A SHORT TIME ago a friend, who had been studying some Truth literature, gave voice to an objection that I have heard not once, but many times. It was somewhat as follows:
When I was a young man I joined the church, and I have been fairly regular in my attendance ever since. I was taught that it is the chief duty of man to spend the present life in preparing for the future life, when he must give an account of him-self, and when he will go to the blessings of heaven if he is fit. In order to do this he must acknowledge that he is a sinner, show true sorrow for the past, and atone for it. Now, this theory that you call Truth is very beautiful, but it does not accord with what I have been taught, for you pay no attention whatever to the future life, but devote all your energies to the present. How can you explain this ?”
Of course every metaphysician knows the answer, or should, but you might be interested in reading what I told him. It may help you in your onward way. There is every good reason for paying close attention to the present, and still we are not neglecting the future, as some people seem to think we are doing. Furthermore, our explanation is strictly scientific, as well as in accord with the teachings of the Master. Correctly speaking, there is no past, nor is there a future. The past is only à memory of what has taken place, and the future is only a vision of what is to come. The present instant is the only real time as far as we are concerned. Still, there is a very close relationship between these three conditions.
Why are you what you are today? Some will answer that it is because your life was predestined before birth, and that you are merely carrying out your fate. This would make man only a puppet in the hands of destiny. It would take away from him all freedom and all the glory of being himself, a son of God, which is what the Master said that man is. It would remove every stimulus to attain the heights to which man is entitled. What would be the use of a person’s struggling for anything if his end were predestined? He could not change the inevitable. He who knew all the mystery of life called upon us to choose our way and to follow Him. Freedom of choice is man’s great privilege, which he frequently misuses.
Others will tell you that your condition today is due to heredity and environment, and that these things are what make every man a success or a failure, and that they determine every detail of your habits and disposition. Unfortunately too many who should see Truth believe and teach these doctrines. If they were right, man would indeed be in a helpless condition, merely a slave to things, in-stead of being their master. Yet we are told that man is to have dominion over everything. The fact that some of the greatest men who have ever lived have overcome poverty, ignorance, and physical handicaps shows the falsity of these ideas regarding heredity.
You are not what you are today because of predestination, nor are you the victim of circumstances or conditions. Metaphysical reasoning shows that there is quite a different cause for your present condition, and scientific investigation bears this out. We know that every thought held in mind, every idea continually expressed, must manifest itself in some way in the thinker’s body or his affairs. If you are sick today it is because you have held thoughts of imperfection at some time in the past. If you are suffering lack today, you have held thoughts of lack in the past. If you are in trouble today, you have harbored inharmonious thoughts. These ideas are now working themselves out in you or in your affairs.
You may be surprised to know how far back the cause lies, but investigation has proved that failure today may be the result of negative ideas held during childhood, which have sunk into the subconscious mind and have become the ruling force of your life. It may go farther back. The mind of the child is very susceptible to suggestion. Thoughts carried by the mother during the prenatal period may become subconsciously active in the child before birth, and may rule him when he becomes an adult. This would account for a great part of the so-called heredity of which you hear so much.
Perhaps you last week, or yesterday, expressed a strong like or dislike that is now expressing itself in you. These are facts, and they show that your present condition is the outworking of ideas that you have held in the past. If these ideas have been ideas of subjection to circumstances and conditions, you are the product of these things; but if you have held ideas of freedom and power you have risen above these limitations. In every case we can trace the cause of health or of sickness, of success or of failure, to thoughts held in the past. The work of Freud and of others has proved this.
I know of a man who was born and reared in very poor circumstances. His family was almost poverty-stricken, never being more than one jump ahead of sheer want. At an early age he was compelled to go to work at anything that he could get. Today, fifty years later, he is the owner of a good business, and is worth considerable money. He is not the only one who has done this. Some will say that it was his fate to succeed. It was, in a way, but his fate was of his own making. When a boy he determined that he would not live as his family had lived in the past; he would have some of the good things of life. He made this his aim, consciously and subconsciously, and it guided him out of conditions to which others remained bound. Instead of allowing adverse conditions to enter his consciousness and become a part of him, he rose above them. His present life is the result of his boyhood ideal coupled with the faith that he could attain it.
So we see that the present and the past are closely linked. In fact, the present is directly the result of the past, although the latter has now no existence. Since this is so, it is reasonable and scientific to say that the future, when it becomes the present, will be the result of today. This is a logical conclusion. The past that caused your present condition was once the present. You thought along certain lines then, and the result is that you are affected now by conditions corresponding to those thoughts, consequently the thoughts of today will bear fruit at some future time. We heal metaphysically by changing the line of thought in the present, and we watch it work out for better in the future tomorrow or next week.
Since each day of this life is making the conditions of the next day, or of some other future day, we can only conclude that we are creating our next existence right here and now. The heaven or hell that we make for ourselves here will go right with us wherever we go. Whether we go to an existence in some other plane, or reincarnation is the rule, matters not at all for our present consideration. It is not particularly the place that we are making, but the conditions that will surround us there, that we are interested in. As far as the place is concerned, we have nothing to say; that is in God’s keeping. We know that He is good, so why worry? Leave that to Him, and let us make the present what it should be.
Considering that the things that you thought and the ideas that you held in childhood have made you what you are today, it is reasonable that what you are thinking and doing, as well as the ideals you are now holding, are preparing your circumstances of perhaps a thousand years hence, as we reckon time. It is possible that your faith or your lack of it, in a previous life, has helped to bring you where you now are. Prepare for the future, yes, but not by spending time in thinking about it, nor by calling yourself a miserable sinner. That is idle. It is only by developing perfection in the present that a perfect future can be assured.
Preparing for the future? Bless you, you are doing this every minute, whether you will to do so or not. Tomorrow will be the result of today, and so it will be forever. There is no escaping this: our scientific investigations of the last few years point in this direction. Hard as it may seem, your future is in your own hands, for it will be of your own making. Salvation must be here and now. When the Master said, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” He meant just what He said. It is waiting for us to enter it now. Put this off to a future existence and you will find yourself finally obliged to do what you might just as well do now. If you are seeking salvation you must show yourself worthy of being saved, but it must be done now.
We, as metaphysicians, forget the past, for it is but a dream, and we do not spend time delving into the future, for it does not exist. But we know that every step forward is creating more happiness and more good for us when that time does become the present. To dream of a blissful future without doing something to make it a reality is just as useless as continually to dream over the past. It is to try to live in a nonexistent state, and leads nowhere. This is daydreaming. The truly successful do not dream; they visualize things as though they existed now, and work toward the goal that they have set. This is working in the present to develop a future.
Every thought of Truth that you think in the present is laying up a treasure of happiness for tomorrow, next year, or your next life. If you go from this existence there is but one thing that you can take with you the consciousness that you have created here. It is this that will determine your future state. If you have a consciousness of good, the future will be good. This cannot fail, so “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,” the consciousness made up of thoughts of good, and you will not need to fear the future.
When man overcomes completely he will not pass from life to life; we have the Master’s word for that, and it seems logical. We are told that we shall be perfect, as our Father in heaven is perfect. That is our end and aim. If a man does not accomplish this here there must be further opportunities, either here or somewhere else, otherwise the command would be empty. If a man has made great headway in his overcoming, the consciousness of Truth that he has created will put him farther on the road in his next life, giving him the chance of attaining the goal. This consciousness is the result of your thoughts, so once again I say that, with every word, either thought or spoken, you are building your future.
Now is the only time in which you can accomplish anything. You cannot sit here and do some-thing in the future; but you can start something now and see it come to fruition in the future. If you failed to plant the seed now you would have no crop to gather a few months from now. If you want your future to be better than the present you must plant your seed thoughts now, and watch them grow, giving them attention that they do not dry out. Paul insisted on this “now.” After quoting the promise in Isaiah he says, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Paul meant just what we are considering, the building of your future by making the most of this day. Find your salvation now, and you will always have it.
Several months ago I was conversing with a minister who was asking some questions concerning the belief of Unity regarding the future. I explained it somewhat as I have given it to you. At the end he thought a minute, then said:
“I believe that you are right. I have always had a sneaking thought that if there is a real salvation it must begin here.”
Many of us who have been for years seeking to find the way have finally come to this conclusion, and, forgetting the past with all its mistakes, we are keeping our mind intent on finding “the kingdom” here and now, knowing that we are creating our own future in so doing. If you will remember, John saw the New Jerusalem, not located in some distant sphere, but coming down from heaven to the earth, and a voice told him that God would dwell with men. This indicates that if we would find that place of bliss we must do so right here. We must not put it off to the future. Create the consciousness of heaven now, and you will abide in it forever. Fail to do this, and you will keep on waiting. You are creating your own future now. Make it what you desire, for it is in your own hands.
“I sent my Soul through the Invisible, Some letter of that After-life to spell: And by and by my Soul returned to me, And answered, ‘I Myself am Heav’n and Hell.’ “