"Know thyself"

The rich young ruler who came to Jesus asking what he should do to inherit eternal life was told to "keep the commandments." Upon his replying that he had done this from his youth, Jesus, with his clear insight, instantly touched upon the weak point in the young man's thinking—his love of wealth. When Jesus told him that this must be given up, we are told that the young man "went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions." He may have argued that Jesus was asking too much of him. He may have gone further and questioned why his material abundance should be cast aside, inasmuch as lack certainly is not a quality of infinite good. But whatever the arguments of self-will, self-justification, self-love may be, they cannot alter the changeless fact that so long as any specific error is enthroned, just so much is the truth shut out from realization.

If healing seems delayed, the seeker may be unconsciously holding to some pet phase of mortal mind, or may even be arguing that he is justified in refusing to let it go, persuading himself that he has not yet progressed far enough in this Science of Spirit to give up this particular form of materiality. One who desires to retain pleasure in matter, at the same time asking for freedom from pain and discord, is laboring in a way which is likely to prove disappointing. It is impossible to give power to the belief of pleasure in matter and not to the belief of pain.

In "The Way" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 355) we are shown very clearly that self-knowledge, humility, and love are very necessary acquisitions; and in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 571) we find the admonition, "Know thyself, and God will supply the wisdom and the occasion for a victory over evil." Self-knowledge demands an understanding of Principle. The average person has permitted his thoughts to run riot, not even knowing what has been filling consciousness, much less what motive actuates thought and deed. Earnest, alert, persistent work is required to arrive at the point where we truly know ourselves and the motives which impel our acts and words. We may in all sincerity believe we are committing an act in love and with the idea of service, when a careful analysis will show that hidden in the deeper recesses of consciousness is a subtle suggestion of possible benefit to be gained for ourselves. The detection of actual motives requires very careful analysis, because the first motive which comes to our thought is often not the real one.

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Anxiety for the Future
August 30, 1919

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