Problems of Growth

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Religious living is devoted living, and devoted living is creative living, original and spontaneous. New religious insights arise out of conflicts which initiate the choosing of new and better reaction ha- bits in the place of older and inferior reaction patterns. New meanings only emerge amid conflict; and conflict persists only in the face of refusal to espouse the higher values connoted in superior meanings.

Religious perplexities are inevitable; there can be no growth with- out psychic conflict and spiritual agitation.  The organization of a philosophic standard of living entails considerable commotion.in the philosophic realms of mind.  Loyalties are not exercised in behalf of great, the good, the true, and the noble without a struggle.  Effort is attendant upon clarification of spiritual vision and enhancement of cosmic insight. And the human intellect protests against being weaned from subsisting upon the nonspiritual energies of temporal existence.  The slothful animal mind rebels at the effort required to wrestle with cosmic problems solving.

But the great problem of religious living consists in the task of unifying the soul powers of the personality by the dominance of LOVE. Health, mental efficiency, and happiness arise from the unification of physical systems, mind systems, and spirit systems. Of health and sanity, humans understand much, but of happiness – we have truly realized very little.  The highest happiness is indissolubly linked with spiritual progress.  Spiritual growth yields lasting joy, peace which passes all understanding.

In physical life, the senses tell of the existence of things; mind discovers the reality of meanings; but the spiritual experience reveals to the individual the true values of life. These high levels of human living are attained in the supreme love of God and in the selfish love of man.  If you love your fellow human beings, you must have discovered their values.  Jesus loved humans so much because he placed such a high value upon them.  You can best discover values in your associates by discovering their motivation.  If someone irritates you, causes feelings of resentment, you should sympathetically seek to discern their viewpoint, their reasons for such an objection- able conduct. If once you understand your neighbor, you will become tolerant, and this tolerance will _grow into friendship and ripen into love.

In the mind’s eye conjure up a picture of one of our primitive ancestors of cave-dwelling times – a short, misshapen, filthy, snarling hulk of a man standing legs spread, club upraised, breathing hate and animosity as he looks fiercely just ahead. Such a picture hardly depicts the divine dignity of the human being. But allow us to enlarge the picture.  In front of this animated human crouches a saber-toothed tiger.  Behind him, a woman and two children.  Immediately you recognize that such a picture stands for the beginnings of much that is fine and noble in our human race – but the man is the same in both pictures.  Only in the second sketch are you favored with a widened horizon to discern the motivation of this evolving human being.  His attitude becomes praiseworthy because you understand him.  If you could only fathom the motives of your associates, how much better you would understand them.  If you could only know your fellows, you would eventually fall in love with them.

We cannot truly love our fellows by a mere act of the will.  Love is only born of thoroughgoing understanding of our neighbor’s motives and sentiments. It is not so important to love all people today as it is that each day we learn to love one more human being. If each day or each week you achieve an understanding of one more of your fellows, and if this is the limit of your ability, then you are certainly socializing and truly spiritualizing your personality.  Love is infectious, and when human devotion is intelligent and wise, love is more catching than hate. But only genuine and unselfish love is truly contagious. If each mortal could only become a focus of dynamic affection, this benign virus of love would soon pervade the sentimental emotion-stream of humanity to such an extent that all civilization would be encompassed by love, and that would be the realization of the brotherhood of man.

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