Your 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 their plot, keeping it free from weeds, and growing the flowers and fruits which they require, so may you tend the garden of your 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, you will sooner or later discover that you are the master-gardener of your soul, the director of your life. You also reveal, within yourself, the laws of thought, and understand, with ever-increasing accuracy, how the thought forces and mind-elements operate in the shaping of your 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 your life will always be found to be harmoniously related to your inner state. This does not mean that your circumstances at any given time are an indication of your entire character, but that those circumstances are so intimately connected with some vital thought-element within yourself that, for the time being, they are indispensable to your development.
Everyone is where they are by the law of their being; the thoughts which they have built into their character have brought them there, and in the arrangement of their 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 the progressive and evolving being, you are where you are that you may learn that you may grow; and as you learn the spiritual lesson which any circumstance contains for you, it passes away and gives place to other circumstances.
You are buffeted by circumstances so long as you believe yourself to be the creature of outside conditions, but when you realize that you are a creative power, and that you may command the hidden soil and seeds of your being out of which circumstances grow, you then become the rightful master of yourself.
That circumstances grow out of thought everyone knows who has for any length of time practiced self-control and self-purification, for they will have noticed that the alteration in their circumstances have been in exact ratio with their altered mental condition. So true is this that when you earnestly apply yourself to remedy the defects in your character, and make swift and marked progress, you pass rapidly through a succession of vicissitudes.
Your soul attracts that which it secretly harbors; 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 your 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 circumstances. 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 your own harvest, you learn both by suffering and bliss.
Following the inmost desires, aspirations, thoughts, by which you allow yourself to be dominated (pursuing the will-o'-the-wisp of impure imagining or steadfastly walking the highway of strong and high endeavor), you at last arrive at your fruition and fulfillment in the outer condition of your life.
The laws of growth and adjustment everywhere obtain.
You do not come to the almshouse or the jail by the tyranny of fate or circumstance, but by the pathway of groveling thoughts and base desires. Nor does a pure-minded person fall suddenly into crime by stress of any mere external force; the criminal thought had long been secretly fostered in their heart, and the hour of opportunity revealed its gathered power.
Circumstance does not make you; it reveals you to yourself. 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 you, therefore, as the lord and master of thought, is the maker of yourself, 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.
You do not attract that which you want, but that which you are. Your 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. You are manacled only by yourself. Thought and action are the jailers of Fate - they imprison, being base; they are also the angels of Freedom - they liberate, being noble.
Not what you wish and pray for do you get, but what you justly earn. Your wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with your thoughts and actions.
In the light of this truth, what, then, is the meaning of "fighting against circumstances"? It means that you are continually revolting against an effect without, while all the time you are nourishing and preserving its cause in your 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 for remedy.
You are anxious to improve your circumstances, but are unwilling to improve yourself; you therefore remain bound. The person who does not shrink from self-crucifixion can never fail to accomplish the object upon which their heart is set. This is as true of earthly as of heavenly things. Even the person whose sole object is to acquire wealth must be prepared to make great personal sacrifices before they can accomplish their object; and how much more so they who would realize a strong and well-poised life?
Here is a person who is wretchedly poor. They are extremely anxious that their surroundings and home comforts should be improved, yet all the time they shirk their work, and considers they are justified in trying to deceive their employer on the ground of the insufficiency of their wages. Such a person 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 their wretchedness, but is actually attracting to themselves a still deeper wretchedness by dwelling in, and acting out, indolent and deceptive thoughts.
Here is a rich person who is the victim of a painful and persistent disease as the result of gluttony. They are willing to give large sums of money to get rid of it, but they will not sacrifice their gluttonous desires. They want to gratify their taste for rich and unnatural viands and have their health as well. Such a person is totally unfit to have health, because they have not yet learned the first principles of a healthy life.
Here is an employer of labor who adopts crooked measures to avoid paying the regulation wage, and, in the hope of making larger profits, reduces the wages of their employees. Such a person is altogether unfitted for prosperity, and when they find themselves bankrupt, both as regards to reputation and riches, they blames circumstances, not knowing that they are the sole author of their condition.
I have introduced these three cases merely as illustrative of the truth that you are the cause (though nearly always unconsciously) of your circumstances, and that, whilst aiming at a good end, you are 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 you so resolve, trace the action of the laws of thought in your 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 your entire soul condition (although it may be known to yourself) cannot be judged by another from the external aspect of your life alone.
You may be honest in certain directions, yet suffer privations; You may be dishonest in certain directions, yet acquire wealth; but the conclusion usually formed that people fail because of their particular honesty, and that the other prospers because of their particular dishonesty, is the result of a superficial judgment, which assumes that the dishonest person is almost totally corrupt, and honest person almost entirely virtuous. In the light of a deeper knowledge and wider experience, such judgment is found to be erroneous. The dishonest person may have some admirable virtues which the other does not possess; and the honest person obnoxious vices which are absent in the other. The honest person reaps the good results of their honest thoughts and acts; they also bring upon themselves the sufferings which their vices produce. The dishonest person likewise garners their own suffering and happiness.
It is pleasing to human vanity to believe that one suffers because of one's virtue; but not until you have extirpated every sickly, bitter, and impure thought from your mind, and washed every sinful stain from your soul, can you be in a position to know and declare that your sufferings are the result of your good, and not of your bad qualities; and on the way to that supreme perfection, you will have found working in your mind and life, the Great Law which is absolutely just, and which cannot give good for evil, evil for good. Possessed of such knowledge, you will then know, looking back upon your past ignorance and blindness, that your life is, and always was, justly ordered, and that all your past experiences, good and bad, were the equitable outworking of your evolving, yet unevolved self.
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. Most 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 cooperate with it.
Suffering is always the effect of wrong thought in some direction. It is an indication that you are out of harmony with yourself, with the Law of your being. The sole and supreme use of suffering is to purify, to burn out all that is useless and impure. Suffering ceases for those who are pure. There could be not object in burning gold after the dross had been removed, and a perfectly pure and enlightened being could not suffer.
The circumstances which you encounter with suffering are the result of your own mental inharmony. The circumstances which you encounter with blessedness are the result of your 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. You may be cursed and rich; you may be blessed and poor. Blessedness and riches are only joined together when the riches are rightly and wisely used; and the poor person only descends into wretchedness when they regard their 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. You are not rightly conditioned until you are 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 you with your surroundings.
You only begin to be when you cease to whine and revile, and commence to search for the hidden justice which regulates your life. And as you adapt your mind to that regulating factor, you cease to accuse others as the cause of your condition, and build yourself up in strong and noble thoughts; cease to kick against circumstances, but begin to use them as aids to your more rapid progress, and as a means of discovering the hidden powers and possibilities within yourself.
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 molding and moving force in the spiritual government of the world. This being so, you have but to right yourself to find that the universe is right, and during the process of putting yourself right, you will find that as you alter your thoughts toward things and other people, things and other people will alter toward you.
The proof of this truth is in every person, and it therefore admits of easy investigation by systematic introspection and self-analysis. Let yourself radically alter your thoughts, and you will be astonished at the rapid transformation it will effect in the material conditions of your life.
You 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 destruction 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 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 of 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 positive 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. You cannot directly choose your circumstances, but you can choose your thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape your circumstances.
Nature helps you to the gratification of the thoughts which you most encourage, and opportunities are presented which will most speedily bring to the surface both the good and evil thoughts.
Let you cease from your sinful thoughts, and all the world will soften toward you, and be ready to help you; put away your weakly and sickly thoughts, and opportunities will spring up on every hand to aid your strong resolve; encourage good thoughts, and no hard fate shall bind you down to wretchedness and shame.
The world is your kaleidoscope, and the varying combinations of colors which at every succeeding moment it presents to you are the exquisitely adjusted pictures of your ever-moving thoughts.
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 cows 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 delay,
But wait as one who understands;
When spirit rises and commands,
The gods are ready to obey.
Chapter Two - Quotations & Excerpts