Table of Contents Hide
- Idea Number 20
- REACTION OR RESPONSE?
- Idea Number 21 RISING ABOVE INJUSTICE
- Idea Number 22
- THE SHADOW
- Idea Number 23
- EVERY WORD YOU SPEAK
- Idea Number 24
- THE DUEL OF LIFE
- Idea Number 25
- ISLAND OF PEACE
- Idea Number 26
- DON’T LET IT SPOIL
- Idea Number 27
- YOU BECOME WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT
- Idea Number 28
- THE MAGIC OF PRAISE
- Idea Number 29
- THE PROBLEM OF PLEASING EVERYBODY
- Idea Number 30
- THE SPARK PLUG
- Idea Number 31
- EXPRESSING YOUR TALENTS
- Idea Number 32
- A HOVEL OR A PALACE
- Idea Number 33
- Idea Number 34 NO SLAP-DASH LIFE
- Idea Number 35
- THE NARROW MARGIN OF FAILURE
- Idea Number 36 LIFE BY THE INCH
- Idea Number 37
- THE LOBSTER POT
- Idea Number 38
- PAIN OR PRECEPT?
- Idea Number 39
- YESTERDAY’S ACHIEVEMENTS
Idea Number 20
REACTION OR RESPONSE?
Are you a responder or a reactor? Let me explain what I mean. I was sitting here writing this book, deeply immersed in thought, when the telephone bell rang and my instant human reaction was, “Oh drat, here I am trying to get this work done. Doesn’t the outside world realize that I don’t want to be disturbed when I am trying to think?” I picked up the telephone and I was rather, if not angry, certainly unresponsive. I was reacting to the telephone bell, rather than responding. But immediately I
began to answer the call. I discovered that it was somebody very kind and gentle on the other end of the line, somebody who was very helpful.
I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation. I was warmed on the inside by it and I went back to my writing in a higher state of consciousness than I left it.
Now, why did I react to the telephone bell in this manner? Yet the person on the other end of the line didn’t react to my action. There was a response, a warm response, and that response produced from me a response, not a reaction. Do you see the difference, and do you see the infections nature of response and reaction in your life?
As you go into you day and you’re met with trying circumstances – the telephone bell rings, the doorbell rings, and there is a salesman at the door somebody comes into your office when you’re busy, somebody comes across from next door to have coffee when you’re trying to get the housework done – recognize one thing. Nobody comes into your life today without a purpose!
Everybody comes to bring you a blessing! If you react to that blessing, you stand to lose it. You are the only loser. Whereas, if you respond to each person that comes into your life with love and warmth, then you attract a similar response from them and you bring love and warmth into your own life, which was the blessing they came to bring in the first place.
Don’t shut yourself off from the blessings, which come into your life today. Respond to each person that crosses your path in the knowledge that they come to bring you a blessing. Respond in love to that blessing and you shall have blessings heaped upon blessings, and
it will be a glad day for you rather than a hard day because of your simple understanding of reaction or response.
Idea Number 21 RISING ABOVE INJUSTICE
What do you do when you have been unfairly treated; when you’ve go the wrong end of the deal; you’ve been unjustly handled? What do you do? Do you try to maintain a friendly relationship with the people involved? Do you manage to forgive and forget; Do you manage to release all your resentment and bitterness, or do you say to yourself, “Well, I’d like to be friendly; I don’t want to go on hating somebody because of an injustice and I don’t want to allow this bitterness and resentment to give me an ulcer, but if I do forgive and forget, the only problem is that I won’t get justice anyway?”
Is this the way you feel? Do you feel that the only way to solve the problem is to hang onto you bitterness and your resentment and your dislike in order to defend yourself against the original injustice? You know, it doesn’t make sense, does it, when you think about it. That sort of revenge and retaliation complex hurts you more than it does the person who has done you the injustice and doesn’t really solve anything.
If you think about justice for a moment, I think that you will realize that real justice is based on the Law of Love. The more we are able to keep ourselves in tune with this Law of Love, the more likely we are to have justice in our own lives. We surely know that the more we are able to cleanse our heart from bitterness and resentment, the more real we feel ourselves; the closer we feel to our identity with good. We know that
the more we are able to send out love and forgiveness, the greater is the sense of freedom that we have and the greater the inner power that we feel.
You see, the problem is that in maintaining our resentment, in maintaining our hatred, in refusing to forgive, we stultify our own Inner Powers and we lose in terms of personal productivity, happiness and peace of mind, more than the supposed injustice is costing us. Now supposing you measure it in terms of money and you say, “Now here is an injustice that is going to cost me ten dollars, but by hating and resenting, I’m going to get an ulcer that is going to cost me a thousand dollars.”
That just doesn’t make good trading sense, does it? You will find that if you can rise above the injustice you will gain more in inner strength than the injustice will cost you. Think about this. If you can really rise above it, if you can really get the strength to say, “Well, it’s water under the bridge, I’ll forgive and forget,” you will gain more growth, more power and more strength than the injustice will cost you and you will come out on the credit side of the ledger of life.
Idea Number 22
When I was a little boy, my friends and I used to play a game called “Shadow Jumping” – each one trying to jump on the other one’s shadow. We were very much aware of our shadow in those days. How long is it since you had a look at your shadow?
You may become aware of it in a subconscious sort of way when you sit down to read; you find that the light is in a bad position and that the shadow of your head get in the way of your paper. You either move your chair or you move the light in order to get your own shadow out of the way. Most of the time we are completely unaware of our shadow. Yet in our own lives, all too often we are unaware of the shadowy parts of our own lives rather than of all the light that shines in and through our lives.
If you will look for a moment at your shadow right where you are now, you will observe that they only way that you can see your shadow is to turn your back to the light. Just have a good look at your shadow now and you will find that your back is presented towards the source of light that projects that shadow.
This is exactly the way it is in your life. You become aware of the shadowy parts of your life or those parts, which you personally consider to be shadowy; these may be health problems, family problems, and money problems. You become aware of them when you turn your back on the source of light in your life. That light of Creative Intelligence is moving in and through your affairs all day, every day – a light that shines for you to guide you into perfect health, perfect happiness and perfect fulfillment. If you turn your back on that light, you will be aware only of the shadows in your life.
Think about it for a moment. Just cast your mind into those shadowy affairs in your life and ask yourself, “Is it true that these are generated by my failure to look at the good in my life?” It is so easy to be aware of the problems in life, but how much time and thought do we really give to the glory of our life. It is only in relation to the glory of our lives that the shadows are seen. You see, the shadow only exists in comparison with
the light source. If light were coming from every direction, you would not see any shadows.
It is our failure to turn towards the light, to turn towards the good in our lives, to look at it, to give thanks for it, to glorify it, that enables us to waste time looking at the shadows and living in the shadows of life. Turn towards the light in your life and the shadows will hold no fear for you.
Idea Number 23
EVERY WORD YOU SPEAK
Are you an effective speaker? I don’t mean can you get up on a platform and address a large group of people. I mean in your normal everyday communication, are you an effective speaker? Of course you are. Everything that you say effects everybody that hears it. What sort of an effect do you have as a speaker? If you are a humorous person, people probably laugh at what you say. If you are an angry person, then you probably induce a certain amount of fear and a certain amount of resentment. This is the effect that you have. If you are a loving and charitable person, you probably induce a warm glow in other people. If you are a complimentary person, you probably increase the other people’s own self-appreciation.
Every word that you speak produces its effect on the hearer. Now, I’m sure you can believe that, can’t you? You think of everybody you talk to, and regardless of how great or how small that effect may be, you will have to agree that everything that you say has an effect on the hearer. I want to expand on this premise for one moment and tell you that there is one person who hears everything that you say; and that
person is you! Every other person hears only a part of what you say, but you personally hear every single word that you say. Therefore, whatever the individual effect you have on other people is a cumulative effect that you have upon yourself. Think about this – the power of your words and their effect on molding your life is tremendous.
If you want to be a prosperous person, don’t talk with a cheap mouth. If you do, all you do is make other people feel poverty stricken as well, and the cumulative effect is on you. If you feel sick, don’t keep voicing your sickness to other people. Every person you talk to gets a tiny segment of that impact, but your body receives the whole impact of everything that you say. Other people are effected by what you say, we agree; and you can, if you want, by a kindly word timely spoken, uplift somebody’s life. If this is true, then surely you can uplift your own life, since you are the recipient of the cumulative effect of every word that you speak. You, then, are molding your own life far more than you affect the life of any of your listeners. Whether it is your own children that you are speaking to, or trying to direct, or whether it is people in the office or people who come to your home, you have an effect on every one of those impacts.
Can you see here a great truth? By yourself, by your very own words, the effect that you have on other people is produced in you in a cumulative form. Can you not see that as you do unto others, it shall be done unto you? You mold your own life, effect your own life by the nature of the words you speak, and remember, you do hear every word you speak.
Idea Number 24
THE DUEL OF LIFE
A century or more ago men settled most affairs of honor upon the dueling field, and there was a time in history in Germany when dueling scars on the side of a man’s face contributed to a handsome visage. A man was considered handsome if his face was laced with the scars of dueling. Bismark, the great statesman of the nineteenth century, was an outstanding duelist – he would fight a duel over anything. But one day he became very angry over a supposed affront that he’d received from a scholar named Professor Virchow. Bismark was so angry that he challenged the Professor to a duel. Now the eminent scientist was somewhat taken back by this since scientists aren’t normally duelists the way that soldiers are. But, because Bismark had challenged Virchow, that left the professor with the choice of weapons. Then came the gray early dawn on the day of the duel, and up to the dueling field drove the two carriages with the duelers and their seconds – and the usual doctor. They climbed out of their coaches and met in the middle of the field of honor and Bismark said, “It was your choice of weapons, sir, what have you chosen?” Professor Virchow produced two beautiful juicy sausages and explained to Bismark that since he was a scientist, he’d chosen these sausages as his weapon. One was filled with lethal germs, and the other was perfectly good eating. He turned to Bismark and said, “Come, choose your weapon and we shall eat together.” Bismark took one look at those two sausages, realized that one meant certain death, then angrily turned on his heel and walked off the field in red-faced defeat. I always chuckle when I think about that! The duel that was fought with sausages! Not by banging away at each other, but by simply offering the opportunity to choose between life and death.
During this day you will be called upon to fight a duel. You are going to fight that duel a thousand times today. You are going to have a multiplicity of choices during your day today – how to respond to what somebody says, how to respond to what somewhat somebody does, what to say, what to do, and you’ll have those two sausages in front of you – the poisonous or the healthy. You can think the poisonous, negative thought that in its own tiny way will drag you down into ill- health, death, loneliness and poverty, or you can think the good thought which will lift you up and lead you on to eternal life, love and happiness.
Each time that you are faced with the choice of what to do and what to say this day, think of Professor Virchow – think of those two sausages. Choose the good; choose the thought that is on the upbeat, turn away from jealousy, anger, negation, doubt, fear and guilt. Think thoughts of joy, love, life and laughter. Speak words of joy, love, life and laughter and those things will fill your day and fill your life.
Idea Number 25
ISLAND OF PEACE
Do you ever wish that you could just run away from it all? Do you ever yearn for an island far off in some distant sea? Or a cabin hidden away on the top of some remote mountain where you could get away from all the pressures of your everyday life? I suppose we’ve all felt like this from time to time. It seems that we’ve always in the throes of conflicting impulses. We want, first of all, to be in the middle of activity and achievement, and then at other times, perhaps because we’ve lost a sense of balance?
Have we become impervious to the river of life moving through us? Is it possible that our timing is off? You know the ambition and the urge to accomplish drives our minds mercilessly until both our mind and our body demand rest and replenishment.
Periodically, we must have respite of some type from our turbulent, rushing, hectic daily exercise. Have you ever watched an old grandfather clock? The pendulum must swing both ways, an even distance in each direction, if it’s to perform its function satisfactorily, and this is the sort of balance we need in our own lives. We push ourselves too hard without adequate time for rest and restoring of the body and the mind.
We simply must make time to recharge ourselves, mentally and spiritually, as well as physically. We need to state of equilibrium and this has to be cultivated by contact with the inner Self of us. Even a few minutes of being truly in touch with ourselves, our real Self will restore our strength and our courage and our peace. It’s not necessary to buy an island in the Pacific or a mountain in Hawaii, in order to achieve balanced life. I imagine life could be just as hectic on your island or on your mountain if you didn’t achieve some inner mental peace.
Once we get onto this treadmill of daily pressures, we think that we’ve got no time for quiet or meditation, but we simply have to take time if we want to be a well-adjusted, happy and successful person. We’re dependent and one – with a Higher Power than ourselves and with patience, we can learn to keep our minds open so that we can turn from the pressures of the day to an inner calm within us. It doesn’t take a great deal of effort. We have to simply become still and turn quietly within us to a Center of Peace, which is ours at the center of our being.
You can find the peace of your island, or the peace of your mountain within yourself this day. You can have all the rest you need right within you.
Idea Number 26
DON’T LET IT SPOIL
What do you do when you have taken food out of the deep freeze, thawed it out to eat and then suddenly you get an invitation to go out to dinner somewhere? When this happens, it’s quite impossible to use the food by freezing it again so you just have to cook it and eat it. I think that this is something we ought to think about in our lives.
Mark Twain set this problem forward very simply and very clearly in a little joke he used to tell. There was a fellow that came round to Mark Twain’s house twice every day trying to sell fish and Mark
Twain kept saying, “No, thank you, no thank you.” But finally, he felt that the man’s sheer persistence ought to be rewarded, so he told his wife, “I am going to buy a fish from that man,” which he accordingly did. When the fish was prepared for lunch, it was found to be highly unsatisfactory and when the peddler came around, Mark Twain went out and hailed him and said, “Look here, that fish wasn’t edible. It was too old,” and the fish man turned calmly and said, “Well, it wasn’t my fault, boss. I gave you two chances every day this week to buy that fish and, if you were foolish enough to wait until it was spoiled, don’t blame me.”
Think about this. You have before you today, one whole day that has been taken out of the deep freeze of eternity and thawed out for you to
use today. You can’t live this day tomorrow; you can’t live it the day after tomorrow, you have to live this day today.
When do you live your life? Are you waiting for some never-never time when you are going to be happy? Are you going to wait until the fish spoils before you try to eat it? Are you going to allow this day to thaw out and spoil, or are you going to say, “This is a precious gift of God, the banquet of today. I am going to prepare it and eat it today. I am going to live this day to the fullest. I am going to say, one should never reject a gift. One should accept it with open heart and open mind and with thanksgiving.
This day is the greatest gift that you have ever known throughout your whole life – this one-day. Don’t allow it to spoil. Don’t go through it with a feeling of apathy, defeat and loneliness – stir up the enthusiasm within you. Accept this day as filled with potential of success, happiness, love and joy – all these things are in this day. Don’t just allow them to go to waste; go out there into your world today and accept them and don’t allow the day to spoil. You cannot live this day tomorrow and you will never have this day again.
Idea Number 27
YOU BECOME WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT
Have you ever tried your hand at building – building something? Well, I suppose that every one of us is building every single day of our lives. We are all busy engaged in building our consciousness during every waking hour. We are building a structure of attitudes, actions and reactions. The building we do is invisible and silent, and consequently it is probably overlooked by most of us.
Nonetheless, it’s probably the most fundamental and most far- reaching activity in our whole life, this building of our state of mind and our attitude. Every single one of us is building our consciousness all the time, although we are not even aware of it.
Hour by hour, minute by minute, we are building good, or so- called evil, failure or success, happiness or suffering into our lives by the thoughts we think the ideas that we harbor in our minds, the beliefs that we accept, the scenes, the events and the conversations that we rehearse in that hidden studio of the mind.
The actors that get into that hidden studio of your mind are those that will play out the drama of life for you. The drama of life is rehearsed in the radio studio of your mind and what appears outwardly is simply the presentation of the drama that you have rehearsed day by day, all unknowingly, building the script into your consciousness.
The building, this consciousness, this fateful edifice, upon the construction of which you are always busily engaged, is nothing less than your Self- your true SELF, your personality, your identity on this earth, your very life story as a human being, the central core of YOU, is that which you are building.
Now, if you are wise, if you are intelligent, if you exercise more common sense, you will, in the light of what you now know, build positively, and constructively. You will begin to take concern for that which finds a home in your mind. You will be concerned about the thoughts and attitudes that become the actors, rehearsing the drama of your life.
Supposing you were gong to put on a play. You wouldn’t go and find the least capable people that you could find to act in it for you, would
you? Of course you wouldn’t. You would go and find the most capable actors that you could locate. Let this be so in the radio studio of your mind. Bring into your mind these actors that can do a good job – love, kindness, security, faith, courage and wisdom. Give these a home in the studio of your mind because what gets your attention, get you. You become what you think about.
Idea Number 28
THE MAGIC OF PRAISE
What sort of people are you going to meet on the road of life? Will they be happy people who will add to the happiness of your life, or will they be weary, run-down rather miserable people who will tend to drag down your life into a gray monotone? Would you like to have everybody that carries into your life happy and lifting you with joy? There’s a simple way to do it, you know. All it takes is a simple word of praise. I don’t mean insincere praise. I mean real, sincere, deep-down praise, not flattery.
I love the story about Johnny Figaro. Johnny Figaro was a thirteen-year-old Italian boy in New York. He was a real problem for his teachers. He seemed to be always fighting, spoiling the games of the younger children. He was rude to the teachers and the more he was punished, the more defiant he became. In the 6th grade, he met a quiet, demure young teacher. One day, Johnny was sent inside at the recess. He clumped noisily to his seat and slumped down. The young teacher looked at him quietly and then said very pleasantly, “Johnny, how nice you look today in that clear shirt.” He squared his shoulders and sat up straight. At noon, a frayed black tie was clumsily fastened under the collar of the shirt he was so proud of. The Teacher very quickly noticed
it and praised him on it. Next day, his knotted shoelaces were replaced with new ones and his scuffed shoes were shined.
The young teacher turned to all those who were handling Johnny and said, “Just praise him, he’ll react. Just praise him.”
Johnny Figaro grew up to become president of a state university in the Middle West. A boy who would probably have been doomed to the slums and poverty became a great academician because somebody took the trouble to praise him. Everything blossoms and flourishes under praise. Praise is like water on a rose.
Determine that you are going to be an instrument for good in your world by praising other people. Look at everybody you meet and look for the praise-worthy in them and praise it. Give a simple word of honest praise and you will change the identity of everybody that comes into your life. Give a word of praise because you’ll be acting as the Spirit of Love in God’s world when you do this.
My friend, you are brought into this world to serve as the instrument of God’s love. The easiest way to do it is simply to look for the good and to praise it.
Idea Number 29
THE PROBLEM OF PLEASING EVERYBODY
Do you sometimes despair of ever being able to please other people?
Does it seem to you that you spend your whole life trying to please and help other people only to be rebuffed and falsely judged? If you
do, let me share with you one short sentence of Montaigne’s. He says, “A man has need of tough ears to hear himself freely judged.”
You know, no matter how careful and conscientious we may be, someone is always sure to misunderstand our actions and our attitudes. When somebody is liberal with his means and his money, someone will always suggest that he’s profligate or over- extravagant. On the other hand, if you’re conscientiously careful with your money, somebody will almost certainly say that you’re a miser. If somebody’s views are more liberal than yours, then he will brand you as being stuffy and conservative. If his views are more conservative than yours, he will complain that you’re too liberal and when somebody opposes our position, on the other hand, we probably say that he’s prejudiced. In all honesty we have to admit to ourselves that we probably often find ourselves condemning somebody else for what we would condone in ourselves.
If a person doesn’t do anything, people will find fault with what he hasn’t done. If he does something, then people will find fault with what he has done. While some people will congratulate what we do some of the time, those very same people will disapprove of what we do at another time. So it seems to me that whenever we’re attempting to please other people, we have to remember that no person ever lived who ever pleased all the people all the time. In fact, I doubt if anyone ever lived who pleased one person all the time, not even himself.
Are you always pleased with your activities? I question it. No matter what course you may pursue, someone will wonder why you don’t do something different. So about the best that we can possibility do is just conduct ourselves conscientiously, according to our best understanding, following our sincere convictions, and keeping our minds always honestly open to the possibility that perhaps we’re wrong, and then
hope that others will forgive us our mistakes. We have to be tolerant of other people if we’re expecting tolerance of their part. Above all, we have to remember the words of dear old Montaigne that “a man does have to have tough ears to hear himself freely judged” by others.
If you find yourself being judged by your fellowman, think of these simple words, “You cannot please all the people all the time” and, if you destroy yourself by dissimulation, by trying to be all things to all people, then you never get a chance to express what you really are.
Go ahead and be what you are, as conscientiously as you know how and know beyond doubt that you’re going to have some people criticize you. Bless them release them and go on doing the best that you know how. If you live as your real self, there will always be criticism.
Idea Number 30
THE SPARK PLUG
How is your car running these days? Have you perhaps had occasion to change spark plugs lately? If you have, you’ll know that it’s a very simple job. You drive into the garage and the mechanic opens up the hood of the car, looks underneath, takes off one electric wire, puts in a wrench and takes out a spark plug, puts a new one in, puts the electric lead back on and within five minutes you can be on your way. It’s a very simple thing to change spark plugs, isn’t it? But supposing you walked into a garage and asked them to change a spark plug and the mechanic came out and immediately started to take off the right-front wheel.
You would probably think that he was slightly insane, wouldn’t you, and you would protest vigorously that you didn’t want the wheels changed, all you wanted was a new spark plug.
Well, the other day I had a friend come to see me. He has a new sports car and he explained to me that to change the spark plugs on one side of the car, it was necessary to take off the right-front wheel! This is absolutely true. Can you imagine the reaction of the owner the first time he drives into a garage and asks for new spark plugs? Out comes somebody and takes off the right-front wheel. He’d probably protest vigorously, as I said. Yet, my friend assured me that it was but a two- minute job to take off the right- front wheel and once that was off, the spark plugs were very, very accessible and simple to remove.
Now there’s a lesson this for all of us. We look at things in our lives and we see activities going on, like the taking off of a front wheel, and we wonder how on earth our lives work in this way. We’re looking for the solution to a problem and a solution begins to come in some form, which is totally incomprehensible to us. We expect our good to come to us in one way. We expect the solution to come into our lives in one very obvious way, like lifting up the hood and taking out the spark plug, but the solution begins somewhere entirely different.
We may be looking for the solution of a family problem when the real need is a change in jobs. We may be looking for a change in health when in Truth; the real need is a change in our own activities and our own thinking. The whole point to the story of the sparkplugs and the front wheel is this: that we should not attempt to judge the way in which our problems are solved, or the way in which good comes into our lives.
The total universe is a vast and complex organization. We can never understand the ramifications of Creative Intelligence in our universe
and, therefore, in our own lives. What we could do is say, ”Fine, I accept that Life totally support me, and I accept that there is good in my life, and whichever direction it may come from, I’ll accept it, know that it is good and wait for the final outcome of good.”
Here then, my friend, encapsulated, is a great and vital Truth: DON’T EXPECT YOUR PROBLEMS TO BE SOLVED IN THE WAY THAT YOU
SELECT. There may be a better way if you will put your preconceived ideas aside and open yourself to the inspiration of Creative Intelligence. It may mean taking off the front wheel of your life to get a defective spark lug by the results will be better than you can possibly imagine. Trust your inner guidance and allow the solution to come from any direction and your problems will be solved easily and effortlessly.
Idea Number 31
EXPRESSING YOUR TALENTS
Are you a successful person or do you think of yourself as a failure? I suppose that every one of us must decide for ourselves whether we are a success or a failure, regardless of what the outside world thinks of us.
Indeed, if you look back through history you will find that many of those men who were the biggest successes in terms of outer acclamation, were complete failures in terms of their own inner aspirations. For example: Alexander the Great conquered the then known world, but he was never able to conquer his own violent temper – he wanted to do so very much that he considered himself a failure.
Napoleon won the undying devotion of millions of his subjects, but the one person he really wanted to love him, refused. That was Josephine, his wife. Although Napoleon was passionately in love with Josephine, she never returned his affection.
Then think of Goethe, on the greatest poets and writers in the world, and yet he really wanted to be an artist: he wasted many years in his early life studying art when he really had comparatively little talent in that department and considered himself a failure as a result. Imagine Goethe thinking of himself as a failure?
Whistler, the great artist, strangely enough wanted to be a poet, but fortunately he realized his lack of ability and turned to art instead. But in terms of his poetry he was, in his own eyes, a failure.
Think finally of Hans Christian Andersen. Those fairy tales won him a fantastic place in the world of children’s literature, and yet, he could only appeal to children through his writing. In face to face contact, children found him ugly and repulsive and he thought of himself as a failure in his contacts with children.
Now, take another look at yourself, and ask yourself: am I a failure or am I a success? If you are honest with yourself, I think that you will discover you are successful in those areas where you express those God-given talents that are yours and yours alone and that you are a failure, or you consider yourself to be a failure, in areas where you are trying to inflict your will upon a given situation.
There is so much fulfillment to be found in this world that we don’t have to go struggling and striving for it. You have been blessed with more talent than you can ever use up. Why then give your life to striving to fulfill yourself in other areas? Why consider yourself a failure because
you have been trying to inflict your will on a given set of circumstances, when you are an unbounded success when you use your own God- given talents. You can be a great success in this life, and all you have to do is to recognize those talents, which are yours and yours alone and follow them wherever they may lead you.
Don’t let your self-inflicted failures hold you back. Simply say: Well, that is not for me, I will release it and move on. Release it and move on and you will find the success that is justly yours.
Idea Number 32
A HOVEL OR A PALACE
What sort of environment, what sort of surroundings will you be spending your day in today? Will they be happy and bright surroundings, or will they be dull and rather miserable ones?
Charles Kingsley once was visited by a friend of his who had lived in the Himalayas. He came to Kingsley’s tiny little cottage in a tiny little village and felt very, very sad for poor old Charles Kingsley and told him so and said, “How sad it must be to live in this little cottage in this tiny little out- of-the way place while so much is going on around you out there in the wide, wide world; tiger hunts and all sorts of wonderful things.” Kingsley turned to him with rather a happy, quiet smile and said, “You know, my friend, it is some years since I first realized that my dwelling place must bemy prison or my palace. Thank God I made the right decision and that God has made my place a palace.”
Think about this as you prepare for your day. Are you going to be working around the same house that you work around every day?
Are you going to the same office or the same shop that you go to every day? Take another look at it. Open your eyes. Realize that of itself it has no existence. You and you alone have the power to make it what it is.
Have you begun to think of your home as ordinary? Rethink it today. Think it into a palace. Rejoice and polish and shine it and see it as your palace. Your office? Has it become a dull routine and a dowdy office for you? Take another look. See it, as the palace in which you live your life and let it be worthy of the golden life that you deserve. Your life is yours to make and the environment in which you conduct that life is yours to make. You and you alone decide the nature of that environment. You have probably heard me say before that this is expressed most simply for me in the tiny little rhyme that says:
“Two men looked out from prison bars, One saw mud but the other saw stars.”
What are you going to see in your home, in your office, in your classroom, in your shop this day? Why not make it a palace, because only you have the power to make it a hovel or to make it a palace. Use the power of your own mind constructively and you shall live this day in a palace fit for a king or a queen.
Idea Number 33
When I was young I was taught that patience is a virtue and, frankly I found it quite annoying. It seemed to me that what it really meant was that you had to wait for what you wanted until some adult determined
the right time for you to have it. But as I grew up a little, I began to realize that there is a great value to patience, particularly when you weight it against the opposite; impatience.
Oh, the cost of impatience: I guess patience is a virtue because impatience is costly. Think about the person who comes up and says I bought a new such-and-such car. You know very well that he hadn’t done any such thing. What he has done is it to put down a small sum of money to buy a car which he is going to pay on until perhaps the thing is worn out and he is still paying long after he has ceased enjoying the benefits of the purchase. That’s a pretty high price to pay for impatience.
A while back I was talking to a friend of mine, a widowed lady, who isn’t affluent by any means. She had just signed a guarantor for her son who was buying an electric guitar and she was terrified if something went wrong with his purchase, and I asked, “Well, why did you do it?” She replied, “He just wouldn’t wait.” What a price to pay; while the young man is strumming away on his electric guitar, his widowed mother is dying a thousand deaths at the fear and cost of his impatience. The most tragic example I have come across recently is an article published in a local newspaper about a boy who had been sent away to a house of correction for stealing. The judge asked him if he asked his mother for the money, and wouldn’t she have given it to him. He agreed that she would have done so. Which then led the judge to inquire why then did he steal the money? He said, “Well, sir, mom doesn’t get home until 6:30 and the film began at 6:00. For thirty minutes this boy blotted his life. It really is tragic, the cost of impatience.
Sometimes the most expensive part of patience is in dealing with other people. That’s not always easy. When some people aren’t well, they
become annoying and irritating and those who are nearest to them have to exercise their patience to the fullest. Bitter things are said and we have to admit that that is not really like the person, it is the illness speaking at the moment and not the wonderful person that you know.
There is a cost, you see, to impatience whereas patience leaves us completely free. (Jesus Christ’s patience was profound. Even at the trial he didn’t flare up although he was unfairly accused. When they crucified Him, he said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”) That’s more than you and I can hope to achieve. But at least we can try in some measure to achieve that sort of patience and forbearance.
Just a word to young people – when you feel impatient with your mother and father, just as I used to be, when you do feel impatient with your folks because they want to know where you have been or what you’re doing. It’s not because they are being square: it’s because they care. They do care tremendously and there is a great price to their care.
Remember – the cost of impatience is vast and your never have to pay it if you just stop and think of the alternative.
Idea Number 34 NO SLAP-DASH LIFE
Are you looking forward to the jobs that you have to do and the tasks that have to be accomplished by you? Or, are you going to get through them as well as you can, just to get them done?
I was thinking about this as I walked along the street one day. I saw a man on a ladder painting and this man flopped his brush backwards and forwards, slap-dash, slap-dash. It seemed as if every stroke was an
endeavor. He wasn’t watching what he was doing, his eyes were somewhere else, he was simply slapping away with his brush and I thought, “oh my, what a terribly dull and boring existence.”
Then a few minutes later, I walked into an office where a lady sat banging away on an old addressing machine, the one you crank and bang up and down. She was singing quietly to the banging of the machine and the machine was acting rather like a metronome, beating time to her song. I realized that it wasn’t the metronome that was setting the pace of the work, it was the pace in her heart that was setting the pace of the machine and I immediately went back in my mind to a few seconds ago when I watched the slap- dash painter and, I thought, gee, I wish that man could come in here and see this woman doing this, with just the same sort of ordinary, tedious task. She was getting some real joy out of it.
It seems to me that we only get out of a task what we put into it and if we’re going to do anything at all we ought to do it with zest, particularly if we are going to try to do something good or helpful. If we are going to do a good or helpful deed, we ought to do it with enthusiasm and zest.
If it is done merely as a duty, those people that we’re seeking to benefit must feel the blight of our hard-heartedness. I thought of that painter, probably working lovingly to feed a wife and children, but I’m sure that the slap-dash nature of his endeavors had to penetrate into their whole lives.
If any one of us is going to do anything to help anybody, we have to do it with ourselves, to put some zeal, and some zest, a little bit of ourselves into it.
There are many people, particularly in churches, who spend a lot of time and money on organized benevolence; on giving money or paying and thereby more or less absolving themselves from spontaneous acts of love and goodness.
Whatever you are going to do, do it zealously, thoroughly and lovingly even if you are polishing the silver. Polish your silver until it’s fit for kings. Do your daily work, willingly, gratefully and happily.
When you give a gift, give it with zeal, give it with love. When you pray, don’t just mumble prayers that have long lost their meaning. Pray with zeal. Your prayer should be vital and dynamic. It should be a piece of you.
We’ll never get out of this rut of futility until we get back to a faith in something beyond ourselves. It seems to me that the sense of helplessness that hangs around over this old world or ours today, is like a fog that comes from a sense of our feebleness, comes from a slap- dash approach to life and to the world.
Whether your life is going to be a slap-dash life or whether it’s going to tick and sing to the metronome of an inner joy, depends on you. Because you see, the slap-dash or the joy is within you and you determine which one will out-picture in your life and affairs.
Idea Number 35
THE NARROW MARGIN OF FAILURE
I’m sure that you have seen a micrometer at one time or another. It’s a very high-sounding name for a very simple little instrument.
The micrometer is a little screw gauge, which allows you to measure up to very fine limits, in fact, you can measure to one thousandth of an inch accurately. When I first saw a micrometer I wondered why on earth anyone would want to measure to such fine limits and then I read about a building that collapsed killing large number of people and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. An inquiry into the accident revealed that it was due to a miscalculation in thousandths of an inch.
Apparently the building had been assembled with iron girders without making sufficient allowance for the expansion and contraction of the beams. Due to changes in the temperature and a difference of thousandths of an inch, it caused a girder to snap and the building to fall and a large number of people to be killed.
Such a narrow margin, such a tiny margin between the stability of a strong building and the failure of a tumbling building, and I thought to myself – how similar this it to our own lives. There is such a small margin sometimes between success and failure. We all know individuals and organizations who have worked for years struggling in development or building toward an objective and then just when the objective appeared to be in sight, they ran out of faith, hope and strength and abandoned their project right when they were on the verge of success.
Henry Austin wrote a beautiful little verse that sums this up admirably. He says:
“Twixt failure and success the point so fine That man sometimes know not
When they’ve touched the line.
Just when the pearl was waiting one more plunge,
How many divers have simply given up the sponge? For there is honey even in the bitterest cup
And there is no failure save in giving up.”
“There is no failure save in giving up.” There is such a tiny margin between success and failure, and it is only your determination which can bridge that tiny margin of a few thousandths of an inch– one more try that will lead from seeming failure to abundant success, and so many people give up just when success was theirs for the asking.
Yes, my friend, the micrometer measures down to thousandths of an inch and you may be at this moment, thousandths of an inch, microseconds of time from your greatest success. One more effort is all it takes. There is no failure save in giving up.
Idea Number 36 LIFE BY THE INCH
One of my favorite fruits is the pomegranate. We used to call them “Indian Apples.” I don’t know how they got that name, but when I was a little boy, one of my greatest pleasures was to take a nickel along to the grocer’s shop and buy a pomegranate.
They are a beautiful fruit, but there is one very interesting thing about a pomegranate. Although the seeds inside are beautifully sweet and juicy, they are separated into small compartments by a thin yellow skin that is very bitter and, therefore, if you try to bite into a pomegranate you get a mouthful of rather bitter material that is very unpleasant.
If, however, you eat your pomegranate one seed at a time, it is indeed a delicacy. This is exactly how it is with your life. You cannot live your life as a large lump – you can only live your life one day at a time. If you
cut yourself, you don’t heal in a moment. Your healing begins the very moment that you cut yourself and it progresses day by day, minute by minute. You don’t get an education in one lump – it is one day’s schooling followed by the next day’s schooling.
You don’t recover from the loss of a dear one overnight Your bereavement is a process and it is only as you learn to live your life anew, day by day, that you overcome the loss and begin to build a new life.
If you face a massive problem today, don’t try to bite it off in one chunk. Try to make today’s solution today and you are that much further forward towards the solution of the whole problem. If you look ahead at all your problems, then life can look pretty big, If you have children to educate, elderly loved ones to tend and care for, and a multitude of responsibilities, life can indeed look like quite a formidable trial.
But you don’t have to deal with the problems of life, do you? You only have to deal with the problems of this one-day. If there is, therefore, one simple thought I can leave you that will help you to do this, it is just this one simple thought: “Life by the mile can be a trial, but life by the inch is a cinch!” You don’t have to solve the problems of life; you only have to meet the problems of this day. You only have to endure the pain of this moment. “Life by the mile is a trial, but life by the inch is a cinch!”
Idea Number 37
THE LOBSTER POT
Do you enjoy lobsters? Most people in New England, where I’m from, do. Has it ever occurred to you how they get their lobsters? I am sure you have seen a lobster pot. It is a very simple device that allows a lobster to make an easy entry into the pot, but provides a very difficult egress. There are many, many things in our lives like this.
We human beings tend to enter all too often into situations, circumstances or commitments without really considering how we will get out of them and what sort of obligation they are going to entail. So many of us are ready to sign on the dotted line without giving too much thought to just exactly what we are undertaking.
I am sure that a great deal of family unhappiness and human suffering comes from the refusal of think of the obligations when we are about to sign of the benefits. You know the sort of thing I mean. This applies to all sorts of aspects of our lives, to borrowing, to signing notes or contracts of all sorts, to joining things. Many people are great joiners. They enter into things like mortgages, even marriages, too easily.
It is so easy to sign, so easy to accept, so easy to say YES, so easy to make commitments and then perhaps so hard to fulfill, so long to pay back, so long to grieve and regret, so long to repent. Obligations are so easy to get into and sometimes so hard to fulfill and all too often we find the joys that we have been seeking in taking these obligations are nothing but mirages. We follow the crowd, we follow fashion, we cling to our personal pride, and we make commitments and shortsighted decisions just to try to keep up with other people. Should we not look
beyond the moment and beyond the immediate pleasure to all the costs and the implications, to all the days that are to come, and to the debt that is due and the payment that will be required. The obligation, the attendance, the time, whatever it may be that we have to pay to meet our commitment should not be lightly undertaken. Commitments we make carry with them obligations beyond the limits of time.
We should keep ourselves as clear as we can of questionable commitments; take a long look at life and consider all commitments carefully in the clear light of reason and proceed slowly before signing on the dotted line and acting like the lobster.
Commitments are easy to enter, they may not be easy to fulfill and sometimes they are almost impossible to get out of.
Idea Number 38
PAIN OR PRECEPT?
Once when the great Gautama Buddha was teaching the people of a small village, he reached into his garment and withdrew a little brown pebble and said, “Behold that which is my teacher!” He then explained how he had been walking along the trail that day and had failed to notice the beauty on all sides of him until the little pebble had fallen into his sandal. He was forced to pause to remove it and in so doing, suddenly became aware of the blue of the sky, the beauty of the trees, the fragrance of the flowers along the trail, even the vivid colors of a butterfly. He said, “I was walking through so much beauty and yet failed to notice it until this little pebble caused me to pause. Surely, is
not this the folly of man, that he is taught more readily by pain than by precept?”
It is unfortunately true that often we are taught more readily by pain than by precept. There are always two roads open to us as we journey through life – the road of compulsion and the road of election. We can choose consciously to cooperate with Creative Intelligence. We can choose to grow, to improve ourselves, to change for the better. But, if we don’t choose to do so, we will be forced to do so. The law will wield a progressive hand. If we are not growing through choice, we will be forced to grow through the lessons of experience, and experience can be a very harsh teacher as some of us already know.
A lot of people think that a war is being raged between the forces of good and evil. There is no evidence of two powers clashing in the universal creative plan. Then, what is the cause of humanity’s suffering and problems? It is man’s imperfect understanding. As man’s understanding is lifted up, so will his world be lifted out of chaos and destruction?
Behind every success, or every seeming miracle of healing, there is a very simple cause – and idea. An idea can make a million dollars; it can heal an incurable disease. It can rebuild an entire life! If you are open to new ideas, new ideas will come to you.
Sometimes they come as direct illumination; sometimes they take a more circuitous route and seek you out from the pages of a book, the conversation of a friend, or the voice of a teacher. Ideas are the way out of those self-imposed limitations, which can be a prison and a hell. All you need in order to bring about the healing of any situation in your life is a new idea. That is why mediation is such an important part of successful living – it opens you to inspiration and understanding.
When you meditate on a regular basis, you will never fail to receive ideas. Perhaps, not always during meditation, but they will come.
There is one idea, active in mind that can resurrect the life of anyone. It can move you steadily upward to ever-higher levels of prosperity, power and success. This is the idea or the realization that all things work together for good. LIVE by this idea, this faith, and you will be able to overcome all of life’s challenges. You will discover that you are a better, a greater person because of your experiences in life. Every experience will be transmuted into strength of character.
Idea Number 39
Do you sometimes think there’s not enough reward for some of the things that you’ve done in this life? Do you sometimes look out and say, “Well you know things shouldn’t be like this, things shouldn’t be this way, because after all, remember I did this or I did thus some time ago?” Are you a person that tries to live off yesterday’s attainments? It’s a fateful way to go through life, believe me. Nobody wants to eat yesterday’s cold potatoes and nobody can live on yesterday’s achievements. How many times do you find somebody that had done one major thing in their life, that first writes a major book about it, then writes a minor book about it, then writes a pamphlet about it, and then distorts their whole life trying to get people to remember one thing that they did. When we try to live on yesterday’s glories, we die today. Think about it!
A number of military officers once approached Napoleon to recommend a young captain for a very special promotion; so Napoleon asked, “Why do you propose this particular fellow?”
They answered that through unusual courage and cleverness and daring, he’d won a very significant victory several days before. Napoleon thought about it for a moment and said, “Good, but what did he do the next day?” Nobody knows what they replied, but that was the last that was ever heard of that young man. You see, there are two kinds of people in this world of ours; there are those who show an occasional outburst of brilliance, and there are those who can be depended upon day after day to do their best every single day of the year. In other words, there are the flushers, the flashers, and the plodders. Believe me, that once you get into your mind this idea, that by one single flash of brilliance you can earn enough days, you live in ashes. Today’s reward is for today’s endeavor; today’s love brings back today’s love. You can’t say, “Oh, how I loved her yesterday, why does she not love me today?” If you want to be loved today, you must love today, tomorrow’s love is not yet here, and yesterday’s love is spent and returned. TODAY’S REWARDS COME FROM TODAY’S EFFORTS. You cannot borrow on yesterday’s glory and still live a meaningful life. Be glad for the achievements of yesterday, yes, but don’t feed your consciousness, your pride, your self image upon them; that’s like feeding them cold potatoes. Make one minor achievement today and live on that. If you can make another major achievement, fine, but if you can’t, feed yourself on the achievements of today.
Love, laugh, share, help, live today, and accept the rewards of life for today’s effort, and then you’ll be living on today’s Spiritual food, and not on the cold potatoes of yesterday’s attainments.