So must we yield our selfish resistances and be ready to accept every opportunity for growth that circumstances offer; and, at the same time, when the good result is gained, throw off the impression of the pain of the process entirely and forever. Thus may we both live and observe for our own good and that of others; and he who is practising this principle in his daily life can say from his heart:—“Now shall my head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me.”
HOWEVER disagreeable other people may be,—however unjust they may be, however true it may be that the wrong is all on their side and not at all on ours,—whatever we may suffer at their hands,—we can only remedy the difficulty by looking first solely to ourselves and our own conduct; and, not until we are entirely free from resentment or resistance of any kind, and not until we are quiet in our own minds with regard to those who may be oppressing or annoying us, should we make any effort to set them right.
This philosophy is sound and absolutely practical,—it never fails; any apparent failure will be due to our own delinquency in applying it; and, if the reader will think of this truth carefully until he feels able to accept it, he will see what true freedom there is in it,—although it may be a long time before he is fully able to carry it out.
How can I remain in any slightest bondage to another when I feel sure that, however wrong he may be, the true cause of my discomfort and oppression is in myself? I am in bondage to myself, and it is to myself that I must look to gain my freedom. If a friend is rude and unkind to me, and I resent the rudeness and resist the unkindness, it is the resentment and resistance that cause me to suffer. I am not suffering for my friend, I am suffering for myself; and I can only gain my freedom by shunning the resentment and resistance as sin against all that is good and true in friendship. When I am free from these things in myself,—when, as far as I am concerned, I am perfectly and entirely willing that my friend should be rude or unjust, then only am I free from him. It is impossible that he should oppress me, if I am willing that he should be unjust or unkind; and the freedom that comes from such strong and willing non-resistance is like the fresh air upon a mountain. Such freedom brings with it also a new understanding of one’s friend, and a new ability to serve him.
Unless we live a life of seclusion, most of us have more than one friend, or acquaintance, or enemy, with whom we are brought into constant or occasional contact, and by whom we are made to suffer; not to mention the frequent irritations that may come from people we see only once in our lives. Imagine the joy of being free from all this irritability and oppression; imagine the saving of nervous energy which would accompany such freedom; imagine the possibility of use to others which would be its most helpful result!