Rosicrucian Writings Online

[H. Spencer Lewis]

[From The Rosicrucian Digest October 1931]
EVERY now and then we receive a letter from someone who says that he has decided to discontinue following any system of teachings, any book of guidance, or any organization that offers to point out the path to happiness. These persons invariably include in their argument the thread worn and foolish statement that they wish to be "free souls."
I remember that as a young man I used to listen to some of the soap box orators who spoke at noon time and at five-thirty in the afternoon on the eastern side of Madison Square Park in New York. I think that every large park in the United States has had its era of soap box orators. There seems to come a time in the life of most men and some women when they must allow the surging steam that has arisen within them from a boiling theory or postulation to escape or else they will explode. I do not wonder that some newspapers call their letter columns, "The Safety Valve" for it gives an outlet to those who must express themselves publicly before something more serious happens. These soap box orations were safety valves for a good many.
The principal theme of these speakers was divided in two classes: those who agitated freedom from capitalism, and those who agitated freedom from orthodox religions. The latter class interested me greatly. As I listened to one of these speakers thundering forth his reasons why man should free himself from the enslaving influences of religious doctrines and why he should get away from the ball and chain and belief in a God and why he should look upon himself as the master of his whole life and the ruler of the world because this would bring him greater freedom, happiness, joy and peace and success, I used to step out of the crowd and get closer to the speaker and size him up from head to foot, and as I studied the ragged hat, the soiled collar, the very poor clothing, the frayed trousers and the broken down shoes and looked at the unshaven face, the cruel, restless, haunted look in his eyes, and saw what a truly miserable creature he was, I could not help but wonder whether the freedom he advocated was worth while, if he was an example of the benefits derived from it. Most of those who were in the audience and were enslaved by the horrible things he described and were supposed to be unhappy and miserable in every way were better dressed, looked more cheerful and far more inspiring than the speakers.
Even the one who wanted to be free of the influence of capitalism and who proclaimed himself of being free of such influences for many years looked like one who had been free of everything in life, especially all its blessing, ever since he was born. I have talked to many of these seekers for soul freedom or freedom of self and I have always found them shiftless, getting nowhere and not even knowing where they were going to go to if they wanted to start going. They reminded me of a cork that is taken out of a bottle where it has been enslaved or limited or held within certain bounds and suddenly cast upon the surface of a great ocean. Surely nothing could want greater freedom than that. It bobs up and down and goes hither and thither as the waves or wind push it. If it has any will power at all it cannot exert it because this would be limitation of freedom. So it just floats along. For one hour it is hurriedly moving northward and then for no good reason at all except that the winds change its course, it hurriedly moves eastward. It always looks as though it is going somewhere but you know that it is not and that it may be one year or a hundred years on the open sea pushed and battered, run over by great vessels, nibbled at by the fish and finally washed ashore in some out of the way place where it dies of loneliness, unsung and unknown. While it is in the water it is serving no useful purpose, rendering no good to anyone, fulfilling no mission and of absolutely no value. Certainly it can constantly comfort itself with the thought that it is absolutely "free."
It is a notable fact that those who are most happy and most successful belong to something or someone. Association and companionship are fundamental requisites for success in life. The moment you try to separate yourself from Cosmic dictation, Cosmic attunement, spiritual inspiration, and human association you no longer remain a human being but a muddle of earth's elements developing an individual will power that is perverted.
There is no freedom that is essential to our well being except a freedom from the censuring voice of conscience. It is far better to be chained and bolted within an iron cell of a prison than to be like the floating corks on the sea of life. Your contact with humans, even of the lowest type found in prisons, will teach you valuable lessons and help you to evolve and prepare you for another incarnation. Complete freedom from even such benefits begets nothing to the acquirements of evolution.
Associate yourself with those who have the highest ideals, with those who are struggling upward and extending a hand to those who are beneath them and who are also struggling. Become a part of the human brotherhood and do your bit to encourage all the rest in the great struggle. Attune yourself Cosmically and in mundane with all of the activities of the universe so that you can sympathize with every living being and understand their problems and be one with them in the development of self mastership. But remember that self mastership does not bring isolation and separation in its wake but association and companionship, and that he who is the greatest master among them is one who serves them the best and who loves them most and is a part of them.

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