As A Man Thinketh
by James Allen
This little volume (the result of meditation
and experience) is not intended as an exhaustive treatise on the much-written
upon subject of the power of thought. It is suggestive rather than explanatory,
its object being to stimulate men and women to the discovery and perception of
the truth that -
themselves are makers of themselves"
by virtue of the thoughts which they choose and encourage; that mind is the
master weaver, both of the inner garment of character and the outer garment of
circumstance, and that, as they may have hitherto woven in ignorance and pain
they may now weave in enlightenment and happiness.
Thought and Character
The aphorism, "As a man thinketh in his
heart so is he," not only embraces the whole of a man's being, but is so
comprehensive as to reach out to every condition and circumstance of his life. A
man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of
all his thoughts.
As the plant springs from, and could not be
without, the seed, so every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of
thought, and could not have appeared without them. This applies equally to those
acts called "spontaneous" and "unpremeditated" as to those
which are deliberately executed.
Act is the blossom of thought, and joy and
suffering are its fruits; thus does a man garner in the sweet and bitter
fruitage of his own husbandry.
Thought in the mind hath made us. What we
By thought we wrought and built. If a man's mind
Hath evil thoughts, pain comes on him as comes
The wheel the ox behind . . . If one endure in purity
of thought joy follows him as his own shadow - sure.
Man is a growth by law, and not a creation by
artifice, and cause and effect is as absolute and undeviating in the hidden
realm of thought as in the world of visible and material things. A noble and
Godlike character is not a thing of favor or chance, but is the natural result
of continued effort in right thinking, the effect of long-cherished association
with Godlike thoughts. An ignoble and bestial character, by the same process, is
the result of the continued harboring of groveling thoughts.
Man is made or unmade by himself; in the
armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself. He also
fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and
strength and peace. By the right choice and true application of thought, man
ascends to the Divine Perfection; by the abuse and wrong application of thought,
he descends below the level of the beast. Between these two extremes are all the
grades of character, and man is their maker and master.
Of all the beautiful truths pertaining to the
soul which have been restored and brought to light in this age, none is more
gladdening or fruitful of divine promise and confidence than this - that man is
the master of thought, the molder of character, and maker and shaper of
condition, environment, and destiny.
As a being of Power, Intelligence, and Love,
and the lord of his own thoughts, man holds the key to every situation, and
contains within himself that transforming and regenerative agency by which he
may make himself what he wills.
Man is always the master, even in his weakest
and most abandoned state; but in his weakness and degradation he is the foolish
master who misgoverns his "household." When he begins to reflect upon
his condition, and to search diligently for the Law upon which his being is
established, he then becomes the wise master, directing his energies with
intelligence, and fashioning his thoughts to fruitful issues. Such is the conscious
master, and man can only thus become by discovering within himself the
laws of thought; which discovery is totally a matter of application,
self-analysis, and experience.
Only by much searching and mining are gold an
diamonds obtained, and man can find every truth connected with his being if he
will dig deep into the mine of his soul. And that he is the maker of his
character, the molder of his life, and the builder of his destiny, he may
unerringly prove: if he will watch, control, and alter his thoughts, tracing
their effects upon himself, upon others, and upon his life and circumstances; if
he will link cause and effect by patient practice and investigation, utilizing
his every experience, even to the most trivial, as a means of obtaining that
knowledge of himself. In this direction, as in no other, is the law absolute
that "He that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be
opened"; for only by patience, practice, and ceaseless importunity can a
man enter the Door of the Temple of Knowledge.
Effect of Thought on Circumstances
A man's mind may be likened to a garden, which
may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated
or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put
into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and
will continue to produce their kind.
Just as a gardener cultivates his plot,
keeping it free from weeds, and growing the flowers and fruits which he
requires, so may a man tend the garden of his mind, weeding out all the wrong,
useless, and impure thoughts, and cultivating toward perfection the flowers and
fruits of right, useful, and pure thoughts, By pursuing this process, a man
sooner or later discovers that he is the master gardener of his soul, the
director of his life. He also reveals, within himself, the laws of thought, and
understands with ever-increasing accuracy, how the thought forces and mind
elements operate in the shaping of his character, circumstances, and destiny.
Thought and character are one, and as
character can only manifest and discover itself through environment and
circumstance, the outer conditions of a person's life will always be found to be
harmoniously related to his inner state. This does not mean that a man's
circumstances at any given time are an indication of his entire
character, but that those circumstances are so intimately connected with some
vital thought element within himself that, for the time being, they are
indispensable to his development.
Every man is where he is by the law of his
being. The thoughts which he has built into his character have brought him
there, and in the arrangement of his life there is no element of chance, but all
is the result of a law which cannot err. This is just as true of those who feel
"out of harmony" with their surroundings as of those who are contented
As the progressive and evolving being, man is
where he is that he may learn that he may grow; and as he learns the spiritual
lesson which any circumstance contains for him, it passes away and gives place
to other circumstances.
Man is buffeted by circumstances so long as he
believes himself to be the creature of outside conditions. But when he realizes
that he may command the hidden soil and seeds of his being out of which
circumstances grow, he then becomes the rightful master of himself.
That circumstances grow out of thought
every man knows who has for any length of time practiced self-control and
self-purification, for he will have noticed that the alteration in his
circumstances has been in exact ratio with his altered mental condition. So true
is this that when a man earnestly applies himself to remedy the defects in his
character, and makes swift and marked progress, he passes rapidly through a
succession of vicissitudes.
The soul attracts that which it secretly
harbors; that which it loves, and also that which it fears. It reaches the
height of its cherished aspirations. It falls to the level of its unchastened
desires - and circumstances are the means by which the soul receives its own.
Every thought seed sown or allowed to fall
into the mind, and to take root there, produces its own, blossoming sooner or
later into act, and bearing its own fruitage of opportunity and circumstance.
Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bad fruit.
The outer world of circumstance shapes itself
to the inner world of thought, and both pleasant and unpleasant external
conditions are factors which make for the ultimate good of the individual. As
the reaper of his own harvest, man learns both by suffering and bliss.
A man does not come to the almshouse or the
jail by the tyranny of fate of circumstance, but by the pathway of groveling
thoughts and base desires. Nor does a pure-minded man fall suddenly into crime
by stress of any mere external force; the criminal thought had long been
secretly fostered in the heart, and the hour of opportunity revealed its
Circumstance does not make the man; it reveals
him to himself. No such conditions can exist as descending into vice and its
attendant sufferings apart from vicious inclinations, or ascending into virtue
and its pure happiness without the continued cultivation of virtuous
aspirations. And man, therefore, as the Lord and master of thought, is the maker
of himself, the shaper and author of environment. Even at birth the soul comes
to its own, and through every step of its earthly pilgrimage it attracts those
combinations of conditions which reveal itself, which are the reflections of its
own purity and impurity, its strength and weakness.
Men do not attract that which they want,
but that which they are. Their whims, fancies, and ambitions are thwarted
at every step, but their inmost thoughts and desires are fed with their own
food, be it foul or clean. The "divinity that shapes our ends" is in
ourselves; it is our very self. Man is manacled only by himself. Thought and
action are the jailers of Fate - they imprison, being base. They are also the
angels of Freedom - they liberate, being noble. Not what he wishes and prays for
does a man get, but what he justly earns. His wishes and prayers are only
gratified and answered when they harmonize with his thoughts and actions.
In the light of this truth, what, then, is the
meaning of "fighting against circumstances"? It means that a man is
continually revolting against an effect without, while all the time he is
nourishing and preserving its cause in his heart. That cause may take the
form of a conscious vice or an unconscious weakness; but whatever it is, it
stubbornly retards the efforts of its possessor, and thus calls aloud for
Men are anxious to improve their
circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves. They therefore remain
bound. The man who does not shrink from self-crucifixion can never fail to
accomplish the object upon which his heart is set. This is as true of earthly as
of heavenly things. Even the man whose sole object is to acquire wealth must be
prepared to make great personal sacrifices before he can accomplish his object;
and how much more so he who would realize a strong and well-poised life?
Here is a man who is wretchedly poor. He is
extremely anxious that his surroundings and home comforts should be improved.
Yet all the time he shirks his work, and considers he is justified in trying to
deceive his employer on the ground of the insufficiency of his wages. Such a man
does not understand the simplest rudiments of those principles which are the
basis of true prosperity. He is not only totally unfitted to rise out of his
wretchedness, but is actually attracting to himself a still deeper wretchedness
by dwelling in, and acting out, indolent, deceptive, and unmanly thoughts.
Here is a rich man who is the victim of a
painful and persistent disease as the result of gluttony. He is willing to give
large sums of money to get rid of it, but he will not sacrifice his gluttonous
desires. He wants to gratify his taste for rich and unnatural foods and have his
health as well. Such a man is totally unfit to have health, because he has not
yet learned the first principles of a healthy life.
Here is an employer of labor who adopts
crooked measures to avoid paying the regulation wage, and, in the hope of making
larger profits, reduces the wages of his workpeople. Such a man is altogether
unfitted for prosperity. And when he finds himself bankrupt, both as regards
reputation and riches, he blames circumstances, not knowing that he is the sole
author of his condition.
I have introduced these three cases merely as
illustrative of the truth that man is the cause (though nearly always
unconsciously) of his circumstances. That, while aiming at the good end, he is
continually frustrating its accomplishment by encouraging thoughts and desires
which cannot possibly harmonize with that end. Such cases could be multiplied
and varied almost indefinitely, but this is not necessary. The reader can, if he
so resolves, trace the action of the laws of thought in his own mind and life,
and until this is done, mere external facts cannot serve as a ground of
Circumstances, however, are so complicated,
thought is so deeply rooted, and the conditions of happiness vary so vastly with
individuals, that a man's entire soul condition (although it may be known
to himself) cannot be judged by another from the external aspect of his life
A man may be honest in certain directions, yet
suffer privations. A man may be dishonest in certain directions, yet acquire
wealth. But the conclusion usually formed that the one man fails because of
his particular honesty, and that the other prospers because of his
particular dishonesty, is the result of a superficial judgment, which
assumes that the dishonest man is almost totally corrupt, and honest man almost
entirely virtuous. In the light of a deeper knowledge and wider experience, such
judgment is found to be erroneous. The dishonest man may have some admirable
virtues which the other does not possess; and the honest man obnoxious vices
which are absent in the other. The honest man reaps the good results of his
honest thoughts and acts; he also brings upon himself the sufferings which his
vices produce. The dishonest man likewise garners his own suffering and
It is pleasing to human vanity to believe that
one suffers because of one's virtue. But not until a man has extirpated every
sickly, bitter, and impure thought from his mind, and washed every sinful stain
from his soul, can he be in a position to know and declare that his sufferings
are the result of his good, and not of his bad qualities. And on the way to that
supreme perfection, he will have found working in his mind and life, the Great
Law which is absolutely just, and which cannot give good for evil, evil for
good. Possessed of such knowledge, he will then know, looking back upon his past
ignorance and blindness, that his life is, and always was, justly ordered, and
that all his past experiences, good and bad, were the equitable outworking of
his evolving, yet unevolved self.
Good thoughts and actions can never produce
bad results. Bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results. This is
but saying that nothing can come from corn but corn, nothing from nettles but
nettles. Men understand this law in the natural world, and work with it. But few
understand it in the mental and moral world (though its operation there is just
as simple and undeviating), and they, therefore, do not cooperate with it.
Suffering is always the effect of wrong
thought in some direction. It is an indication that the individual is out of
harmony with himself, with the Law of his being. The sole and supreme use of
suffering is to purify, to burn out all that is useless and impure. Suffering
ceases for him who is pure. There could be not object in burning gold after the
dross had been removed, and perfectly pure and enlightened being could not
The circumstances which a man encounters with
suffering are the result of his own mental inharmony. The circumstances which a
man encounters with blessedness, not material possessions, is the measure of
right thought. Wretchedness, not lack of material possessions, is the measure of
wrong thought. A man may be cursed and rich; he may be blessed and poor.
blessedness and riches are only joined together when the riches are rightly and
wisely used. And the poor man only descends into wretchedness when he regards
his lot as a burden unjustly imposed.
Indigence and indulgence are the two extremes
of wretchedness. They are both equally unnatural and the result of mental
disorder. A man is not rightly conditioned until he is a happy, healthy, and
prosperous being. And happiness, health, and prosperity are the result of a
harmonious adjustment of the inner with the outer, of the man with his
A man only begins to be a man when he ceases
to whine and revile, and commences to search for the hidden justice which
regulates his life. And as he adapts his mind to that regulating factor, he
ceases to accuse others as the cause of his condition, and builds himself up in
strong and noble thoughts. He ceases to kick against circumstances, but begins
to use them as aids to his more rapid progress, and as a means of
discovering the hidden powers and possibilities within himself.
Law, not confusion, is the dominating
principle in the universe. Justice, not injustice, is the soul and substance of
life. And righteousness, not corruption, is the molding and moving force in the
spiritual government of the world. This being so, man has but to right himself
to find that the universe is right; and during the process of putting himself
right, he will find that as he alters his thoughts toward things and other
people, things and other people will alter toward him.
The proof of this truth is in every person,
and it therefore admits of easy investigation by systematic introspection and
self-analysis. Let a man radically alter his thoughts, and he will be astonished
at the rapid transformation it will effect in the material conditions of his
men imagine that thought can be kept secret,
but it cannot. It rapidly crystallizes into habit, and habit solidifies into
habits of drunkenness and sensuality, which solidify into circumstances of
destitution and disease. Impure thoughts of every kind crystallize into
enervating and confusing habits, which solidify into distracting and adverse
circumstances. Thoughts of fear, doubt, and indecision crystallize into weak,
unmanly, and irresolute habits, which solidify into circumstances of failure,
indigence, and slavish dependence.
Lazy thoughts crystallize into habits of
uncleanliness and dishonesty, which solidify into circumstances of foulness and
beggary. Hateful and condemnatory thoughts crystallize into habits of accusation
and violence, which solidify into circumstances of injury and persecution.
Selfish thoughts of all kinds crystallize into habits of self-seeking, which
solidify into circumstances more of less distressing.
On the other hand, beautiful thoughts of all
crystallize into habits of grace and kindliness, which solidify into genial and
sunny circumstances. Pure thoughts crystallize into habits of temperance and
self-control, which solidify into circumstances of repose and peace. Thoughts of
courage, self-reliance, and decision crystallize into manly habits, which
solidify into circumstances of success, plenty, and freedom.
Energetic thoughts crystallize into habits of
cleanliness and industry, which solidify into circumstances of pleasantness.
Gentle and forgiving thoughts crystallize into habits of gentleness, which
solidify into protective and preservative circumstances. Loving and unselfish
thoughts crystallize into habits of self-forgetfulness for others, which
solidify into circumstances of sure and abiding prosperity and true riches.
A particular train of thought persisted in, be
it good or bad, cannot fail to produce its results on the character and
circumstances. A man cannot directly choose his circumstances, but he can
choose his thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape his circumstances.
Nature helps every man to the gratification of
the thoughts which he most encourages, and opportunities are presented which
will most speedily bring to the surface both the good and evil thoughts.
Let a man cease from his sinful thoughts, and
all the world will soften toward him, and be ready to help him. Let him put away
his weakly and sickly thoughts, and lo! opportunities will spring up on every
hand to aid his strong resolves. Let him encourage good thoughts, and no hard
fate shall bind him down to wretchedness and shame. The world is your
kaleidoscope, and the varying combinations of colors which at every succeeding
moment it presents to you are the exquisitely adjusted pictures of your
will be what you will to be;
Let failure find its false content
In that poor word, "environment,"
But spirit scorns it, and is free.
It masters time, it conquers space;
It cows that boastful trickster, Chance,
And bids the tyrant Circumstance
Uncrown, and fill a servant's place.
The human Will, that force unseen,
The offspring of a deathless Soul,
Can hew a way to any goal,
Though walls of granite intervene.
Be not impatient in delay,
But wait as one who understands;
When spirit rises and commands,
The gods are ready to obey.
Effect of Thought on Health and the Body
The body is the servant of the mind. It obeys
the operations of the mind, whether they be deliberately chosen or automatically
expressed. At the bidding of unlawful thoughts the body sinks rapidly into
disease and decay; at the command of glad and beautiful thoughts it becomes
clothed with youthfulness and beauty.
Disease and health, like circumstances, are
rooted in thought. Sickly thoughts will express themselves through a sickly
body. Thoughts of fear have been known to kill a man as speedily as a bullet,
and they are continually killing thousands of people just as surely though less
rapidly. The people who live in fear of disease are the people who get it.
Anxiety quickly demoralizes the whole body, and lays it open to the entrance of
disease; while impure thoughts, even if not physically indulged, will soon
shatter the nervous system.
Strong, pure, and happy thoughts build up the
body in vigor and grace. The body is a delicate and plastic instrument, which
responds readily to the thoughts by which it is impressed, and habits of thought
will produce their own effects, good or bad, upon it.
Men will continue to have impure and poisoned
blood so long as they propagate unclean thoughts. Out of a clean heart comes a
clean life and a clean body. Out of a defiled mind proceeds a defiled life and
corrupt body. Thought is the fountain of action, life and manifestation; make
the fountain pure, and all will be pure.
Change of diet will not help a man who will
not change his thoughts. When a man makes his thoughts pure, he no longer
desires impure food.
If you would perfect your body, guard your
mind. If you would renew your body, beautify your mind. Thoughts of malice,
envy, disappointment, despondency, rob the body of its health and grace. A sour
face does not come by chance; it is made by sour thoughts. Wrinkles that mar are
drawn by folly, passion, pride.
I know a woman of ninety-six who has the
bright, innocent face of a girl. I know a man well under middle age whose face
is drawn into inharmonious contours. The one is the result of a sweet and sunny
disposition; the other is the outcome of passion and discontent.
As you cannot have a sweet and wholesome abode
unless you admit the air and sunshine freely into your rooms, so a strong body
and a bright, happy, or serene countenance can only result from the free
admittance into the mind of thoughts of joy and good will and serenity.
On the faces of the aged there are wrinkles
made by sympathy, others by strong and pure thought, others are carved by
passion. Who cannot distinguish them? With those who have lived righteously, age
is calm, peaceful, and softly mellowed, like the setting sun. I have recently
seen a philosopher on his deathbed. He was not old except in years. He died as
sweetly and peacefully as he had lived.
There is no physician like cheerful thought
for dissipating the ills of the body; there is no comforter to compare with good
will for dispersing the shadows of grief and sorrow. To live continually in
thoughts of ill will, cynicism, suspicion, and envy, is to be confined in a
self-made prison hole. But to think well of all, to be cheerful with all, to
patiently learn to find the good in all - such unselfish thoughts are the very
portals of heaven; and to dwell day to day in thoughts of peace toward every
creature will bring abounding peace to their possessor.
Thought and Purpose
Until thought is linked with purpose there is
no intelligent accomplishment. With the majority the bark of thought is allowed
to "drift" upon the ocean of life. Aimlessness is a vice, and such
drifting must not continue for him who would steer clear of catastrophe and
They who have no central purpose in their life
fall an easy prey to worries, fears, troubles, and self-pityings, all of which
are indications of weakness, which lead, just as surely as deliberately planned
sins (though by a different route), to failure, unhappiness, and loss, for
weakness cannot persist in a power-evolving universe.
A man should conceive of a legitimate purpose
in his heart, and set out to accomplish it. He should make this purpose the
centralizing point of his thoughts. It may take the form of a spiritual ideal,
or it may be a worldly object, according to his nature at the time being. But
whichever it is, he should steadily focus his thought forces upon the object
which he has set before him. He should make this purpose his supreme duty, and
should devote himself to its attainment, not allowing his thoughts to wander
away into ephemeral fancies, longings, and imaginings. This is the royal road to
self-control and true concentration of thought. Even if he fails again and again
to accomplish his purpose (as he necessarily must until weakness is overcome),
the strength of character gained will be the measure of his true
success, and this will form a new starting point for future power and triumph.
Those who are not prepared for the
apprehension of a great purpose, should fix the thoughts upon the
faultless performance of their duty, no matter how insignificant their task may
appear. Only in this way can the thoughts be gathered and focused, and
resolution and energy be developed, which being done, there is nothing which may
not be accomplished.
The weakest soul, knowing its own weakness,
and believing this truth - that strength can only be developed by effort and
practice, will at once begin to exert itself, and adding effort to effort,
patience to patience, and strength to strength, will never cease to develop, and
will at last grow divinely strong.
As the physically weak man can make himself
strong by careful and patient training, so the man of weak thoughts can make
them strong by exercising himself in right thinking.
To put away aimlessness and weakness, and to
begin to think with purpose, is to enter the ranks of those strong ones who only
recognize failure as one of the pathways to attainment; who make all conditions
serve them, and who think strongly, attempt fearlessly, and accomplish
Having conceived of his purpose, a man should
mentally mark out a straight pathway to its achievement, looking neither
to the right nor to the left. Doubts and fears should be rigorously excluded;
they are disintegrating elements which break up the straight line of effort,
rendering it crooked, ineffectual, useless. Thoughts of doubt and fear never
accomplish anything, and never can. They always lead to failure. Purpose,
energy, power to do, and all strong thoughts cease when doubt and fear creep in.
The will to do springs from the knowledge that
we can do. Doubt and fear are the great enemies of knowledge, and he who
encourages them, who does not slay them, thwarts himself at every step.
He who has conquered doubt and fear has
conquered failure. His every thought is allied with power, and all difficulties
are bravely met and wisely overcome. His purposes are seasonably planted, and
they bloom and bring forth fruit which does not fall prematurely to the ground.
Thought allied fearlessly to purpose becomes
creative force. He who knows this is ready to become something higher and
stronger than a mere bundle of wavering thoughts and fluctuating sensations. He
who does this has become the conscious and intelligent wielder of his
The Thought-Factor in Achievement
All that a man achieves and all that he fails
to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts. In a justly ordered
universe, where loss of equipoise would mean total destruction, individual
responsibility must be absolute. A man's weakness and strength, purity and
impurity, are his own, and not another man's. They are brought about by himself,
and not by another; and they can only be altered by himself, never by another.
His condition is also his own, and not another man's. His suffering and his
happiness are evolved from within. As he thinks, so he is; as he continues to
think, so he remains.
A strong man cannot help a weaker unless the
weaker is willing to be helped, and even then the weak man must become
strong of himself. He must, by his own efforts, develop the strength which he
admires in another. None but himself can alter his condition.
It has been usual for men to think and to say,
"Many men are slaves because one is an oppressor; let us hate the
oppressor." Now, however, there is among an increasing few a tendency to
reverse this judgment, and to say, "One man is an oppressor because many
are slaves; let us despise the slaves." The truth is that oppressor and
slave are cooperators in ignorance, and, while seeming to afflict each other,
are in reality afflicting themselves. A perfect Knowledge perceives the action
of law in the weakness of the oppressed and the misapplied power of the
oppressor. A perfect Love, seeing the suffering which both states entail,
condemns neither. A perfect Compassion embraces both oppressor and oppressed.
He who has conquered weakness, and has put
away all selfish thoughts, belongs neither to oppressor nor oppressed. He is
A man can only rise, conquer, and achieve by
lifting up his thoughts. He can only remain weak, and abject, and miserable by
refusing to lift up his thoughts.
Before a man can achieve anything, even in
worldly things, he must lift his thoughts above slavish animal indulgence. He
may not, in order to succeed, give up all animality and selfishness, by
any means; but a portion of it must, at least, be sacrificed. A man whose first
thought is bestial indulgence could neither think clearly nor plan methodically.
He could not find and develop his latent resources, and would fail in any
undertaking. Not having commenced manfully to control his thoughts, he is not in
a position to control affairs and to adopt serious responsibilities. He is not
fit to act independently and stand alone, but he is limited only by the thoughts
which he chooses.
There can be no progress, no achievement
without sacrifice. A man's worldly success will be in the measure that he
sacrifices his confused animal thoughts, and fixes his mind on the development
of his plans, and the strengthening of his resolution and self reliance. And the
higher he lifts his thoughts, the more manly, upright, and righteous he becomes,
the greater will be his success, the more blessed an enduring will be his
The universe does not favor the greedy, the
dishonest, the vicious, although on the mere surface it may sometimes appear to
do so; it helps the honest, the magnanimous, the virtuous. All the great
Teachers of the ages have declared this in varying forms, and to prove and know
it a man has but to persist in making himself more and more virtuous by lifting
up his thoughts.
Intellectual achievements are the result of
thought consecrated to the search for knowledge, or for the beautiful and true
in life and nature. Such achievements may be sometimes connected with vanity and
ambition but they are not the outcome of those characteristics. They are the
natural outgrowth of long an arduous effort, and of pure and unselfish thoughts.
Spiritual achievements are the consummation of
holy aspirations. He who lives constantly in the conception of noble and lofty
thoughts, who dwells upon all that is pure and unselfish, will, as surely as the
sun reaches its zenith and the moon its full, become wise and noble in
character, and rise into a position of influence and blessedness.
Achievement, of whatever kind, is the crown of
effort, the diadem of thought. By the aid of self-control, resolution, purity,
righteousness, and well-directed thought a man ascends. By the aid of animality,
indolence, impurity, corruption, and confusion of thought a man descends.
A man may rise to high success in the world,
and even to lofty altitudes in the spiritual realm, and again descend into
weakness and wretchedness by allowing arrogant, selfish, and corrupt thoughts to
take possession of him.
Victories attained by right thought can only
be maintained by watchfulness. Many give way when success is assured, and
rapidly fall back into failure.
All achievements, whether in the business,
intellectual, or spiritual world, are the result of definitely directed thought,
are governed by the same law and are of the same method; the only difference
lies in the object of attainment.
He who would accomplish little must sacrifice
little. He who would achieve much must sacrifice much. He who would attain
highly must sacrifice greatly.
Visions and Ideals
The dreamers are the saviors of the world. As
the visible world is sustained by the invisible, so men, through all their
trials and sins and sordid vocations, are nourished by the beautiful visions of
their solitary dreamers. Humanity cannot forget its dreamers. It cannot let
their ideals fade and die. It lives in them. It knows them in the realities
which it shall one day see and know.
Composer, sculptor, painter, poet, prophet,
sage, these are the makers of the afterworld, the architects of heaven. The
world is beautiful because they have lived; without them, laboring humanity
He who cherishes a beautiful vision, a lofty
ideal in his heart, will one day realize it. Columbus cherished a vision of
another world, and he discovered it. Copernicus fostered the vision of a
multiplicity of worlds and a wider universe, and he revealed it. Buddha beheld
the vision of a spiritual world of stainless beauty and perfect peace, and he
entered into it.
Cherish your visions. Cherish your ideals.
Cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind,
the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts, for out of them will grow all
delightful conditions, all heavenly environment; of these, if you but remain
true to them, your world will at last be built.
To desire is to obtain; to aspire is to
achieve. Shall man's basest desires receive the fullest measure of
gratification, and his purest aspirations starve for lack of sustenance? Such is
not the Law. Such a condition of things can never obtain - "Ask and
Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall
you become. Your Vision is the promise of what you shall one day be. Your Ideal
is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.
The greatest achievement was at first and for
a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg; and in
the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of
Your circumstances may be uncongenial, but
they shall not long remain so if you but perceive an Ideal and strive to reach
it. You cannot travel within and stand still without. Here is a
youth hard pressed by poverty and labor; confined long hours in an unhealthy
workshop; unschooled, and lacking all the arts of refinement. But he dreams of
better things. He thinks of intelligence, of refinement, of grace and beauty. He
conceives of, mentally builds up, an ideal condition of life. The vision of the
wider liberty and a larger scope takes possession of him; unrest urges him to
action, and he utilizes all his spare time and means, small though they are, to
the development of his latent powers and resources.
Very soon so altered has his mind become that
the workshop can no longer hold him. It has become so out of harmony with his
mentality that it falls out of his life as a garment is cast aside, and with the
growth of opportunities which fit the scope of his expanding powers, he passes
out of it forever.
Years later we see this youth as a full-grown
man. We find him a master of certain forces of the mind which he wields with
world-wide influence and almost unequaled power. In his hands he holds the cords
of gigantic responsibilities. He speaks, and lo! lives are changed. Men and
women hang upon his words and remold their characters, and, sunlike, he becomes
the fixed and luminous center around which innumerable destinies revolve. He has
realized the Vision of his youth. He has become one with his Ideal.
And you, too, youthful reader, will realize
the Vision (not the idle wish) of your heart, be it base or beautiful, or a
mixture of both, for you will always gravitate toward that which you secretly
most love. Into your hands will be placed the exact results of your own
thoughts; you will receive that which you earn, no more, no less. Whatever your
present environment may be, you will fall, remain, or rise with your thoughts,
your Vision, your Ideal. You will become as small as your controlling desire; as
great as your dominant aspiration.
In the beautiful words of Stanton Kirkham
Dave, "You may be keeping accounts, and presently you shall walk out of the
door that for so long has seemed to you the barrier of your ideals, and shall
find yourself before an audience - the pen still behind your ear, the ink stains
on your fingers - and then and there shall pour out the torrent of your
inspiration. You may be driving sheep, and you shall wander to the city -
bucolic and open mouthed; shall wander under the intrepid guidance of the spirit
into the studio of the master, and after a time he shall say, 'I have nothing
more to teach you.' And now you have become the master, who did so recently
dream of great things while driving sheep. You shall lay down the saw and the
plane to take upon yourself the regeneration of the world."
The thoughtless, the ignorant, and the
indolent, seeing only the apparent effects of things and not the things
themselves, talk of luck, of fortune, and chance. See a man grow rich, they say,
"How lucky he is!" Observing another become intellectual, they
exclaim, "How highly favored he is!" And noting the saintly character
and wide influence of another, the remark, "How chance aids him at every
They do not see the trials and failures and
struggles which these men have voluntarily encountered in order to gain their
experience. They have no knowledge of the sacrifices they have made, of the
undaunted efforts they have put forth, of the faith they have exercised, that
they might overcome the apparently insurmountable, and realize the Vision of
their heart. They do not know the darkness and the heartaches; they only see the
light and joy, and call it "luck"; do not see the long and arduous
journey, but only behold the pleasant goal, and call it "good
fortune"; do not understand the process, but only perceive the result, and
call it "chance."
In all human affairs there are efforts,
and there are results, and the strength of the effort is the measure of
the result. Chance is not. "Gifts," powers, material, intellectual,
and spiritual possessions are the fruits of effort. They are thoughts completed,
objects accomplished, visions realized.
The vision that you glorify in your mind, the
Ideal that you enthrone in your heart - this you will build your life by, this
you will become.
Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful
jewels of wisdom. It is the result of long and patient effort in self-control.
Its presence is an indication of ripened experience, and of a more than ordinary
knowledge of the laws and operations of thought.
A man becomes calm in the measure that he
understands himself as a thought-evolved being, for such knowledge necessitates
the understanding of others as the result of thought. As he develops a right
understanding, and sees more and more clearly the internal relations of things
by the action of cause and effect, he ceases to fuss and fume and worry and
grieve, and remains poised, steadfast, serene.
The calm man, having learned how to govern
himself, knows how to adapt himself to others; and they, in turn, reverence his
spiritual strength, and feel that they can learn of him and rely upon him. The
more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his
power for good. Even the ordinary trader will find his business prosperity
increase as he develops a greater self-control and equanimity, for people will
always prefer to deal with a man whose demeanor is strongly equable.
The strong calm man is always loved and
revered. He is like a shade-giving tree in a thirsty land, or a sheltering rock
in a storm. Who does not love a tranquil heart, a sweet-tempered, balanced life?
It does not matter whether it rains or shines, or what changes come to those
possessing these blessings, for they are always sweet, serene, and calm. That
exquisite poise of character which we call serenity is the last lesson culture;
it is the flowering of life, the fruitage of the soul. It is precious as wisdom,
more to be desired than gold - yea, than even fine gold. How insignificant mere
money-seeking looks in comparison with a serene life - a life that dwells in the
ocean of Truth, beneath the waves, beyond the reach of tempests, in the Eternal
"How many people we know who sour their
lives, who ruin all that is sweet and beautiful by explosive tempers, who
destroy their poise of character, and make bad blood! It is a question whether
the great majority of people do not ruin their lives and mar their happiness by
lack of self-control. How few people we meet in life who are well-balanced, who
have that exquisite poise which is characteristic of the finished
Yes, humanity surges with uncontrolled
passion, is tumultuous with ungoverned grief, is blown about by anxiety and
doubt. Only the wise man, only he whose thoughts are controlled and purified,
makes the winds and the storms of the soul obey him.
Tempest-tossed souls, wherever ye may be,
under whatsoever conditions ye may live, know this - in the ocean of life the
isles of Blessedness are smiling, and sunny shore of your ideal awaits your
coming. Keep your hand firmly upon the helm of thought. In the bark of your soul
reclines the commanding Master; He does but sleep; wake Him. Self-control is
strength; Right Thought is mastery; Calmness is power.
Say unto your heart, "Peace, be