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As You Think
By James Allen, Marc Allen
New World LibraryCopyright © 1998 Marc Allen
All rights reserved.
Thought & Character
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As a being of power, intelligence, and love ... you hold the key to every situation, and contain within yourself that transforming and regenerative agency by which you may make yourself what you will.
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The aphorism, "As we think in our hearts so are we," not only embraces the whole of our being, but it is so comprehensive as to reach out to every condition and circumstance of our lives. We are literally what we think, our character being the complete sum of all our thoughts.
As the plant springs from, and could not be without, the seed, so every one of our acts springs from the hidden seeds of our thoughts, and could not have appeared without them. This applies equally to those acts called "spontaneous" and "unpremeditated" as to those that are deliberately executed.
Act is the blossom of thought, and joy and suffering are its fruits; thus do we gather in the sweet and bitter fruits of our own planting.
What we are was designed and built by our own thoughts in our minds. If we nurture ignorant or evil thoughts, pain will soon follow. If our thoughts are healthy and beneficial, joy will follow us as surely as our shadows follow us on a sunny day.
A man or a woman is a growth by law, not a creation by artifice, and such 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.
We are made or unmade by ourselves; in the armory of thought we forge the weapons we use to destroy ourselves, and we also fashion the tools we use to build for ourselves heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace. By the right choices and true applications of our thoughts, we ascend to divine perfection; by the abuses and wrong applications of our thoughts, we descend below the level of the beast. Between these two extremes are all grades of character, and we are their makers and masters.
Of all the beautiful truths pertaining to the soul that have been restored and brought to light in this age, none is more gladdening or fruitful of divine promise and confidence than this — that you are the master of your thought, the molder of your character, and the maker and shaper of your condition, environment, and destiny.
As a being of power, intelligence, and love, and the lord of your own thoughts, you hold the key to every situation, and contain within yourself that transforming and regenerative agency by which you may make yourself what you will.
You are always the master, even in your weakest and most abandoned state; but in your weakness and degradation you are the foolish master who misgoverns your household. When you begin to reflect upon your condition, and to search diligently for the law upon which your being is established, you then become the wise master, directing your energies with intelligence, and fashioning your thoughts to fruitful issues. Such is the conscious master, and you can only become a conscious master by discovering within yourself 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 you can find every truth connected with your being, if you will dig deep into the mine of your soul. The fact that you are the maker of your character, the molder of your life, and the builder of your destiny, you may unerringly prove, if you will watch, control, and alter your thoughts, tracing their effects upon yourself, upon others, and upon your life and circumstances, linking cause and effect by patient practice and investigation, and utilizing your every experience — even the most trivial, everyday occurrence — as a means of obtaining that knowledge of yourself that leads to understanding, wisdom, and power.
In this direction, as in no other, is the law absolute that "Those that seek shall find; to those that knock the door shall be opened," for only by patience, practice, and ceaseless importunity can you enter the door of the temple of knowledge.CHAPTER 2
The Effect of Thought on Circumstances
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The human will, that force unseen,
The offspring of a deathless soul,
Can hew a way to any goal,
Though walls of granite intervene.
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Your mind may be likened to a garden that 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 gardeners cultivate their plots, keeping them free from weeds, and growing the flowers and fruits they desire, so may you tend the garden of your 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, you will sooner or later discover that you are the master gardener of your soul, the director of your life. You also reveal, within yourself, the laws of thought, and understand, with everincreasing accuracy, how the forces of thought and elements of the mind operate in the shaping of your 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 your life will always be found to be harmoniously related to your inner state. This does not mean that your circumstances at any given time are an indication of your entire character, but that those circumstances are so intimately connected with some vital element of your thought that, for the time being, they are indispensable to your development.
You are where you are by the law of your being; the thoughts that you have built into your character have brought you there, and in the arrangement of your life there is no element of chance, but all is the result of a law that 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, you are where you are in order to learn and to grow, and as you learn the spiritual lesson that any circumstance contains for you, it passes away and gives place to other circumstances.
You are buffeted by circumstances so long as you believe yourself to be a creature affected by outside conditions — but when you realize that you are a creative power, and that you may command the hidden soil and seeds of your being out of which your circumstances grow, then you become the rightful master of yourself.
All people who have practiced self-examination and self-control know that circumstances grow out of thought, for they have noticed that the alterations in their circumstances have been in direct proportion to their altered mental conditions. So true is this that when you earnestly apply yourself to remedy the defects in your character, you make swift and marked progress and pass rapidly through a series of changes.
The soul attracts that which it secretly harbors — what it loves, and also what it fears. It reaches the height of its cherished aspirations, and it falls to the depth of its recurring, unexamined fears. 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 fruits of opportunity and circumstance. Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bear bad fruit.
The outer world of circumstance shapes itself to the inner world of thought, and both pleasant and unpleasant external conditions are factors that make for the ultimate good of the individual. As the reaper of your own harvest, you learn both by suffering and bliss.
Following the innermost desires, aspirations, thoughts, by which you allow yourself to be dominated, you at last arrive at their fruition and fulfillment in the outer conditions of your life. The laws of growth and adjustment apply everywhere.
A person does not end up in the gutter or a prison by the tyranny of fate or circumstance, but by the path of low thoughts and base desires. Nor does a pure-minded person fall suddenly into crime by the stress of any merely 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 person, it reveals the person to himself or herself.
No such conditions can exist that lead us to descend into vice and its attendant sufferings apart from our own vicious inclinations, just as no such conditions can exist that lead us to ascend into virtue and success and its pure happiness without the continued cultivation of virtuous and successful aspirations. We, therefore, as the lords and masters of our thoughts, are the makers of ourselves, the shapers and authors of our environment.
At birth the soul comes to its own, and through every step of its earthly pilgrimage it attracts those combinations of conditions that reveal itself, that are the reflections of its own purity and impurity, its strength and weakness.
We do not attract what we want, but what we are. Our whims, fancies, and ambitions are thwarted at every step, but our innermost thoughts and desires are fed with their own food, be it good or bad. The "divinity that shapes our ends" is in ourselves; it is our very self. And so we are held prisoners only by ourselves: Our own thoughts and actions are the jailers of our fate — they imprison, if they are base; they are also the angels of freedom — they liberate, if they are noble.
We don't get what we wish and pray for, we get what we justly earn. Our wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with our thoughts and actions.
In the light of this truth, what then is the meaning of "fighting against circumstances" in our lives? It means that we are continually revolting against an effect without, while all the time we are nourishing and preserving its cause in our hearts. 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 calls aloud for a remedy.
Most of us are anxious to improve our circumstances, but are unwilling to improve ourselves — and we therefore remain bound. If we do not shrink from honest self-examination we can never fail to accomplish the object our hearts are set upon. This is as true of earthly things as it is of heavenly things. Even if our sole object is to acquire wealth, we must be prepared to make great personal sacrifices before we can accomplish our object — and how much more so for those of us who would realize a strong and well-poised life?
Let's look at some examples:
Here are some people who are wretchedly poor. They are extremely anxious that their surroundings and home comforts should be improved, yet all the time they shirk their work, and consider they are justified in trying to deceive their employers because of the insufficiency of their wages. These people do not understand the simple basic principles that are the basis of true prosperity, and are not only totally unfit to rise out of their poor condition, but are actually attracting to themselves still worse conditions by dwelling in — and acting out — weak, lazy, and deceptive thoughts.
Here are some rich people who are the victims of a painful and persistent disease as the result of gluttony. They are willing to pay large sums of money to get rid of their illness, but they will not sacrifice their habits of overeating. They want to gratify their taste for rich foods in immoderate amounts and have their health as well. Such people are completely unfit for good health, because they have not yet learned the first principles of a healthy life.
Here are some employers who adopt crooked measures to avoid paying fair wages, and, in the hope of making larger profits, reduce the wages of their work people. These employers are altogether unfit for prosperity, and when they find themselves bankrupt, in both reputation and riches, they blame circumstances, not knowing that they are the sole authors of their condition.
I have introduced these three cases merely to illustrate the truth that people are the causers — though nearly always unconsciously — of their circumstances, and that, while aiming at good ends, they are continually frustrating the accomplishment of those good ends by encouraging thoughts and desires that cannot possibly harmonize with those ends. Such cases could be multiplied and varied almost indefinitely, but this is not necessary, as we can, if we so resolve, trace the action of the laws of thought in our own mind and life — and until this is done, mere external facts cannot serve as a ground of reasoning.
Circumstances, however, are so complicated, thought is so deeply rooted, and the conditions of happiness vary so vastly with individuals that our entire soul-condition (although it may be known to ourselves) cannot be judged by anyone else from the external aspects of our life alone. A person may be honest in certain directions, yet suffer privations, while another person may be dishonest in certain directions, yet acquire wealth — but the conclusion usually formed that the one person fails because of his or her particular honesty, and that the other prospers because of his or her particular dishonesty, is the result of a superficial judgment, which assumes the dishonest person is almost totally corrupt, and the honest person is almost entirely virtuous.
In the light of a deeper knowledge and wider experience such judgment is found to be erroneous. The dishonest person may have some admirable virtues the other does not possess, and the honest person may have certain vices — even though subtle ones — that are absent in the other. The honest person reaps the good results of honest thoughts and acts, but also experiences the suffering that his or her vices produce. The dishonest person likewise garners his or her own suffering and happiness.
It is pleasing to human vanity to believe that one suffers because of one's virtue — but not until we have exterminated every sickly, bitter, and impure thought from our mind, and washed every unhealthy stain from our soul, can we be in a position to know and declare that our sufferings are the result of our good, and not our bad qualities — and on the way to that supreme perfection, yet long before we have reached it, we will have found, working in our minds and our lives, a great law that is absolutely just, and that cannot, therefore, give good for evil, or evil for good. When we possess such knowledge, we will then know, as we look back upon our past ignorance and blindness, that our lives are, and always have been, justly ordered, and all our past experiences, good and bad, were the equitable outworkings of our 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. We understand this law in the natural world, and work with it; but few understand it in the mental and moral world — although 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 we are out of harmony with ourselves, with the law of our being. The sole and supreme use of suffering is to purify, to burn out all that is useless and impure. Suffering ceases for those who are pure. There can be no object in burning gold after the dross has been removed, and a perfectly pure and enlightened being cannot suffer.
The circumstances that we encounter with suffering are the result of our own mental inharmony. The circumstances we encounter with grace and pleasure are the result of our own mental harmony. Grace and pleasure, even blessedness — and not material possessions — are the measures of right thought; suffering and misery, not lack of material possessions, are the measures of wrong thought. Some people are miserable and rich; some are blessed and poor. Blessedness and riches are only joined together when the riches are rightly and wisely used; and the poor only descend into misery when they regard their lot as a burden unjustly imposed upon them.
Excerpted from As You Think by James Allen, Marc Allen. Copyright © 1998 Marc Allen. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
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