Unrest and pain and sorrow are the shadows of life.
Is there no way of escape from pain and sorrow? Are there no means by which the bonds of evil may be broken? Is permanent happiness and abiding peace a foolish dream? No, there is a way—and I speak it with gladness—by which evil may be slain for ever; there is a process by which every adverse condition or circumstance can be put on one side for ever, never to return; and there is a practice by which unbroken and unending peace and bliss can be partaken of and realized. And the beginning of the way which leads to this glorious realization is the acquirement of a right understanding of the nature of evil. It is not sufficient to deny or ignore evil; it must be understood.
Men remain in evil because they are not willing or prepared to learn the lesson which it came to teach them.
You must get outside yourself, and must begin to examine and understand yourself.
Evil, when rightly understood, is found to be, not an unlimited power or principle in the universe, but a passing phase of human experience, and it therefore becomes a teacher to those who are willing to learn. Evil is not an abstract something outside yourself; it is an experience in your own heart, and by patiently examining and rectifying your heart you will be gradually led into the discovery of the origin and nature of evil, which will necessarily be followed by its complete eradication. There is no evil in the universe which is not the result of ignorance, and which would not, if we were ready and willing to learn its lesson, lead us to higher wisdom, and then vanish away.
Every soul attracts its own, and nothing can possibly come to it that does not belong to it.
What you are, so is your world.
All that you positively know is contained in your own experience; all that you ever will know must pass through the gateway of experience, and so become part of yourself. Your own thoughts, desires, and aspirations comprise your world, and, to you, all that there is in the universe of beauty, and joy, and bliss, or ugliness, and sorrow, and pain, is contained within yourself. By your own thoughts you make or mar your life, your world, your universe. As you build within by the power of thought, so will your outward life and circumstances shape themselves accordingly. Whatsoever you harbor in the inmost chambers of your heart will, sooner or later, by the inevitable law of reaction, shape itself in your outward life.
Every soul is a complex combination of gathered experiences and thoughts, and the body is but an improvised vehicle for its manifestation.
To them that seek the highest Good, all things subserve the wisest ends.
He who clings to self is his own enemy, and is surrounded by enemies. He who relinquishes self is his own savior, and is surrounded by friends like a protecting belt. Before the divine radiance of a pure heart all darkness vanishes and all clouds melt away, and he who has conquered self has conquered the universe. Come, then, out of your poverty; come out of your pain; come out of your troubles, and sighings, and complainings, and heartaches, and loneliness by coming out of yourself. Let the old tattered garment of your petty selfishness fall from you, and put on the new garment of universal Love. You will then realize the inward heaven, and it will be reflected in all your outward life.
All glory and all good await the coming of obedient feet.
All men’s accomplishments were first wrought out in thought, and then objectivised.
When the thought-forces are directed in harmony with the over-ruling Law, they are up-building and preservative, but when subverted they become disintegrating and self-destructive. To adjust all your thoughts to a perfect and unswerving faith in the omnipotence and supremacy of Good is to cooperate with that Good, and to realize within yourself the solution and destruction of all evil. Believe and ye shall live. And here we have the true meaning of salvation; salvation from the darkness and negation of evil, by entering into and realizing the living light of the Eternal Good.
It is the silent and conquering thought-forces which bring all things into manifestation.
There is nothing that a strong faith and an unflinching purpose may not accomplish.
There is no difficulty, however great, but will yield before a calm and powerful concentration of thought, and no legitimate object but may be speedily actualized by the intelligent use and direction of one’s soul-forces.
Not until you have gone deeply and searchingly into your inner nature, and have overcome many enemies that lurk there, can you have any approximate conception of the subtle power of thought, of its inseparable relation to outward and material things, or of its magical potency, when rightly poised and directed, in readjusting and transforming the life-conditions. Every thought you think is a force sent out, and in accordance with its nature and intensity will it go out to seek a lodgment in minds receptive to it, and will react upon yourself for good or evil.
Think good thoughts, and they will quickly become actualized in your outward life in the form of good conditions.
He only is fitted to command and control who has succeeded in commanding and controlling himself.
If you would acquire overcoming power, you must cultivate poise and passivity. You must be able to stand alone. All power is associated with immovability. The mountain, the massive rock, the storm-tried oak, all speak to us of power, because of their combined solitary grandeur and defiant fixity; while the shifting sand, the yielding twig, and the waving reed speak to us of weakness, because they are movable and non-resistant, and are utterly useless when detached from their fellows. He is the man of power who, when all his fellows are swayed by some emotion or passion, remains calm and unmoved. The hysterical, the fearful, the thoughtless and frivolous, let such seek company, or they will fall for lack of support; but the calm, the fearless, the thoughtful and grave, let such seek solitude, and to their power more power will be added.
Be of single aim. Have a legitimate and useful purpose, and devote yourself unreservedly to it.
Self-seeking is self-destruction.
If you would realize true prosperity, do not settle down, as many have done, into the belief that if you do right everything will go wrong. Do not allow the word competition to shake your faith in the supremacy of righteousness. I care not what man may say about the laws of competition, for do I not know the Unchangeable Law, which shall one day put them all to rout, and which puts them to rout even now in the heart and life of the righteous man? And knowing this Law I can contemplate all dishonesty with undisturbed repose, for I know where certain destruction awaits it. Those who have wandered from the highway of righteousness guard themselves against competition; those who always pursue the right need not to trouble about such defense.
Under all circumstances do that which you believe to be right, and trust the Law; trust the Divine Power, and you will always be protected.
Perfect Love is Perfect Power.
The wisely loving heart commands without exercising any authority. All things and all men obey him who obeys the Highest. He thinks, and lo! He has already accomplished! He speaks, and behold! A world hangs upon his simple utterances! He has harmonized his thoughts with the Imperishable and Unconquerable Forces, and for him weakness and uncertainty are no more. His every thought is a purpose; his every act an accomplishment; he moves with the Great Law, not setting his puny personal will against it, and he thus becomes a channel through which the Divine Power can flow in unimpeded and beneficent expression. He has thus become Power itself.
Perfect Love is Perfect Wisdom.
If you really seek Truth, you will be willing to make the effort necessary for its achievement.
At the outset, meditation must be distinguished from idle reverie. There is nothing dreamy and unpractical about it. It is a process of searching and uncompromising thought which allows nothing to remain but the simple and naked truth. Thus meditating you will no longer strive to build yourself up in your prejudices, but, forgetting self, you will remember only that you are seeking the Truth. And so you will remove, one by one, the errors which you have built around yourself in the past, and will patiently wait for the revelation of Truth which will come when your errors have been sufficiently removed.
Let the supreme object of your meditation be Truth.
As the flower opens its petals to receive the morning light, so open your soul more and more to the glorious light of Truth.
Spiritual meditation and self-discipline are inseparable; you will, therefore, commence to meditate upon yourself so as to try and understand yourself, for, remember, the great object you will have in view will be the complete removal of all your errors in order that you may realize Truth. You will begin to question your motives, thoughts, and acts, comparing them with your ideal, and endeavoring to look upon them with a calm and impartial eye. In this manner you will be continually gaining more of that mental and spiritual equilibrium without which men are but helpless straws upon the ocean of life.
Soar upward on the wings of aspiration; be fearless, and believe in the loftiest possibilities.
A beginning is a cause, and, as such it must be followed by an effect.
The nature of an initial impulse will always determine the body of its results. A beginning also presupposes an ending, a consummation, achievement, or goal. A gate leads to a path, and the path leads to some particular destination; so a beginning leads to results, and results lead to a completion.
There are right beginnings and wrong beginnings, which are followed by effects of a like nature. You can, by careful thought, avoid wrong beginnings and make right beginnings, and so escape evil results and enjoy good results. In aiming at the life of Blessedness, one of the simplest beginnings to be considered and rightly made is that which we all make every day—namely, the beginning of each day’s life.
The effect will always be of the same nature as the cause.
Wisdom inheres in the common details of everyday existence.
Everything in the universe is made of little things, and the perfection of the great is based upon the perfection up of the small. If any detail of the universe were imperfect, the whole would be imperfect. If any particle were omitted, the aggregate would cease to be. Without a grain of dust there would be no world, and the whole is perfect because the grain of dust is perfect. Neglect of the small is confusion of the great. The snowdrop is as perfect as the star; the dewdrop is as symmetrical as the planet; the microbe is not less mathematically proportioned than the man. By laying stone upon stone, plumbing and fitting each with perfect adjustment, the temple at last stands forth in all its architectural beauty.
When the parts are made perfect, the Whole will be without blemish.
To neglect small tasks, or to execute them in a perfunctory manner, is a mark of weakness and folly.
The great man knows the vast value that inheres in moments, words, greetings, meals, apparel, correspondence, rest, work, detached efforts, fleeting obligations, in the thousand-and-one little things which press upon him for attention—briefly, in the common details of life. He sees everything as divinely apportioned, needing only the application of dispassionate thought and action on his part to render life blessed and perfect. He neglects nothing, does not hurry, seeks to escape nothing but error and folly; attends to every duty as it is presented to him, and does not postpone and regret. By giving himself unreservedly to his nearest duty, he attains to that combined childlike simplicity and unconscious power which is greatness.
There is no way to strength and wisdom but by acting strongly and wisely in the present moment.
He who masters the small becomes the rightful possessor of the great.
The foolish man thinks that little faults, little indulgences, little sins, are of no consequence; he persuades himself that so long as he does not commit flagrant immoralities he is virtuous, and even holy; but he is thereby deprived of virtue and holiness, and the world knows him accordingly; it does not reverence, adore, and love him; it passes him by; he is reckoned of no account; his influence is destroyed. The efforts of such a man to make the world virtuous, his exhortations to his fellow men to abandon great vices, are empty of substance and barren of fruitage. The insignificance which he attaches to his small vices permeates his whole character, and is the measure of his manhood.
He who regards his smallest delinquencies as of the gravest nature becomes a saint.
Truth is wrapped up in infinitesimal details.
As the year consists of a given number of sequential moments, so a man’s character and life consists of a given number of sequential thoughts and deeds, and the finished whole will bear the impress of the parts. Little kindnesses, generosities, and sacrifices make up a kind and generous character. The truly honest man is honest in the minutest details of his life. The noble man is noble in every little thing he says and does. You do not live your life in the mass; you live it in fragments, and from these the mass emerges. You can will to live each fragment nobly if you choose, and, this being done, there can be no particle of baseness in the finished whole.
Thoroughness is genius.
Truth in its very nature is ineffable and can only be lived.
Truth is the one Reality in the universe, the inward Harmony, the perfect Justice, the eternal Love. Nothing can be added to it, nor taken from it. It does not depend upon any man, but all men depend upon it. You cannot perceive the beauty of Truth while you are looking out from the eyes of self. If you are vain, you will color everything with your own vanities. If lustful, your heart and mind will be clouded with the smoke and flames of passion and everything will appear distorted through them. If proud and opinionative, you will see nothing in the whole universe except the magnitude and importance of your own opinions. The humble Truth-lover has learned to distinguish between opinion and Truth.
He who has most of Charity has most of Truth.
There is but one religion, the religion of Truth.
You may easily know whether you are a child of Truth or a worshiper of self, if you will silently examine your mind, heart, and conduct. Do you harbor thoughts of suspicion, enmity, envy, lust, pride; or do you strenuously fight against these? If the former, you are chained to self, no matter what religion you may profess; if the latter, you are a candidate for Truth, even though outwardly you may profess no religion. Are you passionate, self-willed, ever seeking to gain your own ends, self-indulgent, and self-centered; or are you gentle, mild, unselfish, quit of every form of self-indulgence, and are ever ready to give up your own? If the former, self is your master; if the latter, Truth is the object of your affection.
The signs by which the Truth-lover is known are unmistakable.
That which temptation appeals to and arouses is unconquered desire.
Temptation waylays the man of aspiration until he touches the region of the divine consciousness, and beyond that border temptation cannot follow him. It is when a man begins to aspire that he begins to be tempted. Aspiration rouses up all the latent good and evil, in order that the man may be fully revealed to himself, for a man cannot overcome himself unless he fully knows himself. It can scarcely be said of the merely animal man that he is tempted, for the very presence of temptation means that there is a striving for a purer state. Animal desire and gratification is the normal condition of the man who has not yet risen into aspiration; he wishes for nothing more, nothing better, than his sensual enjoyments, and is, for the present, satisfied. Such a man cannot be tempted to fall, for he has not yet risen.
Aspiration can carry a man to heaven.
A man must know himself, if he is to know Truth.
Let the tempted one know this: that he himself is both tempter and tempted; that all his enemies are within; that the flatterers which seduce, the taunts which stab, and the flames which burn, all spring from that inner region of ignorance and error in which he has hitherto lived; and knowing this, let him be assured of complete victory over evil. When he is sorely tempted, let him not mourn, therefore, but let him rejoice in that his strength is tried and his weakness exposed. For he who truly knows and humbly acknowledges his weakness will not be slow in setting about the acquisition of strength.
He who cannot fearlessly face his lower nature cannot climb the rugged heights of renunciation.
Seek diligently the path of holiness.
The giving up of self is not merely the renunciation of outward things. It consists of the renunciation of the inward sin, the inward error. Not by giving up vain clothing; not by relinquishing riches; not by abstaining from certain foods; not by speaking smooth words; not by merely doing these things is the Truth found. But by giving up the spirit of vanity; by relinquishing the desire for riches; by abstaining from the lust of self-indulgence; by giving up all hatred, strife, condemnation, and self-seeking, and becoming gentle and pure at heart, by doing these things is the Truth found.
The renunciation of self is the way of Truth.
He who ceases to be passion’s slave becomes a master-builder in the Temple of Destiny.
A man commences to develop power when, checking his impulses and selfish inclinations, he falls back upon the higher and calmer consciousness within him, and begins to steady himself upon a principle.
The realization of unchanging principles in consciousness is at once the source and secret of the highest power.
When, after much searching, and suffering, and sacrificing, the light of an eternal principle dawns upon the soul, a divine calm ensues and joy unspeakable gladdens the heart.
He who has realized such a principle ceases to wander, and remains poised and self-possessed.
Only that work endures that is built upon an indestructible principle.
Men and women of real power and influence are few.
It is easy for a man, so long as he is left in the enjoyments of his possessions, to persuade himself that he believes in and adheres to the principles of Peace, Brotherhood, and Universal Love; but if, when his enjoyments are threatened, or he imagines they are threatened, he begins to clamor loudly for war, he shows that he believes in and stands upon, not Peace, Brotherhood, and Love, but strife, selfishness, and hatred.
He who does not desert his principles when threatened with the loss of every earthly thing, even to the loss of reputation and life, is the man of power, is the man whose every word endures, is the man whom the after-world honors, reveres, and worships.
There is no way to the acquirement of spiritual power except by that inward illumination and enlightenment.
All pain and sorrow is spiritual starvation, and aspiration is the cry for food.
Man's essential being is inward, invisible, spiritual, and as such it derives its life, its strength, from within not from without. Outward things are channels through which its energies are expended, but for renewal it must fall back on the inward silence. In so far as man seeks to drown this silence in the noisy pleasures of the senses, and endeavors to live in the conflicts of outward things, just so much does he reap the experiences of pain and sorrow, which, becoming at last intolerable, drive him back to the feet of the inward Comforter, to the shrine of the peaceful solitude within.
It is in solitude only that a man can be truly revealed to himself.
Inward harmony is spiritual power.
Take the principle of Divine Love, and quietly and diligently meditate upon it with the object of arriving at a thorough understanding of it. Bring its searching light to bear upon all your habits, your actions, your speech and intercourse with others, your every secret thought and desire. As you persevere in this course, the Divine Love will become more and more perfectly revealed to you, and your own shortcomings will stand out in more and more vivid contrast, spurring you on to renewed endeavor; and having once caught a glimpse of the incomparable majesty of that imperishable principle, you will never again rest in your weakness, your selfishness, your imperfection, but will pursue that Love until you have relinquished every discordant element, and have brought yourself into perfect harmony with it.
Make no stay, no resting-place, until the inmost garment of your soul is bereft of every stain.
In solitude a man gathers strength to meet the difficulties and temptations of life.
Just as the body requires rest for the recuperation of its forces, so the spirit requires solitude for the renewal of its energies. Solitude is as indispensable to man’s spiritual welfare as sleep is to his bodily well-being; and pure thought, or meditation, which is evoked in solitude, is to the spirit what activity is to the body. As the body breaks down when deprived of the needful rest and sleep, so do the spirits of men break down when deprived of the necessary silence and solitude. Man, as a spiritual being, cannot be maintained in strength, uprightness, and peace except he periodically withdraw himself from the outer world of perishable things, and reach inwardly towards the abiding and imperishable realities.
He who loves Truth, who desires and seeks wisdom, will be much alone.
Human loves are reflections of the Divine Love.
Men, clinging to self, and to the comfortless shadows of evil, are in the habit of thinking of Divine Love as something belonging to a God who is out of reach; as something outside themselves, and that must for ever remain outside. Truly, the Love of God is ever beyond the reach of self, but when the heart and mind are emptied of self then the selfless Love, the supreme Love, the Love that is of God, or Good, becomes an inward and abiding reality.
And this inward realization of holy Love is none other than the Love of Christ that is so much talked about and so little comprehended; the Love that not only saves the soul from sin, but lifts it also above the power of temptation.
Divine Love knows neither sorrow nor change.
Let a man learn to stand alone.
If a man can find no peace within himself, where shall he find it? If he dreads to be alone with himself, what steadfastness shall he find in company? If he can find no joy in communion with his own thoughts, how shall he escape misery in his contact with others? The man who has yet found nothing within himself upon which to stand will nowhere find a place of constant rest. Without is change, and decay, and insecurity; within is all surety and blessedness. The soul is sufficient of itself. Where the need is, there is the abundant supply. Your eternal dwelling-place is within.
Be rich in yourself, be complete in yourself.
Find your center of balance and succeed in standing alone.
Until you can stand alone, looking for guidance neither to spirits nor mortals, gods nor men, but guiding yourself by the light of the truth within you, you are not unfettered and free, not altogether blessed. But do not mistake pride for self-reliance. To attempt to stand upon the crumbling foundation of pride is to be already fallen. No man depends upon others more than the proud man. His happiness is entirely in the hands of others. But the self-reliant man stands, not upon personal pride, but on an abiding law, principle, ideal, reality, within himself. Upon this he poises himself, refusing to be swept from his strong foothold either by the waves of passion within or the storms of opinion without.
Find the joy that results from well-earned freedom, the peace that flows from wise self-possession, the blessedness that inheres in native strength.
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.