In connection with the imaging faculty, we should consider environment and its effects on the life of man. The world is just what we make it: heaven would come to us here and now if we would become truly related to our environment. To illustrate my meaning, let me relate an incident that occurred some years ago.
I was one of a number of persons that were seated in a large, pleasant room. Pictures of merit were on the walls, and beautiful bric-a-brac was displayed in an artistic manner about the place, the whole giving an air of comfort, if not luxury. Outdoors the autumn winds played havoc with the leaves, and at intervals the rain fell in torrents. A lady was seated at one of the windows looking out on the scene—a frown darkening an otherwise pretty face. While she sat there, another lady entered the room. The visitor had been out in the storm and the rain was dripping from her garments, but her face was bright and happy. The lady who had been sitting near the window arose and greeted her, remarking: “What a horrible day it is to be out in—nothing but rain, wind, and black clouds!” The other replied: “Why, my dear, the sun has been shining all day—at least I have thought it was!” After a. few minutes’ conversation she went out once more in the storm, tranquil and happy, while the other lady turned to one of the company, remarking: “I think Mrs. Blank has gone crazy since she has taken up mental science. The absurdity of her saying that the sun had been shining all day, and such a miserable day as this has been, too!”
One of these ladies had been in a bright, cheerful room, without any so-called physical discomfort; the other had been out in rain and wind. Which of the two was crazy? I leave that for the reader to decide; but there can be no question as to which was getting the more happiness out of life.
After all, the heaven within shapes the heaven without; beauty of thought relates itself to things beautiful in the outer world, and refuses to see the discordant side of life. Inner harmony recognizes the outer harmony. “To the pure, all things are pure.” People are continually finding fault with their environment, and feeling that in some way they are not getting their just dues, when they are actually reaping the fruit of the seed they themselves have sown.
As we are going to try to view all sides of our subject, let us begin with the physical. We live in a country where there are extremes of heat and cold; where one season follows another in quick succession; where summer’s luxurious foliage disappears before the blasts of coming winter, and the grassy meadow is soon hidden by the snow. Each season, however, seems necessary in the grand economy of Nature; each has its own peculiar beauty and pleasure. It is characteristic of human nature that one person will love the springtime best of all the seasons, while another rejoices in summer; another finds the autumn most suited to his pleasures and needs, while still others think they get most out of winter. If one person could combine within himself these varying valuations of the different seasons, or could learn to adapt himself to the different changes of climate, etc., greater happiness of mind and uniformity of satisfaction throughout the year would result.
When we recognize the many likes and dislikes regarding these things, we are led to ask: Are different conditions and feelings the results of the seasons, or are they due to the way in which people relate themselves to the seasons? Persons that believe only in the material side of life will say that “constitution” is at the bottom of the matter, and that a “delicate” constitution will thrive better in one season than in another. Just here we might ask, what makes a constitution delicate or otherwise? We will not stop to discuss this question now; but will say that we must look to man’s mental conditions, rather than the physical, to find the reasons for a weak and delicate or a strong and robust constitution.
One thing to be observed in the study of environment is that anything man fears possesses (for him) a certain amount of evil. He looks on things as good or evil as they seem to affect his own life for one or the other condition. If he believes that through dampness, drought, or sudden change of temperature, he has “taken cold” or has some other physical ailment, then these things fill his mind with fear and are regarded by him as evil. It is the mental conception that makes a thing good or bad, and the evil thing has always a bad effect on the body, while the good thing has always the opposite effect. It is easy to see, then, in the light of this, the reason for the expression, “What is one man’s food is another man’s poison.”
At certain times we go out in the cold air and feel very chilly; again, when it is much colder the weather seems to have no effect upon us. In summer there are times when we feel the heat much more than at others. The fact is that when the mind is in a state of poise we offer greater resistance to heat and cold. A mind that is at peace with itself will offer far greater resistance to sickness and disease of all kinds than one that is filled with discord.
The mental attitude we should assume, then, in order to get in tune with our physical surroundings, would seem to be as follows: First, all the seasons are necessary, and whatever is necessary must be good. Again, allow the ' mind to dwell on the beauty and grandeur of Nature in all her moods-in sunshine and cloud, in calm and storm; feel that you are at one with all, that the Power that brought you into existence is making itself manifest in all. In other words, become one with the whole force of life, and realize that all things are working together for good. Rejoice in the sunshine and in the storm: the same energy acts in both. God as truly covers the earth with snow as with grass. “Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge.” All we see about us in the material world are God’s words molded into visible forms, .and if we would only become truly related to these forms they would all serve to strengthen us.
The wrong thoughts we image in mind (which relate us to environment in the false way) are the things that tend to weaken our bodies and to fill our minds with fear and unrest. We should try to see the bright and the true side of things in the outer world, and should cease grumbling about the weather—it only makes it seem worse when we take that course. Let us make life happier and better worth the living by pointing out the good that comes from what heretofore we have looked upon as evil; we thus shall make a new environment for ourselves in this wondrously beautiful world we live in.
Secondly, the way we become related to people is a question to which we may have given little if any thought; 'but on the true relationship of life depends all that is here worth having. The world about us takes on brightness or gloom precisely as we are related in the true or false way to life. The thoughts we think and the habits formed through thought processes are the causes that operate for freedom or bondage. Through unreal mental pictures—the false imaginings of life—we are building about us walls that shut out all natural light and freedom; and. having shut ourselves in, we complain of our environment, when, with the assistance of the people with whom we have become falsely related, we have made it just what it is, or rather what it seems to be.
How, then, we ask, is environment made? We make the false variety through allowing the mind to picture unreal states of existence. We become related to the weak and diseased side of life by thinking thoughts of weakness and disease for ourselves and others. Our thought reaches out and unites with such thought the world over, so that all the weak and diseased people on the globe become our nearest relations; our thought acts on them and theirs reacts on us, and so it all goes to swell the discordant thought of the world. Again, thoughts of poverty and want enter the mind and invariably seek their own level, and the seed planted brings its inevitable harvest of poverty and want. Or we send out the vultures of slander, malice, hate, jealousy, and revenge, hoping thereby to injure others and rejoice ourselves; but the eternal law of God stands in the way, and we are made to realize that “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap,” and the shame and misery we had hoped to heap on others have returned to curse our own lives. Karma acts. Well said the Master: “Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles?”
Again, we allow our minds to become filled with anxious thoughts; we worry over the little things of life and become still more apprehensive over the great things. And yet we know, if we would only take time to think, that these mental states do not better our condition in any way. Indeed, they bring to us the very things we fear; for it is a fact that the things we dread are attracted to us just as surely as those we love. Thus we continue to build up an environment and become more and more discontented with the result of our labors. “The hand that smites thee is thine own.”
Life is what we make it; if we have filled it with gloom and discord in the past, so that all the happiness and health (wholeness) has departed from it, we have the power within ourselves, if we will to use it, to correct the errors of the past by forming new relationships, which shall work for righteousness and truth, creating for us in turn a new environment. Thoughts are living entities, which inevitably clothe themselves with form. Control and direction of thought are the prime requisites. Whatever you wish to be or to do, picture that ideal clearly in mind, and then will to have it take form.
“I WILL be what I WILL to be.” We can safely take this ground when our wills are in harmony with the universal Will. When we are willing the things that are good and true; when we are thinking thoughts of health and strength, of kindness and goodness—thoughts that are beautiful and harmonious—they are going forth from us to unite us with the health-giving, hopeful, courageous thought of the world. We are not only beautifying and strengthening our own lives, but are giving health and happiness to others; and the more we give the more we shall have to give.
The world about us is a great vineyard, and the thoughts we think are the seeds we plant. Every seed will bear fruit after its kind. If we sow the seed of the thorn and the thistle, we reap thorns and thistles; if we sow the seed of kind thoughts, words, and deeds, we shall reap according as we have sown, “for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
More Articles by This Author Charles Brodie Patterson
- Canadian New Thought author
- Born in Nova Scotia in 1854 and died on June, 22nd 1917