The Battle that Rages Within

LETTER NO. 64 - MARCH, 1916

From time to time we are grieved to receive letters from students in the warring countries chiding us for not taking up the cudgel in favor of their side. There has not been a day since this sad conflict began that we have not mourned the dreadful slaughter, though comforted by the knowledge that it is helping as nothing else could to break down the barrier between the living and the dead. Thus the war will go far towards abolishing the sorrow now experienced by the masses when parting from loved ones; also the present sorrow is turning the Western people from the pleasures of the world to the worship of God. There has not been a night that we have not worked diligently with the dead and wounded to allay their mental anguish or physical pain.

Patriotism was very good at one time, but Christ said, "Before Abraham was, I am." (EGO SUM). Races and nations, comprehended in the term "Abraham," are evanescent, but "the Ego," which existed before Abraham, the race father, will also persist when nations are a thing of the past. Therefore the Fellowship disregards national and racial differences, endeavoring to join all together in a bond of love to fight a Great War--the only war in which a true Christian should fight, and one which a true Christian ought to wage unflinchingly and without quarter--the war against his lower nature. Paul says: "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing. For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

Does not Paul describe here most accurately the state of every aspiring soul? Are we not all suffering spiritually because of the conflict within ourselves? I hope there is but one answer, namely, that this inner war is being waged fiercely and unremittingly by every Fellowship student; for where there is no struggle, there is a sure indication of spiritual coma. The "body of sin" has then the upper hand. But the fiercer the fight, the more hopeful our spiritual state.

In America we hear a great deal of talk of "neutrality" and "preparedness" for "defensive" purposes. In the nobler war which we must wage, there can be no "neutrality." Either there is peace, and "the flesh" rules us and holds us in abject subjections, or there is war aggresively waged by both flesh and spirit. And so long as we continue to live in this "body of death" this warfare will continue, for even Christ was tempted, and we cannot expect to fare better than He.

"Preparedness" is good. It is more necessary every day, for just as a physical enemy seeks to trap and ambush a strong adversary rather than risk open battle, so also the temptations which beset us on "the path" become more subtle with each succeeding year.

Writer like Thomas a Kempis were wont to speak of themselves as "vile worms," and to use kindred terms of "self-abasement," because they knew the great and subtle danger of "self-approbation." But even that may be carried too far, and we may feel that we are "very, very good" and "holier" than others because we abuse ourselves; and we may do it for the pleasure we get from hearing other people contradict us. Truly, the snares of the desire body are past finding out.

There is a way to be prepared, and it is sure: "Look to Christ," and keep your mind busy every waking moment when not engaged in your daily work, studying how you may serve Him. Endeavor by every available means to carry out in a practical manner the ideas thus conceived. The more closely we imitate Christ, the more loyally we follow the dictates of the Higher Self, the more certainly shall we vanquish the lower nature and win the only war worth while winning.