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Overlooking the Mist

A2. Mental Intemperance. 

Temperance means the proper use of force. Intemperance means the improper use of force. An angry man has made an improper use of his force, because the element of angered thought he sends from him to another may as thought hurt the other person, and it certainly does hurt the one who sends it.

An angry man is, temporarily, intoxicated as is the man we call drunk from over‑much liquor, and for a reason quite similar. He has first called up in himself the element of anger; and this element is attracting of its own kind, as put out from all other angry persons; because thought runs in currents as real as currents of water, and every peculiar order of thought joins its own peculiar current. When you are angry, you connect with the current of angered thought. It then runs through you, and acts on you. You become then a part of the chain for the conveyance of angered thought, as well as an additional battery on that chain for its generation. You are helping to swell the great current of anger; and you are also receiving from, as well as giving to, that current. You are also helping to make other people angry with greater ease, since the angered thought you generate increases the amount and power of all the other volume, from which is sent the element of anger to any person who attracts it by calling up the mood of anger.

In a similar manner will any mood of mind attract to it the same order of thought‑element. Your indecision attracts from the great current of undecided thought, and makes you a way battery or station for both the generation and conveyance of that order of thought. You charge your mental battery with the element of fear; and, as it draws such element, it increases its amount and strength for drawing to you more fear.

A violent fit of anger calls that element to act on the body which racks and strains it. Hence the weakness of body felt after and even during anger, since the more healthful and strong order of thought, or force, is temporarily cut off or unable to act on the body. 

If so you attract and drink in the thought‑element of impatience or indecision or fear, you are quite as much unfitted for successful effort as if you drank alcohol; for, though it does not make you uproarious or stupid, it does wear out your body by degrees. Sudden fright sometimes kills the body instantly. Suspense (only another name for fear) makes the muscles weak and tremulous, affects the stomach, unbraces the nerves, and dazes the mind.

Could you see clairvoyantly a man or woman very much frightened, you would see two,—the body in one place, and the invisible self at a distance from the body, struggling to leave it entirely; and, when a man or woman faints, it is because, through pain or terror, so much of the spirit has temporarily left the body.

People very much frightened drink in or absorb this destructive unseen element, and its effects in shaking the nerves and paralyzing physical effort are as strongly marked as when a man drinks too much alcohol. But the element of fear or anger or indecision, taken in lesser quantities day after day, month after month, year after year, as when you are always fearing something in the future, or more or less angry, peevish, irritable, impatient, undecided, every day you live, is a species of tippling with a dangerous unseen element, and wears your physical body out gradually and surely.

It is as cheap to invite, or think, the healthy unseen element of courage as of fear, of even temper as of anger, of decision as indecision; and you do this every time you think or say “Courage,” or “Decision,” or “Good temper” to yourself. The qualities you set your mind on you draw to you; and, for the timid or irresolute or ill‑tempered, it is most profitable to spend on arising in the morning, if no more than ten seconds in saying, “Courage,” “Decision,” “Even temper,” or any quality in which they feel lacking; because in so doing you connect yourself with and draw courage or even temper or decision from the currents of this order of thought. You are also stronger so to draw in the morning than in the latter part of the day. All organized elements—plant, animal, man—are fuller of strength when the tide of the sun’s force bears directly on this planet. When it ebbs in the afternoon, there is an ebb of power, be that power in man applied to muscular or mental effort.

The mood of mind you are in on first arising is the mood most likely to last during the day. You may not feel the growth of more courage, decision, or even temper from this simple practice, at first. You will in time; and you will wonder at the change in yourself, and where your greater force, courage, decision, or other good healthful thought came from. If you call this trivial, ask yourself if you know any thing at all of the nature or cause or composition of a single one of your own thoughts.

The worst intemperance of to‑day is that coming of hurry or impatience, or the desire and attempt to crowd the doing of so many things in an hour or a day. The hurried, impatient mood in which you may tie your shoe‑strings, or put on your clothing, in the morning, you may carry into every act during the day. You, in so doing, have connected yourself with the current of impatient, hurried thought. You have then become a part of that chain of being, or order, of hurried mind; and, could you see your real situation clairvoyantly, you would see yourself linked by invisible wires to every other hurried, impatient, and consequently fretful, and more or less irritable human being. For hurry and impatience lead as surely to fretfulness, irritability, and ill‑temper, as the river flows to the sea.

You are very apt to carry the hurried mood of mind in which you tie your shoe‑strings into the writing of a letter which may involve to you the gain or loss of thousands of dollars. The hurried, impatient mood runs its wire of disorderly thought and slovenly act straight through from one act to another, and leaves its traces and its damage on all. And so when you have dressed in a hurry, eaten in a hurry, and rushed to the street‑car in a hurry, if you do not carry hurry and neglect and forgetfulness into your business, you may still have the harder task to throw off this mood of mind, and get “into the more reposeful and deliberate one in which you pursue your business or occupation; and in trying to get down to your work, or, in other words, get up that interest and enthusiasm or enjoyment in your work, which you crave, and without which you cannot do it, you use up a great deal of force which might have been put directly in your work, and which you might the sooner have had, had you laid for it the corner‑stone by tying your shoe‑strings with a religious and devout carefulness in the morning, and in so doing have connected a religious, careful, orderly, and therefore pleasant and profitable mood of mind to every act done throughout the day. It pays in dollars and in health and in happiness to make well‑formed letters in writing, for the mood which makes the well‑formed letter begets the mood which makes the well‑formed plan. And, although you may see men apparently successful who are always in a hurry, you will find on closer examination theirs is not a whole success; for, though they may gain in wealth of dollars, they are surely losing in the wealth of health, without which nothing that dollars bring can be enjoyed. That is not a healthy mind or body, either, which can enjoy nothing but the heaping up of money, the article which represents food, clothes, shelter, and all necessary and enjoyable things.”

The slower movement of body which characterizes the religious form, rite, and ceremonial of all faiths, and in all ages, had for its object, and was intended by a greater Wisdom as a first lesson, to teach man the use and profit and pleasure which comes of putting our thought, or as much thought or force as may be necessary, on the act we are doing now. It is a law of our beings, that, when the painter can put his whole thought in the handling of his brush; when the orator or actor puts his whole force on his method of expression, and allows none of that force to stray off in the self‑conscious channel of thinking how A, B, or C may judge or criticize that method; when, as Shakespeare says, you “give to each proportioned thought its act” (that is, carry out the act as your thought has first shaped or planned such act), as when the athlete or gymnast or graceful dancer put their whole thought or force in the muscle needed for use, and expression at the instant,—there comes of this the careful religious concentrative mood or use of our force, always bringing pleasure to ourselves and pleasure to others; and the giving first of happiness to ourselves, and next happiness to others, through the proper use and expenditure of the forces belonging to us, is the great aim and use of the sentiment or quality we term religion.

Every impatient act, no matter how trivial, costs an unprofitable outlay of force or thought. Every impatient act is an act without a plan. You do plan a blow with a hammer before you make it: if you did not, the hammer would strike wide of its mark. You plan the proper intonation or accent of a word before you speak it. You plan the graceful movement before you make it. These things may be planned with the quickness of lightning or thought, but planned they are; and those acts bring pleasure to you and others from being well done. That is the reward of mental temperance, and there are much greater rewards, also; for the habit of so doing all acts brings you more and more power and health and strength.

When you tug impatiently at the knob of the door that won’t open easily, or pull impatiently at the knot that won’t untie, you are sending force or thought into that knob or knot with little or no plan as to its use or direction. You are sending, also, a great deal more force or thought into that knob or knot than is needed to open or untie. This is an intemperate use of force. This is the wildest extravagance, because it is expending force you cannot recall, in effecting nothing. It is expending far more power than if it had been deliberately planned, not only uselessly so far as this effort is concerned, but you are strengthening the habit of so uselessly expending or wasting force in the doing of all things. You are training your mind to this habit of extravagance, and this habit will bring you weakness and loss in every direction.

When you send your thought or force ahead of your body, and in the store toward which you are hurrying (as you actually do while hurrying to that store), the most of your real and invisible self goes to that store, and is in that store, uselessly expending itself, because it has not the body, its instrument, to work with. It has not the body’s senses to touch with, the body’s physical eye to see with, the body’s material tongue to talk with. You are really in that store, having only your finer or interior senses, and these cannot act on material things.

You are then as a carpenter would be who came to his work without his saw or hammer or other tools. Your thought, your invisible self, or most of it, in the store represents the carpenter. The saw or hammer represents your body, which you are dragging wearily on, with the little spirit or force left in it, five or six blocks away; and the force you expend uselessly, in dragging it, could have been better used in selecting the proper quality of cloth, or matching colors, or in seeing that you did not have some article forced upon you by the salesman, who knows just what you want, because you haven’t mind enough left in you, when you’ve got your body at last in that store, to know what you want yourself. Force means judgment and tact and discretion and taste; you know you part, temporarily, with most of these qualities when you are hurried and flurried and flustered and excited. It is when in this condition, that the salesman, who is cool and collected, and has all his wits, his force, his thought, around him, can throw his mind or thought into yours, and make you see with his eyes, and judge with his judgment; and as a result you may buy what you find, on getting home and pulling yourself (your mind) together, that you don’t want at all.

It is this habit of mind which causes what is called “nervous diseases.” When you send your thought, or force, away from your body to some place you are hurrying the body to, be it store, railway‑station, ferry‑boat, or the top of the stairs, you are sending away from you that unseen element of strength for which the nerves are the conductors through your body, as the telegraph‑wire conducts from town to town a cruder form of the same force. When you fall into the habit of so sending it away, you are tremulous,—or, as we say, the nerves are shaken, for lack of this unseen vital power. Sudden fright may send instantly a great volume of this element from you. Hence the body has no strength left in it. In other words, your real self, your spirit, your force, has mostly gone from the body; and, when fright kills, it is because an actual end or link of unseen element, which bound spirit and body together, has snapped. Your invisible self is really an organized body of this force.

The more nerve or force you call to the body, or any part of the body, you would use, the more nerve you will have. The more nerve you get, the more you will attract to you. There is no limit to its increase. Your thought or force—so by habit set massed in a bunch, as it were—is a magnet, ever growing in power to attract more force.

You can throw yourself, or your force, from the word you are speaking, or the idea or emotion you are trying to express, on the next word or the next emotion or idea to be expressed, even as you throw your force, or invisible self, from acting on your body to acting without the body in the store; and, when we do this, we slur our words and sentences. We run them together; and little or no effect is produced on our hearers, because we have in speaking them produced little or no effect on ourselves. You cannot make an audience really feel a sentiment unless you feel it yourself. Enthusiasm and earnestness are contagious.

You are training to rid yourself of self‑consciousness (only another name for the fear you may have for what A, B, and C may think or say of your body’s expression of an idea) when you train to throw your whole spirit or force, or as much of it as may be necessary, on the proper sharpening of a pencil; for the more readily you can put what volume of power may be necessary to perform one act, the more readily can you turn that power on the performance of any other act; and when you are self‑conscious, or thinking of your audience in any way, you are expending just so much power or thought which should be turned on the expression of an idea.

A great orator, a great actor, may be a very slovenly man in other departments of life and action; he may be a very hurried man, and so let his power run to waste. He would have had far greater power in his special talent, had he so trained to hold his force in all acts. He would have lived longer. He would have had better health. He would not have used some artificial stimulant or strength to supply temporarily the force he wasted; for it is exhaustion only that begets a liquor appetite. A tree may grow up and take up a millstone with it. It would be a more symmetrical tree without the millstone. A powerful mind may shine despite its millstone, but the power placed to carry the millstone could be used to better purpose elsewhere. This unconscious wastage of force is as the millstone to many a mind; and the planet has not yet seen the fullest expression of mind, the genius it is yet to see, as mind learns how to cut loose from the many millstones it is now carrying.

If yours is the finest quality of thought, the thought fullest of fertility, of imagination, of invention, of activity, you have the most power for any purpose, mental or physical. But the greater your power, the finer and more subtle and more difficult to retain or hold is that element, or combination of elements, which has made your peculiar order or quality of thought; and, like some chemical combinations, the more explosive power they have, the more difficult it is to hold or keep them. For this reason, it often happens that the highest order of intellect is physically weak. It wastes its strength in some form of impatience. A high order of mind sends out many times the volume of force in a fit of irritability, that a clod would do in similar mood.

As to quality of thought, one mind may, as to power, be as gunpowder, and another, fulminate of mercury. A half thimbleful of fulminate has as much explosive power as lies in half a keg of powder; and the fulminate, whether of thought or substance, must be more carefully guarded than the common powder.

Your sudden cold comes often not because you sat in a draught, but because, through lack of force, sent in an impatient mood from the body, there was not enough left in it to keep open the skin pores, and keep them at work expelling invisible waste matter. The pores then closed up; the waste was re‑absorbed into vein and artery, which then carried death instead of life, and made you feel “half dead.” It is the exhausted body which is most liable to take cold. You could have sat in that draught without taking cold had your full force been concentrated on the body, as you had sat many a time in a similar draught without injury.

People unconsciously get so mastered by the habit of sending their force or thought away from the body on the thing to be done, or the place they want to be in, an hour hence, or a minute hence, that at last they lose the ability to fasten their thought thoroughly on any thing. That means a “scatter‑brain,” or a brain so fallen into the habit of scattering its force that it can do nothing but scatter. That means a weak intellect,—not always because such an intellect as a whole is really weak, but because it has lost the power of bringing its forces together and keeping them together. It is like owning a million of dollars, scattered in ten‑cent packages all over the world. Of what help to an engineer would be the steam generated in one hundred teapots? There is steam enough in them to move an engine; but how will he concentrate its force, save in one boiler? We can be as to the use we make of our thought, and the power we get out of it, either an hundred teapots, sizzling and fizzling away, and scattered over a whole town; or we can be a boiler, generating the force to do something and move something.

Lack of power to fasten thought on any thing means some of the many shades of insanity. An insane mind is a mind which has lost the power to fasten its thought on any center or thing; or a mind which, having fastened on an idea, has lost the power to get off that idea, subject, or center. Habitually keeping thought, or force, thrown off on the thing to be done, instead of the thing we are now doing, leads to both forms of mental derangement. A strong mind, which can mass its forces, cultivates power to forget, for the time, what may trouble, through concentrating on what may please and profit it and others.


Example: If I grieve day after day over a departed friend, I hurt myself. I expend so much force on tears and sad thoughts, I hurt also my friend; because, in so directing my mind upon him, I send him a current of gloomy thought, which depresses and worries. He in turn, so oppressed, is the more liable to send the same thought to others, and oppress them. It matters not whether the friend so grieved for, and so injured, be in a seen or unseen existence. The results are the same.

If, unconsciously, you cultivate any of these moods which send the spirit, or force, from the body, you will have, by degrees, less and less of the spirit able to act on the body; and the less of your invisible self you have so to act, the less strength of any sort will you have. A person habitually timid may live with half or more of his real self, and the better half, too, entirely unable to make the body act up to its higher, or more courageous, resolve or thought; because the body grows, and adapts itself in shape and movement and manner of movement in accordance with the order of thought most acting upon it. So a mind having plenty of courage, but which has habitually and ignorantly cultivated timidity, may not at first be able physically to express courage, so great is the power accumulated by the body so trained to the habit of timidity by the mind.

That, also, is a species of mental intemperance, which cannot sit still,—which keeps feet patting on the floor, or legs swinging, or fingers drumming. You expend thought in these acts; you expend force: you have so much the less force to use. You weaken yourself in every way by these movements, which you may have for years unconsciously cultivated, until it becomes a habit difficult to break off. You are then walking without getting anywhere. You are actually working without accomplishing any thing. You will commence the control of your mind, and the preservation of your force for doing something, by keeping your limbs quiet and stopping this waste. You will sleep far better when you have stopped this mental and muscle jigging; for the mind does carry this pernicious habit to bed with it, and there through long habit keeps the body tossing and turning, so preventing the spirit from detaching most of itself from the body, as the spirit must do to give the body sound, healthy sleep. And, when you have conquered this habit, you have made a great stride toward the power of dismissing any train of thought, or of switching your thought from one train or track to another: for the balanced and powerful mind is a system of departments, and has the power at any time to close one department or workshop, forget all about it temporarily in a few minutes, and throw all its force in another; and, when it does this, the department that is closed not only rests, but recuperates and repairs itself.

There are other rests, both for mind and body, besides sleep; and in more advanced and cultivated stages of existence you will rest in change of occupation, and the physical and mental strength you can gain here through cultivating repose; or, in other words, keeping your thought under control has no limit. As you cultivate this control or repose; you will have continual gain of strength; and, if you do not cultivate it, you will have continual loss; for “to him that hath shall be given, and to him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.”

Q's note:

You are Loved and Protected!  Fear not!


Image Credit:


Zicasso (n.d.). [Image]. Retrieved June 30, 2021, from


Mulford, P. (1886-1887). Mental intemperance. Your forces and how to use them (pp.137-148). Hollister, Missouri: YOGeBooks by Roger L. Cole. doi: 2015:01:16:10:43:09

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