( Originally Published 1930 )
We live in the world we think in. We make environment by thought. We make character by thought. We destroy with wrong thoughts. We build with constructive thoughts.
Is it not a glorious satisfaction that, no matter where we are, or under what conditions we labor, we can think as we please? No matter what our state of consciousness or environment, no matter what our exterior conditions, no matter what the thoughts of others may be or what they do to influence us, we have always the power to think what we will! Thoughts are free. We choose any kind we wish. Thoughts have the power to calm the storms of mind instantly or to ruffle its peace. The great thing is to exclude the undesirable thoughts, to give them no place. Reason is the governor of the machine. We have faculties, but do not use them; we have the equipment, but remain unaware. Of our forty odd faculties less than eight are used by the majority; we run along on less than eight-fortieths of our mental power most of the time and skid terribly. With the generation of a little more will power we could sit in the driver's seat and control.
Every emotion has the impress of mind behind it, consciously or unconsciously, either from our own minds or from others. Every movement of muscle or nerve, whether voluntary or involuntary, is directed by a subtle influence or a suggestion of mind. If you will study yourself carefully, you will observe that every motion and movement; every feeling, worthy or unworthy; every emotion, good or bad; every glow of health and every blight of disease has its origin in some kind of desire. Desire holds sway over the mind. But WILL governs the mental processes and is capable of guiding the desires. Learn to guard the kind and quality of your desires and you will know the Indian's secret of mental self-control.
The greatest benefits are received only when mind and body work together in harmony and coordination, with the mind directing the body and the desires guiding the will. Muscles are organs of will. Man effects all his material accomplishments through muscular control. If the muscles are underdeveloped or allowed to become weak and flabby, that interval between good intentions and their accomplishment widens insurmountably. Every change of thought and feeling plays upon the muscles in subtle ways.
The world today regards ease and lounging, with nothing to do, as desirable. The Indians, along with the ancient Greeks, believed it a most dangerous state. Plato advised his students to "Make good use of every idle moment." If idle moments were given over to constructive thought, great things could be accomplished, for, if we think about a thing earnestly enough and long enough, we are bound to produce certain results good or evil.
We are forced into artificial exercise because we are not living naturally; we do not use our bodies as we should. We have practically given up all sorts of manual labor. We only exercise the body, for the most part, because we have to in order to be well. Sometimes we even begrudge that time, fearing that we will not be making money fearing also that we may have to keep up the bothersome exertion else grow sick or fat. Of course this is due to a false mode of living. We do not develop naturally, like the Indian. All falseness is forced to pay a price; that is the penalty the body pays.
But the mind also pays a price and it is a heavy one. The failures and ills of the body act upon the mind and deteriorate its efficiency. The mind again reacts upon the body, and so, back and forth, until the poor human creature is a nervous or physical wreck with a mind that can no longer function with any degree of accuracy. It is impossible for the mind to function dependably through taut or irritated nerves. Nerves cannot register accurately when excited or sick ; sensations are not carried to the brain correctly nor is mental instruction directed to various parts of the body normally, and the subject is rendered abnormal or subnormal. In this condition FEAR descends with terrible force upon the individual. He loses control over his own thoughts and his will power vanishes.
It is right here that the Indian's rule of life is so strong. It is so simple that any child can learn it. He is taught how to control any thought of fear from infancy. By the time he is a youth he has no fear, does not know the use or meaning of cowardly fear. He has learned to balance extremes with a certain rhythm of thought. He knows the art of thought-rhythm and its effects upon his body and all its functions, upon his emotions and feelings, and their subsequent reactions upon the body and the mind.
The Indian's secret of self-control lies in this; while he does not show impatience, anger or fear, he does something infinitely more he does not even permit himself to feel these emotions. By the power of will, with a quick control of thought, he changes any evil or negative thought-force (for thought is a force) into a good, positive thought-force. He compels his mind to obey his will. He thinks what he wills—not what he feels. Thus he actually changes his feelings in the process. He compels his mind, by the power of his will, to think brave, good or positive thoughts and the power of such thoughts actually transforms his feelings. It is a simple but a potent alchemy. In this way the lower passions and emotions are transmuted into the highest aspirations. In the same way emotion may be changed into purpose, feeling may be made over into a constructive power, and the fiery fevers of unrest and irritable nervousness may be made to become a propelling force, while the madness of hate or anger may be trans-formed into the supreme poise and balance of perfect tolerance.
Stop, when filled with passionate emotion. Be Still. Listen ! Listen to the higher aspirations within yourself and give them a chance to guide you sensibly and normally. Anger and hate are not normal—they are sub-normal animal. It is only when normal poise has been sufficiently recovered that the mind is capable of thinking or reasoning, and not until then. The subject or cause of the emotional upheaval may, by that time, be approached from an entirely different angle.
Compel the mind, by the power of will, to think good, patient, calm thoughts, through reasoning. Know that the power is within you, sup-plied from an infinite source. Know that the only limitation is the limiting idea or thought about it! Will power is free. Everyone is at liberty to help himself. You may draw upon it to the uttermost capacity of your being. You need it when filled with fear-thoughts or anger-thoughts, for they react like subtle poisons upon the body. Realize this; there is no such thing as fear or anger. It is only a thought in mind, a personal attitude. Change the thought or mental attitude, and the thing called fear vanishes !
Cast out destructive thoughts the moment they enter your mind. Give them no place, nor allow them a moment's foothold. Fill the mind, at once, with the opposite kind of thoughts. One or the other will dominate and rule. Both cannot occupy the mind at the same time. It is entirely up to the thinker which will dominate. Learn to concentrate on the desired thought to the exclusion of all other thoughts or feelings. Make a mental picture of the condition desired, idealize it and then work to hold it. The will is no less dependent upon the culture it receives than is the body or the mind. Learn to cultivate and control the will.
Consistent thinking will build a consistent mind and produce adequate works with lasting effects upon the thinker. Learn to correlate works with knowledge, thoughts with feelings, acts with desires. Think, compare and study their correspondences. Ideals are essential, but something more is required; a carrying through into action and making practical in the daily life.
From early childhood the Indian is taught to recognize the lesson in everything, in every contact and experience. The meaning of each circumstance to himself, however small. This is of first importance. Even young children are taught to consider, reflect, meditate and apply the moral lesson to themselves. They are taught not to act thoughtlessly; not to give way to impulse; not to express every chance thought or notion that enters their minds. They are taught the value of silence and to think things out to a conclusion quietly without voicing random opinions. And this is not accomplished by repression. Repression is negative and carries a fear-thought with its recoil. It is like a spring, pressed down and held for a time, but which leaps forth with accumulated power when released, controlling the repressor. All fears, passions and slavish habits must be overcome not repressed. A complete change of attitude and thought, held to vigorously and tenaciously, will overcome all adverse conditions, and every difficulty will succumb to your inner power. In this way obstacles become a means to growth; hindrances become opportunities for gaining strength of character and self-control. When an obstacle presents itself, instead of allowing a fear-thought to stay in the mind, change your attitude at once and look upon the seeming obstacle as an opportunity, and work around it and over it and under it, and thereby gain just so much additional strength in its management !
Anyone may follow the Indian's ancient wisdom and bring about harmony, peace, success and satisfactory progress in his outer life, if he desires fervently to improve himself; to improve his inner life and thought and discipline his mind. "As a man thinketh, so is he." The wise man idealizes and aspires ardently within and becomes outwardly what he wills.
No matter what activity the Indian undertakes, he follows certain rules of thought. The process of thinking correlates directly with the action. A flash of thought accompanies each move. This method should be used when directionalizing the action of the muscles in the exercises given in this book. Remember : energy follows thought.