Desire and How to Use It
ON WHATEVER PLANE of existence the soul functions, it there functions through
a form. This form is an organization. And the work of the soul on any such plane is to
make proper adaptations to the environment of that plane. Such adaptations are not
restricted to those necessary to survival; but include activities which have for their
object the realization of various desires, and on the higher planes the performance of
the Cosmic Work for which the soul has undergone its special training.
There is, therefore, at all times and on all planes, an intimate relation between the
form occupied by the soul and the forces and conditions external to this form. That is,
the universe outside the body occupied by the soul affords various stimuli whose
impact affects the body and is felt by the soul. Both the body and the soul react to all
such stimuli. In other words, after any particular experience, neither the body nor the
soul is just the same as it was before. The form has changed in some respect; and the
soul, or sum total of mental factors, also has changed. Something is added to the soul
by every experience it undergoes.
Conditioning is the Most Important Process to Understand
-It is this factor which is added to the soul that determines how the organism will act
in the presence of the same stimulus in the future. Take the simplest forms of physical
life, for instance, and bring them repeatedly into contact with the same type of
stimuli, and it is found that, as a result of experience, they react more quickly to them
after a time than they did at first. A single-celled organism with power of locomotion
will retreat from a drop of injurious acid more quickly after it has had some previous
experience in close approach to such an acid. And a baby, after having been roughly
handled a time or two by a careless nurse, will more quickly cry and thrash about at
the approach of this nurse, in the endeavor to escape a similar hardship, than it did
before the rough handling.
Furthermore, a single-celled organism when brought in contact with an object which
affords satisfactory food, after having had repeated experiences with such a
satisfactory food supply, acts more quickly and effectively to avail itself of the food
than it did on the first occasion of its contact. And a human infant, having been fed or
petted by a nurse, will crow and reach out its arms toward this nurse, in a manner
which it did not do before.
Omitting for the time further illustrations, and exhaustive experiments by which the
point is demonstrated, it may be said as a characteristic of all life-forms that they
possess, in some degree, the ability to learn through experience. Such processes of
learning the psychologists call CONDITIONING.
In general, just as I indicated in the case of the simplest organisms of earth, and of the
human baby which becomes the most complex, the Conditioning produced by pain
tends toward repulsion and the Conditioning produced by pleasure tends toward
Of all the processes of the human mind and body there is none more important fully
to understand than that of CONDITIONING; because all progress and all regress are
the result of such conditioning; and if we are to make satisfactory Progress we must
make intelligent use of the Conditioning processes.
Not only is every stimulus of the external environment accompanied by a sense of
feeling when consciousness apprehends it; but every action taken by the organism,
and every mental process, likewise is so accompanied. This is merely another way of
saying that each experience, whatever its nature, is accompanied by a sense of pain or
pleasure in some degree. Feeling, in some measure, accompanies every state of
consciousness. It may, or may not, be clearly defined as pleasure or pain; but the
basic elements of attraction or repulsion are in some degree present. And it is this
affective accompaniment of an experience which Conditions the organism in
reference to similar experiences in the future.
Each experience–whether awareness of an external condition, a physical action
taken, or a thought– adds the feeling, or Conditioning Energy which accompanies
it, to the thought-cells of which the astral body is composed.
These thought-cells which comprise, in their various organizations, the substance
and the structures of the four-dimensional body, are compounds of the various
thought-elements. Like the protoplasmic cells of the physical body, each of these
cells has an individuality and a consciousness. But in its effort to express this
individuality, due to the freedom of activity inherent to the four-dimensional realm,
it is far less limited than are the physical cells of the three-dimensional body.
As such a cell of the astral body is composed of thought-substances derived from one
or more experience, this psychoplasm of which it is formed, in addition to the energy
of the thought-elements embraced within the cell, also has associated with it the
feeling, or Conditioning Energy, which accompanied the experience. In fact, this
Conditioning Energy–the degree and quality of pleasure or pain–determines the
manner in which the thought-elements combine; whether the compound is
harmonious or discordant psychoplasm, and to what degree.
Such thought-cells, or stellar-cells, are brought together within the astral body
through the operation of the Law of Association–Resemblance and Contiguity–to
form the structures of the four-dimensional form. Yet coincident with the operation
of the Law of Association further Conditioning Energy is present, and becomes
associated with, and affords a particular kind of energy to, the dynamic stellar
structures formed from aggregations of thought-cells. That is, when two groups of
thoughts, or experiences are brought together in the mind, or astral body, their union
into an organization, or structure, is accompanied by feeling. It is this feeling, or
Conditioning Energy, which determines whether the structure formed, and to what
degree, is harmonious or discordant.
Pleasure or pain, in some quality and in some quantity, enters into, and forms an
essential part of the energy of, every thought-cell, every dynamic thought-structure,
and every combination of that thought-built body the organization of which is more
commonly termed the mind or soul. Thus it is that every such cell or organization of
cells normally feels in a particular way; and with as much intensity as was originally
imparted to it when it was formed. This feeling is largely an expression of the
Conditioning Energy imparted to it at the time of its Formation into a compound, or
into an organization of stellar cells.
Within every cell and structure of the astral body, therefore, in addition to the family
energy of the elemental thoughts–Aggressive elements, Safety elements, Domestic
elements, Power elements, etc.– of which the stellar-cell or stellar structure is
composed, there is also Conditioning Energy. The type of energy expressed by a
thought-cell or stellar structure, or by any complex organization within the astral
body, is determined by the thought-elements within it. But the special trend of its
activities, its more particular attractions and repulsions, is determined by the
Conditioning Energy it possesses.
The expression of stellar-cells largely composed of aggressive elements, for
instance, will always tend to be aggressive in their action. But whether that
aggressive activity is turned toward one object or another, and whether its action is to
the benefit of the individual or to his detriment, is determined by the Conditioning
Energy with which they are associated.
Because every cell of the astral body, as well as every organized group of such cells,
possesses energy which exerts an attractive or repulsive force, and as such attractive
or repulsive force when recognized by consciousness is called Desire, in the broad
sense we are strictly correct in saying that every thought-cell stellar structure, and
combination of thought structures, within the astral body every organization within
the four-dimensional form–possesses Desires.
All Action is Due to the Release of Energy Which While Under Tension is Called Desire
–Furthermore, this energy of a thought-cell or of a complex organization of
thought-cells, because of the nature of its thought-elements and the Conditioning
they have been subject to, tends toward activities of a specific character. That is,
Desire is energy in a potential state straining to be released in a given activity: to
move the physical body, to acquire sustenance, to destroy an enemy, to realize love,
to enjoy a certain sensation, or any one of the innumerable things that life-forms do.
To state the matter in still other words, Desire is energy which has produced a tension
which seeks release in some activity. Thus every activity of the mind and body, great
or small, is due to the discharge of the energy which while stored and straining
rightfully can be called a Desire. Where there is no desire, therefore, there is no
organic activity of any kind.
This means that when the desire energies stored within the stellar-cells and structures
of the unconscious mind are provided with opportunity for release they express in
three different ways:
1. Attracting the attention of objective consciousness, which connects them up with
the electric energies of the brain, they give activity to thoughts of a similar nature.
Our objective thinking at a given time is given its trend by the release of the desire
energies of the stellar-cells.
2.Without our being conscious of the process, just as we are unaware of the
processes of digestion and assimilation, the release of the desire energies of the
stellar-cells enables these cells to work on the four-dimensional plane to attract
events into the life which correspond to the way they feel. That is, whatever
fortune or misfortune is attracted is due to the activities of thought-cells which
find opportunity to express on the four-dimensional plane.
3.The releases of such energies are responsible for the stimulation of endocrine
glands and for chemical and other changes within the body, as well as for our
observed behavior. In other words, all our three-dimensional activities are due to
the release of the desire energies of the stellar-cells of which the unconscious
mind is composed.
Because, along with the energy of the thought-elements involved every desire also
contains conditioning energy, or feeling, the release of the energy of any desire gives
rise to feeling. To move a hand or foot the desire for such movement must first be
present and build up a tension in the nerves to the point where they discharge electric
energy in the form of nerve current. This results in the movement. But accompanying
the movement is an affective condition, that is, a sense of feeling which registers at
least in the unconscious mind and Conditions similar movements in the future.
Certain desires, however, are powerful enough that the discharge of their energy
when the tension is released creates a profound and widespread disturbance of the
nerve currents. These more violent desires are responses of the life-form to
emergency situations. Some of these situations are: the call to conflict, stimulating
anger; realizing inadequacy to handle a situation, stimulating fear; realization of loss
sustained and consequent inadequacy, stimulating sorrow; belief that a fond desire
will be realized, stimulating hope; realization of a fond hope, stimulating joy; the
thought or presence of a love object, stimulating passion or love. Such situations
demand that energies be present in more than normal volume. Hence the tensions are
higher, quickly piling up energies which are released so violently that they give rise
to those intense feelings which are termed EMOTIONS.
Laboratory psychologists, through experiments too numerous to cite, have
demonstrated that every mental and emotional state, every thought, is accompanied
by a definite change in the physical body. Thought-tensions, even those desires
which have been repressed and are not recognized by the objective mind, give rise to
corresponding tensions in the physical body. All the innumerable weak desires in the
unconscious mind produce their physical effect; the stronger desires stimulating
pronounced tensions in the nervous system.
In the case of those most violent of all desires, which are built up in the presence of
emergency situations, the release of their energy–that is, an emotion–produces an
immediate response from the endocrine glands of the physical body. The action of
the chemicals then secreted by them cause the body to be placed on a footing suitable
to meet the emergency. Even though the emergency has passed before it is
recognized by consciousness, the thought of it when it is recognized may release the
emergency energy of emotion, to be followed by glandular secretion and the whole
complex of bodily response which is the Conditioned manner the organism reacts to
As inducing milder desires it matters not whether the stimulus is a sensory
impression from the physical world, energy reaching the thought-cells from the
astral environment such as that from a certain planet, or is the result of a complicated
process of thinking, it increases the tension of the thought-cells or thought structure
within the astral body. Such a tension may be called a Craving.
If the tension is imparted to the nervous system in such a manner that objective
consciousness is aware of it, it is recognized as a desire, or craving. Yet whether so
recognized or not there is a straining of energies toward attaining some goal, and
toward activities that have this goal for object. If action results, the energy that has
accumulated under the impact of the stimulus is released from its potential state and
becomes kinetic. That is, it is used up in the action. This relieves the tension and
consequently the craving. Desire, or craving, is energy in a state of tension, and
therefore the desire or craving is reduced. Desire tensions in the astral body
reproduce themselves in the physical body through etheric energies; that is, they
stimulate certain nerve cells to generate electrical charges, as explained in detail in
Chapter 9 (How to Think Constructively), causing a pronounced difference in
electrical potential between different regions of the physical form. When the mental
and electrical energy released from the tensions of a desire is unusually intense and of
relative short duration, the emotion, such as anger, terror, despair, triumph or
revenge is commonly called a PASSION.
If the mental and electric energy released from the tensions of a desire is complex and
indirect, the emotion, such as honor or patriotism, is called a SENTIMENT.
When the energy released from a desire tension is more moderate in intensity, but of
greater persistence, it is called a MOOD.
And should the energy released from a particular type or desire tension become so
habitual and continuous as to dominate the personality, it is called the
TEMPERAMENT of the person, such as sanguine temperament, suspicious
temperament, optimistic temperament, or pessimistic temperament.
Thus it is that all expressions of any life-form– physical actions, feelings, emotions,
passions, moods, sentiments and temperament– have back of them as their motive
force a lack of satisfaction which gives rise to a tension which is called a Wish or
To state the matter somewhat differently, all organic activity is prompted, and
accompanied by, Feeling. This feeling may be the response either to external
environment or to the relation of mental factors. But in all cases much of it is
Conditioned energy derived from previous experiences and stored in the stellar-cells
and stellar structures. And before the activity takes place the energy thus stimulated,
including the Conditioning Energy, builds up a tension. As soon as this tension
becomes sufficiently high it spills over in activity of some kind.
This activity imparted to those electric impulses called the nerve currents stimulates
muscular response, that is, physical movement, or glandular secretion. If the energy
has thus been conditioned, it spends itself chiefly in stimulating some physical
movement, accompanied by only a moderate amount of feeling. But if the energy has
been conditioned to profoundly disturb the nerve currents, the physical response is
largely that of the endocrine glands. These act in an extraordinary manner when the
feeling released by desire has an intensity sufficient to warrant it being termed an
Conditioning Desires Is the Only Avenue to a Better Life
–Thus the type of activity expressed by any physical cell or physical organism is
determined by the type of Desire, or tension, contained within the thought-cells with
which it is associated. And the amount of activity expressed is determined by the
amount of Desire, that is, by the degree of tension within the thought-cells with
which it is associated.
Instead, therefore, of considering Desire as something inimical to human welfare, as
certain Oriental philosophies do, the teaching of modern psychology is that Desire is
the most essential asset possessed by any living thing. Without it there is no activity.
Such activity as is expressed, is the expression Desire; and what is done, whether
beneficial or the reverse, is determined by the manner in which Desire has been
Conditioned. Therefore, there is but one possible avenue by which man can attain
morality or live a life which is better in any respect, and that is not through
eliminating Desire, but through the proper Use, or Conditioning, of his Desires.
Furthermore, the only manner in which, now or hereafter, man can markedly change
his destiny in the direction of his choosing, is through appropriate modification and
intensification of the desires of the stellar-cells and stellar structures in his astral
That he is commonly unaware of their cravings–or the way these organizations in
his unconscious mind feel in reference to certain situations–does not prevent them
from acting, with what intelligence they possess, from their four-dimensional plane,
to bring into his life those events which they are conditioned to attract. Those
thought-cells and thought structures that feel happy, desire only those things which
are harmonious. But those thought-cells and thought structures which feel mean and
discontented, work equally hard to bring into the life discordant events. It is the
function of a birth-chart to map the most energetic of such thought structures in the
unconscious mind, as they existed at the time of the individual’s birth.
Every event that comes into the life is attracted to it through the activities of the
stellar-cells and stellar structures within the astral body. Such activities are
determined by the Desires of these stellar-cells and stellar structures. Some pull in
one direction and others pull in another direction. The Desires of those in one
department of life may release energy, when stimulated by planetary vibrations, that
brings fortunate events related to this department. Yet the Desires of those in another
department of life may be such that when stimulated to unusual activity they attract
the direst misfortune.
The only way, therefore, that an individual can escape certain misfortunes is to
recondition the Desires of those thought-groups in his astral body such as are mapped
in the birth-chart by inharmonious planets, so that they no longer will feel discordant
and desire discordant expression; but instead will feel harmonious and desire
harmonious expression. When they have become so Conditioned as to Desire
harmony instead of discord, the character of the individual–that is, his astral
organization–will be changed in that respect, and instead of having misfortune in
that department of his life he will experience good fortune. The stellar-cells and
stellar structures in that department of his life will desire harmony, and will work
from their four-dimensional plane of vantage to attract harmony.
To change to a more moral or spiritual type of living an individual must change, or
Condition, the desires of which he becomes conscious so that their tensions find
greater satisfaction in releases which make for such a higher life than in releases
which permit the old type of living. The desires for living a finer existence must
possess more energy than the desires for living more grossly. They must be powerful
enough to overcome the coarser, or antisocial desires.
And to change the fortune in other respects, so that better conditions will be attracted,
an individual must change, or Condition, the desires of the stellar-cells and stellar
structures within his four-dimensional form, so that their tensions will find greater
satisfaction in releases which attract fortunate events than in releases which attract
misfortune. So long as their discord is sufficient to cause them to desire inharmony,
will they attract inharmony from without; and the only way such misfortune can be
avoided is to change them sufficiently that their desire for harmony is stronger than
their desire for discord.
Whether to improve the quality of those external actions which form the conduct, or
to improve the quality of events attracted into the life apparently independent of
conduct, desires, which in either case are the basic qualities of the character, must be
changed. The process of thus changing the stellar-cells and stellar structures so that
the energy released by their desires will attract events more to the liking is considered
in full detail in Course 9, Mental Alchemy, and also to some extent in Course 10,
Will Power is Directed Desire
–When the energies of strong desires are persistently directed to a given purpose,
from which they refuse to be deflected, we speak of it as an exercise of will power.
Will power is nothing more nor less than persistently Directed Desire.
If the will is to accomplish much, however, there must be something more than
inflexibility of purpose. There must be energy available which can be directed to the
accomplishment of that purpose. That is, there must be energetic desires. As the great
French psychologist, Th. Ribot, in his monograph on “The Diseases of the Will”
states: “An intense, stable, permitted passion is the very basis of all energetic wills.”
Speaking of such great men as Caesar, Michelangelo, and St. Vincent de Paul, Ribot
continues: “Their fundamental element is a mighty, inextinguishable passion which
enlists their ideals in its service.”
The highest type of Will is thus exhibited when there is a single aim in life, toward
which there is an intense and enduring passion that will permit of no distractions.
Such is found in all great men, and is the force behind their greatness.
For the most pronounced results the desires must have available energy, and must not
be scattered. They must converge and coordinate to a single purpose. Such a
convergence of desires to one end is present when the mind becomes dominated by
some great and permanent passion. The one great passion enlists all minor desires in
its service. As circumstances change, means are changed, minor desires are given
play and bring about successive adaptations to environment, but ever they are
subservient to the Dominant Desire of the life.
The greatest problem confronting every human life is that of intensifying the desires
and directing them into the most beneficial and effective channels. If the desires are
weak, there is not sufficient energy to carry to completion any worthwhile project.
But no matter how strong the desires may be, if they are divided, pulling in opposite
directions, or pulling in directions away from worthy accomplishment, the life will
fail to make the attainment it should. Let us, therefore, again briefly consider the
source of desire, and then, with this source clearly understood, move on to a
consideration of the methods to be employed in directing it to predetermined ends.
Already it has been shown that desire was developed by the soul as the energy
through which it moved toward or away from a condition in its environment. Those
conditions it felt to be pleasurable it had a tendency to move toward, that it might gain
their benefit. And the energy of this tendency, whether simple or more complex, was
an ATTRACTIVE DESIRE.
Those conditions the soul felt to be painful, it had a tendency to move away from, that
it might escape destruction. And the energy of this tendency, whether simple or more
complex, was a REPELLENT DESIRE.
All the actions of life, including even the manner in which thought-elements
combine in the stellar-cells of the astral body, and the way the stellar-cells unite in
groups to form stellar structures, are CONDITIONED by pleasure or pain. That is,
the energies of the thought organization of the astral body, as well as the movements
of the physical organs and the actions of the body as a whole, are directed by the
releases of energies which, while under tension we call desires. To the extent they are
CONDITIONED by pleasure they cause action in one direction; and to the extent
they are conditioned by pain they cause action in the opposite direction. PLEASURE
is always ATTRACTIVE. PAIN is always REPELLENT.
We do the thing which at the moment is most pleasurable to us, or is at least less
painful. It may be, however, that our objective mind registers only pain. Yet the very
fact that we are urged on to a given act implies that within our unconscious mind
there are elements that get more pleasure from this course of action than the amount
of pain objectively recognized. When a patient goes under the operating knife, he
may be conscious only of pain. Yet within his unconscious mind there is a mental
group that gets more pleasure in the effort to save his life than the pain he experiences
in the surgery.
Every thought-cell, at the time it is built into the astral body stores up the pleasure or
pain which was coincident. Every organization of such thought-cells contains the
pleasure or pain coincident with its formation. Thus within the unconscious mind are
a vast number of experiences, simple and complex, which have CONDITIONED
energies which now persist as those tensions which we know as desires.
Yet because strong simple sensations are those which the soul has had the longest
experience recognizing, and which it developed specifically for the purpose of
directing its conduct, these are the most powerful to build desires. To put it another
way: the amount of Conditioning Energy a desire contains is proportional not merely
to the duration of the feeling accompanying it, but also proportional to the intensity
of the feeling.
The general rule is that the farther we get from simple sensations the less intense the
feeling experienced. Ribot voices the findings of experimental psychologists when
he says: “We have seen that the more abstract ideas are, the weaker their motor
In Chapter 2 (Reason and Intuition) I have indicated that sensations fuse to
become perceptions and that perceptions fuse to build conceptions. Abstract ideas,
therefore, are the farthest of all removed from simple sensations. That is, the amount
of feeling they contain is negligible.
The number ten, for instance, is an abstract idea. Few people feel any enthusiasm,
either for or against the number ten. It gives neither pleasure nor pain. It has,
ordinarily, no tension associated with it in the astral body, such as we call desire.
Now let us take the idea of loving all mankind. There have been many experiences
with individual members of mankind which have given pleasure or pain. The images
in our unconscious mind, however, embraced in the idea of mankind, are not all
pleasurable. Some of our experiences with mankind have been distinctly painful.
Mankind, therefore, as an idea, embraces some ATTRACTIVE DESIRES and some
REPELLENT DESIRES. Yet love is essentially an Attractive Desire. You may act
benevolently toward that which causes pain. Only to the extent the image releases
desires which have been built by pleasure is love possible.
It is folly to try to escape that law of nature which modern scientific psychology
phrases: “Man is led by his feelings alone.”
Why shouldn’t he be led by his feelings? That is why feelings were evolved by his
soul. When people try to act against their feelings they are attempting the impossible.
What they should do instead, so that their actions may be controlled by wisdom
instead of by blind impulse, is to properly train their feelings. When their feelings are
properly conditioned their actions will take the proper course as a result of the
operation of this natural law.
General ideas, like that of loving all mankind, are too vague. They do not contain the
proper sensory elements to give them motive power. Furthermore, where mankind is
concerned, some of the images contained in the composite give rise to feelings the
very reverse of love. Then, again, how often we see people who with intellectual
honesty condemn a vice or passion, yet themselves are unable to renounce it!
The difference between recognizing right and practicing it is so great as to have
become proverbial. The mere intellectual conception lacks sufficiently in sensory
elements to enable it to build strong desires.
It is the function of Wisdom to decide the direction in which the life should move.
And when that direction is recognized the next step should be to build desires for
such movement which are strong enough to absorb the energy of other desires, or at
least which are strong enough that they can override any opposing desires. When
such desires become strong enough, the actions will inevitably be in the direction
dictated by Wisdom.
As all the desires which already persist in the thought organization of the astral body
have been CONDITIONED by pleasure or pain it is obvious that the method to be
employed in the conscious building of those desires decided upon is also to use
pleasure and pain. Pain is repellent. A feeling of fear, for instance, may prevent the
continuation of some action which had become habitual. But pain also adds discord
to the stellar-cells and stellar structures which tends to attract future misfortune, so
that its employment in the building of desires should be with utmost discretion.
Pleasure, however, is attractive, and in addition tends to the organization of the
stellar-cells of the astral body into harmonious, and fortune-attracting structures. In
the building of desires it is the chief agent to be recommended. Through its judicial
use, any possible course of conduct may be Conditioned to yield pleasure, and,
therefore, to possess strong motor tendencies.
As I have indicated, numbers are abstract ideas, pure and simple, and of themselves
are not associated with desires. Yet, through ASSOCIATION with desires that have
strong sensory elements, they may be made to possess intense motor tendencies. We
all are acquainted with people, no doubt, who have a veritable passion for
mathematics. If we follow the steps by which such a passion developed it will also
reveal the general method of CONDITIONING by which a liking for anything can be
The desire for conquest (Aggressive Urge) is one of the most primitive desires. When
an organism was faced with an obstacle or opponent there was pain. To escape the
pain it sought to overcome the obstacle or to vanquish the opponent. When it was
successful in doing this it experienced a feeling of exaltation. In time the pleasurable
feeling of exaltation in vanquishing opponents or obstacles developed to such an
extent that difficulties that could be overcome were a source of pleasure. Both people
and animals, even though injured in the encounter, may love to fight.
It gives almost everyone a sense of satisfaction to be able to do something better than
others do it. Directed thinking is painful. And the solution of a mathematical problem
requires directed thinking. Yet if the youngster in school finds he can solve a problem
that a fellow student cannot, and particularly if he is praised for his success, this gives
him pleasure. In this case not only his Aggressive Urges find pleasure in conquest,
but his Power Urges gain satisfaction; for he is made to feel superior to other
Each new conquest in the realm of mathematics brings with it self-approbation, the
increasing esteem of others, and a corresponding feeling of exaltation. And it is not
long before the youth finds no recognizable pain in the working of mathematical
problems. He becomes so Conditioned that he likes such work. And if he continues
thus to Condition himself he may develop a veritable passion for what others regard
as dry figures.
Let us not suppose that Sir Isaac Newton had a spontaneous attachment to numbers.
It is true that both Mercury and the Moon in his birth-chart were in close aspect to
Mars, indicating natural mathematical ability. But his early life was such as to cause
him to get pleasure from the exercise of this ability.
Later the falling apple spontaneously attracted his attention and set up a train of
Fantasy Thinking. He wondered why the apple did not fall up instead of down. This
stimulated his desire for conquest. To accomplish this conquest it became necessary
to develop higher mathematics. The solution of every problem gave him a glow of
triumphant emotion. Each new conquest added its quota of pleasant feeling,
increasing the power of the desire, until it became a veritable passion to conquer the
whole universe through the application of mathematical methods.
What made the life of Abraham Lincoln possible?
Biographers tell us that early in life he had a great love followed by a great sorrow. He
was intensely in love with Ann Rutledge and they were to be married. He was called
away and before his return she died. He wept his heart out upon her grave and nearly
died of grief. But after a period in which he was beside himself with anguish he
succeeded in transferring this love from its special object to mankind as a whole. He
never forgot his first love, and often, even in later life, revisited her grave. But in
every human being he saw a resemblance to this earlier love, and because of the
association, he could express that kindness, sympathy, affection and patient
protection toward all that he first felt for the single object of his affection.
Properly Directing Desire
–When Wisdom has decided upon a course of conduct, it is utmost folly to try to
drive yourself to follow this course. You cannot make yourself love all mankind.
You cannot make yourself love anyone. You cannot make yourself a moral person. If
you are a moral person it is because you take pleasure in doing right or fear to do
Instead of driving yourself to the decided course of action, the proper method is to set
systematically to work to associate as many pleasurable feelings with this course of
action as possible. Within yourself already have been built strong desires. These
strong desires can be linked with the decided upon course of action in such a manner
that their energy can be used in it.
Every family of thought-elements can express either constructively or destructively,
and it is not difficult to cultivate as much of a glow of pleasure out of its constructive
use as out of its destructive application. That is, it is easy to divert a given desire into a
channel which will enable its energies to express their essential quality in a
And an appeal can be made to constructive expression of these desires which already
have been strongly built into the astral body, in association with a decided upon
course of action, so that their energy goes into the course of action, and lends pleasure
to that course of action. If you have become accustomed to derive pleasure from the
exercise of Intelligence, this Intelligence can be employed in the course of action. If
you find pleasure in fighting, recognize this course of action as an opponent to be
overcome. If you get your greatest pleasure from sex, associate the idea of the course
of action as in some manner contributing to sex pleasure. Many a man has made a
success of his life because he was in love with his wife and felt that his success would
bring her pleasure.
It may be that the Urge for Power is strong within you, or the Urge of Domestic
felicity, or the Individualistic Urges, or the Urge for Safety, or the Urge for Utopian
Conditions, or the Urge for Universal Welfare. But whatever it is that gives you great
pleasure is a source of energy. It represents an organization in your astral form
possessing powerful desire. And through keeping before the mind the method by
which the course of action decided upon can be made to contribute in some way to the
realization of this powerful desire, its energies can be diverted into the channel of the
decided course of conduct.
Before the electric current is present to run our industries there first are drops of rain,
then the trickling rivulets, and the rushing torrent. Before altruistic effort of value
there must be sensations, simple desires, a dominant passion, and finally–as the
energy of the torrent is transformed into electrical power–artifice,
ASSOCIATION, must be employed to direct the whole current toward a more
To permit the river to run its own wayward course is to waste its energy. To permit
passion to expend itself in spontaneous gratification is to waste the vital essence of
life. But to make it constructively available we must know how to use it. Merely to
say, `I will to do good, I will to love mankind, I will to serve my fellowman, I will
commit no sin,” is about as effective as to say to the river, “I will that you shall run the
industrial plants in yonder city.”
There must be knowledge how the current can be transformed and directed, and this
knowledge must be applied. And, if life is to yield high accomplishment, there must
be knowledge how, by artifice, the primitive impulses may be diverted into a more
useful work than sensual gratification. Furthermore, this knowledge must be put into
practice.If I wish to love mankind I must learn to love some one or more persons–wife,
husband, father, mother, child, friend, or acquaintance–fervently, so that when the
generic thought of mankind rises into my consciousness it will have attached to it the
lovable qualities of this familiar individual. I must scan every person I meet to find
some admirable quality which I can love; and I must never permit the thought or
image of any person’s repulsive qualities to remain an instant in my consciousness.
Why are there man-haters and woman-haters? It is because in every such instance the
hater has met with disappointment in some member of the opposite sex. The whole
generic concept of man or woman, as the case may be, consists of a composite image
of experiences with individuals. Each experience adds to the quality of the generic
concept according to its intensity. When grief of sufficient intensity, caused by one
member of the sex, is added to the generic concept, the whole concept becomes
dominated by pain. Every person of the sex which caused the grief is associated in the
mind so closely with this painful image, that, because the one man or woman who
caused the pain is hated, this hatred is transferred to all.
It will now be apparent that morality, as well as other desired characteristics, can be
attained only through the cultivation of appropriate emotions. To annex some quality
to the character, associate with it as many pleasurable sensations as possible. But do
not dwell on the painful quality of that which is to be eliminated. To think of a
characteristic feeds thought-energy into it. This is the real secret of the Biblical
admonition, “Resist not evil, but overcome evil with good.”
As specific example, to cultivate truthfulness whenever the truth is told in spite of the
temptation to falsify, as soon as opportunity presents, take time to gloat over the
victory. Permit the feeling of pride to find full satisfaction. Think of those who are
loved for their truthfulness. Think of how you will be admired if you continue
truthful. Think as vividly as possible of as many pleasurable experiences as you have
had in connection with truth telling.
Feel intensely about the matter, and should the desire for falsehood enable it to gain
the victory, put it aside as of no moment, and never permit the painful
emotions–shame, remorse, despondency– to rise into consciousness. Consider
this but a single blow struck by the adversary in life’s battle for character. A brave
man cares nothing about one slight wound. Divert all the mental forces into feeling
love for truth. It is the object to be gained at all cost, and one should not expect to win
an important battle without some small loss.
By developing pleasurable sensations and emotions in their construction, any traits
of character can be formed, and these by virtue of the energy they release,
automatically dispossess their opposites.