by Charles F Haanel
Before any environment, successful or otherwise, can be created, action of some kind is necessary; and before any action is possible, there must be thought of some kind, either conscious or unconscious. As thought is a product of mind, it becomes evident that Mind is the creative centre from which all activities proceed.
It is not expected that any of the inherent laws which govern the modern business world as it is at present constituted can be suspended or repealed by any force on the same plane, but it is axiomatic that a higher law may overcome a lower one. Tree life causes the sap to ascend, not by repealing the law of gravity but by surmounting it.
To control circumstances, a knowledge of certain scientific principles of mind-action is required. Such knowledge is a most valuable asset. It may be gained by degrees and put into practice as fast as learned. Power over circumstances is one of its fruits; health, harmony, and prosperity are assets upon its balance sheet. It costs only the labour of harvesting its great resources.
The naturalist who spends much of his time in observing visible phenomena is constantly creating power in that portion of his brain set apart for observation. The result is that he becomes very much more expert and skilful in knowing what he sees and grasping a number of details at a glance than does his unobserving friend. He has reached this facility by exercise of his brain. He deliberately chose to enlarge his brain power in the line of observation, so he deliberately exercised that special faculty over and over, with increasing attention and concentration. Now we have the result a man learned in the lore of observation far above his fellows. Or, on the other hand, one can, by stolid inaction, allow the delicate brain matter to harden and ossify until his whole life is barren and fruitless.
Every thought tends to become a material thing. Our desires are seed thoughts that have a tendency to sprout and grow and blossom and bear fruit. We are sowing these seeds every day. What shall the harvest be? Each of us today is the result of his past thinking. Later we shall be the result of what we are now thinking. We create our own character, personality, and environment by the thought which we originate or entertain. Thought seeks its own. The law of mental attraction is an exact parallel to the law of atomic affinity. Mental currents are as real as electric, magnetic, or heat currents. We attract the currents with which we are in harmony. Are we selecting those which will be conducive to our success? That is the important question.
Lines of least resistance are formed by the constant action of the mind. The activity of the brain reacts upon the particular faculty employed by the brain.The latent power of the mind is developed by constant exercise. Each form of its activity becomes more perfect by practice. Exercises for the development of the mind present a variety of motives for consideration. They involve the development of the perceptive faculties, the cultivation of the emotions, the quickening of the imagination, the symmetrical unfoldment of the intuitive faculty which, without being able to give a reason, frequently impels or prohibits choice; and finally the power of the mind may be cultivated by the development of the moral character.
"The greatest man", said Seneca, "is he who chooses right with invincible determination". The greatest power of the mind, then, depends upon its exercise in moral channels, and therefore requires that every conscious mental effort should involve a moral end. A developed moral consciousness modifies consideration of motives and increases the force and continuity of actions; consequently, the well-developed symmetrical character necessitates good physical, mental, and moral health, and this combination creates initiative, power, resistless force and, necessarily, success.
It will be found that Nature is constantly seeking to express Harmony in all things; is forever trying to bring about an harmonious adjustment of every discord, every wound, every difficulty. Therefore, when thought is harmonious, Nature begins to create the material conditions the possession of which is necessary in order to make up an harmonious environment.
When we understand that mind is the great creative power, what does not become possible? With Desire as the great creative energy, can we not see why Desire should be cultivated, controlled, and directed in our lives and destinies? Men and women of strong mentality who dominate those around them and often those far removed from them really emanate currents charged with power which, coming in contact with the minds of others, cause the desires of the latter to be in accord with the mind of the strong individuality. Great masters of men possess this power to a marked degree. Their influence is felt far and near, and they secure compliance with their wishes by making others "want" to act in accord with them. In this way, men and women of strong Desire and Imagination may and do exert powerful influence over the minds of others, leading them in the way desired. Magnetic persons attract, allure, and draw. They are emotional and capture the will of others.
No man is ever created without the inherent power in himself to help himself. [My emphasis. Ed.] The personality that understands its own intellectual and moral power of conquest will certainly assert itself. It is this truth that a famished world craves today. The possibility of asserting a slumbering intellectual courage that clearly discerns, and a moral courage that grandly undertakes, is open to all. There is a divine potency in every human being.
We speak of the Sun as "rising" and "setting" though we know that it is simply an appearance of motion. To our senses, the Earth appears to be standing still; and yet we know it is revolving rapidly. We speak of the bell as a "sounding body"; yet we know that all the bell can do is produce vibrations in the air. When these vibrations reach the rate of about sixteen per second, they begin to cause a sound to be heard in the mind. It is possible for the human mind to hear vibrations up to the rate of about 30,000 a second. When the number goes higher than this, all is silence again. Thus we know that the sound is not in the bell: it is in our own mind.
We speak, and even think of, the Sun as "giving light"; yet we know it is simply radiating energy in the form of electromagnetic vibrations of a very high frequency causing what are termed light waves. Thus we know that what we call light is simply a mode of motion, and the only light there is is the sensation caused in the mind by the motion of these waves. When the number of vibrations increases, the light changes colour, each change being caused by more or less rapid vibrations. Although we speak of the rose as being red, the grass as being green, or the sky as being blue, we know that these colours exist only in our minds and are the sensations experienced by us as the result of the vibrations of light. When the vibrations are reduced to below about four hundred trillion a second, they no longer affect us as light but we experience the sensation of heat.
So we have come to know that appearances exist for us only in our consciousness. Even time and space become annihilated, time being only the experience of succession. There is no past or future except as a thought relation to the present. In the last analysis, therefore, we know that one principle governs and controls all there is. Every atom is for ever conserved as a form of energy; whatever is parted with must inevitably be received somewhere. It cannot perish and it exists only for use. It can go only where it is attracted, and therefore required. We can receive only what we give, and we may give only to those who can receive. It remains with us to determine our own rate of growth and the degree of harmony that we shall express.
The laws under which we live are designed solely for our advantage. These laws are immutable and we cannot escape from their operation. All the great eternal forces act in solemn silence, but it is in our power to place ourselves in harmony with them and thus express a life of comparative peace and happiness.
Difficulties, disharmonies, obstacles, indicate that we are either refusing to give out what we no longer need, or refusing to accept what we require. Growth is attained through an exchange of the old for the new, of the good for the better. It is a conditional or reciprocal action, for each of us is a complete thought entity and the completeness makes it possible for us to receive only as we give. We cannot obtain what we lack if we tenaciously cling to what we have.
The principle of attraction operates to bring to us only what may be to our advantage. We are able consciously to control our conditions as we come to sense the purpose of what we attract and are able to extract from each experience only what we require for our further growth. Our ability to do this determines the degree of harmony or happiness we attain.
The ability to appropriate what we require for our growth continually increases as we reach higher planes and broader visions. The greater our ability to know what we require, the more certain we shall be to discern its presence, to attract it, and to absorb it.
Nothing may reach us except what is necessary for our growth. All conditions and experiences that come to us do so for our benefit. Difficulties and obstacles will continue to come until we absorb their wisdom and gather from them the essentials of further growth. That we reap what we sow is mathematically exact. We get permanent strength exactly to the extent of the effort required to overcome our difficulties.
The inexorable requirements of growth demand that we exert the greatest degree of attraction for what is perfectly in accord with us. Our highest happiness will be best attained through our understanding of, and conscious co-operation with, natural laws.
Our mind-forces are often bound by the paralysing suggestions that come to us from the crude thinking of the race and which are accepted and acted upon without question. Impressions of fear, of worry, of disability, and of inferiority are given us daily. These are in themselves sufficient reasons why men achieve so little why the lives of multitudes are so barren of results when all the time there are possibilities within them which need only the liberating touch of appreciation and wholesome ambition to expand into real greatness.
Women, perhaps even more than men, have been subject to these conditions. This is true because their finer susceptibilities make them more open to thought-vibrations from other minds and because the flood of negative and repressive thoughts has been more especially aimed at them.
But it is being overcome. Florence Nightingale overcame it when she rose in the Crimea to heights of tender sympathy and executive ability previously unknown among women. Clara Barton, the head of the Red Cross, overcame it when she wrought a similar work in the American armies of the Union. Jenny Lind overcame it when she showed her ability to command enormous financial rewards while at the same time gratifying the passionate desire of her nature and reaching the front rank of her day in musical art. And there is a long list of women singers, philanthropists, writers, and actresses who have proved themselves capable of reaching the greatest literary, dramatic, artistic, and sociological achievement.
Women as well as men are beginning to do their own thinking. They have awakened to some conception of their possibilities. They demand that if life holds any secrets, these shall be disclosed. At no previous time has the influence and potency of thought received such careful and discriminating investigation. While a few seers have grasped the great fact that mind is the universal substance, the basis of all things, never before has this truth penetrated the more general consciousness. Many minds are now striving to give this wonderful truth definite utterance. Modern science has taught us that light and sound are simply different intensities of motion, and this may lead to discoveries of forces within man that could not have been conceived of until this revelation was made.
A new era has dawned and now, standing in its light, man sees something of the vastness of the meaning of life something of its grandeur. Within that life is the germ of infinite potencies. One feels convinced that man's possibility of attainment cannot be measured, that boundary lines to his onward march are unthinkable. Standing on this height he finds that he can draw new power to himself from the infinite energy of which he is a part.