The above saying, which has come down to us from the wise of ancient times, is so self-evident that one is naturally led to reflect on the vital importance of our thought-life. The thoughts which we receive and make our own are either for life or death—spiritual life-giving or spiritual death-giving. Should we not, therefore, strive to know, to become self-conscious of, the path we are taking during this short pilgrimage of earth-life? From an unknown eternity, when we were one with the Father, for all life is from God, the Universal Spirit, to an eternity almost equally unknown, we have a short period here during which personality is given to us; free-will to shape our ends for spiritual life or death. And how much our thought-life has to do with this every one must acknowledge if but a moment's consideration be given to the question.
If we are in real earnest about the rejection of evil thoughts, they will gradually cease to annoy us, or die for want of attraction—spiritual nourishment. And by steadily fixing our thoughts on the good, on our ideal of goodness, ever striving to avoid personal bias—a most difficult operation—and from our most interior thought to every action of daily life even aspiring towards the ideal—the evolution of the divine within—we shall steadily progress in true spiritual life, and our prayer, "Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee," will be answered.
To control wandering thoughts is not an easy task. But we can keep watch and guard over ourselves, and every time an evil thought is rejected the character is strengthened for good.
"If," as Mrs. Besant says, "we watch the thoughts which come into our minds, we shall find that they are of the same kind as those which we habitually encourage. The mind attracts the thoughts which are congruous with its normal activities. If an unkind thought about another person enters the mind, it should be replaced by a thought of some virtue he possesses, or of some good action he has done...the turning of the mind in a different direction causes the other image to drop silently from the field of vision."
To replace a thought of evil by one of good is better than fighting or striving against the evil, whether in ourselves or others, for the latter process causes exhaustion, and sometimes loss of victory; the former is natural sequence of thought; and, as two thoughts cannot occupy the mind at one and the same time, especially if of an entirely opposite nature, by thinking of good we cast out, or prevent the entrance of, evil.
The mind, like the body, grows by what it feeds on. Eat coarsely and the body will be coarse; think coarse or evil thoughts and the mind will be of a like nature; and the state, whether of body or mind, is reflected on the spirit. Therefore, as Paul says, whatsoever we do, whether we eat or whether we drink, all should be done to the glory of God.
"Be ye also perfect." That command would not have been given had it not been possible for us to attain to some form of perfection. But we can only make a beginning in one short earth-life, and perhaps even all through eternity we may ever see our goal afar off on the distant horizon. Perfection, not necessarily meaning a final state, any more than a tree would be more perfect if it ceased to grow. Yet it is a state, a condition; a state of ever-widening knowledge, wisdom and love, built on the foundation of our everyday thought life. And if we learn to keep control of our thoughts the time will come when evil will have no more dominion over us, and we shall be free from its bondage.
As thought is the foundation upon which our future development is built, so love is the guiding principle which directs and controls the thoughts. May we all, therefore, learn to love the right.