Are you a writer? You can never write more than you yourself are. Would you write more? Then broaden, deepen, enrich the life. Are you a minister? You can never raise men higher than you have raised yourself. Your words will have exactly the sound of the life whence they come. Hollow the life? Hollow-sounding and empty will be the words, weak, ineffective, false. Would you have them go with greater power, and thus be more effective? Live the life, the power will come. Are you an orator? The power and effectiveness of your words in influencing and moving masses of men depends entirely upon the altitude from which they are spoken. Would you have them more effective, each one filled with a living power? Then elevate the life, the power will come. Are you in the walks of private life? Then, wherever you move, there goes from you, even if there be no word spoken, a silent but effective influence of an elevating or a degrading nature. Is the life high, beautiful? Then the influences are inspiring, life-giving. Is it low, devoid of beauty? The influences then, are disease laden, death-dealing. The tones of your voice, the attitude of your body, the character of your face, all are determined by the life you live, all in turn influence for better or for worse all who come within your radius. And if, as one of earth’s great souls has said, the only way truly to help a man is to make him better, then the tremendous power of merely the life itself.
Why, I know personally a young man of splendid qualities and gifts, who was rapidly on the way of ruin, as the term goes, gradually losing control of himself day after day, self-respect almost gone,–already the thought of taking his own life had entered his mind,–who was so inspired with the mere presence and bearing of a royal-hearted young man, one who had complete mastery of himself, and therefore a young man of power, that the very sight of him as he went to and fro in his daily work was a power that called his better self to the front again, awakened the God nature within him, so that he again set his face in the direction of the right, the true, the manly; and to-day there is no grander, stronger, more beautiful soul in all the wide country than he. Yes, there is a powerful influence that resolves itself into a service for all in each individual strong, pure, and noble life.
And have the wonderful possibilities of what may be termed an inner or soul development ever come strongly to your notice? Perhaps not, for as yet only a few have begun to recognize under this name a certain great power that has always existed,–a power that has never as yet been fully understood, and so has been called by this term and by that. It is possible so to develop this soul power that, as we stand merely and talk with a person, there goes out from us a silent influence that the person cannot see or hear, but that he feels, and the influences of which he cannot escape; that, as we merely go into a room in which several persons are sitting, there goes out from us a power, a silent influence that all will feel and will be influenced by, even though not a word be spoken. This has been the power of every man, of every woman, of great and lasting influence in the world’s history.
It is just beginning to come to us through a few highly illumined souls that this power can be grown, that it rests upon great natural law that the Author of our being has instituted within us and about us. It is during the next few years that we are to see many wonderful developments along this line; for in this, as in many others, the light is just beginning to break. A few, who are far up on the heights of human development, are just beginning to catch the first few faint flushes of the dawn. Then live to your highest. This of itself will make you of great service to mankind, but without this you never can be. Naught is the difference how hard you may try; and know, even so far as your own highest interests are concerned, that the true joy of existence comes from living to one’s highest.
This life, and this alone, will bring that which I believe to be one of the greatest characteristics of a truly great man,–humility; and when one says humility, he necessarily implies simplicity; for the two always go hand in hand. The one is born of the other. The proud, the vain, the haughty, those striving for effect, are never counted among the world’s greatest personages. The very fact of one’s striving for effect of itself indicates that there is not enough in him to make him really great; while he who really is so needs never concern himself about it, nor does he ever. I can think of no better way for one to attain to humility and simplicity than for him to have his mind off of self in the service of others. Vanity, that most dangerous quality, and especially for young people, is the outcome of one’s always regarding self.