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True morality is not a thing of words or phrases or modes of action of any kind, nor is its basis to be found in the many kinds of ideas of morality in the world, which vary as to time and place. What is “moral” at one time and in one place is “immoral” at another. There is no basis whatever in this changing attitude towards actions, changing classifications of good and evil, in a changing “division of the universe.” Intolerance is their sure resultant; for those who pride themselves upon their own special brands of “morality” are always intolerant of others, who do not accept that brand. True morality rests in an understanding and in a realization of man’s own spiritual nature, and must of necessity flow from it, irrespective of all kinds of conventions. We need to know our own inner natures, in order to know what is, in truth, morality.

The conventions of external life are established merely by a consensus of opinion of the beings living at any one time and in any one place. They are not necessarily based on truth, and certainly not on a perception of the whole of truth. As we may see, the best interests of all are not served by the ideas that are generally held. With all our prevailing ideas of progress, of morality and of religion, it is not anywhere nearly so happy a place as it was perhaps a century or two ago; it is not nearly so good a place for human beings to live in as it was in the more innocent and less complex civilizations of the past. There is evidently some thing wrong with the ideas that we hold, if we find it impossible to deny the fact that instead of the world getting better and instead of life becoming more simple, the world is growing worse and life is becoming more and more complex. We should not find ourselves in the present condition if our ideas, religious and moral, flowed from the underlying basic ideas of all religions, philosophies, and systems of thought.

There is nothing good in itself. There is nothing evil in itself. It is the use to which anything is put that makes it good or makes it evil. How can we draw a fine line between good and bad in every case? Good and evil are judged by the effects that flow from the action done, but what might seem bad in one case might be in fact the highest good, and what might seem good in another case might, in fact, lead to the greatest evil. And that fine line consists, not in this nor in that mode of conduct, but in the clearly presented motive or intention of the one who acts. A good motive can never produce altogether evil results, and yet a good motive is not enough. We may have the best motive in the world, but if we have not also knowledge and wisdom, we may unintentionally do a wrong thing, when we intended to do good; and sometimes we may do a good thing when we intended to do evil. Thus, true morality may be seen to lie not in the act itself, but in the motive, which depends on the knowledge and intelligence of the being acting.

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