Wisdom is the aim of every philosophy.
In whatever condition a man finds himself, he can always find the True; and he can find it only by so utilizing his present condition as to become strong and wise. The effeminate hankering after rewards, and the craven fear of punishment, let them be put away forever, and let a man joyfully bend himself to the faithful performance of all his duties, forgetting himself and his worthless pleasures, and living strong and pure and self-contained; so shall he surely find the Unfailing Wisdom, the God-like Patience and Strength. "The situation that has not its Duty, its Ideal, was never yet occupied by man" All that is beautiful and blessed is in thyself, not in thy neighbor’s wealth. Thou art poor? Thou art poor indeed if thou art not stronger than thy poverty! Thou hast suffered calamities? Tell me, wilt thou cure calamity by adding anxiety to it? There is no evil but will vanish if thou wilt wisely meet it.
Canst thou mend a broken vase by weeping over it?
The might of meekness!
The man who conquers another by force is strong; the man who conquers himself by Meekness is mighty. He who conquers another by force will himself likewise be conquered; he who conquers himself by Meekness will never be overthrown, for the human cannot overcome the divine. The meek man is triumphant in defeat. Socrates lives the more by being put to death; in the crucified Jesus the risen Christ is revealed; and Stephen, in receiving his stoning, defies the hurting power of stones. That which is real cannot be destroyed, but only that which is unreal. When a man finds that within him which is real, which is constant, abiding, changeless, and eternal, he enters into that Reality, and becomes meek. All the powers of darkness will come against him, but they will do him no hurt, and will at last depart from him.
Meekness is a divine quality, and as such is all powerful.
Nothing is hidden from him who overcomes himself.
Into the cause of causes shall thou penetrate, and lifting, one after another, every veil of illusion, shall reach at last the inmost Heart of Being. Thus becoming one with Life, thou shall know all life, and, seeing into causes, and knowing realities, thou shall be no more anxious about thyself, and others, and the world, but shall see that all things that are, are engines of the Great Law. Canopied with gentleness, thou shall bless where others curse; love where others hate; forgive where others condemn; yield where others strive; give up where others grasp; lose where others gain. And in their strength they shall be weak; and in thy weakness thou shall be strong; yea, thou shall mightily prevail. “Therefore, when Heaven would save a man, it enfolds him with gentleness."
He that hath not unbroken gentleness hath not Truth.
How can he fear any who wrongs none?
The righteous man is invincible. No enemy can possibly overcome or confound him; and he needs no other protection than that of his own integrity and holiness. As it is impossible for evil to overcome Good, so the righteous man can never be brought low by the unrighteous. Slander, envy, hatred, malice can never reach him, nor cause him any suffering, and those who try to injure him only succeed ultimately in bringing ignominy upon themselves.
The righteous man having nothing to hide, committing no acts which require stealth, and harboring no thoughts and desires which he would not like others to know, is fearless and unashamed. His step is firm, his body upright, and his speech direct and without ambiguity. He looks everybody in the face. How can he be ashamed before any who deceives none?
Ceasing from all wrong you can never be wronged; ceasing from all deceit you can never be deceived.
The universe is preserved because Love is at the Heart of it.
The Children of Light who abide in the Kingdom of Heaven see the universe, and all that it contains, as the manifestation of one Law—the Law of Love. They see Love as the molding, sustaining, protecting, and perfecting Power immanent in all things animate and inanimate. To them Love is not merely and only a rule of life, it is the Law of life, it is Life itself. Knowing this, they order their whole life in accordance with Love, not regarding their own personality. By thus practicing obedience to the Highest, to divine Love, they become conscious partakers of the power of Love, and so arrive at perfect Freedom as Masters of Destiny. Love is Perfect Harmony, pure bliss, and contains, therefore, no element of suffering. Let a man think no thought and do no act that is not in accordance with pure Love, and suffering shall no more trouble him.
Love is the only preserving power.
To know Love is to know that there is no harmful power in the whole universe.
If a man would know Love, and partake of its undying bliss, he must practice it in his heart; he must become Love. He who always acts from the spirit of Love is never deserted, is never left in a dilemma or difficulty, for Love (impersonal Love) is both Knowledge and Power. He who has learned how to Love has learned how to master every difficulty, how to transmute every failure into success, how to clothe every event and condition in garments of blessedness and beauty.
The way to Love is by self-mastery, and, traveling that way, a man builds himself up in Knowledge as he proceeds. Arriving at Love, he enters into full possession of body and mind, by right of the divine Power which he has earned. "Perfect Love casteth out fear."
Perfect Love is perfect Harmlessness. And he, who has destroyed in himself all thoughts of harm, and all desire to harm, receives the universal protection.
By self-enlightenment is Perfect Freedom found.
There is no bondage in the Heavenly Life. There is Perfect Freedom. This is its great glory. This Supreme Freedom is gained only by obedience. He who obeys the Highest cooperates with the Highest, and so masters every force within himself and every condition without. A man may choose the lower and neglect the Higher, but the Higher is never overcome by the lower: herein lies the revelation of Freedom. Let a man choose the Higher and abandon the lower; he shall then establish himself as an overcomer, and shall realize Perfect Freedom.
To give the reins to inclination is the only slavery; to conquer oneself is the only freedom. The slave to self loves his chains, and will not have one of them broken for fear he would be depriving himself of some cherished delight. He thus defeats and enslaves himself.
The Land of Perfect Freedom lies through the Gate of Knowledge.
Man will be free when he is freed from self.
All outward oppression is but the shadow and effect of the real oppression within. For ages the oppressed have cried for liberty, and a thousand man-made statutes have failed to give it to them. They can give it only to themselves; they shall find it only in obedience to the Divine Statutes which are inscribed upon their hearts. Let them resort to the inward Freedom, and the shadow of oppression shall no more darken the earth. Let men cease to oppress themselves, and no man shall oppress his brother. Men legislate for an outward freedom, yet continue to render such freedom impossible of achievement by fostering an inward condition of enslavement. They thus pursue a shadow without, and ignore the substance within. All outward forms of bondage and oppression will cease to be when man ceases to be the willing bond-slave of passion, error, and ignorance.
Freedom is to the free!
The True, the Beautiful, the Great is always childlike, and is perennially fresh and young.
The great man is always the good man; he is always simple. He draws from, nay, lives in, the inexhaustible fountain of divine Goodness within; he inhabits the Heavenly Places; communes with the vanished great ones; lives with the Invisible: he is inspired, and breathes the airs of Heaven. He who would be great, let him learn to be good. He will therefore become great by not seeking greatness. Aiming at greatness, a man arrives at nothingness; aiming at nothingness he arrives at greatness. The desire to be great is an indication of littleness, of personal vanity and obtrusiveness. The willingness to disappear from gaze, the utter absence of self-aggrandizement, is the witness of greatness. Littleness seeks and loves authority. Greatness is never authoritative, and it thereby becomes the authority to which the after ages appeal.
Be thy simple self, thy better self, the impersonal self, and lo! thou art great!
The greatness that is flawless, rounded, and complete is above and beyond all art.
Wouldst thou preach the living Word? Thou shall forgo thyself, and become that Word. Thou shall know one thing—that the human heart is good, is divine; thou shall live one thing—Love. Thou shall love all, seeing no evil, believing no evil; then, though thou speak but little, thy every act shall be a power, thy every word a precept. By thy pure thought, thy selfless deed, though it appears hidden, thou shall preach, down the ages, to untold multitudes of aspiring souls.
To him who chooses Goodness, sacrificing all, is given that which includes all. He becomes the possessor of the best, communes with the Highest, and enters the company of the Great.
The greatness that is flawless, rounded, and complete is above and beyond all art. It is Perfect Goodness in manifestation: therefore the greatest souls are always teachers.
Every natural law has its spiritual counterpart.
Thoughts are seeds, which, falling in the soil of the mind, germinate and develop until they reach the completed stage, blossoming into deeds good or bad, brilliant or stupid, according to their nature, and ending as seeds of thought to be again sown in other minds. A teacher is a sower of seed, a spiritual agriculturist, while he who teaches himself is the wise farmer of his own mental plot. The growth of a thought is as the growth of a plant. The seed must be sown seasonably, and time is required for its full development into the plant of knowledge and the flower of wisdom.
The seen is the mirror of the unseen.
Energy to be productive must not only be directed towards good ends, it must be carefully controlled and conserved.
The advice of one of the Great Teachers to his disciples, "Keep wide awake," tersely expresses the necessity for tireless energy if one’s purpose is to be accomplished, and is equally good advice to the salesman as to the saint. "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," and liberty is the reaching of one’s fixed ends. It was the same Teacher who said: "If anything is to be done, let a man do it at once; let him attack it vigorously!" The wisdom of this advice is seen when it is remembered that action is creative, that increase and development follow upon legitimate use. To get more energy we must use to the full that which we already possess. Only to him that puts his hand vigorously to some task does power and freedoms come.
Noise and hurry are so much energy running to waste.
It is a great delusion that noise means power.
Where calmness is, there is the greatest power. Calmness is the sure indication of a strong, well-trained, patiently disciplined mind. The calm man knows his business, be sure of it. His words are few, but they tell. His schemes are well planned, and they work true, like a well-balanced machine. He sees a long way ahead, and makes straight for his object. The enemy, Difficulty, he converts into a friend, and makes profitable use of him, for he has studied well how to "agree with his adversary while he is in the way with him." Like a wise general, he has anticipated all emergencies. Indeed, he is the man who is prepared beforehand. In his meditations, in the counsels of his judgment, he has conferred with causes, and has caught the bent of all contingencies. He is never taken by surprise; is never in a hurry; is safe in the keeping of his own steadfastness; and is sure of his ground.
Working steam is not heard. It is the escaping steam which makes a great noise.
Energy is the first pillar in the temple of prosperity.
Calmness, as distinguished from the dead placidity of languor, is the acme of concentrated energy. There is a focused mentality behind it. In agitation and excitement the mentality is dispersed. It is irresponsible, and is without force or weight. The fussy, peevish, irritable man has no influence. He repels, not attracts. He wonders why his "easy-going" neighbor succeeds, and is sought after, while he, who is always hurrying, worrying, and troubling (he miscalls it striving), fails, and is avoided. His neighbor, being a calmer man, not more easygoing but more deliberate, gets through more work, does it more skillfully, and is more self-possessed and manly. This is the reason of his success and influence. His energy is controlled and used, while the other man’s energy is dispersed and abused.
No energy means no capacity.
The spendthrift can never become rich, but, if he begins with riches, must soon become poor.
The poor man who is to become rich must begin at the bottom, and must not wish, or try, to appear affluent by attempting something far beyond his means. There is always plenty of room and scope at the bottom, and it is a safe place from which to begin, as there is nothing below, and everything above. Many a young business man comes at once to grief by swagger and display, which he foolishly imagines are necessary to success, but which, deceiving no one but himself, lead quickly to ruin. A modest and true beginning, in any sphere, will better ensure success than an exaggerated advertisement of one’s standing and importance.
The thrifty and prudent are on the way to riches.
Vanity leading to excessive luxury in clothing is a vice which should be studiously avoided by virtuous people.
An obtrusive display in clothing and jewelry bespeaks a vulgar and empty mind. Modest and cultured people are modest and becoming in their dress and their spare money is wisely used in further enhancing their culture and virtue. Education and progress are of more importance to them than needless, vain apparel; and literature, art, and science are encouraged thereby. A true refinement is in the mind and behavior, and a mind adorned with virtue and intelligence cannot add to its attractiveness (though it may detract from it) by an ostentatious display of the body.
Simplicity in dress, as in other things, is the best.
Money wasted can be restored; health wasted can be restored; but time wasted can never be restored.
The man who gets up early in order to think and plan, that he may weigh and consider and forecast, will always manifest greater skill and success in his particular pursuit than the man who lies in bed till the last moment, and only gets up in time to begin breakfast. An hour spent in this way before breakfast will prove of the greatest value in making one’s efforts fruitful. It is a means of calming and clarifying the mind and of focusing one’s energies so as to render them more powerful and effective. The best and most abiding success is that which is made before eight o’clock in the morning. He who is at his business at six o’clock will always—all other conditions being equal—be a long way ahead of the man who is in bed at eight.
The day is not lengthened for any man.
Wisdom is the highest form of skill.
There is one right way of doing everything, even the smallest, and a thousand wrong ways. Skill consists in finding the one right way, and adhering to it. The inefficient bungle confusedly about among the thousand wrong ways, and do not adopt the right one when it is pointed out to them. They do this in some cases because they think, in their ignorance, that they know best, thereby placing themselves in a position where it becomes impossible to learn, even though it be only to learn how to clean a window or sweep a floor. Thoughtlessness and inefficiency are all too common. There is plenty of room in the world for thoughtful and efficient people. Employers of labor know how difficult it is to get the best workmanship. The good workman, whether with tools or brains, whether with speech or thought, will always find a place for the exercise of his skill.
Skill is gained by thoughtfulness and attention.
There is no striking a cheap bargain with prosperity.
As the bubble cannot endure, so the fraud cannot prosper. He makes a feverish spurt in the acquirement of money, and then collapses. Nothing is ever gained, ever can be gained, by fraud. It is but wrested for a time, to be again returned with heavy interest. But fraud is not confined to the unscrupulous swindler. All who are getting, or trying to get, money without giving an equivalent are practicing fraud, whether they know it or not. Men who are anxiously scheming how to get money without working for it are frauds, and mentally they are closely allied to the thief and swindler under whose influence they come, sooner or later, and who deprives them of their capital.
Prosperity must be purchased, not only with intelligent labor, but with moral force.
Sterling integrity tells wherever it is, and stamps its hallmark on all transactions.
To be complete and strong, integrity must embrace the whole man, and extend to all the details of his life; and it must be so thorough and permanent as to withstand all temptations to swerve into compromise. To fail in one point is to fail in all, and to admit, under stress, a compromise with falsehood, howsoever necessary and insignificant it may appear, is to throw down the shield of integrity, and to stand exposed to the onslaughts of evil.
The man who works as carefully and conscientiously when his employer is away as when his eye is on him, will not long remain in an inferior position. Such integrity in duty, in performing the details of his work, will quickly lead him into the fertile regions of prosperity.
The man of integrity is in line with the fixed law of things. He is like a strong tree whose roots are fed by perennial springs, and which no tempest can lay low.
Ignorant men imagine that dishonesty is a shortcut to prosperity.
Honesty is the surest way to success. The day at last comes when the dishonest man repents in sorrow and suffering; but no man ever needs to repent of having been honest. Even when the honest man fails—as he does sometimes through lacking other of those pillars, such as energy, economy, or system—his failure is not the grievous thing that it is to the dishonest men, for he can always rejoice in the fact that he has never defrauded a fellow-being. Even in his darkest hour he finds repose in a clear conscience.
The dishonest man is morally short-sighted.
Strong men have strong purposes and strong purposes lead to strong achievements.
Invincibility is a glorious protector, but it only envelops the man whose integrity is perfectly pure and unassailable. Never to violate, even in the most insignificant particular, is to be invincible against all the assaults of innuendo, slander, and misrepresentation. The man who has failed in one point is vulnerable, and the shaft of evil, like the arrow in the heel of Achilles, will lay him low. Pure and perfect integrity is proof against all attack and injury, enabling its possessor to meet all opposition and persecution with dauntless courage and sublime equanimity. No amount of talent, intellect, or business acumen can give a man that power of mind and peace of heart which come from an enlightened acceptance and observance of lofty moral principles.
Moral force is the greatest power.
The test of a man is in his immediate acts, and not in his ultra sentiments.
Sympathy should not be confounded with that maudlin and superficial sentiment which, like a pretty flower without root, presently perishes and leaves behind neither seed nor fruit. To fall into hysterical weeping when parting with a friend, or on hearing of some suffering abroad, is not sympathy. Neither are bursts of violent indignation against the cruelties and injustices of others any indication of a sympathetic mind. If one is cruel at home—if he badgers his wife, or beats his children, or abuses his servants, or stabs his neighbors with shafts of sarcasm—what hypocrisy is in his profession of love for suffering people who are outside the immediate range of his influence! What shallow sentiment informs his bursts of indignation against the injustices and hard-heartedness in the world around him!
Sympathy is a deep, inexpressible tenderness which is shown in a consistently self-forgetful, gentle character.
Lack of sympathy arises in egotism; sympathy arises in love.
Sympathy leads us to the hearts of all men, so that we become spiritually united to them, and when they suffer we feel the pain; when they are glad, we rejoice with them; when they are despised and persecuted, we spiritually descend with them into the depths, and take into our hearts their humiliation and distress; and he who has this binding, uniting spirit of sympathy can never be cynical and condemnatory, can never pass thoughtless and cruel judgments upon his fellows, because in his tenderness of heart he is ever with them in their pain.
But to have reached this ripened sympathy, it must need be that he has loved much, suffered much, and sounded the dark depths of sorrow. It springs from acquaintance with the profoundest experiences, so that a man has had conceit, thoughtlessness, and selfishness burnt out of his heart.
Sympathy, in its real and profound sense, is oneness with others in their strivings and sufferings.
Gentleness is the hallmark of spiritual culture.
Let a man beware of greed, of meanness, of envy, of jealousy, of suspicion, for these things, if harbored, will rob him of all that is best in life, aye, even all that is best in material things, as well as all that is best in character and happiness. Let him be liberal of heart and generous of hand, magnanimous and trusting, not only giving cheerfully and often of his substance, but allowing his friends and fellow men freedom of thought and action—let him be thus, and honor, plenty, and prosperity will come knocking at his door for admittance as his friends and guests.
Gentleness is akin to divinity.
A gentle man—one whose good behavior is prompted by thoughtfulness and kindliness—is always loved, whatever may be his origin.
The man who has perfected himself in gentleness never quarrels. He never returns the hard word; he leaves it alone, or meets it with a gentle word, which is far more powerful than wrath. Gentleness is wedded to wisdom, and the wise man has overcome all anger in himself, and so understands how to overcome it in others. The gentle man is saved from most of the disturbances and turmoil with which uncontrolled men afflict themselves. While they are wearing themselves out with wasteful and needless strain, he is quiet and composed, and such quietness and composure are strong to win in the battle of life.
Argument analyses the outer skin, but sympathy reaches to the heart.
Spurious things have no value, whether they be bric-a-brac or men.
It is all-important that we be real; that we harbor no wish to appear other than what we are; that we simulate no virtue, assume no excellence, adopt no disguise. The hypocrite thinks he can hoodwink the world and the eternal law of the world. There is but one person that he hoodwinks, and that is himself, and for that the law of the world inflicts its righteous penalty. There is an old theory that the excessively wicked are annihilated. I think to be a pretender is to come as near to annihilation as a man can get, for there is a sense in which a man is gone, and in his place there is but a mirage of shams.
The sound-hearted man becomes an exemplar: he is, more than a man; he is a reality, a force, a molding principle.
Evil is an experience, and not a power.
The painful experiences of evil pass away as the new experiences of good enter into and possess the field of consciousness. And what are the new experiences of good? They are many and beautiful—such as the joyful knowledge of freedom from sin; the absence of remorse; deliverance from all the torments of temptation; ineffable joy in conditions and circumstances which formerly caused deep affliction; imperviousness to hurt by the actions of others; great patience and sweetness of character; serenity of mind under all circumstances; emancipation from doubt, fear, and anxiety; freedom from all dislike, envy, and enmity.
Evil is a state of ignorance, of undevelopment, and as such it recedes and disappears before the light of knowledge.
When divine good is practiced, life is bliss.
To have transcendent virtue is to enjoy transcendent felicity. The beatific blessedness which Jesus holds out is promised to those having the beatific virtues—to the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and so on. The higher virtue does not merely and only lead to happiness, it is happiness. It is impossible for a man of transcendent virtue to be unhappy. The cause of unhappiness must be sought and found in the self-loving elements, and not in the self-sacrificing qualities. A man may have virtue and be unhappy, but not so if he have divine virtue. Human virtue is mingled with self, and therefore with sorrow; but from divine virtue every taint of self has been purged away, and with it every vestige of misery.
Truth lies upward and beyond.
Where passion is, peace is not; where peace is, passion is not.
Men pray for peace, yet cling to passion; they foster strife, yet pray for heavenly rest. This is ignorance, profound spiritual ignorance; it is not to know the first letter in the alphabet of things divine. Hatred and love, strife and peace, cannot dwell together in the same heart. Where one is admitted as a welcome guest, the other will be turned away as an unwelcome stranger. He who despises another will be despised by others; he who opposes his fellow men will himself be resisted. He should not be surprised, and mourn, that men are divided. He should know that he is propagating strife. He should understand his lack of peace.
By the way of self-conquest is the Perfect Peace achieved.
If men only understood that the wrong act of a brother should not call from them another.
If men only understood
That their wrong can never smother
The wrong doing of another;
That by hatred hate increases, And by Good all evil ceases, They would cleanse their hearts and actions, Banish thence all vile detractions—If they only understood.
If men only understood
That the heart that sins must sorrow,
That the hateful mind tomorrow
Reaps its barren harvest, weeping,
Starving, resting not, nor sleeping,
Tenderness would fill their being,
They would see with Pity’s seeing—
If they only understood.
If men only understood How Love conquers...
...They would ever Live in Love, in hatred never—If they only understood.
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.