A12. Positive and Negative Thought.
Your mind or spirit is continually giving out its force or thought, or receiving some quality of such force, as an electric battery may be sending out its force and be afterward replenished. When you use your force in talking, or writing, or physical effort of any sort, you are positive. When not so using it, you are negative. When negative, or receptive, you are receiving force or element of some kind or quality, which may do you temporary harm or permanent good.
All evil of any kind is but temporary. Your spirit’s course through all successive lives is toward the condition of ever increasing and illimitable happiness.
There are poisonous atmospheres of thought as real as the poisonous fumes of arsenic or other metallic vapors. You may, if negative, in a single hour, by sitting with persons in a room whose minds are full of envy, jealousy, cynicism, or despondency, absorb from them a literal poisonous element of thought, full of disease. It is as real as any noxious gas, vapor or miasma. It is infinitely more dangerous, so subtle is its working, for the full injury may not be realized till days afterward, and is then attributed to some other cause.
It is of the greatest importance where you are, or by what element of thought as it comes to you from others, you are surrounded when in the negative or receiving state. Because then you are as a sponge, unconsciously absorbing element, which may do great temporary harm or great permanent good to both mind and body.
During several hours of effort of any kind, such as talking business, or walking, or writing, or superintending your household, or doing any kind of artistic work, you have been positive, or sending out force. You have then to an extent drained yourself of force. If now you go immediately to a store crowded with hurried customers, or to a sick person, or a hospital, or a turbulent meeting, or to a trying interview with some disagreeable individual full of peevishness and quarrelsomeness, you become negative to them. You are then the sponge, drinking in the injurious thought‑element of the crowded store, the sickly thought‑element from the sick‑bed or hospital, the actual poisonous and subtle element from any person or persons, whose minds put out a quality of thought less healthy or cruder than your own.
If you go fatigued in mind or body among a crowd of wearied, feverish, excited people, your strength is not drawn from you by them, for you have little strength to give. But you absorb, and for the time being, make a part of yourself their hurried, wearied thought. You have then cast on you a load of lead, figuratively speaking. As you absorb their quality of thought, you will in many things think as they do and see as they do. You will become discouraged where before you were hopeful. Your plans for business, which, when by yourself, seemed likely to succeed, will now seem impossible and visionary. You will fear where before you had courage. You will possibly become undecided, and in the recklessness of indecision buy what you do not really need, or do something, or say something, or take some hasty step in business, you would not have done had you been by yourself, thinking your own thoughts, and not the clouded thoughts of the crowd around you. You will possibly return home fagged out and sick in mind and body.
Through these causes, the person you may meet an hour hence, or the condition of mind in which you are on meeting that person, may cause success or failure in your most important undertakings. For from such person you may absorb a thought which may cause you to alter your plans either for success or failure.
If you must mingle among crowds or with minds whose thoughts are inferior to your own, do so only when you are strongest in mind and body, and leave just so soon as you feel wearied. When strong, you are the positive magnet, driving off their injurious thought‑element. When weak, you become the negative magnet, attracting their thought to you; and such thought is freighted with physical and mental disease. Positive men are drivers and pushers, and succeed best in the world. Yet it is not well to be always in the positive or force‑sending state of mind; if you are, you will drive from you many valuable ideas. There must be a time for the mental reservoir of force or thought to fill up as well as give that force out. The person always in the positive attitude of mind—he or she who will never hear new ideas without immediately fighting them— who never take a time to give a quiet hearing to ideas which may seem to them wild and extravagant, who insist ever that what does not seem reasonable to them must necessarily be unreasonable for everyone else, such minds will certainly, by constantly maintaining this mental attitude, be drained of all force.
On the other hand, the person always negative or always in the receiving state, he or she who “never know their own minds” for two hours at a time, who are swayed unconsciously by everyone with whom they talk, who allow themselves when they go with a plan or a purpose, to be discouraged by a sneer or single word of opposition, are as the reservoir, ever filling up with mud and trash, which at last stops the pipe for distributing water; or in other words, they have their force‑sending capacity almost destroyed, and are unsuccessful in everything they undertake.
As a rule, you must be positive when you have dealings with the world, for very much the same reason that the pugilist must be positive when he stands before his antagonist. You must be negative when you retire from the ring—from active participation in business. You will tire yourself out by constantly standing up before opponents, even in thought, in any sort of contest.
Why did the Christ of Judea so often withdraw from the multitude?
Because, after working in some way his immense power of concentrated thought, either in healing or talking, or giving some proofs of his command over the physical elements, at which times he was positive, or giving out of his force, he, feeling the negative state coming upon him, left the crowd, so that he should not absorb their lower thought. Had he done so his force would have been all expended in carrying such thought. By carrying it, is meant his getting in sympathy with it, feeling it and thinking it, just as you may have done when a person, full of trouble, comes to you, and spends an hour telling those troubles to you, and literally pouring their load of troubled thought into you. You sympathize, you are sorry for them, you desire strongly to help them, and when they leave, your thought follows them. In such case your own force is used up in the feeling of sympathy or sorrow for them, while it might otherwise have been put on something far more beneficial in profitable result to you and them. An orator would not spend an hour previous to his speech in public carrying bushels of coal upstairs to relieve a tired laborer, for if he did, his strength, brilliancy, inspiration, and force for his effort would be mostly used up in the drudgery of carrying coal. The ideas he may put forth may prove the direct or indirect means of relieving that laborer in some way, and thousands of others. You must be positive and restrain the outflow of your sympathetic force very often in the cases of private individuals in trouble, in order to have power to do all the more for them. In politics and the professions, the men who live longest and who exercise most power are those who are least accessible to the masses; for if they are constantly mingling with all manner of people, and so absorbing varied atmospheres, much of their power is wasted in carrying it. Look at the long list of prominent American politicians who have died in the prime of life or but little past it, during the last twenty years: Seward, Grant, Morton, McClellan, Logan, Wilson, Hendricks, Chase, Stanton. Not keeping themselves positive—ignorant exposure to all manner of inferior thought‑atmospheres when negative—has been a most important factor in these premature deaths. Great financiers like Jay Gould avoid the crowd and hubbub of the Stock Exchange. They live relatively secluded lives, are not easy of access, and transact much business through agents. In so doing, they avoid hurried and confused thought‑atmospheres. They surround and keep themselves as in a fortress, in the clearer thought‑element of the world of finance, and from it derive their clear‑sightedness on their plane of action. They feel the necessity of so doing without possibly being able to define the law. Many methods are quite unconsciously adopted by people which bring successful results on many fields of effort, and which are adopted through the unconscious action and teaching of the laws governing thought.
If you are now very much in the company of some person whose quality of thought is inferior to your own, you are certainly affected injuriously, through absorbing that person’s thought. For you cannot be positive all the time, to resist the entrance of such person’s thought. When wearied you are negative, or in the state for receiving his or her thought, and then it must act on you. As so it acts on you, you may unconsciously do very many things in conformity with his or her order of thought, which you would have done differently, and possibly better, had you not been exposed to it and absorbed it. If so you absorb the element of fear or indecision from anyone, will you act in business with your own natural confidence, courage, energy and determination? It matters not what is the relation to you of those whose temporary or permanent association may thus do you harm, whether that of parent, brother, sister, wife or friend, if their mental growth is less than yours and therefore they cannot see as you see, you are very likely to be injured in mind, pocket and health through their constant association. For such reason, Paul, the apostle, advised people not to be “unequally yoked together” in marriage. Why? Because he knew that of any two persons living constantly together, who occupied different worlds of thought, one would surely be injured; and the one most injured is the highest, finest, and broadest mind, loaded down, crippled, and fettered by the grosser thought absorbed from the inferior.
If you are in an active business sympathy or relation with any person who is nervous, excited, irritable, destitute of any capacity for repose, always worried about something, and on the rush from morning till night, though you are separated by hundreds of miles, you will, when in the receiving state, have that person’s mind acting injuriously on yours, and you will have thereby sent you much of his or her cruder thought‑element, which, agitating and disturbing your mind, will, in time, work unpleasant results to the body.
Your only means of avoiding this is to cease such relation and common sympathy and effort with them as soon as possible,— to put them out of your mind,—to fix and interest yourself in some other diversion or occupation whenever your thought goes out to them. For every time you do so think, you send out your actual life and vitality to them. In so doing you may send them a current of life and force, which will give them a relative success in many undertakings, a success you may lack, for you are giving them your capital stock of force, while you should use it for yourself. The cruder mind can only appropriate a part of this. The rest is wasted. They may be kept alive by it and prosper, and in return send you only element which brings on you disease, lack of energy, and barrenness of idea.
Proper association is one of the greatest of agencies for realizing success, health, and happiness. Association here means something far beyond the physical nearness of bodies. You are literally nearest the person or persons you think most of, though they are ten thousand miles distant.
If you have been long in association with a person so absorbing thought‑element inferior to your own, you cannot, though you sever such association immediately, free yourself from the inferior thought‑current flowing from them to you, though thousands of miles lay between you. Distance amounts to but little in the unseen world of thought. If such person is much in your thought, their mind still acts on yours, sending you still grosser and injurious element. You must learn to forget them to escape the injury. That must be a gradual process. In so forgetting you cut the invisible wires binding you together, and through which have been sent elements injurious to you.
Does this sound cold, cruel and hard? But where is the benefit of two persons being so tied together in thought or remembrance, if one or both are injured? If one is injured the other must be in time. But the superior mind receives most immediate injury, and many a person fails to attain the position where he or she should stand, through this cause.
Through this cause, also, comes disease, lack of vigor, corpulence, and clumsiness. For the cruder element so sent you by another, and absorbed by you, can materialize itself in physical substance, and make itself seen and felt on your body in the shape of unhealthy and excessive fat, swollen limbs, or any other outward sign of disease and decay. In such case it is not really your own unwieldy or deformed body you are carrying about. It is the inferior body of another person sent you in thought; and as year after year this process goes on, the cumbrous body you so wear becomes at last too heavy for your spirit to carry. It drops off. You are then “dead,” in the estimation of your acquaintances. You are not dead. You have simply tumbled down under a load you could no longer bear.
Even a book in which you are greatly interested, which draws strongly on your sympathy, and has much to say on the mental or physical distress of the person so drawing on your sympathy, can, if you read it in the negative, or receiving state, bring on you some form of the physical or mental ailments alluded to in it. For such a book is the representative of the mind of the individual whose history it contains, acting on yours, and bringing to you in thought‑element all that person’s morbid and unhealthy states of mind, which for a time settle on you and become a parasitical part of you. In this way great harm may be done sensitive people through reading novels or true stories full of physical or mental suffering. If a character to which you are strongly attracted is described as being confined for years in a dungeon, suffering physical and mental pain from such confinement, and in the pages of that book you follow such life and become absorbed in it, you do actually live in it. You will, if so reading such history day after day, and getting thoroughly absorbed or merged in it, find your vitality or your digestion affected in some way; though you may never dream that the cold you have taken so much the easier, through lack of vitality, or the headache or weakness of digestion is owing to a mental condition, brought on you temporarily, through living in the thought of that book while in the receiving state of mind. These are unhealthy books; and so are plays which work strongly on people’s emotions in the dramatic representation of scenes of horror, distress, and death. The health of thousands on thousands is injured through drawing on themselves and fastening on themselves, while in the negative or receiving condition, these unhealthy currents of thought and their consequent unhealthy mental states of mind.
While eating, one should always be in the receiving frame of mind, for then you are receiving material element to nourish the body; and if you eat in a calm, composed, cheerful frame of mind, you are receiving a similar character of thought. To eat and growl, or argue violently or intensely with others, or to eat and think business and plan business, is to be positive, when of all times you should be negative. It is like working with your body while you eat. You send, while so arguing or grumbling, that force from you needed for digestion. It matters little whether you grumble or argue in speech or in thought. There is also injurious result to you when any person at the table is for any reason—any offensive habit, any peculiarity of manner or mood—unpleasant to you, and you are thereby obliged to endure them, instead of enjoying their company, for all endurance means the putting out of positive thought; in other words, working in mind to drive off the annoyance. Especially the dinner in the latter part of the day should be the day’s climax of happiness—a union of minds in perfect accord with each other, the conversation light, bright, lively and humorous—the palates all appreciative of artistic cookery, and the eye also regaled with all the appointments of the table and the dining‑room. Because while in such receptive state of mind you have absorbed a spiritual strength, coming of the thought of all about you as they will absorb of yours. But if you eat in a social dungeon, in the barrack of a restaurant, where only material food is given, in an unhappy family, full of petty jealousies and complainings, in a boarding‑house manger, you may exhaust yourself in resisting or enduring annoyances, thereby lessening power of digestion and assimilation of your food; and you absorb, also, more or less of the discontent or moodiness of those about you, and so carry away a load worse than useless—a load the real cause of an imperfect digestion, and consequent physical weakness and mental unrest, or irritability.
When you are much alone, you attract and are surrounded by a quality and current of thought coming from minds similar to your own. It is for that reason, that in moments of solitude your thought may be more clear and agreeable than when in the company of others. You then live in another and finer world of idea. You may deem these ideas but as “idle thoughts”; you may not dare to mention them before others. But you long for company. You take such as you can get, or you have it forced upon you. With them your ideal world is shattered. It seems possibly absolute nonsense. You enter into their current of thought, their line of talk and motive. You chatter and run on as they do, and criticize, and censure, and judge, and possibly abuse others not present; and when you are again by yourself, you feel a sense of discontent with yourself, and a certain vague self‑condemnation for what you have been saying. That is your higher mind, your real self, protesting against the injury done it by the lower mind; not possibly so much your lower mind as the lower thought you absorb while in that company, and which for a time became a parasitical part of you, as the ivy vine may fasten itself to the oak from the root to the topmost branch, drawing its nourishment in part from the oak, giving it poison in return, and at last so covering it up that the oak is concealed and is eventually killed by it.
In very similar manner are refined minds often buried, concealed, and prevented their true expression by the lower and parasitical thought, which, unconscious of the evil it can do them, they enter among, associate with and allow to fasten upon them. They are not themselves, and perhaps from their earliest physical life never have been themselves, so far as outward expression goes. They are as oaks buried and concealed by the poisonous ivy. But you may say: “I cannot live alone and without association.” True. It is not desirable or profitable that you should. It is not good for man or woman to live alone. It is most desirable, profitable, and necessary that you should be fed by the strong, healthy, vigorous, cheerful thought‑element coming from minds whose aspiration, ideal, and motives are like your own.
When you cut off association or the flow even of your thought to those who are injurious to you, you prevent not only their evil quality of thought from coming to you, but you open the door for the better to come. You will then by degrees attract to you, in physical form, those who can give you at once more entertainment and more help. For your highest thought is an unseen force or link, ever connecting you with higher minds akin to your own. These cannot act on you to any extent so long as you continue association or are linked in thought to the lower. Such link or association bars the door to the higher.
How much real comfort, strength, cheer or entertainment do you get from your daily associations? Are they live company? Who does the entertaining, you or they? Who must ever keep up the conversation when it flags? Are you never bored by their prosiness, which you have heard over and over again, and if, when on hearing and rehearing it you do not express discontent in your speech, you do in your secret thought? How much of the association that you seek, or that seeks you, is really more endured than enjoyed, and is, in fact, only “taken up with” because of the lack of better?
You will never tire of your true and most profitable associates, who, having opened themselves to the higher, are ever drawing to themselves new idea, and with new idea new life, which they will give to you, as you give them in return. These are the “wells of water springing up into everlasting life.” These are the “saviors of life unto life, and not of death unto death,” as are minds to each other who month after month and year after year only think in a rut, talk in a rut, and act in a rut. These are the dead who should be left to “bury their dead.” True life is a state of endless variety, and involves, through opening the mind in the right direction, and keeping it so open, an endless association with other and like minds, giving ever to each other, and receiving endless supply of strength, vigor, and the elements of eternal youth.
The fountain of youth, and endless youth, is a spiritual reality, as are many other things deemed idle vagaries, and which have been erroneously sought on the physical stratum of life. The fountain of endless youth, youth of body as well as mind, lies in the attainment of that mental attitude or condition of mind which is instantly positive to all evil, cruder and lower thought, and negative or receptive to that higher and constructive thought‑current, full of courage devoid of all fear, deeming nothing impossible, hating no individual, but disliking only error, full of love for all, but expending its sympathy wisely and carefully.
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Compare Retreats Magazine (n.d.). [Image]. Retrieved July 1, 2021, from https://magazine.compareretreats.com/best-luxury-wellness-retreats-in-indonesia/
Mulford, P. (1886-1887). Positive and negative thought. Your forces and how to use them (pp.249-260). Hollister, Missouri: YOGeBooks by Roger L. Cole. doi: 2015:01:16:10:43:09