“If any degree of mind or intelligence so worries and takes on itself burdens beyond the needs of the day, it will cut itself off from the power of attracting to itself what it does really need for the growth, the health, the strength, and the prosperity of today. I mean here just what I say, and that is no metaphorical, allegorical,of figurative sense. I mean that as the lily’s limited intelligence1, or mind force if you please, when not burdened or taxed about something that concerns tomorrow, draws to itself the elements that it needs for today, exactly so would human minds unburdened with woe or anxiety attract to themselves all that was needed for the hour. The needs of the hour are the only real needs. You need your breakfast in the morning; you do not need tomorrow morning’s breakfast. Yet nine out of ten among you are directly or indirectly worrying in some way about tomorrow morning’s breakfast, and so subtracting from ourselves more or less of the strength necessary to enjoy, digest, and assimilate this morning’s breakfast.
“Exactly as the unburdened, unfretted, unworried lily attracts power to grow and cloth itself with beauty from the elements about it, exactly so does the unfretted human mind attract to itself a thousand times more.” ~Prentice Mulford
Needs of the Hour
There is nothing wrong with making plans for the future. In our complex world of today, it is probably essential. But when we are all wrapped up in plans and worries for tomorrow, next week, and next year, we forget to live today. This is a big mistake because the only time we can actually live in is today. As Mulford notes, when you spend too much of your time worrying about tomorrow, you can’t take care of your immediate needs.
Bitterness of Worry
Even when you are taking care of your immediate needs to some degree, you are not doing it in the best way possible if at the same time you are worried about the future. Sticking with Mulford’s breakfast example, if you are eating a reasonably healthy breakfast, it may still soul in your stomach and not digest well if while you are eating it, you are worried about the future.
Let’s look at something completely different as an example. Suppose there is an Olympic weight lifter who deadlifts four hundred pounds. Now let him try it again with fifty pounds strapped to each arm, one hundred pounds sitting on his shoulders, and chains around his ankles. He won’t be able to do the lift under those conditions. That is what it is like for you to try to accomplish something now while you are constantly worrying about the future.
Prosperity of Today
Just as the lily in Mulford’s example is successful in caring for itself by taking care only of its immediate needs, we can be successful in our endeavors if we work on what we need now, and only now. And don’t limit the idea of prosperity to money, it can be other kinds of success. The real point is that if you want to be successful tomorrow and the next day, the only way to make that happen is to take care of the needs of the hour, then repeat and repeat each hour. You can’t solve tomorrow’s problems today, so you should not worry about it. You can plan for it, but without worry. Worry doesn’t accomplish anything.
Even the Lily Plans
While Mulford thinks that the Lily, which he uses simply as an example of all plants and animals in nature, lives only for the hour, that isn’t entirely true. In it’s primitive, limited consciousness, the lily does plan. Deep down some part of it knows that a dry season or a frozen winter is coming. It prepares for that by using any excess nourishment it takes in to grow its bulb bigger and stronger. But it doesn’t plan to grow its bulb at some indefinite time in the future, it does it now. That is how we need to plan.
When we tell ourselves that we need to do something in the future to plan for certain inevitable events, we accomplish nothing except to create worry. The proper way to plan for the future is to take action now. That doesn’t mean we starve ourselves today so we will have enough to eat tomorrow. It does mean we don’t waste what extra we have, but instead save it for tomorrow. It means we prevent the natural disasters of tomorrow by doing our best to care for the environment today.
Spiritual Needs of the Hour
Taking care of the needs of the hour rather than worrying about tomorrow is just as much a spiritual need as it is a physical and mental one. Yes, we do plan for the future, but we don’t worry about it. We rest assured that the spiritual forces and beings, with the help of awakened men and women, will save the world in a spiritual sense. But we do work on our own spiritual development today. We meet our spiritual needs of the hour. We know that we can’t wait until we are on our deathbed to try to awaken and develop our spirit and soul. That is like deciding it is time to take swimming lessons when on a boat that is sinking. Many of us are aware these days of the need for spiritual development. We can’t wait to do it some other day. We may die before that day. The world may transform before that day and leave us behind. Like those physical activities, our spiritual growth must be done in the here and now. The needs of tomorrow are met by meeting the needs of the hour, every hour from now on.