A9. The Necessity of Riches.
It is right and necessary that you should have the very best of all this world’s goods—of clothing, food, house, surroundings, amusements, and all of which you are appreciative; and you should aspire to these things.
To aspire is not to covet another’s possessions, or to desire to cheat another out of them. To live in squalor, to dress meanly, to eat coarse and inferior food, to live in barren and meanly‑furnished rooms, or where the eye falls continually on dirt and degradation, is to cramp, starve, wound, and degrade the spirit. That will injure the body.
You really need all that your higher and most refined tastes call for and long for. You need and are the better, if surrounded by pictures and statuary of merit, by elegant household decoration, by the finest architecture. You are the better for having free access to the drama, for being able to travel and see other lands and peoples, and that in the best style and with the least inconvenience. You are the better for having your carriage and the means to entertain your friends, and thereby secure to yourself, under the best conditions, the best of association and social recreation. To have the cost of any comfort continually coming between you and the longing for its enjoyment, to see pleasures and long for them your whole life because you cannot afford them, to choke off hospitality when your heart is full of it, to be obliged to deny yourself of recreations and the needed rest they give mind and body, is to live a narrow, starved, cramped life. Starvation of taste, and starvation of any kind, is at the root of all excess and all degradation.
Your starved man overeats, and, having nothing better, will eat mouldy bread and tainted meat. Starved human tastes always denied healthy food create unhealthy appetites, and such starved tastes feast on the mouldy bread and tainted meat of the meretricious, low, cheap variety theatre, and all other places of similar character.
Refinement comes from the class having the most wealth, and, consequently, the most leisure. It is that class which best pays and encourages art. You do not get the elegancies of life from excessive toil and drudgery. You do find among that element the most coarseness, brutality, vulgarity, and degradation; and these things always accompany overworked bodies. That wealth is abused, that refinement may be mixed with effeminacy, is no proof against the great use and necessity for having, using, and enjoying wisely the best the soil can raise, and the best of all man’s art and skill; or, in other words, the best of all we can do for each other; and in the coming Kingdom of Heaven, which is to be the kingdom of earth, that is what men and women will be joyfully doing for each other; but not without system, not without order, not without the recognition and practice of the law that a righteous and religious business consists in such an interchange of commodities between man and man, so that he who gives shall feel paid by what he receives from another.
Is it not to our profit to have everything about us as beautiful, as neat, as symmetrical as possible, so that on whatever the eye falls or other sense feels, only pleasure thereby shall be caused? For every pleasant thought is a thing and a force, and
does you good. Is it, then, to the profit of mind or body to have about you things repulsive, things unclean, harsh, and angular in appearance, muddy and smoky and gloomy, when every thought coming from the sight of such surroundings is unpleasant? And such force does really wound you and injure you.
There is no merit in being poor or in desiring to be poor. Poverty and a “hard time” in early life do not develop and bring out qualities the sooner, as so many argue. You might as well argue that a plant starved of air, earth, water, and sunshine, would the sooner become a healthy, fruitful plant. Strong spirits rich in thought have risen above poverty in spite of its impediments, and many a strong spirit the world never heard of has been crushed by it. The majority of the impelling spirits and leading minds of the American Revolution—Washington, Jay, Adams, Hancock, Morris—were relatively rich or prosperous, nor could they have developed that mental or spiritual force which really carried our cause to success, had the incessant physical drudgery of poverty been imposed on them.
Idea, and the best rounded‑out idea, is born always of abundant leisure, and so are great achievements and great inventions.
Certain old proverbs encourage the idea that industry leads to wealth; but mere industry does not. Thousands are industrious, and poor all their lives. The point is, where and on what you put your industry. Industry, with little brains, saws wood and shovels coal for a living; industry, with more brains, buys a forest of wood, hires the sawyers and choppers, oversees industriously, and sells at a handsome profit. Neither does mere saving bring wealth. Thousands save and scrimp, and deny themselves of luxuries and necessities, to lay up every spare penny, and are poor all their lives. They call it economy to walk a mile to save a five‑cent care fare, and in so doing possibly expend enough force and strength which, rightly applied, would make ten dollars. They starve even their bodies, deny themselves of nourishing food, live on the cheapest, and sleep in cold, damp rooms to save a dime, and in so doing contract disease and weakness. This is not real economy. It is worse than the wildest extravagance, for that may bring a short pleasure.
This course brings only pain, and only pain and loss is gained by it. Hundreds, if not thousands, of this class, fall a prey to speculative schemers. Their carefully hoarded cash is invested in a mine which has next to no existence, save a name and a gilt‑edged prospectus; or it vanishes in some wildcat stock, or in the construction of a railroad whose first shareholders never get a penny of their money back, or other glittering scheme promising large and certain returns, and performing only regular calls for more assessments, to save what is already put in.
Does “Early to bed and early to rise make men wealthy”? Who get up the earliest, work the most hours, and go to bed earliest? Thousands on thousands of the poor, going to their labors at dawn of a cold winter’s morn, while the men who control the finances of the world rise at eight, breakfast at nine, get to business at ten, leave it at three or four in the afternoon, and recreate, possibly till midnight; nor would these men so control the domain of finance did they not give this ease and rest to the body (the spirit’s instrument), in order to generate and use the force of that spirit.
So we find that the old worn‑out maxims for attaining wealth do not “hold water.” They are only true when taken with many modifications, and are but fragments of the real or spiritual law which brings abundance.
All material wealth is gained through following a certain spiritual law, or by the use, in a certain way, of human spiritual forces.
It is not a new law. It is followed in part, and quite unconsciously, and always has been, by those who gain wealth. But there is to be a fuller application of this law, whereby not only wealth will come to the individual, but at the same time health, and the ability to enjoy wealth. This law, used wisely and intelligently, is as much yours to profit by as it is the belonging of any other person sufficiently clear in mind to recognize it.
These forces are your daily, hourly thoughts. If you put those thoughts or forces in one direction, they will bring you health and the goods of this world to use and enjoy, but not to hoard; if you put them in another they will bring you disease and poverty.
Your every thought is a force, as real as a current of electricity is a force. The thoughts you are now putting out are now working to shape your face and body, affecting your health for good or ill, and making or losing for you money.
If you think poverty, you put out an actual force to attract poverty. If in mind you are always seeing yourself growing poorer and poorer, if at every venture you fear and teach yourself to expect to lose money, if your heart quakes every time you pull out your purse, you are by an inevitable force in nature, or spiritual law, attracting poverty. Your prevailing order of thought is a force which brings its like in physical things. If you live in a two dollar per week hall bedroom, and your thought every night and morning is, “Well, I suppose I must always live in this barren den,” you are by such despondent state of mind creating in the invisible but most powerful element of thought, a power which will keep you in that room, and in a cheap, inferior corresponding order of life. If you say in your thought, and keep saying it, and keep so far as you can your mind in the state to say this: “I accept this room only as my temporary abode. I will have a better one, and after that a better one still, and everything else better,” you are then, through the mysterious agency of your own thought power, bringing the better to you.
You have then set a magnet as real, though invisible, as the loadstone at work drawing the better to you, and you will find, as this state of mind is persisted in, that you will gradually drift away from cheap and relatively unsuccessful people into a more aspiring, broader, and successful order of mind.
When the hod‑carrier thinks, aspires, plans, builds persistently in imagination something higher than carrying the hod, he is on the sure and only road to something better. Persistent desire or demand in thought for the better is the real force, impelling evolution from the lower to the higher. It is this that works, and has ever worked in all nature—in tree, animal, man, all forms of mind acting with physical and visible organizations—and it is this desire, this force, which in all forms of life has carried our planet from chaos to its present more improved and refined state. It was this desire, this almost unconscious prayer, that has, through countless ages, gradually changed the heavy, wallowing, unwieldy, and gigantic birds and beasts of a past far beyond human history, into the more agile, the more graceful forms of the animal life of the present (for we grant mind or spirit in greater or less degree to bird, animal, fish, reptile and plant, and aspiration of spirit also) and it is this same aspiration or desire, the desire of the spirit in all forms of physical life, to be freed from the shackles and impediments of matter that shall, for the future, change plant, tree, and animal, into still finer and freer forms. It will transform men and women into beings and forces for illimitable and ever‑increasing happiness, beauty and grandeur not now to be realized or imagined; for of all that is in the universe, and of all the possibilities in the universe, the present utmost scope of human imagination is but as the drop to the ocean.
Theology calls this desire prayer; and prayer is the great elevating force in the universe; and when you desire or demand anything, you pray for that thing, or, in other words, you set at work the force attaching that thing. You can so pray unconsciously for poor things as well as good; and if you do, you attract poor things; and if in mind you see ever disaster, misfortune and the poorhouse, it is the same as praying for disaster, loss and the poorhouse, and by this law, disaster, misfortune and the poorhouse will come to you.
This force belongs to all of you. Such share as you have belongs to you and you alone. It has, through a part of vast periods of time, made you what you are. It is ever with you, increasing. You cannot stop that increase no more than you can stop this planet from improving and refining, for you and I are literal parts of this planet, and this planet is not a dead ball of earth. There is no death at all in nature. This planet is alive, all alive—a living, moving, growing, material expression of a gigantic spirit, even as your bodies are the visible expressions and instruments of your own invisible minds or spirits.
In the following lies one part of the spiritual law for gaining what justly belongs to you.
It is a common reproach against ministers that they “preach for pay,” or preach for the largest salary. A minister’s calling is a business. He has, or should have, as regards ideas, a valuable article to give people. In the domain of justice, people should compensate him in proportion to the value of the article he gives. It is not justice in any business to expect or demand something for nothing, or next to nothing.
If you hear a man every Sunday, and his thought interests and strengthens you, and you go away without contributing to that man’s support, or desiring to, you are getting something and giving nothing in return. But if you strongly and earnestly desire to do something for that man, and cannot in money, your thought is a power, and does him good. If you give but a penny in such desire, that penny is carrying to the preacher a thought force for good, and is of far more value than thousands given grudgingly.
You enjoy and are benefited by that man’s mind and talent as much as you are by a meal for which you are obliged to pay. You cannot get the gospel of good cookery without paying for it. No more should you get any other gospel. You would be ashamed to sit at a man’s table every day, eating of the choicest food, without offering him something for it. You would be ashamed to see that man impoverishing himself and denying himself of comforts he needed while supplying you with that food. You would call him an unwise man for doing so. Exactly as unwise are they who think it their duty to preach or give of any gospel for nothing. Their sin is as great as that of those who take it for nothing. If you go into the streets and for the sake of pure benevolence give all your time and strength to people, you will become a pauper, both in mind and body.
The twelve apostles were not told to do this. They were told to depart from any house or any place where they were not properly received. They were told in case of such treatment, to shake from their feet the dust of such house or place as a “testimony against it.” Lack of proper support is lack of being properly “received.”
If you do not, you will not only give yourself, your power, and all you have, away to others, but you may become a beggar, calling upon others to give you, without any return, that which in the injustice of ignorance you give, and even throw away, upon others who excite your sympathy; and in this way a man distinguished in the outside world for benevolence and kind heart, may get from the woman, his wife, most of the strength he so freely distributes to others, and gives little or nothing back to her. For when a woman looks out, at home, for so many of the man’s material comforts and necessities, and he depends on her, not only for the entire regulation of the household, his well‑cooked breakfast, his punctually and properly sewed on shirt‑buttons—if not to her care and foresight in paying the rent—even his moral support and moral backbone, drawn of her greater strength of character, or superior thought, and that man takes all this and expends it in the entertainment of other people, and comes to his home only a squeezed out, tired out, irritable sponge, to fill up and absorb more, and then leave her again to her own resources for social enjoyment, there is ignorant violation of the law of compensation, and the end and the penalty of such violation is a broken‑down woman, and afterwards a broken‑down man, who may never know that he was carried all his life by that woman, and that the strength he had was not his own but hers.
If the man’s is the stronger thought, and the woman’s the weaker, then he is the loser, and, ultimately, so are both losers by the same process.
You will recollect that the force or thought you may have coming to you from another person is a current as real as a current of air or electricity, and that this force acts on you for good or ill. If that person’s thought is richer than yours, that is, if such person has more foresight, is a better judge of character and motive, is more skillful to plan, and more determined, prompt and resolute to execute, that order of thought can feed your spirit, and give it strength,—and whatever strengthens the spirit strengthens the body,—and if yours is the inferior thought, and you cannot, in thinking of such person, send back a quality of element or thought of a corresponding value and richness, you are getting far more than you give. You are being fed of the richer element, and sending back the poorer. Yet, when so fed, you may be able to appropriate or absorb and use but a small part of what comes to you. The rest is wasted. If your thought is, in quality, equal to the other person’s, you will give each other mutual strength. That is just compensation, and a righteous business transaction. These are agencies ever working all about us in the unseen kingdom of thought.
The sin and the penalty is as great for the one that gives such thought, without expecting or exacting a just return, as for the one who takes. It is this unconscious sin and the action of this little‑known law that makes poverty, and thousands on thousands of paupers and invalids, in every grade of society; and to‑day many a rich man, whose force of thought, properly directed, would bring money, revenues and possessions, expends the same force on some person, on some one who gives weakness back, and who wastes what is sent. That same force or thought, more wisely directed, would beget ideas, and ideas, when properly directed, can always be turned into money; and the newest and freshest idea is stronger than all the banks and monopolies in the world.
Such as the discovery of petroleum, an idea in some mind before discovery. Boring for it was an idea in some mind long ere the boring. Refining it was an idea long ere it was refined. The invention of the modern elevator, thereby enabling buildings to be made higher, and so making real estate out of air space, was in idea long before it was materialized in wood or iron; nor would any of these ideas, all worth millions, have come either to minds enfeebled by over‑worked bodies, or to minds which unconsciously allowed their force to be drained from them in the way indicated above.
“It is better to give than to receive,” you quote. It is better, in a sense. It is to the generous heart more enjoyable to entertain a friend, to give a dinner, to relieve distress, than to be entertained, or feasted, or relieved. The very fact of giving implies that some one must receive; but you must take measures and use methods and foresight to keep your reservoir filled up, so as to keep the fountain of your benevolence playing. The sun must draw moisture through evaporation from lake, river, and ocean, before the clouds can drop that moisture again to earth; and in the whole domain of nature we shall find a well regulated and systemized source and means of supply before there can be giving out of that supply. That is business.
Let go of fear – of any kind.
Travel Cravings (n.d.). [Image]. Retrieved June 30, 2021, from https://travelcravings.com/2018/05/31/nkwazi-village-malawi/
Mulford, P. (1886-1887). The necessity of riches. Your forces and how to use them (pp.217-228). Hollister, Missouri: YOGeBooks by Roger L. Cole. doi: 2015:01:16:10:43:09