Aim at perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable. However, they who aim at it, and persevere, will come much nearer to it than those whose laziness and despondency make them give it up as unattainable.
Man did not create himself for it is easily demonstrable that man knows next to nothing about himself. But man, can if he so chooses, make himself. He has the choice of stagnating at the bone and flesh level or gaining day in and day out in awareness, perception, consciousness. The latter—realizing one’s unique aptitudes and potentialities—can be properly classified as life’s achievement. Ascending to such intellectual, moral, and spiritual heights as may grace our individual beings is what we’re here for!
It seems self-evident that man’s earthly purpose is to grow, emerge, evolve, hatch. Referring to the remark of Heraclitus that we are here as in an egg, C. S. Lewis observed, “You cannot go on being a good egg forever; you must either hatch or rot.” Hatching, as the achievement in mind, poses the question: Is the process outer or inner directed?
Only a rough estimate is possible here, but it’s my guess that more than 99 per cent of mankind’s thinking about the higher values—intellectual, moral, spiritual—has been and is outer directed. It has been molded by various outside forces: something-for-nothing schemes, popular political double talk, dictator jargon, mobocracy, nose counting as a means of deciding what is true and righteous, on and on—fickle, ever-changing fops of fashion, thus described by William Ellery Channing:
Without depth of thought, or earnestness of feeling, or strength of purpose, living an unreal life, sacrificing substance to show, substituting the fictitious for the natural, mistaking a crowd for society, finding its chief pleasure in ridicule, and exhausting its ingenuity in expedients for killing time, fashion is among the last influences under which a human being who respects himself, or who comprehends the great end of life, would desire to be placed.
In addition to these fashionable ones are millions of others just as inattentive to “the great end of life.” Instead of following fads, they are coercively pushed this way and that by innumerable governments and sub-governments. Mere samples of the regulations foisted on people: what to grow where and when; what wages and prices are permissible; the hours of work; what and with whom one may exchange; the thoughts to be entertained (government dictated curricula); what portion of the fruits of a man’s labor he “owes” to others. There are literally millions of such edicts ranging from how high the fence, to the shape of toilet seats, to how many dogs one may own! Here we have “the blind leaders of the blind,” the pushers and the pushed.
Now to the achievers, those who aim at perfection and persevere. True, they too are pushed—but they know it. Taking the only corrective course there is, they use the “push” as a sailor uses the wind—to serve his ends—and thus they are inner rather than outer directed. Instead of being followers or tag alongs, they’re just the opposite—seekers! And they search every nook and cranny for bits of truth. But reflect on this enlightening point by the renowned psychiatrist, Dr. Fritz Kunkel: “. . . truth cannot be taught in words. It must actually be experienced within our own hearts.”1 Seeking for truth is an inside exploration; it is caught, rather than taught.
How is truth caught? What criterion can the achievers use to distinguish truth from falsehood? The best answer known to me: If it’s right in principle, it is truth, and if wrong in principle ’tis false. But how does one tell whether a principle is right or wrong? See if it works, not only in the short run but in the long run! If it’s right in principle, it has to work. Reflect on the following:
Suppose all were thieves—all parasites and no hosts. Everyone would perish. Robbery violates the right to the fruits of one’s own labor and, thus, is wrong in principle—and doesn’t work!
Suppose all were liars. Why would all perish? Lying violates truth; expediency is wrong in principle—and doesn’t work!
Suppose every citizen were a coercionist, freedom to act creatively completely squelched. None would survive. Coercion is wrong in principle—and doesn’t work!
Suppose all were monopolists, every good and service having but a single source, not an iota of competition or exchange of ideas, inventions, discoveries. No survivors! Monopoly is wrong in principle—and doesn’t work.
Suppose all were Keynesians. Society would revert to primitive barter, and nearly all would perish. Keynesism causes inflation and destroys an honest, workable medium of exchange. It is wrong in principle—and doesn’t work!
What then is right in principle? Discover what should be released and what restrained. Obviously, it is right in principle to restrain every action which hinders the release of creative energy. And, by the same token, it is right in principle to release every action which facilitates creative energy.2
Another renowned psychiatrist, Dr. Carl Jung, sheds light on the distinction between the mill run of humanity and the achievers:
The public in general is possessed of the fundamental error that there are certain answers, “solutions,” or attitudes of mind which need only be uttered in order to spread the necessary light. But the best of truths is of no use—as history has shown a thousand times—unless it has become the individual’s most personal inner experience. . . . Our need is not to know the truth but to experience it. . . . Nothing is more fruitless than to speak of how things must and should be and nothing is more important than to find the way which leads to these far-off goals.
The goals of the achievers are indeed far off—into the Infinite! As related to the Infinite, the Bible has, as I believe, the greatest instruction ever conferred upon mankind, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God [Truth and Righteousness] and these things [wealth, learning, intelligence] shall be added unto you.” C. S. Lewis phrased the Truth: “Aim at Heaven and you get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither.”
How interesting that two renowned psychiatrists, Kunkel and Jung, emphasize the point that truth, to be one’s own, must be experienced. Truth may be heard countless times but unless absorbed into the tissues, so to speak—digested—it is no more than hearsay, that is, without enlightenment. Anyone who has experienced this fact, and whose ambition is to advance the freedom way of life, would never “spin his wheels” with any selling-the-masses approach! Why? “The wisdom of experience is incommunicable.” Isn’t it obvious that experience is not transmissible in the commonly accepted sense?
As Jung observed, “. . . nothing is more important than to find the way to these far-off goals.” What is the most far-off goal at the human level? It is freedom—each individual, without exception, being able to act creatively as he or she pleases, that is, sharing in Creation along the lines of one’s own uniqueness.
Finally, as to those who are inner directed, achievers as related to the free market, private ownership limited government way of life with its moral and spiritual antecedents. What is the foundation of their achievement? Nothing less than experience!
While experiences cannot be transmitted in words, each of us thinks of his experiences in words; my experiences are formulated in words that I may not forget and let them pass by profitless. Words are our “capturing devices.” What does an achiever capture by his experiences? He observes countless errors, his own as well as those of others, errors that stifle creativity. And then, being sensitive, he sees instances in which freedom works its miracles. Errors and truth in a magnificent contrast.
From what has been said above it might appear that the achievers are loners—seekers and learners all by themselves—their influence nil. Not so! These individuals are growing and, without question, growth energizes the magnetism that attracts others to similar experiences. “There is not enough darkness in the whole world to put out the light of one wee candle.” No one who is growing can hide his light under a bushel, as the saying goes. Others—those who wish to grow—will find him out. Persons of achievement set the pace for noble experiences in others who will then reflect their own experiences in their own words. All of this is mysterious, at least to me. I know not how it works—only that it does!
There is another encouraging force at work—heavenly, if you will; at least it is beyond the initiation of man. It is one of those infinite phenomena of the Creative Force or evolutionary ascendancy. Dr. Jung wrote a book entitled Synchronicity,3 an analysis of these human creativities that occur to different people simultaneously. One among countless examples: penicillin was discovered by an American medical student and by another in a foreign country at the same time. This phenomenon is often referred to as “coincidental thinking.” A more accurate term would be “coincidental reception.”
There is evidence galore that an Infinite Consciousness or Intelligence (Something-Beyond-Words) is forever working on the intellectual, moral, and spiritual advancement of we mere mortals. But here’s the problem: whether or not enlightenment occurs depends on one’s receptivity. Thus, the highest art of living is to serve as a relay station of this Radiant Energy—receive and share, now and always! Why is this encouraging? To the extent that one succeeds, to that extent will he know that many others are simultaneously succeeding, that is, also receiving.
As I see it, receiving and sharing is an obligation we owe our Creator. Further, isn’t it comforting to realize that an ascending humanity is guided by an Immense Intelligence—to use Emerson’s term?
Freedom has been achieved only rarely in history, and for relatively short periods. Careful reflection on the “far off goal” of freedom makes it clear that only the inner directed achieve it. It is in the mind and soul of individuals—achievers—an affinity with Divine Providence. So powerful is this achievement, when in ascendancy, that all the babble, political double talk, dictatorial jargon, and the like, are rendered impotent. As the energy of the Sun penetrates the stratosphere and ionosphere, regardless of clouds or storms, giving life to all on earth, so is this Radiant Energy invincible—when improving. It is the sole genesis of human evolution—the good life.
“Let there be light and there was light” and, if we live our lives aright, there will be. That’s the Divine promise!