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The Rationale of Concentration

I fling my past behind me, like a robe
Worn threadbare in the seams, and out of date.
I have outgrown it.
—Ella Wheeler Wilcox

The most troublesome thing to overcome in coming into these teachings is to forget our past. There are people of two classes. One class is always living in the future, living in anticipation of things to come. The other class is living in the past, always recalling experiences of pleasure or pain, and living them over again. The normal mind dwells in the present: the more awakened mind dwells in the Eternal. As Emerson puts it, “I am an endless experimenter, with no past at my back.” I find that, in giving new thoughts to patients and pupils, they always compare them with the old thoughts that they have always held. They very rarely accept a new idea with spontaneity. They are afraid to accept new things without deliberation. This is because they depend upon reason. They have been so drilled in the intellect that they think it argues a shallow mentality to accept without weighing the matter.

I claim that true wisdom is spontaneous, and not deliberate; for wisdom is from the intuitional of man, and the intuition always knows, and, what is more, knows at once, just as we know a hot plate from a cold one, instantly. We don't have to think about it.

We do not care for “garments that are thread bare and outgrown.” We let them drop to those who need them, and whom they will fit. There are always plenty waiting for these garments.

We can never progress while keeping a close watch on our past. Let us not be afraid to outgrow old thoughts and ways of living. Let us be courageous, and dare to think on new lines, and, as a result, live in new ways.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.—Shakespeare

We are so accustomed to see people who are living as “underlings” that it seems the normal condition. If a man or woman rises a little above the average, he is considered peculiar, visionary, or a “little off.” If he dares trust the divine power within, of which he is becoming conscious and more conscious as he trusts it, his friends become alarmed, and caution him. When they have always thought him a well-balanced and intelligent man in other things, they now almost doubt his sanity when he declares that health, happiness, and prosperity are all the result of thought. Why is this? It is simply because we have departed from old lines, have flung our past behind us, have outgrown it.

We are “underlings” just so long as we are tied to the past. Let us dare to think. Let us dare to be.

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Joseph Stewart, LL. M.

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