Lessons from the classics: As You Think

In my message to our community this week I shared a quote that is very meaningful to me. It comes from Theodore Parker whose words have also been cited by Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.

AbracadabraHere are his thoughts about what makes a book valuable:

“The books which help you most are those which make you think the most. The hardest way of learning is by easy reading: but a great book that comes from a great thinker – it is a ship of thought, deep freighted with truth and with beauty.”

Those are the books that we seek. Those that make us think.

Those that inspire and incite us with their truth and the beauty of the ideas shared in words.

There are some books which do this so remarkably well they cannot be confined to a single reading. They require us to return to them like a well, to be replenished and reminded of their life affirming sustenance. When we find those books, they are a gift. One of those is the classic work, As a Man Thinketh from James Allen. Because this is now in the public domain you can find it readily enough and even at no cost. But that is certainly not a reflection of its value.

The version that I prefer has been revised and updated by Marc Allen. He offers in his introduction that “truth can always be stated simply”. I share that belief. Perhaps that is why these classics continue to speak to us. It is in their simplicity we find truth.

Here are ten of the simple truths in the words of James Allen:

  1. As the plant springs from, and could not be without the seed, so every one of our acts springs from the hidden seeds of our thoughts. And could not have appeared without them.
  2. We are made or unmade by ourselves.
  3. Your mind may be likened to a garden that may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild – but whether cultivated or neglected it must, and will, bring forth.
  4. We do not attract what we want, but what we are.
  5. Our wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with our thoughts and actions.
  6. Most of us are anxious to improve our circumstances, but are unwilling to improve ourselves and we therefore remain bound.
  7. We cannot directly choose our circumstances, but we can choose our thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape our circumstances.
  8. As physically weak people can make themselves strong by careful and patient training, so can people with weak thoughts make themselves strong by exercising themselves in right thinking.
  9. Thought allied fearlessly to purpose becomes creative force; those who know this are ready to become something higher and stronger than mere bundles of wavering thoughts and fluctuating sensations; those who do this – align their thoughts fearlessly with their purpose – become the conscious and intelligent wielders of their mental powers.
  10. There can be no progress, no achievement, without a certain degree of sacrifice.

oak tree in acornHere is a final thought from Mr. Allen that speaks to me each time I read it because of the vivid use of imagery in the statement:

“The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg; and in the highest vision of the soul, a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.”

As we think, so we act and become. Powerful and empowering.

Live today like you want tomorrow to be.

Live (Think) well.


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