Rosicrucian Writings Online

[H. Spencer Lewis]

[From The Rosicrucian Digest March 1935]
I THINK that if I were required to survey the field of human weaknesses as revealed in the many thousands of letters that have passed through my hands in the past fifteen years or more from men and women in all walks of life who are seeking to untangle some of their serious problems and lift themselves out of the dire situations in which they have become involved, and to select one human weakness or evil tendency that is responsible above all others for the unhappy conditions which human beings bring upon themselves, I would select the almost universal weakness of insincerity as the most serious and the most vicious.
Not only does insincerity lead to the wearing of a cloak of hypocrisy, which injures the reputation and the fortunate trend of conditions for the individual so far as external matters are concerned; but the growth and development of an insincere attitude toward one or more of the important principles of life breaks down the inner power of the individual and makes such a person incapable of adjusting himself to the true nature of things throughout the world.
The person who is insincere in regard to one or more matters of immediate and serious interest to him is unconsciously creating a fictitious and artificial attitude toward other and perhaps unknown conditions in life. Such a person severs a large portion of the natural Cosmic attunement which brings him intuitive revelations and impressions and most certainly prohibits that human attunement with the mass of mankind which makes for happy companionships, dependable friendships, and a correct understanding of human relationships.
It is only natural that each and every one of us should shun in all of our daily affairs and in our social and pastime activities the person who is discovered to be insincere in his general attitude. Even those who have a tendency themselves to be insincere are impressed with the doubtful character and unreliable nature of a person who is insincere in any of his normal and natural actions in life.
Perhaps in two of the largest and most important fields of human endeavor on earth we find the greatest amount of insincerity where it would seem that the least amount should be found. I refer to religion and business. There is no doubt about the fact that insincerity is one of the fundamental causes of failure in business.
Some years ago, and perhaps for some centuries, it was believed that enthusiasm was the sign of sincerity. When we found an individual greatly enthusiastic in regard to his business or vocational occupation, we believed that the enthusiasm was the result of his sincerity and that the two combined were foundation stones upon which success would inevitably build its great reward. We believed that even the young person or the neophyte in the business world who manifested extreme enthusiasm about his particular commercial activity demonstrated his sincerity and was bound to reap the reward of good fortune.
Likewise, we believed that enthusiasm in religion was an indication of sincerity, and there was a tendency on the part of mankind to think that the more enthusiasm--even fanaticism--the religious person revealed, the more sincere he was and undoubtedly the more pious and more blessed. This belief led to ostentatious and artificial displays of enthusiastic religious fervor on the part of those who wanted us to believe that such an attitude indicated their sincerity and their worthiness of our respect and our support.
I recall the days when a certain uniquely religious leader of a new and very fanciful religious cult, having its headquarters in the midwest, made a most bombastic and enthusiastic campaign in New York City, casting aside all of the conservative, dignified, rational methods of proselyting, public speaking, exhorting, and imploring in an attempt to take advantage of the human tendency to believe that extreme enthusiasm was a positive indication of profound sincerity. But as days and weeks passed this man soon revealed that thousands in the midwest had mistaken his enthusiasm, for he was not only insincere but positively hypocritical and deliberately deceiving. For a number of years his wild form of enthusiasm had misled the thinking of sane and rational people.
In the business world today, especially in North America where the conservative and dignified forms of propaganda are not rigidly followed, extreme enthusiasm and elaborate exaggerations of expression and attitude have become quite common, and while keen competition in every line, even in the business of conducting a church on a self-sustaining basis, has developed to a high degree and the utmost of genuine enthusiasm must be used to make a success of business, the degree of this enthusiasm is no longer a dependable guide as to the sincerity of the individual, the nature of his business, or the product which he offers for our consideration.
We have discovered in recent years through very bitter lessons that, after all, there is a point in the development and expression of enthusiasm where its nature is indicative of insincerity rather than sincerity, and that thousands have taken advantage of a superficial knowledge of human psychology to attempt to deceive the public by an overdisplay of artificial enthusiasm. The same can be said in regard to many of the religious, political, and social forms of activities in the Western World.
It is only natural for the one who is sincere to be quite definitely positive and enthusiastic about his beliefs. But there is a vast difference between an enthusiasm that is born of sincerity and an enthusiasm that is artificially created falsely to indicate a sincerity that does not exist. The mere fact that a man is absolutely enthusiastic about the business he conducts and the merchandise he is selling or the product that he is offering, does not indicate that he is sincere about his claims. He may be enthusiastic solely because of the commercial, monetary desires of his heart.
It is a fact known in the analytical channels of business ethics that the man who is sincere only in his desire to make money out of his business and not to render service to humanity and supply a worthy article that will meet legitimate demands, is doomed to failure sooner or later and will never be able to compete with any other similar business that is based upon honest sincerity.
All of this has a particular application to those men and women who are studiously inclined and who devote themselves more or less to some definite system of self-advancement. I would particularly apply all of this to the students of mysticism and personal unfoldment and individual evolution. To the same degree that the student is truly sincere in his studies and desires to improve himself will he succeed, and to the same degree that he is superficially or artificially enthusiastic without really being sincere will he fail to find that which he is seeking and fail to derive any benefits from his studies, his investigations, and his applications of the principles he is studying.
In my recent visits to the various centers of Rosicrucian and other philosophical activities in Europe, and in my contacts with large and small assemblies of men and women in Europe who are devoting their time very enthusiastically to the promotion of such teachings, I was most deeply impressed by the extreme degree of sincerity that was revealed in their attitudes. The very great degree of enthusiasm or outer form of propaganda that is so evident in North America is greatly lacking in Europe because of their age-old belief in being rather conservative in connection with things that deal with ethical culture, religion, philosophy, and the higher things of life. If we were to judge the degree of sincerity of these people in Europe by our North American standard of enthusiasm, we would be greatly deceived in believing that they were not as devoted to their work as they really are. But, it requires only a few hours of association with them to discover that beneath the attitude of restrained enthusiasm there is a very deep and profound sincerity that is lacking to a large degree in North America.
Fortunately for our own Rosicrucian work and the work of similar movements here on this continent, there are thousands who are just as sincere, just as devoted, and just as willing to make secret and unknown sacrifices in behalf of their devotion as we find in Europe; but, unfortunately, there are many more thousands in this New World who are not so sincere and who look upon their devotion to this work or their interest in similar matters as a mere incident of life not requiring the deep sincerity that is given to other matters. And, there are millions in this New World who are hardly sincere about anything associated with their lives except the most materialistic forms of personal selfish benefit.
If we would get the utmost from a book we are reading, a lesson we are studying, an exercise that we are practicing, or a thought that we are holding in meditation, it behooves us to be extremely sincere and devoted to the matter or otherwise cast it aside and give no thought to it whatever. There can be no half-way or part-way interest about it if we are to derive any benefit from it. We need not make a religion out of our study of a book; we need not make a fetish out of our interest in any subject to be absolutely sincere, but we must and should determine whether the matter at hand is worthy of the time and the attention we are giving to it, or whether we would benefit more from devoting our interest to something else. If we conclude that the thing is worthy of our time and concentrated attention, then we should develop an attitude of deepest sincerity and make it truly a part of our inner selves as well as a part of our outer consciousness.
In nearly every case where persons have written to our Council of Solace and welfare department for assistance in the improvement of personal conditions, we have found that while there was an anxiety to apply certain good advice and helpful instruction, there was lacking a degree of sincerity in the very fundamentals and inner nature of the system being followed. It is a difficult thing to reveal to some persons, for the lack of sincerity has been such a human weakness as to become subconscious, so to speak, and unnoticeable even to those who are suffering the most from it.
I am eliminating from consideration here, of course, those persons who are manifestly insincere and who are aware of their own insincerity and who are seeking only to take advantage of every fortunate condition while posing to be heartily in accord with the ideals back of such situations. Unfortunately, we find these persons in every walk of life, in every organization, and in every plan and scheme of human interest. For weeks, months, or years they may wear a self-designed and self-colored cloak of sincerity by which they deceive many while planning to take advantage of the genuineness and sincerity of others. And even when their insincerity is discovered it is difficult at times to reveal it to others and to eliminate them from the false position they occupy. Probably this is a part of the evil in the world with which we must all contend, and probably all of us have some degree of such sinfulness in our makeup.
Nevertheless, there are those in the world who are so sincere in their devotion to some higher things of life that we are forced to overlook any weaknesses they may have and try to redeem these persons and lead them on a path that brings greater happiness and success. But I must again point out the unquestionable fact that to the same degree that we are sincere, privately, secretly sincere, in whatever we are doing and in whatever we are promoting and supporting, or advocating and adopting, to that degree will we derive the utmost benefit from it and assist others in deriving a similar benefit. So our success in life can be accurately gauged by the degree of sincerity that dominates all of our thinking and acting.

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