I love reading. I consider myself a lifelong learner in the art of reading. I’m not great, but I try with an attention to improvement. I can sometimes enter myself deeply into a text. Other times, I can’t So it goes. Reading, like exercise or surgery, requires years of patient practice and study. Reading demands an acute sense of imagination as well as the ability to place yourself in the disembodied voice of the author. It is no easy task. Consider the above video on Thought and Character my attempt to read to you in a soft-spoken ASMR voice.
ASMR Reading of Thought and Character
Yes, the embedded video kicks off my ASMR-infused reading of “Thought and Character,” an essay from James Allen’s book “As a Man Thinketh.”
If you like the above video on Thought and Character and want MORE, MORE, MORE of my unflattering face, please consider subscribing to the channel. It’s in its infancy right now and I hope to build it up with content that will mirror the works that are presented here at Psychoenergy.
Thought and Character
James Allen – Thought and Character
Man is always the master, even in his weaker and most abandoned state; but in his weakness and degradation he is the foolish master who misgoverns his “household.” When he begins to reflect upon his condition, and to search diligently for the Law upon which his being is established, he then becomes the wise master, directing his energies with intelligence, and fashioning his thoughts to fruitful issues. Such is the conscious master, and man can only thus become by discovering within himself the laws of thought; which discovery is totally a matter of application, self analysis, and experience.
When we look at James Allen, it’s best to read-into his work from your own contemplative (or non-contemplative) stance. In the above quotation we find the idea that we are in control of a certain fundamental part of our being. Or, said otherwise, that we have the unique capacity to engage with the “Law upon which his being is established…” What is this “Law” that Allen talks about? That is worth considering. I think one way to interpret it is that our thought has a direct influence on our perception of the world, and our thought will color our being and our doing. This, in itself, is a kind of law.
To Pray Without Ceasing
If we stand in the Christian tradition, we could say that the understanding that our thoughts influence our lives means that if we hold Godly thoughts, then we will approach a Godly life. Or, that if we “pray unceasingly,” we enter into direct communion with God. In this way, thought and character are absolutely intertwined. If you’ve ever had the experience of being led astray by an unwanted or dangerous thought, you’re on the right track to the revelation that Allen presents us with.
This could be why St. Paul encourages us to “pray without ceasing.” And, to meld the idea of thought and character even further, wouldn’t it be so that our prayer could also be how we behave ourselves in the world? If our meaningful work were a kind of prayer, would that not also be us praying without ceasing? Is the positive intermingling of thought and character a kind of unceasing prayer?
Dig Deep into the Mine of Your Soul
Only by much searching and mining, are gold and diamonds obtained, and man can find every truth connected with his being, if he will dig deep into the mine of his soul; and that he is the maker of his character, the moulder of his life, and the builder of his destiny, he may unerringly prove, if he will watch, control, and alter his thoughts, tracing their effects upon himself, upon others, and upon his life and circumstances, linking cause and effect by patient practice and investigation, and utilizing his every experience, even to the most trivial, everyday occurrence, as a means of obtaining that knowledge of himself which is Understanding, Wisdom, Power.from “Thought and Character” by James Allen
Thought and character act as the fundamental core of our being. People will know us by what we do, by how we engage with them, and by the resonance that we leave in their imaginations. We will be as our thoughts lead us. Also, we will become how we “do” the world. If we wish to be the molder of our life, we must first examine how we think about the world and how we perform ourselves to life. The more we pull back the layers, the more we are able to see how this simple foundation can lead us in the direction it is destined to go.
A phrase I’ve come across lately in my contemplative readings is that of “being watchful.” This is a wise thought to consider. If we are watchful of our thoughts, we will find that we are always led by the kinds of thoughts that we keep. This is one reason why Centering Prayer is such a healthy exercise to undertake and stick with. Over time, one will find that the discipline of being watchful over one’s thoughts is controllable (to a degree). One will also notice the difficulties of focusing thought. However, difficult or not, it is a healthy mindful exercise to consider looking into. I will be writing about my meditation experiences in the coming weeks, and look forward to sharing my own thoughts with you.
Temporary Conclusion: Thought and Character
Thought is a stream. We are those who are at once in and outside of the stream. Keep careful watch over your thoughts. Thought and character are wrapped around one another. Observe how your own thought influences your character. Be mindful of how your character blossoms out from your thoughts. Focus on your thoughts. Guide your thoughts without ceasing. Observe how “you” arise out of the stream. Be aware of the Law stirring within and without you.