If the first rule is to obey your native bias, to accept the work for which you were inwardly formed, - the second rule is concentration, which doubles its force.
- Emerson in "Greatness"
The power of concentration is one of the most valuable of intellectual attainments.
- Horace Mann.
Judging from letters and questions of pupils, no part of the Mental Science causes so much difficulty as the demand that there be Concentration. I propose to take from this demand all that is difficult, and remove all obstructions from the mind so that there will be a clear understanding of what is meant by "Concentration," and what by the phrase so much in use, - "In the Silence!"
There is no break in the methods of nature. Truth is identical whether uttered by ancient or modern teacher, by eastern priest or modern Mental Scientist. He who finds Truth, finds it by Nature's one method. There are no patent rights upon any of her secrets, and no corners upon any method of arriving at the perception of Truth.
The cave man found it just as Moses did, and Moses just as Socrates, and Socrates as Jesus, and A. J. Davis as Jesus, and Mrs. Eddy as Davis, and Henry Harrison Brown as they did. Therefore, unless we are to admit the claim of special revelation and arbitrary selection on the part of a Creator, we are to analyse our own mental action, and from the way we have come to Truth, realize that all in like manner come. From the study of our own unfoldment, we are to deduce ways for still more extended progress, just as we have by study of nature's methods in other lines of manifestation, learned to assist her in her unfoldment.
As man, by interrogating nature has learned to become a factor in the evolution of the material world, as he has, by the same process learned to be a factor in his own evolution, mentally, artistically, esthetically; so by the study of our mental conditions we are to learn to be a conscious factor in the evolution of a control over ourselves.
The child and the savant learn by the same means. The slave and the king develop by the same process. The workman and the poet win success by obedience to the same law. The victor and the vanquished are results of the one instrument. Nature is no respector of persons. All the old conception of any special revelation; of any peculiar method; of any newly invented process; of any specially prepared series of directions; of any collections of teachings, or of any prepared formulas, being of value, must pass away. You are to realize that in you abides the same power; in you lies latent, the same intelligence; in you awaits the same germ, that all other men possess, to be brought into unfoldment by the same methods. You are to declare, - "What man has done I can do! When I know how others achieve I also can achieve. When I have learned the Law, I can use it! When I find the Way I can walk in it. When I see the Light I can follow it. When I know the Truth I can demonstrate it."
So long have the old ideas held sway that it is important that you see that all of the old growths of error, of self depreciation, of beliefs in the supernatural and in the special are rooted out of your mind. Too many are trying to come into the New Thought and hold on to the old thought at the same time. For such, Jesus spoke, when he admonished Us not to put new wine in old bottles. New perceptions of truth will not fit old statements, and new perceptions must not be limited to old methods. Truth is never old and her methods of revelation, the processes of awakening to the perception of Truth, are ever the same. Do not confound human perception of Truth with Truth itself, nor fix it at the ancient limitation. Lowell tells us that: -
God sends his teachers unto every age, To every clime, and every race of men, With revelations fitted to their growth And shape of mind, nor gives realm of Truth Into the selfish rule of one sole race.
Do not make one and the same, the thing and the maker, the seer and the perception. The methods of seership are always the same; the methods of applying the truth perceived to the objective life are as various as are organizations and the lives of the seers. No one can either perceive Truth or live it for you; therefore while you perceive Truth by the absolute law of Mind, you will apply Truth by the special law of your own individuality. Thus Truth common to all ages and all men is so differently stated, and so differently applied that there are thousands of sects and schools. But under all these, lies the one Substance named God, Brahm, Allah, Joss, Force, Mind, Energy, Christ, Spirit, etc, etc. And no matter what the rite, form, ceremony, formula, method, law, rule, or regulation proposed or imposed, all these have their base in the same natural phenomena. Therefore no matter what claim is made for any system you are to understand that no system ever was, or ever can be, made that will embody all possible methods of attaining any desired unfoldment. No system can be made that will exhaust the possibilities of infinite Principle. Systems, forms, and rules arise in the observance of details. When you rise to Principles you will make your own rules or have none.
Reliance upon Principle and reliance upon rule, make the difference between a master and a slave; between a leaner and one self-controlled. To rest upon forms, formulas, rites and rules is the custom of church, state and public opinion. To rest upon Principle is the demonstration of - Individuality.
A clear conception of this point is necessary because so many teachers, leaders and founders, are springing up, claiming to speak with authority, or to have devised, or found, some plan by which one may attain unfoldment, success, health, or happiness by some new and original road. Know this: all such claims are based upon some merely individual perceptions of the one and the same law which every person has obeyed who ever attained success. There is but one way, because Life, Truth, Principle, and Law are unchangeable. The Spirit of Truth through Jesus said - "1 am the way!" So It says through every Human Soul. "I am the way!" says Life. "I am the way!" said Nature to the scientist, and seeking out her way, it is now his way. In New Thought we only interrogate Nature; seek her way! When we find her way we shall have the only way. And since all Truth is simple; since every discovery man has made of Nature's way is simple; we are to infer that when we find the way to health, success and happiness it will be so simple that we shall be surprised that we did not always know it.
I admonish you at the beginning of any study, to put aside all systems that have anything strange, difficult, mysterious, occult, or supernatural; anything hard to understand, or peculiar to do. They are not Nature's way and will never be yours. Mistrust everything you find difficult to understand. Only so far as any system conforms to your own simple life, does it have any value to you. When you are inclined to take up any method of self-culture, ask, "Is this Nature's simple way? Have all men in all ages found success through obedience to this Principle? If so, I will adopt it."
Again, I advise you to refuse to deal with any teacher, or system, that proposes to do all for you; to make it easy for you. There are no easy, no royal roads. Though the New Jerusalem "lieth four square with gates on each side;" there are no chariots on either side to carry you in. You must get in by your own unaided efforts.
"Where did you come from, Topsy?" "I growed!" Each person must grow into any condition he desires. Teachers may do what the gardener does - make conditions for growth. This book and any good book or teacher, can make conditions for you to grow, by teaching you how mankind has ever grown.
I would that you bring very closely to yourself this thought - "All men are created equal!" In this consciousness concentrate your forces in the thought. - "What man has done, I can do! What men know, I can know. When I know what they know, I can do as they do!" This is the only possible rational, self-respecting mental attitude. It is the only one under which I wish to claim you as a pupil or as friend. In this mental attitude we shall win. In any other we shall fail.
In other words I have been during all this lesson, advising you to concentrate upon FAITH IN YOURSELF. This is the keynote to the Arch of Character and its presence or absence constitutes success or failure.
The key to success in the line of all mental and spiritual achievement, is CONTROL OF THE ATTENTION. The ability to concentrate and hold the attention upon any given point at will, and resist all diverting tendencies and desires, is an absolute necessity to high attainment and rapid progress. Happily this is an art that all may acquire by resolution and persevering effort. The very practice itself is a wholesome and efficient mental discipline. - Dr. J. H. Dewey in "The Way, the Truth and the Life"