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The Cultivation of the Will

Will is the product of the last analysis in the scientist's laboratory. It is the last analysis of everything, everywhere. It would be an idle exploit of language to attempt in words its definition. No one has failed to recognize its existence. It is as veritable as thought; and since no man can live without a conscious or unconscious operation of will it has an individual significance as stupendous as it is inevitable. Is it a thing to be controlled? Can the moving force itself be moved?

A careful research into the realms of higher evolution reveals a curious thing. There is no practice enjoined or enforced by the wisdom of the ages that does not bear directly upon the cultivation of Will Power. The ascetic who renounces the pleasures of sense, all those "sins which so easily beset us," controls his body by the force of a dominant instinct resident in his individual will. It is the law of the universe that the exercise of a function or faculty shall engender its growth. Appetite on any plane, high or low, is nurtured by gratification The physical cells, from muscle to brain, develop special aptitude under proper training. Within a certain range of limitation we can learn to do anything; and it follows, since the physical is but a reflex of the mental, within certain limits we can do anything. The important thing to determine is first where the limit is, and secondly, whether that limit is an immutable barrier fixed, or whether it is a mere flimsy structure wrought by our own weakness. If "As a man thinketh, so is he," the corollary is indisputable: "As a man willeth, so may he become." But what is the source of Will—that power to accomplish the thing we think; the power which grinds every circumstance to powder? Is it a gift that marks the favor of fitful Fortune, a mere incident in the environment of the you and the me, who are so different? Then surely the justice of the Universal stands impeached. Is not Will rather a great potential springing into active energy at the touch of the Infinite Mind in which all things are possible? A man can accomplish nothing till he is convinced of his own power. Yoke that conviction with reason and he may rise to the stars! That little spark of intention, flaming to the first definite act, may become a fire eternal.

But in all things finite we indicate what is to the sense a beginning. The Will has its period of incubation, its hour of birth and its day of nurture. In the round of human events how are these determined? They are determined in the play of such apparently trivial circumstance as marks the daily life of an individual. We do not realize what we do when we break that solemn covenant with our own souls. The cultivation of Will begins with its simplest exercise—the determination to rise at a certain hour, to refrain from injurious habits, to curb an unruly tongue, to think such thoughts as are fitting. These things, difficult in the beginning, pave the way to that which is more pretentious, and, little by little, the power to do grows in proportion as it is fed by the things already done. —The Light of Dharma

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