As A Man Thinketh
Chapter 1..........Thought and Character
Chapter 2..........Effects of Thought on Circumstances
Chapter 3..........Effects of Thought on Health and Body
Chapter 4..........Thought and Purpose
Chapter 5..........The Thought-Factor in Achievement
Chapter 6..........Visions and Ideals
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. --- James Allen
Chapter 1 - 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 he complete sum of all his thoughts.
As the plant springs from, and could not be without, the seed, so every
act of 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 fruit; thus
does a man garner in the sweet and bitter fruitage of his own husbandry.
Man is a growth by law, and not a creation by artifice, and cause and
effect are as absolute and undeviating in the hidden realm of thought as in the
world of visible and material things. A noble and God-like 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 God-like 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
As a being of power, intelligence, and love, and the lord of his own
thoughts, man holds 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 foolish master who misgoverns his
"household." When he begins to reflect upon his condition and 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. This discovery is
totally a matter of application, self-analysis and experience.
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. 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 the most trivial,
everyday occurrence, as a means of obtaining that knowledge of himself which is
understanding, wisdom, power. In this direction is the law of 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.
Chapter 2 -
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 flaws of thought, and understands, with ever-increasing
accuracy, how the thought-forces and mind elements operate in the shaping of
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 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 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 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 it 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 circumstances 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 of 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 alms-house or the jail by the tyranny of fate
or circumstance, but by the pathway of grovelling 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 and the shaper of and author of environment. Even at
birth the soul comes of 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. Man is
manacled only by himself; 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 wished 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
it 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?
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 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 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 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 inharmony. 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 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 beings 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. 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
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 weak, 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 distressful circumstances.
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, 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 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
gratification of the thoughts which he most encourages, and opportunities are
presented which will most speedily bring to the surface both the good and the
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 the 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 ever-moving thoughts.
Chapter 3 - Effects Of Thoughts On Health And 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
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 sooner shatter the nervous
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.
If you would perfect your body, guard your mind. If you would renew your
body, beautify your mind. Thoughts of malice, envy, and 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,
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 in harmonious
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 death-bed. 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 thoughs 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.
Chapter 4 - 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 street clear of catastrophe and
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
diff route), to failure, unhappyness, and loss, for weakness cannot persist in a
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. Whichever it is, he should
steadily focus his thought-forces upon the object he had 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 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 focussed, and resolution and energy be developed. Once this is
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
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 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 can never accomplish anything. 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 overcome.
His purposes are seasonably planted, and they bloom and bring forth fruit that
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 bundle of wavering
thoughts and fluctuating sensations. He who does this has become the conscious
and intelligent wielder of his mental powers.
Chapter 5 - The Thought-Factor
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 sufferings and his happiness are evolved from
within. As he thinks, so is he; 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!" But there is
amongst an increasing few a tendency to reverse this judgement and to say,
"One man is an oppressor because many are slaves; let us despise the
The truth is that oppressor and slaves 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 pushed 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, abject, and miserably 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, necessarily, 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 begun 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 that he chooses.
There can be no progress nor achievement without sacrifice, and a man's
worldly success will be by 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. The higher his he lifts his
thoughts, the greater will be his success, the more blessed and enduring will be
The universe does not favor the greedy, the dishonest, the vicious...
although on the mere surface it sometimes may appear to do so. It helps the
honest, the magnanimous, the virtuous. All the great teachers of the ages have
declared this in varying ways, and to prove it and to know it a man has but to
persist in making himself increasingly virtuous by lifting his thoughts.
Intellectual achievements are the result of thought consecrated to the
search for knowledge or for the beautiful and true in nature. Such achievements
may sometimes be 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 selfless, 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 any 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 may may rise to high success in the world, even to lofty attitudes 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 be maintained only by
watchfulness. Many give way when success is assured, and rapidly fall back into
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 is in the object of
He who would accomplish little need sacrifice little; he would would
achieve much must sacrifice much. He who would attain highly must sacrifice
Chapter 6 - 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 the 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 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 a
soul a waking angle stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.
Your circumstances may be uncongenial, but they shall not remain so if
you only perceive an ideal and strive to reach it. You can't 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, or
refinement, of grace and beauty. He conceives of, mentally builds up, an ideal
condition of life. The wider liberty and a larger scope takes possession of him;
unrest urges him to action, and he uses all his spare times and means 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 mind-set that it falls out of his life as a garment is cast
aside. And with the growth of opportunities that fit the scope of his expanding
powers, he passes out of it altogether. Years later we see this youth as a grown
man. We find him a master of certain forces of the mind that he wields with
world-wide influence and almost unequaled power. In his hands he holds the cords
of gigantic responsibilities; he speaks and lives are changed; men and women
hang upon his words and remold their characters. Sun-like, he becomes the fixed
and uminous center around which innumerable destinies revolve. He has become the
vision of his youth. He has become one with his ideal.
And you too, youthful reader, will realize the vision (not just 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
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 skilled intellectually, they exclaim, "How highly favored he
is!" And noting the saintly character and wide influence of another, they
remark, "How chance helps him at every turn!" They do not see the
trials and failures and struggles which these men have 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
so 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, 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
In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results. The
strength of the effort is the measure of the result. Change is not. Gifts,
powers, material, intellectual, and spiritual possessions are the fruits of
effort. They are thoughts completed, objectives 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.
Chapter 7 - Serenity
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 ever more clearly the internal relations of things by the action of cause
and effect, he ceases to fuss, fume, worry, and grieve. He remains poised,
The calm man, having learned how to govern himself, knows how to adapt
himself to others. And they, in turn reverence his spiritual strength. They feel
that they can learn from 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 equitable.
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 who possess these
blessings. For they are always serene and calm. That exquisite poise of
character that we call serenity is the last lesson of culture. It is the
flowering of life, the fruitage of the soul. It is precious as wisdom--more
desirable than 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 the 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 you may be, under whatever conditions you
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 hands firmly
upon the helm of thought. In the core 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."