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Chapter XVI Sound, Silence, and Soul Growth
Sincere students of the Science of the Soul are naturally anxious to grow in grace that they may serve so much better in the Great Work of Human Upliftment. Being humble and modest they are only too painfully aware of their shortcomings, and frequently while casting about for means to facilitate progress they ask themselves, “What hinders?” Some, particularly in bygone ages when life was lived less intensely than now, realized that the everyday life among ordinary humanity had many drawbacks. To overcome these and further their soul growth they withdrew from the community to a monastery or to the mountains where they could give themselves over to the spiritual life undisturbed.

We know, however, that that is not the way. It is too well established in the minds of most of our students that if we run away from an experience today, it will confront us again tomorrow, and that the victor’s palm is earned by overcoming the world, not by running away from it. The environment in which122 we have been placed by the Recording Angels was our own choice when we were at the turning point of our life cycle in the Third Heaven, we then being pure spirit unblinded by the matter which now veils our vision. Hence it is undoubtedly the one that holds lessons needed by us, and we should make a serious mistake if we tried to escape from it altogether.

But we have received a mind for a definite purpose—to reason about things and conditions so that we may learn to discriminate between essentials and nonessentials, between that which is designed to hinder for the purpose of teaching us a virtue by overcoming it, and that which is an out and out hindrance, which jars our sensibilities and wrecks our nerves without any compensating spiritual gain. It will be of the greatest benefit if we can learn to differentiate for the conservation of our strength, accepting only that which we must endure for the sake of our spiritual well-being. We shall then save much energy and have much more zest in profitable directions than now. The details of that problem are different in every life; however, there are certain general principles which it will benefit us all to understand and apply in our lives, and among them is the effect of silence and sound on soul growth.

At first blush it may surprise us when the statement is made that sound and silence are very important factors in soul growth, but when we examine the matter we shall soon see that it is not a far-fetched123 notion. Consider first the graphic expression, “War is hell,” and then call up in imagination a war scene. The sight is appalling, even more so to those who see it with the undimmed spiritual vision than to those who are limited to physical sight, for the latter can at least shut their eyes to it if they want to, but the whole horror lies heavily upon the heart of the Invisible Helper who not only hears and sees but feels in his own being the anguish and pain of all the surrounding suffering as Parsifal felt in his heart the wound of Amfortas, the stricken Grail king; in fact, without that intensely intimate feeling of oneness with the suffering there could be no healing nor help given. But there is one thing which no one can escape, the terrible noise of the shells, the deafening roar of the cannon, the vicious spitting of the machine guns, the groans of the wounded, and the oaths of a certain class among the participants. We shall need no further argument to agree that it is really a “hellish noise” and as subversive of soul growth as possible. The battle field is the last place anyone with a sane mind would choose for the purpose of soul growth, though it is not to be forgotten that much of this has been made by noble deeds of self-sacrifice there; but such results have been achieved in spite of the condition and not because of it.

On the other hand, consider a church filled with the noble strains of a Gregorian chant or a Handel oratorio upon which the prayers of the aspiring soul124 wing their way to the Author of our Being. That music may surely be termed “heavenly” and the church designated as offering an ideal condition for soul growth, but if we stayed there permanently to the neglect of our duties we should be failures in spite of the ideal condition.

There remains, therefore, only one safe method for us, namely, to stay in the din of the battle field of the world, endeavoring to wrest from even the most unpromising conditions the material of soul growth by unselfish service, and at the same time to build within our own inner selves a sanctuary filled with that silent music which sounds ever in the serving soul as a source of upliftment above all the vicissitudes of earthly existence. Having that “living church” within, being in fact under that condition “living temples,” we may turn at any moment when our attention is not legitimately required by temporal affairs to that spiritual house not made with hands and lave in its harmony. We may do that many times a day and thus restore continually the harmony that has been disturbed by the discords of terrestrial intercourse.

How then shall we build that temple and fill it with the heavenly music we so much desire? What will help and what will hinder? are the questions which call for a practical solution, and we shall try to make the answer as plain and practical as possible, for this is a very vital matter. The little things are particularly125 important, for the neophyte needs to take even the slightest things into account. If we light a match in a strong wind it is extinguished ere it has gained a fair start, but if the little flame is laid on a brush-heap and given a chance to grow in comparative calm, a rising wind will fan the flame instead of extinguishing it. Adepts or Great Souls may remain serene under............
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