3. The Art of Forgetting.
In the chemistry of the future, thought will be recognized as substance as much as the acids, oxides, and all other chemicals of today. There is no chasm betwixt what we call the material and spiritual. Both are of substance or element. They blend imperceptibly into each other. In reality the material is only a visible form of the finer elements we call spiritual. Our unseen and unspoken thought is ever flowing from us an element and force, as real as the stream of water we can see, or the current of electricity we cannot see. It combines with the thought of others, and out of such combinations new qualities of thought are formed, as in the combination of chemicals new substances are formed. If you send from you in thought the elements of worry, fret, hatred, or grief, you are putting in action forces injurious to your mind and body. The power to forget implies the power of driving away the unpleasant and hurtful thought or element, and bringing in its place the profitable element, to build up instead of tearing us down.
The character of thought we think or put out affects our business favorably or unfavorably. It influences others for or against us. It is an element felt pleasantly or unpleasantly by others, inspiring them with confidence or distrust.
The prevailing state of mind, or character of thought, shapes the body and features. It makes us ugly or pleasing, attractive or repulsive to others. Our thought shapes our gestures, our mannerism, our walk. The least movement of muscle has a mood of mind, a thought, behind it. A mind always determined has always a determined walk. A mind always weak, shifting, vacillating, and uncertain, makes a shuffling, shambling, uncertain gait. The spirit of determination braces every muscle. It is the thought‑element of determination filling every muscle.
Look at the discontented, gloomy, melancholy, and ill‑tempered men or women, and you see in their faces proofs of the action of this silent force of their unpleasant thought, cutting, carving, and shaping them to their present expression. Such people are never in good health, for that force acts on them as poison, and creates some form of disease. A persistent thought of determination on a purpose, especially if such purpose be of benefit to others as well as ourselves, will fill every nerve with strength. It is a wise selfishness that works to benefit others along with ourselves. Because in spirit, and in actual element, we are all united. We are forces which act and re‑act on each other, for good or ill, through what ignorantly we call “empty space.” There are unseen nerves extending from man to man, from being to being. Every form of life is in this sense connected together. We are all “members of one body.” An evil thought or act is a pulsation of pain thrilling through myriads of organizations. The kindly thought and act have for pleasure the same effect. It is, then, a law of nature and of science, that we cannot do a real good to another without doing one also to ourselves.
To grieve at any loss, be it of friend or property, weakens mind and body. It is no help to the friend grieved for. It is rather an injury; for our sad thought must reach the person, even if passed to another condition of existence, and is a source of pain to that person.
An hour of grumbling, fret, or fear, whether spoken or silent, uses up so much element or force in making us less endurable to others, and perhaps making for us enemies. Directly or indirectly, it injures our business. Sour looks and words drive away good customers. Grumbling or hating is a use of actual element to belabor our minds. The force we may so expend could be used to our pleasure and profit.
To be able, then, to throw off (or forget) a thought or force which is injuring us, is a most important means for gaining strength of body and clearness of mind. Strength of body and clearness of mind bring success in all undertakings.
It brings also strength of spirit; and the forces of our spirits act on others whose bodies are thousands of miles distant, for our advantage or disadvantage. Because there is a force belonging to all of us, separate and apart from that of the body. It is always in action, and acting on others. It must be in action at every moment, whether the body be asleep or awake. Ignorantly, unconsciously, and hence unwisely used, it plunges us into mires of misery and error. Intelligently and wisely used, it will bring us every conceivable good.
That force is our thought. Every thought of ours is of vital importance to health and real success. All so‑called success, as the world terms it, is not real. A fortune gained at the cost of health is not a real success.
Every mind trains itself, generally unconsciously, to its peculiar character or quality of thought. Whatever that training is, it cannot be immediately changed. We may have trained our minds unconsciously to entertain evil or troubled thought. We may never have realized that brooding over disappointment, living in a grief, dreading a loss, fretting for fear this or that might not succeed as we wish, was building up a destructive force which has bled away our strength, created disease, unfitted us for business, and caused us loss of money and possibly loss of friends.
To learn to forget is as necessary and useful as to learn to remember. We think of many things every day which it would be more profitable not to think of at all. To be able to forget is to be able to drive away the unseen force (thought) which is injuring us, and change it for a force (or order of thought) to benefit us.
Demand imperiously and persistently any quality of character in which you may be lacking, and you attract increase of such quality. Demand more patience or decision or judgment or courage or hopefulness or exactness, and you will increase in such qualities. These qualities are real elements. They belong to the subtler, and as yet unrecognized, chemistry of nature.
The man discouraged, hopeless, and whining, has unconsciously demanded discouragement and hopelessness. So he gets it. This is his unconscious mental training to evil. Mind is “magnetic,” because it attracts to itself whatever thought it fixes itself upon, or whatever it opens itself to. Allow yourself to fear, and you will fear more and more. Cease to resist the tendency to fear, make no effort to forget fear, and you open the door, and invite fear in; you then demand fear. Set your mind on the thought of courage, see yourself in mind or imagination as courageous, and you will become more courageous. You demand courage.
There is no limit in unseen nature to the supply of these spiritual qualities. In the words “Ask, and ye shall receive,” any mind could, through demanding, draw to itself all that it needed of any quality. Demand wisely, and we draw to us the best.
Every second of wise demand brings an increase of power. Such increase is never lost to us. This is an effort for lasting gain that we can use at any time. What all of us want is more power to work results, and build up our fortunes,—power to make things around us more comfortable, to ourselves and our friends. We cannot feed others if we have no power to keep starvation from ourselves. Power to do this is a different thing from the power to hold in memory other people’s opinions, or a collection of so‑called facts gathered from books, which time often proves to be fictions. Every success in any grade of life has been accomplished through spiritual power, through unseen force flowing from one mind, and working on other minds far and near, as real as the force in your arm lifts a stone.
A man may be illiterate, yet send from his mind a force affecting and influencing many others, far and near, in a way to benefit his fortunes, while the scholarly man drudges with his brain on a pittance. The illiterate man’s is the greater spiritual power. Intellect is not a bag to hold facts. Intellect is power to work results. Writing books is but a fragment of the work of intellect. The greatest philosophers have planned first, and acted afterwards, as did Columbus, Napoleon, Fulton, Morse, Edison, and others, who have moved the world, besides telling the world how it should be moved.
Your plan, purpose, or design, whether relating to a business or an invention, is a real construction of unseen thought‑element. Such thought‑structure is also a magnet. It commences to draw aiding forces to it so soon as made. Persist in holding to your plan or purpose, and these forces come nearer and nearer, become stronger and stronger, and will bring more and more favorable results.
Abandon your purpose, and you stop further approach of these forces, and destroy also such amount of unseen attracting power as you have built up. Success in any business depends on the application of this law. Persistent resolve on any purpose is a real attractive force or element, drawing constantly more and more aids for carrying out that resolve.
When your body is in the state called sleep, these forces (your thoughts) are still active. They are then working on other minds. If your last thought before sleep is that of worry, or anxiety, or hatred for any one, it will work for you only ill results. If it is hopeful, cheerful, confident, and at peace with all men, it is then the stronger force, and will work for you good results. If the sun goes down on your wrath, your wrathful thought will act on others, while you sleep, and bring only injury in return.
Is it not a necessity, then, to cultivate the power of forgetting what we wish, so that our current of thought attracting ill, while our body rests, shall be changed to the thought‑current attracting good?
To‑day thousands on thousands never think of controlling the character of their thought. They allow their minds to drift. They never say of a thought that is troubling them, “I won’t think of it.” Unconsciously then they demand what works them ill, and their bodies are made sick by the kind of thought which they allow their minds to fasten on.
When you realize the injury done you through any kind of troubled thought, you will then commence to acquire the power of throwing off such thought. When in mind you commence to resist any kind of such injurious thought, you are constantly gaining more and more power for resistance. An ugly or melancholy mood of mind is a devil. It can make us sick, lose us friends, and lose us money. Money means the enjoyment of necessities and comforts. Without these we cannot do or be our best. The sin involved in “love of money” is to love money better than the things needful which money can bring.
To bring to us the greatest success in any business, to make the greatest advance in any art, to further any cause, it is absolutely necessary that at certain intervals daily we forget all about that business, art, or cause. By so doing we rest our minds, and gather fresh force for renewed effort.
To be ever revolving the same plan, study, or speculation, or what we shall do or shall not do, is to waste such force on a brain treadmill. We are in thought saying to ourselves the same thing over and over again. We are building of this actual, unseen element, thought, the same constructions over and over again. One is a useless duplicate of the other.
If we are always inclined to think or converse on one particular subject, if we will never forget it, if we will start it at all times and places, if we will not in thought and speech fall into the prevailing tone of the conversation about us, if we do not try to get up an interest in what is being talked of by others, if we determine only to converse on what interests us, or not converse at all, we are in danger of becoming a “crank,” or “hobbyist,” or monomaniac.
The “crank” draws his reputation on himself. He is one who, having forced one idea, and one alone on himself, has, resolved, perhaps unconsciously, to force that idea on every one else. He will not forget at periods his pet theory or purpose, and adapt himself to the thought of others. For this reason he loses the power to forget, to throw from his mind the one absorbing thought. He drifts more and more into that one idea. He surrounds himself with its peculiar thought, atmosphere, or element, as real an element as any we see or feel.
Others near him feel this one‑ideaed thought, and feel it disagreeably; because the thought of one person is felt by others near him through a sense as yet unnamed. In the exercise of this sense lies the secret of your favorable or unfavorable “impressions” of people at first sight. You are in thought as it flows from you always, sending into the air an element which affects others for or against you, according to its quality, and the acuteness of their sense which feels thought. You are affected by the thought of others in the same way, be they far or near. Hence we are talking to others when our tongues are still. We are making ourselves hated or loved while we sit alone in the privacy of our chambers.
A crank often becomes a martyr, or thinks himself one. There is no absolute necessity for martyrdom in any cause, save the necessity of ignorance. There never was any absolute necessity, save for the same cause. Martyrdom always implies lack of judgment and tact in the presentation of any principle new to the world. Analyze martyrdom, and you will find in the martyr a determination to force on people some idea in an offensive and antagonistic form. People of great ability, though dwelling in one idea, have at last been captured by it. The antagonism they drew from others, they drew because they held it first in their own mind.
Many good people unconsciously use swords in advising what they deem better things. There is the sword (in thought) of the scolding reformer, the sword of dislike for others because they won’t heed what you say, and the sword of prejudice because others won’t adopt your peculiar habits. Every discordant thought against others is a sword, and calls out from others a sword in return. The thought you put out, you receive back of the same kind. The coming empire of peace is to be built up by reconciling differences, telling people of the good that is in them rather than the bad, discouraging gossip and evil speaking by the introduction of subjects more pleasant and profitable, and proving through one’s life that there are laws, not generally recognized, which will give health, happiness, and fortune, without injustice or injury to others. Its advocate will meet the sick with the smile of true friendship, and the most diseased people are always the greatest sinners. The most repulsive man or woman, the creature full of deceit, treachery, and venom, needs your pity and help of all the most, for that man or woman, through generating evil thought, is generating pain and disease for himself or herself.
You find yourself thinking of a person unpleasantly from whom you have received a slight or insult, an injury or injustice. Such thought remains with you hour after hour, perhaps day after day . You become at last tired of it, yet cannot throw it off. It annoys, worries, frets, sickens you. You cannot prevent yourself from going round and round on this same tiresome, troublesome track of thought. It wears on your spirit; and whatever wears on the spirit, wears on the body. This is because you have drawn on yourself the other person’s opposing and hostile thought. He is thinking of you as you are of him. He is sending you a wave of hostile thought. You are both giving and receiving blows of unseen elements. You may keep up this silent war of unseen force for weeks, and if so, both are injured. This contest of opposing wills and forces is going on all around us. The air is full of it.
To strive, then, to forget enemies, or to throw out to them only friendly thought, is as much an act of self‑protection as it is to put up your hands to ward off a physical blow. The persistent thought of friendliness turns aside thought of ill‑will, and renders it harmless. The thought or element of good‑will carries the greater power, and will always turn aside and prevent injury from the thought of ill‑will.
Demand forgetfulness when you can only think of a person or of any thing with the pain that comes of grief, anger, or for any cause. Demand is a state of mind which sets in motion forces to bring you the result desired. Demand is the scientific basis of prayer. Do not supplicate. Demand persistently your share of force out of the elements about you, by which you can rule your mind to any desired mood.
There are no limits to the strength to be gained through the cultivation of our thought‑power. It can keep from us all pain arising from grief, from loss of fortune, loss of friends, and disagreeable situations in life. Such power is the very element or attitude of mind most favorable to the gain of fortune and friends. The stronger mind throws off the burdensome, wearying, fretting thought, forgets it, and interests itself in something else. The weaker mind dwells in the fretting, worrying thought, and is enslaved by it. When you fear a misfortune (which may never happen), your body becomes weak; your energy is paralyzed. But you can, through constantly demanding it, dig out of yourself a power which can throw off any fear or troublesome state of mind. Such power is the high road to success. Demand it, and it will increase more and more, until at last you will know no fear. A fearless man or woman can accomplish wonders.
That no individual may have gained such amount of this power, is no proof that it cannot be gained. Newer and more wonderful things are ever happening in the world. Thirty years ago, and he who should assert that a human voice could be heard between New York and Philadelphia would have been called a lunatic. To‑day, the wonder of the telephone is an every‑day affair. The powers still unrecognized of our thought will make the telephone a tame affair. Men and women, through cultivation and use of this power, are to do wonders which fiction has not or dares not put before the world.
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Mulford, P. (1886-1887). The art of forgetting. Your forces and how to use them (pp.27-36). Hollister, Missouri: YOGeBooks by Roger L. Cole. doi: 2015:01:16:10:43:09