Man was not brought into being to be automation, or to be made good against his will. Man was brought into being that he might find his own direction and that he might, in so doing, find within himself the desire and the will to rise towards All Light.
Man's individuality is his especial treasure; unique in him: no two alike. Its development in wisdom, love and power, in every talent and attribute that is his, upon the upward path of everlasting life, is his most glorious gift.
With individuality man was given choice. Without choice individuality cannot be developed; it is as if it were not manifest. By the power of choice the individual unfolds himself and all his talents and, as he thus grows, so does choice develop within him in ever-greater creative power.
The greatest choice before man is the choice of his goal. The lowest of goals before man is to love and cherish himself. The greatest of goals before man is to attain to love of All Light; the highest of which he can conceive under whatever name; the All High without limit.
From that greatest choice of all once made, affirmed, pursued with man's whole will, what wonders stem as that love grows. The love of All Light within that man illumines his vision, of all he sees about him. Loving the Father, the All Light, he sees His presence in all men and women, good and bad alike, and in every living thing. The whole universe speaks to him of the wisdom, love and power of All Light. Thus, wherever he looks, upon whomsoever he looks, he looks with love and great is its creative power.
Because of his love for All Light, his love for all others is increased, and yet it binds him not as men are bound by their loves when these are not embraced and held within the higher love.
A man whose love thus reaches up towards All Light above all else finds anger and hatred falling from him like a garment he has shed. Gentleness fills his being and surrounds him with its power, so potent that in his presence conflict will cease and violence cannot take place.
In the man thus learning to love All Light above all else, fear for himself or for others has no place. For in that love he has lost all thought of self and he has faith in that love that its power surrounds and will sustain all to whom, by that love, he is linked.
Such a man, thus growing, forgetting himself in love of All Light, can find no desire to labour for himself or for his own gain or advancement. The love that is in him for the Father, for All Light, flows outward through him to all others, whom he constantly desires to help; to do them good; to give them strength; to give them courage. To see their joy is his delight.
Such therefore, is man's greatest goal, his overruling choice.
It is said that, since a man's destiny is known even before his birth, how can he have freedom of choice? The answer is that man's destiny binds not his choice. Rather is it true that it is by the creative power of his choice that a man's destiny is created and unfolds. His destiny does but place before the man the conditions by which his choice is called forth.
It has been said that, since man was given, even before his birth, the elements of the individuality which is his, how can he have freedom in what he makes of himself? The answer is that it is by the power of choice, continually exercised throughout life on earth and in the heavens, that man's talents and attributes find their fullest development through the pathways of experience.
It is said that man, being beset on all sides with forces greater than his own, in both the material and the spiritual realms, can have no effective liberty and that his choice is but a mockery, as of a man bound hand and foot. This also falls far short of the truth. For while man is thus indeed hemmed in by forces of all kinds which are formative, upon him in multitudinous ways, nonetheless, weak as he may be, because of the power of choice within him, he need not be their plaything or their tool. Consider, as an example, the most extreme of cases: that if a man were in a boat, without oars or sails, upon a swift river, which he did not choose. Could it be said that that man has no choice? To say so would be untrue. He still has within him the most potent choice of all: to accept his presence in that boat and his destiny upon that river, or to deny it and reject it, rebelling against it with his whole will and power.
If he chooses the latter he has, by that creative act of choice, placed himself at variance with all that is about him. He has plunged himself by that act of choice into discord, despair, frustration and sorrow.
If he chooses the former, choosing to accept, to affirm his presence as he finds himself and the yet unknown possibilities that open before him, his choice at once becomes creative within him. His being is filled with gladness and delight, and, as he travels on, his affirmation embraces with joy every fresh unfoldment.
Thus is it with man in his daily life. If he puts forth his choice with power to accept himself even as he is, as the groundwork of his unfoldment, and accepts also the conditions and circumstances which seem to be his destiny at that time, a great wonder happens. His limitations begin to fall apart. He begins to have power over them, to transform himself and them. What seemed at first to limit him and hem him in proves no more than the chrysalis from which his individuality rises, and advances, growing in power?
It will be understood therefore that the power of choice, which is within every man, is a potent instrument with which he shapes himself on the ever-upward path.
The power of choice is thus creative in the man even when he has entered and travelled far within the etherean estate, and when he has become as one with the All Light within him. For each act of faith called forth by each new task and adventure calls forth the renewed affirmation of choice--choice to accept the task assigned; choice to embrace the leap forward in faith, the unfoldment of the Father's presence within him, in ways beyond his experience.
Thus it may be understood that it is no part of the purpose of this book to limit the exercise of man's choice as an individual in any direction whatever; rather it is the purpose of this book to arm man's choice with knowledge that will make his choice more effective on the path of his unfoldment.
Thus it is no part of the purpose of this book to tell man how to think, or what he shall believe or not believe. In all these he shall have full liberty to choose. Those who would abridge this liberty, whether they are individuals or governments or Churches, or any organization of whatever form, do violence to man's birthright and will be led in due time, as love grows within them, to make good what they have done.
It is not the purpose of this book therefore to judge or to condemn any belief, or religion, or body of a spiritual order open to men on earth. Man himself shall judge them by his own growing knowledge and by the inspiration, which he is capable of receiving from Organic realms.
The man who has made the central choice, making the attainment of love of All Light, under whatever name, the goal and aspiration of his soul above all else, has nothing to fear from any spiritual group or religion of Church, in which he may find himself because of birth or which he may enter later by choice. If it falls short of his ideal, imposing limits upon his love and knowledge of All Light, his remedy is simple: he has the power to choose; he may leave and find another brotherhood through which to serve and seek the Father.
Consider next the governments and countries in which a man lives. In time past, great numbers of men have left, and leave even today, one land or system of government in order to go to another which they deem more suited to their spiritual aspirations and their unfoldment as individuals. This choice is still open, but there is also another, which has also long been exercised, and which shall in the future be exercised with growing power and effect. This second choice is to form a community within the greater community of the nation or country in which the man lives. Among such communities are those that have been called in this book the brotherhoods of All Light. Under whatever name, their objective is the same: to found an Organic community, separate from that of the government of the country, in which men of like mind, working and building together, may put into practice their highest conception of how man should live.
There are those who say: Let us reform the government, so as to bring it more nearly in line with our aspirations. Those who say this are, except in small matters, being unrealistic, for the governments of man, even though they contain many great and good people, are none the less limited by the grade of those they must serve and those they must cope with. Their laws and regulations and the whole fabric of the State must necessarily be fashioned to take account of men's weaknesses and of their lack of growth in self-discipline. Whereas the brotherhoods of All Light, under whatever name, build wholly, if they are truly of that order, upon the strengths of their members. The weaknesses of their members are subject in each member to his or her self-discipline, all aiding one another, through their love of All Light, in overcoming their limitations.
Thus it will be understood that the two kinds of community are separated by a wide gulf. The government of any country, no matter how high the individual grades of those who serve within it, works and is bound by the lower light, the lower law, and man's law. Whereas the brotherhoods of All Light, under whatever name, live by the higher light and are ruled by the laws which are of that light, and which are wholly directed to man's elevation.
Such communities as these, living within and under the government of a country, must needs obey its laws and make their contributions to it, wherever these are demanded, except in one field only: for those who have entered a brotherhood of All Light, under whatever name, those in whose the love of All Light has grown even in little, and whose goal is to attain it in ever-growing measure, can neither aid, nor abet, nor take part in any act, whether by arms or by economic means, which would take the lives of others. For it should be known, and in the most civilised lands is so acknowledged, that such men in conscience cannot take part in war, or violence, or conflict of any kind whatever. The nature of their covenant to the All Light alone, and the love of All Light growing within their beings, makes such courses impossible to them. Their choice has been made, and it is absolute upon them. Though they were faced with their own death they could not take the life of another, even though it might save them, or save some other person. The love that is in them would cause them rather to sacrifice their own lives were such a choice before them.
In other respects such communities as these are among the best of citizens, obeying the laws of the land more scrupulously than most, and living indeed by more exacting standards of behaviour, and contributing by their services to the utmost of their power to the welfare of others. Such communities are a great strength within a country.
Let it not be thought that because the members of such communities cannot take part in wars or in violence, their country is the weaker. Men have yet to learn the power that springs from the spiritual grade of a people. They think only of power as power, because they have not yet experienced, in any great measure on earth, the power of great wisdom and the power of the love of All Light against which lesser powers cannot and do not prevail, even in men's affairs. Men have yet to learn the extent to which man's malice, so puny before All Light, though it may seem great to him, is thwarted and turned aside, and destruction averted
This also may be said: that any country in which brotherhoods of All Light, or similar communities of whatever name, having the same allegiances to the higher light, have grown numerous, shall be a country not easily moved to war or to any actions inimical to other countries. Rather they will be the best of neighbours and will be among the most ready even to sacrifice themselves if need be for the benefit of others. Thus may it in truth be said that the brotherhoods of All Light, though few in this day, will, as they become more numerous springing up in every land and race as man's spiritual grading advances, become most powerful instruments for advancing the brotherhood of man.