by Thomas Troward
1: The Principle of Guidance
If I were asked which of all the spiritual principles I ranked first, I should feel inclined to say the Principle of Guidance, not in the sense of being more essential that the others — for every portion is equally essential to the completeness of a perfect whole — but in the sense of being first in order of sequence and giving value to all our other powers by placing them in their due relation to one another. "Giving value to our other powers", I say, because this also is one of our powers. It is that which, judged from the standpoint of personal self-consciousness, is above us; but which, realised from the point of view of the unity of all Spirit, is part and parcel of ourselves, because it is that Infinite Mind which is of necessity identified with all its manifestations.
Looking to this Infinite Mind as a Superior Intelligence from which we may receive guidance does not therefore imply looking to an external source. On the contrary, it is looking to the innermost spring of our own being, with a confidence in its action which enables us to proceed to the execution of our plans with a firmness and assurance that are in themselves the very guarantee of our success.
The action of the spiritual principles in us follows the order which we impose upon them by our thought; therefore the order of realisation will reproduce the order of desire; and if we neglect this first principle of right order and guidance, we shall find ourselves beginning to put forth other great powers, which are at present latent within us, without knowing how to find suitable employment for them. This would be a very perilous condition: for without having before us objects worthy of the powers to which we awaken, we should waste them on petty purposes dictated only by the narrow range of our unilluminated intellect. Therefore the ancient wisdom says, "With all thy getting, get understanding".
The awakening to consciousness of our mysterious interior powers will sooner or later take place, and will result in our using them whether or not we understand the law of their development. The interior powers are natural powers as much as the exterior ones. We can direct their use by a knowledge of their laws; and it is therefore of the highest importance to have some sound principles of guidance in the use of these higher faculties as they begin to manifest themselves.
If, therefore, we would safely and profitably enter upon the possession of the great inheritance of power that is opening out before us, we must before all things seek to realise in ourselves that Superior Intelligence which will become an unfailing principle of guidance if we will only recognise it as such. Everything depends on our recognition. Thoughts are things, and therefore as we will our thoughts to be, so we will the thing to be. If, then, we will to use the Infinite Spirit as a spirit of guidance, we shall find that the fact is as we have willed it, and in doing this we are still making use of our own supreme principle. And this is the true "understanding" which, by placing all the other powers in their correct order, creates one grand unity of power directed to clearly defined and worthy aims, in place of the dispersion of our powers, by which they only neutralise each other and effect nothing.
This is that Spirit of Truth which shall guide us into all Truth. It is the sincere Desire in us to reach out after Truth. Truth first and Power afterwards is the reasonable order, which we cannot invert without injury to ourselves and others; but if we follow this order we shall always find scope for our powers in developing into present realities the continually growing glory of our vision of the ideal.
The ideal is the true real, but it must be brought into manifestation before it can be shown to be so, and it is in this that the practical nature of our mental studies consists. It is the practical mystic who is the man of power: the man who, realising the mystical powers within, fits his outward action to this knowledge, and so shows his faith by his works; and assuredly the first step is to make use of that power of infallible guidance which he can call to his aid simply by desiring to be led by it.