Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Day 13 - PEACE

Peace of Mind is attainable through self-control.

"He who is of calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite disposition youth and age are equally a burden." - Plato

Peace of Mind is available to anyone, at any time.

Practically, we've already gone over how to achieve this. Per Haanel, this is simply regaining control over one's own thoughts, as we covered in the beginning chapters of this book. These were the beginning exercises of sitting in a quiet space and relaxing, gaining control over your thoughts. Any skill must be exercised in order to become reasonably adept at it, and so the reason to invoke the now familiar, “Practice makes perfect.” Relaxing one's physical state and being able to rid all possible, accessible non-positive thoughts is a required step, as well as filling it with positive thoughts.

More vital in all these is the ability to simply reach a “silence” or “quietude” internally so that intuition and insight are more readily accessible. It is through these creative thoughts and connections and interchange that all sort of possible improvements can be achieved for our human race.

James Allen put it most eloquently:

“Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom. It is the result of long and patient effort in self-control. Its presence is an indication of ripened experience, and of a more than ordinary knowledge of the laws and operations of thought.

“A man becomes calm in the measure that he understands himself as a thought-evolved being. For such knowledge necessitates the understanding of others as the result of thought, and as he develops a right understanding, and sees ever more clearly the internal relations of things by the action of cause and effect, he ceases to fuss, fume, worry, and grieve. He remains poised, steadfast, serene.

“The calm man, having learned how to govern himself, knows how to adapt himself to others. And they, in turn reverence his physical strength. They feel that they can learn from him and rely upon him. The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Even the ordinary trader will find his business prosperity increase as he develops a greater self-control and equanimity, for people will always prefer to deal with a man whose demeanor is equitable. ...

“How many people do we know who sour their lives, who ruin all that is sweet and beautiful by explosive tempers, who destroy their poise of character and make bad blood! Only the wise man, only he whose thoughts are controlled and purified, makes the winds and the storms of the soul obey him.

“Tempest-tossed souls, wherever you may be, under whatever conditions you may live, know this: In the ocean of life the isles of blessedness are smiling and the sunny shore of your ideal awaits your coming. Keep your hands firmly upon the helm of thought. In the core of your soul reclines the commanding Master; He does but sleep; wake Him. Self-control is strength. Right thought is mastery. Calmness is power. Say unto your hear, “Peace. Be Still.”

And that is the simplicity of peace of mind. Achieve a mental quiet through practice. Then all measure of things are possible, per these texts. Those who cast about for amusement, who plug their ears with loud music, who play the TV incessantly when alone or with family – these are seeking to avoid something, to not face or confront some idea or thought or mental noise that constantly distracts, depresses, angers or intimidates them.

Yet all thought is created. Humankind has simply not been able to routinely enable people to learn to sit quietly and sort these thoughts out, to bring them under control. Rural societies have the advantage of large spaces between themselves and other areas, even other families. So there are long spaces of quiet which must be endured. While now we can fill this void with satellite radio, DVD players and whatnot, perhaps we shouldn't. One friend of mind, a full generation younger, was aghast that I would simply turn off the radio when there was nothing valuable to listen to, that I would use the time driving between rural towns simply completing thoughts to logical conclusions. But he was raised on video games – I grew up in an age where computers ran on tape and punchcards.

My parents can remember plowing and cultivating behind mules, the times when tractors first became popular in farming. Those were truly quiet days for thoughtful people. Yet the trade-off is in these days of high percentage disposable income. We now have the time to think, to philosophize – which for the Founders of this country and historically before that, was the sovereign territory of the rich. Benjamin Franklin, for one, retired at age 40. With few exceptions, those who could put their thoughts in order and take the time to write them down for others had already made their success.

These days, however, one can take a period of time, look up the great masters on the Internet as public domain or order printed books and get them delivered in days from booksellers on this same Internet system. If one can afford the time (and paper to print them off or hard-drive space to store them on), he can have any amount of classic works at his fingertips or as digital recordings.

So it is up to us to do the research and publish our conclusions. It is up to us to find those who have been down these roads before, to stand on the shoulders of these giants to see further, per Isaac Newton, and describe what we see.

The steps I've compiled in this short book show simple steps that anyone can take, an introduction to a very potent subject.

This book makes it possible for anyone to achieve peace of mind and a peaceful existence. One need only read and try, then, through demonstrating its usefulness and application for oneself, create the faith needed to practice and continue improving one's own conditions.

Day 13 Exercise:

Try this –

Dr. Peale received these instructions from the ace pilot Eddie Rickenbacker, who developed an unflappable calm which served him well in life in all sorts of circumstances:

1.“First, collapse physically. Practice this several times a day. Let go every muscle in the body. Conceive of yourself as a jellyfish, getting your body into complete looseness. Form a mental picture of a huge burlap bag of potatoes. Then mentally cut the bag, allowing the potatoes to roll out. What is more relaxed than a burlap bag?

2.“The second element in the formula is to “drain the mind.” Several times each day drain the mind of all irritation, all resentment, disappointment, frustration, and annoyance. Unless you drain the mind frequently and regularly, these unhappy thoughts will accumulate until a major blasting-out process will be necessary. Keep the mind drained of all factors which would impede the flow of relaxed power.

3.“Third, think spiritually. To think spiritually means to turn the mind at regular intervals to God. At least three times a day 'lift up your eyes unto the hills.' This keeps you in tune with God's harmony. It refills you with peace.”
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