This is from Emmet Fox’s book, ‘The Sermon on the Mount’. This book was actually influential on the development ofAA’s 12 Steps. It’s a fantastic book that I’m re-reading again. I thought I’d share a part that resonated with me today.
If you want material prosperity, you must first think prosperity thoughts, and then make a habit of doing so, for the thing that keeps most people poor is the sheer habit of poverty thinking. If you want congenial companionship, if you want to be loved, you must first think thoughts of love and good-will. Like begets like, is another way of stating the Great Law, which means that as a man soweth in his unseen thoughts, so shall he reap in what is seen.
When people awaken to a knowledge of these great truths, they naturally try to begin to apply them in their own lives. Realizing at last the vital importance of “righteousness”, or the thinking of harmonious thoughts, they, as sensible people, begin immediately to try to put their house in order. The principle involved is perfectly simple, but unfortunately the doing of it is anything but easy. Now, why should this be so? The answer lies in the extraordinary potency of habit; and habits of thinking are at once the most subtle in character and the most difficult to break. It is easy, comparatively speaking, to break a physical habit if one really means business, because action on the physical plane is so much slower and more palpable than on the mental plane. In dealing with habits of thought, however, we cannot, so to say, stand back and take a comparatively detached view, as we can in contemplating our actions.Our thoughts flow across the stage of consciousness in an unbroken stream, and so rapidly that only unceasing vigilance can deal with them. Again, the theater of one’s actions is the area of his immediate presence. I can act only where I am. I may give orders by letter, or telephone; or I may press a button and bring about results at a distance; but still, my action only happens where I am, and at the present moment of time. In thought, on the contrary, I can range over the whole area of my life, including all the people with whom I have been or am in any way concerned, and I can soar away in to the past or into the future with equal ease. We see, therefore, how much bigger the task of achieving all-around harmonious thinking, or true righteousness, is than appears at first sight.
For this reason many people become discouraged with themselves and indulge in a great deal of self-condemnation because they do not very speedily change the whole current of thought over the whole area of their lives – destroy the old Adam, as Paul says – in a very short time. This, of course, is a capital mistake and, incidentally, self-condemnation being an essentially negative, and therefore unrighteous thought, tends to produce still more trouble, in the old vicious circle. If you are not progressing as fast as you wish to, the remedy is – to be still more careful to hold only harmonious thoughts. Do not dwell upon your mistakes or upon the slowness of your progress, but claim the Presence of God with you, all the more, in the teeth of the discouraging suggestion. Claim Wisdom. Claim Power, or Prosperity in prayer. Have a mental stocktaking or a review of your life, and see if you are not still thinking wrongly in some section or other of your mind. Is there some wrong line of conduct that you are still pursuing? Is there somebody whom you have not yet forgiven? Are you indulging in any kind of political, or racial, or religious sectarian hatred or contemp? This is sure to be disquising itself under a cloak of self-righteousness, if it is there. If it is, tear off the cloak, and get rid of the evil thing, for it is poison in your life. Is there some kind of jealously left in your heart-it may be personal or it may be professional. This odious thing is a good deal more common that would be readily admitted in polite society. If it is there, cut it out at any cost. Are there any sentimental regrets, or purposeless yearnings for the impossible? If so, reflect that, as an immortal being, the Son of God holding spiritual dominion, no good thing is out of your reach, here and now. Waste no more time repining for what is over and done, but make the present and the future a splendid realization of your heart’s desire. Is there remorse for mistakes past and gone? Then remember that remorse, as distinct from repentance, is merely a form of spiritual pride. To revel in it, as some people do, is treason to the love and forgiveness of God, who says: “Behold now is the day of salvation.” “Behold I make all things new.”