Sometimes there is inward success in an undertaking accounted a failure by observers. One may succeed in doing work for which one is not fitted, by sheer persistence in sticking to it. Some people wait many years before beginning their true work. Yet the real value of these secondary victories is seen in the use we make of the power acquired by meeting obstacles and then transferring our activities to some work that is to our liking. We may not judge merely by the vocations others are now pursuing—by their professions, salaries, profits, or even by their reputations in the community. Success involves the varied relationships of the inner life, and these are not apparent to the public eye. Those who know themselves understand what their work is doing for them and how their life may be turned to higher account. We no longer praise people for mere resignation in accepting life’s hardships and illnesses. We now look for the affirmative attitude.
Those of us who do fairly well in everything we undertake are deemed “lucky.” But luck implies that there is a fortunate combination of circumstances more powerful than the individuals themselves, who merely receive what comes while others must work hard. Behind the scenes, those who have really succeeded have been working as hard as anyone. The world often sees the finished result only, unaware of the years of incessant effort by which inner victories have been won and outward obstacles have been overcome. What we need to know is the inner history behind the alleged luck. There was an intelligible reason in every case, and no mere chance at all. There was alertness in meeting occasions, readiness in responding to opportunities that others did not take but might have taken. Those people of character who “always land on their feet” have acquired a certain art of rising to occasions. Then, too, we need to remind ourselves that there is divine guidance prompting people from within, hence a spiritual law in events seemingly coming by chance.
To start with the idea of God as all-encompassing Spirit, with the universe regarded as existing for spiritual ends, is to accord spiritual things the first rank from beginning to end, hence to see that spiritual success is the one real success. As spirits, we have a two-fold relationship: one in the spiritual world to the more direct activities of the divine life; and one in the natural world where, as dwellers in the flesh, we take on the conditions that come to us by birth. It is on the divine side that we draw from the great resources which bring success over external obstacles. What seems impossible outwardly becomes possible from within.
We have the power of the Spirit within us to rise above circumstances through insight into their meaning for the soul. The whole life-situation is changed for us when we grasp the inner point of view. We then see the spiritual transforming and expressing itself through the natural. What once seemed a hardship now proves to be an opportunity. Our external conditions prove adverse only as long as we regard them negatively. True success always grows out of the affirmative attitude. True success is for the individual and for society at the same time. There is no conflict, ultimately speaking, between self-realization and service. True success is based on the higher truth of our being. It implies the inspiring idea that there is only one power in the universe, and that this power is manifested in a world order which makes for spiritual success.
Updated and gender-neutral, published by Newt List, and edited by Randall Friesen