Rosicrucian Writings Online

Attracting Success

By H. Spencer Lewis, Ph. D., F.R.C.
[From The Rosicrucian Digest July 1932]
FOR the discourse tonight, the subject of, "Attracting Success," was selected because of many questions submitted by those who are on various paths of search for the necessities of life. I believe it is safe to say that the average human being begins a strange search for something very early in life, and that even the adolescent child who is just beginning to sense an evolving personality and beginning to sense the personal idiosyncracies of character and personality, is, perhaps, more affected by this inner strange desire of search than he is affected by the physiological and mental changes that are taking place. And from that time on, each and every one of us is conscious in our moments of retrospection and introspection of an unfulfilled desire, an unsatisfied wish.
I am sure it would be a very fortunate thing for the progress of civilization, if through some magic of the mysteries of Cosmic Law, each and every one of us should suddenly find our prayers answered, our desires fulfilled, and our search ended. Not only would there be an ending of the stimulus that urges us on to achieve better, to achieve greater, but even the search for knowledge, the search to solve the mysteries, would end. Civilization would come to a standstill, and we would begin to retrograde.
The artist who is born an artist or becomes a real artist never feels satisfied with his art. I know of many, and they frankly admit that they never carved a piece, never painted a picture, never chiseled, engraved or cut in any way, a thing of their creation with which they were perfectly satisfied. They admit that necessity has often brought their work to an end. The artist working in Paris in order to study and earn at the same time is often forced, reluctantly, to stop work on a painting he is making, solely because there is a prospective buyer who wants it, and there has come a time when the artist puts the last touch on and says, "It is finished;" but he knows it is not finished. He could go on for days and weeks and months, especially if he could work on something else for a while, and then come back to the painting a week later or a month later, and find hundreds of things to improve. So it is with the inventor and so it has always been with the musician. So it will always be with the real business man, with the creator of business, the man who is evolving cultural ethics in his business system, who is improving his merchandise, his sales methods, his advertising methods, the service he renders to his customers. He is never quite satisfied with what he is producing, with the work and appearance of the article he sells, with its durability, its service to the purchaser, and its performance generally.
When we find an individual in life who feels quite satisfied, who no longer feels the urge to try and do something a little differently, who finds no criticism coming from the voice within, who finds all he has done is satisfactory--such a person, when we find him, is generally an absolute failure. If he has been a success up to the present, failure is written for his future, for the moment he feels he is in the very shadow of success or just around the corner from it, he is sure to be far from it, and walking in the wrong direction. It is this sense of possible greater service, greater power, greater accomplishment, and greater attainment, that has quickened man into real progress toward perfection.
They try to tell us in common historical writings that the Great Pyramid of Egypt, and the great temples, required, in the absence of machinery, such enormous man-power that this man-power was obtained by the use, the liberal use, of the whip, and that the kings and pharaohs and rulers commanded multitudes to come and hitch themselves to chains and to long pieces of leather which were attached to enormous stones, and on the top of each stone stood a master ruler with a long whip, whipping the hundreds of slaves into dragging that individual stone, and that hundreds of stones were being pulled at one time, each with their group of slaves, showing on their naked bodies the blood marks of the whips. But that is not a true picture, because we find that the stones cut in the quarries of Egypt by these slaves, the manner in which they were put together and cemented, without a crack at the edge of the stones that showed between them, and the designs painted by the sweat of blood through the heat and the torture of burning torches could never have been done, and done so beautifully, under a whip. Those workers worked for the glory of Egypt, the glory of an empire, the glory of a prestige that was then a mighty influence throughout the world.
There may have been individual structures built, not only in Egypt, but in Rome and Greece, by individuals who hired slaves to build a mausoleum, or tomb, or something of a personal nature, and who whipped their slaves; and perhaps the many ruined structures throughout Europe, and ruined structures built at a much later date than the Pyramids, but which are now in ruin beyond recognition, may have been built by men who labored under a whip, men who had no inspiration, who had no interest, no love in their work; but the lasting things throughout the world, made by men from the strange Leaning Tower of Pisa that leans and yet never falls, to the magnificent temples of learning, the temples of art, the temples of religion, the temples of science and beauty--those things were not made by slaves, but by adoring worshipers of the art on which they were working.
And it is the same today. We have in our modern times the same desire for great success, for individual power, for class power, for national power, for international power. We have the same desire on the part of the humblest individual for recognition, for attainment, and along with it, for a little of the luxuries and blessings that are commonly enjoyed. And we find, if we carefully analyze life today, that the ones who are attaining success, or who are attracting success to themselves, are those who are laboring primarily under the whiphand of love, under the urge of inspiration, and under the constant impulse of an inner desire to do better and better and better.
You cannot take success in life and reduce it to an element. You cannot take happiness and reduce it to one phase of emotional expression. You cannot take sorrow and say it is of one formula. You cannot take wealth and say it is of one standard. Success for each individual is not measured by a yardstick, but is wholely and exclusively personal. The success for one person cannot possibly be the success for another to the same degree. If we were to take the six or seven hundred persons assembled here and ask each one of them as to what they would call 'success,' in their individual lives, you would find that while there may be twelve general classifications, there would be six or seven hundred distinctively different natures of success.
All success is not accompanied by wealth. The thing we do not have is often the thing that is the most tempting, and the most alluring, and we seldom understand the real nature of anything, especially of material things of life, until we have tasted of it. We cannot understand even life, itself, until we have drunk from the inside of the cup, and tasted of the bitter drink. But very often that which seems to evade us and elude us, is the thing we want to possess. And those who are without money, without wealth, without even enough to meet the necessities of life, are very apt to think that the sudden or gradual possession of money would solve all of the problems of life, and constitute success; yet there are those in the world, in every country, in every state, city, and community, who have all of the actual necessities and many of the luxuries, with some money put away for the proverbial rainy day, who have no real worry at all from any financial point of view; still they would hesitate to say they had attained success, or that they had even reached the goal of their ambitions.
They are not seeking money, primarily, although everything they may do may help to increase what they already have, but it is not the increase of the money or wealth that is the real urge, but the desire to attain, to achieve, to reach that goal that they have set in their lives, and to go just a little ways beyond.
There are, on the other hand, those who have no wealth, not even any of the luxuries, who have just the bare necessities, with a safe assurance that they will always have something to eat and some place to rest and sleep, but even they may not be seeking for wealth, while still fired with an ambition that could not be quenched even if you showed to them that you had deposited in their name in the bank, ten, twenty, or fifty thousand dollars. I know of some men in this community and in other cities and communities, who are living in a mediocre home that they rent; they have no modern conveniences, except possibly a small radio; they make no attempt to have all of the latest things that the neighbors have. They may not even possess a modern automobile--it may be just a Ford; and yet they are not seeking for either wealth or any of the modern conveniences; but they are seeking; they are restless; they are constantly on the lookout. They remind me, when I talk to some of them in my office, of some of these watchmen of ancient days who were stationed for periods of three or four hours at a stretch on some watch-tower, like I have seen in Nimes, in Southern France--an old watch-tower way up on the hill overlooking the Roman baths and the great arena and buildings below, and who watched for the sight of an attack of an approaching army, even in times of peace. Their eyes always looking beyond the present horizon, listening to what you say, but looking at the same time for an undertone, like the trampling of horses' feet; they are listening for something, looking for something that they want to add in their lives or that they want to keep out of their lives. It is not a quest for money, for you soon find that is far away from their minds. They are looking for success in something, for a successful goal at the end of their path.
If you could see in one assembly all of the men and women who are tonight, in just the United States of America alone, sitting in some rattle-shackle of a room, with a workbench, or before them an improvised furnace or some piece of machinery, working out some patent, some device, some invention--if you could see all of those persons in one assembly, you would see a mighty army of men and women who are, at this very hour, regardless of the fact that it is around 8:00 here and 11:00 on the Eastern Coast, in deep concentration, unmindful of the hour, unmindful of the fact that it may be cold, that friends or relatives may be waiting to see them, unmindful of everything but the flaming torch before them, the melting metal in the furnace, or the turning of a wheel, or cog--their whole ambition and whole thought and inspiration of life is there, in that little room. And they would tell you, this army, this great army of thousands of young and old, of both sexes, that success to them would be the solution of the thing that they are trying to produce. One man is trying to make a little magnet that will neutralize the effect of another magnet on a piece of steel. Another is trying to make solder stick to a piece of aluminum, another is trying to make leather harder by applying a certain solution to it. One man is trying to make an imitation of shellac, and has it perfected with the exception of one little thing. Another is trying to make a hole in a needle of a different shape for some purpose. Each one would tell you, "If this thing I am trying to do, can be accomplished, it will be my success." And, you would stand there, look at it, and say, "Well, from my point of view, I could not see where that little thing would change the world one bit. That would not be success for me."
If you would say to the wrinkled old woman, like the one in Paris, who worked over radium, "After all the education you had and all of the glittering possibilities that lie before you, to just teach and lecture and see the world, do you mean to say that you enjoy sitting here? Do they give you anything to eat?" "No, not even a crust of bread." "Do they give you any new clothes?" "No, I am wearing out the ones I have." "Does it make you any younger?" "No, I have aged ten years in the last two." "Will it prevent death?" "No, it is bringing it on. That tube contains radium, and it is destroying the cells of my body. I am more dead than alive." "What is keeping you alive?" "My desire, my ambition. I want to reach success--success that will not bring me anything but thanks from the waiting multitudes." That is success from the point of view of one person.
Thank God there have been thousands who have worked for such success in the past or you would not be sitting here tonight. We would have no illumination, no floor; we would be sitting under tents, or trees, and on the bare ground. We would have no clothing, no education. We would have nothing of the things we have tonight. We are reaping the rewards of those who attained success in centuries gone by. They attained the success; we are reaping the rewards from it. You are enjoying the fruits of success of another. The man or woman who is today seeking success of a selfish nature is seeking something that will never materialize. I do not say that no man or woman today is justified in seeking a position, an opportunity to work or serve or a place to live and labor so that he may receive in return for his efforts such compensation as will make him happy and enable him to meet the necessities of life and enjoy the blessings. It is a just desire. Such a desire is commendable; it cannot be criticized. But there must be more to it than that if you hope to attain it. If your desire stops there, it may be commendable and pass the judgment of man as being proper, but it does not meet the judgment of the Cosmic Mind or of God. I think that one of the most simple and beautiful of phrases that modern philosophers ever wrote in a tract manner, as would be of popular appreciation, was the little phrase which says that 'God could not be everywhere; so he made Mothers.' God could not carry on His creative work in all parts of the world as He did in the beginning, so He created Mothers to be the instrument of His creative work; but He also created men to be channels and instruments for other forms of creative work, and until a man or a woman entering upon any path of labor or any path of effort can conscientiously say, "I am laboring with God, for God, as one of his instruments," he is not going to attempt the real success that is possible.
I remember one time a man came to see me, who felt his position in life was the most menial, the most unsatisfactory that he could possibly have. He had often felt deeply about it. His family, even his children who were now grown up and going to public school, were beginning to comment on it in a manner that hurt him; but the real reason for his sudden outburst was due to an incident that happened that day. The man was a cleaner of sewers in the city. Most of his time was spent underneath the ground, opening the man-holes in the streets and descending and walking in the large curved brick tubing, and he cleaned them where they had been stopped or where a breakage had occurred. He would only come up to eat or maybe once or twice in the morning for a breath of fresh air. He wore the oldest of clothes and had to come home to his wife and children after working in the sewer.
He felt ashamed, but not so much until one evening when he was coming up out of the man-hole near a magnificent home. He saw a well-dressed man go up the path with a doctor's kit in his hand, and hurry to the doorway with a merry smile on his face. And this sewer-cleaner just closed the man-hole after a day's work, and went over to the corner of the house and looked in through the large window, showing a large reception hall, and he saw this man come in, take off his hat and put his satchel on the shelf as though it were the usual place, and sit down at his desk and open the paper. This man had seen the sign "Dr.----" on the door, and so he knew it was the home of a doctor. In a moment the two daughters came in and put their arms around him and kissed him.
The man walked away; he could look no longer. He said to me, "How is it one man can go out and live as he does, and I have to live as I do?" "Are you resentful because you have not the home he has?" "Oh, no, but why must I work at something that is not helpful to humanity and he can go out and do good wherever he goes, and save lives and do good work, and feel that he is one of God's instruments, while I feel as though I am one of His instruments of the lowest type in the world."
I pointed out to him that as far as curing disease and helping the sick and saving lives were concerned, if he was doing his work as properly as it should be done, he would be doing more to protect the health in that community than anything the doctor might do; and that God had it ordained that he should do that work or some similar work for a time as his mission in life. Some one has to do it. Someone in the first place has to build the sewers and others have to keep them clean; and one who is familiar with the work will be put ahead and eventually he will get to another higher place; but all this work has to be done regardless of how menial it is.
You cannot tell whose work is the most important. You cannot tell whether the great four or five thousand Watt lamp on the street corner gives the most illumination, or whether the little pea light at the head of the surgeon's instrument, to guide him in safely cutting, may not be the greater light. Success in life depends upon your contribution to the necessities of the nation or the community on the one hand, and your fulfillment of some Cosmic mission on the other hand. Your success in life depends on doing that which is at hand for you to do, and doing it well. But for those who have not and are seeking such opportunities, there is also this: you cannot find the opening, you cannot find the beginning of the path, until you step forward with the same resolve and determination that, not for yourself alone, not for your own immediate needs, or for your family, but for the benefit of all civilization, you are ready to serve.
If you put yourself in attunement with the Universal laws, the Universal principles, the Universal requirements and necessities, you will gradually be fitted into the proper place. After all, this world and its laborers are much like one of the large old-fashioned puzzle pictures that was once a perfect picture on wood, and then cut up by a gig-saw into different peculiar shapes, and you find the result is a mass of uneven, unequal, and peculiar shapes of wood. The problem is to turn them into a picture by fitting each one in its proper place. And you will recall, after you worked at the problem, there came a time when it was nearly finished and there was one open gap here and another open gap there and another one somewhere else, and as you looked at it, you would say, "I must look for a piece just that shape. I must not look for a perfect square or a round piece, but one that is cut just the right shape, because it is the only one that will fit into that place." You could have taken any of the other pieces and try them and lay them over the opening, but they would not have fitted in, nor would the pretty picture on the surface have been correct.
There is, in the universe, an open space for each one, but we do not have to go seeking around the world to find it. You can bring that open space into your presence. Your success in life will be when you fit into that proper place; and you can attract success to your life by attracting that open space to you. You must begin, first of all, by making yourself universal in your thinking. You must begin by realizing you are one of God's multitudes and that God did not segregate men into Americans, Germans, French, Italians or Russians, or any other nationality; that He did not segregate them into blacks, reds, greens, and other colors. Those are effects of the climate, of evolution, and conditions that have come upon man since he was created. God did not make Baptists, Presbyterians, Jews, Gentiles, or Roman Catholics, or Rosicrucians. These are things that have come upon us or that we have created. They are artificialities. Nor did God create any of us good and any of us bad, but just different. Nor did God create any of us rich or poor. Thank God all of us come into the world absolutely naked and nude of all material possessions. My little son said the other day, speaking of some one being born with a gold spoon in his mouth, "Yes, but perhaps if you looked closely, you would find someone else's initials on the spoon."
We are not born with even sexual inequalities, those artificial standards we set up, whereby we said women were of the weaker sex. Pooh! Do they show any weakness today in the business world, the professional world, or in colleges and universities? Why, not even in a prizefight ring. Those standards between sexes that used to claim that man had liberties women did not have, went so far in that sort of thing that finally women took all the liberties the men had, and now you have a problem on your hands. Equality is all that God and Nature understand, and until you get into that atmosphere, that attitude of mind, you are lost, because one, two, or three things can happen if you are not of that attitude.
You are either one with a superiority complex that puts an imaginary highhat on your head, or you have an inferiority complex, which is just as bad. I know one woman in Los Angeles who was secretary to a business man, and who was a very capable and excellent secretary, but she had one weakness, and that was an inferiority complex. As fast as her employer's friends became acquainted, and knowing she was so competent and had his confidence, could discuss many of his problems, she would say, "Would you mind telling my employer that you think I am a good secretary? I don't think he thinks so. And would you mind telling me if you see me doing anything wrong so that I can correct it? Would you help me get a promotion?" She believed that any hour of the day her employer would discharge her for incompetence. On the other hand, he would try to show her and tell her that her work was good, but every time he opened his mouth to compliment her, she thought he was doing it to cover up some blunder she had made. She was ready for a fall, just like the one with the superiority complex. They are both ready for a fall. Equality--that does not mean you can go around and say, "I am as good as anybody else," but simply say, "I am like others, with my good spots and my bad spots. I am a brother, and all of us are brothers and sisters," and say it with sincerity. Do not go out and start to form a universal brotherhood, as the world is not ready for that. But for your own sake, if you get into a position where you begin to realize that all beings are equal, then all effort and all labor will be equal, and if there are any inequalities, man has created them. Even the depression was created by you--you representing mankind. God did not create these conditions. These inequalities are going to be rapidly changed, but to the man or woman who takes advantage of this now, success will be attracted. As soon as you can, put yourself in a position of the Universal man, the Universal woman and say, "There is a mission for me; my pride, my social position, the things I have tried to maintain on an artificial basis, must be wiped away, and a new beginning made. I must see what God wants me to do and accept it temporarily as a stepping stone!"
The moment you start to attune yourself with this Universal attitude and do not look upon your sorrow, your grief, your wants, your deprivations, as a personal thing, as an individualistic thing--the moment you change your attitude and become universal--that moment you will begin to attract your success--the success that is to be yours in life. From that moment you will open the flood gates of Cosmic inspiration. You will find your mind being cleared of all of the old cobwebs like a garrett is cleared of them. You will find the window panes of your conscience being cleared so that a new vision comes in. You will find your ears, the ears of your soul, are becoming open, and you can hear messages when you are in meditation or concentration that you never heard before. You will find you are understanding things; but what is even better, you will find you are being kept and led away from conditions that should not exist in your life. You will find things will begin to change by being more favorable.
I am not preaching something from Holy Scripture alone. I am not telling you something that is purely philosophical. I am telling you something thousands of persons in every community of this country have tested during the last three years especially, and for many thousands generally, and have found to be true. You know and I know, and it is no use for one of you doubters or skeptics sitting in this hall tonight to say it is not true, for it is, when I say to you, "There is an Invisible Empire in this world today, composed of men and women who are rapidly going toward the success they want, and they are following some definite law." You may challenge my words, if you wish, but the Empire exists just the same. There are men and women that you have pointed out, yourself, Mr. Skeptic, or Mr. Doubter, and you have nudged your wife and said, "Look at Mr.----. There is something strange about him." It is so easy when you don't understand to attribute it to something strange. You may say, "There is something different about that man. Nothing seems to upset him. He has not the most important position, and yet he was not laid off with the others. Look at this man, fifty-eight years old and still active. Look at this woman whose husband passed away suddenly, and who had not been left much money, nor has she many friends, yet she is supporting herself and her baby. Things are just coming her way. Hummm, I can't understand it!" Ah, yes, but there are others who know.
It is the same with two men in the same line of business, and who even copy each other's advertisements in the paper; they get up at 6:00 to see each other's window displays for fear the other has reduced his prices, and they get some friends on the newspaper to tip them off so that they can announce the same prices as the other; and one gets the business and the other does not. One says, "There is something darn funny about that!" Yet you come here and say that you doubt if there is any mystical, Cosmic law involved. Then stand up and tell me what it is. All you can say is, "There is something funny." You do not understand. Why don't you take our word for it for a little while and try it? I will tell you why skeptics don't try it. It is because of their own vanity. They say, "I can't believe anything outside of man's own mind can influence his life and his business." Do you know what he means by that? He doesn't mean what the words actually say. He really means, "I don't believe there is another fellow living that knows as much about me as I know about myself. My mind is as good as anybody else's!" He will tell you he never went beyond the high school because he never needed to go to college, and he says tonight, "That fellow lecturing up there doesn't know what he is talking about!"
Our Invisible Empire is an empire of live beings who rub shoulders with you day after day and hour after hour, willing and ready to help, and show you life's secrets, the laws of happiness, the powers of it, but we cannot stand on the street corner and give it to you. You cannot buy it with money. We do not have a bit of knowledge that you can buy for five cents or five million dollars.
It is not a matter of religion, creed, or theological doctrines, but Universal laws--the same laws that guide trees in growing, the same laws that make the poppies that I had in my office close up every day at 5:00, and not open until I came in the morning and raised the curtain, even though I sometimes did not come until 10:00; the same law that makes the grass grow. These laws are not religious, but Divine Laws, because God invented them. Electric lamps are Divine things; the floor and the bench you are sitting on, and the sounds of my voice that convey meaning to you, are all Divine because God made them; but the laws I am speaking of are also common-sense, Universal laws. The quicker you get into harmony with these Universal laws, the quicker will your life change and be in harmony.

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