The Life Triumphant:
Mastering the Heart and Mind
by James Allen
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Blending spirituality with the power of positive thinking, inspirational author James Allen provides a simple blueprint for achieving a life filled with joy--joy of freedom, of faith, and of virtue. The Life Triumphant offers ten thoughtful essays in which Allen presents insightful advice on overcoming life's challenges by drawing on one's inner strength. Some of the topics discussed in this work include "Faith and Courage," "Self-Control and Happiness," "Calmness and Repose," and "Energy and Power."
Faith and Courage
Manliness and Sincerity
Energy and Power
Self-Control and Happiness
Simplicity and Freedom
Right-Thinking and Repose
Calmness and Resource
Insight and Nobility
Man the Master
Knowledge and Victory
EVERY BEING LIVES in his own mental world. His joys and sorrows are the creations of his own mind, and are dependent upon the mind for their existence. In the midst of the world, darkened with many sins and sorrows, in which the majority live, there abides another world, lighted up with shining virtues and unpolluted joy, in which the perfect ones live. This world can be found and entered, and the way to it is by self-control and moral excellence. It is the world of the perfect life, and it rightly belongs to man, who is not complete until crowned with perfection. The perfect life is not the faraway, impossible thing that men who are in darkness imagine it to be; it is supremely possible, and very near and real. Man remains a craving, weeping, sinning, repenting creature just so long as he wills to do so by clinging to those weak conditions. But when he wills to shake off his dark dreams and to rise, he arises and achieves.
Faith and Courage
FOR THOSE WHO WILL FIGHT BRAVELY and not yield, there is triumphant victory over all the dark things of life. I state this at the beginning, that the reader may know there is no uncertainty about it. In the course of this book I shall show what are the elements, in character and conduct, which go to build up the life of calm strength and superlative victory.
To stand face to face with truth; to arrive, after innumerable wanderings and pains, at wisdom and bliss; not to be finally defeated and cast out, but ultimately to triumph over every inward foe—such is man's divine destiny, such his glorious goal. And this, every saint, sage, and savior has declared.
The School of Life
In the present stage of the life of humanity, comparatively few reach this place of triumph—though all will reach it at last—yet there is a glorious company of perfect ones who have attained in the past, and their number is being added to with each succeeding age. Men are as yet learners in the school of life, and most men die learners. But there are some who, in this life, through fixity of purpose and strenuous fighting against darkness, pain, and ignorance, acquire a right knowledge of life and pass joyfully beyond the pupil stage.
Man is not to remain forever a schoolboy in the universe, to be whipped for follies and errors. When he wills and wishes, he can set his mind upon his task and master the lessons of life, becoming a confident and skilled scholar, living in understanding and peace, and not in ignorance and misery.
The sorrows of life are profound and deeply rooted, but they can be fathomed and rooted out. The passions and emotions of human nature are, in their ungoverned state, overwhelming and painfully conflicting, but they can be so softened down, harmonized, and wisely directed and understood, as to become obedient servants for the outworking of enlightened purposes.
The difficulties of life are great, its battle fierce, and its wished-for issues are uncertain and elusive; so much so, that every hour men and women are breaking down under the strain. Yet these conditions have no objective and arbitrary existence. In their true nature they are subjective and purely mental, and can be transcended. There is no inherent and permanent evil in the universal order; and the mind can be lifted up to the moral altitude where evil can touch it no more.
Faith Precedes Knowledge
A steadfast faith in an Eternal and Universal Justice, in an over-ruling Good, is the prelude to the Life Triumphant. The man who aims to become strong, serene, and steadfast at heart must, at the onset, have no doubt that the Heart of Life is good. He who is to gaze upon the Cosmic Order and experience the rapture of emancipation must realize that there is no disorder in his life but that which he creates. This realization is difficult, so prone is the mind, in its imperfect stages, to self-pity and self-justification, but it can be attained, and must be attained by him who is to live the freed life. At first it must be believed, and the belief must be adhered to, until it ripens into realization and knowledge.
The sufferings of life are greatly reduced when they are accepted as disciplinary experiences, and the man of faith does so accept them. The sufferings of life are transcended and put away when all experiences are accounted good, and are utilized in the development of character, and the man of knowledge does so regard and utilize them.
Faith is the grey dawn which precedes the full and perfect day of knowledge. Without it there can be no attainment of strength, no permanent security of heart. The man of faith does not succumb when difficulties present themselves; he does not despair when troubles overtake him. However steep and dark his path may seem, he looks forward to a brighter pathway ahead. He sees a destination of rest and light beyond. They who have no faith in the triumph of good ignominiously succumb to the elements of evil. And this must be so; for he who does not elevate good, elevates evil, and, seeing evil as the master of life, he receives the wages of evil.
Evil is Blind to Its Folly
There are those who, having yielded to defeat in the battle of life, talk thoughtlessly about the wrongs they have suffered at the hands of others. They believe—and try to make others believe—that they would have been successful or rich or famous but for the treachery and villainy of those about them. They tell, for the thousandth time, how they have been deceived, defrauded, and degraded by others. They imagine that they themselves are all trust, all innocence, all honesty and good nature, and that nearly everyone else is all that is bad and malicious. They tell how they would have been just as prosperous and honored as others if they had been as selfish as those others; and that their great drawback, and the chief source, in themselves, of their failures, is that they were born with too great an endowment of unselfishness.
Such self-praising complainers cannot distinguish between good and evil, and their faith in human nature and the goodness of the universe is dead. Looking upon others, they have eyes for evil only; looking upon themselves, they see only suffering innocence. Rather than discover any evil in themselves, they would have all humanity bad. In their hearts they have enthroned the wretched Demon of Evil as the Lord of Life, and see in the course of things only a selfish scramble in which the good is always crushed and the evil rises triumphant. Blind to their own folly, ignorance, and weakness, they see nothing but injustice in their fate, nothing but misery and wretchedness in their present condition.
Evil is Not More Powerful Than Good
He who would have even a useful and successful life—yet alone a spiritually noble and victorious one—must at once root out and cast away this wretched condition of mind that negates all that is good and pure, and gives preeminence to all that is base and impure. Misfortune, misery and defeat most surely await the man who believes that dishonesty, deceit and selfishness are the best weapons whereby to achieve a successful life. What courage and strength can a man develop, and what quiet and happiness can he enjoy, who believes that in order to keep pace with others he must continually deny and discourage the better qualities of his nature? The man who believes that evil is more powerful than good, and that bad men have the best of life, is still involved in the elements of evil; and, being so involved, he suffers—must necessarily suffer—defeat.
It may appear to you that the world is given over to wickedness; that the bad prosper, and the good fail; that there is nothing but chance, injustice, and disorder. But do not believe this: regard it as an elusive appearance. Conclude that you do not see life as it really is; that you have not yet fathomed the causes of things, and that when you can look upon life through a purer heart and a wiser mind, you will see and understand its equity. And truly when you do so look at life, you will see good where you now see evil, order where now appears disorder, and justice where now injustice seems to prevail.
The universe is a cosmos, not a chaos, and the bad do not prosper. It is true there is much evil in the world, otherwise there would be no necessity for moral aims, but there is also much misery in the world, and the evil and misery are related as cause and effect. It is equally true that there is much good in the world, and much abiding gladness, and the good and gladness are related as cause and effect.
He who has acquired that faith in the power and supremacy of good, which no apparent injustice, no amount of suffering, and no catastrophe can shake, will pass through all emergencies, all trials and difficulties, with a sublime courage that defies the demons of doubt and despair. He may not succeed in all his plans. He may even encounter much failure; but when he fails, it will be that he may frame nobler purposes and ascend to higher achievements. He will only fail in order to reach a success greater than that of which he first dreamed. His life will not, cannot, be a failure. Some of its details will fail, but this will be but the breaking of weak links in the chain of character and events, in order that the whole may be made more strong and complete.
Faith is Not Theological Belief
There is an animal courage which can calmly face the fire of an enemy in battle, or the fierce rage of beasts, but which fails in the battle of life and breaks down when confronted with the beasts that rage within one's own heart. It requires a higher, diviner courage to remain calm in the hour of deprivation and calamity than in the heat of battle, to overcome self than to overcome another. And this diviner courage is the companion of faith.
A mere theological belief (commonly confused with faith) will not avail. Beliefs about God, Jesus, Creation, etc., are merely surface opinions (derived chiefly from custom) which do not reach down to the real life of a man and have no power to bestow faith. Such beliefs may accompany faith, but they are distinct from it. Frequently, those who hold most tenaciously to particular beliefs about God, Jesus, and the Bible are most lacking in faith—that is, they give way to complaint, despondency, and grief immediately after some petty trouble overtakes them. If one is given to irritability, anxiety, hopelessness, and lamentations over the simple things of life, let him know that, in spite of his religious belief or metaphysical philosophy, he lacks faith. For where faith is there is courage, there is fortitude, there is steadfastness and strength.
Light the Lamp of True Faith
The opinions of men are lightly to be considered, for they are changing with every new breeze of thought. They have very little part in the reality of things, being the bubbles of a surface effervescence. But behind all opinions there is the same human heart. The "godless" are they who are goodless, even though they may be members of churches and make a great profession of faith in God. The "godly" are they who are goodly even though they make no profession of religion. The complainers and bewailers are the faithless and unbelieving. Those who deny or belittle the power of good, and in their lives and actions affirm and magnify the power of evil, are the only real atheists.
Faith bestows that sublime courage that rises superior to the petty and selfish disappointments and troubles of life, that acknowledges no defeat except as a step to victory; that is strong to endure, patient to wait, and energetic to struggle. It perceives the benign law of Truth in all things, and is assured of the final triumph of the heart, and the kingly power of the mind.
Light up, then, the lamp of faith in your heart, and walk through the darkness guided by its illuminating rays. Its light is dim, and cannot be compared with the sunlight brilliance of knowledge, but it suffices to lead one safely through the mists of doubt and the black darkness of despair; along the narrow, thorny ways of sickness and sorrow, and over the treacherous planes of temptation and uncertainty. It enables man to ward off and outstrip the foul beasts that rage in the jungle of his heart, and to reach safely the open plains of a pure life and the mountain levels of conquest where the dim light of faith is no longer needed. For, leaving behind him all the darkness, all the doubt, error, and sorrow, he enters into a new consciousness and upon a higher round of life, works, and acts, and lives self-contained and peaceful, in the full and glorious light of knowledge.
Manliness, Womanliness and Sincerity
BEFORE A MAN CAN BE TRULY GODLY, he must be manly; before a woman can be truly godly, she must be womanly. There can be no true goodness apart from moral strength. Simpering, pretense, artificial behavior, flatteries, insincerities and smiling hypocrisies—let these things be forever destroyed and banished from our minds. Evil is inherently weak, ineffectual, and cowardly. Good is essentially strong, effective, and courageous. In teaching men and women to be good, I teach them to be strong, free, self-reliant. They will greatly misunderstand me and the principles which I enunciate who imagine that because I teach gentleness, purity, and patience I teach the cultivation of an effeminate weakness. It is only the manly man and the womanly woman who can properly understand those divine qualities. No one is better equipped to achieve the Life Triumphant than they who, along with active moral qualities and a high sense of purity and honor, are also possessed of the strong animal nature of the normal man.
That animal force which, in various forms, surges within you, and which, in the hour of excitement, carries you blindly away, causing you to forget your higher nature and to forfeit your manly dignity and honor—that same force controlled, mastered, and rightly directed, will endow you with a divine strength by which you can achieve the highest, noblest, most blissful victories of true living.
The savage within you is to be scourged and disciplined into obedience. You are to be the master of your heart, your mind, yourself. Man is only weak and abject when he gives up the reins of government to the lower, instead of directing the lower by the higher. Your passions are to be your servants and slaves, not your masters. See that you keep them in their places, duly controlled and commanded, and they shall render you faithful, strong, and happy service.
You are not "vile." There is no part of your body or mind that is vile. Nature does not make mistakes. The Universe is framed on Truth. All your functions, faculties, and powers are good, and to direct them rightly is wisdom, holiness, happiness; to direct them wrongly is folly, sin, and misery.
Be True to Yourself
Men waste themselves in excesses; in bad tempers, hatreds, gluttonies, and unworthy and unlawful pleasures, and then blame life. They should blame themselves.
A man should have more self-respect than to abuse his nature in any way. He should command himself always; should avoid excitement and hurry; should be too noble to give way to anger, to resent the actions and opinions of others, or fruitlessly to argue with an abusive and cantankerous assailant.
A quiet, unobtrusive, and unoffending dignity is the chief mark of a ripe and perfect manhood. Honor others and respect yourself. Choose your own path and walk it with a firm, unflinching step, but avoid a meddlesome interference with others. In the true man opposing qualities are blended and harmonized; a yielding kindness accompanies an unbending strength. He adapts himself gently and wisely to others without sacrificing the steadfast principles upon which his manhood is built. To have that iron strength that can go calmly to death rather than yield one jot of truth, along with that tender sympathy that can shield the weak and mistaken enemy, is to be manly with a divine manhood.
Be true to the dictates of your own conscience, and respect all who do the same, even though their conscience should lead them in a direction the reverse of your own. One of the most unmanly tendencies is to pity another because he chooses opinions or religion contrary to those of one's self. Why pity a man because he is an agnostic, or an atheist, or a Buddhist, or a Christian? Because he does not hold this opinion or that belief? Such pity should be rightly named contempt. It is the office of pity to feel for the weak, the afflicted, and the helpless.
Pity never says "I pity you"; it does kind deeds. It is superciliousness that professes pity for the strong, the self-reliant, for those who have the courage to mark out their own path and to walk it boldly. Why should he be forced to hold my opinion or yours? If what I say and do appeal to his reason and conscience as right, then he will be one with me and will work hand and hand with me. But if my work be not his work, he is nonetheless a man. He has his duty, though it not be my duty. When I meet one who is self-respecting, and who dares to think for himself, I will salute him as a man, and not harbor in my heart a contemptible pity for him, because, indeed, he rejects my conclusions.
If we are to be responsible, self-acting beings in a law-begotten universe, let us be masters of our own wills, and respect the free will of others. If we are to be strong and manly, let us be large-hearted and magnanimous. If we are to triumph over the miseries of life, let us rise superior to the pettiness of our nature.
Men weep in their weakness, and cry out in misery of heart and degradation of mind. How plain, then, is the way of emancipation; how sublime the task of triumph! Be master of yourself. Eliminate weakness. Exorcise the mocking fiend, selfishness, in whom is all weakness and wretchedness. Do not pander to unnatural cravings, to unlawful desires, or to morbid self-love and self-pity. Give them no quarter, but promptly stamp them out with disciplinary decision and strength.
A man should hold himself, as it were, in the hollow of his hand. He should be able to take up and to lay down. He should know how to use things, and not be used by them. He should neither be the helpless captive of luxury nor the whipped slave of want, but should be self-contained and self-sufficient, master of himself under all conditions. He must train and direct his will in the way of self-mastery which is the way of obedience—obedience to the law of his nature. Disobedience to law is the supreme evil in man, the source of all his sin and sorrow. In his ignorance he imagines he can triumph over law and subdue the wills of others. He thus destroys his power.
Man can triumph over his disobedience, over ignorance, sin, egotism, and lawlessness. He can conquer self; and herein lies his manly strength and divine power. He can comprehend the law of his being, and obey it as a child obeys the will of its father. He can sit the crowned king of all his functions and faculties, using them wisely in unselfish service, and not as instruments of selfishness and greed. There is no bad habit that he cannot uproot, no sin that he cannot subdue, no sorrow that he cannot comprehend and conquer. "Let a man then know his worth, and keep things under his feet. Let him not peep or steal, or skulk up and down with the air of a charity boy or an interloper, in the world which exists for him."
A manly self-reliance is not only compatible with, but is the accompaniment of, a divine humility. A man is only arrogant and egotistic when he usurps authority over others. He cannot claim nor exercise too great an authority over himself. Strong self-command, with gentle consideration for others, combine to make the truly manly man.
Conscious and Unconscious Hypocrisy
To begin with, a man must be honest, upright, sincere. Deceit is the blindest folly. Hypocrisy is the weakest thing on earth. In trying to deceive others, a man most of all deceives himself. A man should be so free from guile, meanness, and deceit as to be able to look everybody in the face with a clear, open, unflinching gaze, free from shame and confusion, and with no inward shrinking or misgivings. Without sincerity a man is but a hollow mask, and whatsoever work he attempts to do, it will be lifeless and ineffectual. Out of a hollow vessel nothing but the sound of hollowness can come; and from insincerity nothing but empty words can proceed.
Many are not consciously hypocrites, yet fall victims, thoughtlessly, to little insincerities which undermine happiness and destroy the moral fabric of their character. Some of these people go regularly to their place of worship. They pray daily, year after year, for a purer heart and life, yet come from their devotions to vilify an enemy, or, worse still, to ridicule or slander an absent friend for whom, when they meet him or her, they will have nothing but smiles and smooth words. The pitiful part of it is that they are totally unconscious of their insincerity, and when their friends desert them, they speak complainingly of the faithlessness and hollowness of the world, and of people generally, and tell you sadly that there are no true friends in this world. Truly, for such there are no abiding friendships. For insincerity, even if not seen, is felt, and those who are incapable of bestowing trust and truth, cannot receive it. Be true to others, and others will be true to you. Think well of an enemy, and defend the absent friend. If you have lost faith in human nature, discover where you have gone wrong yourself.
The Words of Confucius
In the Confucian code of morals sincerity is one of the "Five Great Virtues," and Confucius thus speaks of it:
"It is sincerity which places a crown upon your lives. Without it, our best actions would be valueless; the seemingly virtuous, mere hypocrites; and the shining light which dazzles us with its splendor, but a poor passing gleam ready to be extinguished by the slightest breath of passion. . . To be pure in mind, you must be free from self-deception—you must hate vice as you would a disagreeable odor, and love virtue as you would some beautiful object. There can be no self-respect without it, and this is why the superior man must be guarded in his hours of solitude.
"The worthless man secretly employs his idle moments in vicious acts, and there is no limit to his wickedness. In the presence of the pure he plays the hypocrite, and puts forward none but his good qualities. Yet how does this disguise hide him when his true character is revealed to the first scrutinizing glance?
"It has been said that there is a strict watch kept over that which is pointed at by many hands, and gazed at by many eyes. It is in solitude, then, that the upright man has the greatest reason to be guarded."
Sincerity Wins Hearts
Thus the sincere man does not do or say that which he would be ashamed of were it brought to light. His uprightness of spirit enables him to walk upright and confident among his fellow men. His presence is a strong protection, and his words are direct and powerful because they are true. Whatever may be his work, it prospers. Though he may not always please the ears of men, he wins their hearts; they rely on him, trust, and honor him.
Courage, self-reliance, sincerity, generosity and kindness—these are the virtues which constitute a robust manhood. Without them, a man is but clay in the hands of circumstances; a weak, wavering thing that cannot rise into the freedom and joy of a true life. Every young man should cultivate and foster these virtues, and as he succeeds in living them will he prepare to achieve the Life Triumphant.
I see coming upon the earth a new race of men and women—men who will be men indeed, strong, upright, noble; too wise to stoop to anger, uncleanness, strife, and hatred—women who would be women indeed, gentle, truthful, pure; too compassionate to stoop to gossip, slander, and deception. From their loins will proceed superior beings of the same noble type; and the dark fiends of error and evil will fall back at their approach. These noble men and women will regenerate the earth. They will dignify man, and vindicate nature, restoring humanity to love, happiness, and peace; and the life of victory over sin and sorrow will be established in the earth.
"The Life Triumphant" by James Allen
Order in Adobe PDF eBook or printed form for $5.95 (+ printing charge)
or click here to order from Amazon.com for $15.56