Two Kinds of Submission
The Beauty of Strength
Life and Light
Submission to Truth
Return to:"Cover" of Book 12
Ardue Site Plan
Minds cast in this mould are peculiarly apt to be misled. They perceive a certain beauty in the picture of weakness leaning upon strength, but they attribute its soothing influence to the wrong element of the combination. A thoughtful analysis would show them that their feelings consisted of pity for the weak figure and admiration for the strong one, and that the suggestiveness of the whole arose from its satisfying the artistic sense of balance which requires a combination of this sort.
But which of the two figures in the picture would they themselves prefer to be? Surely not the weak one needing help, but the strong one giving it. By itself the weak figure only stirs our pity and not our admiration. Its form may be beautiful, but its very beauty only serves to enhance the sense of something lacking — and the something lacking is strength. The attraction which the doctrine of passive resignation possesses for certain minds is based upon an appeal to sentiment, which is accepted without any suspicion that the sentiment appealed to is a false one.
Of course, if we take it for granted that all the sorrow, sickness, pain, trouble, and other adversity in the world is the expression of the Will of God, then doubtless we must resign ourselves to the inevitable with all the submission we can muster, and comfort ourselves with the vague hope that somehow in some far-off future we shall find that "Good is the final goal of ill" — though even this vague hope is a protest against the very submission we are endeavouring to exercise. But to make the assumption that the evil of life is the Will of God is to assume what a careful and intelligent study of the laws of the Universe, both mental and physical, will show us is not the truth; and if we turn to that Book which contains the fullest delineation of these Universal laws, we shall find nothing taught more clearly than that submission to the evils of life is not submission to the Will of God.
Now, in going through the processes of spiritual growth, there is ample scope for that training in self-knowledge and self-control which is commonly understood by the word "submission". But the character of the act is materially altered. It is no longer a half-despairing resignation to a superior force external to ourselves which we can only vaguely hope is acting kindly and wisely, but it is an intelligent recognition of the true nature of our own interior forces and of the laws by which a robust spiritual constitution is to be developed; and the submission is no longer to limitations which drain life of its liveliness and against which we instinctively rebel, but to the law of our own evolution which manifests itself in continually increasing degrees of life and strength.
The submission which we recognise is the price that has to be paid for increase in any direction. Even in the Money Market we must invest before we can realise profits. It is a Universal rule that nature obeys us exactly in proportion as we first obey Nature; and this is as true in regard to spiritual science as to physical. The only question is whether we will yield an ignorant submission to the principle of death, or a joyous and intelligent obedience to the principle of Life.
But this is a natural process of growth, and not an unnatural act of submission; it is not the pouring-out of ourselves in weakness, but the gathering of ourselves together in increasing strength. There is no weakness in Spirit, it is all strength; and we must therefore always be watchful against the insidious approaches of the Negative which would invert the true position. The Negative always points to some external source of strength. Its formula is "I AM NOT". It always seeks to fix a gulf between us and the Infinite Sufficiency. It would always have us believe that the sufficiency is not our own, but that by an act of uncertain favour we may have occasional spoonfuls of it doled out to us. Jesus' teaching is different. We do not need to come with our pitcher to the well to draw water, like the woman of Samaria, but we have in ourselves an inexhaustible supply of the living water springing up into everlasting life.
Let us then inscribe "No Surrender" in bold characters upon our banner, and advance undaunted to claim our rightful heritage of liberty and life.