“Mind is the Master power that molds and
And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills;
He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass;
Environment is but his looking-glass.”
1. Thought and Character
2. Effect of Thought on Circumstances
3. Effect of Thought on Health and the Body
4. Thought and Purpose
5. The Thought-Factor in Achievement
6. Visions and Ideals
As A Man Thinketh, 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—
“They 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
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 are
By thought was 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 the 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 weaker 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
Only by much searching and mining, are gold and 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, linking cause and
effect by patient practice and investigation, and utilizing his every
experience, even to the most trivial, everyday occurrence, as a means of
obtaining that knowledge of himself which is Understanding, Wisdom,
Power. 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 with them.
As a 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
Man is buffeted by circumstances so long as he believes himself to be
the creature of outside conditions, but when he realizes that he is a creative
power, and that he may command the hidden soil and seeds of his being out
of which circumstances grow, he then becomes the rightful master of
That circumstances grow out of thought every man knows who has for
any length of time practiced self-control and selfpurification, 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. Following the inmost
desires, aspirations, thoughts, by which he allows himself to be dominated,
(pursuing the will-o’-the-wisps of impure imaginings or steadfastly walking
the highway of strong and high endeavor), a man at last arrives at their
fruition and fulfillment in the outer conditions of his life. The laws of growth
and adjustment everywhere obtain.
A man does not come to the almshouse or the jail by the tyranny of
fate or 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 gathered power.
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. Only
himself manacles man: thought and action are the jailors 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 remedy.
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, and 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 viands 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 causer (though nearly always is unconsciously) of his
circumstances, and that, whilst aiming at a 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, as 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 alone. 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 the 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 happiness.
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, yet long before
he has reached, that supreme perfection, he will have found, working in his
mind and life, the Great Law which is absolutely just, and which cannot,
therefore, 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 co-operate with
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 no object in burning gold after the dross had been removed,
and a perfectly pure and enlightened being could not suffer.
The circumstances, which a man encounters with suffering, are the
result of his own mental in harmony. The circumstances, which a man
encounters with blessedness, are the result of his own mental harmony.
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 surroundings.
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; 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 towards things and other people, things and
other people will alter towards 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 life. Men
imagine that thought can be kept secret, but it cannot; it rapidly crystallizes
into habit, and habit solidifies into circumstance. Bestial thoughts crystallize
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 selfseeking,
which solidify into circumstances more or less distressing. On the
other hand, beautiful thoughts of all kinds 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,
selfreliance, 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 selfforgetfulness
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
towards 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 evermoving
“You 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 cowes 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 a corrupt body.
Thought is the fount 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.
Clean thoughts make clean habits. The so-called saint who does not
wash his body is not a saint. He who has strengthened and purified his
thoughts does not need to consider the malevolent microbe.
If you would protect 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, and 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 goodwill and serenity.
On the faces of the aged there are wrinkles made by sympathy, others
by strong and pure thought, and 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 goodwill 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 by 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 destruction.
They who have no central purpose in their life fall an easy prey to
petty 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
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, thus
believing, 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 masterfully.
Having conceived of his purpose, a man should mentally mark out a
straight pathway to its achievement, looking neither to the right nor 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 accomplished
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 mental powers.
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 that 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 amongst 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 co-operators in ignorance,
and, while seeming to afflict each other, are in reality afflicting themselves.
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 free.
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
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 to manfully 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
There can be no progress, no achievement without sacrifice, and 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 selfreliance. And the higher he lifts his
thoughts, the more manly, upright, and righteous he becomes, the greater
will be his success, the more blessed and enduring will be his achievements.
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
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 and 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
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
He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would
achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must
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 as they realities which it shall one day see and
Composer, sculptor, painter, poet, prophet, sage, these are the makers
of the after-world, the architects of heaven. The world is beautiful because
they have lived; without them, laboring humanity would perish.
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 receive.”
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 realities.
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 a 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
fullgrown man. We find him a master of certain forces of the mind,
which he wields with worldwide influence and almost unequalled 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 centre round
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 Davis, “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
openmouthed; 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. Seeing 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, they
remark, “How chance aids him at every turn!” They do not see the trials and
failures and struggles which these men have voluntarily encountered in order
to gain their experience; 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”. They do not
see the long and arduous journey, but only behold the pleasant goal, and call
fortune,” do not understand the process, but only perceive the result, and call
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, and 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 selfcontrol 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 shadegiving
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 of culture, 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 Calm!
“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 character!
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 the 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 still!”
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