A man cannot cling to anything unless he believes in it; belief always precedes action, therefore a man’s deeds and life are the fruits of his belief.
He who believes in all those things that are good will love them, and live in them, he who believes in those things that are impure and selfish will love them, and cling to them. The tree is known by its fruits.
A man’s beliefs about God, Jesus, and the Bible are one thing, his life, as bound up in his actions, is another, therefore a man’s theological belief is of no consequence, but the thoughts which he harbors, his attitude of mind towards others, and his actions—these, and these only, determine and demonstrate whether the belief of a man’s heart is fixed in the false or the true.
There are only two beliefs which vitally affect the life, and they are: belief in good and belief in evil.
As the fruit to the tree and the water to the spring, so is action to thought.
The sudden falling, when greatly tempted, into some grievous sin by one who was believed, and who believed himself, to stand firm, is seen neither to be a sudden nor a causeless thing when the hidden processes of thought which led up to it are revealed. The falling was merely the end, the outworking, the finished result of what commenced in the mind probably years before. The man had allowed a wrong thought to enter his mind; and a second and a third time he had welcomed it, and allowed it to nestle in his heart. Gradually he became accustomed to it, and cherished and fondled, and tended it; and so it grew until at last it attained such strength and force that it attracted to itself the opportunity which enabled it to burst forth and ripen into act.
All sin and temptation are the natural outcome of the thoughts of the individual.
Guard well your thoughts, reader, for what you really are in your secret thoughts today you will become in actual deed.
"There is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed," and every thought that is harbored in the mind must, by virtue of the impelling force which is inherent in the universe, at last blossom into act good or bad, according to its nature. The divine Teacher and the sensualist are both the product of their own thoughts, and have become what they are as the result of the seeds of thought which they have implanted, or allowed to fall, into the garden of the heart, and have afterwards watered, tended, and cultivated.
Let no man think he can overcome sin and temptation by wrestling with opportunity; he can only overcome them by purifying his thoughts.
A man can only attract that to him which is in harmony with his nature.
As a being of thought, your dominant mental attitude will determine your condition in life.
You are the thinker of your thoughts, and as such you are the maker of yourself and condition. Thought is causal and creative, and appears in your character and life in the form of results. There are no accidents in your life. Both its harmonies and antagonisms are the responsive echoes of your thoughts. A man thinks, and his life appears.
If your dominant mental attitude is peaceable and lovable, bliss and blessedness will follow you; if it be resistant and hateful, trouble and distress will cloud your pathway. Out of ill-will will come grief and disaster; out of good-will, healing and reparation.
The boundary lines of your thoughts are self-erected fences.
Pain, grief, sorrow, and misery are the fruits of which passion is the flower.
Where the passion-bound soul sees only injustice, the good man, he who has conquered passion, sees cause and effect, sees the Supreme Justice. It is impossible for such a man to regard himself as treated unjustly, because he has ceased to see injustice. He knows that no one can injure or cheat him, having ceased to injure or cheat himself. However passionately or ignorantly men may act towards him, it cannot possibly cause him any pain, for he knows that whatever comes to him (it may be abuse and persecution) can only come as the effect of what he himself has formerly sent out. He therefore regards all things as good, rejoices in all things, loves his enemies, blesses them that curse him, regarding them as the blind but beneficent instruments by which he is enabled to pay his moral debts to the Great Law.
The Supreme Justice and the Supreme Love are one.
The history of a nation is the building of its deeds.
As a body is built of cells, and a house of bricks, so a man’s mind is built of thoughts. The various characters of men are none other than compounds of thoughts of varying combinations. Herein we see the deep truth of the saying, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." Individual characteristics are fixed processes of thought; that is, they are fixed in the sense that they have become an integral part of the character, that they can be only altered or removed by a protracted effort of the will, and by much self-discipline. Character is built in the same way as a tree or a house is built—namely, by the ceaseless addition of new material, and that material is thought.
By the aid of millions of bricks a city is built; by the aid of millions of thoughts a character, a mind, is built.
Every man is a mind-builder.
Pure thoughts, wisely chosen and well placed, are so many durable bricks which will never crumble away, and from which a finished and beautiful building, and one which affords comfort and shelter for its possessor, can be rapidly erected. Bracing thoughts of strength, of confidence, of duty; inspiring thoughts of a large, free, unfettered, and unselfish life, are useful bricks with which a substantial mind-temple can be raised; and the building of such a temple necessitates that old and useless habits of thought be broken down and destroyed.
"Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul, As the swift seasons roll."
Each man is the builder of himself.
Work in harmony with the fundamental laws of the universe.
If a man is to build up a successful strong, and exemplary life—a life that will stoutly resist the fiercest storms of adversity and temptation—it must be framed on a few, simple, undeviating moral principles.
Four of these principles are:
These four ethical truths are to the making of a life what the four lines of a square are to the building of a house. If a man ignores them and thinks to obtain success and happiness by injustice, trickery, and selfishness, he is in the position of a builder who imagines he can build a strong and durable habitation while ignoring the relative arrangement of mathematical lines, and he will, in the end, obtain only disappointment and failure.
Build like a true workman.
It is a common error to suppose that little things can be passed by, and that the greater things are more important.
He who adopts the four ethical principles as the law and base of his life, who raises the edifice of character upon them, who in his thoughts and words and actions does not wander from them, whose every duty and every passing transaction is performed in strict accordance with their exactions, such a man, laying down the hidden foundations of integrity of heart securely and strongly, cannot fail to raise up a structure which shall bring him honor; and he is building a temple in which he can repose in peace and blessedness —even the strong and beautiful Temple of his life.
He who would have a life secure and blessed must carry the practice of the moral principles into every detail of it.
When aspiration is united to concentration, the result is meditation.
When a man intensely desires to reach and realize a higher, purer, and more radiant life than the merely worldly and pleasure-loving life, he engages in aspiration; and when he earnestly concentrates his thoughts upon the finding of that life, he practices meditation.
Without intense aspiration there can be no meditation. Lethargy and indifference are fatal to its practice. The more intense the nature of the man, the more readily will he find meditation and the more successfully will he practice it. A fiery nature will most rapidly scale the heights of Truth in meditation, when its aspirations have become sufficiently awakened.
Meditation is necessary to spiritual success.
When a man aspires to know and realize the Truth, he gives attention to conduct, to self-purification.
By concentration a man can scale the highest heights of genius, but he cannot scale the heavenly heights of Truth; to accomplish this he must meditate. By concentration a man may acquire the wonderful comprehension and vast power of a Caesar; by meditation he may reach the divine wisdom and perfect peace of a Buddha. The perfection of concentration is power; the perfection of meditation is wisdom. By concentration men acquire skill in the doing of the things of life—in science, art, trade, etc.—but by meditation they acquire skill in life itself; in right living, enlightenment, wisdom, etc. Saints, sages, saviors—wise men and divine teachers— are the finished products of holy meditation.
Love Truth so fully and intensely as to become wholly absorbed in it.
The object of meditation is divine enlightenment.
While, at first, the time spent in actual meditation is short—perhaps only half an hour in the early morning—the knowledge gained in that half-hour of vivid aspiration and concentrated thought is embodied in practice during the whole day. In meditation, therefore, the entire life of a man is involved; and as he advances in its practice he becomes more and more fitted to perform the duties of life in the circumstances in which he may be placed, for he becomes stronger, holier, calmer, and wiser.
The principle of meditation is twofold, namely:
- Purification of the heart by repetitive thought on pure things.
- Attainment of divine knowledge by embodying such purity in practical life.
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.
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 duties. 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, in a serene and wise life.
The majority of men live in a series of conflicting desires, passions, emotions, and speculations, and there are restlessness, uncertainty, and sorrow; but when a man begins to train his mind in meditation, he gradually gains control over this inward conflict by bringing his thoughts to a focus upon a central principle.
It is easy to mistake reverie for meditation.
Selfishness, the root of the tree of evil and of all suffering, derives its nourishment from the dark soil of ignorance.
The rich and the poor alike suffer for their own selfishness; and none escape. The rich have their particular sufferings as well as the poor. Moreover, the rich are continually losing their riches; the poor are continually acquiring them. The poor man of today is the rich man of tomorrow, and vice versa. Fear, also, follows men like a great shadow, for the man who obtains and holds by selfish force will always be haunted by a feeling of insecurity, and will continually fear its loss; whilst the poor man, who is selfishly seeking or coveting material riches, will be harassed by the fear of destitution. And one and all who live in this underworld of strife are overshadowed by one great fear—the fear of death.
Each individual suffers by virtue of his own selfishness.
The spirit is strengthened and renewed by meditation upon spiritual things.
A man must pass through three Gateways of Surrender. The first is the Surrender of Desire; the second is the Surrender of Opinion; the third is the Surrender of Self. Entering into meditation, he will commence to examine his desires, tracing them out in his mind, and following up their effects in his life and upon his character; and he will quickly perceive that, without the renunciation of desire, a man remains a slave both to himself and to his surroundings and circumstances. Having discovered this, the first Gate, that of the Surrender of Desire is entered. Passing through this Gate, he adopts a process of self-discipline which is the first step in the purification of the soul.
The lamp of faith must be continually fed and assiduously trimmed.
The loss of today will add to the gain of tomorrow for him whose mind is set on the conquest of self.
Let a man, therefore, press on courageously, heeding neither the revilings of his friends without, nor the clamoring of his enemies within; aspiring, searching, striving; looking ever towards his Ideal with eyes of holy love; day by day ridding his mind of selfish motive, his heart of impure desire; stumbling sometimes, sometimes falling, but ever traveling onward and rising higher; and recording each night in the silence of his own heart the journey of the day, let him not despair if but each day, in spite of all its failures and falls, records some holy battle fought, though lost, some silent victory attempted, though unachieved.
Learn to distinguish between the real and the unreal, the shadow and the substance.
Acquire the priceless possession of spiritual discernment.
Clothing his soul with the colorless Garment of Humility, a man bends all his energies to the uprooting of those opinions which he has hitherto loved and cherished. He now learns to distinguish between Truth, which is one and unchangeable, and his own and others’ opinions about Truth, which are many and changeable. He sees that his opinions about Goodness, Purity, Compassion, and Love, are very distinct from those qualities themselves, and that he must stand upon those divine Principles, and not on his own opinions. Hitherto he has regarded his own opinions as of great value, but now he ceases so to elevate his own opinions, and to defend them against those of others, and comes to regard them as utterly worthless.
Stand upon the divine Principles of Purity, Wisdom, Compassion, and Love.
Find the Divine center within.
He who resolves that he will not rest satisfied with appearances, shadows, illusions shall, by the piercing light of that resolve, disperse every fleeting phantasy, and shall enter into the substance and reality of life. He shall learn how to live, and he shall live. He shall be the slave of no passion, the servant of no opinion, the votary of no fond error. Finding the Divine Center within his own heart, he shall be pure and calm and strong and wise, and will ceaselessly radiate the Heavenly Life in which he lives—which is himself.
Not to know that within you that is changeless and defiant of time and death, is not to know anything, but is to play vainly with unsubstantial reflections in the Mirror of Time.
Having taken himself to the Divine Refuge within, and remaining there, a man is free from sin. No doubt shall shake his trust; no uncertainty shall rob him of repose.
Men love their desires, for gratification seems sweet to them, hut its end is pain and vacuity; they love the argumentations of the intellect, for egotism seems most desirable to them, but the fruits thereof are humiliation and sorrow. When the soul has reached the end of gratification and reaped the bitter fruits of egotism, it is ready to receive the Divine Wisdom and to enter into the Divine Life. Only the crucified can be transfigured; only by the death of self can the Lord of the heart rise again into the Immortal Life, and stand radiant upon the Olivet of Wisdom.
Where self is not, there is the Garden of the Heavenly Life.
Life is more than motion, it is music; more than rest, it is peace; more than work, it is duty; more than labor, it is Love.
Let the impure turn to Purity, and they shall be pure; let the weak resort to Strength, and they shall be strong; let the ignorant fly to Knowledge, and they shall be wise. All things are man’s, and he chooses that which he will have. Today he chooses in ignorance, tomorrow he shall choose in wisdom. He shall "work out his own salvation," whether he believe it or not, for he cannot escape himself, nor transfer to another the eternal responsibility of his own soul. By no theological subterfuge shall he trick the Law of his being, which shall shatter all his selfish makeshifts and excuses for right thinking and right doing. Nor shall God do for him that which it is destined his soul shall accomplish for itself.
Life is more than enjoyment, it is blessedness.
He, who would find blessedness, let him find himself.
Men fly from creed to creed, and find unrest; they travel in many lands, and discover—disappointment; they build themselves beautiful mansions, and plant pleasant gardens, and reap—ennui and discomfort. Not until a man falls back upon the Truth within himself does he find rest and satisfaction; not until he builds the inward Mansion of Faultless Conduct does he find the endless and incorruptible Joy, and, having obtained that, he will infuse it into all his doings and possessions.
When a man can no longer carry the weight of his many sins, let him fly to the Christ, whose throne is the center of his own heart, and he shall become light-hearted, entering the glad company of the Immortals.
The spiritual heart of man is the heart of the universe.
All power, all possibility, all action is now.
Whilst a man is dwelling upon the past or future he is missing the present; he is forgetting to live now. All things are possible now, and only now. Without wisdom to guide him, and mistaking the unreal for the real, a man says, "If I had done so-and-so last week, last month, or last year, it would have been better with me today;" or, "I know what is best to be done, and I will do it tomorrow." The selfish cannot comprehend the vast importance and value of the present, and fail to see it as the substantial reality of which past and future are the empty reflections. It may truly be said that past and future do not exist except as negative shadows, and to live in them—that is, in the regretful and selfish contemplation of them—is to miss the reality in life.
To put away regret, to anchor anticipation, to do and work now, this is wisdom.
Virtue consists in fighting sin day after day.
Cease to tread every byway of dependence, every winding side way that tempts thy soul into the shadow land of the past and the future, and manifest thy native and divine strength now. Come out into "the open road."
That which you would be, and hope to be, you may be now. Non-accomplishment resides in your perpetual postponement, and, having the power to postpone, you also have the power to accomplish—to perpetually accomplish; realize this truth, and you shall be today, and every day, the ideal man of whom you dreamed.
Act now, and lo! all things are done; live now, and behold! thou art in the midst of plenty; be now, and know that thou art perfect.
Holiness consists in leaving sin, unnoticed and ignored, to die by the wayside.
Say not unto thy soul, "Thou shalt be purer tomorrow"; but rather say, "Thou shalt be pure now."
Tomorrow is too late for anything, and he who sees help and salvation in tomorrow shall continually fail and fall today. Thou didst fall yesterday! Didst sin grievously! Having realized this, leave it instantly and forever, and watch that thou sinnest not now. The while thou art bewailing the past every gate of thy soul remains unguarded against the entrance of sin now.
The foolish man, loving the boggy side of procrastination rather than the firm highway of Present Effort, says, "I will rise early tomorrow; I will get out of debt tomorrow; I will carry out my intentions tomorrow," But the wise man, realizing the momentous import of the Eternal Now, rises early today; keeps out of debt today; carries out his intentions today; and so never departs from strength and peace and ripe accomplishment.
Thou shalt not rise by grieving over the irremediable past, but by remedying the present.
Looking back to happy beginnings, and forward to mournful endings, a man’s eyes are blinded so that he beholds not his own immortality.
It is wisdom to leave that which has not arrived and to attend to that which is; and to attend to it with such a consecration of soul and concentration of effort as shall leave no loophole for regret to creep in.
A man’s spiritual comprehension being clouded by the illusions of self, he says, "I was born on such a day, so many years ago, and shall die at my allotted time." But he was not born, neither will he die, for how can that which is immortal, which eternally is, be subject to birth and death? Let a man throw off his illusions, and then he will see that the birth and death of the body are the mere incidents of a journey, and not its beginning and end.
The universe, with all that it contains, is now.
Let a man put away egotism, and he will see the universe in all the beauty of its pristine simplicity.
Let life cease to be lived as a fragmentary thing, and let it be lived as a perfect Whole; the simplicity of the Perfect will then be revealed. How shall the fragment comprehend the Whole? Yet how simple that the Whole should comprehend the fragment. How shall sin perceive Holiness? Yet how plain that Holiness should understand sin. He who would become the Greater let him abandon the lesser. In no form is the circle contained, but in the circle all forms are contained. In no color is the radiant light imprisoned, but in the radiant light all colors are embodied. Let a man destroy all the forms of self, and he shall apprehend the Circle of Perfection.
When a man succeeds in entirely forgetting (annihilating) his personal self, he becomes a mirror in which the universal Reality is faultlessly reflected.
In the perfect chord of music the single note, though forgotten, is indispensably contained, and the drop of water becomes of supreme usefulness by losing itself in the ocean.
Sink thyself compassionately in the heart of humanity, and thou shalt reproduce the harmonies of Heaven; lose thyself in unlimited love toward all, and thou shalt work enduring works and shalt become one with the eternal Ocean of Bliss.
Man evolves outward to the periphery of complexity, and then involves backward to the Central Simplicity. When a man discovers that it is mathematically impossible for him to know the universe before knowing himself, he then starts upon the Way which leads to Original Simplicity. He begins to unfold from within, and as he unfolds himself, he enfolds the universe.
Cease to speculate about God, and find the all-embracing Good within thee.
The pure man knows himself as pure being.
He who will not give up his secret lust, his covetousness, his anger, his opinion about this or that, can see nor know nothing; he will remain a dullard in the school of Wisdom, though he be accounted learned in the colleges.
If a man would find the key of Knowledge, let him find himself. Thy sins are not thyself; they are not any part of thyself; they are diseases which thou hast come to love. Cease to cling to them, and they will no longer cling to thee. Let them fall away, and thyself shall stand revealed. Thou shalt know thyself as Comprehensive Vision, Invincible Principle, Immortal Life, and Eternal Good.
Purity is extremely simple, and needs no argument to support it.
Truth lives itself.
Meekness, Patience, Love, Compassion, and Wisdom—these are the dominant qualities of Original Simplicity; therefore the imperfect cannot understand it. Wisdom only can apprehend Wisdom, therefore the fool says, "No man is wise." The imperfect man says, "No man can be perfect," and he therefore remains where he is. Though he lives with a perfect man all his life, he shall not behold his perfection. Meekness he will call cowardice; Patience, Love, Compassion he will see as weakness; and Wisdom will appear to him as folly. Faultless discrimination belongs to the Perfect Whole, and resides not in any part; therefore men are exhorted to refrain from judgment until they have themselves manifested the Perfect Life.
A blameless life is the only witness of Truth.
He who has found the indwelling Reality of his own being has found the original and universal Reality.
Knowing the Divine Heart within, all hearts are known, and the thoughts of all men become his who has become master of his own thoughts; therefore the good man does not defend himself, but moulds the minds of others to his own likeness.
As the problematical transcends crudity, so Pure Goodness transcends the problematical. All problems vanish when Pure Goodness is reached; therefore the Good man is called "The Slayer of illusions." What problem can vex where sin is not? O thou who strivest loudly and resteth not! Retire into the holy silence of thine own being, and live there from. So shalt thou, finding Pure Goodness, rend in twain the Veil of the Temple of Illusion, and shalt enter into the Patience, Peace, and transcendent Glory of the Perfect, for Pure Goodness and Original Simplicity are one.
So extremely simple is Original Simplicity that a man must let go his hold of everything before he can perceive it.
Great will be his pain and unrest who seeks to stand upon the approbation of others.
To detach oneself from every outward thing, and to rest securely upon the inward virtue, this is the Unfailing Wisdom. Having this Wisdom, a man will be the same whether in riches or poverty. The one cannot add to his strength, nor the other rob him of his serenity. Neither can riches defile him who has washed away all the inward defilement, nor the lack of them degrades him who has ceased to degrade the temple of his soul.
To refuse to be enslaved by any outward thing or happening, regarding all such things and happenings as for your use, for your education, this is Wisdom. To the wise all occurrences are good, and, having no eye for evil, they grow wiser every day. They utilize all things, and thus put all things under their feet. They see all their mistakes as soon as made, and accept them as lessons of intrinsic value, knowing that there are no mistakes in the Divine Order.
To love where one is not loved; herein lies the strength which shall never fail a man.
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.