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Harnessing the Infinite Within: The Power of Character Development

Harnessing the Infinite Within: The Power of Character Development

Unconsciously, we sculpt our habits every moment of our existence. Some of these habits are beneficial, while others are detrimental to our well-being. A few, though not inherently harmful, can have negative cumulative effects, leading to loss, pain, and anguish. Conversely, their positive counterparts could bring us peace, joy, and an ever-increasing sense of empowerment.

Do we possess the power to shape which habits form in our lives?

 
   

Is the process of habit formation and character building left to chance, or can we control it? The answer is unequivocal: we have complete control. “I will become what I decide to be” is a declaration every individual should confidently make.

However, proclaiming this is only the beginning. Understanding the fundamental law of habit formation and character building is crucial. There exists a simple, natural, and scientifically proven method for transforming our lives. This method enables us to break free from undesirable habits and cultivate new, uplifting ones, thereby allowing us to change our lives partially or wholly, assuming we are committed to learning and applying this knowledge.

At the core of this transformation is thought.

Every conscious action is preceded by a thought. Our dominant thoughts shape our actions. We have or should have, complete control over our minds. If we find ourselves struggling to maintain this control, there is a method to master it. By gaining mastery over our thoughts, we address the very foundation of our actions, habits, character, and, ultimately, our lives. Understanding and controlling our thoughts is the first step toward profound personal transformation.

Consider the law governing our minds, akin to the reflex system in our bodies, which dictates that performing a task repeatedly makes it progressively easier. This principle suggests that each attempt, even if initially met with failure, gradually leads to effortless execution. Conversely, abandoning this practice would necessitate considerable effort. Our minds possess the remarkable ability to perpetuate their own patterns of thought, just as our bodies naturally ease into repetitive actions through the reflex system. Thus, even a modest attempt at directing our thoughts, despite initial setbacks, will eventually lead to mastery over them.

Every individual has the capacity to cultivate the power of thought control, to decide which thoughts to entertain and which to dismiss. It’s crucial to remember that every earnest attempt, even if it appears to fail, makes the subsequent effort slightly easier. In this context, failure is not a setback but a step forward, for each genuine effort contributes to the accumulation of power needed to achieve our goals. Hence, we can indeed attain complete autonomy over the nature of our thoughts.

Harnessing the Infinite Within: The Power of Character Development

 
   

Let’s examine a few practical examples to illustrate this point. Consider a bank cashier who learns of someone making a fortune overnight through stock market speculation. He may not realize that for every success story, there are hundreds of tales of loss. Driven by the illusion of quick wealth, he might risk his savings only to lose them. Believing he understands his mistake, he might be tempted to use funds from his workplace, hoping to recover his losses and gain more. However, this path almost invariably leads to ruin.

This scenario underscores a vital lesson: there are no shortcuts to lasting success and integrity. It also highlights the power of our thoughts and choices. By understanding and applying the principle that repeated efforts make actions easier, we can steer our lives toward more positive and productive outcomes.

Where does a man’s safety lie in light of our discussion? It rests in his immediate response to temptation. The moment he contemplates misusing funds, not his own, wisdom dictates he dismisses the thought instantly. If he chooses folly and entertains it, the thought will fester and grow, eventually dominating his willpower. The consequences are a swift descent into dishonor, shame, degradation, and remorse. Initially, dismissing the thought is effortless, but indulgence strengthens it, making resistance increasingly difficult until it seems insurmountable. Like a match that could have been easily extinguished, once neglected, it can ignite a blaze too vast to control.

Consider another scenario, perhaps more common yet profoundly illustrative of how habits form and can be dismantled. Picture a young man of any social or economic background, known for his good nature and generally positive impulses. One evening, out with friends seeking amusement, they propose not drunkenness but a casual drink. Despite an inner caution, desiring to be sociable, he ignores his better judgment. This decision, seemingly minor, is repeated, each instance eroding his ability to refuse. Gradually, a preference for alcohol emerges, initially social, then solitary. Unaware of the path he’s on, he believes he can stop anytime, not recognizing the budding dependency.

Skipping the gradual decline, we find him ultimately a victim of alcoholism, a tale all too familiar and repeated far too often.

He reaches a moment of stark realization, confronting the depth of his shame, anguish, and degradation. Amidst the ruins of his life, he yearns for the days of his freedom. Although hope seems a distant memory, it’s crucial to understand that no matter how dire his circumstances, the path to reclaiming his freedom remains open.

The crucial battle is against the recurring desire for drink. Succumbing to this desire spells defeat, but there is a way out. The key lies in his response to the initial thought of drinking. Should this thought surface, immediate dismissal is his only salvation. To entertain it is to light a match that can ignite an uncontrollable inferno. The thought must be expelled the moment it appears; any hesitation invites a struggle far greater than if it were rejected outright.

Here, we introduce the principle of the “law of indirectness.” Effectively banishing a thought comes not from direct confrontation but by redirecting the mind’s focus. Instead of dwelling on the unwanted thought, one might concentrate on the ideal of complete self-mastery or engage with a completely different, more positive thought. This alternative focus can gradually become dominant, neutralizing the peril at hand.

By consistently applying this strategy, one not only diminishes the power of the craving but also strengthens the ability to introduce healthier thoughts. Over time, the intrusive thoughts of drink will surface less frequently and will be easier to dismiss until, eventually, they cease to intrude altogether.

Consider another scenario: You might naturally lean towards irritability or quickness to anger. Imagine a situation where someone’s words or actions rub you the wrong way, and your immediate reaction is to feel resentful or even to lash out in anger. The more you surrender to these impulses, allowing resentment and anger to surface, the easier it becomes to react similarly to future provocations, no matter how trivial. This cycle can escalate until negative emotions like resentment, anger, and possibly even hatred and revenge start to define your character, dimming its inherent brightness and affecting everyone around you.

Conversely, if you manage to halt these impulses as they arise, redirecting your thoughts to something else, you’ll gradually find it easier to maintain your composure in similar situations. Over time, this practice can lead to a state where very little can irritate you, and nothing can drive you to anger. Eventually, you’ll embody a radiant and charming disposition, a transformation that might seem unattainable from your current perspective.

This principle applies universally across various traits and habits. Whether it’s the habit of faultfinding, jealousy, fear, or their opposites, the mechanism of change remains the same. We cultivate love or hatred, optimism or pessimism, through consistent mental focus. The nature we embody reflects our predominant thoughts.

The profound truth about human existence is that we become what we contemplate. The axiom “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” reveals a fundamental reality: our character is the aggregate of our habits, which, in turn, are shaped by our conscious actions, themselves preceded by our thoughts. Thus, the journey from thought to character, and ultimately to destiny, is straightforward when we recognize the power of each present moment’s thought, followed by the next, and then the next, ad infinitum.

To achieve our highest ideals, two essential steps must be embraced: first, to define our ideals with each passing day, and second, to pursue them relentlessly, regardless of the challenges we may face.

It is the mark of a truly strong character to forgo immediate gratification for the sake of future gains. Like Dante, who pursued his beloved across realms, only to find her at the gates of Paradise, we too, by steadfastly following our ideals, will find ourselves at the threshold of our highest aspirations. Life’s purpose extends beyond fleeting pleasures; it is about reaching our fullest potential, cultivating noble character, and rendering the greatest service to humanity. In this pursuit lies the deepest joy, for it is the only path to genuine and lasting fulfillment. Those seeking shortcuts or diverging paths will find their journey increasingly arduous, ultimately realizing that true happiness eludes them.

Our focus should not dwell on the conditions of our lives but on how we respond to them. Facing life’s challenges with complaints only leads to depression, sapping the spirit that could transform our circumstances. Through personal reflection, I’ve learned that even the most difficult situations—those that once brought humiliation and despair—were invaluable. With time, their lessons became clear, revealing their necessity in my life’s journey. Now, I wouldn’t erase a single one of these experiences, for they have shaped me in ways I could not have imagined.

This understanding fortifies me against current and future adversities. I accept them without complaint or despair, tackling them with wisdom and the conviction that they are precisely what I need at the moment. Even if their purpose is not immediately apparent, I trust that in time, their significance will be revealed, and I will be grateful for every challenge just as it presented itself.

It’s a common tendency for individuals to believe their own challenges—be it trials, troubles, sorrows, or struggles—are more daunting than those faced by the rest of humanity, perhaps even unparalleled in the world. This perception often overlooks a fundamental truth: everyone carries their own burdens, unique and unseen to others, making our experiences part of the universal human condition. The error lies in our acute awareness of our own difficulties, contrasted with our limited visibility into others, leading us to mistakenly assume our hardships are unequaled.

The journey to overcoming these challenges is deeply personal. Each individual must cultivate the insight to identify the root causes of their adversities and the strength to confront and transform them. While we can support one another with suggestions and share knowledge of higher laws and forces that ease the journey, the actual work of change is a solo endeavor. To escape the confines of our current circumstances, we must first confront them squarely, understanding the laws that brought them into being. Rebellion and resistance are futile; it is only through alignment and cooperation with these universal laws that we can steer our lives toward our desired destination.

Working in harmony with these principles propels us towards our highest good, fulfilling our deepest desires. In contrast, opposition only leads to suffering, pain, loss, and desolation, for the law is unyielding in its operation. Thus, the essence of life is not the conditions we encounter but how we respond to them. This response shapes our destiny.

Whenever we are tempted to lament our fate as the harshest, or when we believe ours is a uniquely arduous path, let us reflect on the character of Pompilia in Browning’s poem. Such contemplation will likely reveal that our circumstances are more favorable than perceived. Armed with this realization and a spirit of trust and courage, we are well-equipped to manifest the life conditions we most earnestly desire.

At the core of every advancement or setback, every triumph or defeat, lies the power of thought. The nature of our thoughts not only creates but also attracts conditions that mirror their essence. Thoughts are potent forces, crafting our reality in their likeness, whether we acknowledge this or not. The universal law of attraction, asserting that like begets like, operates unceasingly in every aspect of human existence. It is an unchangeable truth within the cosmos.

Harnessing the Infinite Within: The Power of Character Development

To envision clearly one’s aspirations, and to persistently focus on this vision without wavering in faith or succumbing to doubt, sets the foundation for realization. Engaging daily in purposeful actions, devoid of complaint and fueled by positive thought forces towards one’s ideal, will inevitably manifest the desired outcome. It’s crucial to understand, especially for those newly acquainted with the ‘science of thought,’ that immediate results may not always be apparent. Transforming an old habit or cultivating a new one is a gradual process.

The efficacy of our thought forces enhances with use. Initial progress may seem slow, but momentum builds with continued practice, much like the acquisition of power through consistent effort. This principle is governed by the same laws that dictate all universal phenomena. Consider a musician learning a complex piece: mastery doesn’t come instantly but develops through persistent practice, aided by the mental law of repetition and the physical coordination governed by our reflexive nervous system. Eventually, discordant attempts transform into harmonious mastery, moving and inspiring onlookers. Similarly, the repeated focus of thought intensifies its power, leading to tangible manifestation.

Character building is a lifelong journey, not confined to youth. The variance in how individuals age is striking. Some age with grace, embodying a sweetness and charm that endears them to others, while some grow bitter, feeling alienated from friends and family, often not without cause. The former finds increasing joy in life, becoming more cherished by those around them, whereas the latter sees diminishing joy, becoming less appealing to others.

Is the stark contrast in how people age a matter of chance? I firmly believe not. In my view, the concept of chance does not exist in the complex tapestry of human life nor in the vast universe we inhabit. The principle of cause and effect governs all, with every effect intrinsically linked to its cause, though sometimes we must delve deeper than usual to uncover the root of a particular outcome.

So, what accounts for the significant disparity between two aging individuals, where one radiates joy, and the other succumbs to bitterness?

The answer lies in their habitual mental states. As we advance in years, our long-held thoughts and attitudes begin to manifest more visibly, shaping our character in profound ways. One individual may choose to eschew worry, fear, and needless fretting, while another might, perhaps unwittingly, cultivate these very states.

Consider an analogy from nature to illustrate this point: In an orchard, there stands a tree that has borne only its natural fruit for years. Recently, it was grafted, and come spring, both the original and grafted parts bloomed alike, indistinguishable to the casual observer. Though initially similar, the young fruits began to diverge significantly in appearance, taste, and longevity as the season progressed. One side produced small, tart apples that would last only a few weeks into fall, while the other yielded large, sweet apples that remained fresh until the next blooming season.

This natural divergence serves as a metaphor for human development. Just as the grafted tree’s fruits, initially similar, reveal their true nature over time through their distinct qualities, so too do individuals’ innermost thoughts and attitudes eventually manifest in their outward character. The key difference in the fruits—and, by analogy, in people—lies in their foundational qualities, set in motion long before their effects become visible.

Understanding this, we can predict with considerable accuracy the kind of person someone will become based on their dominant thoughts and mental habits. Just as with the tree, the essence of each individual, once fully expressed, leaves an unmistakable mark, guiding us in our understanding of human nature and the aging process.

To cultivate a beautiful and attractive old age, one must lay the groundwork in youth and continue diligently through middle age. Yet, even if this early preparation has been overlooked, it’s never too late to adjust and apply the necessary corrective measures. Life, as long as it persists, offers opportunities for transformation and growth. The path to a distinguished and graceful seniority is paved with the habits and thoughts nurtured over a lifetime. As we age, a consolidation of lifelong mental habits occurs, exerting a powerful influence on our character and disposition.

Negative traits such as fear, worry, selfishness, greed, criticism, dependency on others’ opinions, lack of empathy, and ignorance of the constructive power of thought gradually lead to an unwelcoming and possibly isolated old age. Conversely, their positive counterparts foster a serene, hopeful, and engaging twilight of life, blessed by what seems like divine favor, making it not only fulfilling for the individual but also enriching for those around them. These internal states manifest externally, influencing our voice, facial expressions, posture, and even our physical and mental health.

Incorporating a personal philosophy early in life can be immensely beneficial. It provides comfort and strength through challenging times and enriches one’s later years. While the philosophically minded individual may not always achieve the highest levels of financial or business success, the depth and quality of life they enjoy often possess a value far beyond material wealth. This inner richness is something money cannot buy, and its absence is keenly felt, even if not understood, by those who have prioritized material success above all else.

Discovering our core essence is crucial, whether done early or later in life. The key is to engage actively and courageously in life’s diverse chapters, adapting to its ever-changing tapestry. Just as the waters of a stream remain pure and vibrant through constant motion, our lives, too, must embrace movement and change to avoid stagnation. Our attractiveness or lack thereof, both to ourselves and to others, stems from within. This truth holds regardless of age, and recognizing it is vital for all, young and old alike.

Adaptation should not be a one-sided expectation placed upon the young by the elderly. A mutual willingness to adjust fosters a harmonious coexistence, enhancing the beauty of all stages of life. A failure to embrace this reciprocity can diminish the allure of our later years, a notion often overlooked. Life is a grand play, encompassing both comedy and tragedy, joy and sorrow, light and darkness. Each role we assume, at any stage, demands our full participation and awareness, contributing to a life well-lived.

While we may not have full control over the circumstances of our ‘entrance’ into life, the quality of our ‘performance’ and our ‘exit’ lies within our power. This autonomy ensures that every life, regardless of its humble beginnings or the heights it reaches, can achieve a form of greatness that transcends conventional measures of success.

I believe our purpose here is to attain divine self-realization through life’s experiences. Our progress hinges on our ability to navigate and utilize these experiences wisely, shaping the totality of our life’s journey. Let us courageously face each challenge and make the most of every situation. We should focus on what we can influence without being hindered by what lies beyond our control. Trusting in the universe’s wisdom, we can move forward without fear, confident in the knowledge that a greater force guides and watches over us.

To live our lives to the fullest, embracing all aspects that define us, and to extend our support to others in their journey towards the same pinnacle, is our paramount duty. It involves guiding those who stray towards a path of positive contribution, maintaining an essence of simplicity, humility, and strength, and becoming pure vessels for the Divine to express itself through us.

By always turning our faces towards the light, loving unconditionally, and fearing only our misdeeds, we acknowledge the inherent goodness within all creation, poised for its timely expression. Such a life is not just commendable but truly magnificent, leaving us fearless in the face of life’s ultimate transition—death, which is not an end but a passage to a different form of existence. It signifies shedding the old for the new, a soul’s journey towards a finer existence equipped with the wisdom garnered in this life yet unburdened by material attachments. Death is a transition from light to greater light, a continuation of our journey at another level of experience and enlightenment, an event to be embraced, not feared when it arrives in its natural course.

The essence of life flows from within outward—a truth that bears endless repetition. The wellspring of existence lies within us. Recognizing this, it becomes imperative that we devote more attention to our inner selves than is commonly practiced, especially in the Western world.

Carving out moments of tranquility daily is not a luxury but a necessity. It unravels the complexities of our minds, thereby smoothing out the wrinkles in our lives. It’s essential for crafting loftier ideals, for focusing our thoughts on our true goals, and for renewing and maintaining our connection with the Infinite. This quiet time is our bulwark against the relentless pace of daily life, ensuring we don’t lose sight of the fact that we are expressions of an Infinite life and power. It’s a reminder that our true vitality and strength are derived from this divine source, without which we are devoid of life and power.

Fully grasping this truth and living within its conscious embrace is akin to discovering the Kingdom of God, an inherently internal realm. The Kingdom of Heaven, found solely within, reveals itself in its fullest and most undeniable form when we awaken to the profound realization that our true essence is inextricably linked with the Divine. By consistently opening ourselves to this Divine presence, allowing it to guide and express itself through us, we find ourselves in perpetual communion with God.

Such a dynamic awareness of God becomes a tangible reality in our existence, ushering us into a state of ever-expanding wisdom, insight, and power. This divine consciousness within the human soul is the very heart and foundation of all genuine religious experience. It seamlessly integrates spirituality with every breath and every act of our daily lives. Anything less that does not permeate every moment and action bears the name of religion but lacks its true essence. This universal truth, championed by prophets, sages, and mystics across ages and cultures, stands as the core of their teachings and the source of their enduring impact and spiritual authority.

Embracing the humility and openness of a child is crucial for entering this sacred inner kingdom, as it was taught, “Except ye become as little children, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.” This recognition—that by our own efforts, we are powerless and that only through acknowledging and allowing the Divine within to manifest can we achieve anything—guides us to the simplicity of life. This simplicity is not merely a lifestyle but the path to the deepest joy and the highest attainments.

In the East, there is a marked preference for spending time in quietude and silence, a practice that, while enriching the inner life, sometimes leads to a disconnect with the material actualization of those inner visions. Conversely, in the West, our relentless pursuit of external activities often leaves little room for the cultivation of our inner, spiritual selves. This imbalance results in a life that seems to unfold by chance, shaped more by external circumstances than by our deepest intentions and desires. To achieve a truly fulfilling life, we must find a middle ground between the Eastern emphasis on contemplation and the Western focus on action. Only through this balance can we live an ideal life, one that satisfies both our spiritual aspirations and our material needs.

In the Orient, many dedicate their days to meditation and spiritual contemplation, yet this intense inward focus sometimes leads to neglect of their physical needs. In contrast, the frenetic pace of life in the Western world often leaves individuals feeling ungrounded, lacking a firm foundation or understanding of their life’s true purpose, because they do not allocate enough time for self-reflection.

If the Eastern practitioner were to balance contemplation with action, their life might become more holistic and satisfying. Similarly, if we in the West were to integrate periods of reflection into our busy lives, we would likely discover a more authentic and empowered way of living. Finding one’s center and aligning with the Infinite allows for a life that flows outward from a place of deep understanding and connection.

When it comes to character building, some feel constrained by the concept of heredity. While it’s true that our beginnings can influence us, to believe they determine our destiny is a misconception. The notion that we are irrevocably shaped by the sins or limitations of our ancestors is not only questionable in terms of justice but also in its validity. We are dealing with the essence of our being, where the eternal nature of our existence supersedes any ancestral legacy. In recognizing our direct connection to the Divine, we acknowledge a source of potential that is limitless, transcending any perceived barriers of heredity.

This message is universal; it speaks to you, to me, and to every soul that breathes. Upon embracing this truth, we recognize the concept of heredity as a fragile notion, easily transcended. The destiny of each individual rests firmly in their own hands, allowing anyone to sculpt their life into a masterpiece of character, achievement, power, and divine self-realization, thereby magnifying their influence upon the world. The dreams we cherish can indeed manifest into reality, provided our commitment is unwavering. As we ascend towards our ideals, strengthening the fabric of our character, we become beacons of hope and inspiration, uplifting and empowering those around us. Our advancement not only elevates our own lives but also elevates the lives of others, enhancing their ideals and, consequently, their actions.

Understanding and harnessing the power of thought and mental suggestion opens up avenues to support and strengthen others in their journeys, especially those who are struggling. The practice of sending and maintaining positive, empowering thoughts can have a profound impact on others, showcasing the incredible potential of mental suggestion when used with wisdom and intent.

The individual who dedicates time to cultivate their inner life, to forge and maintain a connection with the Infinite and the Divine, is truly equipped for the rigors of life. Such a person navigates daily challenges with insight and strength, building not just for the fleeting moments but for eternity. With an unwavering trust in the Divine guidance within, they move forward with confidence, knowing that they are supported by an infinite wisdom and love that transcends all understanding.

Building for eternity, they understand that only the highest virtues of truth, nobility, and love endure the test of time and the transition we call death. Armed with life’s true riches—character, self-mastery, and divine realization—they face the end of physical existence with courage and peace, assured of their eternal place within the Divine embrace.

Echoing the words of Whittier, they affirm:

I know not where His islands lift
Their fronded palms in air;
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond His love and care.

author avatar
Tuesday
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Harnessing the Infinite Within: The Power of Character Development

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