Effect of Thought on Circumstances A 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 the 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 circumstances.
Man is buffeted by circumstances so long as he believes
himself to be the creature of outside conditions.
But when he realizes 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 practiced self-control and
self-purification, for he will have noticed that the alteration
in his circumstances has been in exact ratio with his altered
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 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 un-chastened 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 fruit-age 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.
A man does not come to the almshouse or the jail by the
tyranny of fate of 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
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.
Man is manacled only by himself.
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 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
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, He 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 foods 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 work people.
Such a man is altogether unfitted for prosperity, And when he finds himself bankrupt,
both a 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 cause
(though nearly always unconsciously) of his circumstances, That while aiming at the 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 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
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 that supreme perfection, he will have found
working in his mind and life, the Great Law which is
absolutely just, and which cannot 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 un-evolved 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 cooperate with it.
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 not object in burning gold after the dross had been removed, and 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,
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.
He 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 toward
things and other people, things and other people will alter
The proof of this truth is in every person, and it therefore
admits of easy investigation by systematic introspection
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 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
Lazy thoughts crystallize into habits of uncleanliness and
dishonesty, which solidify into circumstances of foulness
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 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
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 toward 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
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 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.
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