Mr. Trine: Mr. Ford, what is your religion?
Mr. Ford: Every man works out his own religion, if he gives it any attention at all. It comes partly through thought, partly through experiment. Every one has his own individuality of thought, and I suppose that every one tests certain matters by experiment. I don’t mean by casual experience. Sometimes that is not a test, because it has not been real or directed experience. But the experience we get from intelligent experiment is good evidence for or against. I believe it is possible for us to experiment in the special field we call religion, and that the points where most men are in fullest agreement may be regarded as the common ground of truth in that field. Not that I think religion is a field off by itself, separate. No, it includes everything, and everything includes it. It is simply our beliefs, our foundation principles, our attitude toward the seen and the unseen, toward our duty, our fellow men and the changing panorama of life.
Mr. Trine: Yes, that is all reasonable, but it does not tell what your religion is.
Mr. Ford: I know a man’s religion without asking: just see how he acts, how he fronts life. It is impossible to write a creed, a complete creed, because it is so hard to put some things into words, but if you truly have a creed, it is not nearly so hard to live it. Men easily live what they really believe; they can’t do anything else. So, to find out what men believe, really believe, don’t listen to what they recite, but watch what they do.
Mr. Trine: What do you think of the church? Has it a place in life?
Mr. Ford: I have no doubt of it. The church—I am speaking now of the building itself—does good to the people who go to it. I go so far as to say that it is impossible for any one to go into a church building without receiving benefit. The very atmosphere is helpful. The place is saturated with the aspirations and confidence of all who have been there, and they have all left a little of their own experience behind to be a benefit to those who come after. Personally, I don’t see how any one can escape getting good from going to church. But I do not go often myself. I used to. Nowadays, I go mostly where I am not known. When I am up at the lakes I sometimes go into an Indian Episcopal church.
Mr. Ford: Yes, as most folks have. For twenty-five or thirty years. It is a matter which everybody wants to have settled in his own mind. We can’t live always with problems; there must be some things settled. Religion is something on which every one wants to feel settled. I suppose that is part of what is called the comfort of religion.
What we call "belief" now, was once knowledge. That is one of my beliefs. I am sure that once upon a time the human race actually knew the things which they now say they believe or hold by faith. Faith is a means to knowledge. I believe that nowadays it is a means to bring us back to the knowledge which the race once had and lost. I think that something has happened to the race; it has fallen under a cloud, and things that were once clear as day and of common knowledge, are now so misty that we must hold them by faith. Another of my beliefs is that we are in contact with all about us, that we ourselves are a universe in miniature, with the self as the center and numberless millions of entities making up the thing we call "I"; that we function not only on the planes we see, but on others we do not see; that we are ourselves little universes coming to consciousness, trying to recall powers and knowledge we once had.
Everything you see now,—we have been through all of it before. We are central stations with myriads of entities going and coming all the time with messages. Thus no one is alone, no one is helpless. All the material and insight that exists is available for those who send for it and can use it. The more you use the more you have. One of the cardinal rules of life is use. If you want more of anything, use what you have.
Mr. Ford: Yes, because it offers an explanation for so many things that otherwise remain unexplained. And it answers the rule that experience is the purpose of life. It is merely one phase of the world-wide and ancient belief (which was once actual knowledge) that life is continuous, that we go on and on. We believe that now, but there was a time when we knew it. Besides, it offers an intelligent explanation of the inequalities of life, of the differences in wisdom and maturity of people born into the world.
Mr. Trine: And the differences in success?
Mr. Ford: Well, that depends on what is meant by success. It isn’t the same as fame. It isn’t the same as wealth. Many unsuccessful men have both of these. No, success is some very satisfactory fulfillment of one’s own life, and there must be much more of it than we ever hear of. If success in only that which we hear about, there wouldn’t be enough for the world to get along on. It is like greatness. The world is full of greatness that we never hear of . . .
* * *
Mr. Trine: Has it come to you as to what probably occurs when we leave the body here? And do you know I often think of that reported saying of the Master "In my Father’s house are many mansions." With his wonderful gift of clear-seeing, did he see that we go to other planets, with bodies adapted to the conditions of life there? To think that this one little planet that we call our earth, in this vast universe is the only one inhabited, has always seemed to me thoroughly absurd. Pardon my interjecting this bit of my own thought, for I am more than interested in your thought in this.
Mr. Ford: Well, that is one subject where any one can run on as long as he likes and along any line he likes, because there is no check. A man can say there is no life beyond this, and another man can give detailed plans and specifications of a life beyond this, and neither can be checked by known facts. Two things seem clear: first, we are pretty well shut up to this present phase of life so far as our conscious knowledge is concerned; second, in our best condition we are never convinced that the present phase is all. Why should we talk about "the present life?"—it will always be this present life. Life is always life, and the fuller it is the more present the present is. We talk about this present life as if we understood it, and having disposed of it, we are ready to analyze and pronounce on another. Well, there is no other, there is only this, going on, going on, and coming to itself more and more. Life can not die. Longfellow was right—’There is no death.’ It is not poetry, it is science. Life that can die would not be life.
What you want, I see, is my opinion. Well, that is all any of us has to give. I expect to go on and gather more experience. I expect to have opportunities to use my experience. I expect to retain this central cell, or whatever it is, that is now the core of my personality. I expect to find conditions of life further on, just as I found conditions of life here, and adapt myself to them, just as I adapted myself to these. As to the religious aspects, I don’t know. I think it is all religious, for that matter, The whole system is what it is, and there can be nothing else. That is my opinion. We go on. We don’t stop. The further we go the better it becomes, I think.
Source: EAST WEST magazine, November - December, 1929 VOL. 4-3, mysticalportal.net