Category Archives: James Allen eMeditations

Your Circumstance is a Spiritual Lesson

“As a progressive and evolving being, man is where he is that he may learn that he may grow; and as he learns the spiritual lesson which any circumstance contains for him, it passes away and gives place to other circumstances.” – As A Man Thinketh

It has taken me a long time to be able to look at a problem I’m having as a necessary spiritual lesson. To be frank, I’m still not always real excited to be enduring the pain and frustration that negative circumstances usually cause. Some days I’d like to “play hookey” and skip the lesson 🙂

But as I look back at my life, it is easy to see that the times when my wisdom and understanding grew to new levels; those times when I approached becoming the person I long to be; it was always the times that followed negative circumstances. The greatest growth you’re going to have is going to come from the negative circumstance you have today that sometimes seems too overwhelming, too big to scale.

Writing in Byways of Blessedness, James Allen is strong in his call for us to embrace our circumstances. “Let a person rejoice when he is confronted with obstacles, for it means that he has reached the end of some particular line of indifference or folly, and is now called upon to summon up all his energy and intelligence in order to extricate himself, and to find a better way; that the powers within him are crying out for greater freedom, for enlarged exercise and scope.

“No situation can be difficult of itself; it is the lack of insight into its intricacies, and the want of wisdom in dealing with it, which give rise to the difficulty. Immeasurable, therefore, is the gain of a difficulty transcended.”

Maybe that explains why it sometimes seems that I can’t shake a particular problem, or I have one that keeps rearing its ugly head. Instead of fighting it, I need to jump in and gain the insight and wisdom to handle it. Then it would be gone, and I would be ready for the next lesson — only stronger, both in spirit and in wisdom!

My long-time hero, Emmet Fox, wrote, “It is the Law that any difficulties that can come to you at any time, no matter what they are, must be exactly what you need most at the moment, to enable you to take the next step forward by overcoming them. The only real misfortune, the only real tragedy, comes when we suffer without learning the lesson.”

And that’s worth thinking about.

What you say is what you get

Thoughts, words, and acts are seeds sown, and, by the inviolable law of things, they produce after their kind. — Above Life’s Turmoil

We focus a lot on how powerful our thoughts and actions are and in so doing, we overlook one of the most powerful killers of dreams — our words.

In fact, many of the dream-killer words we use, we do so in casual conversation with not much thought of what we’re really saying. At one point in my life, when I had a few more challenges than normal, I got into a very bad habit of using this reply when asked how I was doing, “Oh, you know, when it rains, it pours.”

I’m not sure why I used that reply (maybe I was looking for some sympathy), but I know the results were devastating. Not only did it keep raining, it began to storm!

In the Northern Hemisphere we’re coming to a season when colds and the flu usually increase. Would you think I’ve gone off my rocker if I said we speak some of those maladies into existence? Before you decide, read this article on the medical evidence of the power of belief, and then understand that when we speak something we give power to it — we increase our belief in something when we speak it.

So when someone asks you how you’re doing and you reply, “I think I’m coming down with something,” you’re actually contributing to the illness you end up with. And the same goes for the other words that people speak like, “I don’t ever have any money,” “I’m always so tired,” “I’ve got the worst luck,” and on and on.

What words are you speaking? Stop and listen to yourself, whether it’s your self talk or your words to others. Can you see the connection between what you’re saying and the life you’re experiencing?

Regardless of the religious faith, the spoken word is acknowledged as having great power. Hindu writings tell of yogis that have used mantras to light fires, materialize physical objects like food and even influence the outcome of battles. In the Christian Bible, we find these words in the Gospel of Mark, “those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”

And that’s worth thinking about.

Don’t Quit

“Your circumstances may be uncongenial, but they shall not remain so if you only perceive an ideal and strive to reach it. You cannot travel within and stand still without.” — As A Man Thinketh

For many years I have carried around a poem called Don’t Quit. One of the lines says, “stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit – It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.” In our darkest hour it’s hard to see the end of our circumstance. All we can think of is our conditions worsening. But it’s usually at this time that our greatest growth can occur if we’ll see the moment as a growth opportunity. If we’ll see it as a time to learn how to control our thoughts toward an ideal that we cherish.

One thing I share with people who seek my advice when they think their life has come apart, is to help them understand the power that even the tiniest of actions can have when taken in a negative situation. Remember in Science class when we learned that “a body at rest tends to remain at rest or a body in motion tends to remain in motion.” This is especially true when overcoming circumstances because “paralysis” usually keeps us in the condition longer than we’d like.

But even more important, is that once we’ve started in motion, even though it may not seem like much, know this – it’s now only a matter of time before you’re out, totally out, of the situation that has got you down today.

My long-time favorite poem by an anonymous author is worth remembering today:

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill.
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns.
And many a fellow turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man.
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup.
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar.
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.
And that’s worth thinking about.

Blind to Failure

“He who cherishes a beautiful vision, a lofty ideal in his heart, will one day realize it.” As A Man Thinketh

There was an incredible story in the June 18, 2001 issue of Time magazine about Erik Weihenmayer who had recently climbed Mt. Everest.

Now there are quite a few people that have climbed the world’s highest summit since Sir Edmund Hillary first did it in 1953. But no one had ever climbed Mt. Everest that was blind, until Erik Weihenmayer did.

What’s even more amazing is that in 2002 he reached the top of Mt. Kosciusko, the highest peak in Australia. That made Erik the first blind climber to reach the top of the traditional Seven Summits, the most challenging peaks in the world.

Erik can’t see like most of us can, but he knows, like James Allen knew, that if we settle for what we can see today, we’ll never live the life of our dreams. We have to have a vision for our life, for what we want to become. Most importantly, we have to cherish it and hold on tightly to it when circumstances are telling us that we’ll never see our vision.

If you read Erik’s story you’ll discover that Erik stumbled into the Camp on the first floor of Mt. Everest bloodied, sick and dehydrated. And he was still 9,000 feet (almost two miles) from the summit. But Erik had cherished and lived with his vision for years and would not be denied. Like the title of the story says, Erik was “blind to failure.”

The ancient writer tells us in Proverbs that “Without a vision, the people perish.” So we must take the time to determine the vision for our life. But once we’ve settled on our vision, then it’s important that we take James Allen’s advice to cherish it in our heart.

And, as Erik says, “Success is not just the crowning moment, the spiking of the ball in the end zone or the raising of the flag on the summit. It is the whole process of reaching for a goal and, sometimes, it begins with failure.”

And that’s worth thinking about.

A lesson from Job

“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” – Above Life’s Turmoil

This principle was not easy for me to accept and I fought it for a long time. As miserable as my life was at the time I learned this concept, I was certain that there was no way that it was due to the thoughts that I had held. There were too many other reasons why things had gone bad – my ex-spouse, the economy, a client who had wronged me, and on and on and on. Since I wasn’t responsible for my “bad luck” then certainly my thoughts had nothing to do with it.

But I was wrong. Like the biblical Job who said, “the thing I feared most has come upon me,” I, too, had thought myself to where I was.

Dr. Walter Doyle Staples, writing in “Think Like a Winner!” says, “I credit one simple concept with getting me started on my journey into self-discovery. After a great deal of study and contemplation, I came to the conclusion that people have in their lives today exactly what they keep telling their mind they want.”

Like Dr. Staples, it was a moment of great illumination for me! The logical side of me said, “if you and you alone can think yourself into such a mess, then surely you and you alone can think yourself out of it.” And that I did. It wasn’t overnight and it wasn’t easy, but it was a sure thing! And by accepting all of the responsibility for where I was at, and all of the responsibility for where I was going, I experienced a tremendous joy and freedom because I knew in my knower that if I got myself into the predicament, I could get myself out.

Of course, I had some great inspiration along the way. And I will always remember Les Brown’s three steps to take during “hard times:”

1. Have Faith (didn’t Paul say, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for…”)

2. Remind yourself: “No matter how hard it is or how hard it gets, I’m going to make it!”

3. Have patience and engage in consistent action.

And that’s worth thinking about.