Monday, May 07, 2007

The Path of Prosperity: Chaper One

(This month we here at Successful Living are focusing on some of the great self development books of the past. Now we focus on James Allen and his classic Path of Prosperity. We will have a chapter posted on Monday, Wednesday and Friday until the complete book is posted).

I looked around upon the world, and saw that it was shadowed by sorrow and
scorched by the fierce fires of suffering. And I looked for the cause. I looked
around, but could not find it; I looked in books, but could not find it; I looked
within, and found there both the cause and the self-made nature of that cause. I
looked again, and deeper, and found the remedy.

I found one Law, the Law of Love; one Life, the Life of adjustment to that Law;
one Truth, the truth of a conquered mind and a quiet and obedient heart. And I
dreamed of writing a book which should help men and women, whether rich or
poor, learned or unlearned, worldly or unworldly, to find within themselves the
source of all success, all happiness, all accomplishment, all truth. And the dream
remained with me, and at last became substantial; and now I send it forth into
the world on its mission of healing and blessedness, knowing that it cannot fail to
reach the homes and hearts of those who are waiting and ready to receive it.

Chapter 1
The Lesson Of Evil

Unrest and pain and sorrow are the shadows of life. There is no heart in all the
world that has not felt the sting of pain, no mind has not been tossed upon the
dark waters of trouble, no eye that has not wept the hot blinding tears of unspeakable anguish.

There is no household where the Great Destroyers, disease and death, have not entered, severing heart from heart, and casting over all the dark pall of sorrow.
In the strong, and apparently indestructible meshes of evil all are more or less fast
caught, and pain, unhappiness, and misfortune wait upon mankind.

With the object of escaping, or in some way mitigating this overshadowing gloom,
men and women rush blindly into innumerable devices, pathways by which they
fondly hope to enter into a happiness which will not pass away.

Such are the drunkard and the harlot, who revel in sensual excitements; such is
the exclusive aesthete, who shuts himself out from the sorrows of the world, and
surrounds himself with enervating luxuries; such is he who thirsts for wealth or
fame, and subordinates all things to the achievement of that object; and such are
they who seek consolation in the performance of religious rites.

And to all the happiness sought seems to come, and the soul, for a time, is lulled
into a sweet security, and an intoxicating forgetfulness of the existence of evil; but the day of disease comes at last, or some great sorrow, temptation, or misfortune
breaks suddenly in on the unfortified soul, and the fabric of its fancied happiness
is torn to shreds.

So over the head of every personal joy hangs the Damocletian sword of pain, ready, at any moment, to fall and crush the soul of him who is unprotected by knowledge.

The child cries to be a man or woman; the man and woman sigh for the lost felicity
of childhood. The poor man chafes under the chains of poverty by which he is bound, and the rich man often lives in fear of poverty, or scours the world in search of an elusive shadow he calls happiness.

Sometimes the soul feels that it has found a secure peace and happiness in adopting
a certain religion, in embracing an intellectual philosophy, or in building up an intellectual or artistic ideal; but some overpowering temptation proves the religion to be inadequate or insufficient; the theoretical philosophy is found to be a useless prop; or in a moment, the idealistic statue upon which the devotee has for years been laboring, is shattered into fragments at his feet.

Is there, then, no way of escape from pain and sorrow? Are there no means by
which bonds of evil may be broken? Is permanent happiness, secure prosperity,
and abiding peace a foolish dream?

No, there is a way, and I speak it with gladness, by which evil can be slain for
ever; there is a process by which disease, poverty, or any adverse condition or
circumstance can be put on one side never to return; there is a method by which a
permanent prosperity can be secured, free from all fear of the return of adversity,
and there is a practice by which unbroken and unending peace and bliss can be
partaken of and realized.

And the beginning of the way which leads to this glorious realization is the acquirement of a right understanding of the nature of evil.

It is not sufficient to deny or ignore evil; it must be understood. It is not enough to pray to God to remove the evil; you must find out why it is there, and what lesson
it has for you.

It is of no avail to fret and fume and chafe at the chains which bind you; you must
know why and how you are bound. Therefore, reader, you must get outside yourself,
and must begin to examine and understand yourself.

You must cease to be a disobedient child in the school of experience and must begin
to learn, with humility and patience, the lessons that are set for your edification
and ultimate perfection; for evil, when rightly understood, is found to be, not
an unlimited power or principle in the universe, but a passing phase of human
experience, and it therefore becomes a teacher to those who are willing to learn.

Evil is not an abstract some thing outside yourself; it is an experience in your own
heart, and by patiently examining and rectifying your heart you will be gradually
led into the discovery of the origin and nature of evil, which will necessarily be
followed by its complete eradication.

All evil is corrective and remedial, and is therefore not permanent. It is rooted in
ignorance, ignorance of the true nature and relation of things, and so long as we
remain in that state of ignorance, we remain subject to evil.

There is no evil in the universe which is not the result of ignorance, and which
would not, if we were ready and willing to learn its lesson, lead us to higher wisdom, and then vanish away. But men remain in evil, and it does not pass away
because men are not willing or prepared to learn the lesson which it came to teach

I knew a child who, every night when its mother took it to bed, cried to be allowed
to play with the candle; and one night, when the mother was off guard for a moment,
the child took hold of the candle; the inevitable result followed, and the child never wished to play with the candle again.

By its one foolish act it learned, and learned perfectly the lesson of obedience,
and entered into the knowledge that fire burns. And, this incident is a complete
illustration of the nature, meaning, and ultimate result of all sin and evil.

As the child suffered through its own ignorance of the real nature of fire, so older
children suffer through their ignorance of the real nature of the things which they
weep for and strive after, and which harm them when they are secured; the only
difference being that in the latter case the ignorance and evil are more deeply
rooted and obscure.

Evil has always been symbolized by darkness, and Good by light, and hidden within the symbol is contained the perfect interpretation, the reality; for, just as light always floods the universe, and darkness is only a mere speck or shadow cast by a small body intercepting a few rays of the illimitable light, so the Light of the
Supreme Good is the positive and life-giving power which floods the universe, and evil the insignificant shadow cast by the self that intercepts and shuts off the
illuminating rays which strive for entrance.

When night folds the world in its black impenetrable mantle, no matter how dense
the darkness, it covers but the small space of half our little planet, while the whole universe is ablaze with living light, and every soul knows that it will awake in the light in the morning.

Know, then, that when the dark night of sorrow, pain, or misfortune settles down
upon your soul, and you stumble along with weary and uncertain steps, that you
are merely intercepting your own personal desires between yourself and the
boundless light of joy and bliss, and the dark shadow that covers you is cast by
none and nothing but yourself.

And just as the darkness without is but a negative shadow, an unreality which
comes from nowhere, goes to nowhere, and has no abiding dwelling place, so the
darkness within is equally a negative shadow passing over the evolving and Lightborn

"But," I fancy I hear someone say, "why pass through the darkness of evil at all?"
Because, by ignorance, you have chosen to do so, and because, by doing so, you
may understand both good and evil, and may the more appreciate the light by
having passed through the darkness.

As evil is the direct outcome of ignorance, so, when the lessons of evil are fully
learned, ignorance passes away, and wisdom takes its place. But as a disobedient
child refuses to learn its lessons at school, so it is possible to refuse to learn the lessons of experience, and thus to remain in continual darkness, and to suffer
continually recurring punishments in the form of disease, disappointment, and

He, therefore, who would shake himself free of the evil which encompasses him,
must be willing and ready to learn, and must be prepared to undergo that disciplinary
process without which no grain of wisdom or abiding happiness and peace
can be secured.

A man may shut himself up in a dark room, and deny that the light exists, but it is
everywhere without, and darkness exists only in his own little room.

So you may shut out the light of Truth, or you may begin to pull down the walls of
prejudice, self-seeking and error which you have built around yourself, and so let
in the glorious and omnipresent Light.

By earnest self-examination strive to realize, and not merely hold as a theory, that
evil is a passing phase, a self-created shadow; that all your pains, sorrows and
misfortunes have come to you by a process of undeviating and absolutely perfect
law; have come to you because you deserve and require them, and that by first enduring, and then understanding them, you may be made stronger, wiser, nobler.

When you have fully entered into this realization, you will be in a position to
mould your own circumstances, to transmute all evil into good and to weave, with
a master hand, the fabric of your destiny.

What of the night, 0 Watchman! see'st thou yet
The glimmering dawn upon the mountain heights,
The golden Herald of the Light of lights,
Are his fair feet upon the hilltops set?
Cometh he yet to chase away the gloom,
And with it all the demons of the Night?

Strike yet his darting rays upon thy sight?
Hear'st thou his voice, the sound of error's doom?
The Morning cometh, lover of the Light;
Even now He gilds with gold the mountain's brow,
Dimly I see the path whereon even now

His shining feet are set toward the Night.
Darkness shall pass away, and all the things
That love the darkness, and that hate the Light
Shall disappear for ever with the Night:
Rejoice! for thus the speeding Herald sings.

Want to know the Five Steps to Getting Everything You Want in Life? Then you need to check out the new Successful Living Video Newsletter right here.

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