THE LAW OF INDIVIDUALITY.
All growth is by learning.
All learning comes by the gratification of desire. Truly, experience is not only the best teacher, but the only infallible one.
The gratification of desire, good or bad, leaves always one imperishable residue of wisdom. The rest of the experience goes with the chaff for burning.
Desire points invariably according to the individual's intelligence. In proportion as this is faulty his desires are "bad."
What is a bad desire, anyway? In the main "bad" desires are self-made or thoughtlessly accepted. Dancing is wicked to a Methodist and "good" to an Episcopalian.
But aside from these personal standpoints which are legion there is an immutable Law, to which intelligence is conforming all action and thought--the Law of Individuality--the Law recognized and expressed by Confucius and Jesus in negative and positive forms of the "golden rule"; "Do not unto others what ye would not they should do unto you."
Interference with the freedom of the individual is "bad"--that is, it invariably brings pain to the one who interferes, in thought or deed. Listen to this:
"You cannot know anything of the sources or causes of the crisis you are judging, for no one who knows will tell you, and you would not know if you were told. The depths of elemental immortality, of self-deceit and revenge, lie in our eagerness to judge one another, and to force one another under the yoke of our judgments. When there is the faith of the Son of man in the world, life will be left to make its own judgments. The only judgment we have a right to make upon one another is the free and truthful living of our own lives." George D. Herron.
This forcing of others, in mind or action, under the yoke of our judgment is the only possible way we can break a real Law. To be ourselves and to leave others free is to "be good." Dancing will come and go, and come again; so will fashions of all kinds; conventionalities and creeds; but this Law remains an eternal chalk line to be toed. And eternal torments await him who does not toe it.
Take the case of a man who desires to "run away" with another man's wife. The one immutable Law of Individuality says no man owns a wife. Instead of this being a problem with two men and one man's property as factors, it is a case of three individuals with god-given rights of individual choice. You have heard it said that "where two are agreed as touching anything it shall be done unto them." It takes two to make, or to keep made, a bargain. No matter what hallucinations in regard to ownership any man may labor under, he does not own a wife. He has no more "rights" over one woman than over another, or over another man, except as the woman herself gives him the right and keeps on giving it to him.
The Law of Individuality is absolute, and in due time husbands will know better than to imagine they own wives; wives will know better than to be owned; and the other man will not imagine he can gain great pleasure from "running away" with anything. Each will be free and leave the others so.
But "as a man thinketh in his heart so is he." Until a man recognizes the Law of Individuality his actions are governed by the Law he does recognize, and his desires act accordingly. When he desires to "run away" with anything his conscience tells him he is stealing. If desire is strong enough he steals a wife, and eventually suffers for it. For, though he may not have broken a real law, he has broken an imagined one and in his own mind he deserves punishment and in his own mind he gets it. "As a man thinketh so is he," and what he is determines what he attracts.
Never was a deeper, truer saying than Paul's "BLESSED is the man that doubteth not in that thing which he alloweth." The man who waits, until he is "fully persuaded in his own mind" will be blessed in following desire, and he will grow in wisdom thereby.
The man who thinks his desire is "bad" and yet follows it, will grow in wisdom by the scourging he gets. He has transgressed his conception of the One Law and suffers in getting back to at-one-ment.
In either case he grows in wisdom and eventually he will desire only in accordance with the One Law of Individual Choice.
There is no question of "ought" about it. The individual is free to follow desire or to crucify it. And the fact is, he follows desire when he crucifies it. He desires to crucify desire, because he is afraid to gratify it.
The man who is not afraid follows desire and grows fast in wisdom and in knowledge. He may make mistakes and suffer all sorts of agonies as a result. But he learns from his misses as well as from his hits, and he progresses.
The man who is afraid to follow desire crucifies his life and stunts his growth.
It were better for the individual to follow his desire and afterward repent, than to crush his desires and repent for a lifetime under the false impression that the universe unjustly gives to another that which should have belonged to him.
There is just one kind of growth--growth in wisdom. We hear of children "who grow up in ignorance." We likewise hear that the earth is square and the moon a green cheese. Children can no more grow in ignorance than they can grow in a dark and air-tight case. All growth, mental, moral, spiritual or "physical," is by increase in in-telligence; i.e., by recognition of more truth. All things exist in a limitless sea of pure wisdom waiting, waiting to be understood. As fast as this universal wisdom is used it becomes in-told--intelligence--recognized wisdom. We breathe in wisdom and grow in intelligence. All growth, mineral, plant, animal, man or god, conscious or unconscious--ALL growth is by this process. It is DESIRE that makes us breathe. Everything cries out for more, more!--it cannot define always what it wants, but it wants, with insatiable craving. It is more wisdom the whole creation groaneth and travaileth to get. "Give me more understanding or I die!"--the visible eternally cries out to the Invisible. Desire is the ceaseless life-urge of all things, from amoeba to archangel. Desire is "Immanuer'--God with us--God in us to will and to do."