Men and women
make themselves by virtue of the thoughts, which they choose and
encourage. Mind is the master-weaver, both of the inner garment of
character and the outer garment of circumstance, and that, as they may
have hitherto woven in ignorance and pain they may now weave in
enlightenment and happiness.
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EFFECT OF THOUGHT ON CIRCUMSTANCES
MAN'S mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed-seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.
Just as a gardener cultivates his plot, keeping it free from weeds, and
growing the flowers and fruits which he requires, so may a man tend the
garden of his mind, weeding out all the wrong, useless, and impure
thoughts, and cultivating toward perfection the flowers and fruits of
right, useful, and pure thoughts. By pursuing this process, a man
sooner or later
discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul,
the director of his life. He also reveals, within himself, the laws of
thought, and understands, with ever-increasing accuracy, how the
thought-forces and mind elements operate in the shaping of his
character, circumstances, and destiny.
Thought and character are one, and as character can only manifest and
discover itself through environment and circumstance, the outer
conditions of a person's life will always be found to be harmoniously
related to his inner state. This does not mean that a man's
circumstances at any given time are an indication of
his entire character, but that those circumstances
are so intimately connected with some vital thought-element within
himself that, for the time being, they are indispensable to his
Every man is where he is by the law of his being; the thoughts which he
has built into his character have brought him there, and in the
arrangement of his life there is no element of chance, but all is the
result of a law which cannot err. This is just as true of those who feel "out of harmony" with their surroundings as of those who are
contented with them.
As a progressive and evolving being, man is where he is that he may
learn that he may grow; and as he learns the spiritual lesson which any
circumstance contains for him, it passes away and gives place to other
Man is buffeted by circumstances so long as he believes himself to be
the creature of outside conditions, but when he realizes that he is a
creative power, and that he may command the hidden soil and seeds of
his being out of which circumstances grow, he then becomes the rightful
master of himself.
That circumstances grow out of thought every man knows who has for any
length of time practised self-control and self-purification, for he
will have noticed that the alteration in his circumstances has been in
exact ratio with his altered mental condition. So true is this that
when a man earnestly applies himself to remedy the defects in his
character, and makes swift and marked progress, he passes rapidly
through a succession of vicissitudes.
The soul attracts that which it secretly harbours; that which it loves,
and also that which it fears; it reaches the height of its cherished
aspirations; it falls to the level of its unchastened desires, - and
circumstances are the means by which the soul receives its own.
Every thought-seed sown or allowed to fall into the mind, and to take
root there, produces its own, blossoming sooner or later into act, and
bearing its own fruitage of opportunity and circumstance.
Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bad fruit.
The outer world of circumstance shapes itself to the inner world of
thought, and both pleasant and unpleasant external conditions are
factors, which make for the ultimate good of the individual. As the
reaper of his own harvest, man learns both by suffering and bliss.
Following the inmost desires, aspirations, thoughts, by which he allows
himself to be dominated, (pursuing the will-o'-the-wisps of impure
imaginings or steadfastly walking the highway of strong and high
endeavour), a man at last arrives at their fruition and fulfilment in
the outer conditions of his life. The laws of growth and adjustment
A man does not come to the almshouse or the jail by the tyranny of fate
or circumstance, but by the pathway of grovelling thoughts and base
desires. Nor does a pure-minded man fall suddenly into crime by stress
of any mere external force; the criminal thought had long been secretly
fostered in the heart, and the hour of opportunity revealed its
gathered power. Circumstance does not make the man; it reveals him to
himself No such conditions can exist as descending into vice and its
attendant sufferings apart from vicious inclinations, or ascending into
virtue and its pure happiness without the continued cultivation of
virtuous aspirations; and man, therefore, as the lord and master of
thought, is the maker of himself the shaper and author of environment.
Even at birth the soul comes to its own and through every step of its
earthly pilgrimage it attracts those combinations of conditions which
reveal itself, which are the reflections of its own purity and, impurity, its strength and weakness.
Men do not attract that which they want, but that which
they are. Their whims, fancies, and ambitions are
thwarted at every step, but their inmost thoughts and desires are fed
with their own food, be it foul or clean. The "divinity that shapes our
ends" is in ourselves; it is our very self. Only himself manacles man:
thought and action are the gaolers of Fate...they imprison, being base;
they are also the angels of Freedom...they liberate, being noble. Not
what he wishes and prays for does a man get, but what he justly earns.
His wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they
harmonize with his thoughts and actions.
In the light of this truth, what, then, is the meaning of "fighting
against circumstances?" It means that a man is continually revolting
against an _effect without, while all the time he is nourishing and
preserving its cause_ in his heart. That cause may take the form of a
conscious vice or an unconscious weakness; but whatever it is, it
stubbornly retards the efforts of its possessor, and thus calls aloud
Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to
improve themselves; they therefore remain bound. The man who does not
shrink from self-crucifixion can never fail to accomplish the object
upon which his heart is set. This is as true of earthly as of heavenly
things. Even the man whose sole object is to acquire wealth must be
prepared to make great personal sacrifices before he can accomplish his
object; and how much more so he who would realize a strong and
Here is a man who is wretchedly poor. He is extremely anxious that his
surroundings and home comforts should be improved, yet all the time he
shirks his work, and considers he is justified in trying to deceive his
employer on the ground of the insufficiency of his wages. Such a man
does not understand the simplest rudiments of those principles which
are the basis of true prosperity, and is not only totally unfitted to
rise out of his wretchedness, but is actually attracting to himself a
still deeper wretchedness by dwelling in, and acting out, indolent,
deceptive, and unmanly thoughts.
Here is a rich man who is the victim of a painful and persistent
disease as the result of gluttony. He is willing to give large sums of
money to get rid of it, but he will not sacrifice his gluttonous
desires. He wants to gratify his taste for rich and unnatural viands
and have his health as well. Such a man is totally unfit to have
health, because he has not yet learned the first principles of a
Here is an employer of labour who adopts crooked measures to avoid
paying the regulation wage, and, in the hope of making larger profits,
reduces the wages of his workpeople. Such a man is altogether unfitted
for prosperity, and when he finds himself bankrupt, both as regards
reputation and riches, he blames circumstances, not knowing that he is
the sole author of his condition.
I have introduced these three cases merely as illustrative of the truth
that man is the causer (though nearly always is unconsciously) of his
circumstances, and that, whilst aiming at a good end, he is continually
frustrating its accomplishment by encouraging thoughts and desires
which cannot possibly harmonize with that end. Such cases could be
multiplied and varied almost indefinitely, but this is not necessary,
as the reader can, if he so resolves, trace the action of the laws of
thought in his own mind and life, and until this is done, mere external
facts cannot serve as a ground of reasoning.
Circumstances, however, are so complicated, thought is so deeply
rooted, and the conditions of happiness vary so, vastly with
individuals, that a man's entire soul-condition (although it may be
known to himself) cannot be judged by another from the external aspect
of his life alone. A man may be honest in certain directions, yet
suffer privations; a man may be dishonest in certain directions, yet
acquire wealth; but the conclusion usually formed that the one man
fails because of his particular honesty, and that the other prospers
because of his particular dishonesty, is the result of a superficial
judgment, which assumes that the dishonest man is almost totally
corrupt, and the honest man almost entirely virtuous. In the light of a
deeper knowledge and wider experience such judgment is found to be
erroneous. The dishonest man may have some admirable virtues, which the
other does, not possess; and the honest man obnoxious vices which are
absent in the other. The honest man reaps the good results of his
honest thoughts and acts; he also brings upon himself the sufferings,
which his vices produce. The dishonest man likewise garners his own
suffering and happiness.
It is pleasing to human vanity to believe that one suffers because of
one's virtue; but not until a man has extirpated every sickly, bitter,
and impure thought from his mind, and washed every sinful stain from
his soul, can he be in a position to know and declare that his
sufferings are the result of his good, and not of his bad qualities;
and on the way to, yet long before he has reached, that supreme
perfection, he will have found, working in his mind and life, the Great
Law which is absolutely just, and which cannot, therefore, give good
for evil, evil for good. Possessed of such knowledge, he will then
know, looking back upon his past ignorance and blindness, that his life
is, and always was, justly ordered, and that all his past experiences,
good and bad, were the equitable outworking of his evolving, yet
Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results; bad thoughts
and actions can never produce good results. This is but saying that
nothing can come from corn but corn, nothing from nettles but nettles.
Men understand this law in the natural world, and work with it; but few
understand it in the mental and moral world (though its operation there
is just as simple and undeviating), and they, therefore, do not
co-operate with it.
Suffering is _always_ the effect of wrong thought in some direction. It is an indication that the individual is out of harmony
with himself, with the Law of his being. The sole and supreme use of suffering is to purify, to burn out all that is useless and impure.
Suffering ceases for him who is pure. There could be no object in burning gold after the dross had been removed, and a
perfectly pure and enlightened being could not suffer.
The circumstances, which a man encounters with suffering, are the result of his own mental in harmony. The circumstances, which a man
encounters with blessedness, are the result of his own mental harmony. Blessedness, not material possessions, is the measure of right thought;
wretchedness, not lack of material possessions, is the measure of wrong thought. A man may be cursed and rich; he may be blessed and poor.
Blessedness and riches are only joined together when the riches are rightly and wisely used; and the poor man only descends into
wretchedness when he regards his lot as a burden unjustly imposed.
Indigence and indulgence are the two extremes of wretchedness. They are both equally unnatural and the result of mental disorder. A man is not
rightly conditioned until he is a happy, healthy, and prosperous being; and happiness, health, and prosperity are the result of a harmonious
adjustment of the inner with the outer, of the man with his surroundings.
A man only begins to be a man when he ceases to whine and revile, and commences to search for the hidden justice which regulates his life.
And as he adapts his mind to that regulating factor, he ceases toaccuse others as the cause of his condition, and builds himself up in
strong and noble thoughts; ceases to kick against circumstances, but begins to use them as aids to his more rapid progress, and as a means
of discovering the hidden powers and possibilities within himself.
Law, not confusion, is the dominating principle in the universe; justice, not injustice, is the soul and substance of life; and
righteousness, not corruption, is the moulding and moving force in the spiritual government of the world. This being so, man has but to right
himself to find that the universe is right; and during the process of putting himself right he will find that as he alters his thoughts
towards things and other people, things and other people will alter towards him.
The proof of this truth is in every person, and it therefore admits of easy investigation by systematic introspection and self-analysis. Let a man radically alter his thoughts, and he will be astonished at the rapid transformation it will effect in the material conditions of his life. Men imagine that thought can be kept secret, but it cannot; it rapidly crystallizes into habit, and habit solidifies into circumstance. Bestial thoughts crystallize into habits of drunkenness and sensuality, which solidify into circumstances of destitution and disease: impure thoughts of every kind crystallize into enervating and confusing habits, which solidify into distracting and adverse circumstances: thoughts of fear, doubt, and indecision crystallize into weak, unmanly, and irresolute habits, which solidify into circumstances of failure, indigence, and slavish dependence: lazy thoughts crystallize into habits of uncleanliness and dishonesty, which solidify into circumstances of foulness and beggary: hateful and condemnatory thoughts crystallize into habits of accusation and violence, which solidify into circumstances of injury and persecution: selfish thoughts of all kinds crystallize into habits of self-seeking, which solidify into circumstances more or less distressing. On the other hand, beautiful thoughts of all kinds crystallize into habits of grace and kindliness, which solidify into genial and sunny circumstances: pure thoughts crystallize into habits of temperance and self-control, which solidify into circumstances of repose and peace: thoughts of courage, self-reliance, and decision crystallize into manly habits, which solidify into circumstances of success, plenty, and freedom: energetic thoughts crystallize into habits of cleanliness and industry, which solidify into circumstances of pleasantness: gentle and forgiving thoughts crystallize into habits of gentleness, which solidify into protective and preservative circumstances: loving and unselfish thoughts crystallize into habits of self-forgetfulness for others, which solidify into circumstances of sure and abiding prosperity and true riches.
A particular train of thought persisted in, be it good or bad, cannot fail to produce its results on the character and circumstances. A man cannot directly choose his circumstances, but he can choose his thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape his circumstances.
Nature helps every man to the gratification of the thoughts, which he most encourages, and opportunities are presented which will most speedily bring to the surface both the good and evil thoughts.
Let a man cease from his sinful thoughts, and all the world will soften towards him, and be ready to help him; let him put away his weakly and sickly thoughts, and lo, opportunities will spring up on every hand to aid his strong resolves; let him encourage good thoughts, and no hard fate shall bind him down to wretchedness and shame. The world is your kaleidoscope, and the varying combinations of colours, which at every succeeding moment it presents to you are the exquisitely adjusted pictures of your ever-moving thoughts.
"So You will be what you will to be;
Let failure find its false content
In that poor word, 'environment,'
But spirit scorns it, and is free.
"It masters time, it conquers space;
It cowes that boastful trickster, Chance,
And bids the tyrant Circumstance
Uncrown, and fill a servant's place.
"The human Will, that force unseen,
The offspring of a deathless Soul,
Can hew a way to any goal,
Though walls of granite intervene.
"Be not impatient in delays
But wait as one who understands;
When spirit rises and commands
The gods are ready to obey."
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