Ourselves Volume 4 Bk II Pt II Chapter 4




          The Will subject to Solicitations.—It is rather easeful to think of Will standing before the forces of Mansoul, saying to this one, ‘Go,’ and to another, ‘Come,’ and to a third, ‘Do this, and he doeth it.’ The will is subject to solicitations all round from ‘the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life.’ Every dæmon of Mansoul tries, as we have seen,[1] to get the ear of the Prime Minister, and shows, with plausible reasoning, that he, alone and unaided, is able to satisfy all the wants of the State. From the mere greed of eating and drinking to ambition, that ‘last infirmity of noble minds,’ every single power of Mansoul will, if it be permitted, make for misrule. But, courage, my Lord Will! and the forces fall into place and obey the word of command.
          We have already seen how the Reason firm, the enlightened Imagination, the ordered Affections, the instructed Conscience, are at hand with instant counsel towards every act of volition.

          Will does not Act alone.—It takes the whole man to will, and a man wills wisely, justly, and
strongly in proportion as all his powers are in training and under instruction. It is well to know this, to be quite sure that we may not leave any part of ourselves ignorant or untrained, with the notion that what there is of us will act for the best.
          Living means more than the happenings of one day after another. We must understand in order to will. “How is it that ye will not understand?” said our Lord to the Jews, who would only see that which was obvious, and would not reflect or try to interpret the signs of the times; and that is the way with most of us, we will not understand. We think that in youth there is no particular matter to exercise our Will about, but that we shall certainly will when we get older and go into the world. But the same thing repeats itself: great occasions do not come to us at any time of our lives; or, if they do, they come in the guise of little matters of every day. Let us be aware of this. The ‘great’ sphere for our Will is in ourselves. Our concern with life is to be fit, and according to our fitness come the occasions and the uses we shall be put to. To preserve Mansoul from waste, to keep every province in order—that, and not efforts in the outside world, is the business of Will.

[1] Cf. Book I., ‘Self-Knowledge.’