A man has no character, no soul, no life, apart from his thoughts and deeds.
Each man is responsible for the thoughts which he thinks and the acts which he does, for his state of mind, and the life which he lives. No power, no event, no circumstance, can compel a man to evil and unhappiness. He himself is his own compeller. He thinks and acts by his own volition. No being, however wise and great—not even the Supreme—can make him good and happy.
He himself must choose the good, and thereby find the happy. This life of triumph is not for those who are satisfied with any lower conditions; it is for those who thirst for it and are willing to achieve it; who are as eager for righteousness as the miser is for gold. It is always at hand, and is offered to all, and blessed are they who accept and embrace it; they will enter the world of Truth; they will find the Perfect Peace.
There is a larger, higher, nobler, diviner life than that of sinning and suffering.
Man is; and as he thinks, so he is.
Man's life is actual; his thoughts are actual; his deeds are actual. To occupy ourselves with the investigation of things that are, is the way of wisdom. Man, considered as above, beyond, and separate from, mind and thought, is speculative and not actual, and to occupy ourselves with the study of things that are not, is the way of folly.
Man cannot be separated from his mind; his life cannot be separated from his thoughts. Mind, thought, and life are as inseparable as light, radiance, and color. The facts are all-sufficient, and contain within themselves the ground work of all knowledge concerning them.
To live is to think and act, and to think and act is to change.
Man as mind is subject to change. He is not something "made" and finally completed, but has within him the capacity for progress.
The purification of the heart, the thinking of right thoughts, and the doing of good deeds—what are they but calls to a higher, nobler mode of thought energizing forces urging men to effort in the choosing of thoughts which shall lift them into realms of greater power, greater good, greater bliss?
Aspiration, meditation, devotion—these are the chief means which men in all ages employ to reach up to higher modes of thought, wider airs of peace, vaster realms of knowledge, for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he; he is saved from himself—from his own folly and suffering by creating within, new habits of thought; by becoming a new thinker, a new man.
Man’s being is modified by every thought he thinks. Every experience affects his character.
Only the choosing of wise thoughts, and, necessarily the doing of wise deeds, leads to wisdom.
The multitudes, unenlightened concerning their spiritual nature, are the slaves of thought, but the sage is the master of thought. They follow blindly; he chooses intelligently. They obey the impulse of the moment, thinking of their immediate pleasure and happiness; he commands and subdues impulse, resting upon that which is permanently right. They, obeying blind impulse, violate the law of righteousness; he, conquering impulse, obeys the law of righteousness. The sage stands face to face with the facts of life. He knows the nature of thought. He understands and obeys the law of his being.
Thought determines character, conditions, knowledge.
Law cannot be partial. It is an unvarying mode of action, disobeying which, we are hurt; obeying, we are made happy.
It is not less kind that we should suffer the penalty of our wrong-doing than that we should enjoy the blessedness of our right-doing. If we could escape the effects of our ignorance and sin, all security would be gone, and there would be no refuge, for we could then be equally deprived of the result of our wisdom and goodness. Such a scheme would be one of caprice and cruelty, whereas law is a method of justice and kindness.
Indeed, the supreme law is the principle of eternal kindness, faultless in working, and infinite in application. It is none other than that "Eternal Love, for ever full, forever flowing free of which the Christian sings; and the Boundless Compassion of Buddhistic precept and poetry.”
Every pain we suffer brings us nearer to the knowledge of the Divine Wisdom.
From the chapter, "Light on the Law of Cause and Effect in Human Life", in the book, Light on Life's Difficulties.
Seers of the Cosmos do not mourn over the scheme of things.
Buddha always referred to the moral law of the universe as the Good Law, and indeed it is not rightly perceived if it is thought of as anything but good, for in it there can be no grain of evil, no element of unkindness. It is no iron-hearted monster crushing the weak and destroying the ignorant, but a soothing love and brooding compassion shielding the tenderest from harm, and protecting the strongest from a too destructive use of their strength. It destroys an evil, it preserves a good. It enfolds the tiniest seedling in its care, and it destroys the most colossal wrong with a breath. To perceive it, is the beatific vision; to know it, is the beatific bliss; and they who perceive and know it are at peace; they are glad for ever more.
The wise man bends his will and subjects his desire to the Divine Order.
From the chapter, "Light on the Law of Cause and Effect in Human Life", in the book, Light on Life's Difficulties.
Rise above the allurements of sin, and enter the Divine Consciousness, the Transcendent Life.
There comes a time in the process of transmutation when, with the decrease of evil and the accumulation of good, there dawns in the mind a new vision, a new consciousness, a new man. And when this is reached, the saint has become a sage; he has passed from the human life to the divine life. He is "born again" and there begins for him a new round of experiences; he wields a new power; a new universe opens out before his spiritual gaze. This is the stage of Transcendence; this I call the Transcendent Life. When Transcendence is attained, then the limited personality is outgrown, and the divine life is known; evil is transcended, and Good is all-in-all.
As passion is the keynote of the self-life, so serenity is the keynote of the transcendent life.
When Perfect Good is realized and known, then calm vision is acquired.
The transcendent life is ruled, not by passions, but by principles. It is founded, not upon fleeting impulses, but upon abiding laws. In its clear atmosphere, the orderly sequence of all things is revealed, so that there is seen to be no more room for sorrow, anxiety, or regret. While men are involved in the passions of self, they load themselves with cares, and trouble over many things; and more than all else do they trouble over their own little, burdened, pain-stricken personality, being anxious for its fleeting pleasures, for its protection and preservation, and for its eternal safety and continuance. Now in the life that is wise and good all this is transcended. Personal interests are replaced by universal purposes, and all cares, troubles, and anxieties concerning the pleasure and fate of the personality are dispelled like the feverish dreams of a night.
Universal Good is seen.
Evil is an experience, and not a power.
If it (evil) were an independent power in the universe, it could not be transcended by any being. But though not real as a power, it is real as a condition, an experience, for all experience is of the nature of reality. It is a state of ignorance, of undevelopment, and as such it recedes and disappears before the light of knowledge, as the intellectual ignorance of the child vanishes before the gradually accumulating learning, or as darkness dissolves before the rising light.
The painful experiences of evil pass away as the new experiences of good enter into and possess the field of consciousness.
The transcendent man is he who is above and beyond the dominion of self; he has transcended evil.
Whatsoever happens to the good man cannot cause him perplexity or sorrow, for he knows its cause and issue.
In looking back on the self-life which he has transcended, the divinely enlightened man sees that all the afflictions of that life were his schoolmasters teaching him, and leading him upward, and that in the measure that he penetrated their meaning, and lifted himself above them, they departed from him. Their mission to teach him having ended, they left him triumphant master of the field; for the lower cannot teach the higher; ignorance cannot instruct wisdom; evil cannot enlighten good; nor can the pupil set lessons for the master. That which is transcended cannot reach up to that which transcends. Evil can only teach in its own sphere, where it is regarded as a master; in the sphere of good it has no place, no authority.
The strong traveler on the highroad of truth knows no such thing as resignation to evil; he knows only obedience to good.
He is brave who conquers another: but he who conquers himself is supremely noble.
By the way of self-conquest is the Perfect Peace achieved. Man cannot understand it, cannot approach it, until he sees the supreme necessity of turning away from the fierce fighting of things without, and entering upon the noble warfare against evils within. He is already on the Saintly Way who has realized that the enemy of the world is within, and not without; that his own ungoverned thoughts are the source of confusion and strife; that his own unchastened desires are the violators of his peace, and of the peace of the world.
If a man has conquered lust and anger, hatred and pride, selfishness and greed, he has conquered the world.
He who is victorious over another may in turn be defeated; but he who overcomes himself will never be subdued.
Force and strife work upon the passions and fears, but love and peace reach and reform the heart.
He who is overcome by force is not thereby overcome in his heart: he may be a greater enemy than before; but he who is overcome by the spirit of peace is thereby changed at heart. He that was an enemy has become a friend.
The pure-hearted and wise have peace in their hearts; it enters into their actions; they apply it in their lives. It is more powerful than strife; it conquers where force would fail. Its wings shield the righteous. Under its protection, the harmless are not harmed. It affords a secure shelter from the heat of selfish struggle. It is a refuge for the defeated, a tent for the lost, and a temple for the pure.
When, divine good is practiced, life is bliss. Bliss is the normal condition of the good man.
He who has realized the Love that is divine has become a new man.
And this Love, this Wisdom, this Peace, this tranquil state of mind and heart, may be attained to, may be realized, by all who are willing and ready to and who are prepared to humbly enter into a comprehension of all that the giving up of self involves. There is no arbitrary power in the universe, and the strongest chains of fate by which men are bound are self-forged. Men are chained to that which causes suffering because they desire to be so, because they love their chains, because they think their little dark prison of self is sweet and beautiful, and they are afraid that if they desert that prison they will lose all that is real and worth having.
"Ye suffer from yourselves, none else compels, None other holds ye that ye live and die."
To the divinely wise, knowledge and Love are one and inseparable.
The world does not understand the Love that is selfless because it is engrossed in the pursuit of its own pleasures.
As the shadow follows the form, and as smoke comes after fire, so effect follows cause, and suffering and bliss follow the thoughts and deeds of men. There is no effect in the world around us but has its hidden or revealed cause, and that cause is in accordance with absolute justice. Men reap a harvest of suffering because in the near or distant past they have sown the seeds of evil; they reap a harvest of bliss also as a result of their own sowing of the seeds of good. Let a man meditate upon this, let him strive to understand it, and he will then begin to sow only seeds of good, and will burn up the tares and weeds which he has formerly grown in the garden of his heart.
It is toward the complete realization of this divine Love that the whole world is moving.
He who purifies his own heart is the world’s greatest benefactor.
The world is, and will be for many years to come, shut out from that Golden Age which is the realization of selfless Love. You, if you are willing, may enter it now, by rising above your selfish self; if you will pass from prejudice, hatred, and condemnation to gentle and forgiving love.
Where hatred, dislike, and condemnation are, selfless Love does not abide. It resides only in the heart that has ceased from all condemnation. He, who knows that Love is at the heart of all things, and has realized the all-sufficing power of that Love, has no room in his heart for condemnation.
Let men and women take this course, and lo! the Golden Age is at hand.
Only the pure in heart see God.
He whose heart is centered in the supreme Love does not brand and classify men; does not seek to convert men to his own views, nor to convince them of the superiority of his methods. Knowing the Law of Love, he lives it, and maintains the same calm attitude of mind and sweetness of heart towards all. The debased and the virtuous, the foolish and the wise, the learned and the unlearned, the selfish and the unselfish, receive alike the benediction of his tranquil thought.
You can only attain to this supreme knowledge, this divine Love, by unremitting endeavor in self-discipline, and by gaining victory after victory over yourself.
Enter into the New Birth, and the Love that does not die will be awakened within you, and you will be at peace.
Where there is pure spiritual knowledge, Love is perfected and fully realized.
Train your mind in strong, impartial, and gentle thought; train your heart in purity and compassion; train your tongue to silence and to true and stainless speech; so shall you enter the way of holiness and peace, and shall ultimately realize the immortal Love. So living, without seeking to convert, you will convince; without arguing, you will teach; not cherishing ambition, the wise will find you out; and without striving to gain men’s opinions, you will subdue their hearts. For Love is all-conquering, all-powerful; and the thoughts, and deeds, and words of Love can never perish.
This is the realization of selfless Love.
Rejoice! for the morning has dawned: The Truth has awakened us.
We have opened our eyes, and the dark night of terror is no more. Long have we slept in matter and sensation; long did we struggle in the painful nightmare of evil; but now we are awake in Spirit and Truth: We have found the Good, and the struggle with evil is ended.
We slept, yet knew not that we slept. We suffered, yet knew not that we suffered. We were troubled in our dreaming, yet none could awake us, for all were dreaming like ourselves. Yet there came a pause in our dreaming; our sleep was stayed. Truth spoke to us, and we heard; and lo! we opened our eyes, and saw. We slumbered, and saw not; we slept, and knew not; but now we are awake and see. Yea, we know we are awake because we have seen Holiness, and we love sin no more.
How beautiful is Truth! How glorious is the realm of reality! How ineffable is the bliss of Holiness!
Abandon error for Truth and illusion for Reality.
To sin is to dream, and, to love sin is to love darkness. They who love darkness are involved in the darkness; they have not yet seen the light. He who has seen the light does not choose to walk in darkness. To see the Truth is to love it, and, in comparison, error has no beauty. The dreamer is now in pleasure, now in pain; this hour in confidence, the next in fear. He is without stability, and has no abiding refuge. When the monsters of remorse and retribution pursue him, whither can he fly? There is no place of safety unless he awake. Let the dreamer struggle with his dream; let him strive to realize the illusory nature of all self-seeking desire, and lo! he will open his spiritual eyes upon the world of Light and Truth. He will be happy, sane, and peaceful, seeing things as they are.
Truth is the Light of the universe, the day of the mind.
The Knowledge of Truth is an abiding consolation.
When all else fails, Truth does not fail. When the heart is desolate and the world affords no shelter, Truth provides a peaceful refuge and a quiet rest. The cares of life are many, and its path is beset with difficulties; but Truth is greater than care, and is superior to all difficulties. Truth lightens our burdens; it lights up our pathway with the radiance of joy. Loved ones pass away, friends fail, and possessions disappear. Where then is the voice of comfort? Where is the whisper of consolation? Truth is the comforter of the comfortless, and the consoler of them that are deserted. Truth does not pass away, nor fail, nor disappear. Truth bestows the consolation of abiding peace. Be alert, and listen, that ye may hear the call of Truth, even the voice of the Great Awakener.
Truth removes the sting from affliction, and disperses the clouds of trouble.
He who clings to his delusions, loving self and sin cannot find the Truth.
Truth brings joy out of sorrow, and peace out of perturbation; it points the selfish to the Way of Good, and sinners to the Path of Holiness. Its spirit is the doing of Righteousness. To the earnest and faithful it brings consolation; upon the obedient it bestows the crown of peace. I take refuge in Truth: Yea, in the Spirit of Good, in the knowledge of Good, and in the doing of Good I abide. And I am reassured and comforted. It is to me as though malice were not, and hatred had vanished away. Lust is confined to the nethermost darkness, it hath no way in Truth s transcendent Light. Pride is broken up and dissolved, and vanity is melted away as a mist. I have set my face towards the Perfect Good, and my feet in the Blameless Way; and because of this I am consoled.
I am strengthened and comforted, having found refuge in Truth.
A pure heart and a blameless life avail. They are filled with joy and peace.
Our good deeds remain with us, they save and protect us. Evil deeds are error. Our evil deeds follow us; they overthrow us in the hour of temptation. The evil doer is not protected from sorrow; but the good doer is shielded from all harm. The fool says unto his evil deed, "Remain thou hidden, be thou unexposed"—but his evil is already published, and his sorrow is sure. If we are in evil, what shall protect us? What keep us from misery and confusion? Nor man nor woman, nor wealth nor power, nor heaven nor earth, shall keep us from confusion. From the results of evil there is no escape; no refuge and no protection. If we are in Good, what shall overtake us? What bring us to misery and confusion? Nor man nor woman, nor poverty nor sickness, nor heaven nor earth, shall bring us to confusion.
There is a straight way and a quiet rest.
Be glad and not sorrowful, all ye who love Truth! For your sorrows shall pass away, like the mists of the morning.
Disciple: Teacher of teachers, instruct Thou me.
Master: Ask, and I will answer.
Disciple: I have read much, but am ignorant still; I have studied the doctrines of the schools, but have not become wise thereby; I know the scriptures by heart, but peace is hidden from me. Point out to me, O Master! the way of knowledge. Reveal to me the highway of divine wisdom; lead Thou Thy child into the path of peace.
Master: The way of knowledge, O Disciple! is by searching the heart; the highway of wisdom is by the practice of righteousness; and by a sinless life is found the way of peace.
Behold where Love Eternal rests concealed! (The deathless Love that seemed so far away!) E’en in the lowly heart; it stands revealed to him who lives the sinless life today.
Great is the conquest which thou hast entered upon, even the mighty conquest of thyself; be faithful and thou shalt overcome.
Disciple: Lead me, O Master! for my darkness is very great! Will the darkness lift, O Master? Will trial end in victory and will there be an end to my many sorrows?
Master: When thy heart is pure the darkness will disappear. When thy mind is freed from passion, thou wilt reach the end of trial, and when the thought of self-preservation is yielded up, there will be no more cause for sorrow. Thou art now upon the way of discipline and purification; all my disciples must walk that way. Before thou canst enter the white light of knowledge, before thou canst behold the full glory of Truth, all thy impurities must be purged away, thy delusions all dispelled, and thy mind fortified with endurance. Relax not thy faith in Truth; forget not that Truth is eternally supreme; remember that I, the Lord of Truth, am watching over thee.
Be faithful, and endure, and I will teach thee all things.
From the chapter, "Of Discipline and Purification", in the book, The Divine Companion and the article "Divine Dialogues Between The Master and the Disciple" in the March, 1905 edition of The Light of Reason.
Blessed is he who obeys the Truth, he shall not remain comfortless.
Disciple: What are the greater and the lesser powers?
Master: Hear me again, O Disciple! Walking faithfully the path of discipline and purification, not abandoning it, but submitting to its austerities, thou wilt acquire the three lesser powers of discipleship; thou wilt also receive the three greater powers. And the greater and the lesser powers will render thee invincible. Self-control, Self-reliance, and Watchfulness—these are the three lesser powers. Steadfastness, Patience, Gentleness—these are the three greater powers. When thy mind is well-controlled, and in thy keeping; when thou reliest upon no external aid, but upon Truth alone; and when thou art ceaselessly watchful over thy thoughts and actions—then thou wilt approach the Supreme Light.
Thy darkness will pass away for ever, and joy and light will wait upon thy footsteps.
Be strenuous in effort, patient in endurance, strong in resolution.
By these four things is the heart defiled—the craving for pleasure, the clinging to temporal things, the love of self, the lust for personal continuance; from these four defilements spring all sins and sorrows. Wash thou thy heart; put away sensual cravings; detach thy mind from the wish for possessions; abandon self-defense and sell-importance. Thus putting away all cravings, thou wilt attain to satisfaction; detaching thy mind from the love of perishable things, thou wilt acquire wisdom; abandoning the thought of self, thou wilt come to peace. He who is pure is free from desire; he does not crave for sensual excitements; he sets no value on perishable things; he is the same in riches and poverty, in success or failure, in victory or defeat, in life or death. His happiness remains, his rest is sure.
Hold fast to love, and let it shape thy doing.
Instruct me in the doing which is according to the Eternal, so that I may be watchful, and fail not.
The unrighteous man is swayed by his feelings; likes and dislikes are his masters; prejudices and partialities blind him; desiring and suffering, craving and sorrowing, self-control he knows not, and great is his unrest. The righteous man is master of his moods; likes and dislikes he has abandoned as childish things; prejudice and partiality he has put away. Desiring nothing, he does not suffer; not craving enjoyment, sorrow does not overtake him; perfect in self-control, great peace abides with him.
Do not condemn, resent, or retaliate; do not argue, or become a partisan. Maintain thy calmness with all sides; be just, and speak the truth. Act in gentleness, compassion, and charity. Be infinitely patient. Hold fast to love, and let it shape thy doing. Have goodwill to all without distinction. Think equally of all, and be disturbed by none.
Be thoughtful and wise, strong and kindhearted.
Be watchful, that no thought of self creep in again and stain thee.
Think of thyself as abolished. In all thy doing think of the good of others and of the world, and not of pleasure or reward to thyself. Thou art no longer separate and divided from men, thou art one with all. No longer strive against others for thyself, but sympathize with all. Regard no man as thine enemy, for thou art the friend of all men. Be at peace with all. Pour out compassion on all living things, and let boundless charity adorn thy words and deeds. Such is the glad way of Truth; such is the doing which is according to the Eternal. Ruled with joy is the right-doer; he acts from principles which do not change and pass away. He is one with the Eternal, and has passed beyond unrest. The peace of the righteous man is perfect; it is not disturbed by change and impermanence. Freed from passion, he is equal-minded, calm, and does not sorrow; he sees things as they are, and is no more confused.
Open thine eyes to the Eternal Light.
Knowledge is for him who seeks; Wisdom crowneth him who strives; Peace in sinless silence speaks: All things perish, Truth survives.
Increase thy strength and self-reliance; make the specters of thy mind obey thy will; see thou command thyself, nor let no mood, no subtle passion nor no swift desire hurl thee to baseness; but, shouldst thou be hurled, rise, and regain thy manhood, taking gain of lowliness and wisdom from thy fall. Strive ever for the mastery of thy mind, and glean some good from every circumstance that shall confront thee; make thy store of strength richer for ills encountered and o’ercome. Submit to naught but nobleness; rejoice like a strong athlete straining for the prize, when thy full strength is tried.
Follow where virtue leads high and still higher; Listen where Pureness pleads, quench not her fire. Lo! he shall see reality, who cometh upward, cleansed from all desire.
Deliverance shall him entrance who strives with sifts and sorrows, tears and pains, till he attains.
Be not the slave of lusts and cravings and indulgences, of disappointments, miseries, and fears, doubts, and lamentations, but control thyself with calmness: master that in thee which masters others, and which heretofore has mastered thee: let not thy passions rule, but rule thy passions; subjugate thyself till passion is transmuted into peace, and wisdom crown thee; so shalt thou attain and, by attaining, know.
Look thou within. Lo! In the midst of change abides the changeless; at the heart of strife the Perfect Peace reposes. At the root of all the restless striving of the world is passion. Whoso follows passion findeth pain, but whoso conquers passion findeth peace.
I am ignorant, yet strive to know; nor will I cease to strive till I attain.
More from James Allen
James Allen was a little-known philosophical writer and poet. He is best recognized for his book, As a Man Thinketh. Allen wrote about complex subjects such as faith, destiny, love, patience, and religion but had the unique ability of explaining these subjects clearly and in a way that is easy to understand. He often wrote about cause and effect, sowing and reaping, as well as overcoming sadness, sorrow, and grief. For more information on the life of James Allen, click here.