted psycho-analyst has said that one of the easiest ways to make complexes is to make and break decisions. It is a truth that when a man knows what he wants he can have it. Do you know what you want? Are you willing to pay the price for it? It must come into expression in its own way, not in a way outlined by man. The price is complete abandon to the working out. When the shell of consciousness which has been holding you cracks, to free you into a larger phase of expression, the first thought is one of fear. 'Let us return to Egypt'---but he who stands will see the new freedom and joy coming to him. Then he finds that when he is willing to pay the price, which is simply letting go of personal beliefs, everything is free. 'Collie eat and drink without price.'
"There is the law of secrecy in regard to decision, that many fail to heed. 'See that ye tell no man.' The seed thrown into the ground is best left alone. If it be dug up often, it dies. The egg placed under the hen must not be tampered with. 'Thou fool, do you not know that a seed must first fall into the ground and rot before it shall live' seems like a stern rebuke to the fretting and curious human mind. The time will collie when you can 'go and show John' the accomplished works of Truth. No need for worry or anxiety about ways and means---'I am the Way,' and I shall take you 'by a way you knew not of.' Why worry and plan about the fulfillment of your decision. It is done.
"I have formulated this bit which completely covers the ground:
"When after prayerful deliberation
You have come to a decision,
Suffer not to change your mind.
For caprice spells ruination.
"New and unexpected capacities are opened up to the man who knows decision. All things are possible to the Son 'of God. All things are his for the acceptance-not to use to make himself a great personality, or to lift himself above other men; but merely that he may live and laugh and enjoy this Kingdom of Heaven which Jesus came to proclaim. The way is easy, the burden of this Truth is light. 'Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden (with beliefs) and I will give you rest.
Going to the piano the speaker played strange and unusual melodies which seemed to have left the ordinary paths of music and harmony and expressed an intangible something, never to be forgotten, and then he was gone, and a silence fell on those gathered there and a wonder at the hypnotism of the belief world. The student was ready and the Master appeared. "As many as hear my voice are saved"--from the fear of their beliefs.
"It is a very beautiful philosophy," said Monte, "No 'aching to be born,' only I wish I could get the hang of it and then the polka. . . ."
But the rest of the guests had gone, each one filled with wonder.
Walter C. Lanyon