From Poverty to Power
by James Allen
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From Poverty to Power, James Allen 2
Part I: The path to prosperity
1. The lesson of evil
2. The world a reflex of mental states
3. The way out of undesirable conditions
4. The silent power of thought: controlling and directing one’s forces
5. The secret of health, success, and power
6. The secret of abounding happiness
7. The realization of prosperity
Part II: The way of peace
1. The power of meditation
2. The two masters, self and truth
3. The acquirement of spiritual power
4. The realization of selfless love
5. Entering into the infinite
6. Saints, sages and saviors: the law of service
7. The realization of perfect peace
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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. James Allen.
Part I: The path of prosperity
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
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
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 4
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 them. 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
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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 soul. “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 sorrow.
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.
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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, O 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.
What you are, so is your world. Everything in the universe is resolved into your own
inward experience. It matters little what is without, for it is all a reflection of your own state
of consciousness.
It matters everything what you are within, for everything without will be mirrored and
colored accordingly. All that you positively know is contained in your own experience; all
that you ever will know must pass through the gateway of experience, and so become part
of yourself. Your own thoughts, desires, and aspirations comprise your world, and, to you,
all that there is in the universe of beauty and joy and bliss, or of ugliness and sorrow and
pain, is contained within yourself.
By your own thoughts you make or mar your life, your world, your universe, As you build
within by the power of thought, so will your outward life and circumstances shape
themselves accordingly. Whatsoever you harbor in the inmost chambers of your heart will,
sooner or later by the inevitable law of reaction, shape itself in your outward life.
The soul that is impure, sordid and selfish, is gravitating with unerring precision toward
misfortune and catastrophe; the soul that is pure, unselfish, and noble is gravitating with
equal precision toward happiness and prosperity. Every soul attracts its own, and nothing
can possibly come to it that does not belong to it. To realize this is to recognize the
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 7
universality of Divine Law. The incidents of every human life, which both make and mar,
are drawn to it by the quality and power of its own inner thought-life.
Every soul is a complex combination of gathered experiences and thoughts, and the body
is but an improvised vehicle for its manifestation. What, therefore, your thoughts are, that
is your real self; and the world around, both animate and inanimate, wears the aspect with
which your thoughts clothe it. “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. It is
founded on our thoughts; it is made up of our thoughts.”
Thus said Buddha, and it therefore follows that if a man is happy, it is because he dwells
in happy thoughts; if miserable, because he debilitating thoughts, Whether one be fearful
or fearless, foolish or wise, troubled or serene, within that soul lies the cause of its own
state or states, and never without.
And now I seem to hear a chorus of voices exclaim, “But do you really mean to say that
outward circumstances do not affect our minds?” I do not say that, but I say this, and know
it to be an infallible truth, that circumstances can only affect you in so far as you allow
them to do so. You are swayed by circumstances because you have not a right
understanding of the nature, use, and power of thought.
You believe (and upon this little word belief hang all our sorrows and joys) that outward
things have the power to make or mar your life; by so doing you submit to those outward
things, confess that you are their slave, and they your unconditional master; by so doing,
you invest them with a power which they do not, of themselves, possess, and you
succumb, in reality, not to the mere circumstances, but to the gloom or gladness, the fear
or hope, the strength or weakness, which your thought-sphere has thrown around them.
I knew two men who, at an early age, lost the hard-earned savings of years. One was very
deeply troubled, and gave way to chagrin, worry, and despondency. The other, on reading
in his morning paper that the bank in which his money was deposited had hopelessly
failed, and dwells in despondent and that he had lost all, quietly and firmly remarked,
‘’Well, it’s gone, and trouble and worry won’t bring it back, but hard work will.”
He went to work with renewed vigor, and rapidly became prosperous, while the former
man, continuing to mourn the loss of his money, and to grumble at his ‘’bad luck,”
remained the sport and tool of adverse circumstances, in reality of his own weak and
slavish thoughts.
The loss of money was a curse to the one because he clothed the event with dark and
dreary thoughts; it was a blessing to the other, because he threw around it thoughts of
strength, of hope, and renewed endeavor. If circumstances had the power to bless or
harm, they would bless and harm all men alike, but the fact that the same circumstances
will be alike good and bad to different souls proves that the good or bad is not in the
circumstance, but only in the mind of him that encounters it.
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When you begin to realize this you will begin to control your thoughts, to regulate and
discipline your mind, and to rebuild the inward temple of your soul, eliminating all useless
and superfluous material, and incorporating into your being thoughts alone of joy and
serenity, of strength and life, of compassion and love, of beauty and immortality; and as
you do this you will become joyful and serene, strong and healthy, compassionate and
loving, and beautiful with the beauty of immortality.
And as we clothe events with the drapery of our own thoughts, so likewise do we clothe
the objects of the visible world around us, and where one sees harmony and beauty,
another sees revolting ugliness.
An enthusiastic naturalist was one day roaming the country lanes in pursuit of his hobby,
and during his rambles came upon a pool of brackish water near a farmyard. As he
proceeded to fill a small bottle with the water for the purpose of examination under the
microscope, he dilated, with more enthusiasm than discretion, to an uncultivated son of
the plough who stood close by, upon the hidden and innumerable wonders contained in
the pool, and concluded by saying, ‘’Yes, my friend, within this pool is contained a
hundred, nay, a million universes, had we but the sense or the instrument by which we
could apprehend them.”
And the unsophisticated one ponderously remarked, “I know the water be full o’ tadpoles,
but they be easy to catch.” Where the naturalist, his mind stored with the knowledge of
natural facts, saw beauty, harmony, and hidden glory, the mind unenlightened upon those
things saw only an offensive mud-puddle.
The wild flower which the casual wayfarer thoughtlessly tramples upon is, to the spiritual
eye of the poet, an angelic messenger from the invisible. To the many, the ocean is but a
dreary expanse of water on which ships sail and are sometimes wrecked; to the soul of
the musician it is a living thing, and he hears, in all its changing moods, divine harmonies.
Where the ordinary mind sees disaster and confusion, the mind of the philosopher sees
the most perfect sequence of cause and effect, and where the materialist sees nothing but
endless death, the mystic sees pulsating and eternal life. And as we clothe both events
and objects with our own thoughts, so likewise do we clothe the souls of others in the
garments of our thoughts.
The suspicious believe everybody to be suspicious; the Liar feels secure in the thought
that he is not so foolish as to believe that there is such a phenomenon as a strictly truthful
person; the envious see envy in every soul; the miser thinks everybody is eager to get his
money; he who has subordinated conscience in the making of his wealth, sleeps with a
revolver under his pillow, wrapped in the delusion that the world is full of conscienceless
people who are eager to rob him, and the abandoned sensualist looks upon the saint as a
On the other hand, those who dwell in loving thoughts, see that in all which calls forth their
love and sympathy; the trusting and honest are not troubled by suspicions; the goodFrom
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natured and charitable who rejoice at the good fortune of others, scarcely know what envy
means; and he who has realized the Divine within himself recognizes it in all beings, even
in the beasts. And men and women are confirmed in their mental outlook because of the
fact that, by the law of cause and effect, they attract to themselves that which they send
forth, and so come in contact with people similar to themselves.
The old adage, “Birds of a feather flock together,” has a deeper significance than is
generally attached to it, for in the thought-world as in the world of matter, each clings to its
Do you wish for kindness? Be kind.
Do you ask for truth? Be true.
What you give of yourself you find;
Your world is a reflex of you.
If you are one of those who are praying for, and looking forward to, a happier world
beyond the grave, here is a message of gladness for you, you may enter into and realize
that happy world now; it fills the whole universe, and it is within you, waiting for you to find,
acknowledge, and possess. Said one who knew the inner laws of Being,”
When men shall say Io here, or Io there, go not after them; the kingdom of God is within
you.” What you have to do is to believe this, simply believe it with a mind unshadowed by
doubt, and then meditate upon it till you understand it.
You will then begin to purify and to build your inner world, and as you proceed, passing
from revelation to revelation, from realization to realization, you will discover the utter
powerlessness of outward things beside the magic potency of a self-governed soul.
If thou would’st right the world,
And banish all its evils and its woes,
Make its wild places bloom,
And its drear deserts blossom as the rose,-
Then right thyself.
If thou would’st turn the world
From its long, lone captivity in sin,
Restore all broken hearts,
Slay grief, and let sweet consolation in,-
Turn thou thyself.
If thou would’st cure the world
Of its long sickness, end its grief and pain;
Bring in all-healing joy,
And give to the afflicted rest again,-
Then cure thyself.
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If thou would’st wake the world
Out of its dream of death and dark’ning strife,
Bring it to Love and Peace,
And Light and brightness of immortal Life,-
Wake thou thyself.
Having seen and realized that evil is but a passing shadow thrown, by the intercepting
self, across the transcendent Form of the Eternal Good, and that the world is a mirror in
which each sees a reflection of himself, we now ascend, by firm and easy steps, to that
plane of perception whereon is seen and realized the Vision of the Law.
With this realization comes the knowledge that everything is included in a ceaseless
interaction of cause and effect, and that nothing can possibly be divorced from law. From
the most trivial thought, word, or act of man, up to the groupings of the celestial bodies,
law reigns supreme. No arbitrary condition can, even for one moment, exist, for such a
condition would be a denial and an annihilation of law.
Every condition of life is, therefore, bound up in an orderly and harmonious sequence, and
the secret and cause of every condition is contained within itself, The law, “Whatsoever a
man sows that shall he also reap,” is inscribed in flaming letters upon the portal of
Eternity, and none can deny it, none can cheat it, none can escape it. He who puts his
hand in the fire must suffer the burning until such time as it has worked itself out, and
neither curses nor prayers can avail to alter it.
And precisely the same law governs the realm of mind. Hatred, anger, jealousy, envy, lust,
covetousness, all these are fires which bum, and whoever even so much as touches them
must suffer the torments of burning. All these conditions of mind are rightly called “evil,” for
they are the efforts of the soul to subvert, in its ignorance, the law, an they, therefore, lead
to chaos and confusion within, and are sooner or later actualized in the outward
circumstances as disease, failure, and misfortune, coupled with grief, pain, and despair.
Whereas love, gentleness, good-will, purity, are cooling airs which breathe peace upon
the soul that woes them, and, being in harmony with the Eternal Law, they become
actualized in the form of health, peaceful surroundings, and undeviating success and good
fortune. A thorough understanding of this Great Law which permeates the universe leads
to the acquirement of that state of mind known as obedience.
To know that justice, harmony, and love are supreme in the universe is likewise to know
that all adverse and painful conditions are the result of our own disobedience to that Law.
Such knowledge leads to strength and power, and it is upon such knowledge alone that a
true life and an enduring success and happiness can be built.
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 11
To be patient under all circumstances, and to accept all conditions as necessary factors in
your training, is to rise superior to all painful conditions, and to overcome them with an
overcoming which is sure, and which leaves no fear of their return, for by the power of
obedience to law they are utterly slain.
Such an obedient one is working in harmony with the law, has in fact, identified himself
with the law, and whatsoever he conquers he conquers for ever, whatsoever he builds can
never be destroyed. The cause of all power, as of all weakness, is within; the secret of all
happiness as of all misery is likewise within.
There is no progress apart from unfoldment within, and no sure foothold of prosperity or
peace except by orderly advancement in knowledge.
You say you are chained by circumstances; you cry out for better opportunities, for a wider
scope, for improved physical conditions, and perhaps you inwardly curse the fate that
binds you hand and foot.
It is for you that I write; it is to you that I speak. Listen, and let my words burn themselves
into your heart, for that which I say to you is truth:
You may bring about that improved condition in your outward life which you desire, if you
will unswervingly resolve to improve your inner life.
I know this pathway looks barren at its commencement (truth always does, it is only error
and delusion which are at first inviting and fascinating,) but if you undertake to walk it; if
you perseveringly discipline your mind, eradicating your weaknesses, and allowing your
soul-forces and spiritual powers to unfold themselves, you will be astonished at the
magical changes which will be brought about in your outward life.
As you proceed, golden opportunities will be strewn across your path, and the power and
judgment to properly utilize them will spring up within you. Genial friends will come
unbidden to you; sympathetic souls will be drawn to you as the needle is to the magnet;
and books and all outward aids that you require will come to you unsought.
Perhaps the chains of poverty hang heavily upon you, and you are friendless and alone,
and you long with an intense longing that your load may be lightened; but the load
continues, and you seem to be enveloped in an everincreasing darkness. Perhaps you
complain, you bewail your lot; you blame your birth, your parents, your employer, or the
unjust Powers who have bestowed upon you so undeservedly poverty and hardship, and
upon another affluence and ease.
Cease your complaining and fretting; none of these things which you blame are the cause
of your poverty; the cause is within yourself, and where the cause is, there is the remedy.
The very fact that you are a complainer, shows that you deserve your lot; shows that you
lack that faith which is the ground of all effort and progress. There is no room for a
complainer in a universe of law, and worry is soul-suicide. By your very attitude of mind
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 12
you are strengthening the chains which bind you, and are drawing about you the darkness
by which you are enveloped, Alter your outlook upon life, and your outward life will alter.
Build yourself up in the faith and knowledge, and make yourself worthy of better
surroundings and wider opportunities. Be sure, first of all, that you are making the best of
what you have. Do not delude yourself into supposing that you can step into greater
advantages whilst overlooking smaller ones, for if you could, the advantage would be
impermanent and you would quickly fall back again in order to learn the lesson which you
had neglected.
As the child at school must master one standard before passing onto the next, so, before
you can have that greater good which you so desire, must you faithfully employ that which
you already possess. The parable of the talents is a beautiful story illustrative of this truth,
for does it not plainly show that if we misuse, neglect, or degrade that which we possess,
be it ever so mean and insignificant, even that little will be taken from us, for, by our
conduct we show that we are unworthy of it.
Perhaps you are living in a small cottage, and are surrounded by unhealthy and vicious
influences. You desire a larger and more sanitary residence. Then you must fit yourself for
such a residence by first of all making your cottage as far as possible a little paradise.
Keep it spotlessly clean. Make it look as pretty and sweet as your limited means will allow.
Cook your plain food with all care, and arrange your humble table as tastefully as you
possibly can. If you cannot afford a carpet, let your rooms be carpeted with smiles and
welcomes, fastened down with the nails of kind words driven in with the hammer of
patience. Such a carpet will not fade in the sun, and constant use will never wear it away.
By so ennobling your present surroundings you will rise above them, and above the need
of them, and at the right time you will pass on into the better house and surroundings
which have all along been waiting for you, and which you have fitted yourself to occupy.
Perhaps you desire more time for thought and effort, and feel that your hours of labor are
too hard and long. Then see to it that you are utilizing to the fullest possible extent what
little spare time you have. It is useless to desire more time, if you are already wasting what
little you have; for you would only grow more indolent and indifferent.
Even poverty and lack of time and leisure are not the evils that you imagine they are, and
if they hinder you in your progress, it is because you have clothed them in your own
weaknesses, and the evil that you see in them is really in yourself.
Endeavor to fully and completely realize that in so far as you shape and mould your mind,
you are the maker of your destiny, and as, by the transmuting power of self-discipline you
realize this more and more, you will come to see that these so-called evils may be
converted into blessings. You will then utilize your poverty for the cultivation of patience,
hope and courage; and your lack of time in the gaining of promptness of action and
decision of mind, by seizing the precious moments as they present themselves for your
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 13
As in the rankest soil the most beautiful flowers are grown, so in the dark soil of poverty
the choicest flowers of humanity have developed and bloomed. Where there are
difficulties to cope with, and unsatisfactory conditions to overcome, there virtue most
flourishes and manifests its glory. It may be that you are in the employ of a tyrannous
master or mistress, and you feel that you are harshly treated.
Look upon this also as necessary to your training. Return your employer’s unkindness with
gentleness and forgiveness. Practice unceasingly patience and self-control. Turn the
disadvantage to account by utilizing it for the gaining of mental and spiritual strength, and
by your silent example and influence you will thus be teaching your employer, will be
helping him to grow ashamed of his conduct, and will, at the same time, be lifting yourself
up to that height of spiritual attainment by which you will be enabled to step into new and
more congenial surroundings at the time when they are presented to you.
Do not complain that you are a slave, but lift yourself up, by noble conduct, above the
plane of slavery. Before complaining that you are a slave to another, be sure that you are
not a slave to self. Look within; look searchingly, and have no mercy upon yourself. You
will find there, perchance, slavish thoughts, slavish desires, and in your daily life and
conduct slavish habits.
Conquer these; cease to be a slave to self, and no man will have the power to enslave
you. As you overcome self, you will overcome all adverse conditions, and every difficulty
will fall before you. Do not complain that you are oppressed by the rich. Are you sure that
if you gained riches you would not be an oppressor yourself? Remember that there is the
Eternal Law which is absolutely just, and that he who oppresses today must himself be
oppressed tomorrow; and from this there is no way of escape.
And perhaps you, yesterday (in some former existence) were rich and an oppressor, and
that you are now merely paying off the debt which you owe to the Great Law. Practice,
therefore, fortitude and faith. Dwell constantly in mind upon the Eternal justice, the Eternal
Good. Endeavor to lift yourself above the personal and the transitory into the impersonal
and permanent. Shake off the delusion that you are being injured or oppressed by
another, and try to realize, by a profounder comprehension of your inner life, and the laws
which govern that life, that you are only really injured by what is within you. There is no
practice more degrading, debasing, and soul-destroying than that of self-pity. Cast it out
from you. While such a canker is feeding upon your heart you can never expect to grow
into a fuller life.
Cease from the condemnation of others, and begin to condemn yourself. Condone none
of your acts, desires or thoughts that will not bear comparison with spotless purity, or
endure the light of sinless good. By so doing you will be building your house upon the rock
of the Eternal, and all that is required for your happiness and well-being will come to you
in its own time.
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 14
There is positively no way of permanently rising above poverty, or any undesirable
condition, except by eradicating those selfish and negative conditions within, of which
these are the reflection, and by virtue of which they continue. The way to true riches is to
enrich the soul by the acquisition of virtue.
Outside of real heart-virtue there is neither prosperity nor power, but only the appearances
of these. I am aware that men make money who have acquired no measure of virtue, and
have little desire to do so; but such money does not constitute true riches, and its
possession is transitory and feverish.
Here is David’s testimony:- For I was envious at the foolish when I saw the prosperity of
the wicked…… Their eyes stand out with fatness; they have more than heart could wish. –
Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence… When I
thought to know this it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God, then
understood I their end.”
The prosperity of the wicked was a great trial to David until he went into the sanctuary of
God, and then he knew their end. You likewise may go into that sanctuary. It is within you.
It is that state of consciousness which remains when all that is sordid, and personal, and
impermanent is risen above, and universal and eternal principles are realized.
That is the God state of consciousness; it is the sanctuary of the Most High. When by long
strife and self-discipline, you have succeeded in entering the door of that holy Temple, you
will perceive, with unobstructed vision, the end and fruit of all human thought and
endeavor, both good and evil. You will then no longer relax your faith when you see the
immoral man accumulating outward riches, for you will know, that he must come again to
poverty and degradation.
The rich man who is barren of virtue is, in reality, poor, and as surely, as the waters of the
river are drifting to the ocean, so surely is he, in the midst of all his riches, drifting towards
poverty and misfortune; and though he die rich, yet must he return to reap the bitter fruit of
all of his immorality.
And though he become rich many times, yet as many times must he be thrown back into
poverty, until, by long experience and suffering he conquers the poverty within. But the
man who is outwardly poor, yet rich in virtue, is truly rich, and, in the midst of all his
poverty he is surely traveling towards prosperity; and abounding joy and bliss await his
coming. If you would become truly and permanently prosperous, you must first become
It is therefore unwise to aim directly at prosperity, to make it the one object of life, to reach
out greedily for it, To do this is to ultimately defeat yourself. But rather aim at selfperfection,
make useful and unselfish service the object of your life, and ever reach out
hands of faith towards the supreme and unalterable Good.
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 15
You say you desire wealth, not for your own sake, but in order to do good with it, and to
bless others. If this is your real motive in desiring wealth, then wealth will come to you; for
you are strong and unselfish indeed if, in the midst of riches, you are willing to look upon
yourself as steward and not as owner.
But examine well your motive, for in the majority of instances where money is desired for
the admitted object of blessing others, the real underlying motive is a love of popularity,
and a desire to pose as a philanthropist or reformer.
If you are not doing good with what little you have, depend upon it the more money you
got the more selfish you would become, and all the good you appeared to do with your
money, if you attempted to do any, would be so much insinuating self-laudation. If your
real desire is to do good, there is no need to wait for money before you do it; you can do it
now, this very moment, and just where you are.
If you are really so unselfish as you believe yourself to be, you will show it by sacrificing
yourself for others now. No matter how poor you are, there is room for selfsacrifice, for did
not the widow put her all into the treasury?
The heart that truly desires to do good does not wait for money before doing it, but comes
to the altar of sacrifice and, leaving there the unworthy elements of self, goes out and
breathes upon neighbor and stranger, friend and enemy alike the breath of blessedness.
As the effect is related to the cause, so is prosperity and power related to the inward good
and poverty and weakness to the inward evil.
Money does not constitute true wealth, nor position, nor power, and to rely upon it alone is
to stand upon a slippery place. Your true wealth is your stock of virtue, and your true
power the uses to which you put it. Rectify your heart, and you will rectify your life.
Lust, hatred, anger, vanity, pride, covetousness, self-indulgence, self-seeking, obstinacy,-
all these are poverty and weakness; whereas love, purity, gentleness, meekness,
compassion, generosity, selfforgetfulness, and self-renunciation,- all these are wealth and
power. As the elements of poverty and weakness are overcome, an irresistible and
allconquering power is evolved from within, and he who succeeds in establishing himself
in the highest virtue, brings the whole world to his feet.
But the rich, as well as the poor, have their undesirable conditions, and are frequently
farther removed from happiness than the poor. And here we see how happiness depends,
not upon outward aids or possessions, but upon the inward life.
Perhaps you are an employer, and you have endless trouble with those whom you
employ, and when you do get good and faithful servants they quickly leave you. As a
result you are beginning to lose, or have completely lost, your faith in human nature. You
try to remedy matters by giving better wages, and by allowing certain liberties, yet matters
remain unaltered. Let me advise you. The secret of all your trouble is not in your servants,
it is in yourself; and if you look within, with a humble and sincere desire to discover and
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 16
eradicate your error, you will, sooner or later, find the origin of all your unhappiness. It may
be some selfish desire, or lurking suspicion, or unkind attitude of mind which sends out its
poison upon those about you, and reacts upon yourself, even though you may not show it
in your manner or speech. Think of your servants with kindness, consider of them that
extremity of service which you yourself would not care to perform were you in their place.
Rare and beautiful is that humility of soul by which a servant entirely forgets himself in his
master’s good; but far rarer, and beautiful with a divine beauty, is that nobility of soul by
which a man, forgetting his own happiness, seeks the happiness of those who are under
his authority, and who depend upon him for their bodily sustenance. And such a man’s
happiness is increased tenfold, nor does he need to complain of those whom he employs.
Said a well known and extensive employer of labor, who never needs to dismiss an
employee: “I have always had the happiest relations with my workpeople. If you ask me
how it is to be accounted for, I can only say that it has been my aim from the first to do to
them as I would wish to be done by.”
Herein lies the secret by which all desirable conditions are secured, and all that are
undesirable are overcome. Do you say that you are lonely and unloved, and have “not a
friend in the world”? Then, I pray you, for the sake of your own happiness, blame nobody
but yourself. Be friendly towards others, and friends will soon flock round you.
Make yourself pure and lovable, and you will be loved by all. Whatever conditions are
rendering your life burdensome, you may pass out of and beyond them by developing and
utilizing within you the transforming power of selfpurification and self-conquest.
Be it the poverty which galls (and remember that the poverty upon which I have been
dilating is that poverty which is a source of misery, and not that voluntary poverty which is
the glory of emancipated souls), or the riches which burden, or the many misfortunes,
griefs, and annoyances which form the dark background in the web of life, you may
overcome them by overcoming the selfish elements within which give them life.
It matters not that by the unfailing Law, there are past thoughts and acts to work out and
to atone for, as, by the same law, we are setting in motion, during every moment of our
life, fresh thoughts and acts, and we have the power to make them good or ill. Nor does it
follow that if a man (reaping what he has sown) must lose money or forfeit position, that
he must also lose his fortitude or forfeit his uprightness, and it is in these that his wealth
and power and happiness are to be found.
He who clings to self is his own enemy and is surrounded by enemies. He who
relinquishes self is his own savior, and is surrounded by friends like a protecting belt.
Before the divine radiance of a pure heart all darkness vanishes and all clouds melt away,
and he who has conquered self has conquered the universe. Come, then, out of your
poverty; come out of your pain; come out of your troubles, and sighings, and
complainings, and heartaches, and loneliness by coming out of yourself.
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 17
Let the old tattered garment of your petty selfishness fall from you, and put on the new
garment of universal Love. You will then realize the inward heaven, and it will be reflected
in all your outward life. He who sets his foot firmly upon the path of self-conquest, who
walks, aided by the staff of Faith, the highway of self-sacrifice, will assuredly achieve the
highest prosperity, and will reap abounding and enduring joy and bliss.
To them that seek the highest good
All things subserve the wisest ends;
Nought comes as ill, and wisdom lends
Wings to all shapes of evil brood.
The dark’ning sorrow veils a Star
That waits to shine with gladsome light;
Hell waits on heaven; and after night
Comes golden glory from afar.
Defeats are steps by which we climb
With purer aim to nobler ends;
Loss leads to gain, and joy attends
True footsteps up the hills of time.
Pain leads to paths of holy bliss,
To thoughts and words and deeds divine-,
And clouds that gloom and rays that shine,
Along life’s upward highway kiss.
Misfortune does but cloud the way
Whose end and summit in the sky
Of bright success, sunkiss’d and high,
Awaits our seeking and our stay.
The heavy pall of doubts and fears
That clouds the Valley of our hopes,
The shades with which the spirit copes,
The bitter harvesting of tears,
The heartaches, miseries, and griefs,
The bruisings born of broken ties,
All these are steps by which we rise
To living ways of sound beliefs.
Love, pitying, watchful, runs to meet
The Pilgrim from the Land of Fate;
All glory and all good await
The coming of obedient feet.
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 18
The most powerful forces in the universe are the silent forces; and in accordance with the
intensity of its power does a force become beneficent when rightly directed, and
destructive when wrongly employed. This is a common knowledge in regard to the
mechanical forces, such as steam, electricity, etc., but few have yet learned to apply this
knowledge to the realm of mind, where the thought-forces (most powerful of all) are
continually being generated and sent forth as currents of salvation or destruction.
At this stage of his evolution, man has entered into the possession of these forces, and
the whole trend of his present advancement is their complete subjugation. All the wisdom
possible to man on this material earth is to be found only in complete self-mastery, and
the command, “Love your enemies,” resolves itself into an exhortation to enter here and
now, into the possession of that sublime wisdom by taking hold of, mastering and
transmuting, those mind forces to which man is now slavishly subject, and by which he is
helplessly borne, like a straw on the stream, upon the currents of selfishness.
The Hebrew prophets, with their perfect knowledge of the Supreme Law, always related
outward events to inward thought, and associated national disaster or success with the
thoughts and desires that dominated the nation at the time. The knowledge of the causal
power of thought is the basis of all their prophecies, as it is the basis of all real wisdom
and power.
National events are simply the working out of the psychic forces of the nation. Wars,
plagues, and famines are the meeting and clashing of wrongly-directed thought-forces, the
culminating points at which destruction steps in as the agent of the Law. It is foolish to
ascribe war to the influence of one man, or to one body of men. It is the crowning horror of
national selfishness. It is the silent and conquering thought-forces which bring all things
into manifestation.
The universe grew out of thought. Matter in its last analysis is found to be merely
objectivized thought. All men’s accomplishments were first wrought out in thought, and
then objectivized. The author, the inventor, the architect, first builds up his work in thought,
and having perfected it in all its parts as a complete and harmonious whole upon the
thought-plane. he then commences to materialize it, to bring it down to the material or
When the thought-forces are directed in harmony with the over-ruling Law, they are upbuilding
and preservative, but when subverted they become disintegrating and selfdestructive.
To adjust all your thoughts to a perfect and unswerving faith in the
omnipotence and supremacy of Good, is to cooperate with that Good, and to realize within
yourself the solution and destruction of all evil.
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 19
Believe and ye shall live. And here we have the true meaning of salvation; salvation from
the darkness and negation of evil, by entering into, and realizing the living light of the
Eternal Good. Where there is fear, worry, anxiety, doubt, trouble, chagrin, or
disappointment, there is ignorance and lack of faith.
All these conditions of mind are the direct outcome of selfishness, and are based upon an
inherent belief in the power and supremacy of evil; they therefore constitute practical
atheism; and to live in, and become subject to, these negative and soul-destroying
conditions of mind is the only real atheism. It is salvation from such conditions that the
race needs, and let no man boast of salvation whilst he is their helpless and obedient
To fear or to worry is as sinful as to curse, for how can one fear or worry if he intrinsically
believes in the Eternal justice, the Omnipotent Good, the Boundless Love? To fear, to
worry, to doubt, is to deny, to dis-believe. It is from such states of mind that all weakness
and failure proceed, for they represent the annulling and disintegrating of the positive
thought-forces which would otherwise speed to their object with power, and bring about
their own beneficent results.
To overcome these negative conditions is to enter into a life of power, is to cease to be a
slave, and to become a master, and there is only one way by which they can be
overcome, and that is by steady and persistent growth in inward knowledge. To mentally
deny evil is not sufficient; it must, by daily practice, be risen above and understood. To
mentally affirm the good is inadequate; it must, by unswerving endeavor, be entered into
and comprehended.
The intelligent practice of self-control, quickly leads to a knowledge of one’s interior
thought-forces, and, later on, to the acquisition of that power by which they are rightly
employed and directed.
In the measure that you master self, that you control your mental forces instead of being
controlled by them, in just such measure will you master affairs and outward
Show me a man under whose touch everything crumbles away, and who cannot retain
success even when it is placed in his hands, and I will show you a man who dwells
continually in those conditions of mind which are the very negation of power.
To be for ever wallowing in the bogs of doubt, to be drawn continually into the quicksands
of fear, or blown ceaselessly about by the winds of anxiety, is to be a slave, and to live the
life of a slave, even though success and influence be for ever knocking at your door
seeking for admittance.
Such a man, being without faith and without self-government, is incapable of the right
government of his affairs, and is a slave to circumstances; in reality a slave to himself.
Such are taught by affliction, and ultimately pass from weakness to strength by the stress
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 20
of bitter experience. Faith and purpose constitute the motive- power of life. There is
nothing that a strong faith and an unflinching purpose may not accomplish.
By the daily exercise of silent faith, the thought-forces are gathered together, and by the
daily strengthening of silent purpose, those forces are directed toward the object of
accomplishment. Whatever your position in life may be, before you can hope to enter into
any measure of success, usefulness, and power, you must learn how to focus your
thought-forces by cultivating calmness and repose.
It may be that you are a business man, and you are suddenly confronted with some
overwhelming difficulty or probable disaster. You grow fearful and anxious, and are at your
wit’s end. To persist in such a state of mind would be fatal, for when anxiety steps in,
correct judgment passes out.
Now if you will take advantage of a quiet hour or two in the early morning or at night, and
go away to some solitary spot, or to some room in your house where you know you will be
absolutely free from intrusion, and, having seated yourself in an easy attitude, you forcibly
direct your mind right away from the object of anxiety by dwelling upon something in your
life that is pleasing and blissgiving, a calm, reposeful strength will gradually steal into your
mind, and your anxiety will pass away.
Upon the instant that you find your mind reverting to the lower plane of worry bring it back
again, and re-establish it on the plane of peace and strength. When this is fully
accomplished, you may then concentrate your whole mind upon the solution of your
difficulty, and what was intricate and insurmountable to you in your hour of anxiety will be
made plain and easy, and you will see, with that clear vision and perfect judgment which
belong only to a calm and untroubled mind, the right course to pursue and the proper end
to be brought about.
It may be that you will have to try day after day before you will be able to perfectly calm
your mind, but if you persevere you will certainly accomplish it. And the course which is
presented to you in that hour of calmness must be carried out.
Doubtless when you are again involved in the business of the day, and worries again
creep in and begin to dominate you, you will begin to think that the course is a wrong or
foolish one, but do not heed such suggestions. Be guided absolutely and entirely by the
vision of calmness, and not by the shadows of anxiety. The hour of calmness is the hour
of illumination and correct judgment.
By such a course of mental discipline the scattered thought-forces are re-united, and
directed, like the rays of the search-light, upon the problem at issue, with the result that it
gives way before them. There is no difficulty, however great, but will yield before a calm
and powerful concentration of thought, and no legitimate object but may be speedily
actualized by the intelligent use and direction of one’s soul-forces.
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 21
Not until you have gone deeply and searchingly into your inner nature, and have
overcome many enemies that lurk there, can you have any approximate conception of the
subtle power of thought, of its inseparable relation to outward and material things, or of its
magical potency, when rightly poised and directed, in readjusting and transforming the lifeconditions.
Every thought you think is a force sent out, and in accordance with its nature and intensity
will it go out to seek a lodgment in minds receptive to it, and will react upon yourself for
good or evil. There is ceaseless reciprocity between mind and mind, and a continual
interchange of thought-forces. Selfish and disturbing thoughts are so many malignant and
destructive forces, messengers of evil, sent out to stimulate and augment the evil in other
minds, which in turn send them back upon you with added power.
While thoughts that are calm, pure, and unselfish are so many angelic messengers sent
out into the world with health, healing, and blessedness upon their wings, counteracting
the evil forces; pouring the oil of joy upon the troubled waters of anxiety and sorrow, and
restoring to broken hearts their heritage of immortality.
Think good thoughts, and they will quickly become actualized in your outward life in the
form of good conditions. Control your soul-forces, and you will be able to shape your
outward life as you will. The difference between a savior and a sinner is this, that the one
has a perfect control of all the forces within him; the other is dominated and controlled by
There is absolutely no other way to true power and abiding peace, but by self-control, selfgovernment,
self-purification. To be at the mercy of your disposition is to be impotent,
unhappy, and of little real use in the world. The conquest of your petty likes and dislikes,
your capricious loves and hates, your fits of anger, suspicion, jealousy, and all the
changing moods to which you are more or less helplessly subject, this is the task you
have before you if you would weave into the web of life the golden threads of happiness
and prosperity.
In so far as you are enslaved by the changing moods within you, will you need to depend
upon others and upon outward aids as you walk through life. If you would walk firmly and
securely, and would accomplish any achievement, you must learn to rise above and
control all such disturbing and retarding vibrations.
You must daily practice the habit of putting your mind at rest, “going into the silence,” as it
is commonly called. This is a method of replacing a troubled thought with one of peace, a
thought of weakness with one of strength. Until you succeed in doing this you cannot hope
to direct your mental forces upon the problems and pursuits of life with any appreciable
measure of success.
It is a process of diverting one’s scattered forces into one powerful channel. Just as a
useless marsh may be converted into a field of golden corn or a fruitful garden by draining
and directing the scattered and harmful streams into one well cut channel, so, he who
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 22
acquires calmness, and subdues and directs the thought currents within himself, saves his
soul, and fructifies his heart and life. As you succeed in gaining mastery over your
impulses and thoughts you will begin to feel, growing up within you, a new and silent
power, and a settled feeling of composure and strength will remain with you.
Your latent powers will begin to unfold themselves, and whereas formerly your efforts
were weak and ineffectual, you will now be able to work with that calm confidence which
commands success. And along with this new power and strength, there will be awakened
within you that interior Illumination known as “intuition,” and you will walk no longer in
darkness and speculation, but in light and certainty.
With the development of this soul-vision, judgment and mental penetration will be
incalculably increased, and there will evolve within you that prophetic vision by the aid of
which you will be able to sense coming events, and to forecast, with remarkable accuracy,
the result of your efforts. And in just the measure that you alter from within will your
outlook upon life alter; and as you alter your mental attitude towards others they will alter
in their attitude and conduct toward you.
As you rise above the lower, debilitating, and destructive thought-forces, you will come in
contact with the positive, strengthening, and up-building currents generated by strong,
pure, and noble minds, your happiness will be immeasurably intensified, and you will
begin to realize the joy, strength, and power, which are born only of self-mastery.
And this joy, strength, and power will be continually radiating from you, and without any
effort on your part, nay, though you are utterly unconscious of it, strong people will be
drawn toward you, influence will be put into your hands, and in accordance with your
altered thought-world will outward events shape themselves.
“A man’s foes are they of his own household,” and he who would be useful, strong, and
happy, must cease to be a passive receptacle for the negative, beggardly, and impure
streams of thought; and as a wise householder commands his servants and invites his
guests, so must he learn to command his desires, and to say, with authority, what
thoughts he shall admit into the mansion of his soul.
Even a very partial success in self-mastery adds greatly to one’s power, and he who
succeeds in perfecting this divine accomplishment, enters into possession of undreamedof
wisdom and inward strength and peace, and realizes that all the forces of the universe
aid and protect his footsteps who is master of his soul.
Would you scale the highest heaven,
Would you pierce the lowest hell,
Live in dreams of constant beauty,
Or in basest thinkings dwell.
For your thoughts are heaven above you,
And your thoughts are hell below,
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 23
Bliss is not, except in thinking,
Torment nought but thought can know.
Worlds would vanish but for thinking;
Glory is not but in dreams;
And the Drama of the ages
From the Thought Eternal streams.
Dignity and shame and sorrow,
Pain and anguish, love and hate
Are but maskings of the mighty
Pulsing Thought that governs Fate.
As the colors of the rainbow
Makes the one uncolored beam,
So the universal changes
Make the One Eternal Dream.
And the Dream is all within you,
And the Dreamer waiteth long
For the Morning to awake him
To the living thought and strong.
That shall make the ideal real,
Make to vanish dreams of hell
In the highest, holiest heaven
Where the pure and perfect dwell.
Evil is the thought that thinks it;
Good, the thought that makes it so
Light and darkness, sin and pureness
Likewise out of thinking grow.
Dwell in thought upon the Grandest,
And the Grandest you shall see ;
Fix your mind upon the Highest,
And the Highest you shall be.
We all remember with what intense delight, as children, we listened to the never tiring
fairy-tale. How eagerly we followed the fluctuating fortunes of the good boy or girl, ever
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 24
protected, in the hour of crisis, from the evil machinations of the scheming witch, the cruel
giant, or the wicked king. And our little hearts never faltered for the fate of the hero or
heroine, nor did we doubt their ultimate triumph over all their enemies, for we knew that
the fairies were infallible, and that they would never desert those who had consecrated
themselves to the good and the true.
And what unspeakable joy pulsated within us when the Fairy-Queen, bringing all her
magic to bear at the critical moment, scattered all the darkness and trouble, and granted
them the complete satisfaction of all their hopes, and they were “happy ever after.” With
the accumulating years, and an ever-increasing intimacy with the so-called “realities” of
life, our beautiful fairy-world became obliterated, and its wonderful inhabitants were
relegated, in the archives of memory, to the shadowy and unreal.
And we thought we were wise and strong in thus leaving for ever the land of childish
dreams, but as we re-become little children in the wondrous world of wisdom, we shall
return again to the inspiring dreams of childhood and find that they are, after all, realities.
The fairy-folk, so small and nearly always invisible, yet possessed of an all-conquering
and magical power, who bestow upon the good, health, wealth, and happiness, along with
all the gifts of nature in lavish profusion, start again into reality and become immortalized
in the soul-realm of him who, by growth in wisdom, has entered into a knowledge of the
power of thought, and the laws which govern the inner world of being.
To him the fairies live again as thought-people, thought-messengers, thought-powers
working in harmony with the over-ruling Good. And they who, day by day, endeavor to
harmonize their hearts with the heart of the Supreme Good, do in reality acquire true
health, wealth, and happiness.
There is no protection to compare with goodness, and by “goodness” I do not mean a
mere outward conformity to the rules of morality; I mean pure thought, noble aspiration,
unselfish love, and freedom from vainglory. To dwell continually in good thoughts, is to
throw around oneself a psychic atmosphere of sweetness and power which leaves its
impress upon all who come in contact with it.
As the rising sun puts to rout the helpless shadows, so are all the impotent forces of evil
put to flight by the searching rays of positive thought which shine forth from a heart made
strong in purity and faith. Where there is sterling faith and uncompromising purity there is
health, there is success, there is power. In such a one, disease, failure, and disaster can
find no lodgment, for there is nothing on which they can feed.
Even physical conditions are largely determined by mental states, and to this truth the
scientific world is rapidly being drawn. The old, materialistic belief that a man is what his
body makes him, is rapidly passing away, and is being replaced by the inspiring belief that
man is superior to his body, and that his body is what he makes it by the power of thought.
Men everywhere are ceasing to believe that a man is despairing because he is dyspeptic,
and are coming to understand that he is dyspeptic because he is despairing, and in the
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 25
near future, the fact that all disease has its origin in the mind will become common
knowledge. There is no evil in the universe but has its root and origin in the mind, and sin,
sickness, sorrow, and affliction do not, in reality, belong to the universal order, are not
inherent in the nature of things, but are the direct outcome of our ignorance of the right
relations of things.
According to tradition, there once lived, in India, a school of philosophers who led a life of
such absolute purity and simplicity that they commonly reached the age of one hundred
and fifty years, and to fall sick was looked upon by them as an unpardonable disgrace, for
it was considered to indicate a violation of law. The sooner we realize and acknowledge
that sickness, far from being the arbitrary visitation of an offended God, or the test of an
unwise Providence, is the result of our own error or sin, the sooner shall we enter upon
the highway of health.
Disease comes to those who attract it, to those whose minds and bodies are receptive to
it, and flees from those whose strong, pure, and positive thought-sphere generates
healing and life-giving currents. If you are given to anger, worry, jealousy, greed, or any
other inharmonious state of mind, and expect perfect physical health, you are expecting
the impossible, for you are continually sowing the seeds of disease in your mind.
Such conditions of mind are carefully shunned by the wise man, for he knows them to be
far more dangerous than a bad drain or an infected house. If you would be free from all
physical aches and pains, and would enjoy perfect physical harmony, then put your mind
in order, and harmonize your thoughts.
Think joyful thoughts; think loving thoughts; let the elixir of goodwill course through your
veins, and you will need no other medicine. Put away your jealousies, your suspicions,
your worries, your hatreds, your selfish indulgences, and you will put away your
dyspepsia, your biliousness, your nervousness and aching joints. If you will persist in
clinging to these debilitating and demoralizing habits of mind, then do not complain when
your body is laid low with sickness.
The following story illustrates the close relation that exists between habits of mind and
bodily conditions. A certain man was afflicted with a painful disease, and he tried one
physician after another, but all to no purpose. He then visited towns which were famous
for their curative waters, and after having bathed in them all, his disease was more painful
than ever.
One night he dreamed that a Presence came to him and said, “Brother, hast thou tried all
the means of cure?” and he replied, “I have tried all.” “Nay,” said the Presence, “Come
with me, and I will show thee a healing bath which has escaped thy notice.”
The afflicted man followed, and the Presence led him to a clear pool of water, and said,
“Plunge thyself in this water and thou shalt surely recover,” and thereupon vanished.
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 26
The man plunged into the water, and on coming out, Io! his disease had left him, and at
the same moment he saw written above the pool the word “Renounce.” Upon waking, the
fall meaning of his dream flashed across his mind, and looking within he discovered that
he had, all along, been a victim to a sinful indulgence, and he vowed that he would
renounce it forever.
He carried out his vow, and from that day his affliction began to leave him, and in a short
time he was completely restored to health. Many people complain that they have broken
down through over-work. In the majority of such cases the breakdown is more frequently
the result of foolishly wasted energy.
If you would secure health you must learn to work without friction. To become anxious or
excited, or to worry over needless details is to invite a breakdown.
Work, whether of brain or body, is beneficial and health-giving, and the man who can work
with a steady and calm persistency, freed from all anxiety and worry, and with his mind
utterly oblivious to all but the work he has in hand, will not only accomplish far more than
the man who is always hurried and anxious, but he will retain his health, a boon which the
other quickly forfeits.
True health and true success go together, for they are inseparably intertwined in the
thought-realm. As mental harmony produces bodily health, so it also leads to a
harmonious sequence in the actual working out of one’s plans. Order your thoughts and
you will order your life. Pour the oil of tranquility upon the turbulent waters of the passions
and prejudices, and the tempests of misfortune, howsoever they may threaten, will be
powerless to wreck the barque of your soul, as it threads its way across the ocean of life.
And if that barque be piloted by a cheerful and never-failing faith its course will be doubly
sure, and many perils will pass it by which would other-wise attack it. By the power of faith
every enduring work is accomplished. Faith in the Supreme; faith in the over-ruling Law;
faith in your work, and in your power to accomplish that work, here is the rock upon which
you must build if you would achieve, if you would stand and not fall.
To follow, under all circumstances, the highest promptings within you; to be always true to
the divine self; to rely upon the inward Light, the inward Voice, and to pursue your purpose
with a fearless and restful heart, believing that the future will yield unto you the meed of
every thought and effort; knowing that the laws of the universe can never fail, and that
your own will come back to you with mathematical exactitude, this is faith and the living of
By the power of such a faith the dark waters of uncertainty are divided, every mountain of
difficulty crumbles away, and the believing soul passes on unharmed.
Strive, O reader! to acquire, above everything, the priceless possession of this dauntless
faith, for it is the talisman of happiness, of success, of peace, of power, of all that makes
life great and superior to suffering. Build upon such a faith, and you build upon the Rock of
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 27
the Eternal, and with the materials of the Eternal, and the structure that you erect will
never be dissolved, for it will transcend all the accumulations of material luxuries and
riches, the end of which is dust. Whether you are hurled into the depths of sorrow or lifted
upon the heights of joy, ever retain your hold upon this faith, ever return to it as your rock
of refuge, and keep your feet firmly planted upon its immortal and immovable base.
Centered in such a faith, you will become possessed of such a spiritual strength as will
shatter, like so many toys of glass, all the forces of evil that are hurled against you, and
you will achieve a success such as the mere striver after worldly gain can never know or
even dream of.
“If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this, … but if ye shall say unto this
mountain, be thou removed and be thou cast into the sea, it shall be done.” There are
those today, men and women tabernacled in flesh and blood, who have realized this faith,
who live in it and by it day by day, and who, having put it to the uttermost test, have
entered into the possession of its glory and peace.
Such have sent out the word of command, and the mountains of sorrow and
disappointment, of mental weariness and physical pain have passed from them, and have
been cast into the sea of oblivion. If you will become possessed of this faith you will not
need to trouble about your success or failure, and success will come. You will not need to
become anxious about results, but will work joyfully and peacefully, knowing that right
thoughts and right efforts will inevitably bring about right results.
I know a lady who has entered into many blissful satisfactions, and recently a friend
remarked to her, “Oh, how fortunate you are! You only have to wish for a thing, and it
comes to you.” And it did, indeed, appear so on the surface; but in reality all the
blessedness that has entered into this woman’s life is the direct outcome of the inward
state of blessedness which she has, throughout life, been cultivating and training toward
Mere wishing brings nothing but disappointment; it is living that tells. The foolish wish and
grumble; the wise, work and wait. And this woman had worked; worked without and within,
but especially within upon heart and soul; and with the invisible hands of the spirit she had
built up, with the precious stones of faith, hope, joy, devotion, and love, a fair temple of
light, whose glorifying radiance was ever round about her. It beamed in her eye; it shone
through her countenance; it vibrated in her voice; and all who came into her presence felt
its captivating spell.
And as with her, so with you. Your success, your failure, your influence, your whole life
you carry about with you, for your dominant trends of thought are the determining factors
in your destiny. Send forth loving, stainless, and happy thoughts, and blessings will fall
into your hands, and your table will be spread with the cloth of peace.
Send forth hateful, impure, and unhappy thoughts, and curses will rain down upon you,
and fear and unrest will wait upon your pillow. You are the unconditional maker of your
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 28
fate, be that fate what it may. Every moment you are sending forth from you the influences
which will make or mar your life.
Let your heart grow large and loving and unselfish, and great and lasting will be your
influence and success, even though you make little money. Confine it within the narrow
limits of self-interest, and even though you become a millionaire your influence and
success, at the final reckoning will be found to be utterly insignificant.
Cultivate, then, this pure and unselfish spirit, and combine with purity and faith, singleness
of purpose, and you are evolving from within the elements, not only of abounding health
and enduring success, but of greatness and power.
If your present position is distasteful to you, and your heart is not in your work,
nevertheless perform your duties with scrupulous diligence, and whilst resting your mind in
the idea that the better position and greater opportunities are waiting for you, ever keep an
active mental outlook for budding possibilities, so that when the critical moment arrives,
and the new channel presents itself, you will step into it with your mind fully prepared for
the undertaking, and with that intelligence and foresight which is born of mental discipline.
Whatever your task may be, concentrate your whole mind upon it, throw into it all the
energy of which you are capable. The faultless completion of small tasks leads inevitably
to larger tasks. See to it that you rise by steady climbing, and you will never fall. And
herein lies the secret of true power. Learn, by constant practice, how to husband your
resources, and to concentrate them, at any moment, upon a given point. The foolish waste
all their mental and spiritual energy in frivolity, foolish chatter, or selfish argument, not to
mention wasteful physical excesses.
If you would acquire overcoming power you must cultivate poise and passivity. You must
be able to stand alone. All power is associated with immovability. The mountain, the
massive rock, the storm-tried oak, all speak to us of power, because of their combined
solitary grandeur and defiant fixity; while the shifting sand, the yielding twig, and the
waving reed speak to us of weakness, because they are movable and non-resistant, and
are utterly useless when detached from their fellows.
He is the man of power who, when all his fellows are swayed by some emotion or passion,
remains calm and unmoved. He only is fitted to command and control who has succeeded
in commanding and controlling himself. The hysterical, the fearful, the thoughtless and
frivolous, let such seek company, or they will fall for lack of support; but the calm, the
fearless, the thoughtful, and let such seek the solitude of the forest, the desert, and the
mountain-top, and to their power more power will be added, and they will more and more
successfully stem the psychic currents and whirlpools which engulf mankind.
Passion is not power; it is the abuse of power, the dispersion of power. Passion is like a
furious storm which beats fiercely and wildly upon the embattled rock whilst power is like
the rock itself, which remains silent and unmoved through it all.
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 29
That was a manifestation of true power when Martin Luther, wearied with the persuasions
of his fearful friends, who were doubtful as to his safety should he go to Worms, replied, “If
there were as many devils in Worms as there are tiles on the housetops I would go.” And
when Benjamin Disraeli broke down in his first Parliamentary speech, and brought upon
himself the derision of the House, that was an exhibition of germinal power when he
exclaimed, “The day will come when you will consider it an honor to listen to me.”
When that young man, whom I knew, passing through continual reverses and misfortunes,
was mocked by his friends and told to desist from further effort, and he replied, “The time
is not far distant when you will marvel at my good fortune and success,” he showed that
he was possessed of that silent and irresistible power which has taken him over
innumerable difficulties, and crowned his life with success. If you have not this power, you
may acquire it by practice, and the beginning of power is likewise the beginning of
You must commence by overcoming those purposeless trivialities to which you have
hitherto been a willing victim. Boisterous and uncontrolled laughter, slander and idle talk,
and joking merely to raise a laugh, all these things must be put on one side as so much
waste of valuable energy.
St. Paul never showed his wonderful insight into the hidden laws of human progress to
greater advantage than when he warned the Ephesians against “Foolish talking and
jesting which is not convenient,” for to dwell habitually in such practices is to destroy all
spiritual power and life.
As you succeed in rendering yourself impervious to such mental dissipations you will
begin to understand what true power is, and you will then commence to grapple with the
more powerful desires and appetites which hold your soul in bondage, and bar the way to
power, and your further progress will then be made clear.
Above all be of single aim; have a legitimate and useful purpose, and devote yourself
unreservedly to it. Let nothing draw you aside ; remember that the double-minded man is
unstable in all his ways. Be eager to learn, but slow to beg. Have a thorough
understanding of your work, and let it be your own; and as you proceed, ever following the
inward Guide, the infallible Voice, you will pass on from victory to victory, and will rise step
by step to higher resting-places, and your ever-broadening outlook will gradually reveal to
you the essential beauty and purpose of life.
Self-purified, health will be yours; faith-protected, success will be yours; self-governed,
power will be yours, and all that you do will prosper, for, ceasing to be a disjointed unit,
self-enslaved, you will be in harmony with the Great Law, working no longer against, but
with, the Universal Life, the Eternal Good.
And what health you gain it will remain with you; what success you achieve will be beyond
all human computation, and will never pass away; and what influence and power you
wield will continue to increase throughout the ages, for it will be a part of that
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 30
unchangeable Principle which supports the universe. This, then, is the secret of health, -a
pure heart and a wellordered mind ; this is the secret of success, -an unfaltering faith, and
a wisely-directed purpose; and to rein in, with unfaltering will, the dark steed of desire, this
is the secret of power.
All ways are waiting for my feet to tread,
The light and dark, the living and the dead,
The broad and narrow way, the high and low,
The good and bad, and with quick step or slow,
I now may enter any way I will,
And find, by walking, which is good, which ill.
And all good things my wandering feet await,
If I but come, with vow inviolate,
Unto the narrow, high and holy way
Of heart-born purity, and therein stay;
Walking, secure from him who taunts and scorns,
To flowery meads, across the path of thorns.
And I may stand where health, success, and power
Await my coming, if, each fleeting hour,
I cling to love and patience; and abide
With stainlessness; and never step aside
From high integrity ; so shall I see
At last the land of immortality.
And I may seek and find; I may achieve,
I may not claim, but, losing, may retrieve.
The law bends not for me, but I must bend
Unto the law, if I would reach the end
Of my afflictions, if I would restore
My soul to Light and Life, and weep no more.
Not mine the arrogant and selfish claim
To all good things; be mine the lowly aim
To seek and find, to know and comprehend,
And wisdom-ward all holy footsteps wend,
Nothing is mine to claim or to command,
But all is mine to know and understand.
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 31
Great is the thirst for happiness, and equally great is the lack of happiness. The majority of
the poor long for riches, believing that their possession would bring them supreme and
lasting happiness.
Many who are rich, having gratified every desire and whim, suffer from ennui and
repletion, and are farther from the possession of happiness even than the very poor. If we
reflect upon this state of things it will ultimately lead us to a knowledge of the all important
truth that happiness is not derived from mere outward possessions, nor misery from the
lack of them; for if this were so, we should find the poor always miserable, and the rich
always happy, whereas the reverse is frequently the case.
Some of the most wretched people whom I have known were those who were surrounded
with riches and luxury, whilst some of the brightest and happiest people I have met were
possessed of only the barest necessities of life.
Many men who have accumulated riches have confessed that the selfish gratification
which followed the acquisition of riches has robbed life of its sweetness, and that they
were never so happy as when they were poor. What, then, is happiness, and how is it to
be secured? Is it a figment, a delusion, and is suffering alone perennial?
We shall find, after earnest observation and reflection, that all, except those who have
entered the way of wisdom, believe that happiness is only to be obtained by the
gratification of desire. It is this belief, rooted in the soil of ignorance, and continually
watered by selfish cravings, that is the cause of all the misery in the world.
And I do not limit the word desire to the grosser animal cravings; it extends to the higher
psychic realm, where far more powerful, subtle, and insidious cravings hold in bondage
the intellectual and refined, depriving them of all that beauty, harmony, and purity of soul
whose expression is happiness. Most people will admit that selfishness is the cause of all
the unhappiness in the world, but they fall under the soul-destroying delusion that it is
somebody else’s selfishness, and not their own.
When you are willing to admit that all your unhappiness is the result of your own
selfishness you will not be far from the gates of Paradise; but so long as you are
convinced that it is the selfishness of others that is robbing you of joy, so long will you
remain a prisoner in your self-created purgatory.
Happiness is that inward state of perfect satisfaction which is joy and peace, and from
which all desire is eliminated. The satisfaction which results from gratified desire is brief
and illusionary, and is always followed by an increased demand for gratification.
Desire is as insatiable as the ocean, and clamors louder and louder as its demands are
attended to. It claims ever-increasing service from its deluded devotees, until at last they
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 32
are struck down with physical or mental anguish, and are hurled into the purifying fires of
suffering. Desire is the region of hell, and all torments are centered there.
The giving up of desire is the realization of heaven, and all delights await the pilgrim there,
I sent my soul through the invisible,
Some letter of that after life to spell,
And by-and-by my soul returned to me,
And whispered, I myself am heaven and hell,”
Heaven and hell are inward states. Sink into self and all its gratifications, and you sink into
hell; rise above self into that state of consciousness which is the utter denial and
forgetfulness of self, and you enter heaven.
Self is blind, without judgment, not possessed of true knowledge, and always leads to
suffering. Correct perception, unbiased judgment, and true knowledge belong only to the
divine state, and only in so far as you realize this divine consciousness can you know
what real happiness is.
So long as you persist in selfishly seeking for your own personal happiness, so long will
happiness elude you, and you will be sowing the seeds of wretchedness.
In so far as you succeed in losing yourself in the service of others, in that measure will
happiness come to you, and you will reap a harvest of bliss.
It is in loving, not in being loved,
The heart is blessed;
It is in giving, not in seeking gifts,
We find our quest.
Whatever be thy longing or thy need,
That do thou give;
So shall thy soul be fed, and thou indeed
Shalt truly live.
Cling to self, and you cling to sorrow, relinquish self, and you enter into peace. To seek
selfishly is not only to lose happiness, but even that which we believe to be the source of
See how the glutton is continually looking about for a new delicacy wherewith to stimulate
his deadened appetite; and how, bloated, burdened, and diseased, scarcely any food at
last is eaten with pleasure. Whereas, he who has mastered his appetite, and not only
does not seek, but never thinks of gustatory pleasure, finds delight in the most frugal
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 33
The angel-form of happiness, which men, looking through the eyes of self, imagine they
see in gratified desire, when clasped is always found to be the skeleton of misery.
Truly, “He that seeketh his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life shall find it.” Abiding
happiness will come to you when, ceasing to selfishly cling, you are willing to give up.
When you are willing to lose, unreservedly, that impermanent thing which is so dear to
you, and which, whether you cling to it or not, will one day be snatched from you, then you
will find that that which seemed to you like a painful loss, turns out to be a supreme gain.
To give up in order to gain, than this there is no greater delusion, nor no more prolific
source of misery; but to be willing to yield up and to suffer loss, this is indeed the Way of
Life. How is it possible to find real happiness by centering ourselves in those things which,
by their very nature, must pass away?
Abiding and real happiness can only be found by centering ourselves in that which is
permanent. Rise, therefore, above the clinging to and the craving for impermanent things,
and you will then enter into a consciousness of the Eternal, and as, rising above self, and
by growing more and more into the spirit of purity, self-sacrifice and universal Love, you
become centered in that consciousness, you will realize that happiness which has no
reaction, and which can never be taken from you.
The heart that has reached utter self-forgetfulness in its love for others has not only
become possessed of the highest happiness but has entered into immortality, for it has
realized the Divine. Look back upon your life, and you will find that the moments of
supremest happiness were those in which you uttered some word, or performed some act,
of compassion or self-denying love.
Spiritually, happiness and harmony are, synonymous. Harmony is one phase of the Great
Law whose spiritual expression is love. All selfishness is discord, and to be selfish is to be
out of harmony with the Divine order. As we realize that all-embracing love which is the
negation of self, we put ourselves in harmony with the divine music, the universal song,
and that ineffable melody which is true happiness becomes our own.
Men and women are rushing hither and thither in the blind search for happiness, and
cannot find it; nor ever will until they recognize that happiness is already within them and
round about them, filling the universe, and that they, in their selfish searching are shutting
themselves out from it.
I followed happiness to make her mine,
Past towering oak and swinging ivy vine.
She fled, I chased, o’er slanting hill and dale,
O’er fields and meadows, in the purpling vale;
Pursuing rapidly o’er dashing stream.
I scaled the dizzy cliffs where eagles scream;
I traversed swiftly every land and M.
But always happiness eluded me.
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 34
Exhausted, fainting, I pursued no more,
But sank to rest upon a barren shore.
One came and asked for food, and one for alms
I placed the bread and gold in bony palms.
One came for sympathy, and one for rest;
I shared with every needy one my best;
When, Io! sweet Happiness, with form divine,
Stood by me, whispering softly, ‘I am thine’.
These beautiful lines of Burleigh’s express the secret of all abounding happiness. Sacrifice
the personal and transient, and you rise at once into the impersonal and permanent. Give
up that narrow cramped self that seeks to render all things subservient to its own petty
interests, and you will enter into the company of the angels, into the very heart and
essence of universal Love.
Forget yourself entirely in the sorrows of others and in ministering to others, and divine
happiness will emancipate you from all sorrow and suffering. “Taking the first step with a
good thought, the second with a good word, and the third with a good deed, I entered
And you also may enter into Paradise by pursuing the same course. It is not beyond, it is
here. It is realized only by the unselfish. It is known in its fullness only to the pure in heart.
If you have not realized this unbounded happiness you may begin to actualize it by ever
holding before you the lofty ideal of unselfish love, and aspiring towards it.
Aspiration or prayer is desire turned upward. It is the soul turning toward its Divine source,
where alone permanent satisfaction can be found. By aspiration the destructive forces of
desire are transmuted into divine and all-preserving energy.
To aspire is to make an effort to shake off the trammels of desire; it is the prodigal made
wise by loneliness and suffering, returning to his Father’s Mansion. As you rise above the
sordid self; as you break, one after another, the chains that bind you, will you realize the
joy of giving, as distinguished from the misery of grasping giving of your substance; giving
of your intellect; giving of the love and light that is growing within you.
You will then understand that it is indeed “more blessed to give than to receive.” But the
giving must be of the heart without any taint of self, without desire for reward. The gift of
pure love is always attended with bliss. If, after you have given, you are wounded because
you are not thanked or flattered, or your name put in the paper, know then that your gift
was prompted by vanity and not by love, and you were merely giving in order to get; were
not really giving, but grasping.
Lose yourself in the welfare of others; forget yourself in all that you do; this is the secret of
abounding happiness. Ever be on the watch to guard against selfishness, and learn
faithfully the divine lessons of inward sacrifice; so shall you climb the highest heights of
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 35
happiness, and shall remain in the never clouded sunshine of universal joy, clothed in the
shining garment of immortality.
Are you searching for the happiness that does not fade away?
Are you looking for the joy that lives, and leaves no grievous day?
Are you panting for the waterbrooks of Love, and Life, and Peace?
Then let all dark desires depart, and selfish seeking cease.
Are you ling’ring in the paths of pain, grief-haunted, stricken sore?
Are you wand’ring in the ways that wound your weary feet the more?
Are you sighing for the Resting-Place where tears and sorrows cease?
Then sacrifice your selfish heart and find the Heart of Peace.
It is granted only to the heart that abounds with integrity, trust, generosity and love to
realize true prosperity. The heart that is not possessed of these qualities cannot know
prosperity, for prosperity, like happiness, is not an outward possession, but an inward
The greedy man may become a millionaire, but he will always be wretched, and mean,
and poor, and will even consider himself outwardly poor so long as there is a man in the
world who is richer than himself, whilst the upright, the open-handed and loving will realize
a full and rich prosperity, even though their outward possessions may be small. He is poor
who is dissatisfied; he is rich who is contented with what he has, and he is richer who is
generous with what he has.
When we contemplate the fact that the universe is abounding in all good things, material
as well as spiritual, and compare it with man’s blind eagerness to secure a few gold coins,
or a few acres of dirt, it is then that we realize how dark and ignorant selfishness is; it is
then that we know that self-seeking is self-destruction.
Nature gives all, without reservation, and loses nothing; man, grasping all, loses
everything. If you would realize true prosperity do not settle down, as many have done,
into the belief that if you do right everything will go wrong.
Do not allow the word “competition” to shake your faith in the supremacy of
righteousness. I care not what men may say about the “laws of competition,” for do I not
know the unchangeable Law, which shall one day put them all to rout, and which puts
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 36
them to rout even now in the heart and life of the righteous man? And knowing this Law I
can contemplate all dishonesty with undisturbed repose, for I know where certain
destruction awaits it.
Under all circumstances do that which you believe to be right, and trust the Law; trust the
Divine Power that is imminent in the universe, and it will never desert you, and you will
always be protected. By such a trust all your losses will be converted into gains, and all
curses which threaten will be transmuted into blessings.
Never let go of integrity, generosity, and love, for these, coupled with energy, will lift you
into the truly prosperous state. Do not believe the world when it tells you that you must
always attend to “number one” first, and to others afterwards. To do this is not to think of
others at all, but only of one’s own comforts.
To those who practice this the day will come when they will be deserted by all, and when
they cry out in their loneliness and anguish there will be no one to hear and help them. To
consider one’s self before all others is to cramp and warp and hinder every noble and
divine impulse.
Let your soul expand, let your heart reach out to others in loving and generous warmth,
and great and lasting will be your joy, and all prosperity will come to you. Those who have
wandered from the highway of righteousness guard themselves against competition; those
who always pursue the right need not to trouble about such defense.
This is no empty statement, There are men today who, by the power of integrity and faith,
have defied all competition, and who, without swerving in the least from their methods,
when competed with, have risen steadily into prosperity, whilst those who tried to
undermine them have fallen back defeated.
To possess those inward qualities which constitute goodness is to be armored against all
the powers of evil, and to be doubly protected in every time of trial; and to build’ oneself up
in those qualities is to build up a success which cannot be shaken, and to enter into a
prosperity which will endure forever.
The White Robe of the Heart Invisible
Is stained with sin and sorrow, grief and pain,
And all repentant pools and springs of prayer
Shall not avail to wash it white again.
While in the path of ignorance I walk,
The stains of error will not cease to cling
Defilements mark the crooked path of self,
Where anguish lurks and disappointments sting.
Knowledge and wisdom only can avail
To purify and make my garment clean,
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 37
For therein lie love’s waters ; therein rests
Peace undisturbed, eternal, and serene.
Sin and repentance is the path of pain,
Knowledge and wisdom is the path of Peace
By the near way of practice I will find
Where bliss begins, how pains and sorrows cease.
Self shall depart, and Truth shall take its place
The Changeless One, the Indivisible
Shall take up His abode in me, and cleanse
The White Robe of the Heart Invisible.
Part 2:
Spiritual meditation is the pathway to Divinity. It is the mystic ladder which reaches from
earth to heaven, from error to Truth, from pain to peace. Every saint has climbed it; every
sinner must sooner or later come to it, and every weary pilgrim that turns his back upon
self and the world, and sets his face resolutely toward the Father’s Home, must plant his
feet upon its golden rounds.
Without its aid you cannot grow into the divine state, the divine likeness, the divine peace,
and the fadeless glories and unpolluting joys of Truth will remain hidden from you.
Meditation is the intense dwelling, in thought, upon an idea or theme, with the object of
thoroughly comprehending it, and whatsoever you constantly meditate upon you will not
only come to understand, but will grow more and more into its likeness, for it will become
incorporated into your very being, will become, in fact, your very self. If, therefore, you
constantly dwell upon that which is selfish and debasing, you will ultimately become
selfish and debased; if you ceaselessly think upon that which is pure and unselfish you will
surely become pure and unselfish.
Tell me what that is upon which you most frequently and intensely think, that to which, in
your silent hours, your soul most naturally turns, and I will tell you to what place of pain or
peace you are traveling, and whether you are growing into the likeness of the divine or the
bestial. There is an unavoidable tendency to become literally the embodiment of that
quality upon which one most constantly thinks.
Let, therefore, the object of your meditation be above and not below, so that every time
you revert to it in thought you will be lifted up; let it be pure and unmixed with any selfish
element; so shall your heart become purified and drawn nearer to Truth, and not defiled
and dragged more hopelessly into error.
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 38
Meditation, in the spiritual sense in which I am now using it, is the secret of all growth in
spiritual life and knowledge. Every prophet, sage, and savior became such by the power
of meditation. Buddha meditated upon the Truth until he could say, “I am the Truth.” Jesus
brooded upon the Divine immanence until at last he could declare, “I and my Father are
Meditation centered upon divine realities is the very essence and soul of prayer. It is the
silent reaching of the soul toward the Eternal. Mere petitionary prayer without meditation is
a body without a soul, and is powerless to lift the mind and heart above sin and affliction.
If you are daily praying for wisdom, for peace, for loftier purity and a fuller realization of
Truth, and that for which you pray is still far from you, it means that you are praying for
one thing while living out in thought and act another.
If you will cease from such waywardness, taking your mind off those things the selfish
clinging to which debars you from the possession of the stainless realities for which you
pray: if you will no longer ask God to grant you that which you do not deserve, or to
bestow upon you that love and compassion which you refuse to bestow upon others, but
will commence to think and act in the spirit of Truth, you will day by day be growing into
those realities, so that ultimately you will become one with them.
He who would secure any worldly advantage must be willing to work vigorously for it, and
he would be foolish indeed who, waiting with folded hands, expected it to come to him for
the mere asking. Do not then vainly imagine that you can obtain the heavenly possessions
without making an effort. Only when you commence to work earnestly in the Kingdom of
Truth will you be allowed to partake of the Bread of Life, and when you have, by patient
and uncomplaining effort, earned the spiritual wages for which you ask, they will not be
withheld from you.
If you really seek Truth, and not merely your own gratification; if you love it above all
worldly pleasures and gains; more, even, than happiness itself, you will be willing to make
the effort necessary for its achievement. If you would be freed from sin and sorrow; if you
would taste of that spotless purity for which you sigh and pray; if you would realize wisdom
and knowledge, and would enter into the possession of profound and abiding peace,
come now and enter the path of meditation, and let the supreme object of your meditation
be Truth.
At the outset, meditation must be distinguished from idle reverie. There is nothing dreamy
and unpractical about it. It is a process of searching and uncompromising thought which
allows nothing to remain but the simple and naked truth. Thus meditating you will no
longer strive to build yourself up in your prejudices, but, forgetting self, you will remember
only that you are seeking the Truth.
And so you will remove, one by one, the errors which you have built around yourself in the
past, and will patiently wait for the revelation of Truth which will come when your errors
have been sufficiently removed. In the silent humility of your heart you will realize that
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 39
“There is an inmost centre in us all
Where Truth abides in fulness; and around,
Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in;
This perfect, clear perception, which is Truth,
A baffling and perverting carnal mesh
Blinds it, and makes all error; and to know,
Rather consists in opening out a way
Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape,
Than in effecting entry for a light
Supposed to be without.”
Select some portion of the day in which to meditate, and keep that period sacred to your
purpose. The best time is the very early morning when the spirit of repose is upon
everything. All natural conditions will then be in your favor; the passions, after the long
bodily fast of the night, will be subdued, the excitements and worries of the previous day
will have died away, and the mind, strong and yet restful, will be receptive to spiritual
instruction. Indeed, one of the first efforts you will be called upon to make will be to shake
off lethargy and indulgence, and if you refuse you will be unable to advance, for the
demands of the spirit are imperative.
To be spiritually awakened is also to be mentally and physically awakened. The sluggard
and the self-indulgent can have no knowledge of Truth. He who, possessed of health and
strength, wastes the calm, precious hours of the silent morning in drowsy indulgence is
totally unfit to climb the heavenly heights. He whose awakening consciousness has
become alive to its lofty possibilities, who is beginning to shake off the darkness of
ignorance in which the world is enveloped, rises before the stars have ceased their vigil,
and, grappling with the darkness within his soul, strives, by holy aspiration, to perceive the
light of Truth while the unawakened world dreams on.
“The heights by great men reached and kept,
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.”
No saint, no holy man, no teacher of Truth ever lived who did not rise early in the morning.
Jesus habitually rose early, and climbed the solitary mountains to engage in holy
communion. Buddha always rose an hour before sunrise and engaged in meditation, and
all his disciples were enjoined to do the same.
If you have to commence your daily duties at a very early hour, and are thus debarred
from giving the early morning to systematic meditation, try to give an hour at night, and
should this, by the length and laboriousness of your daily task be denied you, you need
not despair, for you may turn your thoughts upward in holy meditation in the intervals of
your work, or in those few idle minutes which you now waste in aimlessness; and should
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 40
your work be of that kind which becomes by practice automatic, you may meditate while
engaged upon it.
That eminent Christian saint and philosopher, Jacob Boehme, realized his vast knowledge
of divine things whilst working long hours as a shoemaker. In every life there is time to
think, and the busiest, the most laborious is not shut out from aspiration and meditation.
Spiritual meditation and self-discipline are inseparable; you will, therefore, commence to
meditate upon yourself so as to try and understand yourself, for, remember, the great
object you will have in view will be the complete removal of all your errors in order that you
may realize Truth. You will begin to question your motives, thoughts, and acts, comparing
them with your ideal, and endeavoring to look upon them with a calm and impartial eye.
In this manner you will be continually gaining more of that mental and spiritual equilibrium
without which men are but helpless straws upon the ocean of life. If you are given to
hatred or anger you will meditate upon gentleness and forgiveness, so as to become
acutely alive to a sense of your harsh and foolish conduct.
You will then begin to dwell in thoughts of love, of gentleness, of abounding forgiveness;
and as you overcome the lower by the higher, there will gradually, silently steal into your
heart a knowledge of the divine Law of Love with an understanding of its bearing upon all
the intricacies of life and conduct.
And in applying this knowledge to your every thought, word, and act, you will grow more
and more gentle, more and more loving, more and more divine. And thus with every error,
every selfish desire, every human weakness; by the power of meditation is it overcome,
and as each sin, each error is thrust out, a fuller and clearer measure of the Light of Truth
illumines the pilgrim soul.
Thus meditating, you will be ceaselessly fortifying yourself against your only real enemy,
your selfish, perishable self, and will be establishing yourself more and more firmly in the
divine and imperishable self that is inseparable from Truth. The direct outcome of your
meditations will be a calm, spiritual strength which will be your stay and resting place in
the struggle of life.
Great is the overcoming power of holy thought, and the strength and knowledge gained in
the hour of silent meditation will enrich the soul with saving remembrance in the hour of
strife, of sorrow, or of temptation. As, by the power of meditation, you grow in wisdom, you
will relinquish, more and more, your selfish desires which are fickle, impermanent, and
productive of sorrow and pain; and will take your stand, with increasing steadfastness and
trust, upon unchangeable principles, and will realize heavenly rest.
The use of meditation is the acquirement of a knowledge of eternal principles, and the
power which results from meditation is the ability to rest upon and trust those principles,
and so become one with the Eternal. The end of meditation is, therefore, direct knowledge
of Truth, God, and the realization of divine and profound peace. Let your meditations take
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 41
their rise from the ethical ground which you now occupy. Remember that you are to grow
into Truth by steady perseverance. If you are an orthodox Christian, meditate ceaselessly
upon the spotless purity and divine excellence of the character of Jesus, and apply his
every precept to your inner life and outward conduct, so as to approximate more and more
toward his perfection.
Do not be as those religious ones, who, refusing to meditate upon the Law of Truth, and to
put into practice the precepts given to them by their Master, are content to formally
worship, to cling to their particular creeds, and to continue in the ceaseless round of sin
and suffering.
Strive to rise, by the power of meditation, above all selfish clinging to partial gods or party
creeds; above dead formalities and lifeless ignorance. Thus walking the high way of
wisdom, with mind fixed upon the spotless Truth, you shall know no halting-place short of
the realization of Truth. He who earnestly meditates first perceives a truth, as it were, afar
off, and then realizes it by daily practice. It is only the doer of the Word of Truth that can
know of the doctrine of Truth, for though by pure thought the Truth is perceived, it is only
actualized by practice.
Said the divine Gautama, the Buddha, “He who gives himself up to vanity, and does not
give himself up to meditation, forgetting the real aim of life and grasping at pleasure, will in
time envy him who has exerted himself in meditation,” and he instructed his disciples in
the following “Five Great Meditations”:-
“The first meditation is the meditation of love, in which you so adjust your heart that you
long for the weal and welfare of all beings, including the happiness of your enemies.
“The second meditation is the meditation of pity, in which you think of all beings in
distress, vividly representing in your imagination their sorrows and anxieties so as to
arouse a deep compassion for them in your soul.
“The third meditation is the meditation of joy, in which you think of the prosperity of others,
and rejoice with their rejoicings.
“The fourth meditation is the meditation of impurity, in which you consider the evil
consequences of corruption, the effects of sin and diseases. How trivial often the pleasure
of the moment, and how fatal its consequences.
“The fifth meditation is the meditation on serenity, in which you rise above love and hate,
tyranny and oppression, wealth and want, and regard your own fate with impartial
calmness and perfect tranquility.”
By engaging in these meditations the disciples of the Buddha arrived at a knowledge of
the Truth. But whether you engage in these particular meditations or not matters
little so long as your object is Truth, so long as you hunger and thirst for that
righteousness which is a holy heart and a blameless life.
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 42
In your meditations, therefore, let your heart grow and expand with ever-broadening love,
until, freed from all hatred, and passion, and condemnation, it embraces the whole
universe with thoughtful tenderness.
As the flower opens its petals to receive the morning light, so open your soul more and
more to the glorious light of Truth. Soar upward upon the wings of aspiration; be fearless,
and believe in the loftiest possibilities. Believe that a life of absolute meekness is possible;
believe that a life of stainless purity is possible; believe that a life of perfect holiness is
possible; believe that the realization of the highest truth is possible.
He who so believes, climbs rapidly the heavenly hills, whilst the unbelievers continue to
grope darkly and painfully in the fog-bound valleys. So believing, so aspiring, so
meditating, divinely sweet and beautiful will be your spiritual experiences, and glorious the
revelations that will enrapture your inward vision.
As you realize the divine Love, the divine Justice, the divine Purity, the Perfect Law of
Good, or God, great will be your bliss and deep your peace. Old things will pass away,
and all things will become new. The veil of the material universe, so dense and
impenetrable to the eye of error, so thin and gauzy to the eye of Truth, will be lifted and
the spiritual universe will be revealed.
Time will cease, and you will live only in Eternity. Change and mortality will no more cause
you anxiety and sorrow, for you will become established in the unchangeable, and will
dwell in the very heart of immortality.
Star that of the birth of Vishnu,
Birth of Krishna, Buddha, Jesus,
Told the wise ones, Heavenward looking,
Waiting, watching for thy gleaming
In the darkness of the night-time,
In the starless gloom of midnight;
Shining Herald of the coming
Of the kingdom of the righteous;
Teller of the Mystic story
Of the lowly birth of Godhead
In the stable of the passions,
In the manger of the mind-soul;
Silent singer of the secret
Of compassion deep and holy
To the heart with sorrow burdened,
To the soul with waiting weary:–
Star of all-surpassing brightness,
Thou again dost deck the midnight;
Thou again dost cheer the wise ones
Watching in the creedal darkness,
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Weary of the endless battle
With the grinding blades of error;
Tired of lifeless, useless idols,
Of the dead forms of religions;
Spent with watching for thy shining;
Thou hast ended their despairing;
Thou hast lighted up their pathway;
Thou hast brought again the old Truths
To the hearts of all thy Watchers;
To the souls of them that love thee
Thou dost speak of Joy and Gladness,
Of the peace that comes of Sorrow.
Blessed are they that can see thee,
Weary wanderers in the Night-time;
Blessed they who feel the throbbing,
In their bosoms feel the pulsing
Of a deep Love stirred within them
By the great power of thy shining.
Let us learn thy lesson truly;
Learn it faithfully and humbly;
Learn it meekly, wisely, gladly,
Ancient Star of holy Vishnu,
Light of Krishna, Buddha, Jesus.
Upon the battlefield of the human soul two masters are ever contending for the crown of
supremacy, for the kingship and dominion of the heart; the master of self, called also the
“Prince of this world,” and the master of Truth, called also the Father God.
The master self is that rebellious one whose weapons are passion, pride, avarice, vanity,
self-will, implements of darkness; the master Truth is that meek and lowly one whose
weapons are gentleness, patience, purity, sacrifice, humility, love, instruments of Light.
In every soul the battle is waged, and as a soldier cannot engage at once in two opposing
armies, so every heart is enlisted either in the ranks of self or of Truth. There is no halfand-
half course; “There is self and there is Truth; where self is, Truth is not, where Truth
is, self is not.”
Thus spake Buddha, the teacher of Truth, and Jesus, the manifested Christ, declared that
“No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else
he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” Truth
is so simple, so absolutely undeviating and uncompromising that it admits of no
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 44
complexity, no turning, no qualification. Self is ingenious, crooked, and, governed by
subtle and snaky desire, admits of endless turnings and qualifications, and the deluded
worshipers of self vainly imagine that they can gratify every worldly desire, and at the
same time possess the Truth.
But the lovers of Truth worship Truth with the sacrifice of self, and ceaselessly guard
themselves against worldliness and self-seeking. Do you seek to know and to realize
Truth? Then you must be prepared to sacrifice, to renounce to the uttermost, for Truth in
all its glory can only be perceived and known when the last vestige of self has
The eternal Christ declared that he who would be His disciple must “deny himself daily.”
Are you willing to deny yourself, to give up your lusts, your prejudices, your opinions? If
so, you may enter the narrow way of Truth, and find that peace from which the world is
shut out. The absolute denial, the utter extinction, of self is the perfect state of Truth, and
all religions and philosophies are but so many aids to this supreme attainment.
Self is the denial of Truth. Truth is the denial of self. As you let self die, you will be reborn
in Truth. As you cling to self, Truth will be hidden from you. Whilst you cling to self, your
path will be beset with difficulties, and repeated pains, sorrows, and disappointments will
be your lot.
There are no difficulties in Truth, and coming to Truth, you will be freed from all sorrow
and disappointment. Truth in itself is not hidden and dark. It is always revealed and is
perfectly transparent. But the blind and wayward self cannot perceive it. The light of day is
not hidden except to the blind, and the Light of Truth is not hidden except to those who are
blinded by self. Truth is the one Reality in the universe, the inward Harmony, the perfect
Justice, the eternal Love. Nothing can be added to it, nor taken from it. It does not depend
upon any man, but all men depend upon it.
You cannot perceive the beauty of Truth while you are looking out through the eyes of
self. If you are vain, you will color everything with your own vanities. If lustful, your heart
and mind will be so clouded with the smoke and flames of passion, that everything will
appear distorted through them. If proud and opinionative, you will see nothing in the whole
universe except the magnitude and importance of your own opinions.
There is one quality which pre-eminently distinguishes the man of Truth from the man of
self, and that is humility. To be not only free from vanity, stubbornness and egotism, but to
regard one’s own opinions as of no value, this indeed is true humility. He who is immersed
in self regards his own opinions as Truth, and the opinions of other men as error.
But that humble Truth-lover who has learned to distinguish between opinion and Truth,
regards all men with the eye of charity, and does not seek to defend his opinions against
theirs, but sacrifices those opinions that he may love the more, that he may manifest the
spirit of Truth, for Truth in its very nature is ineffable and can only be lived. He who has
most of charity has most of Truth. Men engage in heated controversies, and foolishly
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 45
imagine they are defending the Truth, when in reality they are merely defending their own
petty interests and perishable opinions.
The follower of self takes up arms against others. The follower of Truth takes up arms
against himself. Truth, being unchangeable and eternal, is independent of your opinion
and of mine. We may enter into it, or we may stay outside; but both our defense and our
attack are superfluous, and are hurled back upon ourselves.
Men, enslaved by self, passionate, proud, and condemnatory, believe their particular
creed or religion to be the Truth, and all other religions to be error; and they proselytize
with passionate ardor. There is but one religion, the religion of Truth. There is but one
error, the error of self. Truth is not a formal belief; it is an unselfish, holy, and aspiring
heart, and he who has Truth is at peace with all, and cherishes all with thoughts of love.
You may easily know whether you are a child of Truth or a worshiper of self, if you will
silently examine your mind, heart, and conduct. Do you harbor thoughts of suspicion,
enmity, envy, lust, pride, or do you strenuously fight against these?
If the former, you are chained to self, no matter what religion you may profess; if the latter,
you are a candidate for Truth, even though outwardly you may profess no religion. Are you
passionate, self-willed, ever seeking to gain your own ends, self-indulgent, and selfcentered;
or are you gentle, mild, unselfish, quit of every form of self-indulgence, and are
ever ready to give up your own?
If the former, self is your master; if the latter, Truth is the object of your affection. Do you
strive for riches? Do you fight, with passion, for your party? Do you lust for power and
leadership? Are you given to ostentation and self-praise? Or have you given up the love of
riches? Have you relinquished all strife? Are you content to take the lowest place, and to
be passed by unnoticed? And have you ceased to talk about yourself and to regard
yourself with self-complacent pride? If the former, even though you may imagine you
worship God, the god of your heart is self. If the latter, even though you may withhold your
lips from worship, you are dwelling with the Most High.
The signs by which the Truth-lover is known are unmistakable. Hear the Holy Krishna
declare them, in Sir Edwin Arnold’s beautiful rendering of the “Bhagavad Gita”:-
“Fearlessness, Always And to singleness strive governed for of appetites; soul, wisdom;
and the opened will hand piety,
“Fearlessness, singleness of soul, the will
Always to strive for wisdom; opened hand
And governed appetites; and piety,
And love of lonely study; humbleness,
Uprightness, heed to injure nought which lives
Truthfulness, slowness unto wrath, a mind
That lightly letteth go what others prize;
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 46
And equanimity, and charity
Which spieth no man’s faults; and tenderness
Towards all that suffer; a contented heart,
Fluttered by no desires; a bearing mild,
Modest and grave, with manhood nobly mixed,
With patience, fortitude and purity;
An unrevengeful spirit, never given
To rate itself too high–such be the signs,
O Indian Prince! of him whose feet are set
On that fair path which leads to heavenly birth!”
When men, lost in the devious ways of error and self, have forgotten the “heavenly birth,”
the state of holiness and Truth, they set up artificial standards by which to judge one
another, and make acceptance of, and adherence to, their own particular theology, the
test of Truth; and so men are divided one against another, and there is ceaseless enmity
and strife, and unending sorrow and suffering. Reader, do you seek to realize the birth into
Truth? There is only one way: Let self die. All those lusts, appetites, desires, opinions,
limited conceptions and prejudices to which you have hitherto so tenaciously clung, let
them fall from you. Let them no longer hold you in bondage, and Truth will be yours.
Cease to look upon your own religion as superior to all others, and strive humbly to learn
the supreme lesson of charity. No longer cling to the idea, so productive of strife and
sorrow, that the Savior whom you worship is the only
Savior, and that the Savior whom your brother worships with equal sincerity and ardor, is
an impostor; but seek diligently the path of holiness, and then you will realize that every
holy man is a savior of mankind.
The giving up of self is not merely the renunciation of outward things. It consists of the
renunciation of the inward sin, the inward error. Not by giving up vain clothing; not by
relinquishing riches; not by abstaining from certain foods; not by speaking smooth words;
not by merely doing these things is the Truth found; but by giving up the spirit of vanity; by
relinquishing the desire for riches; by abstaining from the lust of self-indulgence; by giving
up all hatred, strife, condemnation, and self-seeking, and becoming gentle and pure at
heart; by doing these things is the Truth found. To do the former, and not to do the latter,
is pharisaism and hypocrisy, whereas the latter includes the former. You may renounce
the outward world, and isolate yourself in a cave or in the depths of a forest, but you will
take all your selfishness with you, and unless you renounce that, great indeed will be your
wretchedness and deep your delusion. You may remain just where you are, performing all
your duties, and yet renounce the world, the inward enemy. To be in the world and yet not
of the world is the highest perfection, the most blessed peace, is to achieve the greatest
victory. The renunciation of self is the way of Truth, therefore,
“Enter the Path; there is no grief like hate,
No pain like passion, no deceit like sense;
Enter the Path; far hath he gone whose foot
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Treads down one fond offense.”
As you succeed in overcoming self you will begin to see things in their right relations. He
who is swayed by any passion, prejudice, like or dislike, adjusts everything to that
particular bias, and sees only his own delusions. He who is absolutely free from all
passion, prejudice, preference, and partiality, sees himself as he is; sees others as they
are; sees all things in their proper proportions and right relations. Having nothing to attack,
nothing to defend, nothing to conceal, and no interests to guard, he is at peace. He has
realized the profound simplicity of Truth, for this unbiased, tranquil, blessed state of mind
and heart is the state of Truth. He who attains to it dwells with the angels, and sits at the
footstool of the Supreme. Knowing the Great Law; knowing the origin of sorrow; knowing
the secret of suffering; knowing the way of emancipation in Truth, how can such a one
engage in strife or condemnation; for though he knows that the blind, self-seeking world,
surrounded with the clouds of its own illusions, and enveloped in the darkness of error and
self, cannot perceive the steadfast Light of Truth, and is utterly incapable of
comprehending the profound simplicity of the heart that has died, or is dying, to self, yet
he also knows that when the suffering ages have piled up mountains of sorrow, the
crushed and burdened soul of the world will fly to its final refuge, and that when the ages
are completed, every prodigal will come back to the fold of Truth. And so he dwells in
goodwill toward all, and regards all with that tender compassion which a father bestows
upon his wayward children.
Men cannot understand Truth because they cling to self, because they believe in and love
self, because they believe self to be the only reality, whereas it is the one delusion. When
you cease to believe in and love self you will desert it, and will fly to Truth, and will find the
eternal Reality.
When men are intoxicated with the wines of luxury, and pleasure, and vanity, the thirst of
life grows and deepens within them, and they delude themselves with dreams of fleshly
immortality, but when they come to reap the harvest of their own sowing, and pain and
sorrow supervene, then, crushed and humiliated, relinquishing self and all the
intoxications of self, they come, with aching hearts to the one immortality, the immortality
that destroys all delusions, the spiritual immortality in Truth.
Men pass from evil to good, from self to Truth, through the dark gate of sorrow, for sorrow
and self are inseparable. Only in the peace and bliss of Truth is all sorrow vanquished. If
you suffer disappointment because your cherished plans have been thwarted, or because
someone has not come up to your anticipations, it is because you are clinging to self. If
you suffer remorse for your conduct, it is because you have given way to self. If you are
overwhelmed with chagrin and regret because of the attitude of someone else toward you,
it is because you have been cherishing self.
If you are wounded on account of what has been done to you or said of you, it is because
you are walking in the painful way of self. All suffering is of self. All suffering ends in Truth.
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 48
When you have entered into and realized Truth, you will no longer suffer disappointment,
remorse, and regret, and sorrow will flee from you.
“Self is the only prison that can ever bind the soul; Truth is the only angel that can bid the
gates unroll; And when he comes to call thee, arise and follow fast; His way may lie
through darkness, but it leads to light at last.”
The woe of the world is of its own making. Sorrow purifies and deepens the soul, and the
extremity of sorrow is the prelude to Truth. Have you suffered much? Have you sorrowed
deeply? Have you pondered seriously upon the problem of life? If so, you are prepared to
wage war against self, and to become a disciple of Truth.
The intellectual who do not see the necessity for giving up self, frame endless theories
about the universe, and call them Truth; but do thou pursue that direct line of conduct
which is the practice of righteousness, and thou wilt realize the Truth which has no place
in theory, and which never changes.
Cultivate your heart. Water it continually with unselfish love and deep-felt pity, and strive
to shut out from it all thoughts and feelings which are not in accordance with Love. Return
good for evil, love for hatred, gentleness for ill-treatment, and remain silent when attacked.
So shall you transmute all your selfish desires into the pure gold of Love, and self will
disappear in Truth. So will you walk blamelessly among men, yoked with the easy yoke of
lowliness, and clothed with the divine garment of humility.
End thou in the heart of the Master of ruth;
Across self’s drear desert why wilt thou be driving,
Athirst for the quickening waters of Truth
When here, by the path of thy searching and sinning,
Flows Life’s gladsome stream, lies Love’s oasis green?
Come, turn thou and rest; know the end and beginning,
The sought and the searcher, the seer and seen.
Thy Master sits not in the unapproached mountains,
Nor dwells in the mirage which floats on the air,
Nor shalt thou discover His magical fountains
In pathways of sand that encircle despair.
In selfhood’s dark desert cease wearily seeking
The odorous tracks of the feet of thy King;
And if thou wouldst hear the sweet sound of His speaking,
Be deaf to all voices that emptily sing.
Flee the vanishing places; renounce all thou hast;
Leave all that thou lovest, and, naked and bare,
Thyself at the shrine of the Innermost cast;
The Highest, the Holiest, the Changeless is there.
Within, in the heart of the Silence He dwelleth;
Leave sorrow and sin, leave thy wanderings sore;
Come bathe in His Joy, whilst He, whispering, telleth
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 49
Thy soul what it seeketh, and wander no more.
Then cease, weary brother, thy struggling and striving;
Find peace in the heart of the Master of ruth.
Across self’s dark desert cease wearily driving;
Come; drink at the beautiful waters of Truth.
The world is filled with men and women seeking pleasure, excitement, novelty; seeking
ever to be moved to laughter or tears; not seeking strength, stability, and power; but
courting weakness, and eagerly engaged in dispersing what power they have.
Men and women of real power and influence are few, because few are prepared to make
the sacrifice necessary to the acquirement of power, and fewer still are ready to patiently
build up character. To be swayed by your fluctuating thoughts and impulses is to be weak
and powerless; to rightly control and direct those forces is to be strong and powerful.
Men of strong animal passions have much of the ferocity of the beast, but this is not
power. The elements of power are there; but it is only when this ferocity is tamed and
subdued by the higher intelligence that real power begins; and men can only grow in
power by awakening themselves to higher and ever higher states of intelligence and
The difference between a man of weakness and one of power lies not in the strength of
the personal will (for the stubborn man is usually weak and foolish), but in that focus of
consciousness which represents their states of knowledge.
The pleasure-seekers, the lovers of excitement, the hunters after novelty, and the victims
of impulse and hysterical emotion lack that knowledge of principles which gives balance,
stability, and influence. A man commences to develop power when, checking his impulses
and selfish inclinations, he falls back upon the higher and calmer consciousness within
him, and begins to steady himself upon a principle.
The realization of unchanging principles in consciousness is at once the source and secret
of the highest power. When, after much searching, and suffering, and sacrificing, the light
of an eternal principle dawns upon the soul, a divine calm ensues and joy unspeakable
gladdens the heart. He who has realized such a principle ceases to wander, and remains
poised and self-possessed. He ceases to be “passion’s slave,” and becomes a masterbuilder
in the Temple of Destiny.
The man that is governed by self, and not by a principle, changes his front when his
selfish comforts are threatened. Deeply intent upon defending and guarding his own
interests, he regards all means as lawful that will subserve that end. He is continually
scheming as to how he may protect himself against his enemies, being too self-centered
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 50
to perceive that he is his own enemy. Such a man’s work crumbles away, for it is divorced
from Truth and power. All effort that is grounded upon self, perishes; only that work
endures that is built upon an indestructible principle.
The man that stands upon a principle is the same calm, dauntless, self-possessed man
under all circumstances. When the hour of trial comes, and he has to decide between his
personal comforts and Truth, he gives up his comforts and remains firm. Even the
prospect of torture and death cannot alter or deter him. The man of self regards the loss of
his wealth, his comforts, or his life as the greatest calamities which can befall him. The
man of principle looks upon these incidents as comparatively insignificant, and not to be
weighed with loss of character, loss of Truth.
To desert Truth is, to him, the only happening which can really be called a calamity. It is
the hour of crisis which decides who are the minions of darkness, and who the children of
Light. It is the epoch of threatening disaster, ruin, and persecution which divides the sheep
from the goats, and reveals to the reverential gaze of succeeding ages the men and
women of power.
It is easy for a man, so long as he is left in the enjoyment of his possessions, to persuade
himself that he believes in and adheres to the principles of Peace, Brotherhood, and
Universal Love; but if, when his enjoyments are threatened, or he imagines they are
threatened, he begins to clamor loudly for war, he shows that he believes in and stands
upon, not Peace, Brotherhood, and Love, but strife, selfishness, and hatred.
He who does not desert his principles when threatened with the loss of every earthly thing,
even to the loss of reputation and life, is the man of power; is the man whose every word
and work endures; is the man whom the afterworld honors, reveres, and worships. Rather
than desert that principle of Divine Love on which he rested, and in which all his trust was
placed, Jesus endured the utmost extremity of agony and deprivation; and today the world
prostrates itself at his pierced feet in rapt adoration.
There is no way to the acquirement of spiritual power except by that inward illumination
and enlightenment which is the realization of spiritual principles; and those principles can
only be realized by constant practice and application. Take the principle of divine Love,
and quietly and diligently meditate upon it with the object of arriving at a thorough
understanding of it.
Bring its searching light to bear upon all your habits, your actions, your speech and
intercourse with others, your every secret thought and desire. As you persevere in this
course, the divine Love will become more and more perfectly revealed to you, and your
own shortcomings will stand out in more and more vivid contrast, spurring you on to
renewed endeavor; and having once caught a glimpse of the incomparable majesty of that
imperishable principle, you will never again rest in your weakness, your selfishness, your
imperfection, but will pursue that Love until you have relinquished every discordant
element, and have brought yourself into perfect harmony with it. And that state of inward
harmony is spiritual power.
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 51
Take also other spiritual principles, such as Purity and Compassion, and apply them in the
same way, and, so exacting is Truth, you will be able to make no stay, no resting-place
until the inmost garment of your soul is bereft of every stain, and your heart has become
incapable of any hard, condemnatory, and pitiless impulse.
Only in so far as you understand, realize, and rely upon, these principles, will you acquire
spiritual power, and that power will be manifested in and through you in the form of
increasing dispassion, patience and equanimity. Dispassion argues superior self-control;
sublime patience is the very hall-mark of divine knowledge, and to retain an unbroken
calm amid all the duties and distractions of life, marks off the man of power.
“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our
own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness
the independence of solitude.”
Some mystics hold that perfection in dispassion is the source of that power by which
miracles (so-called) are performed, and truly he who has gained such perfect control of all
his interior forces that no shock, however great, can for one moment unbalance him, must
be capable of guiding and directing those forces with a master-hand.
To grow in self-control, in patience, in equanimity, is to grow in strength and power; and
you can only thus grow by focusing your consciousness upon a principle. As a child, after
making many and vigorous attempts to walk unaided, at last succeeds, after numerous
falls, in accomplishing this, so you must enter the way of power by first attempting to stand
alone. Break away from the tyranny of custom, tradition, conventionality, and the opinions
of others, until you succeed in walking lonely and erect among men.
Rely upon your own judgment; be true to your own conscience; follow the Light that is
within you; all outward lights are so many will-o’-the-wisps. There will be those who will tell
you that you are foolish; that your judgment is faulty; that your conscience is all awry, and
that the Light within you is darkness; but heed them not. If what they say is true the sooner
you, as a searcher for wisdom, find it out the better, and you can only make the discovery
by bringing your powers to the test.
Therefore, pursue your course bravely. Your conscience is at least your own, and to follow
it is to be a man; to follow the conscience of another is to be a slave. You will have many
falls, will suffer many wounds, will endure many buffetings for a time, but press on in faith,
believing that sure and certain victory lies ahead.
Search for a rock, a principle, and having found it cling to it; get it under your feet and
stand erect upon it, until at last, immovably fixed upon it, you succeed in defying the fury
of the waves and storms of selfishness. For selfishness in any and every form is
dissipation, weakness, death; unselfishness in its spiritual aspect is conservation, power,
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 52
As you grow in spiritual life, and become established upon principles, you will become as
beautiful and as unchangeable as those principles, will taste of the sweetness of their
immortal essence, and will realize the eternal and indestructible nature of the God within.
No harmful shaft can reach the righteous man,
Standing erect amid the storms of hate,
Defying hurt and injury and ban,
Surrounded by the trembling slaves of Fate.
Majestic in the strength of silent power,
Serene he stands, nor changes not nor turns;
Patient and firm in suffering’s darkest hour,
Time bends to him, and death and doom he spurns.
Wrath’s lurid lightnings round about him play,
And hell’s deep thunders roll about his head;
Yet heeds he not, for him they cannot slay
Who stands whence earth and time and space are fled.
Sheltered by deathless love, what fear hath he?
Armored in changeless Truth, what can he know
Of loss and gain? Knowing eternity,
He moves not whilst the shadows come and go.
Call him immortal, call him Truth and Light
And splendor of prophetic majesty
Who bideth thus amid the powers of night,
Clothed with the glory of divinity.
It is said that Michael Angelo saw in every rough block of stone a thing of beauty awaiting
the master-hand to bring it into reality. Even so, within each there reposes the Divine
Image awaiting the master-hand of Faith and the chisel of Patience to bring it into
And that Divine Image is revealed and realized as stainless, selfless Love. Hidden deep in
every human heart, though frequently covered up with a mass of hard and almost
impenetrable accretions, is the spirit of Divine Love, whose holy and spotless essence is
undying and eternal.
It is the Truth in man; it is that which belongs to the Supreme: that which is real and
immortal. All else changes and passes away; this alone is permanent and imperishable;
and to realize this Love by ceaseless diligence in the practice of the highest
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 53
righteousness, to live in it and to become fully conscious in it, is to enter into immortality
here and now, is to become one with Truth, one with God, one with the central Heart of all
things, and to know our own divine and eternal nature.
To reach this Love, to understand and experience it, one must work with great persistency
and diligence upon his heart and mind, must ever renew his patience and keep strong his
faith, for there will be much to remove, much to accomplish before the Divine Image is
revealed in all its glorious beauty.
He who strives to reach and to accomplish the divine will be tried to the very uttermost;
and this is absolutely necessary, for how else could one acquire that sublime patience
without which there is no real wisdom, no divinity?
Ever and anon, as he proceeds, all his work will seem to be futile, and his efforts appear
to be thrown away. Now and then a hasty touch will mar his image, and perhaps when he
imagines his work is almost completed he will find what he imagined to be the beautiful
form of Divine Love utterly destroyed, and he must begin again with his past bitter
experience to guide and help him.
But he who has resolutely set himself to realize the Highest recognizes no such thing as
defeat. All failures are apparent, not real. Every slip, every fall, every return to selfishness
is a lesson learned, an experience gained, from which a golden grain of wisdom is
extracted, helping the striver toward the accomplishment of his lofty object. To recognize
“That of our vices we can frame
A ladder if we will but tread
Beneath our feet each deed of shame,”
is to enter the way that leads unmistakably toward the Divine, and the failings of one who
thus recognizes are so many dead selves, upon which he rises, as upon steppingstones,
to higher things.
Once come to regard your failings, your sorrows and sufferings as so many voices telling
you plainly where you are weak and faulty, where you fall below the true and the divine,
you will then begin to ceaselessly watch yourself, and every slip, every pang of pain will
show you where you are to set to work, and what you have to remove out of your heart in
order to bring it nearer to the likeness of the Divine, nearer to the Perfect Love. And as
you proceed, day by day detaching yourself more and more from the inward selfishness
the Love that is selfless will gradually become revealed to you.
And when you are growing patient and calm, when your petulances, tempers, and
irritabilities are passing away from you, and the more powerful lusts and prejudices cease
to dominate and enslave you, then you will know that the divine is awakening within you,
that you are drawing near to the eternal Heart, that you are not far from that selfless Love,
the possession of which is peace and immortality.
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 54
Divine Love is distinguished from human loves in this supremely important particular, it is
free from partiality.
Human loves cling to a particular object to the exclusion of all else, and when that object is
removed, great and deep is the resultant suffering to the one who loves. Divine Love
embraces the whole universe, and, without clinging to any part, yet contains within itself
the whole, and he who comes to it by gradually purifying and broadening his human loves
until all the selfish and impure elements are burnt out of them, ceases from suffering.
It is because human loves are narrow and confined and mingled with selfishness that they
cause suffering. No suffering can result from that Love which is so absolutely pure that it
seeks nothing for itself. Nevertheless, human loves are absolutely necessary as steps
toward the Divine, and no soul is prepared to partake of Divine Love until it has become
capable of the deepest and most intense human love.
It is only by passing through human loves and human sufferings that Divine Love is
reached and realized. All human loves are perishable like the forms to which they cling;
but there is a Love that is imperishable, and that does not cling to appearances. All human
loves are counterbalanced by human hates; but there is a Love that admits of no opposite
or reaction; divine and free from all taint of self, that sheds its fragrance on all alike.
Human loves are reflections of the Divine Love, and draw the soul nearer to the reality, the
Love that knows neither sorrow nor change. It is well that the mother, clinging with
passionate tenderness to the little helpless form of flesh that lies on her bosom, should be
overwhelmed with the dark waters of sorrow when she sees it laid in the cold earth. It is
well that her tears should flow and her heart ache, for only thus can she be reminded of
the evanescent nature of the joys and objects of sense, and be drawn nearer to the
eternal and imperishable Reality.
It is well that lover, brother, sister, husband, wife should suffer deep anguish, and be
enveloped in gloom when the visible object of their affections is torn from them, so that
they may learn to turn their affections toward the invisible Source of all, where alone
abiding satisfaction is to be found.
It is well that the proud, the ambitious, the self-seeking, should suffer defeat, humiliation,
and misfortune; that they should pass through the scorching fires of affliction; for only thus
can the wayward soul be brought to reflect upon the enigma of life; only thus can the heart
be softened and purified, and prepared to receive the Truth.
When the sting of anguish penetrates the heart of human love; when gloom and loneliness
and desertion cloud the soul of friendship and trust, then it is that the heart turns toward
the sheltering love of the Eternal, and finds rest in its silent peace. And whosoever comes
to this Love is not turned away comfortless, is not pierced with anguish nor surrounded
with gloom; and is never deserted in the dark hour of trial.
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The glory of Divine Love can only be revealed in the heart that is chastened by sorrow,
and the image of the heavenly state can only be perceived and realized when the lifeless,
formless accretions of ignorance and self are hewn away.
Only that Love that seeks no personal gratification or reward, that does not make
distinctions, and that leaves behind no heartaches, can be called divine. Men, clinging to
self and to the comfortless shadows of evil, are in the habit of thinking of divine Love as
something belonging to a God who is out of reach; as something outside themselves, and
that must for ever remain outside.
Truly, the Love of God is ever beyond the reach of self, but when the heart and mind are
emptied of self then the selfless Love, the supreme Love, the Love that is of God or Good
becomes an inward and abiding reality. And this inward realization of holy Love is none
other than the Love of Christ that is so much talked about and so little comprehended. The
Love that not only saves the soul from sin, but lifts it also above the power of temptation.
But how may one attain to this sublime realization? The answer which Truth has always
given, and will ever give to this question is,–
“Empty thyself, and I will fill thee.” Divine Love cannot be known until self is dead, for self
is the denial of Love, and how can that which is known be also denied? Not until the stone
of self is rolled away from the sepulcher of the soul does the immortal Christ, the pure
Spirit of Love, hitherto crucified, dead and buried, cast off the bands of ignorance, and
come forth in all the majesty of His resurrection.
You believe that the Christ of Nazareth was put to death and rose again. I do not say you
err in that belief; but if you refuse to believe that the gentle spirit of Love is crucified daily
upon the dark cross of your selfish desires, then, I say, you err in this unbelief, and have
not yet perceived, even afar off, the Love of Christ. You say that you have tasted of
salvation in the Love of Christ.
Are you saved from your temper, your irritability, your vanity, your personal dislikes, your
judgment and condemnation of others? If not, from what are you saved, and wherein have
you realized the transforming Love of Christ? He who has realized the Love that is divine
has become a new man, and has ceased to be swayed and dominated by the old
elements of self. He is known for his patience, his purity, his self-control, his deep charity
of heart, and his unalterable sweetness.
Divine or selfless Love is not a mere sentiment or emotion; it is a state of knowledge
which destroys the dominion of evil and the belief in evil, and lifts the soul into the joyful
realization of the supreme Good. To the divinely wise, knowledge and Love are one and
inseparable. It is toward the complete realization of this divine Love that the whole world is
moving; it was for this purpose that the universe came into existence, and every grasping
at happiness, every reaching out of the soul toward objects, ideas and ideals, is an effort
to realize it.
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But the world does not realize this Love at present because it is grasping at the fleeting
shadow and ignoring, in its blindness, the substance. And so suffering and sorrow
continue, and must continue until the world, taught by its self-inflicted pains, discovers the
Love that is selfless, the wisdom that is calm and full of peace.
And this Love, this Wisdom, this Peace, this tranquil state of mind and heart may be
attained to, may be realized by all who are willing and ready to yield up self, and who are
prepared to humbly enter into a comprehension of all that the giving up of self involves.
There is no arbitrary power in the universe, and the strongest chains of fate by which men
are bound are self-forged. Men are chained to that which causes suffering because they
desire to be so, because they love their chains, because they think their little dark prison
of self is sweet and beautiful, and they are afraid that if they desert that prison they will
lose all that is real and worth having.
“Ye suffer from yourselves, none else compels,
None other holds ye that ye live and die.”
And the indwelling power which forged the chains and built around itself the dark and
narrow prison, can break away when it desires and wills to do so, and the soul does will to
do so when it has discovered the worthlessness of its prison, when long suffering has
prepared it for the reception of the boundless Light and Love.
As the shadow follows the form, and as smoke comes after fire, so effect follows cause,
and suffering and bliss follow the thoughts and deeds of men. There is no effect in the
world around us but has its hidden or revealed cause, and that cause is in accordance
with absolute justice. Men reap a harvest of suffering because in the near or distant past
they have sown the seeds of evil; they reap a harvest of bliss also as a result of their own
sowing of the seeds of good. Let a man meditate upon this, let him strive to understand it,
and he will then begin to sow only seeds of good, and will burn up the tares and weeds
which he has formerly grown in the garden of his heart.
The world does not understand the Love that is selfless because it is engrossed in the
pursuit of its own pleasures, and cramped within the narrow limits of perishable interests
mistaking, in its ignorance, those pleasures and interests for real and abiding things.
Caught in the flames of fleshly lusts, and burning with anguish, it sees not the pure and
peaceful beauty of Truth.
Feeding upon the swinish husks of error and self-delusion, it is shut out from the mansion
of all-seeing Love. Not having this Love, not understanding it, men institute innumerable
reforms which involve no inward sacrifice, and each imagines that his reform is going to
right the world for ever, while he himself continues to propagate evil by engaging it in his
own heart.
That only can be called reform which tends to reform the human heart, for all evil has its
rise there, and not until the world, ceasing from selfishness and party strife, has learned
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 57
the lesson of divine Love, will it realize the Golden Age of universal blessedness. Let the
rich cease to despise the poor, and the poor to condemn the rich; let the greedy learn how
to give, and the lustful how to grow pure; let the partisan cease from strife, and the
uncharitable begin to forgive; let the envious endeavor to rejoice with others, and the
slanderers grow ashamed of their conduct.
Let men and women take this course, and, lo! the Golden Age is at hand. He, therefore,
who purifies his own heart is the world’s greatest benefactor. Yet, though the world is, and
will be for many ages to come, shut out from that Age of Gold, which is the realization of
selfless Love, you, if you are willing, may enter it now, by rising above your selfish self; if
you will pass from prejudice, hatred, and condemnation, to gentle and forgiving love.
Where hatred, dislike, and condemnation are, selfless Love does not abide. It resides only
in the heart that has ceased from all condemnation. You say, “How can I love the
drunkard, the hypocrite, the sneak, the murderer?
I am compelled to dislike and condemn such men.” It is true you cannot love such men
emotionally, but when you say that you must perforce dislike and condemn them you
show that you are not acquainted with the Great over-ruling Love; for it is possible to attain
to such a state of interior enlightenment as will enable you to perceive the train of causes
by which these men have become as they are, to enter into their intense sufferings, and to
know the certainty of their ultimate purification.
Possessed of such knowledge it will be utterly impossible for you any longer to dislike or
condemn them, and you will always think of them with perfect calmness and deep
If you love people and speak of them with praise until they in some way thwart you, or do
something of which you disapprove, and then you dislike them and speak of them with
dispraise, you are not governed by the Love which is of God. If, in your heart, you are
continually arraigning and condemning others, selfless Love is hidden from you.
He who knows that Love is at the heart of all things, and has realized the all-sufficing
power of that Love, has no room in his heart for condemnation. Men, not knowing this
Love, constitute themselves judge and executioner of their fellows, forgetting that there is
the Eternal Judge and Executioner, and in so far as men deviate from them in their own
views, their particular reforms and methods, they brand them as fanatical, unbalanced,
lacking judgment, sincerity, and honesty; in so far as others approximate to their own
standard do they look upon them as being everything that is admirable.
Such are the men who are centered in self. But he whose heart is centered in the
supreme Love does not so brand and classify men; does not seek to convert men to his
own views, not to convince them of the superiority of his methods. Knowing the Law of
Love, he lives it, and maintains the same calm attitude of mind and sweetness of heart
toward all.
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The debased and the virtuous, the foolish and the wise, the learned and the unlearned,
the selfish and the unselfish receive alike the benediction of his tranquil thought. You can
only attain to this supreme knowledge, this divine Love by unremitting endeavor in selfdiscipline,
and by gaining victory after victory over yourself.
Only the pure in heart see God, and when your heart is sufficiently purified you will enter
into the New Birth, and the Love that does not die, nor change, nor end in pain and sorrow
will be awakened within you, and you will be at peace.
He who strives for the attainment of divine Love is ever seeking to overcome the spirit of
condemnation, for where there is pure spiritual knowledge, condemnation cannot exist,
and only in the heart that has become incapable of condemnation is Love perfected and
fully realized.
The Christian condemns the Atheist; the Atheist satirizes the Christian; the Catholic and
Protestant are ceaselessly engaged in wordy warfare, and the spirit of strife and hatred
rules where peace and love should be. “He that hateth his brother is a murderer,” a
crucifier of the divine Spirit of Love; and until you can regard men of all religions and of no
religion with the same impartial spirit, with all freedom from dislike, and with perfect
equanimity, you have yet to strive for that Love which bestows upon its possessor
freedom and salvation.
The realization of divine knowledge, selfless Love, utterly destroys the spirit of
condemnation, disperses all evil, and lifts the consciousness to that height of pure vision
where Love, Goodness, Justice are seen to be universal, supreme, all-conquering,
Train your mind in strong, impartial, and gentle thought; train your heart in purity and
compassion; train your tongue to silence and to true and stainless speech; so shall you
enter the way of holiness and peace, and shall ultimately realize the immortal Love. So
living, without seeking to convert, you will convince; without arguing, you will teach; not
cherishing ambition, the wise will find you out; and without striving to gain men’s opinions,
you will subdue their hearts.
For Love is all-conquering, all-powerful; and the thoughts, and deeds, and words of Love
can never perish. To know that Love is universal, supreme, all-sufficing; to be freed from
the trammels of evil; to be quit of the inward unrest; to know that all men are striving to
realize the Truth each in his own way; to be satisfied, sorrowless, serene; this is peace;
this is gladness; this is immortality; this is Divinity; this is the realization of selfless Love.
I stood upon the shore, and saw the rocks
Resist the onslaught of the mighty sea,
And when I thought how all the countless shocks
They had withstood through an eternity,
I said, “To wear away this solid main
The ceaseless efforts of the waves are vain.”
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But when I thought how they the rocks had rent,
And saw the sand and shingles at my feet
(Poor passive remnants of resistance spent)
Tumbled and tossed where they the waters meet,
Then saw I ancient landmarks ’neath the waves,
And knew the waters held the stones their slaves.
I saw the mighty work the waters wrought
By patient softness and unceasing flow;
How they the proudest promontory brought
Unto their feet, and massy hills laid low;
How the soft drops the adamantine wall
Conquered at last, and brought it to its fall.
And then I knew that hard, resisting sin
Should yield at last to Love’s soft ceaseless roll
Coming and going, ever flowing in
Upon the proud rocks of the human soul;
That all resistance should be spent and past,
And every heart yield unto it at last.
From the beginning of time, man, in spite of his bodily appetites and desires, in the midst
of all his clinging to earthly and impermanent things, has ever been intuitively conscious of
the limited, transient, and illusionary nature of his material existence, and in his sane and
silent moments has tried to reach out into a comprehension of the Infinite, and has turned
with tearful aspiration toward the restful Reality of the Eternal Heart.
While vainly imagining that the pleasures of earth are real and satisfying, pain and sorrow
continually remind him of their unreal and unsatisfying nature. Ever striving to believe that
complete satisfaction is to be found in material things, he is conscious of an inward and
persistent revolt against this belief, which revolt is at once a refutation of his essential
mortality, and an inherent and imperishable proof that only in the immortal, the eternal, the
infinite can he find abiding satisfaction and unbroken peace.
And here is the common ground of faith; here the root and spring of all religion; here the
soul of Brotherhood and the heart of Love,–that man is essentially and spiritually divine
and eternal, and that, immersed in mortality and troubled with unrest, he is ever striving to
enter into a consciousness of his real nature.
The spirit of man is inseparable from the Infinite, and can be satisfied with nothing short of
the Infinite, and the burden of pain will continue to weigh upon man’s heart, and the
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 60
shadows of sorrow to darken his pathway until, ceasing from his wanderings in the dreamworld
of matter, he comes back to his home in the reality of the Eternal.
As the smallest drop of water detached from the ocean contains all the qualities of the
ocean, so man, detached in consciousness from the Infinite, contains within him its
likeness; and as the drop of water must, by the law of its nature, ultimately find its way
back to the ocean and lose itself in its silent depths, so must man, by the unfailing law of
his nature, at last return to his source, and lose himself in the great ocean of the Infinite.
To re-become one with the Infinite is the goal of man. To enter into perfect harmony with
the Eternal Law is Wisdom, Love and Peace. But this divine state is, and must ever be,
incomprehensible to the merely personal. Personality, separateness, selfishness are one
and the same, and are the antithesis of wisdom and divinity. By the unqualified surrender
of the personality, separateness and selfishness cease, and man enters into the
possession of his divine heritage of immortality and infinity.
Such surrender of the personality is regarded by the worldly and selfish mind as the most
grievous of all calamities, the most irreparable loss, yet it is the one supreme and
incomparable blessing, the only real and lasting gain. The mind unenlightened upon the
inner laws of being, and upon the nature and destiny of its own life, clings to transient
appearances, things which have in them no enduring substantiality, and so clinging,
perishes, for the time being, amid the shattered wreckage of its own illusions.
Men cling to and gratify the flesh as though it were going to last for ever, and though they
try to forget the nearness and inevitability of its dissolution, the dread of death and of the
loss of all that they cling to clouds their happiest hours, and the chilling shadow of their
own selfishness follows them like a remorseless specter.
And with the accumulation of temporal comforts and luxuries, the divinity within men is
drugged, and they sink deeper and deeper into materiality, into the perishable life of the
senses, and where there is sufficient intellect, theories concerning the immortality of the
flesh come to be regarded as infallible truths.
When a man’s soul is clouded with selfishness in any or every form, he loses the power of
spiritual discrimination, and confuses the temporal with the eternal, the perishable with the
permanent, mortality with immortality, and error with Truth. It is thus that the world has
come to be filled with theories and speculations having no foundation in human
Every body of flesh contains within itself, from the hour of birth, the elements of its own
destruction, and by the unalterable law of its own nature must it pass away. The
perishable in the universe can never become permanent; the permanent can never pass
away; the mortal can never become immortal; the immortal can never die; the temporal
cannot become eternal nor the eternal become temporal; appearance can never become
reality, nor reality fade into appearance; error can never become Truth, nor can Truth
become error. Man cannot immortalize the flesh, but, by overcoming the flesh, by
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 61
relinquishing all its inclinations, he can enter the region of immortality. “God alone hath
immortality,” and only by realizing the God state of consciousness does man enter into
immortality. All nature in its myriad forms of life is changeable, impermanent, unenduring.
Only the informing Principle of nature endures. Nature is many, and is marked by
The informing Principle is One, and is marked by unity. By overcoming the senses and the
selfishness within, which is the overcoming of nature, man emerges from the chrysalis of
the personal and illusory, and wings himself into the glorious light of the impersonal, the
region of universal Truth, out of which all perishable forms come.
Let men, therefore, practice self-denial; let them conquer their animal inclinations; let them
refuse to be enslaved by luxury and pleasure; let them practice virtue, and grow daily into
high and ever higher virtue, until at last they grow into the Divine, and enter into both the
practice and the comprehension of humility, meekness, forgiveness, compassion, and
love, which practice and comprehension constitute Divinity. “Good-will gives insight,” and
only he who has so conquered his personality that he has but one attitude of mind, that of
good-will, toward all creatures, is possessed of divine insight, and is capable of
distinguishing the true from the false.
The supremely good man is, therefore, the wise man, the divine man, the enlightened
seer, the knower of the Eternal. Where you find unbroken gentleness, enduring patience,
sublime lowliness, graciousness of speech, self-control, self-forgetfulness, and deep and
abounding sympathy, look there for the highest wisdom, seek the company of such a one,
for he has realized the Divine, he lives with the Eternal, he has become one with the
Believe not him that is impatient, given to anger, boastful, who clings to pleasure and
refuses to renounce his selfish gratifications, and who practices not good-will and farreaching
compassion, for such a one hath not wisdom, vain is all his knowledge, and his
works and words will perish, for they are grounded on that which passes away.
Let a man abandon self, let him overcome the world, let him deny the personal; by this
pathway only can he enter into the heart of the Infinite. The world, the body, the
personality are mirages upon the desert of time; transitory dreams in the dark night of
spiritual slumber, and those who have crossed the desert, those who are spiritually
awakened, have alone comprehended the Universal Reality where all appearances are
dispersed and dreaming and delusion are destroyed.
There is one Great Law which exacts unconditional obedience, one unifying principle
which is the basis of all diversity, one eternal Truth wherein all the problems of earth pass
away like shadows. To realize this Law, this Unity, this Truth, is to enter into the Infinite, is
to become one with the Eternal. To center one’s life in the Great Law of Love is to enter
into rest, harmony, peace.
From Poverty to Power, James Allen 62
To refrain from all participation in evil and discord; to cease from all resistance to evil, and
from the omission of that which is good, and to fall back upon unswerving obedience to
the holy calm within, is to enter into the inmost heart of things, is to attain to a living,
conscious experience of that eternal and infinite principle which must ever remain a
hidden mystery to the merely perceptive intellect.
Until this principle is realized, the soul is not established in peace, and he who so realizes
is truly wise; not wise with the wisdom of the learned, but with the simplicity of a blameless
heart and of a divine manhood. To enter into a realization of the Infinite and Eternal is to
rise superior to time, and the world, and the body, which comprise the kingdom of
darkness; and is to become established in immortality, Heaven, and the Spirit, which
make up the Empire of Light.
Entering into the Infinite is not a mere theory or sentiment. It is a vital experience which is
the result of assiduous practice in inward purification. When the body is no longer believed
to be, even remotely, the real man; when all appetites and desires are thoroughly subdued
and purified; when the emotions are rested and calm, and when the oscillation of the
intellect ceases and perfect poise is secured, then, and not till then, does consciousness
become one with the Infinite; not until then is childlike wisdom and profound peace
Men grow weary and gray over the dark problems of life, and finally pass away and leave
them unsolved because they cannot see their way out of the darkness of the personality,
being too much engrossed in its limitations. Seeking to save his personal life, man forfeits
the greater impersonal Life in Truth; clinging to the perishable, he is shut out from a
knowledge of the Eternal.
By the surrender of self all difficulties are overcome, and there is no error in the universe
but the fire of inward sacrifice will burn it up like chaff; no problem, however great, but will
disappear like a shadow under the searching light of self-abnegation. Problems exist only
in our own self-created illusions, and they vanish away when self is yielded up. Self and
error are synonymous.
Error is involved in the darkness of unfathomable complexity, but eternal simplicity is the
glory of Truth. Love of self shuts men out from Truth, and seeking their own personal
happiness they lose the deeper, purer, and more abiding bliss. Says Carlyle–“There is in
man a higher than love of happiness. He can do without happiness, and instead thereof
find blessedness.
… Love not pleasure, love God. This is the Everlasting Yea, wherein all contradiction is
solved; wherein whoso walks and works, it is well with him.” He who has yielded up that
self, that personality that men most love, and to which they cling with such fierce tenacity,
has left behind him all perplexity, and has entered into a simplicity so profoundly simple as
to be looked upon by the world, involved as it is in a network of error, as foolishness. Yet
such a one has realized the highest wisdom, and is at rest in the Infinite.
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He “accomplishes without striving,” and all problems melt before him, for he has entered
the region of reality, and deals, not with changing effects, but with the unchanging
principles of things. He is enlightened with a wisdom which is as superior to ratiocination,
as reason is to animality.
Having yielded up his lusts, his errors, his opinions and prejudices, he has entered into
possession of the knowledge of God, having slain the selfish desire for heaven, and along
with it the ignorant fear of hell; having relinquished even the love of life itself, he has
gained supreme bliss and Life Eternal, the Life which bridges life and death, and knows its
own immortality.
Having yielded up all without reservation, he has gained all, and rests in peace on the
bosom of the Infinite. Only he who has become so free from self as to be equally content
to be annihilated as to live, or to live as to be annihilated, is fit to enter into the Infinite.
Only he who, ceasing to trust his perishable self, has learned to trust in boundless
measure the Great Law, the Supreme Good, is prepared to partake of undying bliss.
For such a one there is no more regret, nor disappointment, nor remorse, for where all
selfishness has ceased these sufferings cannot be; and whatever happens to him he
knows that it is for his own good, and he is content, being no longer the servant of self, but
the servant of the Supreme. He is no longer affected by the changes of earth, and when
he hears of wars and rumors of wars his peace is not disturbed, and where men grow
angry and cynical and quarrelsome, he bestows compassion and love.
Though appearances may contradict it, he knows that the world is progressing, and that
“Through its laughing and its weeping,
Through its living and its keeping,
Through its follies and its labors, weaving in and out of
To the end from the beginning,
Through all virtue and all sinning,
Reeled from God’s great spool of Progress, runs the golden
thread of light.”
When a fierce storm is raging none are angered about it, because they know it will quickly
pass away, and when the storms of contention are devastating the world, the wise man,
looking with the eye of Truth and pity, knows that it will pass away, and that out of the
wreckage of broken hearts which it leaves behind the immortal Temple of Wisdom will be
Sublimely patient; infinitely compassionate; deep, silent, and pure, his very presence is a
benediction; and when he speaks men ponder his words in their hearts, and by them rise
to higher levels of attainment. Such is he who has entered into the Infinite, who by the
power of utmost sacrifice has solved the sacred mystery of life.
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Questioning Life and Destiny and Truth,
I sought the dark and labyrinthine Sphinx,
Who spake to me this strange and wondrous thing:–
“Concealment only lies in blinded eyes,
And God alone can see the Form of God.”
I sought to solve this hidden mystery
Vainly by paths of blindness and of pain,
But when I found the Way of Love and Peace,
Concealment ceased, and I was blind no more:
Then saw I God e’en with the eyes of God.
The spirit of Love which is manifested as a perfect and rounded life, is the crown of being
and the supreme end of knowledge upon this earth. The measure of a man’s truth is the
measure of his love, and Truth is far removed from him whose life is not governed by
The intolerant and condemnatory, even though they profess the highest religion, have the
smallest measure of Truth; while those who exercise patience, and who listen calmly and
dispassionately to all sides, and both arrive themselves at, and incline others to, thoughtful
and unbiased conclusions upon all problems and issues, have Truth in fullest measure.
The final test of wisdom is this,–
How does a man live? What spirit does he manifest? How does he act under trial and
temptation? Many men boast of being in possession of Truth who are continually swayed
by grief, disappointment, and passion, and who sink under the first little trial that comes
Truth is nothing if not unchangeable, and in so far as a man takes his stand upon Truth
does he become steadfast in virtue, does he rise superior to his passions and emotions
and changeable personality. Men formulate perishable dogmas, and call them Truth. Truth
cannot be formulated; it is ineffable, and ever beyond the reach of intellect. It can only be
experienced by practice; it can only be manifested as a stainless heart and a perfect life.
Who, then, in the midst of the ceaseless pandemonium of schools and creeds and parties,
has the Truth? He who lives it. He who practices it. He who, having risen above that
pandemonium by overcoming himself, no longer engages in it, but sits apart, quiet,
subdued, calm, and self-possessed, freed from all strife, all bias, all condemnation, and
bestows upon all the glad and unselfish love of the divinity within him.
He who is patient, calm, gentle, and forgiving under all circumstances, manifests the
Truth. Truth will never be proved by wordy arguments and learned treatises, for if men do
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not perceive the Truth in infinite patience, undying forgiveness, and all-embracing
compassion, no words can ever prove it to them.
It is an easy matter for the passionate to be calm and patient when they are alone, or are
in the midst of calmness. It is equally easy for the uncharitable to be gentle and kind when
they are dealt kindly with, but he who retains his patience and calmness under all trial,
who remains sublimely meek and gentle under the most trying circumstances, he, and he
alone, is possessed of the spotless Truth.
And this is so because such lofty virtues belong to the Divine, and can only be manifested
by one who has attained to the highest wisdom, who has relinquished his passionate and
self-seeking nature, who has realized the supreme and unchangeable Law, and has
brought himself into harmony with it. Let men, therefore, cease from vain and passionate
arguments about Truth, and let them think and say and do those things which make for
harmony, peace, love, and good-will. Let them practice heart-virtue, and search humbly
and diligently for the Truth which frees the soul from all error and sin, from all that blights
the human heart, and that darkens, as with unending night, the pathway of the wandering
souls of earth.
There is one great all-embracing Law which is the foundation and cause of the universe,
the Law of Love. It has been called by many names in various countries and at various
times, but behind all its names the same unalterable Law may be discovered by the eye of
Truth. Names, religions, personalities pass away, but the Law of Love remains. To
become possessed of a knowledge of this Law, to enter into conscious harmony with it, is
to become immortal, invincible, indestructible.
It is because of the effort of the soul to realize this Law that men come again and again to
live, to suffer, and to die; and when realized, suffering ceases, personality is dispersed,
and the fleshly life and death are destroyed, for consciousness becomes one with the
Eternal. The Law is absolutely impersonal, and its highest manifested expression is that of
When the purified heart has realized Truth it is then called upon to make the last, the
greatest and holiest sacrifice, the sacrifice of the well-earned enjoyment of Truth. It is by
virtue of this sacrifice that the divinely-emancipated soul comes to dwell among men,
clothed with a body of flesh, content to dwell among the lowliest and least, and to be
esteemed the servant of all mankind.
That sublime humility which is manifested by the world’s saviors is the seal of Godhead,
and he who has annihilated the personality, and has become a living, visible manifestation
of the impersonal, eternal, boundless Spirit of Love, is alone singled out as worthy to
receive the unstinted worship of posterity. He only who succeeds in humbling himself with
that divine humility which is not only the extinction of self, but is also the pouring out upon
all the spirit of unselfish love, is exalted above measure, and given spiritual dominion in
the hearts of mankind.
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All the great spiritual teachers have denied themselves personal luxuries, comforts, and
rewards, have abjured temporal power, and have lived and taught the limitless and
impersonal Truth. Compare their lives and teachings, and you will find the same simplicity,
the same selfsacrifice, the same humility, love, and peace both lived and preached by
them. They taught the same eternal Principles, the realization of which destroys all evil.
Those who have been hailed and worshiped as the saviors of mankind are manifestations
of the Great impersonal Law, and being such, were free from passion and prejudice, and
having no opinions, and no special letter of doctrine to preach and defend, they never
sought to convert and to proselytize. Living in the highest Goodness, the supreme
Perfection, their sole object was to uplift mankind by manifesting that Goodness in
thought, word, and deed. They stand between man the personal and God the impersonal,
and serve as exemplary types for the salvation of self-enslaved mankind.
Men who are immersed in self, and who cannot comprehend the Goodness that is
absolutely impersonal, deny divinity to all saviors except their own, and thus introduce
personal hatred and doctrinal controversy, and, while defending their own particular views
with passion, look upon each other as being heathens or infidels, and so render null and
void, as far as their lives are concerned, the unselfish beauty and holy grandeur of the
lives and teachings of their own Masters.
Truth cannot be limited; it can never be the special prerogative of any man, school, or
nation, and when personality steps in, Truth is lost. The glory alike of the saint, the sage,
and the savior is this,-that he has realized the most profound lowliness, the most sublime
unselfishness; having given up all, even his own personality, all his works are holy and
enduring, for they are freed from every taint of self. He gives, yet never thinks of receiving;
he works without regretting the past or anticipating the future, and never looks for reward.
When the farmer has tilled and dressed his land and put in the seed, he knows that he has
done all that he can possibly do, and that now he must trust to the elements, and wait
patiently for the course of time to bring about the harvest, and that no amount of
expectancy on his part will affect the result. Even so, he who has realized Truth goes forth
as a sower of the seeds of goodness, purity, love and peace, without expectancy, and
never looking for results, knowing that there is the Great Over-ruling Law which brings
about its own harvest in due time, and which is alike the source of preservation and
Men, not understanding the divine simplicity of a profoundly unselfish heart, look upon
their particular savior as the manifestation of a special miracle, as being something
entirely apart and distinct from the nature of things, and as being, in his ethical excellence,
eternally unapproachable by the whole of mankind.
This attitude of unbelief (for such it is) in the divine perfectibility of man, paralyzes effort,
and binds the souls of men as with strong ropes to sin and suffering. Jesus “grew in
wisdom” and was “perfected by suffering.” What Jesus was, he became such; what
Buddha was, he became such; and every holy man became such by unremitting
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perseverance in self-sacrifice. Once recognize this, once realize that by watchful effort
and hopeful perseverance you can rise above your lower nature, and great and glorious
will be the vistas of attainment that will open out before you. Buddha vowed that he would
not relax his efforts until he arrived at the state of perfection, and he accomplished his
What the saints, sages, and saviors have accomplished, you likewise may accomplish if
you will only tread the way which they trod and pointed out, the way of self-sacrifice, of
self-denying service. Truth is very simple. It says, “Give up self,” “Come unto Me” (away
from all that defiles) “and I will give you rest.” All the mountains of commentary that have
been piled upon it cannot hide it from the heart that is earnestly seeking for
Righteousness. It does not require learning; it can be known in spite of learning.
Disguised under many forms by erring self-seeking man, the beautiful simplicity and clear
transparency of Truth remains unaltered and undimmed, and the unselfish heart enters
into and partakes of its shining radiance. Not by weaving complex theories, not by building
up speculative philosophies is Truth realized; but by weaving the web of inward purity, by
building up the Temple of a stainless life is Truth realized.
He who enters upon this holy way begins by restraining his passions. This is virtue, and is
the beginning of saintship, and saintship is the beginning of holiness. The entirely worldly
man gratifies all his desires, and practices no more restraint than the law of the land in
which he lives demands; the virtuous man restrains his passions; the saint attacks the
enemy of Truth in its stronghold within his own heart, and restrains all selfish and impure
thoughts; while the holy man is he who is free from passion and all impure thought, and to
whom goodness and purity have become as natural as scent and color are to the flower.
The holy man is divinely wise; he alone knows Truth in its fullness, and has entered into
abiding rest and peace. For him evil has ceased; it has disappeared in the universal light
of the AllGood. Holiness is the badge of wisdom. Said Krishna to the Prince Arjuna-
“Humbleness, truthfulness, and harmlessness,
Patience and honor, reverence for the wise,
Purity, constancy, control of self,
Contempt of sense-delights, self-sacrifice,
Perception of the certitude of ill
In birth, death, age, disease, suffering and sin;
An ever tranquil heart in fortunes good
And fortunes evil, …
… Endeavors resolute
To reach perception of the utmost soul,
And grace to understand what gain it were
So to attain–this is true wisdom, Prince!
And what is otherwise is ignorance!”
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Whoever fights ceaselessly against his own selfishness, and strives to supplant it with allembracing
love, is a saint, whether he live in a cottage or in the midst of riches and
influence; or whether he preaches or remains obscure.
To the worldling, who is beginning to aspire towards higher things, the saint, such as a
sweet St. Francis of Assisi, or a conquering St. Anthony, is a glorious and inspiring
spectacle; to the saint, an equally enrapturing sight is that of the sage, sitting serene and
holy, the conqueror of sin and sorrow, no more tormented by regret and remorse, and
whom even temptation can never reach; and yet even the sage is drawn on by a still more
glorious vision, that of the savior actively manifesting his knowledge in selfless works, and
rendering his divinity more potent for good by sinking himself in the throbbing, sorrowing,
aspiring heart of mankind.
And this only is true service–to forget oneself in love towards all, to lose oneself in
working for the whole. O thou vain and foolish man, who thinkest that thy many works can
save thee; who, chained to all error, talkest loudly of thyself, thy work, and thy many
sacrifices, and magnifiest thine own importance; know this, that though thy fame fill the
whole earth, all thy work shall come to dust, and thou thyself be reckoned lower than the
least in the Kingdom of Truth!
Only the work that is impersonal can live; the works of self are both powerless and
perishable. Where duties, howsoever humble, are done without self-interest, and with
joyful sacrifice, there is true service and enduring work. Where deeds, however brilliant
and apparently successful, are done from love of self, there is ignorance of the Law of
Service, and the work perishes.
It is given to the world to learn one great and divine lesson, the lesson of absolute
unselfishness. The saints, sages, and saviors of all time are they who have submitted
themselves to this task, and have learned and lived it. All the Scriptures of the world are
framed to teach this one lesson; all the great teachers reiterate it.
It is too simple for the world which, scorning it, stumbles along in the complex ways of
selfishness. A pure heart is the end of all religion and the beginning of divinity. To search
for this Righteousness is to walk the Way of Truth and Peace, and he who enters this Way
will soon perceive that Immortality which is independent of birth and death, and will realize
that in the Divine economy of the universe the humblest effort is not lost.
The divinity of a Krishna, a Gautama, or a Jesus is the crowning glory of self-abnegation,
the end of the soul’s pilgrimage in matter and mortality, and the world will not have
finished its long journey until every soul has become as these, and has entered into the
blissful realization of its own divinity.
Great glory crowns the heights of hope by arduous struggle
Bright honor rounds the hoary head that mighty works
hath done;
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Fair riches come to him who strives in ways of golden gain.
And fame enshrines his name who works with geniusglowing
But greater glory waits for him who, in the bloodless strife
’Gainst self and wrong, adopts, in love, the sacrificial life;
And brighter honor rounds the brow of him who, ’mid the
Of blind idolaters of self, accepts the crown of thorns;
And fairer purer riches come to him who greatly strives
To walk in ways of love and truth to sweeten human lives;
And he who serveth well mankind exchanges fleeting fame
For Light eternal, Joy and Peace, and robes of heavenly
In the external universe there is ceaseless turmoil, change, and unrest; at the heart of all
things there is undisturbed repose; in this deep silence dwelleth the Eternal. Man partakes
of this duality, and both the surface change and disquietude, and the deep-seated eternal
abode of Peace, are contained within him.
As there are silent depths in the ocean which the fiercest storm cannot reach, so there are
silent, holy depths in the heart of man which the storms of sin and sorrow can never
disturb. To reach this silence and to live consciously in it is peace. Discord is rife in the
outward world, but unbroken harmony holds sway at the heart of the universe.
The human soul, torn by discordant passion and grief, reaches blindly toward the harmony
of the sinless state, and to reach this state and to live consciously in it is peace. Hatred
severs human lives, fosters persecution, and hurls nations into ruthless war, yet men,
though they do not understand why, retain some measure of faith in the overshadowing of
a Perfect Love; and to reach this Love and to live consciously in it is peace.
And this inward peace, this silence, this harmony, this Love, is the Kingdom of Heaven,
which is so difficult to reach because few are willing to give up themselves and to become
as little children.
“Heaven’s gate is very narrow and minute,
It cannot be perceived by foolish men
Blinded by vain illusions of the world;
E’en the clear-sighted who discern the way,
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And seek to enter, find the portal barred,
And hard to be unlocked. Its massive bolts
Are pride and passion, avarice and lust.”
Men cry peace! peace! where there is no peace, but on the contrary, discord, disquietude
and strife. Apart from that Wisdom which is inseparable from self-renunciation, there can
be no real and abiding peace. The peace which results from social comfort, passing
gratification, or worldly victory is transitory in its nature, and is burnt up in the heat of fiery
trial. Only the Peace of Heaven endures through all trial, and only the selfless heart can
know the Peace of Heaven.
Holiness alone is undying peace. Self-control leads to it, and the ever-increasing Light of
Wisdom guides the pilgrim on his way. It is partaken of in a measure as soon as the path
of virtue is entered upon, but it is only realized in its fullness when self disappears in the
consummation of a stainless life.
“This is peace,
To conquer love of self and lust of life,
To tear deep-rooted passion from the heart
To still the inward strife.
If, O reader! you would realize the Light that never fades, the Joy that never ends, and the
tranquillity that cannot be disturbed; if you would leave behind for ever your sins, your
sorrows, your anxieties and perplexities; if, I say, you would partake of this salvation, this
supremely glorious Life, then conquer yourself. Bring every thought, every impulse, every
desire into perfect obedience to the divine power resident within you. There is no other
way to peace but this, and if you refuse to walk it, your much praying and your strict
adherence to ritual will be fruitless and unavailing, and neither gods nor angels can help
you. Only to him that overcometh is given the white stone of the regenerate life, on which
is written the New and Ineffable Name.
Come away, for awhile, from external things, from the pleasures of the senses, from the
arguments of the intellect, from the noise and the excitements of the world, and withdraw
yourself into the inmost chamber of your heart, and there, free from the sacrilegious
intrusion of all selfish desires, you will find a deep silence, a holy calm, a blissful repose,
and if you will rest awhile in that holy place, and will meditate there, the faultless eye of
Truth will open within you, and you will see things as they really are. This holy place within
you is your real and eternal self; it is the divine within you; and only when you identify
yourself with it can you be said to be “clothed and in your right mind.” It is the abode of
peace, the temple of wisdom, the dwelling place of immortality. Apart from this inward
resting-place, this Mount of Vision, there can be no true peace, no knowledge of the
Divine, and if you can remain there for one minute, one hour, or one day, it is possible for
you to remain there always. All your sins and sorrows, your fears and anxieties are your
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own, and you can cling to them or you can give them up. Of your own accord you cling to
your unrest; of your own accord you can come to abiding peace.
No one else can give up sin for you; you must give it up yourself. The greatest teacher can
do no more than walk the way of Truth for himself, and point it out to you; you yourself
must walk it for yourself. You can obtain freedom and peace alone by your own efforts, by
yielding up that which binds the soul, and which is destructive of peace.
The angels of divine peace and joy are always at hand, and if you do not see them, and
hear them, and dwell with them, it is because you shut yourself out from them, and prefer
the company of the spirits of evil within you. You are what you will to be, what you wish to
be, what you prefer to be. You can commence to purify yourself, and by so doing can
arrive at peace, or you can refuse to purify yourself, and so remain with suffering. Step
aside, then; come out of the fret and the fever of life; away from the scorching heat of self,
and enter the inward resting-place where the cooling airs of peace will calm, renew, and
restore you.
Come out of the storms of sin and anguish. Why be troubled and tempest-tossed when
the haven of Peace of God is yours!
Give up all self-seeking; give up self, and lo! the Peace of God is yours!
Subdue the animal within you; conquer every selfish uprising, every discordant voice;
transmute the base metals of your selfish nature into the unalloyed gold of Love, and you
shall realize the Life of Perfect Peace. Thus subduing, thus conquering, thus transmuting,
you will, O reader!
while living in the flesh, cross the dark waters of mortality, and will reach that Shore upon
which the storms of sorrow never beat, and where sin and suffering and dark uncertainty
cannot come. Standing upon that Shore, holy, compassionate, awakened, and selfpossessed
and glad with unending gladness, you will realize that
“Never the Spirit was born, the Spirit will cease to be never;
Never was time it was not, end and beginning are dreams;
Birthless and deathless and changeless remaineth the Spirit
for ever;
Death hath not touched it at all, dead though the house of it
You will then know the meaning of Sin, of Sorrow, of Suffering, and that the end thereof is
Wisdom; will know the cause and the issue of existence.
And with this realization you will enter into rest, for this is the bliss of immortality, this the
unchangeable gladness, this the untrammeled knowledge, undefiled Wisdom, and
undying Love; this, and this only, is the realization of Perfect Peace.
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O thou who wouldst teach men of Truth!
Hast thou passed through the desert of doubt?
Art thou purged by the fires of sorrow? hath ruth
The fiends of opinion cast out
Of thy human heart? Is thy soul so fair
That no false thought can ever harbor there?
O thou who wouldst teach men of Love!
Hast thou passed through the place of despair?
Hast thou wept through the dark night of grief?
does it move
(Now freed from its sorrow and care)
Thy human heart to pitying gentleness,
Looking on wrong, and hate, and ceaseless stress?
O thou who wouldst teach men of Peace!
Hast thou crossed the wide ocean of strife?
Hast thou found on the Shores of the Silence,
Release from all the wild unrest of life?
From thy human heart hath all striving gone,
Leaving but Truth, and Love, and Peace alone?

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