18 Jun The power of mind and thought
We do not believe that there are many who deliberately think negative thoughts. Most people mean well and want to do good and be good (not goody, goody). But, nevertheless, most of us are wrong thinkers, more or less, and this is due, so we firmly believe, mainly to ignorance. Because it is not generally known that negative thoughts are highly destructive, we ignorantly indulge in them, thinking that they do no harm. Actually, thoughts of impurity, anger, revenge, hate, resentment, envy, brooding over wrongs, brooding over sorrows, losses and griefs; thoughts of fear, failure, weakness, penury, sickness, disease, decay, mortality and death, are all highly destructive. They are destructive of health, of happiness, of circumstances, of life in all its departments. They break down the nervous system; they paralyse endeavour; they undermine the will; they make for wrong decisions. It will be admitted that this is a matter of prime importance, yet neither children nor the general public are instructed in these vital matters. Because of this almost universal ignorance we most of us go on indulging in negative thinking, much to our detriment.
How many of us, for instance, realise that it is thought that kills and not lack of food in most cases of death through alleged starvation? If a person cannot get food to eat he dies in a very few days, as a rule; yet a person who fasts voluntarily in order to cure himself of some organic disease can do so, if the fast is wisely undertaken, for forty or even more days, not only without injury, but with greatly beneficial results. Why is it that in the former case a few days’ compulsory fast ends in death, while a voluntary fast of six weeks or so results only in good? The answer is of course that it is the state of the mind and the character of the thoughts that kill, and not the lack of food.
Again, after a few days’ “starvation” a person is generally in a state of great weakness and prostration. Yet one who submits himself to a voluntary fast generally continues his work, and it is only at the later stages that he works less hard than usual. The certain reverend gentleman who recently fasted for forty or fifty days, particulars of which were given in our daily newspapers, not only carried on his usual duties, but, in addition, wrote a book on a subject requiring great concentration and mental effort. Contrast all this with the state of a starving man, who, after a few days, is reduced to a condition of collapse and exhaustion, quickly followed by death, and we see how great is the power of mind and thought. In the case of the “starving” man, he thinks that he is dying, because he has no food, and consequently very soon does die. The fasting man thinks that by fasting he is improving his health, and his health is improved in consequence, even to the overcoming of incurable (so-called) organic disease. There have been reported in the papers lately many cases of important people undergoing, voluntarily, a long fast, and by so doing winning their way to health. But this is not new by any means. To my knowledge this method of cure was quite well known in certain circles a quarter of a century, or more ago; but its mental aspect does not seem to have been appreciated at its true value.
There is no reason why a starving man, if he was well nourished at the commencement, should not live as long as a fasting man, and he would do so if he could only control his thoughts and think in the same way that a fasting man thinks. But first of all he would have to be convinced that fasting is beneficial to health, and this would not be easy, for ignorance and prejudice die hard. Also, because man is prone to look to the future with anxiety he would probably be consumed with worry, fearing that he would be unable to obtain food after his compulsory fast had got beyond the beneficial stage or limit.
But the fact remains that it is not the absence of food that kills a starving man, so much as his state of mind. It is his fear thoughts that kill him, just as it is the thoughts and expectation of cure that keep the fasting man alive and maintain his strength and ability to work.
It must not be assumed from these few remarks that I am in favour of promiscuous fasting, for an ill-considered fast might do a great deal of harm. Fasting in some cases is beneficial, but it should be taken under experienced supervision.
There is also much ignorance on another point, which is the possibility of controlling thought. It is not generally known that our thoughts can be controlled and regulated in much the same way that a London policeman controls and regulates the traffic. He holds up a hand and instantly the traffic behind him stops, allowing vehicles from a cross street to pass instead. Our thoughts can be controlled and regulated in much the same manner, Undesirable, destructive thoughts can be arrested, while other thoughts of a desirable and constructive character can be encouraged.
People say: “You can’t help thinking these thoughts can you?” They take it for granted that one cannot control one’s thoughts. They do not realise that it is possible deliberately to change the subject as regards one’s thoughts, in the same way that one changes the topic of conversation. We all of us change the subject of conversation when it becomes distasteful to us, but how many of us change the subject of our thoughts in the same deliberate manner, by the exercise of our will? Yet it can be done, almost as easily, if we will only DO IT, instead of thinking and saying that it cannot be done. Not only is it possible to change the subject of our thoughts, but it is also possible to refrain from thinking altogether. Both are accomplishments of the highest possible value and they can be acquired only by practice and self training; but, even the weakest of us can acquire them if we are quietly persistent. We do not need to be clever, or greatly gifted, or out of the ordinary. Indeed, we may be very much under the average in mental gifts, will power and intellectual endowments; yet, if we are quietly persistent, we can learn to overcome our thoughts, in course of time. And when we become master of our thoughts we become master of ourselves, and when we become master of ourselves we become master of life itself; not by opposing the discipline of its experiences, but by dealing with them in the best possible manner, maintaining a calm and steadfast mind, a quiet faith and an unflinching spirit.