03 Apr The attractive power of thought
There are two old proverbs which are well known and often quoted, but whose profound psychological importance is not perhaps fully appreciated. They are these: “Birds of a feather flock together,” and “You can tell a man’s character by the company he keeps.” The source of this attraction is largely in a man’s thought. If we think thoughts of a certain type, then we attract to ourselves people of a similar type of thought. We are drawn together by the invisible forces of attraction. It is true that the character of our thoughts becomes, in course of time, written on our face, so that all the world can see if we are pure or filthy, strong or weak, loving or hard, noble or base; but it is largely the attractive power of thought that draws people to us.
Our thoughts not only attract people to us after their kind, but they also attract other thoughts after their kind, and also opportunities and circumstances. The human mind, although in one sense it can be called creative, is more of a receptacle of thought than a generator of the same. We have as it were, two doors to our mind, one opening to a stream of heavenly, good, beautiful, ennobling, healthful and wholesome thoughts; the other opening to a stream of undesirable, weakening, destructive thoughts. It is impossible to have both of these doors open at the same time. When we think thoughts of purity, wholeness, charity, etc.—in other words, thoughts of a Heavenly character—then the door to Heaven and all that is beautiful is opened, allowing a flood of similar thoughts to enter. This is why prayer is so valuable. Prayer is the raising of the thought and attention, also the heart and affections, to Heaven. In response there is a return flow or influx of Divine life, thought and ideas. One who perseveres in this practice becomes, in course of time, so changed by this Divine influx as to be heavenly minded. Then the other door leading to all that is undesirable remains shut always. During the transition stage, the door leading to evil thoughts may be burst partly open, leading to what we know as temptations. If we try to shut the door and fight the attacking forces, or thoughts, or suggestions of evil, we find that it opens even wider. The only way of dealing with the situation effectively is to raise the thoughts, attention, mind and heart to the Good and Heavenly Reality. When our attention is fixed in this way upon Reality or Heaven, God or Christ, then the other door becomes shut again. The only reason for it being burst open is that our attention on the Good and Pure becomes weakened at times. The influx from the Divine, however, continually strengthens and changes us, so that it becomes increasingly possible to keep our thoughts on a Heavenly plane; and this, in turn, keeps the other door more effectively shut.
The negative aspect of all this is that if we allow the door of weak or evil thought to open, the door of Divine Good becomes closed. Heaven, in spite of all its good intentions and desires, cannot help us if we allow out thoughts and attention to be engaged by lower things.
Thus we see here the value of faith. If we raise our heart and thought above our troubles, then we open the door Heavenwards, so that an influx of new life, power and good flow into us, enabling us to overcome. Directly, however, that we look down, to brood over our troubles, the door towards Heaven becomes shut, while the other door is opened, thus allowing a stream of weakening destructive thoughts to enter. Thus by refusing to brood over our troubles and difficulties, and by looking in faith to Heaven, and by thinking of the Divine Perfection or Reality, we are delivered in a double way; first, the spiritual source of trouble is shut off, and second, we become opened to receive a constant stream of Heavenly influences.
Not only do we attract to ourselves one of the two streams of thought and influence just described, but we also create for ourselves an atmosphere, either attractive or repellent. This atmosphere, aura or personal magnetism either attracts people and opportunities, or drives them away. If two men, one with an attractive atmosphere and the other with a repellent one, were placed each in a small business and given equal opportunities, the former would do far more business than the latter, simply because he would attract customers, charm them, receive their recommendations and retain their patronage. He would make a living where the man with a repellent atmosphere would starve. The same thing would happen in any profession. A doctor, a lawyer, a clergyman, would attract a large following, if he possessed an attractive atmosphere, but would have only a scanty following if he had a repellent atmosphere.
In order to create or develop an attractive atmosphere we must feel goodwill towards those whom we meet, we must be anxious to serve and help, and we must think the right thoughts. There is no need for toadyism—indeed, this should be avoided at all costs—-instead, we must remember that while it is true that we have to serve, no matter what our calling or position may be, yet we are the magnet and that others are drawn to us, not by compulsion or against their will, but by the magnetism of goodwill and inward friendliness.
We must also bear in mind that we are drawing others to us not in order to serve our own selfish ends, but in order to bless them, help them and make them happier. There was once an undertaker who was so sympathetic he did more funerals than any of his competitors. His sympathy attracted people because it was REAL.
If it had been “put on” it would never have rung true and he would have been avoided as a humbug and hypocrite. He had no desire to get business with his sympathy, he would have hated the thought, but he simply could not help being sympathetic, because he had a big heart of love open to all who were in trouble. Therefore, we should attract people simply in order to bless. If it makes us prosperous, we cannot help it, our object must be to bless and serve.
Now some readers will say that the teaching of this chapter is quite impossible. They will say, and rightly, that soon after a man begins to think rightly and aspire after better things he is subjected to an invasion from, apparently, all the powers of evil, and that it seems as though the floodgates of hell were let loose upon him, thus making further progress impossible. This is true enough, but there is another side to the story which is that the one who aspires receives help from above. Every time that we look up, raising our thoughts to a higher plane, life and health, strength and blessing flow into us. It does not matter how much we may be tempted, we receive greater strength from our Elder Brother than the power of evil that assails us. This Great One has been before us, conquering and overcoming, and He it is who can and does help us in our efforts to rise to higher and better things.