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Higher Powers of Mind and Spirit

by Ralph Waldo Trine

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Thought as a Force in Daily Living

Some years ago an experience was told to me that has been the cause of many interesting observations since. It was related by a man living in one of our noted university towns in the Middle West. He was a well-known lecture manager, having had charge of many lecture tours for John B. Gough, Henry Ward Beecher, and others of like standing. He himself was a man of splendid character, was of a sensitive organism, as we say, and had always taken considerable interest in the powers and forces pertaining to the inner life.

As a young man he had left home, and during a portion of his first year away he had found employment on a Mississippi steamboat. One day in going down the river, while he was crossing the deck, a sudden stinging sensation seized him in the head, and instantly vivid thoughts of his mother, back at the old home, flashed into his mind. This was followed by a feeling of depression during the remainder of the day. The occurrence was so unusual and the impression of it was so strong that he made an account of it in his diary.

Some time later, on returning home, he was met in the yard by his mother. She was wearing a thin cap on her head which he had never seen her wear before. He remarked in regard to it. She raised the cap and doing so revealed the remains of a long ugly gash on the side of her head. She then said that some months before, naming the time, she had gone into the back yard and had picked up a heavy crooked stick having a sharp end, to throw it out of the way, and in throwing it, it had struck a wire clothesline immediately above her head and had rebounded with such force that it had given her the deep scalp wound of which she was speaking. On unpacking his bag he looked into his diary and found that the time she had mentioned corresponded exactly with the strange and unusual occurrence to himself as they were floating down the Mississippi.

The mother and son were very near one to the other, close in their sympathies, and there can be but little doubt that the thoughts of the mother as she was struck went out, and perhaps went strongly out, to her boy who was now away from home. He, being sensitively organised and intimately related to her in thought, and alone at the time, undoubtedly got, if not her thought, at least the effects of her thought, as it went out to him under these peculiar and tense conditions.

There are scores if not hundreds of occurrences of a more or less similar nature that have occurred in the lives of others, many of them well authenticated. How many of us, even, have had the experience of suddenly thinking of a friend of whom we have not thought for weeks or months, and then entirely unexpectedly meeting or hearing from this same friend. How many have had the experience of writing a friend, one who has not been written to or heard from for a long time, and within a day or two getting a letter from that friend -- the letters "crossing," as we are accustomed to say. There are many other experiences or facts of a similar nature, and many of them exceedingly interesting, that could be related did space permit. These all indicate to me that thoughts are not mere indefinite things but that thoughts are forces, that they go out, and that every distinct, clear-cut thought has, or may have, an influence of some type.

Thought transference, which is now unquestionably an established fact, notwithstanding much chicanery that is still to be found in connection with it, is undoubtedly to be explained through the fact that thoughts are forces. A positive mind through practice, at first with very simple beginnings, gives form to a thought that another mind open and receptive to it -- and sufficiently attuned to the other mind -- is able to receive.

Wireless telegraphy, as a science, has been known but a comparatively short time. The laws underlying it have been in the universe perhaps, or undoubtedly, always. It is only lately that the mind of man has been able to apprehend them, and has been able to construct instruments in accordance with these laws. We are now able, through a knowledge of the laws of vibration and by using the right sending and receiving instruments, to send actual messages many hundreds of miles directly through the ether and without the more clumsy accessories of poles and wires. This much of it we know -- there is perhaps even more yet to be known.

We may find, as I am inclined to think we shall find, that thought is a form of vibration. When a thought is born in the brain, it goes out just as a sound wave goes out, and transmits itself through the ether, making its impressions upon other minds that are in a sufficiently sensitive state to receive it; this in addition to the effects that various types of thoughts have upon the various bodily functions of the one with whom they take origin.

We are, by virtue of the laws of evolution, constantly apprehending the finer forces of nature -- the tallow-dip, the candle, the oil lamp, years later a more refined type of oil, gas, electricity, the latest tungsten lights, radium -- and we may be still only at the beginnings. Our finest electric lights of today may seem -- will seem -- crude and the quality of their light even more crude, twenty years hence, even less. Many other examples of our gradual passing from the coarser to the finer in connection with the laws and forces of nature occur readily to the minds of us all.

The present great interest on the part of thinking men and women everywhere, in addition to the more particular studies, experiments, and observations of men such as Sir Oliver Lodge, Sir William Ramsay, and others, in the powers and forces pertaining to the inner life is an indication that we have reached a time when we are making great strides along these lines. Some of our greatest scientists are thinking that we are on the eve of some almost startling glimpses into these finer realms. My own belief is that we are likewise on the eve of apprehending the more precise nature of thought as a force, the methods of its workings, and the law underlying its more intimate and everyday uses.

Of one thing we can rest assured; nothing in the universe, nothing in connection with human life is outside of the Realm of Law. The elemental law of Cause and Effect is absolute in its workings. One of the great laws pertaining to human life is: As is the inner, so always and inevitably is the outer -- Cause, Effect. Our thoughts and emotions are the silent, subtle forces that are constantly externalising themselves in kindred forms in our outward material world. Like creates like, and like attracts like. As is our prevailing type of thought, so is our prevailing type and our condition of life.

The type of thought we entertain has its effect upon our energies and to a great extent upon our bodily conditions and states. Strong, clear-cut, positive, hopeful thought has a stimulating and life-giving effect upon one's outlook, energies, and activities; and upon all bodily functions and powers. A falling state of the mind induces a chronically gloomy outlook and produces inevitably a falling condition of the body. The mind grows, moreover, into the likeness of the thoughts one most habitually entertains and lives with. Every thought reproduces of its kind.

Says an authoritative writer in dealing more particularly with the effects of certain types of thoughts and emotions upon bodily conditions: "Out of our own experience we know that anger, fear, worry, hate, revenge, avarice, grief, in fact all negative and low emotions, produce weakness and disturbance not only in the mind but in the body as well. It has been proved that they actually generate poisons in the body, they depress the circulation; they change the quality of the blood, making it less vital; they affect the great nerve centres and thus partially paralyse the very seat of the bodily activities. On the other hand, faith, hope, love, forgiveness, joy, and peace, all such emotions are positive and uplifting, and so act on the body as to restore and maintain harmony and actually to stimulate the circulation and nutrition."

The one who does not allow himself to be influenced or controlled by fears or forebodings is the one who ordinarily does not yield to discouragements. He it is who is using the positive, success-bringing types of thought that are continually working for him for the accomplishment of his ends. The things that he sees in the ideal, his strong, positive, and therefore creative type of thought, is continually helping to actualise in the realm of the real.

We sometimes speak lightly of ideas, but this world would be indeed a sorry place in which to live were it not for ideas -- and were it not for ideals. Every piece of mechanism that has ever been built, if we trace back far enough, was first merely an idea in some man's or woman's mind. Every structure or edifice that has ever been reared had form first in this same immaterial realm. So every great undertaking of whatever nature had its inception, its origin, in the realm of the immaterial -- at least as we at present call it -- before it was embodied and stood forth in material form.

It is well, then, that we have our ideas and our ideals. It is well, even, to build castles in the air, if we follow these up and give them material clothing or structure, so that they become castles on the ground. Occasionally it is true that these may shrink or, rather, may change their form and become cabins; but many times we find that an expanded vision and an expanded experience lead us to a knowledge of the fact that, so far as happiness and satisfaction are concerned, the contents of a cabin may outweigh many times those of the castle.

Successful men and women are almost invariably those possessing to a supreme degree the element of faith. Faith, absolute, unconquerable faith, is one of the essential concomitants, therefore one of the great secrets of success. We must realise, and especially valuable is it for young men and women to realise, that one carries his success or his failure with him, that it does not depend upon outside conditions. There are some that no circumstances or combinations of circumstances can thwart or keep down. Let circumstance seem to thwart or circumvent them in one direction, and almost instantly they are going forward along another direction. Circumstance is kept busy keeping up with them. When she meets such, after a few trials, she apparently decides to give up and turn her attention to those of the less positive, the less forceful, therefore the less determined, types of mind and of life. Circumstance has received some hard knocks from men and women of this type. She has grown naturally timid and will always back down whenever she recognises a mind, and therefore a life, of sufficient force.

To make the best of whatever present conditions are, to form and clearly to see one's ideal, though it may seem far distant and almost impossible, to believe in it, and to believe in one's ability to actualise it -- this is the first essential. Not, then, to sit and idly fold the hands, expecting it to actualise itself, but to take hold of the first thing that offers itself to do, -- that lies sufficiently along the way, -- to do this faithfully, believing, knowing, that it is but the step that will lead to the next best thing, and this to the next; this is the second and the completing stage of all accomplishment.

We speak of fate many times as if it were something foreign to or outside of ourselves, forgetting that fate awaits always our own conditions. A man decides his own fate through the types of thoughts he entertains and gives a dominating influence in his life. He sits at the helm of his thought world and, guiding, decides his own fate, or, through negative, vacillating, and therefore weakening thought, he drifts, and fate decides him. Fate is not something that takes form and dominates us irrespective of any say on our own part. Through a knowledge and an intelligent and determined use of the silent but ever-working power of thought we either condition circumstances, or, lacking this knowledge or failing to apply it, we accept the rôle of a conditioned circumstance. It is a help sometimes to realise and to voice with Henley:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

The thoughts that we entertain not only determine the conditions of our own immediate lives, but they influence, perhaps in a much more subtle manner than most of us realise, our relations with and our influence upon those with whom we associate or even come into contact. All are influenced, even though unconsciously, by them.

Thoughts of good will, sympathy, magnanimity, good cheer -- in brief, all thoughts emanating from a spirit of love -- are felt in their positive, warming, and stimulating influences by others; they inspire in turn the same types of thoughts and feelings in them, and they come back to us laden with their ennobling, stimulating, pleasure-bringing influences.

Thoughts of envy, or malice, or hatred, or ill will are likewise felt by others. They are influenced adversely by them. They inspire either the same types of thoughts and emotions in them; or they produce in them a certain type of antagonistic feeling that has the tendency to neutralise and, if continued for a sufficient length of time, deaden sympathy and thereby all friendly relations.

We have heard much of "personal magnetism." Careful analysis will, I think, reveal the fact that the one who has to any marked degree the element of personal magnetism is one of the large-hearted, magnanimous, cheer-bringing, unself-centred types, whose positive thought forces are being continually felt by others, and are continually inspiring and calling forth from others these same splendid attributes. I have yet to find any one, man or woman, of the opposite habits and, therefore, trend of mind and heart who has had or who has even to the slightest perceptible degree the quality that we ordinarily think of when we use the term "personal magnetism."

If one would have friends he or she must be a friend, must radiate habitually friendly, helpful thoughts, good will, love. The one who doesn't cultivate the hopeful, cheerful, uncomplaining, good-will attitude toward life and toward others becomes a drag, making life harder for others as well as for one's self.

Ordinarily we find in people the qualities we are mostly looking for, or the qualities that our own prevailing characteristics call forth. The larger the nature, the less critical and cynical it is, the more it is given to looking for the best and the highest in others, and the less, therefore, is it given to gossip.

It was Jeremy Bentham who said: "In order to love mankind, we must not expect too much of them." And Goethe had a still deeper vision when he said: "Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though it were his own."

The chief characteristic of the gossip is that he or she prefers to live in the low-lying miasmic strata of life, revelling in the negatives of life and taking joy in finding and peddling about the findings that he or she naturally makes there. The larger natures see the good and sympathise with the weaknesses and the frailties of others. They realise also that it is so consummately inconsistent -- many times even humorously inconsistent -- for one also with weaknesses, frailties, and faults, though perhaps of a little different character, to sit in judgment of another. Gossip concerning the errors or shortcomings of another is judging another. The one who is himself perfect is the one who has the right to judge another. By a strange law, however, though by a natural law, we find, as we understand life in its fundamentals better, such a person is seldom if ever given to judging, much less to gossip.

Life becomes rich and expansive through sympathy, good will, and good cheer; not through cynicism or criticism. That splendid little poem of but a single stanza by Edwin Markham, "Outwitted," points after all to one of life's fundamentals:

He drew a circle that shut me out --
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout,
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!

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