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 development.
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 everywhere obtains.
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 for remedy.
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 well−poised life?
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 healthy life.
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 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. 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
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 to accuse 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."
James Allen, thanks for your words.