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December 1st

Indolence is the twin sister of indifference, that ready action is the friend of contentment.

Contentment is a virtue which becomes lofty and spiritual, as the mind is trained to perceive and the heart to receive the guidance, in all things, of a merciful law.

To be contented does not mean to forgo effort; it means to free effort from anxiety; it does not mean to be satisfied with sin and ignorance and folly, but to rest happily in duty done, and work accomplished.

A man may be said to be content to lead a groveling life, to remain in sin and in debt, but such a man’s true state is one of indifference to his duty, his obligations, and the just claims of his fellow men. He cannot truly be said to possess the virtue of contentment; he does not experience the pure and abiding joy which is the accompaniment of active achievement.

True contentment is the outcome of honest effort and true living.

From the chapter "Contentment in Activity" in the book, Above Life's Turmoil.


December 2nd

The truly contented man works energetically and faithfully, and accepts all results with an untroubled spirit.

There are three things with which a man should be content: With whatever happens; with his friendships and possessions; and with his pure thoughts. Contented with whatever happens, he will escape grief; with his friendships and possessions, he will avoid anxiety and wretchedness; and with his pure thoughts, he will never go back to suffer and grovel in impurities.

There are three with which a man should not be content: With his opinions; with his character; and with his spiritual condition. Not content with his opinions, he will continually increase in intelligence; not content with his character, he will ceaselessly grow in strength and virtue; and not content with his spiritual condition, he will, every day, enter into a larger wisdom and a fuller blessedness.

Results exactly correspond with efforts.

From the chapter "Contentment in Activity" in the book, Above Life's Turmoil.


December 3rd

Universal Brotherhood is the supreme Ideal of Humanity, and towards that Ideal the world is slowly but surely moving.

Brotherhood as a human organization cannot exist so long as any degree of self-seeking reigns in the hearts of men and women who band themselves together for any purpose, as such self-seeking must eventually rend the Seamless Coat of loving unity. But although organized Brotherhood has so largely failed, any man may realize Brotherhood in its perfection, and know it in all its beauty and completion, if he will make himself a wise, pure, loving spirit, removing from his mind every element of strife, and learning to practice those divine qualities without which Brotherhood is but a mere theory, opinion, or illusive dream.

In whatsoever heart discord rules, Brotherhood is not realized.

From the chapter "The Temple of Brotherhood" in the book, Above Life's Turmoil.


December 4th

Brotherhood is at first spiritual, and its outer manifestation in the world must follow as a natural result.

From the spirit of Humility proceed meekness and peacefulness; from Self-surrender come patience, wisdom, and true judgment; from Love spring kindness, joy, harmony; and from Compassion proceed gentleness and forgiveness.

He who has brought himself into harmony with these four qualities is divinely enlightened; he sees whence the actions of men proceed and whither they tend, and therefore can no longer live in the exercise of the dark tendencies. He has realized Brotherhood in its completion, as freedom from malice, from envy, from bitterness, from contention, from condemnation. All men are his brothers, those who live in the dark tendencies as well as those who live in the enlightening qualities. He has but one attitude of mind towards all, that of goodwill.

Where pride, self-love, hatred, and condemnation are, there can be no Brotherhood.

From the chapter "The Temple of Brotherhood" in the book, Above Life's Turmoil.


December 5th

Brotherhood consists, first of all, in the abandonment of self by the individual.

Theories and schemes for propagating Brotherhood are many, but Brotherhood itself is one and unchangeable, and consists in the complete cessation from egotism and strife, and in practicing goodwill and peace; for Brotherhood is a practice and not a theory. Self-surrender and Goodwill are its guardian angels, and peace is its habitation.

Where two are determined to maintain an opposing opinion, the clinging of self and ill-will are there, and Brotherhood is absent.

Where two are prepared to sympathize with each other, to see no evil in each other, to serve and not to attack each other, the love of Truth and Good-will are there and Brotherhood is present.

Brotherhood is only practiced and known by him whose heart is at peace with all the world.

From the chapter "The Temple of Brotherhood" in the book, Above Life's Turmoil.


December 6th

Prejudice and cruelty are inseparable.

Sympathy is not required towards those who are purer and more enlightened than one’s self, as the purer one lives above the necessity for it. In such a case reverence should be exercised, with a striving to lift one’s self up to the purer level, and so enter possession of the larger life. Nor can a man fully understand one who is wiser than himself, and before condemning, he should earnestly ask himself whether he is, after all, better than the man whom he has singled out as the object of his bitterness. If he is, let him bestow sympathy. If he is not, let him exercise reverence.

When a man is prone to harshly judge and condemn others, he should inquire how far he falls short himself.

From the Editorial of the March, 1904 edition of The Light of Reason.


December 7th

Dislike, resentment, and condemnation are all forms of hatred, and evil cannot cease until these are taken out of the heart.

The obliterating of injuries from the mind is merely one of the beginnings in wisdom. There is a still higher and better way. And that way is to purify the heart and enlighten the mind that, far from having to forget injuries, there will be none to remember. For it is only pride and self that can be injured and wounded by the actions and attitudes of others; and he who takes pride and self out of his heart can never think the thought, "I have been injured by another," or, "I have been wronged by another."

From a purified heart proceeds the right comprehension of things; and from the right comprehension of things precedes the life that is peaceful, freed from bitterness and suffering, calm and wise.

He who is troubled and disturbed about the sins of others is far from the Truth.

From the Editorial of the December, 1903 edition of The Light of Reason.


December 8th

He who is troubled and disturbed about his own sins is very near to the Gate of Wisdom.

He in whose heart the flames of resentment burn, cannot know peace nor understand Truth; he who will banish resentment from his heart, will know and understand.

He, who has taken evil out of his own heart, cannot resent or resist it in others, for he is enlightened as to its origin and nature, and knows it as a manifestation of the mistakes of ignorance. With the increase of enlightenment, sin becomes impossible. He, who sins, does not understand; he who understands, does not sin. The pure man maintains his tenderness of heart toward those who ignorantly imagine that they can do him harm. The wrong attitude of others toward him does not trouble him; his heart is at rest in Compassion and Love.

Let those who aim at the right life, calmly and wisely understand.

From the Editorial of the December, 1903 edition of The Light of Reason.


December 9th

A pure heart and a righteous life are the great and all-important things.

The deeds and thoughts that lead to suffering are those that spring from self-interest and self-seeking; the thoughts and deeds that produce blessedness are those that spring from Truth. The process by which the mind is thus changed and transmuted is twofold; it consists of meditation and practice. By silent meditation, the ground and reason of right conduct is sought, and by practice, right-doing is accomplished in daily life.

For Truth is not a matter of book learning, or subtle reasoning, or disputation, or controversial skill; it consists in right-doing.

Truth is not something that can be gleaned from a book; it can be learned and known by practice only.

This selection does not appear in any of Allen's other writings.


December 10th

He only has Truth who has found it by practice.

He who wishes to acquire Truth must practice it. He must begin at the very first lesson in self-control, thoroughly master it, and then pass on to the next and the next, until he attains to the moral perfection at which he aims. It is common with men to imagine that Truth consists in holding certain ideas or opinions. They read a number of treatises, and then form an opinion which they call "Truth," and then they go about disputing with their fellow men in order to try to prove that their opinion is the Truth. In worldly matters men are wise, for they do things in order to achieve their ends, but in spiritual things they are foolish, for they merely read, and do not do things, and then imagine they have acquired Truth.

He only has Truth whose life shows it forth in pure and blameless conduct.

This selection does not appear in any of Allen's other writings.


December 11th

Love, all inclusive.

By its very nature, Love can never be the exclusive possession of any religion, sect, school, or brotherhood. The common claim, therefore, of such sections of the community to the exclusive possession of Truth in their particular religious doctrine is a denial of Love. Truth is a spirit and a life, and though it may manifest through manifold doctrines, it can never be confined to any one particular form of doctrine. Love is a winged angel that refuses to be chained to any letter doctrine whatsoever. Love is above and beyond, outside and greater than all the opinions, doctrines, and philosophies of men; yet Love includes all—the righteous and the unrighteous, the fair and foul, the clean and the unclean. He whose Love is so deep and wide as to envelop all men of all creeds is he who has most of religion, and most of wisdom, and also most of insight, for he knows and sees men as they are.

Hatred is absence of Love, and therefore absence of all that is included in Love.

This selection does not appear in any of Allen's other writings.


December 12th

Love broadens and expands the mind of a man until it embraces in its kindly folds all mankind without distinction.

The way of Love is the way of Life—Immortal Life—and the beginning of that way consists in getting rid of our carpings, quarrellings, fault-findings, and suspicions. If these petty vices possess us, let us not deceive ourselves, but let us confess that we have not Love. To be thus honest with ourselves is to be prepared to find Love; but to be self-deceived is to be shut out from Love. If we are to grow in Love, we must begin at the beginning, and remove from our minds all mean and suspicious thoughts about our fellow workers and fellow men. We must learn to treat them with large-hearted freedom, and to perceive the right reason for their actions, to excuse them on grounds of personal right and personal freedom when their opinions, methods, or actions are contrary to us; thus shall we come at last to love them with that Love of which St. Paul speaks, a Love that is a permanent principle.

He who has Love—of whatsoever creed or none—is enlightened with the Light of Truth.

This selection does not appear in any of Allen's other writings.


December 13th

The Life of Truth is that in which wrong-thinking and wrong-doing are abandoned, and right-thinking and right-doing are embraced.

It is the wrong deeds of men which bring all the unhappiness into the world. It will be right deeds which will transform all its misery into happiness. By wrong deeds we come to sorrow; by right deeds we come to bliss.

But a man must not think the thought: "It is the wrong deeds of others which have made me unhappy," for such a thought produces bitterness towards others and increases hatred. He must understand that his unhappiness is from something wrong within himself; he must regard it as a sign that he is yet imperfect, that there is some weak spot within which must be strengthened. He must never accuse others for his lapses of conduct, or for his troubles, but must gain more steadfastness of heart, must establish himself more firmly in the Truth.

Walk with lowly footsteps the holy way of Truth.

This selection does not appear in any of Allen's other writings.


December 14th

The principles of Truth are fixed and eternal, and cannot be made or unmade by anyone.

The principles of Truth were discovered by searching and practice, and are so stated and arranged as to make the path plainer for other feet to tread; and it is the path along which every being has traveled who has passed from sin to sinlessness, from error to Truth. It is the ancient Way along which every saint, every Buddha, every Christ has walked to divine perfection, and along which every imperfect being in the future will pass to reach this glorious goal. It matters not what religion a man professes, if he is daily striving with his own sins, and purifying his heart, he is walking this path; for while opinions, theologies, and religions differ, sin does not differ, the overcoming of sin does not differ, and Truth does not differ.

Religions change from age to age, but the principles of divine virtue are eternally the same.

This selection does not appear in any of Allen's other writings.


December 15th

Truth is one, though it has a variety of aspects, and is adaptable to men in various stages of growth.

We have sat at the feet of all the Great Teachers, and have learned of them. Unspeakable has been our rejoicing to have found, in the lives and precepts of gentle Indian and Chinese Teachers, the same divine qualities and the same perceptive truths which adorn the character of Jesus Christ. To us they are all wonderful and adorable, and so great and good and wise that we can but reverence and learn of them. They have also had the same marvelous influence for good over the various races among which they have appeared, and have all equally called forth the undying worship of millions of human beings.

Great Teachers are perfected flowers of humanity, types of what all men will one day be.

This selection does not appear in any of Allen's other writings.


December 16th

Perfect purity of heart is a condition of emancipation from all the cravings and indulgences of self.

There is a distinction between a worldly life and a religious life. He who is daily following his impure inclinations, with no wish to give them up, is irreligious; while he who is daily controlling and purging away his impure inclinations is religious.

The religious man should curb his passions and the indulgence of his desires, for that is what constitutes religion. He must learn to see men and things as they are, and must perceive that they are living in accordance with their nature, and their right of choosing their path as intelligent human beings. He must never intrude his rules of life upon them; and never presume to be, or even think of himself as being, on a "higher plane" than they are. He must learn to put himself in their place, and to see from their standpoint.

A lover of Truth must be a lover of all men. He must let his love go out without restraint or stint.

This selection does not appear in any of Allen's other writings.


December 17th

The ground of certainty on which we can securely rest amid all the incidents of life, is the mathematical exactitude of the moral law.

The unceasing change, the insecurity and the mystery of life make it necessary to find some basis of certainty on which to rest if happiness and peace of mind are to be maintained. This basic principle, a knowledge of which the whole race will ultimately acquire, is best represented by the term Divine Justice. Human justice differs with every man according to his own light or darkness, but there can be no variation in that Divine Justice by which the universe is eternally sustained. Divine Justice is spiritual mathematics. As with figures and objects, so with the thoughts and deeds of men, two and two equally make four.

Given the same cause, there will always be the same effect.

From the chapter "Foreword" in the book, Men and Systems.


December 18th

All the spiritual laws with which men are acquainted have, and must have, the same infallibility in their operations.

Given the same thought or deed in a like circumstance, the result will always be the same. Without this fundamental ethical justice there could be no human society, for it is the just reactions of the deeds of individuals which prevents society from tottering to its fall.

It thus follows that the inequalities of life, as regards the distribution of happiness and suffering, are the outworking of moral forces operating along lines of flawless accuracy. This flawless accuracy, this perfect law, is the one great fundamental certainty in life, the finding of which insures a man’s perfection, makes him wise and enlightened, and fills him with rejoicing and peace.

The moral order of the universe is not, cannot be disproportionate, for if it were, the universe would fall.

From the chapter "Foreword" in the book, Men and Systems.


December 19th

Nothing can transcend right.

Take away a belief in this certainty from a man’s consciousness, and he is adrift on a self-created ocean of chance, without rudder, chart, or compass. He has no ground on which to build a character or life, no incentive for noble deeds, no center for moral action; he has no island of peace and no harbor of refuge. Even the crudest idea of God as of a great man whose mind is perfect, who cannot err, and who has "no variableness nor shadow of turning," is a popular expression of a belief in this basic principle of Divine Justice.

According to this principle there is neither favor nor chance, but unerring and unchangeable right. Thus all the sufferings of men are right as effects, their causes being the mistakes of ignorance; but as effects they will pass away.

Man cannot suffer for something which he has never done, or never left undone, for this would be an effect without a cause.

From the chapter "Foreword" in the book, Men and Systems.


December 20th

Talent, genius, goodness, greatness, are not launched upon the world ready-made. They are the result of a long train of causes and effects.

The process of growth is seen in the flower, but though not seen in the mental growth, it is nevertheless there.

I said the process of mental growth was not seen; but this is only true in a general sense. The true thinker and sage does see, with his spiritual eye, the process of spiritual growth. Just as the natural scientist has made himself acquainted with natural causes and effects— as, indeed, the ordinary observer is so acquainted—so he has made himself familiar with spiritual causes and effects. He sees the process by which characters, like plants, come into being; and when he sees the flowers of genius and virtue appear, he knows from what mental seeds they sprang, and how they gradually came to perfection through long periods of silent growth.

Nothing appears ready-made. There is always a changing, a growing, and a becoming.

This selection does not appear in any of Allen's other writings.


December 21st

An awakened vision calls us to a nobler life.

As a man cannot live in two countries at the same time, but must leave the one before he can settle in the other, so a man cannot inhabit two spiritual countries at the same time, but must leave behind the land of sin before he can live at peace in the land of truth. When one leaves his native land that he may begin anew in an adopted country he leaves behind all beloved associations, sweet companionships, dear friends and relatives, yea, all upon which his heart has been ever set must be parted with and left behind. So when one resolves to live in the new world of Truth, the old world of error, with its loved pleasures, cherished sins, and vain associations, must be renounced. By such renunciation the individual gains, humanity gains, and the universe becomes a brighter and more beautiful habitation.

We must shake the mud of the valley from our feet if we are to commune with the mountain silence.

This selection does not appear in any of Allen's other writings.


December 22nd

Right thoughts spring from a right mental attitude, and lead to right actions.

That is the right mental attitude which seeks the good in all the occurrences of life, and extracts strength, knowledge, and wisdom from them. Right thoughts are thoughts of cheer, of joy, of hope, of confidence, of courage, of constant love, of large generosity, of abounding faith and trust. These are the affirmations that make strong characters and useful and noble lives, and that build up those personal successes which make the progress of the world. Such thoughts are inevitably followed by right action, by the putting forth of energy and effort in work, in the accomplishment of some legitimate object; and as the climber at last reaches the hilltop, so the earnest, cheerful, and untiring worker at last accomplishes his end.

All the successful people, through all time, have reached their particular success by laboring for it.

This selection does not appear in any of Allen's other writings.


December 23rd

Suffering is a purifying and perfecting process. "We become obedient by the things which we suffer."

To inflict suffering upon others is to become more deeply involved in ignorance; but to suffer ourselves is to come nearer to enlightenment. Pain teaches men how to be kind and compassionate. It at last makes them tender-hearted and thoughtful for the sufferings of others. When a man does a cruel deed, he thinks, in his ignorance, that that is the end of it, but it is only the beginning. Attached to the deed is a train of consequences which will plunge him in a tormenting hell of pain. For every wrong thought we think, or unkind deed we do, we must suffer some form of mental or bodily pain; and the kind of pain will be in accordance with the initiative thought or act.

By acquainting man with suffering, it enables him to feel for the sufferings of others.

This selection does not appear in any of Allen's other writings.


December 24th

Every resource is already with you and within you.

Just as the strong doing of small tasks leads to greater strength, so the doing of those tasks weakly leads to greater weakness. What a man is in his fractional duties that he is in the aggregate of his character. Weakness is as great a source of suffering as sin, and there can be no true blessedness until some measure of strength of character is evolved. The weak man becomes strong by attaching value to little things and doing them accordingly. The strong man becomes weak by falling into looseness and neglect concerning small things, thereby forfeiting his simple wisdom and squandering his energy.

There is no way to strength and wisdom but by acting strongly and wisely in the present moment.

From the chapter "Small Tasks and Duties" in the book, Byways of Blessedness.


December 25th

The year is passing, and blessed are they who can let its mistakes, its injuries, and wrongs pass away forever, and be remembered no more.

The past is dead and unalterable; let it sink into oblivion, but extract and retain its divine lessons; let those lessons be strength to you now, and make them the starting-points of a nobler, purer, more perfect life in the coming years. Let all thoughts of hatred, resentment, strife, and ill-will die with the dying years; erase from the tablet of your heart all malicious memories, all unholy grudges. Let the cry, "Peace on earth and good-will to men!" which at this season re-echoes through the world from myriads of lips, be to you something more than an oft-reiterated platitude. Let its truth be practiced by you; let it dwell in your heart; and do not mar its harmony and peace by thoughts of ill-will.

Blessed is he who has no wrongs to remember, no injuries to forget; in whose pure heart no hateful thought about another can take root and flourish.

From the Editorial of the December, 1903 edition of The Light of Reason.


December 26th

No man can be confronted with a difficulty which he has not the strength to meet and subdue.

Do not regard your difficulties and perplexities as portentous of ill; by so doing you will make them ill; but regard them as prophetic of good, which, indeed, they are. Do not persuade yourself that you can evade them: you cannot. Do not try to run away from them; this is impossible, for wherever you go they will still be there with you—but meet them calmly and bravely; confront them with all the dispassion and dignity which you can command; weigh up their proportions; measure their strength; understand them; attack them, and finally vanquish them. Thus will you develop strength and intelligence; thus will you enter one of those byways of blessedness which are hidden from the superficial gaze.

There is no peace in sin, no rest in error, no final refuge but in Wisdom.

From the chapter "Transcending Difficulties and Perplexities" in the book, Byways of Blessedness.


December 27th

Go to your task with love in your heart and you will go to it light-hearted and cheerful.

What heavy burden is a man weighted with which is not made heavier and more unendurable by weak thoughts or selfish desires? If your circumstances are "trying" it is because you need them, and can evolve the strength to meet them. They are trying because there is some weak spot in you, and they will continue to be trying until that spot is eradicated. Be glad that you have the opportunity of becoming stronger and wiser. No circumstances can be trying to wisdom; nothing can weary love. Stop brooding over your own trying circumstances and contemplate the lives of some of those about you.

The duty which you shirk is your reproving angel; the pleasure which you race after is your flattering enemy.

From the chapter "Burden-Dropping" in the book, Byways of Blessedness.


December 28th

Animal indulgence is alien to the perception of Truth.

There are little selfish indulgences, some of which appear harmless, and are commonly fostered; but no selfish indulgence can be harmless, and men and women do not know what they lose by repeatedly and habitually succumbing to effeminate and selfish gratifications. If the God in man is to rise strong and triumphant, the beast in man must perish. The pandering to the animal nature, even when it appears innocent and seems sweet, leads away from truth and blessedness. Each time you give way to the animal within you, and feed and gratify him, he waxes stronger and more rebellious, and takes firmer possession of your mind, which should be in the keeping of Truth.

Live superior to the craving for sense-excitement, and you will live neither vainly nor uncertainly.

From the chapter "Hidden Sacrifices" in the book, Byways of Blessedness.


December 29th

Sacrifice all hatred, slay it upon the altar of devotion—devotion to others.

Whatever others may say of you, whatever they may do to you, never take offense. Do not return hatred with hatred. If another hates you perhaps you have, consciously or unconsciously, failed somewhere in your conduct, or there may be some misunderstanding which the exercise of a little gentleness and reason may remove; but under all circumstances "Father, forgive them" is infinitely better than "I will have nothing more to do with them." Hatred is so small and poor, so blind and wretched. Love is so great and rich, so far-seeing and blissful.

Open the floodgates of your heart for the in pouring of that sweet, great, beautiful love which embraces all.

From the chapter "Hidden Sacrifices" in the book, Byways of Blessedness.


December 30th

Inside the gateway of unselfishness lies the Elysium of Abiding Joy.

Knowing this—that selfishness leads to misery, and unselfishness to joy, not merely for one’s self alone—for if this were all how unworthy would be our endeavors!—but for the whole world, and because all with whom we live and come in contact will be the happier and the truer for unselfishness; because Humanity is one, and the joy of one is the joy of all—knowing this, let us scatter flowers and not thorns in the common ways of life—yea, even in the highway of our enemies let us scatter the blossoms of unselfish love—so shall the pressure of their footprints fill the air with the perfume of holiness and gladden the world with the aroma of joy.

Seek the highest Good, and you will taste the deepest, sweetest joy.

From the chapter "Abiding Joy" in the book, Byways of Blessedness.


December 31st

The universe has no favorites; it is supremely just, and gives to every man his rightful earnings.

Happy in the Eternal Happiness is he who has come to that Life from which the thought of self is abolished. Already, even now and in this life, he has entered the Kingdom of Heaven. He is at rest on the bosom of the Infinite.

Sweet is the rest and deep the bliss of him who has freed his heart from its lusts and hatreds and dark desires; and he who, without any shadow of bitterness or selfishness, can breathe, in his heart, the blessing:

Peace unto all living things, making no exceptions or distinctions—such a man has reached that happy ending which can never be taken away, the fullness of peace, the consummation of Perfect Blessedness.

Man can find the right way in life, and, having found it, can rejoice and be glad.

From the chapter "Understanding the Simple Laws of Life" in the book, Byways of Blessedness.

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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.

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