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As a Man Thinketh online

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your body, beautify your mind. Thoughts of malice, envy,
disappointment, despondency, rob the body of its health and grace. A
sour face does not come by chance; it is made by sour thoughts.
Wrinkles that mar are drawn by folly, passion, and pride.

I know a woman of ninety-six who has the bright, innocent face of a
girl. I know a man well under middle age whose face is drawn into
inharmonious contours. The one is the result of a sweet and sunny
disposition; the other is the outcome of passion and discontent.

As you cannot have a sweet and wholesome abode unless you admit the
air and sunshine freely into your rooms, so a strong body and a
bright, happy, or serene countenance can only result from the free
admittance into the mind of thoughts of joy and goodwill and

On the faces of the aged there are wrinkles made by sympathy, others
by strong and pure thought, and others are carved by passion: who
cannot distinguish them? With those who have lived righteously, age
is calm, peaceful, and softly mellowed, like the setting sun. I have
recently seen a philosopher on his deathbed. He was not old except
in years. He died as sweetly and peacefully as he had lived.

There is no physician like cheerful thought for dissipating the ills
of the body; there is no comforter to compare with goodwill for
dispersing the shadows of grief and sorrow. To live continually in
thoughts of ill will, cynicism, suspicion, and envy, is to be
confined in a self made prison-hole. But to think well of all, to be
cheerful with all, to patiently learn to find the good in all - such
unselfish thoughts are the very portals of heaven; and to dwell day
by day in thoughts of peace toward every creature will bring
abounding peace to their possessor.


UNTIL thought is linked with purpose there is no intelligent
accomplishment. With the majority the bark of thought is allowed to
"drift" upon the ocean of life. Aimlessness is a vice, and such
drifting must not continue for him who would steer clear of
catastrophe and destruction.

They who have no central purpose in their life fall an easy prey to
petty worries, fears, troubles, and self-pityings, all of which are
indications of weakness, which lead, just as surely as deliberately
planned sins (though by a different route), to failure, unhappiness,
and loss, for weakness cannot persist in a power evolving universe.

A man should conceive of a legitimate purpose in his heart, and set
out to accomplish it. He should make this purpose the centralizing
point of his thoughts. It may take the form of a spiritual ideal, or
it may be a worldly object, according to his nature at the time
being; but whichever it is, he should steadily focus his
thought-forces upon the object, which he has set before him. He
should make this purpose his supreme duty, and should devote himself
to its attainment, not allowing his thoughts to wander away into
ephemeral fancies, longings, and imaginings. This is the royal road
to self-control and true concentration of thought. Even if he fails
again and again to accomplish his purpose (as he necessarily must
until weakness is overcome), the _strength of character gained_ will
be the measure of _his true_ success, and this will form a new
starting-point for future power and triumph.

Those who are not prepared for the apprehension of a _great_ purpose
should fix the thoughts upon the faultless performance of their
duty, no matter how insignificant their task may appear. Only in
this way can the thoughts be gathered and focussed, and resolution
and energy be developed, which being done, there is nothing which
may not be accomplished.

The weakest soul, knowing its own weakness, and believing this truth
_that strength can only be developed by effort and practice,_ will,
thus believing, at once begin to exert itself, and, adding effort to
effort, patience to patience, and strength to strength, will never
cease to develop, and will at last grow divinely strong.

As the physically weak man can make himself strong by careful and
patient training, so the man of weak thoughts can make them strong
by exercising himself in right thinking.

To put away aimlessness and weakness, and to begin to think with
purpose, is to enter the ranks of those strong ones who only
recognize failure as one of the pathways to attainment; who make all
conditions serve them, and who think strongly, attempt fearlessly,
and accomplish masterfully.

Having conceived of his purpose, a man should mentally mark out a
_straight_ pathway to its achievement, looking neither to the right
nor the left. Doubts and fears should be rigorously excluded; they
are disintegrating elements, which break up the straight line of
effort, rendering it crooked, ineffectual, useless. Thoughts of
doubt and fear never accomplished anything, and never can. They
always lead to failure. Purpose, energy, power to do, and all strong
thoughts cease when doubt and fear creep in.

The will to do springs from the knowledge that we _can_ do. Doubt
and fear are the great enemies of knowledge, and he who encourages
them, who does not slay them, thwarts himself at every step.

He who has conquered doubt and fear has conquered failure. His
every thought is allied with power, and all difficulties are
bravely met and wisely overcome. His purposes are seasonably
planted, and they bloom and bring forth fruit, which does not fall
prematurely to the ground.

Thought allied fearlessly to purpose becomes creative force: he who
_knows_ this is ready to become something higher and stronger than a
mere bundle of wavering thoughts and fluctuating sensations; he who
_does_ this has become the conscious and intelligent wielder of his
mental powers.


ALL that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the
direct result of his own thoughts. In a justly ordered universe,
where loss of equipoise would mean total destruction, individual
responsibility must be absolute. A man's weakness and strength,
purity and impurity, are his own, and not another man's; they are
brought about by himself, and not by another; and they can only be
altered by himself, never by another. His condition is also his own,
and not another man's. His suffering and his happiness are evolved
from within. As he thinks, so he is; as he continues to think, so he

A strong man cannot help a weaker unless that weaker is _willing_ to
be helped, and even then the weak man must become strong of himself;
he must, by his own efforts, develop the strength which he admires
in another. None but himself can alter his condition.

It has been usual for men to think and to say, "Many men are slaves
because one is an oppressor; let us hate the oppressor." Now,
however, there is amongst an increasing few a tendency to reverse
this judgment, and to say, "One man is an oppressor because many are
slaves; let us despise the slaves."

The truth is that oppressor and slave are co-operators in ignorance,
and, while seeming to afflict each other, are in reality afflicting
themselves. A perfect Knowledge perceives the action of law in the
weakness of the oppressed and the misapplied power of the oppressor;
a perfect Love, seeing the suffering, which both states entail,
condemns neither; a perfect Compassion embraces both oppressor and

He who has conquered weakness, and has put away all selfish
thoughts, belongs neither to oppressor nor oppressed. He is free.

A man can only rise, conquer, and achieve by lifting up his
thoughts. He can only remain weak, and abject, and miserable by
refusing to lift up his thoughts.

Before a man can achieve anything, even in worldly things, he must
lift his thoughts above slavish animal indulgence. He may not, in
order to succeed, give up all animality and selfishness, by any
means; but a portion of it must, at least, be sacrificed. A man
whose first thought is bestial indulgence could neither think
clearly nor plan methodically; he could not find and develop his
latent resources, and would fail in any undertaking. Not having
commenced to manfully control his thoughts, he is not in a position
to control affairs and to adopt serious responsibilities. He is not
fit to act independently and stand alone. But he is limited only by
the thoughts, which he chooses.

There can be no progress, no achievement without sacrifice, and a
man's worldly success will be in the measure that he sacrifices his
confused animal thoughts, and fixes his mind on the development of
his plans, and the strengthening of his resolution and self-reliance.
And the higher he lifts his thoughts, the more manly, upright, and
righteous he becomes, the greater will be his success, the more
blessed and enduring will be his achievements.

The universe does not favour the greedy, the dishonest, the vicious,
although on the mere surface it may sometimes appear to do so; it
helps the honest, the magnanimous, the virtuous. All the great
Teachers of the ages have declared this in varying forms, and to
prove and know it a man has but to persist in making himself more
and more virtuous by lifting up his thoughts.

Intellectual achievements are the result of thought consecrated to
the search for knowledge, or for the beautiful and true in life and
nature. Such achievements may be sometimes connected with vanity and
ambition, but they are not the outcome of those characteristics;
they are the natural outgrowth of long and arduous effort, and of
pure and unselfish thoughts.

Spiritual achievements are the consummation of holy aspirations. He
who lives constantly in the conception of noble and lofty thoughts,
who dwells upon all that is pure and unselfish, will, as surely as
the sun reaches its zenith and the moon its full, become wise and
noble in character, and rise into a position of influence and

Achievement, of whatever kind, is the crown of effort, the diadem of
thought. By the aid of self-control, resolution, purity,
righteousness, and well-directed thought a man ascends; by the aid
of animality, indolence, impurity, corruption, and confusion of
thought a man descends.

A man may rise to high success in the world, and even to lofty
altitudes in the spiritual realm, and again descend into weakness
and wretchedness by allowing arrogant, selfish, and corrupt thoughts
to take possession of him.

Victories attained by right thought can only be maintained by
watchfulness. Many give way when success is assured, and rapidly
fall back into failure.

All achievements, whether in the business, intellectual, or
spiritual world, are the result of definitely directed thought, are
governed by the same law and are of the same method; the only
difference lies in _the object of attainment._

He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would
achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must
sacrifice greatly.


THE dreamers are the saviours of the world. As the visible world is
sustained by the invisible, so men, through all their trials and
sins and sordid vocations, are nourished by the beautiful visions of
their solitary dreamers. Humanity cannot forget its dreamers; it
cannot let their ideals fade and die; it lives in them; it knows
them as the _realities_ which it shall one day see and know.

Composer, sculptor, painter, poet, prophet, sage, these are the
makers of the after-world, the architects of heaven. The world is
beautiful because they have lived; without them, labouring humanity
would perish.

He who cherishes a beautiful vision, a lofty ideal in his heart,
will one day realize it. Columbus cherished a vision of another
world, and he discovered it; Copernicus fostered the vision of a
multiplicity of worlds and a wider universe, and he revealed it;
Buddha beheld the vision of a spiritual world of stainless beauty
and perfect peace, and he entered into it.

Cherish your visions; cherish your ideals; cherish the music that
stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the
loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts, for out of them will
grow all delightful conditions, all, heavenly environment; of these,
if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built.

To desire is to obtain; to aspire is to, achieve. Shall man's basest
desires receive the fullest measure of gratification, and his purest
aspirations starve for lack of sustenance? Such is not the Law: such
a condition of things can never obtain: "ask and receive."

Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your
Vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your Ideal is
the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.

The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The
oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg; and in the
highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the
seedlings of realities.

Your circumstances may be uncongenial, but they shall not long
remain so if you but perceive an Ideal and strive to reach it. You
cannot travel _within_ and stand still _without._ Here is a youth
hard pressed by poverty and labour; confined long hours in an
unhealthy workshop; unschooled, and lacking all the arts of
refinement. But he dreams of better things; he thinks of
intelligence, of refinement, of grace and beauty. He conceives of,
mentally builds up, an ideal condition of life; the vision of a
wider liberty and a larger scope takes possession of him; unrest
urges him to action, and he utilizes all his spare time and means,
small though they are, to the development of his latent powers and
resources. Very soon so altered has his mind become that the
workshop can no longer hold him. It has become so out of harmony
with his mentality that it falls out of his life as a garment is
cast aside, and, with the growth of opportunities, which fit the
scope of his expanding powers, he passes out of it forever. Years
later we see this youth as a full-grown man. We find him a master of
certain forces of the mind, which he wields with worldwide influence
and almost unequalled power. In his hands he holds the cords of
gigantic responsibilities; he speaks, and lo, lives are changed; men
and women hang upon his words and remould their characters, and,
sunlike, he becomes the fixed and luminous centre round which
innumerable destinies revolve. He has realized the Vision of his
youth. He has become one with his Ideal.

And you, too, youthful reader, will realize the Vision (not the idle
wish) of your heart, be it base or beautiful, or a mixture of both,
for you will always gravitate toward that which you, secretly, most
love. Into your hands will be placed the exact results of your own
thoughts; you will receive that which you earn; no more, no less.
Whatever your present environment may be, you will fall, remain, or
rise with your thoughts, your Vision, your Ideal. You will become as
small as your controlling desire; as great as your dominant
aspiration: in the beautiful words of Stanton Kirkham Davis, "You
may be keeping accounts, and presently you shall walk out of the
door that for so long has seemed to you the barrier of your ideals,
and shall find yourself before an audience - the pen still behind
your ear, the ink stains on your fingers and then and there shall
pour out the torrent of your inspiration. You may be driving sheep,
and you shall wander to the city-bucolic and open-mouthed; shall
wander under the intrepid guidance of the spirit into the studio of
the master, and after a time he shall say, 'I have nothing more to
teach you.' And now you have become the master, who did so recently
dream of great things while driving sheep. You shall lay down the
saw and the plane to take upon yourself the regeneration of the

The thoughtless, the ignorant, and the indolent, seeing only the
apparent effects of things and not the things themselves, talk of
luck, of fortune, and chance. Seeing a man grow rich, they say, "How
lucky he is!" Observing another become intellectual, they exclaim,
"How highly favoured he is!" And noting the saintly character and
wide influence of another, they remark, "How chance aids him at
every turn!" They do not see the trials and failures and struggles
which these men have voluntarily encountered in order to gain their
experience; have no knowledge of the sacrifices they have made, of
the undaunted efforts they have put forth, of the faith they have
exercised, that they might overcome the apparently insurmountable,
and realize the Vision of their heart. They do not know the darkness
and the heartaches; they only see the light and joy, and call it
"luck". They do not see the long and arduous journey, but only
behold the pleasant goal, and call it "good fortune," do not
understand the process, but only perceive the result, and call it

In all human affairs there are _efforts,_ and there are _results,_
and the strength of the effort is the measure of the result. Chance
is not. Gifts, powers, material, intellectual, and spiritual
possessions are the fruits of effort; they are thoughts completed,
objects accomplished, visions realized.

The Vision that you glorify in your mind, the Ideal that you
enthrone in your heart - this you will build your life by, this you
will become.


CALMNESS of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom. It is the
result of long and patient effort in self-control. Its presence is
an indication of ripened experience, and of a more than ordinary
knowledge of the laws and operations of thought.

A man becomes calm in the measure that he understands himself as a
thought evolved being, for such knowledge necessitates the
understanding of others as the result of thought, and as he develops
a right understanding, and sees more and more clearly the internal
relations of things by the action of cause and effect he ceases to
fuss and fume and worry and grieve, and remains poised, steadfast,

The calm man, having learned how to govern himself, knows how to
adapt himself to others; and they, in turn, reverence his spiritual
strength, and feel that they can learn of him and rely upon him. The
more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his
influence, his power for good. Even the ordinary trader will find
his business prosperity increase as he develops a greater
self-control and equanimity, for people will always prefer to deal
with a man whose demeanour is strongly equable.

The strong, calm man is always loved and revered. He is like a
shade-giving tree in a thirsty land, or a sheltering rock in a
storm. "Who does not love a tranquil heart, a sweet-tempered,
balanced life? It does not matter whether it rains or shines, or
what changes come to those possessing these blessings, for they are
always sweet, serene, and calm. That exquisite poise of character,
which we call serenity is the last lesson of culture, the fruitage
of the soul. It is precious as wisdom, more to be desired
than gold - yea, than even fine gold. How insignificant mere money
seeking looks in comparison with a serene life - a life that dwells
in the ocean of Truth, beneath the waves, beyond the reach of
tempests, in the Eternal Calm!

"How many people we know who sour their lives, who ruin all that is
sweet and beautiful by explosive tempers, who destroy their poise of
character, and make bad blood! It is a question whether the great
majority of people do not ruin their lives and mar their happiness
by lack of self-control. How few people we meet in life who are well
balanced, who have that exquisite poise which is characteristic of
the finished character!

Yes, humanity surges with uncontrolled passion, is tumultuous with
ungoverned grief, is blown about by anxiety and doubt only the wise
man, only he whose thoughts are controlled and purified, makes the
winds and the storms of the soul obey him.

Tempest-tossed souls, wherever ye may be, under whatsoever
conditions ye may live, know this in the ocean of life the isles of
Blessedness are smiling, and the sunny shore of your ideal awaits
your coming. Keep your hand firmly upon the helm of thought. In the
bark of your soul reclines the commanding Master; He does but sleep:
wake Him. Self-control is strength; Right Thought is mastery;
Calmness is power. Say unto your heart, "Peace, be still!"


Online LibraryJames AllenAs a Man Thinketh → online text (page 2 of 2)