As the fountain from the hidden spring, so issues man’s life from the secret recesses of his heart.
As the heart, so is the life. The within is ceaselessly becoming the without. Nothing remains unrevealed. That which is hidden is but for a time; it ripens and comes forth at last. Seed, tree, blossom, and fruit is the fourfold order of the universe. From the state of a man's heart proceed the conditions of his life; his thoughts blossom into deeds, and his deeds bear the fruitage of character and destiny.
Life is ever unfolding from within, and revealing itself to the light, and thoughts engendered in the heart at last reveal themselves in words, actions, and things accomplished.
Mind clothes itself in garments of its own making.
There is no nobler work or higher science than that of self-perfection.
Let man realize that life in its totality proceeds from the mind, and lo, the way of blessedness is opened to him. For he will then discover that he possesses the power to rule his mind, and to fashion it in accordance with his ideal. So will he elect to strongly and steadfastly walk those pathways of thought and action which are altogether excellent; to him life will become beautiful and sacred; and, sooner or later, he will put to flight all evil, confusion, and suffering; for it is impossible for a man to fall short of liberation, enlightenment, and peace who guards with unwearying diligence the gateway of his heart.
He who aims at the possession of a calm, wise, and seeing mind engages in the most sublime task that man can undertake.
This selection is not found in any of Allen's books.
A thought constantly repeated at last becomes a fixed habit.
It is in the nature of the mind to acquire knowledge by the repetition of its experiences. A thought which it is very difficult, at first, to hold and to dwell upon, at last becomes, by constantly being held in the mind, a natural and habitual condition. Just as a boy, when commencing to learn a trade, cannot even handle his tools aright, much less use them correctly, but after long repetition and practice plies them with perfect ease and consummate skill, so a state of mind at first apparently impossible of realization is, by perseverance and practice, at last acquired and built into the character as a natural and spontaneous condition.
In this power of the mind to form and reform its habits, its conditions, is contained the basis of man’s salvation.
When the heart is pure all outward things are pure.
Every sin may be overcome.
A man's life, in its totality, proceeds from his mind, and his mind is a combination of habits, which he can, by patient effort, modify to any extent, and over which he can gain complete ascendancy and control. Let a man realize this, and he has at once obtained possession of the key which shall open the door to his complete emancipation.
But emancipation from the ills of life (which are the ills of one's mind) is a matter of steady growth from within, and not a sudden acquisition from without. Hourly and daily must the mind be trained to think stainless thoughts, and to adopt right and dispassionate attitudes, until he has wrought out of it the Ideal of his holiest dreams.
The Higher Life is a higher living in thought, word, and deed.
Without the right performance of Duty, the higher virtues cannot be known.
All duty should be regarded as sacred, and its faithful and unselfish performance one of the leading rules of conduct. All personal and selfish considerations should be extracted and cast away from the doing of one’s duty; and when this is done, Duty ceases to be irksome, and becomes joyful. Duty is only irksome to him who craves some selfish enjoyment or benefit for himself. Let the man who is chafing under the irksomeness of his duty look to himself, and he will find that his wearisomeness proceeds, not from the duty itself, but from his selfish desire to escape it. He, who neglects duty, be it great or small, or of a public or private nature, neglects Virtue; and he who in his heart rebels against Duty rebels against Virtue.
The virtuous man concentrates his mind on the perfect doing of his own duty.
Man is the doer of his own deeds; as such he is the maker of his own character.
Those things which befall a man are the reflections of himself; that destiny which pursued him, which he was powerless to escape by effort, or avert by prayer, was the relentless ghoul of his own wrong deeds demanding and enforcing restitution; those blessings and curses which come to him unbidden are the reverberating echoes of the sounds which he himself sent forth.
Man finds himself involved in the train of causation. His life is made up of causes and effects. It is both a sowing and a reaping. Each act of his is a cause which must be balanced by its effects. He chooses the cause (this is Free-will), he cannot choose, alter, or avert the effect (this is Fate); thus Free-will stands for the power to initiate causes, and destiny is involvement in effects.
Character is destiny.
Every form of unhappiness springs from a wrong condition of mind.
All sin is ignorance. It is a condition of darkness and undevelopment. The wrong-thinker and the wrong-doer is in the same position in the school of life as is the ignorant pupil in the school of learning. He has yet to learn how to think and act correctly, that is, in accordance with Law. The pupil in learning is not happy so long as he does his lessons wrongly, and unhappiness cannot be escaped while sin remains unconquered.
Life is a series of lessons. Some are diligent in learning them, and they become pure, wise, and altogether happy. Others are negligent, and do not apply themselves, and they remain impure, foolish, and unhappy.
Happiness is mental harmony.
If one would find peace, he must come out of passion.
Selfish, or passion, not only subsists in the gross forms of greed and glaringly ungoverned conditions of mind; it informs also every hidden thought which is subtly connected with the assumption and glorification of ones self; and it is most deceiving and subtle when it prompts one to dwell upon the selfishness of others, to accuse them of it and to talk about it. The man who continually dwells upon the selfishness in others will not thus overcome his own selfishness. Not by accusing others do we come out of selfishness, but by purifying ourselves. The way from passion to peace is not by hurling painful charges against others, but by overcoming ones self. By eagerly striving to subdue the selfishness of others, we remain passion-bound; by patiently overcoming our own selfishness we ascend into freedom.
The ascending pathway is always at hand. It is the way of self-conquest.
Aspiration—the rapture of the saints.
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—for righteousness, compassion, purity, love—as distinguished from desire, which is the longing for earthly things—for selfish possessions, personal dominance, low pleasures, and sensual gratifications. For one to begin to aspire means that he is dissatisfied with his low estate, and is aiming at a higher condition. It is a sure sign that he is roused out of his lethargic sleep of animality, and has become conscious of nobler attainments and a fuller life.
Aspiration makes all things possible.
The man of aspiration sees before him the pathway up to the heavenly heights.
When the rapture of aspiration touches the mind it at once refines it, and the dross of its impurities begins to fall away; yea, while aspiration holds the mind, no impurities can enter it, for the impure and the pure cannot at the same moment occupy the thought. But the effort of aspiration is at first spasmodic and short-lived. The mind falls back into its habitual error and must be constantly renewed.
To thirst for righteousness; to hunger for the pure life; to rise in holy rapture on the wings of angelic aspiration—this is the right road to wisdom; this is the right striving for peace; this is the right beginning of the way divine.
The lover of the pure life renews his mind daily with the invigorating glow of aspiration.
Error is sifted away. The Gold of Truth remains.
Spiritual transmutation consists in an entire reversal of the ordinary self-seeking attitude of mind towards men and things, and this reversal brings about an entirely new set of experiences. Thus the desire for a certain pleasure is abandoned, cut off at its source, and not allowed to have any place in the consciousness; but the mental force which that desire represented is not annihilated, it is transferred to a higher region of thought, transmuted into a purer form of energy. The law of conservation of energy obtains universally in mind as in matter, and the force shut off in lower directions is liberated in higher realms of spiritual activity.
Clear and cloudless are the heights of spiritual enlightenment.
The early stage of transmutation is painful but brief, for the pain is soon transformed into pure spiritual joy.
Along the Saintly Way towards the divine life, the midway region of Transmutation is the Country of Sacrifice; it is the Plain of Renunciation. Old passions, old desires, old ambitions and thoughts, are cast away and abandoned, but only to reappear in some more beautiful, more permanent, more eternally satisfying form. As valuable jewels, long guarded and cherished, are thrown tearfully into the melting-pot, yet are remolded into new and perfect adornments, so the spiritual alchemist, at first loath to part company with long-cherished thoughts and habits, at last gives them up, to discover, a little later, to his joy, that they have come back to him in the form of new faculties, rarer powers, and purer joys, spiritual jewels newly burnished, beautiful, and resplendent.
The wise man meets passion with peace, hatred with love, and returns good for evil.
The present is the synthesis of the entire past; the net result of all that a man has ever thought and done is contained within him.
It is this knowledge of the Perfect Law working through and above all things; of the Perfect Justice operating in and adjusting all human affairs, that enables the good man to love his enemies, and to rise above all hatred, resentment, and complaining; for he knows that only his own can come to him, and that, though he be surrounded by persecutors, his enemies are but the blind instruments of a faultless retribution; and so he blames them not, but calmly receives his accounts, and patiently pays his moral debts. But this is not all; he does not merely pay his debts; he takes care not to contract any further debts. He watches himself and makes his deeds faultless.
Characteristics are fixed habits of mind, the results of deeds.
Heaven and hell are in this world.
Nothing comes unbidden; where the shadow is, there also is the substance. That which comes to the individual is the product of his own deeds. As cheerful industry leads to greater industry and increasing prosperity, and labor shirked or undertaken discontentedly leads to a lesser degree of labor and decreasing prosperity, so with all the varied conditions of life as we see them—they are the effects of deeds, destinies wrought by the thoughts and deeds of each particular individual. So also with the vast variety of characters—they are the ripening and ripened growth of the sowing of deeds, a sowing not confined solely to this visible life, but going backward through that infinite life which traverses the portals of innumerable births and deaths, and which also will extend into the illimitable future, reaping its own harvests, eating the sweet and bitter fruits of its own deeds.
Life is a great school for the development of character.
Purification of the heart by repetitive thought on pure things.
Man is a thought-being, and his life and character are determined by the thoughts in which he habitually dwells. By practice, association, and habit, thoughts tend to repeat themselves with greater and greater ease and frequency, and so fix the character in a given direction by producing that automatic action which is called "habit." By daily dwelling upon pure thoughts, the man of meditation forms the habit of pure and enlightened thinking which leads to pure and enlightened actions, and well-performed actions. By the ceaseless repetition of pure thoughts, he at last becomes one with those thoughts, and is a purified being, manifesting his attainment in pure actions.
Attainment of divine knowledge by embodying such purity in practical life.
He who will control himself will put an end to all his sufferings.
Blessed is that day, and not to be forgotten, when a man discovers that he himself is his own undoer and his own savior. That within himself is the cause of all his suffering and lack of knowledge, and that also within is the source of all peace, enlightenment, and Godliness. Selfish thoughts, impure desires, and acts not shaped by Truth are the baneful seeds from which all suffering springs; while selfless thoughts, pure aspirations, and the sweet acts of Truth are the seeds from which all blessedness grows.
He who will deny himself will find the holy place where calmness lives.
He who will purify himself will destroy all his ignorance.
He who governs his tongue is greater than a successful disputant in the arena of intellectualism; he who controls well his mind is more powerful than the king of many nations; and he who holds himself in entire subjection is more than gods and angels. When a man who is enslaved by self realizes that he must work out his own salvation, in that moment he will rise up in the dignity of his divine manhood and say, "Henceforward I will be a master in Israel, and not a slave in the House of Bondage."
Not until a man realizes this, and commences to patiently purify his inner life, can he find the way which leads to lasting peace.
A life of perfect peace and blessedness by means of self-government and self-enlightenment.
From the Editorial in the July, 1902 edition of The Light of Reason and the chapter
Impatience is a handmaid of impulse, and never helped any man.
You will be greatly helped if you devote at least one hour every day to quiet meditation on lofty moral subjects and their application to everyday life. In this way you will cultivate a calm, quiet strength and will develop right perception and correct judgment. Do not be anxious to hurry matters. Do your duty to the very uttermost; live a disciplined and self-denying life; conquer impulse, and guide your actions by moral and spiritual Principles, as distinguished from your feelings, firmly believing that your object will be, in its own time, completely accomplished.
Still go on becoming, and as you grow more perfect you will make fewer mistakes and will suffer less.
From the "Our Talk With Correspondents" section of the February, 1902 edition of The Light of Reason.
The diadem of the King of Truth is a righteous life, his scepter is the scepter of peace, and his throne is in the hearts of mankind.
In every heart there are two kings, but one is a usurper and tyrant; he is named self and his thoughts and deeds are those of lust, hatred, passion, and strife; the other, the rightful monarch, is named Truth, and his thoughts and deeds are those of purity and love, meekness and peace. Brother, sister, to what monarch dost thou bow? What king hast thou crowned in thy heart? Well is it with thy soul if Thou canst say: "I bow down to the Monarch of Truth; in my inmost heart I have crowned the King of Peace." Blessed indeed and immortal shall he be who shall find in the inward and heavenly places the King of Righteousness, and shall bow his heart to Him.
Power resides in blamelessness of heart. All earthly things are symbols.
From the article, "The Crowning of the King", in the July, 1902 edition of The Light of Reason.
It is by the eradication of the inward errors and impurities alone that a knowledge of Truth can be gained. There is no other way to wisdom and peace.
The peace which passeth understanding is a peace which no event or circumstance can shake or mar, because it is not merely a passing calm between two storms, but is an abiding peace that is born of knowledge. Men have not this peace, because they do not understand, because they do not know, and they do not understand and know because they are blinded and rendered ignorant by their own errors and impurities; and whilst they are unwilling to give these up, they cannot but remain entirely ignorant of impersonal Principles.
Whilst a man loves his lusts he cannot love wisdom.
From the article, "The Knowledge That Brings Peace" in the July, 1902 edition of The Light of Reason.
If we could suffer, even partly, through others, our sufferings would be unjust.
Are our sufferings and troubles entirely the result of our own ignorance and wrong-doing, or are they partly or wholly brought about by others, and by outward conditions?
Our sufferings are just, and are entirely the result of our own ignorance, error, and wrongdoing.
"Ye suffer from yourselves, none else compels." If this were not so, if a man could commit an evil deed and escape, the consequences of that deed being visited upon an innocent person, then there would be no Law of Justice, and without such a Law the universe could not, even for a single moment, exist. All would be chaos. Upon the surface, men appear to suffer through others, but it is only an appearance, an appearance which a deeper knowledge dispels.
Man is not the result of outward conditions; outward conditions are the result of man.
From the Editorial in the April, 1902 edition of The Light of Reason.
In the knowledge of truth there is freedom.
Men suffer because they love self, and do not love righteousness, and loving self they love their delusions, and it is by these that they are bound. There is one supreme liberty of which no man can be deprived by any but himself—the liberty to love and to practice righteousness.
This includes all other liberties. It belongs to the whipped and chained slave equally as to the king, and he who will enter into this liberty will cast from him every chain. By this the slave will walk out from the presence of his oppressor, who will be powerless to stay him. By this the king will cease to be defiled by his surrounding luxuries, and will be a king indeed.
No outward oppressor can burden the righteous heart.
From the Editorial in the April, 1902 edition of The Light of Reason.
Joy is to the sinless!
The wise man knows. For him anxiety, fear, disappointment, and unrest have ceased, and under whatever condition or circumstance he may be placed his calmness will not be broken, and he will bend and adjust everything with capacity and wisdom. Nothing will cause him grief. When friends yield up the body of flesh, he knows that they still are, and does not sorrow over the shell they have discarded. None can injure him, for he has identified himself with that which is unaffected by change.
The knowledge which brings peace, then, is the knowledge of unchangeable Principles arrived at by the practice of pure goodness, righteousness, becoming one with which a man becomes immortal, unchangeable, indestructible.
Peace is to the pure.
From the article, "The Knowledge That Brings Peace" in the July, 1902 edition of The Light of Reason.
Love, meekness, gentleness, self-accusation, forgiveness, patience, compassion, reproof—these are the works of the Spirit.
The flesh flatters; the Spirit reproves. The flesh blindly gratifies; the Spirit wisely disciplines.
The flesh loves secrecy; the Spirit is open and clear.
The flesh remembers the injury of a friend; the Spirit forgives the bitterest enemy.
The flesh is noisy and rude; the Spirit is silent and gracious.
The flesh is subject to moods; the Spirit is always calm.
The flesh incites to impatience and anger; the Spirit controls with patience and serenity.
The flesh is thoughtless; the Spirit is thoughtful.
Hatred, pride, harshness, accusing others, revenge, anger, cruelty, and flattery—these are the works of the flesh.
From the article, "The Flesh and the Spirit" in the August, 1902 edition of The Light of Reason.
You can only help others in so far as you have up-lifted and purified yourself.
A truth is first perceived, and afterwards realized. The perception may be instantaneous; the realization is almost invariably a process of gradual unfoldment. You will have to learn to love, regarding yourself as a child; and as you make progress in learning, the Divine will unfold within you. You can only learn to love by constantly meditating upon Love as a divine principle, and by adjusting, day by day, all your thought, and words, and acts to it. Watch yourself closely, and when you think, or say, or do anything which is not born of pure unselfish love, resolve that you will henceforth guard yourself in that direction. By so doing you will every day grow purer, tenderer, holier, and soon you will find it easy to love, and will realize the Divine within you.
When love is perfected and revealed in the heart, Christ is known.
From the "Our Talk With Correspondents" section in the April, 1902 edition of The Light of Reason.
Follow faithfully where the inward light leads you.
It is well to become conscious of your shortcomings, for, having realized them, and feeling the necessity of overcoming them, you will, sooner or later, rise above them into the pure atmosphere of duty and unselfish love. You should not picture dark things in the future, but if you think of the future at all, think of it as bright. Above all, do your duty each day, and do it cheerfully and unselfishly, and then each day will bring its own measure of joy and peace, and the future will hold much happiness for you. The best way to overcome your faults is to perform all your duties faithfully, without thinking of any gain to yourself, and to do all you can to make others happy; speaking kindly to all, doing kind things when you can, and not retaliating when others do or say unkind things.
Put your whole heart into the present, living it, minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day, self-governed and pure.
From the "Our Talk With Correspondents" section in the May, 1902 edition of The Light of Reason.
The righteous man is invincible. No enemy can possibly overcome him.
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 fear any, who wrongs none? How can he be ashamed before any, who deceives none? And ceasing from all wrong, he can never be wronged; ceasing from all deceit, he can never be deceived. It is impossible for evil to overcome good, so the righteous man can never be brought low by the unrighteous.
He cannot be afflicted by weariness and unrest whose heart is at peace with all.
It is better to love than to accuse and denounce.
There is that outburst of passion which is called "righteous indignation," and it appears to be righteous, but looked at from a higher conception of conduct it is seen to be not righteous. There is a certain stamp of nobility about indignation at wrong or injustice, and it is certainly far higher and nobler than indifference, but there is a loftier nobility still, by which it is seen that indignation is never necessary, and where love and gentleness take its place, they overcome the wrong much more effectually. A person that is apparently wronged requires our pity, but the one who wrongs requires still more our compassion, for he is ignorantly laying up for himself a store of suffering: he must reap the wrong he is sowing.
When divine compassion is perceived in its fullness and beauty, indignation and all forms of passion cease to exercise any influence over us.
From the "Our Talk With Correspondents" section in the November, 1902 edition of The Light of Reason.
If a man would do a noble thing, and does not do it he is not exalted thereby, but debased.
The term Goodness does not mean sickly sentiment, but inward virtue, the direct result of which is strength and power; therefore, the good man is not weak, the weak man is not good.
We should not judge the souls of others in the spirit of condemnation; but we can judge of our own life and conduct by results. There is nothing more certain than this, the evil doer speedily proves that his evil produces misery; the good man demonstrates that his goodness results in happiness.
It is a fact that one may "flourish like a green bay tree” and yet be unrighteous, but we should also remember that the bay tree at last perishes, or is cut down, and such is the fate of the unrighteous.
An exalted being apart from an exalted life is inconceivable and cannot be.
From the "Our Talk With Correspondents" section in the June, 1902 edition of The Light of Reason.
We know nothing higher than Goodness.
The Teachers of mankind are few. A thousand years may pass by without the advent of such a one; but when the true Teacher does appear, the distinguishing feature by which he is known is his life. His conduct is different from other men, and his teaching is never derived from any man or book, but from his own life. The Teacher first lives, and then teaches others how they may likewise live. The proof and witness of his teaching is in himself, his life. Out of millions of preachers, one only is ultimately accepted by mankind as the true Teacher, and the one who is thus accepted and exalted is he who lives.
The supreme aim of all religions is to teach men how to live.
Love is far beyond the reach of all selfish argument and can only be lived.
Jesus gave to the world a code of rules, by the observance of which all men could become sons of God, could live the Perfect Life. These rules or precepts are so simple, direct, and unmistakable that it is impossible to misunderstand them.
So plain and unequivocal are they that even an unlettered child could grasp their meaning without difficulty. All of them are directly related to human conduct, and can be applied only by the individual in his own life. To carry out the spirit of these rules in one’s daily conduct constitutes the whole duty of life, and lifts the individual into the full consciousness of his divine origin and nature, of his oneness with God, the Supreme Good.
Men everywhere, in their inmost hearts, know that Goodness is divine.
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.