To make a useful and happy life dependent upon health is to put matter before mind, is to subordinate spirit to body.
Men of robust minds do not dwell upon their bodily condition if it be in any way disordered—they ignore it, and work on, live on, as though it were not. This ignoring of the body not only keeps the mind sane and strong, but it is the best resource for curing the body. If we cannot have a perfectly sound body, we can have a healthy mind, and a healthy mind is the best route to a sound body.
A sickly mind is more deplorable than a disordered body, and it leads to sickness of body. The mental invalid is in a far more pitiable condition than the bodily invalid. There are invalids (every physician knows them) who only need to lift themselves into a strong, unselfish, happy frame of mind to discover that their body is whole and capable.
Moral principles are the soundest foundations for health, as well as for happiness.
Men are not made unhappy by poverty, but by the thirst for riches.
Where there is a cause its effect will appear; and were affluence the cause of immorality, and poverty the cause of degradation, then every rich man would become immoral, and every poor man would come to degradation.
An evil-doer will commit evil under any circumstances, whether he be rich or poor, or midway between the two conditions. A right-doer will do right howsoever he be placed. Extreme circumstances may help to bring out the evil which is already there awaiting its opportunity, but they cannot cause the evil, cannot create it.
Poverty is more often in the mind than in the purse. So long as a man thirsts for more money he will regard himself as poor, and in that sense he is poor, for covetousness is poverty of mind.
A miser may be a millionaire, but he is as poor as when he was penniless.
A man is great in knowledge, great in himself and great in his influence in the world, in the measure that he is great in self-control.
Wonderful as are the forces in nature, they are vastly inferior to that combination of intelligent forces which comprise the mind of man, and which dominate and direct the blind mechanical forces of nature. Therefore, it follows that to understand, control, and direct the inner forces of passion, desire, will, and intellect, is to be in possession of the destinies of men and nations.
He who understands and dominates the forces of external nature is the natural scientist; but he who understands and dominates the internal forces of the mind is the divine scientist; and the laws which operate in gaining a knowledge of external appearances operate also in gaining a knowledge of internal verities.
The end of knowledge is use, service, and the increase of the comfort and happiness of the world.
All things, whether visible or invisible, are subservient to, and fall within the scope of, the infinite and eternal law and causation.
Perfect justice upholds the universe; perfect justice regulates human life and conduct. All the varying conditions of life, as they obtain in the world today, are the results of this law reacting on human conduct. Man can (and does) choose what causes he shall set in operation, but he cannot change the nature of effects; he can decide what thoughts he shall think, and what deeds he shall do, but he has no power over the results of those thoughts and deeds; these are regulated by the over-ruling law.
Man has all power to act, but his power ends with the act committed. The result of the act cannot be altered, annulled, or escaped; it is irrevocable.
Evil thoughts and deeds produce conditions of suffering; good thoughts and deeds determine conditions of blessedness.
Man’s power is limited to, and his blessedness or misery is determined by, his own conduct.
Life may be likened to a sum in arithmetic. It is bewilderingly difficult and complex to the pupil, who has not yet grasped the key to its correct solution, but once this is perceived and laid hold of it becomes as astonishingly simple as it was formerly profoundly perplexing. Some idea of this relative simplicity and complexity of life may be grasped by fully recognizing and realizing the fact that, while there are scores, and perhaps hundreds, of ways in which a sum may be done wrong, there is only one way by which it can be done right, and that when the right way is found the pupil knows it to be right; his perplexity vanishes, and he knows that he has mastered the problem.
In life there can be no falsifying of results; the eye of the Great Law reveals and exposes.
Selfish thoughts and bad deeds will not produce a useful and beautiful life.
Life is like a piece of cloth, and the threads of which it is composed are individual lives. The threads, while being independent, are not confounded one with the other. Each follows its own course. Each individual suffers and enjoys the consequences of his own deeds, and not the deeds of another. The course of each is simple and definite; the whole forming a complicated, yet harmonious, combination of sequences. There are action and reaction, deed and consequence, cause and effect, and the counterbalancing reaction, consequence, and effect is always in exact ratio with the initiatory impulse.
Each man makes or mars his own life.
Man is responsible only for his own deeds; he is the custodian of his own actions.
The "problem of evil" subsists in a man’s own evil deeds, and it is solved when those deeds are purified. Says Rousseau:
"Man, seek no longer the origin of evil; thou thyself art its origin."
Effect can never be divorced from cause; it can never be of a different nature from cause. Emerson says:
"Justice is not postponed; a perfect equity adjusts the balance in all parts of life."
And there is a profound sense in which cause and effect are simultaneous, and form one perfect whole. Thus, upon the instant that a man thinks, say, a cruel deed, that same instant he has injured his own mind; he is not the same man he was the previous instant; he is a little viler and a little more unhappy; and a number of successive thoughts and deeds would produce a cruel and wretched man.
An immediate nobility and happiness attend the thinking of a kind thought, or doing a kind deed.
Without strength of mind, nothing worthy of accomplishment can be done.
The cultivation of that steadfastness and stability of character which is commonly called "will-power” is one of the foremost duties of man, for its possession is essentially necessary both to his temporal and external well-being. Fixedness of purpose is at the root of all successful efforts, whether in things worldly or spiritual, and without it man cannot be otherwise than wretched, and dependent upon others for that support which should be found within himself.
The true path of will-cultivation is only to be found in the common everyday life of the individual, and so obvious and simple is it that the majority, looking for something complicated and mysterious, pass it by unnoticed.
The direct and only way to greater strength is to assail and conquer weaknesses.
In the training of the will the first step is the breaking away from bad habits.
He who has succeeded in grasping this simple, preliminary truth will perceive that the whole science of will-cultivation is embodied in the following seven rules:
- Break off bad habits.
- Form good habits.
- Give scrupulous attention to the duty of the present moment.
- Do vigorously, and at once, whatever has to be done.
- Live by rule.
- Control the tongue.
- Control the mind.
Anyone who earnestly meditates upon, and diligently practices, the above rules will not fail to develop that purity of purpose and power of will which will enable him to successfully cope with every difficulty, and pass triumphantly through every emergency.
By submitting to a bad habit one forfeits the right to rule over himself.
He who thus avoids self-discipline, and looks about for some "occult secrets" for gaining will-power at the expenditure of little or no effort on his part, is deluding himself, and is weakening the willpower which he already possesses.
The strength of will which is gained by success in overcoming bad habits enables one to initiate good habits; for, while the conquering of a bad habit requires merely strength of purpose, the forming of a new one necessitates the intelligent direction of purpose. To do this, a man must be mentally active and energetic, and must keep a constant watch upon himself.
Thoroughness is a step in the development of the will which cannot be passed over. Slipshod work is an indication of weakness.
Perfection should be aimed at, even in the smallest task.
By not dividing the mind, but giving the whole attention to each separate task as it presents itself, singleness of purpose and intense concentration of mind are gradually gained—two mental powers which give weight and worth of character, and bring repose and joy to their possessor.
Doing vigorously, and at once, whatever has to be done is equally important. Idleness and a strong will cannot go together, and procrastination is a total barrier to the acquisition of purposeful action. Nothing should be "put off” until another time, not even for a few minutes. That which ought to be done now should be done now. This seems a little thing, but it is of far-reaching importance. It leads to strength, success, and peace.
Live according to principle, and not according to passion.
Thoroughness consists in doing little things as though they were the greatest things in the world.
That the little things of life are of primary importance is a truth not generally understood, and the thought that little things can be neglected, thrown aside, or slurred over is at the root of that lack of thoroughness which is so common, and which results in imperfect work and unhappy lives.
When one understands that the great things of the world and of life consist of a combination of small things, and that without this aggregation of small things the great things would be non-existent, then he begins to pay careful attention to those things which he formerly regarded as insignificant.
He who acquires the quality of thoroughness becomes a man of usefulness and influence.
The cause of the common lack of thoroughness lies in the thirst for pleasure.
Every employer of labor knows how difficult it is to find men and women who will put thought and energy into their work, and do it completely and satisfactorily. Bad workmanship abounds. Skill and excellence are acquired by few. Thoughtlessness, carelessness, and laziness are such common vices that it should cease to appear strange that, in spite of " social reform," the ranks of the unemployed should continue to swell, for those who scamp their work today will, another day, in the hour of deep necessity, look and ask for work in vain.
The law of "the survival of the fittest" is not based on cruelty, it is based on justice; it is one aspect of that divine equity which everywhere prevails. Vice is "beaten with many stripes"; if it were not so, how could virtue be developed? The thoughtless and lazy cannot take precedence of, or stand equally with, the thoughtful and industrious.
The mind that is occupied with pleasure cannot also be concentrated upon the perfect performance of duty.
He who lacks thoroughness in his worldly duties will also lack the same in spiritual things.
Thoroughness is completeness, perfection; it means doing a thing so well that there is nothing left to be desired; it means doing one’s work, if not better than anyone else can do it, at least not worse than the best that others do. It means the exercise of much thought, the putting forth of great energy, the persistent application of the mind to its task, the cultivation of patience, perseverance, and a high sense of duty. An ancient teacher said, "If anything has to be done, let a man do it, let him attack it vigorously"; and another teacher said, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."
It is better to be a whole-souled worldling than a halfhearted religionist.
He who has not learned how to be gentle, loving, and happy has learned very little.
Despondency, irritability, anxiety, complaining, condemning, and grumbling—all these are thought-cankers, mind-diseases; they are the indications of a wrong mental condition, and those who suffer there from would do well to remedy their thinking and conduct. It is true there is much sin and misery in the world, so that all our love and compassion are needed, but our misery is not needed—there is already too much of that. No, it is our cheerfulness and our happiness that are needed, for there is too little of that. We can give nothing better to the world than beauty of life and character; without this, all other things are vain; this is preeminently excellent; it is enduring, real, and not to be overthrown, and it includes all joy and blessedness.
A man’s surroundings are never against him; they are there to aid him.
You can transform everything around you if you will transform yourself.
Unbroken sweetness of conduct in the face of all outward antagonism is the infallible indication of a self-conquered soul, the witness of wisdom, and the proof of the possession of Truth.
A sweet and happy soul is the ripened fruit of wisdom, and it sheds abroad the invisible aroma of its influence, gladdening the hearts of others, and purifying the world.
If you would have others true, be true; if you would have the world emancipated from misery and sin, emancipate yourself; if you would have your home and your surroundings happy, be happy.
And this you will naturally and spontaneously do as you realize the good in yourself.
Commence to live free from all wrong and evil. Peace of mind and true reform lie this way.
Immortality is here and now, and is not a speculative something beyond the grave.
Immortality does not belong to time, and will never be found in time: it belongs to Eternity; and just as time is here and now, so is Eternity here and now, and a man may find that Eternity and establish himself in it, if he will overcome the self that derives its life from the unsatisfying and perishable things of time.
Whilst a man remains immersed in sensation, desire, and the passing events of his day-by-day existence, and regards those sensations, desires, and passing events as of the essence of himself, he can have no knowledge of immortality. The thing which such a man desires, and which he mistakes for immortality, is persistence; that is, a continuous succession of sensations and events of time.
Persistence is the antithesis of immortality.
The death of the body can never bestow upon a man immortality.
Spirits are not different from men, and live their little feverish life of broken consciousness, and are still immersed in change and mortality. The mortal man, he who thirsts for the persistence of his pleasure-loving personality, is still mortal after death, and only lives another life with a beginning and an end, without memory of the past or knowledge of the future.
The immortal man is he who has detached himself from the things of time by having ascended into that state of consciousness which is fixed and unvariable, and is not affected by passing events and sensations. He is as one who has awakened out of his dream, and he knows that his dream was not an enduring reality, but a passing illusion. He is a man with knowledge, the knowledge of both states—that of persistence, and that of immortality.
The immortal man is in full possession of himself.
The mortal man lives in the time or world state of consciousness which begins and ends.
The immortal man remains poised and steadfast under all changes, and the death of his body will not in any way interrupt the eternal consciousness in which he abides. Of such a one it is said, "He shall not taste of death," because he has stepped out of the stream of mortality, and established himself in the abode of Truth. Bodies, personalities, nations, and worlds pass away, but Truth remains, and its glory is undimmed by time. The immortal man, then, is he who has conquered himself; who no longer identifies himself with the self-seeking forces of the personality, but who has trained himself to direct those forces with the hand of a master, and so has brought them into harmony with the causal energy and source of all things.
The immortal man lives in the cosmic or heaven state of consciousness, in which there is neither beginning nor end, but an eternal now.
The overcoming of self is the annihilation of all the sorrow-producing elements.
The doctrine of the overcoming or annihilation of self is simplicity itself; indeed, so simple, practical, and close at hand is it that a child of five, whose mind has not yet become clouded with theories, theological schemes, and speculative philosophies, would be far more likely to comprehend it than many older people who have lost their hold upon simple and beautiful truths by the adoption of complicated theories.
The annihilation of self consists in weeding out and destroying all those elements in the soul which lead to division, strife, suffering, disease, and sorrow. It does not mean the destruction of any good and beautiful and peace-producing quality.
The overcoming of self is the cultivation of all the divine qualities.
He who would overcome his enemy the tempter must discover his stronghold and place of concealment, and must also find out the unguarded gates in his own fortress where the enemy effects so easy an entrance.
Temptation, with all its attendant torments, can be overcome here and now, but it can only be overcome with knowledge. It is a condition of darkness, or of semi-darkness. The fully enlightened soul is proof against all temptation. When a man fully understands the source, nature, and meaning of temptation, in that hour he will conquer it, and will rest from his long travail; but whilst he remains in ignorance, attention to religious observances and much praying and reading of Scripture will fail to bring him peace.
This is the holy warfare of the saints.
All temptation comes from within.
Men fail to conquer, and the fight is indefinitely prolonged, because they labor, almost universally, under two delusions; first, that all temptations come from without; and second, that they are tempted because of their goodness. Whilst a man is held in bondage by these delusions, he will make no progress; when he has shaken them off; he will pass on rapidly from victory to victory, and will taste of spiritual joy and rest.
The source and cause of all temptation is in the inward desire; that being purified and eliminated, outward objects and extraneous powers are utterly powerless to move the soul to sin or to temptation. The outward object is merely the occasion of the temptation, never the cause; this is in the desire of the one tempted.
A man is tempted because there are certain desires or states of mind which he has come to regard as unholy.
The good in a man is never tempted. Goodness destroys temptation.
It is the evil in a man that is aroused and tempted. The measure of a man’s temptations is the exact register of his own unholiness. As a man purifies his heart, temptation ceases, for when a certain unlawful desire has been taken out of the heart the object which formerly appealed to it can no longer do so, but becomes dead and powerless, for there is nothing left in the heart that can respond to it. The honest man cannot be tempted to steal, let the occasion be ever so opportune; the man of purified appetites cannot be tempted to gluttony and drunkenness; he whose mind is calm in the strength of inward virtue can never be tempted to anger, and the wiles and charms of the wanton fall upon the purified heart as empty, meaningless shadows.
Temptation shows a man just where he is.
The Great Law is good—the man of integrity is superior to fear, and failure, and poverty, and shame, and disgrace.
The man who, fearing the loss of present pleasures or material comforts, denies the truth within him can be injured, and robbed, and degraded, and trampled upon, because he has first injured, robbed, and degraded, and trampled upon his own nobler self; but the man of steadfast virtue, of unblemished integrity, cannot be subject to such conditions, because he has denied the craven self within him and has taken refuge in Truth. It is not the scourge and the chains which make a man a slave, but the fact that he is a slave.
Slander, accusation, and malice cannot affect the righteous man, nor call from him any bitter response, nor does he need to go about to defend himself and prove his innocence.
Innocence and integrity alone are a sufficient answer to all that hatred may attempt.
The man of integrity turns all evil things to good account.
Let the man of integrity rejoice and be glad when he is severely tried; let him be thankful that he has been given an opportunity of proving his loyalty to the noble principles which he has espoused; and let him think, "Now is the hour of holy opportunity! Now is the day of triumph of Truth! Though I lose the whole world, I will not desert the right!" So thinking, he will return good for evil, and will think compassionately of the wrong-doer.
The slanderer, the backbiter, and the wrongdoer may seem to succeed for a time, but the Law of Justice prevails; the man of integrity may seem to fail for a time, but he is invincible, and in none of the worlds, visible or invisible, can there be a forged weapon that shall prevail against him.
The man of integrity can never be subdued by the forces of darkness, having subdued all those forces within himself.
Without discrimination a man is mentally blind.
A man's mind and life should be free from confusion. He should be prepared to meet every mental, material, and spiritual difficulty, and should not be intricately caught (as many are) in the meshes of doubt, indecision, and uncertainty when troubles and so-called misfortunes come along. He should be fortified against every emergency that can come against him; but such mental preparedness and strength cannot be attained in any degree without discrimination, and discrimination can only be developed by bringing into play and constantly exercising the analytical faculty.
Mind, like muscle, is developed by use.
Confusion, suffering, and spiritual darkness follow the thoughtless.
The man, who is afraid to think searchingly upon his opinions, and to reason critically upon his position, will have to develop moral courage before he can acquire discrimination.
A man must be true to himself, fearless with himself, before he can perceive the pure principles of Truth, before he can receive the all-revealing Light of Truth.
The more Truth is inquired of, the brighter it shines; it cannot suffer under examination and analysis.
The more error is questioned, the darker it grows; it cannot survive the entrance of pure and searching thought.
To "prove all things" is to find the good and to throw away the evil.
He who reasons and meditates learns to discriminate; he who discriminates discovers the eternally True.
Harmony, blessedness, and the Light of Truth attend upon the thoughtful.
Belief is an attitude of mind determining the whole course of one’s life.
Belief is the basis of all action, and, this being so, the belief which dominates the heart or mind is shown in the life. Every man acts, thinks, lives in exact accordance with the belief which is rooted in his innermost being, and such is the mathematical nature of the laws which govern mind that it is absolutely impossible for anyone to believe in two opposing conditions at the same time. For instance, it is impossible to believe in justice and injustice, hatred and love, peace and strife, self and truth. Every man believes in one or the other of these opposites, never in both, and the daily conduct of every man indicates the nature of his belief.
Belief and conduct are inseparable, for the one determines the other.
Justice reigns and all that is called injustice is fleeting and illusory.
The man who is continually getting enraged over the injustice of his fellow men, who talks about himself being badly treated, or who mourns over the lack of justice in the world around him, shows by his conduct, his attitude of mind, that he believes in injustice. However he may protest to the contrary, in his inmost heart he believes that confusion and chaos are dominant in the universe, the result being that he dwells in misery and unrest, and his conduct is faulty.
Again, he who believes in love, in its stability and power, practices it under all circumstances, never deviates from it, and bestows it alike upon enemies as upon friends.
The man who believes in justice remains calm through all trials and difficulties.
Every thought, every act, every habit, is the direct outcome of belief.
Men are saved from error by belief in the supremacy of Truth. They are saved from sin by belief in Holiness or Perfection. They are saved from evil by belief in Good, for every belief is manifested in the life. It is not necessary to inquire as to a man’s theological belief, for that is of little or no account, for what can it avail a man to believe that Jesus died for him, or that Jesus is God, or that he is "justified by faith," if he continues to live in his lower, sinful nature ? All that is necessary to ask is this: "How does a man live?" "How does he conduct himself under trying circumstances?" The answer to these questions will show whether a man believes in the power of evil or in the power of Good.
When our belief in a thing ceases, we can no longer cling to or practice it.
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.