Many years spent in the hush of the Arizona desert, alone except for an invalid husband and two babies, brought me to a realization that there was something more to living than the merely physical. Sitting under the stars on hot summer nights, in a silence so still I could almost hear a feather flutter, alone in a world of prickly cacti with an eerie moon silvering the hard-baked earth as it descended over Squaw Peak, I experienced at first a nameless terror of the unknown. Little by little, I came to wondering what was life’s purpose? Why were we here? I read all the books I could lay my hands on about religion and philosophy. Later, when we moved to California, I attended many different churches. I questioned friends. Eventually I arrived at the conclusion that the answer to these and similar questions must be answered by each individual himself.
No one can have absolute faith in what others say. One of us gains inspiration from the teachings of Christ, another from Buddha, still another from Moses or Confucius. We select our religion or philosophy according to are own spiritual needs, and fundamentally all are based on love, compassion, understanding—those essential qualities for good living. For my own part, on looking back over a life of many vicissitudes, I can truthfully say that every tragic occurrence, every hardship, had a definite bearing on my spiritual growth. Each served a purpose. That is why I believe that our whole reason for living is to develop our inner life, to realize that every living creature is one, that by hurting one we hurt all.
Individually or globally, we are in a state of growth. What we are today and what we will be tomorrow rests with ourselves. Certain causes produce certain effects. There are people who say: “There can be no God, or how could He possibly allow such carnage as we have experienced in recent wars?” What has God to do with it? Isn’t it man himself who has made them? The life of a nation, as well as an individual, surely is the result of what has been sown in the past. I believe if we wish to have a better world, it is no use blaming others. We must set to work to enrich our own lives and those of our children. If we do not, how can we hope to avoid suffering or future wars?
I have learned that by studying my own life and looking into my true self, analyzing my thoughts and actions, that most of the things that have happened to me have been caused by what I have thought and done. Slowly I have realized that this life is neither for the accumulation of wealth nor for the satisfaction of bodily pleasures, but for the manifestation of the soul, as well as to help us attain freedom. I have learned that we cannot expect to get something we have not earned, and I have become aware that the fetters which hold me down are not outside but within.
Without neglecting our bodies, we must acquire the equipment which will help us to adjust ourselves to life on a mental and spiritual plain. For, after all, who can cause us to suffer if we have developed an inward serenity? I hold there is death only to the body, and that is why it is so important to cultivate our mental and spiritual attributes, because only those can we carry over with us. There is no real death for the soul. The soul within, which is a part of God, cannot die.
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