It is a well-known fact in the scientific world that the great work in the process of evolution is the gradual advancing from the lower to the higher, from the coarser to the finer, or, in other words, from the coarser material to the finer spiritual; and this higher spiritualization of life is the great work before us all. All pass ultimately over the same road in general, some more rapidly, some more slowly. The ultimate destiny of all is the higher life, the finding of the higher self; and to this we are either led or we are pushed,–led, by recognizing and coming into harmony with the higher laws of our being, or pushed, through their violation, and hence through experience, through suffering, and at times through bitter suffering, until through this very agency we learn the laws and come into harmony with them, so that we thus see the economy, the blessedness of even error, shame, and suffering itself, in that, if we are not wise enough to go voluntarily and of our own accord, it all the more quickly brings us to our true, our higher selves.
Moreover, whatever is evolved must as surely first be involved. We cannot conceive even of an evolution without first an involution; and, if this is true, we cannot conclude otherwise than that all that will ever be brought forth through the process of evolution is already within, all the God possibilities of the human soul are now, at this very moment, latent within. This being true, the process of evolution need not, as is many times supposed, take aeons or even ages for its accomplishment; for the process is wonderfully accelerated when we have grasped and when we have commenced to actualize the reality of that mighty precept, Know thyself.
It is possible, through an intelligent understanding of the laws of the higher life, to advance in the spiritual awakening and unfoldment even in a single year more than one otherwise would through a whole lifetime, or more in a single day or even hour than in an entire year or series of years otherwise.
This higher spiritualization of life is certainly what the Master had in mind when he said, It is as hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven as it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. For, if a man give all his days and his nights merely to the accumulation of outer material possessions, what time has he for the growing, the unfolding, of the interior, the spiritual, what time for finding that wonderful kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, the Christ within?
This certainly is also the significance of the temptation in the wilderness. The temptations were all, you will recall, in connection with the material, the physical, and the things that pertain thereto. Do so and so, said the physical: follow after me, and I will give you bread in abundance, I will give you great fame and notoriety, I will give you vast material possessions. All, you see, a calling away from the real, the interior, the spiritual, the eternal. Dominion over all the kingdoms of the _world_ was promised. But what, what is dominion overall the world, with heaven left out?
All, however, was triumphed over. The physical was put into subjection by the spiritual, the victory was gained once for all and forever; and he became the supreme and royal Master, and by this complete and glorious mastery of self he gained the mastery over all else besides, even to material things and conditions.
And by this higher spiritual chemicalization of life thus set into operation the very thought forces of his mind became charged with a living, mighty, and omnipotent power, so as to effect a mastery over all exterior conditions: hence the numerous things called miracles by those who witnessed and who had not entered into a knowledge of the higher laws that can triumph over and master the lower, but which are just as real and as natural on their plane as the lower, and even more real and more natural, because higher and therefore more enduring. But this complete mastery over self during this period of temptation was just the beginning of the path that led from glory unto glory, the path that for you and for me will lead from glory unto glory the same as for him.
It was this new divine and spiritual chemistry of life thus set into operation that transformed the man Jesus, that royal-hearted elder brother, into the Christ Jesus, and forever blessed be his name; for he thus became our Saviour,–he became our Saviour by virtue of pointing out to us the way. This overcoming by the calling of the higher spiritual forces into operation is certainly what he meant when he said, I have overcome the world, and what he would have us understand when he says, Overcome the world, even as I have overcome it.