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Levels of Living Essays on Everyday Ideals

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The Higher Levels

The Real and the Ideal The Bread of Life Life's Unvarying Values

The ideal is the mold in which the real is cast.

Half of success is in seeing the significance of little things.

He finds no weal who flees all woe.

You do not make life sacred by looking sad.

Sympathy is a key that fits the lock of any heart.

Soul health will not come by taking religion as a dose.

Many a cloud that we call sorrow is but the shadow of our own selfishness.

To live wholly for possessions is to paralyze the life to the possibility of permanently possessing anything.

It takes more than willingness to be nothing to make you amount to something.

This is never a wrong world to him who is right with its heart.


It is probable that from the age of sixteen up to thirty Jesus of Nazareth spent His life in mechanical toil; He made wooden plows, ax handles, and yokes; He served as a carpenter. Then for three years He gave Himself to the ministry of ideal things, exclusively to the service of the spirit.

There is a wonderful satisfaction in making things, in looking over some concrete piece of work accomplished when the day ends. It is a satisfaction that belongs to the artisan. Is it not probable that many said that it was a great pity when Jesus gave up so useful a trade as His? To them He seemed to be but chasing the rainbow.

But to-day who possesses a single one of the things that young carpenter made? And did we possess them all what better off would the world be? Yet, on the other hand, how ill could this world afford to lose what He gave it by those three years of the service of the ideal.

In our age of things we so easily forget how large is the place of the ideal and the spiritual. Ever estimating our assets in the concrete, we fail to recognize that our real wealth lies in thoughts and things abstract. The permanent possessions of humanity are spiritual. Not acres nor armies, not banks nor business make a nation, but mighty, compelling ideals and traditions.

Jesus, Shakespeare, Browning, Lowell, Emerson left no goods and chattels, no bonds and mortgages; they left inspirations; they bequeathed ideals; living first for the soul, their souls survive and remain to us all. The truly great who still stand after the test of the years are those who have lived for the spirit.

This is as true of the worker and the warrior as of the philosopher and poet. All were inspired by glowing visions; they set their affections on things above the trifles for which we struggle and spend ourselves. They endured as seeing glories to us invisible; therefore their names endure.

The great undertakings of our own day are possible only under spiritual inspirations. No rewards of money only can induce a man to steadfastly conduct affairs of great moment and enterprise; he is buoyed up by a great hope; often the very greatness of the task and the sense of serving great ends carry him on; always he sees the worth in the ideal rather than the wage.

We must learn to measure life with the sense of the infinite....