James Allen’s insight into the Mind
Mind is the master power that moulds and makes,
And man is mind,
And evermore he takes the tool of thought
And shaping what he wills,
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ill’s.
He thinks in secret
And it comes to pass,
Environment is but his looking glass.
One of the first books I read was James Allen’s “As a man thinketh”. Needless to say, the meaning of “man” is mankind. In the foreword of his book there is a short poem, a rhyme, that tells us the power of our mind – the poem above. It embodies all that we need to know to understand the power of our mind.
It was written during the Victorian era and the language reflects that sense of writing, not dissimilar to the way Thomas Troward wrote his essays.
I love the classic self help books, because they embody the purity of thought before it became disseminated into various ideals and trains of thought, that separated its essence. On the other hand, science, psychology and social sciences are proving the facts behind what these authors wrote, before it could be seen.
But what is he saying? What is Allen telling us in this short rhyme?
Moulding and making
As a child I remember playing with balls of plasticine, creating Disney’s “Pluto”. I could shape that putty however I wanted, creating any matter of things, figures, using my creative imagination, letting it run away with me. And then I grew up and that stopped, partly because of the education system stifling this type of imagination and partly because I gave it up.
What I didn’t see as a child, is the power of our imagination. We use our mind to imagine a number of instances, at the same time moulding those images in our mind and making circumstances that have not occurred yet.
But, if you know how the mind works, you’ll soon realise that what you imagine you create.
And since we are the only known creatures to be able to constructively use our imagination to create (architecture, paintings, food, drinks and so on), then we can say that we are our mind. In our mind is where we create and where our self image and ego recite. It’s the depository of our character and personality, our ideals, thoughts, biases and beliefs.
It’s not much of a jump, then, to realise that our mind is effectively a tool. We tend to associate that word with physical objects, like a hammer, a spanner, scissors, a saw. But to say that our mind is a tool… a little harder to accept and understand.
Until you realise, once again, that, “We become what we think about”, as Earl Nightingale said.
And if we do become what we constantly think about, it’s similar to a carpenter who uses a hammer for the purpose of putting nails into wood, pulling nails out, prising wood apart – a carpenter uses the tools of the trade to create and mould pieces of wood into a finished piece of furniture or decoration.
In the same way we use our mind, but most of the time we use it without understanding the effect and outcome of our thoughts – we use it unconsciously. Not until we begin to use it consciously and deliberately do we begin to make, create and see changes. Only then do we use it as it should be used.
Until then we are like a child who picks up a spanner and uses it as a hammer – yes, we still do that at times, even though it’s not a hammer, but that is not what it’s made for. You can’t pull out nails using a spanner, you have to use a claw hammer or some form of a crowbar. The right tool for the right job.
Shaping good and bad
Consequently, because we haven’t learned how to use it right, yet, we don’t know what we are shaping into our lives. Good and bad things will happen anyway, some things we have no control over.
Our thoughts, however, are the one thing we do have the opportunity to control. And what a terrible job we do most of the time – until we get the knowledge and understand what’s going on.
Going from an unconscious competent to a conscious competent, and back to unconscious competent, is a learning process. It’s learning in the sense of knowledge and learning in the sense of trust, faith and belief, regardless of external circumstances.
Until we take control of our thoughts, our outcomes will, at best, remain the same.
Every single thought we have is a secret to us. No-one can really read our mind. Magic tricks are just that – tricks of the mind and magicians have become adept at using our own minds against us to create the illusions they create. Still, it’s amazing and at times incredible at how they do it.
And just like their magic secrets, each of our thoughts are a secret to us. It stays in our minds, being expressed, fully or partly, when we are emotional, angry or joy, or when it is planned, such as at interviews or during a performance.
But those secrets can also be ugly. Hate, anger, shame, regret, fear, are all thoughts that linger in our mind and until they are released constructively they will create a repeat of what came before.
Now you see it
The culmination of our thoughts is that we create the life we live and lead. Where you are now, whether you are willing to admit it or not, believe it or not, you created the life you have.
By accepting a set of circumstances, because you felt you had no other choice, because of a past event which you still carry, because of fears you are not willing to overcome or go through, or, the worst culprit of all, you are lazy and you want something for nothing, is the reason why you are where you are.
Dreaming without action is pointless. These are sandcastles in the sand that get washed away when the tide comes in, the clouds that get blown away by the next little bit of wind. If you want to do something you have to act.
Your current environment is the result of all that you have done with your life; what you have been willing to do or not do, what you believe to be true and false, your biases, your self image, your ego.
There are people that will read this post and go no further than the poem, because it means that they have to think, they have to face truths they are not willing to face. And so they remain in the same place.
Others will see the poem and recognise it and feel that they know all there is to know about it and again, will read no further. These are all choices. One word can make the change between success and failure. A different perspective that we didn’t see before.
But we base our beliefs mostly on what we can see in front of us, rather than realising that what we see was first an idea and, therefore, what we see in our own life was to start with an idea. It makes sense then, that to change what we see, we have to change the idea.
Mind is the master power
My greatest regret is not having learned this when I was younger. I do believe that my life would have been different. But then, I wouldn’t have had the experiences I have had or be where I am now, none of which I’d change. It could be that I had to go through those experiences to get to where I am today.
I wouldn’t know how to grow a chilli plant if I hadn’t got my hands dirty, digging foxholes, during my military years.
Now I do know how my mind works, making any excuses irrelevant. I know that my mind is a goal seeking mechanism, that I set the goals with my thoughts and ideas, and that for anything to happen I have to act. Any action will do. The outcome will either be a lesson or a move forward – both are beneficial.
When we realise the power that we hold, we begin to make and mould our future in the way we want it. The joy’s and the ills will always be there, but we will be better equipped to use the tool that is our mind, to deal with those situations. Our secret thoughts will be more attuned to the life we want and, consequently, what comes to pass, the environment we live in, will be in the direction that we want our life to be.
The “looking glass” of our life will be a reflection of the life we want, provided we use our mind the way it ought to be used.
Your mind will take on the character of your most frequent thoughts: souls are dyed by thoughts.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.