10. Knowledge and Victory
by James Allen
FAITH IS THE BEGINNING of the Triumphant Life, but knowledge is its consummation. Faith reveals the way, but knowledge is the goal. Faith suffers many afflictions; knowledge has transcended affliction. Faith endures; knowledge loves. Faith walks in darkness, but believes; knowledge acts in light, and knows. Faith inspires to effort; knowledge crowns effort with success. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for”; knowledge is the substance of those things possessed. Faith is the helpful staff of the pilgrim; knowledge is the City of Refuge at the journey’s end. Without faith there will be no knowledge, but when knowledge is acquired, the work of faith is finished.
The Life Triumphant is a life of knowledge; and by knowledge is meant, not booklearning, but life-learning; not superficial facts committed to memory, but the deep facts and truths of life, grasped and comprehended. Apart from this knowledge there is no victory for man, no rest for his weary feet, no refuge for His aching heart.
There is no salvation for the foolish except by becoming wise. There is no salvation for the sinful except by becoming pure. There is no liberation for man from the turmoil and troubles of life but through divine knowledge reached by the pathway of a pure and blameless life. Nowhere is there permanent peace except in an enlightened condition of mind; and a pure life and an enlightened mind are identical.
But there is salvation for the foolish because wisdom can be acquired. There is salvation for the sinful because purity can be embraced. There is liberation for all men from the troubles and turmoil of life because whosoever wills to do so—whether rich or poor, learned or unlearned—can enter the lowly way of blamelessness which leads to perfect knowledge. And because of this—that there is deliverance for the captives and victory for the defeated—there is rejoicing in the High Places, and the universe is glad.
The man of knowledge, being victorious over himself, is victorious over sin, over evil, over all the disharmonies of life. Out of the old mind marred by sin and sorrow, he has framed a new mind glorified by purity and peace. He has died out of the old world of evil, and is reborn in a new world where love and faultless law prevail, where evil is not, and he has become deathless in immortal Good.
Anxiety and fear, grief and lamentation, disappointment and regret, wretchedness and remorse—these things have no part in the world of the wise. They are the shadowy inhabitants of the world of self, and cannot five, nay, they are seen to have no substantiality—in the light of wisdom. The dark things of life are the dark conditions of a mind not yet illuminated by the light of wisdom. They follow self as the shadow of substance. Where selfish desires go, there they follow; where sin is, there they are. There is no rest in self; there is no light in self. And where the flames of turbulent passions and fires of consuming desires are rife, the cool airs of wisdom and peace are not felt.
Safety and assurance, happiness and repose, satisfaction and contentment, joy and peace—these are the abiding possessions of the wise, earned by right of selfconquest, the results of righteousness, the wages of a blameless life.
The substance of a right life is enlightenment (knowledge), and the spirit of knowledge is peace. To be victorious over self in all the issues of life is to know life as it is in reality, and not as it appears in the nightmare of self. It is to be in peace in all passages, and not to be stricken with trouble and grief in the common happenings of life.
As the ripe scholar is no more troubled by incorrect work and lessons imperfectly done, and the painful reproof and punishment formerly inflicted by his teachers are left behind forever, so the perfected scholar in virtue, the wise man and woman, the enlightened doer of righteousness, is no more troubled with wrongdoing and folly (which are merely the imperfectly accomplished lessons of life), and the scourging of sorrow and remorse have passed away forever.
The skilled scholar has no more doubt or fear concerning his ability. He has overcome and dispersed the ignorance of his intellect. He has attained to learning, and he knows that he has attained. And he so knows because, having undergone innumerable tests in the forms of lessons and examinations, he has at last proved his skill by passing successfully through the severest tests of scholarship. And now he no longer fears, but rejoices when severe tests are applied to prove his ability. He is capable, confident, and glad.
Even so the skilled doer of righteousness is no more troubled with doubt and fear concerning his destiny. He has overcome and dispersed the ignorance of his heart. He has attained to wisdom, and he knows that he has attained. And he so knows because where he formerly failed and fell when tested by the wrong conduct of others, he now maintains his patience and calmness under the severest tests of accusation and reproof.
Herein is the glory and victory of divine knowledge, that understanding the nature of deeds, both good and bad, the enlightened doer of good deeds no longer suffers through the bad deeds of others. Their actions towards him can never cause him pain and sorrow, nor rob him of his peace. Having taken refuge in good, evil can no more reach nor harm him. He returns good for evil, and overcomes the weakness of evil by the power of good.
The man who is involved in bad deeds imagines that the bad deeds of others are powerful to do him injury and are filled with grievous harm against him. He is stung with pain and overwhelmed with sorrow, not for his own bad deeds (for these he does not see) but for the wrong deeds of others. Involved in ignorance, he has no spiritual strength, no refuge, and no abiding peace.
The man victorious over self is the true seer. He is not the seer of spirits or supernatural phenomena, for such seeing is narrow and illusory. He is the seer of life as it is, both in its particular aspects and in its divine principles; the seer of the spiritual universe of cosmic law, cosmic love, and cosmic liberty.
The man of knowledge and victory, who has shaken off the painful dreams of self, has awakened with a new vision which beholds a new and glorified universe, He is the seer of the Eternal, and is blessed with perfect love and endless peace. He is lifted far above all sordid desires, narrow aims, and selfish love and hate; and being so lifted up he perceives the lawful course of things, and does not grieve when overtaken by the inevitable. He is above the world of sorrow, not because he has become cold and cruel, but because he abides in a love where no thought of self can enter, and where the well-being of others is all-in-all. He is sorrowless because he is selfless. He is serene because he knows that whatever he receives, it is good, and whatever is taken from him, that also is good. He has transmuted sorrow into love, and is filled with infinite tenderness and abounding compassion. His power is not violent, ambitious, worldly, but pure, peaceful, heavenly, and he is possessed of a hidden strength which knows how to stand and when to bend for the good of others and the world.
He is a Teacher, though he speaks but little. He is a Master, yet he has no desire to rule others. He is a Conqueror, but makes no attempt to subdue his fellow men. He has become a conscious instrument for the outworking of cosmic law, and is an intelligent, enlightened power directing the evolution of the Race.
At this, the beginning of a new epoch, let the Good News again go forth throughout the world that there is purity for the sinful, comfort for the afflicted, healing for the broken-hearted, and triumph for the defeated. In your heart, O man! O woman! stained as it is with sin, and torn with conflicting desires, there is a place of power, a citadel of strength. You are the dwelling-place of the Supreme Good, and the Scepter of Victory awaits you: deep in your consciousness is the High Seat of Empire. Arise, O stricken one! Ascend your rightly throne!