The man who has never had an ideal may hope to find one.
He is in a better state than the man who allows the circumstances
of life to break his ideal. To fall beneath one's ideal is to
lose one's track in life. Then confusion rises in the mind,
and that light which one should hold high becomes covered and
obscured, so that it cannot shine out to light one's path.
The fall of Napoleon may be dated from the day that he abandoned
Josephine. With the breaking of the ideal, the whole life cracks
and dissolves. As soon as a man begins to think, 'I have done
wrong by such and such a person, or such and such a principle,'
he ceases to be a king within, and cannot be a king without.
This does not mean to say that the good succeed in life and
that the evil fail; but rather that man only progresses through
sincerity in his ideals. For the good of each man is indeed
peculiar to himself.
Religion is the school that has developed man, and the ideals
that religion presents form a path that leads upward to perfection,
that innate and yearning desire of every soul. The difficulty
arises when man sees his principles as his goal, and not simply
as a means to his goal. For when he begins to worship his own
principles he becomes simply an idolater, and he destroys the
essence and the life of his ideal.
Can anyone point to a date in history when man first gained
wisdom? Wisdom is the property of humanity. The expressions
of this wisdom differ at different times to suit different peoples.
It is the differences that have always been noticed, and not
Artist or workman, philosopher or scientist, wherever found,
arrives by his individual path at the same knowledge of the
laws of nature, and thus learns those fundamental laws of ethics,
which do not change from country to country, nor from age to
age, nor do they contradict each other.
And the wise of all ages have taught that it is the knowledge
of the Divine Being that is life, and the only reality. Although
a human activity may have a number of complicated motives, some
of which are base and gross, it is the aspiration towards divinity,
the desire towards beauty, which is its soul, its life, and
its reality. And it is in proportion to the degree of strength
or weakness of his aspiration towards beauty that man's ideal
is great or small, and his religion is great or small.
There exists an affinity between the negative and the positive,
which inclines the one towards the other, and towards union,
which results in a fresh conception of beauty. Ancient mythology
has expressed this beautifully in the figure of Cupid, whose
wings show that he is a spirit, and who, coming in the guise
of a child, represents childhood. Cupid, the spirit of affinity,
draws two of the opposite sex together for the purpose of a
birth of beauty. Thus it happens that the human kind is strongly
attracted to its opposite. And when the expressive and responsive
tendencies awaken through love and passion, a third being is
created and a ray finds its abode in the mother's womb.
Thus it is seen that it is the spirit that possesses the
sexes in order to bring them together for its own purpose of
manifestation. Therefore, many religions and philosophies have
considered the sex relationship to be most sacred, since it
is thus that the spirit manifests itself. For the same reason
the sex relationship may become most sinful, if this purpose
of the spirit is lost to view. For to disregard this purpose
of the spirit is a defiance of the law of the whole mechanism,
which inevitably drags the structure to ruins.
There is nothing of this earth more valuable than the seed
of man, the source of further manifestation; and by its loss
every door of happiness in life is closed. But man is usually
so careful with his money and property and jewels, and desires
so earnestly to increase them, that he sacrifices everything
to them. And he becomes regardless of the jewel of life which
is his own life, character, and personality, and which is more
precious than any property.
Again, every religion prohibits marriage between blood relations,
though the rules vary somewhat, as, for instance, in the West,
marriage between an uncle and his niece is sometimes permitted,
a union usually considered unlawful in the East, as by some
other Western religions. However, certain modern social revolutionaries
are now questioning the laws, which make blood relationship
a bar to marriage. These laws are nevertheless rooted in truth;
for where there is no expansion, there is no progress.
Expansion is necessary for physical reasons. Between blood
relations the negative and positive forces are not contrary
enough. When the battery, which depends upon the strength and
the contrast of these forces becomes weaker, its issue becomes
correspondingly weaker, or else there is no issue. Morally,
also progress demands expansion. Has not the whole of creation
been gradually built by expansion?
The vigor of the Western nations is, to a great extent, due
to the intermixture of innumerable tribes and races. Even now,
before our eyes, a young and promising nation of extraordinary
vitality is developing in the United States of America, formed
of the many elements of all the European nations. There are
certainly disadvantages in interracial and international marriages,
but these are small in comparison with the advantages.
Pride of birth and of rank, and also of community and religion,
have always kept humanity back by forming barriers that prevent
natural expansion. The Western aristocracies have suffered incalculable
loss thereby. But this is most clearly seen in the history of
the East, where the Hindu castes, by limiting themselves to
their own circle, have brought ruin to their race.
The Eastern custom of child marriage is a product of family
pride, since each family has wished that the wife of their son
should be brought up in the traditions of their own family.
The conservative ideas of the Parsis, that most exclusive community,
operating through many generations, have produced notable physical
alterations in their people, among whom, to instance one point,
only a small percentage have normal eyesight.
The national ideal, which unites human beings in a desire
to uphold certain social laws and certain ideals of civilization,
is necessary to human life. But to make these ideals barriers
that separate humanity into distinct sections must effectively
prevent the progress of humanity as one whole. And this progress
is the basic idea of religion.
Nations endeavor to progress as nations, and races as races.
Each race and nation is prepared to hinder the progress of any
other. Thus, through wars and conflicts of every kind, the patriotism
of each race has become so individual and distinct, that an
interracial marriage means that one or other of the contracting
parties must renounce his or her patriotism, a renunciation
that is sometimes almost a death.
It is the young people who are most often drawn to an interracial
marriage, the young, generous, and idealistic. But it is not
often that they meet their corresponding social class. It is
not often that aristocratic or educated aliens meet the aristocratic
or educated natives of any country; and yet it is true that
there is a great similarity between the corresponding social
and intellectual classes of all civilizations.
People marry for various reasons: some because it is the
custom, some for the sake of home life, because man is a dependent
creature, and desires a companion in the joy and sorrow of life,
or because marriage carries weight in the social world. For
generally a house where a couple live is a home. Others again,
are tempted by rank, birth, position, and wealth; and these
marry the thing desired, and not the human being. Others have
a wish to leave children, so that their name may not pass from
the earth or the property they have collected fall into the
hands of strangers; and some other few marry for love.
There is a tendency in husband or wife to own his or her
mate. And the stronger of the two will often attempt to do this
by the right of marriage itself, having forgotten the reason
for which he or she contracted the marriage. This tendency to
ownership makes many a marriage a captivity.
Zafar wrote, 'O Zafar, you cannot call him a man, though
he be in human form, who is without thought in anger or counsel
in passion.' The human being is supposed to take counsel with
his own principles of modesty, of chivalry, and of shame, and
therein to differ from the animals. And that expansion of his
sexual passion, which has no regard for these principles, may
be called adultery. Adultery is in fact that which, done under
the spell of passion and in the blindness of the moment, brings
afterwards repentance and shame, with remorse for the consequences.
A drunken man does in his intoxication what he would never have
done when sober; and so laws are framed to control drunken madness
To resist evil, however, usually means to participate in
and be guilty of the same evil. There is a story told of Muhammad,
that a man who had always maligned him and behaved as a bitter
and treacherous enemy, came to see him. His disciples, hoping
for revenge, were disappointed and indignant to find that Muhammad
treated his despicable enemy with courtesy, even deference,
granting his request. 'Did you not see the gray in his beard?'
asked Muhammad after the man had gone. 'The man is old, and
his age at least called for my courtesy.' It is forgiveness
and that forbearance which is a recognition of the freedom and
dignity of the human being, that consume all ugliness and burn
up all unworthiness, leaving only beauty there.