"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." --Shakespeare.
Sage: If you wish to overcome adverse conditions or to maintain a favorable one, it is necessary to have some knowledge of the fundamental or originating Spirit, and your relation to It. The true order of these fundamental principles of life which you are endeavoring to understand does not require you to deny the reality of the existing physical world, or to call it an illusion. On the contrary, by admitting the existence of the physical, you thereby see the completion of a great invisible, creative process. This enables you to assign physical manifestations to their proper places in the creative series, which your former way of thinking did not enable you to do. You now realize that, while the origin of life is not in itself physical or material, it must throw out physical and material vehicles through which to function as its means of expression, in varying degrees of intelligence, such as the vegetable or the animal kingdom, and the human, as illustrated in our last lesson. All are forms of life, because of that inner Principle of being which sustains them. The Life Principle with which you are primarily concerned is the life of thought and feeling in yourself. You are a vehicle or distributing medium of the creative Spirit of Life. If you understand this, you will have some idea of what the originating Spirit of Life is in Itself, and your relation to It as an individual.
Pupil: Since thought and feeling are the origin of all things, would it not be necessary to get into the spirit of their origin in order to control circumstances? Is it true that my thoughts and feelings are the same as those of the limitless Power and Intelligence of the universe?
How You Can Control Circumstances and Erroneous Conditions
Sage: In essence they are the same. You are able to control the circumstances and conditions relative to your individual world, of which you are the center, by making your thoughts and feelings correspondent in quality (at least in a degree) to what you believe are those of the originating, intelligent forces of life.
Pupil: Is it true that the life in me contains everything that I, as an individual, could ever require? Are my thoughts and feelings the centralizing power of my particular world? If so, then Browning explains the situation when he says, "We carry within us the wonders we seek without us." If I know and practice this great fact, the wonder of Life's understanding power will come forth in me by its own divine right, and assume command over all my problems in exactly the same degree that I recognize it. Is that correct?
Sage: Yes, Browning has voiced the truth in that sentence. The divine Principle in you is complete, and is the only Life there is. But this should not lead you into the error of believing that you are not to exert yourself. Remember that the life-germ in you is an Intelligence which can call into specific action all of life's forces from out the entire universe, but it can only work through your intelligence in correspondence to what you confidently believe it can and will do. Therefore, be practical in your reasoning, and diligent in your deeds.
Suppose I give you an example: You have a glass of dirty water. In order to have the clear water, you would continue to pour the clean water into the glass of dirty water until every drop of the dirty water had flowed out of it, wouldn't you? The same rule applies to adverse conditions. Pour into them a steady stream of confidence in the power of God in you to change them, and they will change, correspondingly.
Pupil: I understand. You mean that I should use my common sense, coupled with a steady faith in God and earnest, concentrated mental effort?
Common Sense and Your Mental Faculties
Sage: That is it. Use your common sense and all your mental faculties as far as they will take you. However, you should never try to force a situation. Always allow for the Law of Growth. Remember that conditions will grow into the correlative shape of your firmly held mental attitude "under the guidance of the All Creating Wisdom." If you will follow this method of reasoning, you will soon form the habit of examining your own attitude of mind for the key to your progress and enjoyment of life. Endeavor to keep before your mind's eye the thought that every physical or material condition in your life corresponds to your habitual thought tendency, and your thought tendency will eventually become the reproduction of the way you regard your personal life, as related to all life.
Pupil: Shall I be able to overcome one limitation after another, as I develop the knowledge and feeling of regarding the Life Principle in me as the source of all physical experience? As I advance along these lines, shall I grow into the liberty of enjoying life in my own way?
Sage: In studying the law of your own being, the important thing to realize is that you, as an individual, are a specializing center, through which the power or essence of Life takes forms which correspond exactly to your most habitual conceptions. Try to realize more and more thoroughly, both in theory and in practice, that the relation between your individual mind and the Universal Parent Mind is one of reciprocal action. Grasp the principle of reciprocity, and you will comprehend why you fall short sometimes of enjoying life, and how you can attain to full enjoyment; just as the law of gravitation shows why iron sinks in water, and can also be made to float.
Pupil: It is rather difficult for me to understand what you mean by the reciprocal action between my individual mind and the Universal Parent Mind.
Suppose I am facing a big financial problem, and I endeavor to bring my mind into a state of confident expectancy through meditation upon the ever-present supply in all forms of life, and by repeating an affirmation which seems logical. Would that do it? Where does the reaction come in? And how? If my happiness in life depends upon this understanding, and upon living in a state of conscious reciprocity with the Parent Mind, it seems just now that it is a long way off, because I do not grasp your meaning. Should I feel a reaction within myself when striving for a certain state of consciousness?
How Your Mind is Related to the Universal Mind
Sage: We said in our last lesson that your mind was an outcome of the great Universal Parent Mind which brought you into existence for the direct purpose of expressing Itself through you. The reciprocal action between your mind and the Parent Mind might be compared with a tree and its branches. Your mind is the specific expression of the Universal Mind from which it draws its power to think. Just as a branch of a tree is a specific part of a tree, not apart from it, but a part of it. Thus, between the Universal Mind or Life and its own specialized expression (which is your mind), there is a perpetual interaction, as with the tree and its parts; its branches and its leaves are continually drawing sustenance from the parent trunk. Your thought action is the specialized, identical action of the Universal Mind.
Example: Imagine yourself feeling a bit downcast, when suddenly you are handed a telegram with the news that the one person in the world whom you love the most is on his way to see you, and the messenger of some wonderful news! Can you not imagine what a definite reaction you would have from news like that! Well, you can stimulate the same quality of thought, that same feeling of joy and surety between your individual mind and its source, through mentally picturing yourself as doing the things that you enjoy. See yourself happy, and lift your mind up to it by constantly repeating a happy affirmation, and you will readily realize the reaction in kind.
Pupil: I see. The way that adverse conditions are to be overcome is through my recognition of the reciprocal action going on continually between my mind and the One great Universal Mind, which brings about the same kind of a reaction that I would have from an agreeable experience on the physical plane. I used to think that conditions were overcome by ignoring them, and setting aside the inherent law that caused them. I begin to realize now (theoretically at least) that the laws of life cannot be ignored nor destroyed, but, on the contrary, must be made to work for us to produce a harmonious existence.
Sage: Adverse circumstances are overcome by reversing the originating cause, which is your own thought. Anxiety and fear always attract conditions of their own kind. Reverse this tendency and entertain only those thoughts which register harmony and confident assurance, and the adverse circumstances will recede, and in their place will appear the conditions which correspond to your changed mentality.
Pupil: Am I to regard my mind as a branch of the Universal Mind from which I draw all my substance?
Sage: Yes. You now have a fairly good general idea of the two ultimates: the Universal and the individual, and their relation to each other. I think we should now consider the process of specialization, that is, how to make nature's laws produce a particular effect which "could not be produced under the simple generic conditions spontaneously provided by nature."
How to Remedy Nature's Shortcomings
Pupil: How can one create conditions not provided by nature?
Sage: Do not overlook the word "spontaneous." By consciously and intelligently arranging your thoughts in the new order, by looking within yourself for the solutions of your problems, instead of without, you will certainly find that ideas will come to you, which, if followed, will produce new conditions other than those provided by nature.
Pupil: How can I do this? Is this brought about by causing my thoughts to correspond to those which I think the Universal Mind must have?
Sage: Let me give you an illustration of what I mean. Take the case of a miller who has been grinding his grain by hand. His instinctive feeling is that there should be a more efficient way of grinding grain, and he meditates a good deal on what this way might be. One day, while walking in the country, his attention is attracted, for the first time, to the power in a stream of water as it rushes past him. He pauses, and reflects on how this power could be utilized for his particular purpose.
"Why not harness it and make it grind my grain?" he asks himself. This unexpected inspiration thrills him through and through, not only because of its possibilities, but because of his feeling of assurance that it can be accomplished. Immediately, the desired result begins to picture itself in his mind. By the side of the stream he sees his gristmill working under conditions, with a great wheel attached to it revolved by the force of the running water, and thus grinding his grain. The force of the water spontaneously provided by nature has not been changed; it has been specialized to meet an individual requirement.
How Nature Working Through Mind Can Grind the Grain
Pupil: Naturally the power of the water could not of itself have ground the grain, but through the interaction of the individualized Universal Intelligence in the miller's mind, he made this power "spontaneously provided by nature" do his bidding, just as Burbank specialized nature's laws by making cactus grow without thorns, and blackberries without seeds.
Sage: Yes, you have grasped my meaning. Your comprehension of the interaction between the water-power, or nature, and the individualized Intelligence in the mind of man is scientifically correct. You see now that it is an entire reversal of your old conception. Formerly, you took forms and conditions as symbols, and inferred that they were the causes of mental states and material conditions; now you are learning that the true order of the creative process is exactly the reverse, that thought and feeling are the originating causes which form corresponding external conditions. This is the foundation principle upon which you can specialize the generic law of the whole creative process, and cause it to bring all of its Intelligence and Power to bear, in meeting your particular necessity.
Showing the Silver Lining of the Cloud
Pupil: You are right. I have been inverting the order of cause and effect. It always seemed to me that conditions both created and controlled my thoughts, that is, I involuntarily accepted the thoughts which the conditions suggested.
For example: Suppose I want to be at a certain place at a certain time. My appointment is important and I shall be late. What a terrible thing it will be! There seems nothing to be done. That is the way I used to think.
Now, in the new order of thinking, I shall endeavor to mentally see myself as keeping my appointment, etc. I shall get into the spirit of the thought that nothing can impede my progress or thwart my purpose, and I am sure that a way will open enabling me to materialize this thought on the physical plane. I am sure that in some unforeseen way my engagement will be kept, satisfactorily to myself and to the other person. In fact, I have experienced similar episodes.
Sage: Yes, almost everyone has had such experiences as you have related, but very few profit by them. The law is, "As a man thinks so it becomes." If you wish to withdraw from an undesirable situation, you must adopt the scientific method of affirmative thinking, and follow it up as a permanent factor in life.
You will find that the universal causative Power (call it what you will) always manifests as supreme Intelligence in the adaptation of means to ends. For instance, there is something which you wish to do --build a house, sell something, or do a kind act for someone. It is this supreme Intelligence manifested through you that guides your activities. Without it, you would be unable to outline your intention, much less accomplish your purpose. Your intelligence is the instrument through which the One Great Intelligence of the universe is constantly taking specific form. This being true, every idea which registers in your mind was first formed in this One Infinite Mind. A continual recognition of this fact will enable you to find your way out of any sense of limitation which may arise in your individual experience.
I once heard of a man who had an intense desire to do big things. He asked his teacher to think with him along the lines just discussed --that the Intelligence of the universe was taking specific form in his individual intelligence. His teacher agreed providing the student's desire was great enough to force him to arise every morning and take a two-mile walk, meanwhile meditating upon this interaction between the Universal Intelligence and its special form, his mind. The student also was instructed to form the practice of making mental pictures for the precise purpose of developing his intuition and imagination. One suggestion was that he should mentally see himself walking along a beautiful, clear, flowing river, hearing the rippling water, and seeing the reflection of the trees on its clear surface, and then to transfer his mental picture to one depicting his own desire. After following this practice for six months, an idea of almost overwhelming magnitude came to his mind. This did not seem unnatural, however, as it was so completely in accord with his recent habit of picturing his all-absorbing desire. He joyously continued his walks, his meditation, and visualization, and finally the Universal Intelligence manifested in its specific form (his mind) by giving specific directions to bring the big idea into successful operation.
Pupil: Could his mind have captured this big idea without the help of a teacher?
Always Learn to Do Your Own Thinking
Sage: Certainly. The idea did not come through the teacher's mind; he simply started the student on the right track. No one can think for another. It was the result of his determined effort to recognize his own individual intelligence as the instrument in which the Greater Intelligence was constantly taking form. All that the teacher did (all that anyone could do) was to help him to hold his thought along the path he desired to go. The help of the teacher strengthened his conviction and faith in the power in himself.
Pupil: Is this originating power of life a forming power as well as a creating and direction one, and did the teacher's thinking along the same lines steady the student's thoughts? Without the support of a more advanced mind, could anyone succeed in a great undertaking?
Sage: Certainly. If you are sufficiently convinced of the absolute truth of your method, you do not need any sustaining force outside of your own conviction. You miss the point of your relationship to the great whole if you do not realize that it is not only an originating, but also a forming power. Do you not recognize its forming power throughout nature? You would not think of trying to make a lily a rose. If you know that the same Power that created the flowers also made your mind for the specific purpose of operating in it, you would soon learn to trust its formative nature in its operation through your intelligence.
Pupil: I understand. It is the power of Life in man which originates, creates, directs, and forms. In reality, there seems to be nothing whatever for man to do in this great scheme of things except to enjoy life, if he can only learn how!
God and Company, Ltd.
Sage: The Law of Life is God and Company. You are the Company, and you cannot in any sense be an idle partner, if you wish to profit by the partnership. Your part is a big one, and there is plenty for you to do in providing a concrete center around which the universal divine energies can operate.
Pupil: Does this mean that to realize my oneness with the joy of life I shall not find it as simple as it seems?
Sage: No doubt there will be times when you will find it difficult to transfer your thought from externals to the interior realm of the originating principle, and to joyfully hold it there until external conditions correspond with the ideas you have in mind, but there should never be any strain. You are attracted to the Universal Mind as your source of supply, along the lines of least resistance. That is to say, along these lines which are the most natural to your individual and particular bent of mind. In this way you infuse into the Universal Mind your desires and ambitions, thus intensifying your power of attraction (relative to the desire uppermost in your mind) from the infinite forces.
For instance, let us suppose that you feel very much alone, not altogether lonely, but alone (there is a difference, you know), and yearn for congenial companionship. At a certain night and morning, go where you will not be interrupted, and mentally picture yourself walking with a companionable friend (no person whom you know, but an ideal one); then see yourself riding with this same friend, and the two of you doing many happy things together. Keep your picture in mind until all sense of aloneness has disappeared, and you feel an unmistakable sense of companionship. Let that feeling register in your consciousness, and try to recall it at will. If you will practice in this way, you will very soon realize that this is the reciprocal action between your mind and the Universal Mind. Once this recognition is well established, your ideals will begin to express themselves in form.
Pupil: Then one's efforts should be wholly directed to the attainment of a higher degree of intelligence, rather than to the acquiring of material things?
"God Will Provide the Food, but He Will Not Cook the Dinner"
Sage: Such a purpose is the very highest, and aspirations along this line would surely externalize corresponding things. Under no circumstances should you allow yourself to form the habit of idle dreaming. The material side of life should not be despised, for it is the outside of a corresponding inside, and has its place. The thing to guard against is the acquiring of material possessions as your ultimate aim. However, when certain external facts appear in the circle of your life, you should work with them diligently and with common sense. Remember that things are symbols, and that the thing symbolized is more important than the symbol itself. "God will provide the food, but He will not cook the dinner."
Pupil: My part then is to cook the dinner, so to speak; to use the intelligence with which I have been endowed, by making it a power to attract, from out the universe, ideas that will provide for me in any direction that I may choose to go, according to law?
Sage: Yes, if you choose to go with life's continual, harmonious movement, you will find that the more you use the law of harmony through progressive thinking, the more intimately acquainted you will become with the law of reciprocity. This law corresponds to the same principles which govern physical science; that is, "nature obeys you precisely in the same degree as you obey nature." This knowledge always leads to liberty.
Pupil: How does nature obey me?
Sage: Nature's first and greatest law is harmony. You see the results of harmonious law in the beautiful world around you. If you obey nature's suggestion, and follow the law you will be the recipient of all the benefits contained in this law of harmony that nature has to offer, such as health, strength, contentment, etc., for all of her laws bring freedom and harmony. You will find nature responding along the same lines, to the extent that your thoughts and acts are in accordance with her perfect laws.
Pupil: Is the power of thought always creative, and does it always create conditions corresponding to itself? Can one know this law sufficiently well to cause it to respond immediately?
Fifteen Minutes Night and Day are Not Enough
Sage: Thought as thought is always creative, either good or bad. The length of time required for the corresponding physical conditions to appear in the circle of your individual environment depends entirely upon your ability to recognize that your desired course is a normal, already existing, mental fact. It is not enough to get into the spirit of your reasoning for fifteen minutes night and morning, with the inward confidence that you are directing a certain, unfailing power toward a desired physical manifestation, and then spend the remainder of your waking moments in doubt and fear. The whole question is, how does your particular sustained thought affect you? If it stimulates your feeling of faith, the response is immediate.
Pupil: Could you give me something to memorize which will help me to eliminate doubt and fear?
Sage: Yes. The thought I use most frequently myself is this: "My mind is a center of divine operation. The divine operation is always for expansion and fuller expression, and this means the production of something beyond what has gone before, something entirely new, not included in past experience, though proceeding out of it by an orderly sequence of growth. Therefore, since the divine cannot change the inherent nature, it must operate in the same manner in me: consequently, in my own special world, of which I am the center, it will move forward to produce new conditions always in advance of any that have gone before." (Dore Lectures)
You should memorize this passage and meditate upon it, endeavoring to make your mind a "center of divine operation," by entertaining only such thoughts as you feel are reflections of God's thoughts. Whenever you sense that your way to freedom is obstructed, make a stronger endeavor to live with the spirit of your affirmation, and you will soon find your mind receiving ideas, which, if followed, will guide you into the path of absolute liberty.
The Devils of Doubt and Fear
Pupil: Doubt and fear are the devil, are they not? Is not fear the more destructive of all wrong elements? It seems to me that it is every present in one form or another. Can this monster be entirely eliminated from one's mind?
Sage: Surely. Although fear is the most destructive of all the mental enemies, and, as you say, seems to be ever present, yet when you realize that your fear is just as certain
to materialize as is your faith, you will grow more and more guarded as to the quality of thought which you harbor. Practice makes perfect.
Pupil: Try as I will to inhibit fear, I am unable to succeed at present. At times I utterly fail, and I am overwhelmed with it.
How to Drive Out Fear
Sage: The moment you begin to feel fearful, get into the open if possible, walk briskly for a mile or two, taking deep breaths, and holding your chin in and chest up. Think of yourself as a monarch of all you survey and assume a corresponding commanding attitude. Repeat with every breath this affirmation: "I am breathing in the Life, the Love, and the Power of the universe RIGHT NOW!" Hold the breath a second, with the affirmation in the center of your mind; then expel the breath with the same thought and send it out to mingle with the ether of the universe. "I and my Father of Love are ONE."
If you cannot get out into the open, assume, wherever you are, the same attitude. Take deep breaths, repeat the affirmation, and you feel certain that you are protected and supplied with all the love and power which Life has to give, fear will disappear, and you can resume whatever you were doing.