The whole history of science, art and morals proves that the mind that appears in individuals, is not as such individual mind. The former is in itself a system of belief, recognitions, and ignorances, of acceptances and rejections, of expectancies and appraisals of meanings which have been instituted under the influence of custom and tradition.
“What” we do belongs to the world. In the “how,” the way we do it, we infallibly revel to ourselves whether our attitude is in harmony with the inner law or in contradiction to it, in accordance with our right form or opposed to it, open to Divine Being or closed to it. What is our right “form”? It is none other than that in which we are transparent to Divine Being. And to be transparent means that we are able to experience Divine Being in our selves and to reveal it in the world.
The influences of little things are as real, and as constantly about us, as the air we breathe or the light by which we see. These are the small - the often invisible - the almost unthought of strands, which are inweaving and twisting by millions, to bind us to character - to good or evil here, and to heaven or hell hereafter.
It seems not to be true that there is a power in the universe, which watches over the well-being of every individual with parental care and brings all his concerns to a happy ending. On the contrary, the destinies of man are incompatible with a universal principle of benevolence or with - what is to some degree contradictory - a universal principle of justice... Dark, unfeeling, and unloving powers determine human destiny; the system of rewards and punishments, which according to religion, governs the world, seems to have no existence.
There is a sort of knowledge beyond the power of learning to bestow, and this is to be had in conversation; so necessary is this to the understanding the characters of men, that none are more ignorant of them than those learned pedants whose lives have been entirely consumed in colleges and among books; for however exquisitely human nature may have been described by writers the true practical system can be learned only in the world.
Education begins with life. Before we are aware the foundations of character are laid, and subsequent teaching avails but little to remove or alter them... If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.
Nothing serves better to illustrate a man’s character than the things which he finds ridiculous. the ridiculous arises from a moral contrast which is innocently placed before the senses. The sensual man will often laugh when there is nothing to laugh at. Whatever it may be that moves him, he will always reveal the fact that he is pleased with himself.
We have in America the largest public school system on earth, the most expensive college buildings, the most extensive curriculum, but nowhere else is education so blind to its objectives, so indifferent to any specific outcome as in America. One trouble has been its negative character. It has aimed at the repression of faults rather than the creation of virtues.