The Mastery of Destiny by James Allen (Part 1 of 3)

[amazon-product align=”right” alink=”0000FF” bordercolor=”000000″ height=”240″ region=”us” tracking_id=”varsblah-20″]1564598500[/amazon-product]Deeds, Character, and Destiny

“Character is destiny itself; as a fixed combination of deeds, it bears within itself the results of those deeds. These results lie hidden as moral seeds in the dark recesses of the character, awaiting their season of germination, growth, and fruitage.”

Is life predetermined by Fate, the “inscrutable Power” we cannot control and should consequently submit to rather than attempt to escape? Or are we free agents, responsible for what happens in our lives and better off doing whatever it takes to achieve the ends we seek? Instead of picking one answer to this age-old question, we can settle on a “golden mean” that shows how both are part of one law.

In The Mastery of Destiny, James Allen explains: “[Man’s] life is made up of causes and effects. It is both a sowing and a reaping. Each act of his is a cause which must be balanced by its effects… It is therefore true that man is predestined to certain ends, but he himself has (though he knows it not) issued the mandate; that good or evil thing from which there is no escape, he has, by his own deeds, brought about.”

Actions modify our character, which in turn determines our fate: “Those things which befall a man are the reflections of himself; that destiny which pursued him, which he was powerless to escape by effort, or avert by prayer, was the relentless ghoul of his own wrong deeds demanding and enforcing restitution; those blessings and curses which come to him unbidden are the reverberating echoes of the sounds which he himself sent forth.” This understanding enables us to rise above hate or blame as we proceed to patiently pay our “moral debts”.

The Science of Self-Control

“Wonderful as are the forces in nature, they are vastly inferior to that combination of intelligent forces which comprise the mind of man… [To] understand, control, and direct the inner forces of passion, desire, will, and intellect, is to be in possession of the destinies of men and nations.”

Despite the remarkable progress of modern science, a branch more important than all others combined has “fallen into decay”. This is the divine science of self-control, a lonely pursuit that often requires us to “toil unrewarded, as far as any outward emolument is concerned”.

Once the natural scientist has completed his observation, experimentation, classification, deduction, and knowledge, what he learns is rightly and unselfishly applied to “increase of the comfort and happiness of the world”.  And although the divine scientist turns the mind away from external matter and inward toward itself, the process also involves five steps:

  1. Introspection. Instead of being controlled by impulses and desires, the mental eye is consciously turned “like a searchlight upon the inner things of the mind”.
  2. Self-analysis. The mind’s tendencies are carefully studied in order to understand the good ones that cause peace and the evil ones that cause pain.
  3. Adjustment. Once we understand all aspects of our nature (“every weak and selfish point, every strong and virtuous quality”), we go beyond the height of wisdom and see ourselves as we truly are. We adjust our minds in accordance with the laws of thought to do the work we now know must be done.
  4. Righteousness. Our thoughts and deeds are subordinated to one Great Central Law (“supreme in the world of mind”). Knowing this means we can stop acting from self and instead do what is “universally and eternally right”.
  5. Pure Knowledge. Perfecting our self-control through right thought and right action prove the existence of “the divine law on which the mind is framed”. We acquire true wisdom by rightly applying the knowledge acquired, “accelerating progress and uplifting humanity”.

Cause and Effect in Human Conduct

“What a man thinks, that he does; what he does, that he is. If he is perplexed, unhappy, restless, or wretched, let him look to himself, for there and nowhere else is the source of all his trouble.”

Scientists state that every effect is related to a cause. Bringing this idea to human conduct leads to the principle of justice and the realisation that we are responsible for our lives: “Man can (and does) choose what causes he shall set in operation, but he cannot change the nature of effects; he can decide what thoughts he shall think, and what deeds he shall do, but he has no power over the results of those thoughts and deeds; these are regulated by the overruling law.”

Going against this law by blaming other people for our problems is futile: “Each man makes or mars his own life; it is not made or marred by his neighbour, or by anything external to himself. Each thought he thinks, each deed he does, is another thread – shoddy or genuine – woven into the garment of his life; and as he makes the garment so must he wear it.”

Training of the Will

“Without strength of mind, nothing worthy of accomplishment can be done, and the cultivation of that steadfastness and stability of character which is commonly called ‘willpower’ is one of the foremost duties of man, for its possession is essentially necessary both to his temporal and eternal wellbeing.”

Without a fixed purpose, we cannot be successful in worldly or spiritual pursuits. Instead, we will remain dependent on others for what we should provide ourselves. The only way to greater strength is to conquer “weak indulgences”. Doing so requires us to follow seven rules:

  1. Break off bad habits. Engaging in a series of efforts causes the will to become “invigorated and fortified”.
  2. Form good habits. Overcoming bad habits (which only requires “strength of purpose”) allows us to initiate good ones (which requires “intelligent direction of purpose”).
  3. Give scrupulous attention to the duty of the present moment. Consciously giving “the whole attention” to whatever we do requires us to stop dividing our minds.
  4. Do vigorously, and at once, whatever has to be done. Nothing should be postponed because procrastination is “a total barrier to the acquisition of purposeful action”.
  5. Live by rule. Obediently taming “the beast in man” allows us to live according to principle.
  6. Control the tongue. Nothing should be uttered in “peevishness, anger, irritability, or with evil intent”.
  7. Control the mind. The most important rule, which follows naturally from the others, gives us the “supreme crown of manhood: the crown of a perfectly poised will”.

If you enjoyed this post, please remember to Like, Tweet, and Share it using the links at the top or bottom of the page. And remember to subscribe to free alerts or follow me on Twitter to be notified when the next instalment is released. For more on the subject, read my review of As A Man Thinketh.