Fears Of Poverty
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Our discussion now proceeds by a series of observations.
1. Poverty a Crime. I hold that poverty is a social crime.
Poverty is a crime, not of the many against the one, but of the many against the many.
Poverty is the one universal sign of incompetence, the sign that points to the prosperous multitude rather than to the unfortunate individual. The individual's incompetence may be enforced, but that of the prosperous many is self-chosen. The people can have any-thing on which they can agree and for which they will persistently stand. But the people permit poverty be-cause they do not know how to get rid of it, and this incompetence is a crime because the people do not sufficiently desire that every man, woman and child on earth shall have enough for health of body and growth of soul.
It is for such reasons that many are haunted by the fear of poverty in the future. The idea is preposterous and monstrous that any human being should go into old age dependent upon charity for food, clothing, shelter and books. The earth is so big, and so beautiful, and so rich! Yet this fear hides in the heart of thousands.
It is not the present object to instruct in the prevention of poverty. You will find much to the point in "Power For Success" and " Business Power," on that subject. It may be ventured, however, even if seemingly commonplace, that two certain methods will infallibly work wonders in the directions of prosperity, to-wit:
Love your work, and yourself as workman, and multiply yourself valiantly into your work; and Save a good percentage of your wage or salary.
Nevertheless, such suggestions do not reckon with "bad luck" and disasters, and so the fear of poverty clings to heart and thought throughout the years. Now, these last words are important for they tell the main story.
2. "Luck" is Real. The factors of the "lucky" and the "unlucky" should be reckoned with. It is the habit of "wise" people who have never met with mishap to insist sturdily and with scientific accuracy that "there is no such thing as luck," since all events are results of operation of laws. The statement is true, but it has significance only when you are "lucky." When you are "unlucky," the "wise" remark means nothing, and after a time you discover that "luck" is a provision of the law itself, and that the consequences of the law are as hard to bear as they would be were the law a mere fiction. Practically speaking, "luck" is actual enough. Many people believe that they are "down on their luck," and correctly, for so they are. For this unhappy fact they are never alone at fault. Some other person is always in part to blame when any human being goes "unlucky" some other person, thing, or event. Yet for the fact, again, the "unlucky" people are themselves always more or less at fault. Let us observe in this matter:
Every man and woman in this world gets in the long run, after childhood, and excepting some awful handicaps of birth about what he or she deserves. But let us again observe:
3. Desert is a Matter of Law. The deserving is not what you and I see or believe; it goes down to the very roots and the last shred of our being, action and thought. The "going down" is so thorough that at the last it loses personality and becomes merely a matter of harmony or of disharmony somehow with law.
In the large responsibility thus uncovered, other people must share, so that the most unforunate often gets somewhat more than he morally and seemingly deserves, perhaps, but more, also, because he is or has been somewhere out of gear with the laws of his being. In the complex equation thus laid bare emerges, now, a vast compensatory fact, to-wit:
The individual power to balance up against all misfortune the product and power of his own thought. Let us see about that:
4. Compensation is for Each. Jean Valjean is the most "unlucky" of all fiction heroes, the fact being due partly to his own violations of law, partly to the evil in others who come in contact with him. Yet Jean Valjean's inner world and power of thought grew through all the terrible history until the man's soul-wealth and soul-achievements more than compensated the huge-bulking tragedy of his life.
This is where the Eternal enters the equation.
"Bad luck" is a fact. But thought is also a fact. As a fact thought is a force. As a force it is a world-builder. As a world-builder it is Compensation.
We begin, then, with the mere power of thought, just as one might begin with the mere power of gravity. Let us see about this :
5. Thought is Power. We are dealing with the vast power of your thought. When you engage in thinking, you create thought. The Universe is the complex Thought of an Infinite Thinker. Nothing exists outside the Universe of Thought. The only possible power of creating, then, is that of thinking. Nothing exists that is not thought into existence. An infinite space containing nothing would be an infinite nonentity. Infinite space containing matter and force would be an infinite closed system. Eternal matter could not exist without eternal force. The assumed eternal matter is eternal force. But, since force and space are not identical, and since space can do nothing, the closed system of infinite force assumes that that force is introduced into infinite space. In asking how this could be effected we must think in terms of our highest selves, that is, in terms of thought. When we do this so as to conceive of an Infinite Thinker, we see that the Thinker's Thought is space and that the system can come into existence only within the Infinite Thinker. That is to say, the Universe is a Thought-Expression of the Infinite. So far as our thoughts are concerned, these things are as true of the human self as of the Infinite. For you, all that exists in your knowing exists by your thinking. You think into the existence which you know: your world, your Nature, your body, your own mind. (The mind is not you; it is a product of your activity). You create for your knowing self all that you know. Being exists, of course, independently of your knowing, but you thought-create all that you know, because you only know what you think.
Ideally considered, then, it is for you to create the kind of body, mind, world that you will within the limits of your human nature. This power to create, however, has been corrupted and weakened by thou-sands of years of false living, so that man practically is unable both to will and to create in all cases ideally. The goal of our development is a far-off psychic state of the human self in which it can create for itself a body, a mind, and a world that shall be perfect relatively to finite individuality. At present, however, we can only will and thought-create according to what we are, which "what we are" is in part due to ancestral living, in part due to our entertained ideals. And now, observe:
6. Some of the Detail Achievements of Your Thought. It is yet the privilege of every human to accomplish several important things.
(a) We can make it our business to think only health, happiness, courage, confidence, truth and goodness. As we think these things we create them in our thought-world.
(b) The influence of this creative thought upon body, mind and our personal world is immeasurable. Such thought tends to make more and more our own the elements health, development, success and a world beautiful. The natural outcome is the destruction of fear through elimination of its conditions.
(c) You have here the finest possible breeder of courage. The conclusion from this and all preceding pages is that you can directly and indirectly create courage, since that attitude and that feeling are perfectly natural with thoughts of happiness, success and personal development. And so we observe, again:
(d) This action of your creative thought-power will infallibly influence external conditions of your life. You cannot carry out these suggestions without bringing things to pass which will insure you against poverty in old age. I do not mean, however, that you will thus compel great wealth. Let us see about this.
It is only apart of our social crime that men nurse the notion of the desirability of great wealth. Great individual wealth is never really desirable. On the contrary, it is as undesirable as death. It is undesirable for the individual because it limits his best development and robs him of the best success in living. We should establish asylums for excusively rich people who have achieved their own wealth. The passion for excessive riches is insanity; the great money-getters who achieve nothing else are all insane. Huge individual wealth is also undesirable for society, since it means the absurdity and crime of wide-spread poverty. This book has no interest whatever in your future wealth. It advises you to cultivate decency and reasonably limited means. Our goal in the interest of your courage is precisely that: the expectation of reason-ably limited means for health of body and culture of mind. This induces a further observation:
(e) The limitation of personal means should be purely personal. One man or woman needs just enough with which to make the most of himself or herself and life no more, no less. Hence, our individual needs differ. You cannot get a twelve-ounce life out of an eight-ounce brain. The twelve-ounce brain, however, has no greater right to make the most of itself than has the eight-ounce brain. The needs of the small personality are as imperative as are those of the larger one. One man needs less than another, but his needs are just as emphatic and true. The Universe is for all, and it provides for all the goal of a fine career of happiness and full development. It does not compel the achievement, but it makes the achievement possible.
(f) Courage before the picture of yourself portrayed in your mind as happy, active, successful according to your needs this is our present ideal. You can create a self for yourself, a world for and in that self, both of which shall forefend against an old age of poverty and dependence, barring the one thing, "bad luck," if you will masterfully think yourself as adequate now to the work before you and as always to be adequate, and so self-provided for in the days to come. It is necessary, however, to observe:
7. The Accidents of True " Bad Luck" Do Occur. What then? It is essential do define "bad luck" down to the truth.
A man in the West saw the need of a parcel delivery system in a southern California city. He instituted such a system, and later sold his business for ten thou-sand dollars. Then he built and furnished a good home for himself, and proceeded to "take comfort." Here was no "luck," but all law. Then he permitted his insurance to lapse one day, and his neighbor's house went to ashes the next night, and his own followed. Had this man's insurance been kept up, and had the company carrying his risk, ordinarily sound, been sent into bankruptcy by the San Francisco disaster, that would have been a case of bona fide "bad luck"according to unforeseen and uncontrollable law. The laws which you cannot control sometimes go against you, notwithstanding all reasonable precautions that you have taken, and the outcome is a real "bad luck." The laws which you can control are always for you if you control them. When you fail to do this, your "luck" may be bad, but it is not true "luck." The suggestion, therefore, is that you intelligently control the laws related to your life so far as that is possible, humanly speaking. Hence we come to our regime.
REGIME AGAINST FEAR OF FINAL POVERTY. First Phase: Now Adequacy. In the failure to handle reasonably controllable laws is where your fear of poverty, perhaps, finds its inspiration. If you feel adequate to life now, yet feel the vague fear of possible poverty later on, this is purely a case of feverish imagination, and the present regime should dispel the fear. You are invited, therefore, to practise intense and vigorous thinking in some such form as this: "I am adequate now, and ever shall be, to all demands on my ability and courage."
Second Phase: Psychic Demand. You are urged to put into operation the law of demand discussed at the beginning of this chapter, by formulating demands for adequacy and for ample provision for old age, observing the instructions given in the discussion.
Third Phase: Building for Compensation. If you still confront the fact that "bad luck" may strike you in the future, this is your main trouble. For that trouble you are urged to cultivate confidence and courage by the persistent use of the present regime, and you are invited now to observe the still deeper and more beneficent law:
The human self may win compensation against all disaster.
Poor wisdom to conceive
And must experience mean
Thought-creative power is every soul's possession. If you create a wealthy self to-day, no old age can rob you of that. Do not try to gauge the value in old age of such possession. No mood or state of to-day can accurately judge the attractions of to-morrow. When you are ill, food is tasteless, the ticking of the clock is preternaturally loud, and all the wall-figures take fantastic shapes. Will these things turn out exactly as they now seem when boundless health is again your own? Thus with the compensations of creative thought. To-day you desire for old age sufficient means for comfort. That is assured you if you observe the regimes of this book barring a true "bad luck." But if actual "bad luck" comes and leaves you poverty-stricken: in old age (there is not one chance for that in ten thousand, for you are already on the way to adequacy and success) yours then, if now you create them, the compensations of a self and an inner world that will be rich in content, happy in growth, full of the memories of a well-spent life.
For, observe these pictures. Note the contrasts. The first picture reveals a wrecked, undeveloped, unhonored, memory-blasted old man, alone in a garret, at eighty years of age. I bid you heroically to create against that condition.
The second picture reveals a physically feeble but mentally developed, honored, memory-blessed old man, alone in a garret, at eighty years of age. He will not be alone in a garret: thousands to one against such an outcome. But, if so, he has still the vast compensations of the true self, the courageous self: the full-grown mind, the splendid recollections of life. And all values possessed this man has created just as the Almighty has created suns and constellations.
You are invited, then, to remember our insistence that in such a case old age will not find you in a state of poverty, and you are invited to develop and maintain a full sense of adequacy and courage for the now holding the sense over from day to day until it becomes the permanent possession of your entire being.