The way from passion to peace is by overcoming one’s self.
Frequently the man of passion is most eager to put others right; but the man of wisdom puts himself right. If one is anxious to reform the world, let him begin by reforming himself. The reformation of self does not end with the elimination of the sensual elements only; that is its beginning. It ends only when every vain thought and selfish aim is overcome. Short of perfect purity and wisdom, there is still some form of self-slavery or folly which needs to be conquered.
On the wings of aspiration man rises from earth to heaven, from ignorance to knowledge, from the under darkness to the upper light. Without it he remains a groveling animal, earthly, sensual, unenlightened, and uninspired.
Aspiration is the longing for heavenly things.
Where is peace to be found! Where is the hiding place of truth!
Let first things be put first; work before play; duty before enjoyment; and others before self: this is an excellent rule which cannot lead astray. To make a right beginning is halfway to victory. The athlete who makes a bad start may lose his prize; the merchant who makes a false start may lose his reputation; and the Truth-seeker who makes a wrong start may forego the crown of Righteousness. To begin with pure thoughts, sterling rectitude, unselfish purpose, noble aims, and an incorruptible conscience—this is to start right, this it is to put first things first, so that all other things will follow in harmonious order, making life simple, beautiful, successful, and peaceful.
The soul will cry out for its lost heritage.
If one would find peace, he must come out of passion.
So long as animal conditions taste sweet to a man, he cannot aspire: he is so far satisfied; but when their sweetness turns to bitterness, then in his sorrow he thinks of nobler things. When he is deprived of earthly joy, he aspires to the joy which is heavenly. It is when impurity turns to suffering that purity is sought. Truly aspiration rises, phoenix-like, from the dead ashes of repentance, but on its powerful pinions man can reach the heaven of heavens.
The man of aspiration has entered the way which leads to peace; and surely he will reach that end if he stays not nor turns back. If he constantly renews his mind with glimpses of the heavenly vision, he will reach the heavenly state.
That which can be conceived can be achieved.
Our life is what we make it by our own thoughts and deeds.
Man attains in the measure that he aspires. His longing to be is the gauge of what he can be. To fix the mind is to foreordain the achievement. As man can experience and know all low things, so he can experience and know all high things. As he has become human, so he can become divine. The turning of the mind in high and divine directions is the sole and needful task.
What is impurity but the impure thoughts of the thinker? What is purity but the pure thoughts of the thinker? One man does not do the thinking of another. Each man is pure or impure of himself alone. The man of aspiration sees before him the pathway up the heavenly heights, and his heart already experiences a foretaste of the final peace.
There is a life of victory over sin, and triumph over evil.
When a man wishes and wills he can find the good and the true.
The Gates of Heaven are forever open, and no one is prevented from entering by any will or power but his own; but no one can enter the Kingdom of Heaven so long as he is enamored of, and chooses, the seductions of hell, so long as he resigns himself to sin and sorrow.
There is a larger, higher, nobler, diviner life than that of sinning and suffering, which is so common—in which, indeed, nearly all are immersed—a life of victory over sin, and triumph over evil; a life wise and happy, benign and tranquil, virtuous and peaceful. This life can be found and lived now, and he who lives it is steadfast in the midst of change; restful among the restless; peaceful, though surrounded by strife.
Every moment is the time of choice; every hour is destiny.
The lover of the pure life renews his mind daily.
As the energetic man of business is not daunted by difficulties, but studies how to overcome them, so the man of ceaseless aspiration is not crushed into submission by temptations, but meditates how he may fortify his mind; for the tempter is like a coward, he only creeps in at weak and unguarded points. The tempted one should study thoughtfully the nature and meaning of temptation, for until it is known it cannot be overcome. He who is to overcome temptation must understand how it arises in his own darkness and error, and must study, by introspection and meditation, how to disperse the darkness and supplant error by truth.
A man must know himself if he is to know truth. Self-knowledge is the handmaid of self-conquest.
Engage daily in holy meditation on Truth and its attainment.
As errors and impunities are revealed, purge them way.
Every step upward means the leaving of something behind and below. The high is reached only at the sacrifice of the low. The good is secured only by abandoning the evil. Knowledge is acquired only by the destruction of ignorance. Livery acquisition has its price, which must be paid "to the uttermost farthing." Every animal, every creeping tiling, possesses some gift, so power, which man, in his upward march, has laid down, which he has exchanged for some higher gift, or power. What great good men forfeit by clinging to old selfish habits! Behind every humble sacrifice a winged angel waits to bear us up the heights of knowledge and wisdom.
Let him who has attained guard against falling back. Let him be careful in little things, and be well fortified against the entrance of sin.
Aim, with ardor, for the attainment of a perfect life.
This selection is not found in any of Allen's books.
The strife of the world in all its forms has its origin in one common cause, namely, individual selfishness.
All the varied activities of human life are rooted in, and draw their vitality from, one common source—the human heart. The cause of all suffering and all happiness resides, not in the outer activities of human life, but in the inner activities of the heart and mind; and every external agency is sustained by the life which it derives from human conduct.
The man, who cannot endure to have his errors and shortcomings brought to the surface and made known, but tries to hide them, is unfit to walk the highway of Truth. He is not properly equipped to battle with and overcome temptation. He who cannot fearlessly face his lower nature cannot climb the rugged heights of renunciation.
Each man comes under the laws of his own being, never under the laws of another.
When the soul is most tried, its need is greatest.
Do not despair because of failure. From your particular failure there is a special greatness, a peculiar wisdom, to be gained; and no teacher can lead you to that greatness, that wisdom, more surely and swiftly than your experience of failure. In every mistake you make, in every fall you encounter, there is a lesson of vital import if you will but search it out; and he who will stoop to discover the good in that which appears to be disastrous will rise superior to every event, and will utilize his failures as winged steeds to bear him to a final and supreme success.
Foolish men blame others for their lapses and sins, but let the truth-lover blame only himself. Let him acknowledge his complete responsibility for his own conduct.
Where temptation is powerful, the greater and more enduring will be the victory.
The great need of the soul is the need of this permanent principle called righteousness.
The old must pass away before the new can appear. The old cottage must be demolished before the new mansion can appear upon its site. The old error must be destroyed before the new truth can come. The old self must be renounced before the new man can be born. When the old self of temper, impatience, envy, pride, and impurity has perished, then in its place will appear the new man of gentleness, patience, goodwill, humility, and purity. Let the old life of sin and sorrow pass; let the new life of Righteousness and Joy come in... Then all that was old and ugly will be made new and beautiful.
It is in the realization of this Principle where the Kingdom of Heaven, the abiding home of the soul, resides, and which is the source and storehouse of every permanent blessing.
A life of virtue is noble and excellent.
It matters little what is without, for it is all a reflection of your own consciousness.
The deplorable failure of many outward and isolated reforms is traceable to the fact that their devotees pursue them as an end in themselves, failing to see that they are merely steps towards ultimate, individual perfection.
All true reform must come from within, in a changed heart and mind. The giving up of certain foods and drinks, and the breaking away from certain outward habits, are good and necessary beginnings; but they are only beginnings, and to end there is to fall far short of a true spiritual life. It is good, therefore, to cleanse the heart, to correct the mind, and to develop the understanding, for we know that the one thing needed is a regenerate heart.
It matters everything what you are within, for everything without will be mirrored and colored accordingly.
Renew your resolution daily, and in the hour of temptation do not depart from the right path.
The days are lengthening. Each day now the sun rises a little higher, and the light lingers a little longer. So each day we can strengthen our character; each day we can open our heart a little more to the light of Truth, and allow the Sun of Righteousness to shine more highly in our mind. The sun does not increase in volume or intensity, but the earth turns towards it, and receives more as it turns. All that there is of Truth and Good is now. It does not increase or diminish, but as we turn towards it we receive of its radiance and beneficence in ever-increasing abundance and power.
As the artisan acquires skill in fashioning the articles of his craft by daily and diligent practice with his tools, so do you acquire skill in fashioning good deeds by daily and diligent practice of the Truth.
You can acquire Truth only by practice.
This selection is not found in any of Allen's books.
The wise purify their thoughts.
Every day is a new birth in time, holding out new beginnings, new possibilities, and new achievements. The ages have witnessed the stars in their orbits, but this day hath no age witnessed. It is a new appearance, a new reality. It heralds a new life—yea, a new order, a new society, a new age. It holds out new hopes, new opportunities, to all men. In it you can become a new man, a new woman. For you it can be the day of regeneration, renewal, and rebirth. From the old past with its mistakes, failures, and sorrows, you can rise a new being, endued with power and purpose, and radiant with the inspiration of a new ideal.
Be chaste in mind and body. Abandon sensual pleasures. Purge the mind of selfishness, and live a life of exalted purity.
Be upright, gentle, and pure-hearted.
Exert yourself ceaselessly in decreasing evil and accumulating good.
Victory of all kinds is preceded by a season of preparation. It can no more appear spontaneously and erratically than can a flower or a mountain. Like them, it is the culminating point in a process of growth, in a series of causes and effects. No mere wishing, no magic word will produce worldly success; it must be achieved by an orderly succession of well-directed efforts. No spiritual victory will be achieved by him who imagines that it does not begin until the hour of temptation arrives. All spiritual triumphs are gained in the silent hour of meditation, and through a series of successes in lesser trials. The time of great temptation is the climax of a conquest that long preparation has made certain and complete.
Fix your minds on the practice of virtue, and the comprehension and application of fixed and noble principles.
This selection is not found in any of Allen's books.
The never ending Gladness awaits your homecoming.
As the falling rain prepares the earth for the future crops of grain and fruit, so the rains of many sorrows showering upon the heart prepare and mellow it for the coming of that wisdom that perfects the mind and gladdens the heart. As the clouds darken the earth but to cool and fructify it, so the clouds of grief cast a shadow over the heart to prepare it for nobler things. The hour of sorrow is the hour of reverence. It puts an end to the shallow sneer, the ribald jest, the cruel calumny; it softens the heart with sympathy, and enriches the mind with thoughtfulness. Wisdom is mainly recollection of all that was learned by sorrow.
Do not think that your sorrow will remain; it will pass away like a cloud.
Where self ends, grief passes away.
Live sweetly and happily, as becomes the dignity of a true manhood and womanhood.
There is no greater happiness than to be occupied with good, whether it be good thoughts, good actions, or good employment; for every good thing is fraught with bliss, and evil cannot enter the heart or house that is tenanted by all that is good. The mind whose doors are guarded by good shuts out unhappiness as the well-sentries garrison shuts out the foe. Unhappiness can only enter through unguarded doors, and even then its power over the tenant is not complete unless it finds him occupied with evil. Not to entertain evil thoughts; not to do bad actions; not to engage in worthless or questionable employment, but to resort to good in all things—this is the source of supreme happiness.
Pure happiness is the rightful and happy condition of the soul.
All things are orderly and sequential being governed by the law of causation.
Do not trouble about results, or be anxious as to the future; but be troubled about personal shortcomings, and be anxious to remove them; for know this simple truth—wrong does not result from right, and a good present cannot give birth to a bad future. You are the custodian of your deeds, but not of the results which flow from them. The deeds of today bring the happiness or sorrow of tomorrow. Be therefore concerned about what you think and do, rather than about what may or may not come to you; for he whose deeds are good does not concern himself about results, and is freed from fear of future ill.
Verily the Law reigneth, and reigneth for ever, and Justice and Love are its eternal ministers.
Speak only words which are truthful and sincere.
The storm may rage without, but it cannot affect us if there is peace within. As by the fireside there is security from the fiercest storm, so the heart that is steadfast in the knowledge of Truth abides in peace, though all around be strife and perturbation. The bitter opposition of men and the unrest of the world cannot make us bitter and restless unless we enter into and cooperate with it. Rather, if we have peace in our heart, will the outer turmoil cause our peace to deepen, to take firmer root, and to show forth more abundantly in works of peace for the softening of human hearts and the enlightening of human minds.
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.
He who speaks evil of another cannot find the way of peace.
Purification is necessarily severe. All becoming is painful.
When a storm has subsided, and all is calm again, observe how all nature seems to pause in a restorative silence. A restful quiet pervades all things, so that even inanimate objects seem to participate in the recuperative repose. So when a too violent eagerness or a sudden burst of passion has spent itself, there comes a period of reflective thought, a time of calm, in which the mind is restored, and things are seen in their true outlines and right proportions. It is wise to take advantage of this quiet time by gaining a truer knowledge of one’s self, and forming a more kindly judgment of others. The hour of calm is the hour of restoration.
Joy comes and fills the self-emptied heart; it abides with the peaceful; its reign is with the pure.
Make your every thought, word, and deed sweet and pure.
In the dark times of sorrow, men approach very near to Truth.
When the tears flow, and the heart aches, remember then the sorrow of the world. When sorrow has overtaken you, remember then that it overtakes all; that none escape it; that it is the great fact in human life that makes religion a necessity. Think not that your pain is isolated and unjustly inflicted. It is but a fragment of the great pain of the world. It is the common experience of all. Perceiving this, let sorrow gently lead you into a deeper religion, a wider compassion, a more tender regard for all men and all creatures. Let it bring you into greater love and deeper peace.
Bear well in mind that nothing can overtake you that does not belong to you, and that is not for your eternal good.
The end of sorrow is joy and peace.
The sorrowless state is reached through sorrow.
As light displaces darkness, and quiet follows the storm, so gladness displaces sorrow, and peace comes after pain. The deeper wisdom which flows from acquaintance with sorrow brings with it a holier and more abiding joy than that shallow excitement that preceded sorrow. Between the lesser joys of the senses and the greater joy of the spirit lies the dark vale of sorrow through which all earthly pilgrims pass, and having passed through it, the heavenly Joy, the Abiding Gladness, is henceforth our companion. They who have passed from the earthly to the heavenly pilgrimage have lifted the dark veil of sorrow from the radiant face of Truth.
He whose treasure is Truth, who fashions his life in accordance with Wisdom, will find the Joy which does not pass away; crossing the wide ocean of illusion, he will come to the sorrowless Shore.
All outward oppression is but the shadow and effect of the real oppression within.
In happiness and unhappiness, in joy and sorrow, in success and failure, in victory and defeat; in religion, business, and circumstances; in all the issues of life, the determining factor is character. In the mentality of individuals lie the hidden causes of all that pertains to their outward life. Character is both cause and effect. It is the doer of deeds and the recipient of results. Heaven, hell, purgatory, are contained within it. The character that is impure and vicious will experience a life from which the elements of happiness and beauty are lacking, wheresoever they may be placed; but a pure and virtuous character will show forth a life that is happy and beautiful. As you make your character, so will you shape your life.
To put away self and passion, and establish one’s self in right doing, this is the highest wisdom.
Not departing from the path of holiness, but surmounting all difficulties and continuing to the end whosoever does this will comprehend Truth.
When great difficulties arise, and troubles beset, regard your perplexity as a call to deeper thought and more vigorous action. Nothing will attack you that you are not capable of overcoming; no problem will vex you that you cannot solve. The greater your trial, the greater your test of strength, and the more complete and triumphant your victory. However complicated your maze of confusion may be, there is a way out of it, and the finding of that way will exercise your powers to the utmost, and will bring out all your latent skill, energy, and resource. When you have mastered that which threatens to master you, you will rejoice in a new found strength.
Knowing the Truth by practice, and being at one with Truth, you will be invincible, for Truth cannot be confounded or overthrown.
This selection is not found in any of Allen's books.
Look not outside thee nor behind thee for the light and blessedness of Truth, but look within.
We advance by a series of efforts. We gather strength, whether mental or physical, by a succession of strivings in given directions. Exertion, oft repeated, leads to power. It is by obeying this law that the athlete trains himself to accomplish wonderful feats of speed or endurance. When the exertion is along intellectual lines, it leads to unusual talent, or genius; and when in spiritual channels, it leads to wisdom, or transcendent greatness. We should not mourn when circumstances are driving us to greater efforts and more protracted exertion. Events are only evil to the mind that makes them so. They are good to him that accepts their discipline as salutary.
Thou wilt find Truth within the narrow sphere of thy duty, even in the humble and hidden sacrifices of thine own heart.
This selection is not found in any of Allen's books.
There is no blessedness anywhere until impatience is sacrificed.
Despondency, anxiety, worry, and irritability cannot cure the ills against which they are directed. They only add more misery to the troubles that prompt them. The cultivation of a steadfast and serene spirit cannot be overlooked if life is to yield any measure of usefulness and happiness. The trifles, and even greater troubles, which annoy would soon dissolve and disappear if confronted with a temper that refuses to be ruffled and disturbed. Personal aims, wishes, schemes, and pleasures will meet with checks, rebuffs, and obstacles; and it is in learning to meet these reverses in a wise and calm spirit that we discover the true and abiding happiness within our heart.
When impatience and irritability are put away, then is realized and enjoyed the blessedness of a strong, quiet, and peaceful mind.
The greatest blessedness comes to him who infuses into his mind the purest and noblest thoughts.
We are becoming wise when we know and realize that happiness abides in certain habits of mind, or mental characteristics, rather than in material possessions, or in certain combinations of circumstances. It is a common delusion to imagine that if one only possessed this or that— a little more money, a little more leisure, this man’s talent, or that man’s opportunities; or if one had better friends, or more favorable surroundings—one would be happy with a perfect felicity. Alas! Discontent and misery lie in such vain wishes. If happiness is not already found within, it will never be found without. The happiness of a wise mind abides through all vicissitudes.
Your whole life is a series of effects, having their cause in thought—in your own thought.
A sweet and happy soul is the ripened fruit of experience and wisdom.
There is an infinite patience in nature which it is profitable to contemplate. A comet may take a thousand years to complete its orbit; the sea may occupy ten thousand years in wearing away the land; the complete evolution of the human race may occupy millions of years. This should make us ashamed of our hurry, fussiness, discontent, disappointments, and ridiculous self-importance over trifling things of an hour or a day. Patience is conducive to the highest greatness, the most far-reaching usefulness, and the profoundest peace. Without it, life will lose much of its power and influence, and its joy will be largely destroyed.
"So with well-ordered strenuousness Raise thou thy structure of Success."
He who fills with useful pursuits the minutes as they come and go grows old in honor and wisdom, and prosperity abides with him.
No pure thought, no unselfish deed can fall short of its felicitous results, and every such result is a happy consummation.
If today is cold and gloomy, is that a cause for despair? Do we not know that there are warm, bright days ahead? Already the birds are beginning to sing, and the tremulous trill in their little throats is prophetic of the approaching love of a new spring, and of the bounty of a summer that as yet is but a sleeping germ in the womb of this gloomy day, but whose birth is sure, and its full growth certain. No effort is vain. The spring of all your aspirations is near—very near; and the summer of your unselfish deeds will surely come to pass.
Self shall depart, and Truth shall take its place; The Changeless One, the Indivisible, Shall take up His abode in me, and cleanse the White Robe of the Heart Invisible.
Go to your task with love in your heart, and you will go to it light-hearted and cheerful.
All evil is corrective and remedial, and is therefore not permanent.
By earnest self-examination strive to realize, and not merely hold as a theory, that evil is a passing phase, a self-created shadow; that all your pains, sorrows, and misfortunes have come to you by a process of undeviating and absolutely perfect law; have come to you because you deserve and require them, and that by first enduring, and then understanding them, you may be made stronger, wiser, nobler. When you have fully entered into this realization, you will be in a position to mould your own circumstances, to transmute all evil into good, and to weave, with a master hand, the fabric of your destiny.
Cease to be a disobedient child in the school of experience, and begin to learn, with humility and patience, the lessons that are set for your ultimate perfection.
Mediation centered upon divine realities is the very essence and soul of prayer.
Tell me what that is upon which you most frequently and intensely think, that to which, in your silent hours, your soul most naturally turns, and I will tell you to what place of pain or peace you are traveling, and whether you are growing into the likeness of the divine or the bestial. There is an unavoidable tendency to become literally the embodiment of that quality upon which one most constantly thinks. Let, therefore, the object of your meditation be above and not below, so that every time that you revert to it in thought you will be lifted up; let it be pure and unmixed with any selfish element; so shall your heart become purified and drawn nearer to Truth, and not defiled and dragged more hopelessly into error.
Meditation is the secret of all growth in spiritual life and knowledge.
If you ceaselessly think upon that which is pure and unselfish, you will surely become pure and unselfish.
If you are daily praying for wisdom, for peace, for loftier purity, and a fuller realization of Truth, and that for which you pray is still far from you, it means that you are praying for one thing, whilst living out in thought and act another. If you will cease from such waywardness, taking your mind off those things, the selfish clinging to which debars you from the possession of the stainless realities for which you pray; if you will no longer ask God to grant you that which you do not deserve, or to bestow upon you that love and compassion which you refuse to bestow upon others, but will commence to think and act in the spirit of Truth, you will day by day be growing into those realities, so that ultimately you will become one with them.
Enter the path of Meditation, and let the supreme object of your meditation be Truth.
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.