17 Jul Positive and negative mentality
Most of us have heard the old proverb which states that “As a man thinketh, so is he.” And most of us accept the spirit of the idea that a man’s character, disposition, activities, and general personality are dependent largely upon the general character of his thoughts. This being so, and it also being true that a man is able to control the general character of his thoughts, it logically follows that every awakened Ego is the creator of the character and personality of the individual whose self it is.
Philosophers teach us that there is a law of polarity manifesting in everything. That is to say, that in everything there is found the presence of the two poles, viz., the positive and the negative. We find this law manifest in the mentality and character of every individual. There is always to be found the positive elements of mentality and character, and the negative elements thereof.
There is always to be the “two-sidedness” in individuals. Every individual finds within himself a constant struggle between these two opposing elements—the positive and the negative. Upon the decision of this battle depends largely the advancement, success, welfare, and progress of the individual. Goethe has well said: “In my breast, alas, two souls dwell, all there is unrest. Each with the other strives for mastery, each from the other struggles to be free.” The ordinary individual seems to be content to remain as a passive spectator of this struggle; but the individual of the awakened Ego takes a part in the struggle, and by throwing the weight of his free will into the balance, he brings down the scales on the positive side.
But, you may ask, just what are the positive qualities? How may we know them when we consider them? This is a very natural, and a very proper question. As we proceed you will discover an infallible touchstone, or test whereby you may settle the matter for yourself. In most cases you will have no trouble in making the decision by the employment of your ordinary powers of judgment. For instance: you find no trouble in deciding that courage is positive, and cowardice negative; that truth is positive, and untruth negative; that energy is positive, and slothfulness is negative; that persistence is positive, and lack of it negative. But when you come to consider less familiar cases, you feel more or less uncertain, and instinctively look around for a touchstone or test, whereby you may decide infallibly.
A well-known writer, in considering this instinctive demand, has said:
“When the individual is forced to consider any feeling, emotion, idea, action, advice, suggestion, or teaching, he should always submit it to the Touchstone of Positivity, by asking himself: ‘Will this make me stronger, more powerful, more capable, more efficient, better?’ In the degree that the thing corresponds to these qualifications, so is its degree of positivity. It becomes the duty of every individual wishing to progress on the Path of Life, and desiring to become proficient and capable in his expression and manifestation of mentality and character, to cultivate the positive qualities of the mind, and to restrain and inhibit the negative ones. In the consideration of this matter you should always remember that every positive quality has its negative opposite. This is an invariable rule, and one that you may test for yourself. And arising from it is this important rule of the new psychology: ‘To develop a positive quality, you should restrain or inhibit its opposing negative: To restrain or inhibit a negative quality, you should develop and encourage its opposing positive.’ The rule is worthy of being carved over the door of every institute of learning in the world, for its general observance would create a new race of men and women, and a new civilization of positive, capable, efficient people.”
The positive qualities may be encouraged and developed by the mastery and control over the mental field exercised by the awakened Ego, and the negative qualities may be inhibited and restrained by the exercise of the same power within each individual. The Ego should always assert its positivity to the feelings, emotions, desires, and other mental states. The will should be held firmly in its place, as positive to the desires. The intellect should be held positive to the emotions, desires, and feelings. The Ego, through the will, should maintain a positive attitude toward, and control over, the attention and the imagination. True assertion of the Ego does not mean the petty quality called “egotism,” but rather the higher phase of Egoism, or mastery of the Ego.
You are asked here to consider the following quotation from a well-known writer on the subject of the new psychology, who says: “Man should be more than a mere creature of chance, environment, and outside influences. He should be ruled from within—be self-ruled—by the power of the Ego. Instead of being merely a weak instrument of desire, emotion, and feeling, influenced by suggestions and impressions from every passing person or thing, man should be directed and guided by the strong instrument of his will, held firmly to its task by the Ego. With full power of regulation, decision, and determination, and with the full will enforcing those powers, man should be very giant of endeavor and attainment, instead of the petty, crawling, weakling that so many of his kind are now. Man has it in his power to make of himself what he will—to become his own mental creator, instead of allowing others to create his mentality for him. Too long has man bowed to environment and outer circumstances: he is now learning to be his own environment, by means of creating the same from within.
“The fundamental idea of the new psychology is embodied in the symbol of the charioteer driving his fiery steeds under full control and with taut rein. The chariot represents the being of the man; the charioteer, the Ego; the reins, the will; the steeds, the mental states of feeling, emotion, desire, imagination, and the rest. Unless the reins be strong, they will not be sufficient to control the horses. Unless the charioteer be trained and vigilant, the horses will run away with the chariot and dash to pieces the driver in the general wreck. But controlled and mastered, the fiery steeds will lead forward to attainment and accomplishment, and at the same time will travel the road in safety.
“Each of you is the charioteer driving the fiery steeds with the reins of the will. How are you driving? Are you mastering the steeds, or are they mastering you? It is in your power to curb, control, urge on, and direct these splendid mental creatures, so that you may travel far into the regions of attainment and accomplishment. Or, it is within your power to allow them to wander from side to side of the road, and into the swamps and morasses on the side. Or it is within your power to ‘give them their heads’ and to allow them to rush away with you to destruction. Have you decided which of the three courses you shall follow? Have you decided whether you shall be the Master, or the mastered? There comes a time in the life of each one of us when this question must be answered—the course chosen. It may be that this time has come to you in the reading of these lines. Are you ready to answer it, and to make the decision? Remember the question. It is this: ‘Mastery or Servitude—Which?’ ”
Character Building depends upon the mental attitude and mental states of the individual. The man of positive thoughts and feelings will develop into the positive character; while he of negative thoughts and feelings will develop into the weakling, negative character. We usually lay great stress upon the axiom, “As a man thinketh, so is he,” ignoring the correlated truth that as a man feeleth, so is he. But, at the last, when we see that a man’s feelings are largely under his control and are really the outcome of his thoughts and the direction of his attention, the truth of the first axiom becomes doubly apparent.
Character building depends greatly upon the “feeling” side of his mental nature. Pure abstract thinking may serve to prevent negative feelings, but other than this it has little or no positive value in character building. But when the man is thinking about anything in which his interest, his feelings, his emotions, his desire, or his passions are involved, then we find that he is building character for good or evil. Hence the importance of the man’s interests being directed toward positive things, rather than to the negative ones.
The formation of positive ideals has much to do with the building up of a positive character. A man grows to resemble his ideas. And a man’s ideals are the outgrowth of his feelings and emotions. The ideal hold by the man arouses interest in all things connected with it. Interest is the strong motive of attention; and attention is the beginning of all the activities of the will. So the man’s ideals serve to set into activity the chain of mental cause and effect that results in storing away in his mind the strong impressions that have so much to do with the building up of character. By the constant use of these impressions, he builds up the mental path of habit over which the will so likes to travel. And the more frequently he uses these mental paths, the more does his character become “set.” So we find over fresh illustrations of the statement that “A man tends to grow to resemble the things he likes, and in which he is interested.” So true is this that a writer has suggested that we say “As a man loveth, so is he.” But here again the Master Mind assorts its power, and says: “I love that which I want to love—I am free here as in all else in my realm.” But, though this last be so, the man’s likes and his ideals are important pieces of the machinery by means of which he builds up his character.
Modern psychology teaches us that the two following principles are operative in the character of each individual, viz.: (1) That feelings manifest themselves in will action unless inhibited or controlled; and (2) that the will-action follows the lines of the strongest interest. These twin principles of mental action should be considered together.
The first of the above named principles, i.e., the principle that feelings manifest themselves in action unless inhibited or controlled, is recognized as a fact by all leading psychologists of today. William James has said concerning it: “All consciousness is motor. We might say that every possible feeling produces a movement, and that the movement is a movement of the entire organism, and of each and all of its parts. If we fancy some strong emotion, and then try to abstract from our consciousness of it all the feelings of its bodily symptoms, we find that we have nothing left behind.” There is always the tendency toward outward expression and manifestation of all feelings, emotions, desires, and passions, which tendency proceeds into action unless controlled or inhibited. This being perceived, it is seen that our actions (and consequently our character) tend to fall into the pattern or mold created by those of our feelings and desires which are permitted to survive and remain uncontrolled.
We constantly act, often unconsciously, in accordance with our strongest desires, feelings, likes or dislikes, prejudices, etc., all of which are but phases of feeling. Our physical lives are regulated by our mental states, and our mental states are largely what we make them—providing that we have learned the art and science of Mental Mastery. The materials of our feelings are taken from the subconscious mental storehouse, and what comes out of that plane of our mentality must have previously gone into it. The Master Mind recognizes this and places in that storehouse only what he chooses to go into it, and what he chooses to come out of it as the incentive to action—being always governed in his choice by the Rule of Positivity heretofore announced, viz.: “Will this make me stronger, more powerful, more capable, more efficient, better?” By stocking the subconscious storehouse with positive material, only positive material will be issued therefrom to form the basis of actions.
The second of the above named principles, i.e., the principle that the will-action follows the lines of the strongest interest, is likewise recognized as correct by the best authorities. The majority of persons follow the line of the least resistance, and allow their interest to become attracted and held by many things which have no positive value to the individual, and which too often has a decidedly negative character. The few who have experienced the consciousness of the awakened Ego, and who have at least begun to assert the Master Mind, act intelligently in this matter and refuse to place the interest upon any negative thing, or anything lacking a positive value to them.
An authority has said: “To many persons the suggestion that they have the power to select the objects of their interest may seem absurd. They are so accustomed to regard interest, feelings, desires, and emotions, and even passions, as things beyond their control, that they make no attempt to exercise a voluntary control over them. It is true that these mental states do not spring from pure intellectual effort—that they spring from the depths of the subconscious mentality, unbidden, in most cases. But the proved facts of the new psychology show us plainly that the Ego may assume control of these involuntary metal states, and either encourage and develop them, or else restrain or inhibit them entirely. Just as the will may assume control of certain muscles of the body, so may the Ego assume control of the entire mental kingdom, and mold, build, change, and improve each and every department of its mental workshop. By concentration and attention, interest may be directed to and held upon certain things, and likewise removed or kept away from certain things. Interest kindles desire, and lack of interest causes desire to die. And interest results from attention, and may be controlled by the will And the will is the chief instrument of the Ego. By using the reasoning and judicial faculties of the mind in the matter of the right selection of objects of interest, the positive qualities and objects may be selected in preference to the negative ones. And this being done, we are well started on our way toward character building, mastery and power.”
In the following pages of this book the reader will be asked to consider each particular set of mental faculties, and each particular phase of mental activity and expression. The special machinery of each set or phase thereof will be analyzed, and the part played by it in the mental life of the individual will be described and explained. At the same time the reader will be instructed in the most approved methods whereby each of these set of faculties, or phases of mentality, may be brought and held under the control of the Ego, by the use of the will, and those be brought into the category of Positive Mentality.
Common belief to the contrary notwithstanding, every individual is the possible architect and builder of his own mental character—though but few really exercise that power. Too often we are told that a man’s character is entirely molded by Circumstances. We lose sight of the spirit of that great Master of Mind who exclaimed: “Circumstances! I make Circumstances!” The Positive Mentality always is stronger than the Negative Mentality, and is able to direct, control, and master the latter. Hence the power of the Master Minds of the race over the Slave Minds of the herd of the masses of the race.
Before proceeding to the detailed consideration of the several mental faculties, and phases of mental activity, let us consider the following quotation from a popular writer on the subject of mind power. This writer once said to his students, concluding a series of lessons to them:
“If you are an individual, this teaching is just what you want. And the same is true if you are not one, but want to be one. But if you are a weakling, and prefer to remain one, instead of rising and claiming your birthright of strength—your heritage of power, then by all means remain as you are, and go on your own way. Leave these teachings for the others of your brethren, who will not sell their birthright of power for the mess of pottage of negative content and sheep-like passivity, but who are boldly claiming their own, and demanding their rightful portion—these strong brothers of yours, the individuals who are the coming inheritors of the earth. I send to you, who are now reading these words, all the energy, force, and power at my command, to the end that it may pierce your armor of indifference, fear, and doubt. And that, reaching into your heart of desire it may fill you with the very spirit of individuality, conscious ego-hood, perception of reality, and realization of the Ego. So that henceforth your battle-cry will be changed, and you will plunge into the thick of the fight, filled with the Berserker rage of attainment like the Icelandic hero of old, shouting your positive battle-cry of freedom, ‘I can, I will; I dare, I do! you will mow your way clear through the ranks of the horde of ignorance, find negativity, and reach the heights beyond. This is my message to YOU, the Individual!”