D3. Look Forward!
The tendency with many people after they are a little “advanced in years” is to look backward and with regret. The “looking” should be the other way—forward. If you want to go backward in every sense, mental and physical, keep on cultivating the mood of living regretfully in your past life.
It is one chief characteristic of the material mind to hold tenaciously to the past. It likes to recall the past and mourn over it. The material mind has a never‑ending series of solemn amusement, in recalling past joys, and feeling sad because they are never to come again.
But the real self, the spirit, cares relatively little for its past. It courts change. It expects to be a different individual in thought a year hence from what it is to‑day. It is willing a thousand years hence to forget who or what it is to‑day, for it knows that this intense desire to remember itself for what it has been, retards its advance toward greater power and greater pleasure. What care you for what you were a thousand or five thousand years ago? Yet then you were then something, and something far less than what you are today. Curiosity you may answer to know what you were. Yes, but is curiosity worth gratifying, if for such gratification you must pay the price of dragging after you a hundred corpses of your dead selves. Those selves, those existences, have done their work for you. In doing that work they brought you possibly more pain than pleasure. Do you want ever to bear with you the memory and burthen of that pain? Especially when such burthen brings more pain and deprives you of pleasure. It is like the bird that should insist on carrying with it always the shell from which it was hatched. If you have a sad remembrance fling it off. If you can’t fling it off, demand of the Supreme Power aid to help you do so, and such aid will come. If you want to grow old, feeble, gray and withered, quickly go and live in your past, and regret your youth. Go and revisit places and houses where you lived twenty, thirty, forty years ago; call back the dead; mourn over them; live in remembrance over the joys you had there, and say they are gone and fled and will never come again.
In so doing you are fastening dead selves all over you. If we came into another physical life with the memory of the last one, we should come into the world physically as miniature, decrepit, grizzled old men and women. Youth physically is fresh and blooming, because it packs no past sad material remembrances with it. A girl is beautiful because her spirit has flung off the past sad remembrance of its previous life, and has therefore a chance for a period to assert itself. A woman commences to “age” when she commences to load up with regrets over a past but twenty years gone.
The liveliness, sprightliness and untiring playfulness of the boy or girl of ten or twelve, is due to the gladness of spirit relieved of the burthen that is carried in a past existence. That burden was one of thoughts im-profitable to carry. You would physically have the agility you had at fifteen could you fling off the burthen of sad remembrance and belief in error that you have been loading up with these twenty or thirty years past.
You can commence the unloading process now, by resolving, with the aid of the Supreme Power, to fling off the remembrance of everything in the past that has annoyed you, everything you regret, everything you have mourned over.
Have you buried your dearest on earth? You do them no good by your sad thoughts concerning them. You place a bar ’twixt their spirit and yours in thinking of them as “lost.” You may in so doing not only increase and encourage in them a sad mental condition, but bring their gloomy mental condition on yourself, as many do in grieving. The greatest good we can do them is to think of them as alive like ourselves, and to fling their graves, tombstones, coffins, shrouds and ghastliness out of our minds. If we cannot do so of ourselves, let us demand help of the Supreme Power to do it. We often make those who have lost their bodies feel dead when we think of them as such. If we do this they will throw back their thoughts of deadness on us.
Keep out of graveyards. It may seem to some that I am cold and unfeeling to say thus, but the truth, as it presents itself to me, says that the graveyard where your loved ones do not lie is spiritually a most unhealthy place to visit. They are full of the thought of regret, death and decay. When you visit them you incorporate such thought into yourself. It is hostile and killing to youth, vigor, elasticity, cheerfulness and life.
Our graveyards are full of lies. We place a stone over the cast‑off body of a friend. We place on that stone the word “died.” That is not true. Your friend is not dead. It is only the body he used that lies there. But that grave is planted in your memory, and your friend in your mind lies in it. Do what we will, try to believe what we may of the eternal prolongation of life and the impossibility of anything like death in the universe, we cannot help making for ourselves when we think of that grave or revisit it, an image of that friend as dead and decaying in his or her coffin. This image we fasten in our minds, and in so doing we fasten on ourselves the thought of gloom, death and decay. The thoughts of decay and death are things and forces. When we keep them so much in mind we add elements of decay to the body.
We need as much as possible to fasten our thought on life and increasing life—life greater in its activity than any we have ever realized. That is not gained by looking backward. Look forward.
Every regret, every mournful thought, takes so much out of your life. It is force used to pile on more misery. It is force used to strengthen the habit of regretting. It is force used to make the mind color everything with a tinge of sadness, and the longer you use force in this way the darker will grow the tinge.
Also, when we are ever going back in memory to the past and living in it in preference to the present, we are bringing back on ourselves the old moods of mind and mental conditions belonging to that past. This feeling constantly indulged in will bring on some form of physical ailment. The ailment belongs to a condition of mind we should be done with forever. If we are looking forward we shall shake it off and be better in health than ever. If the predominant mood of our minds is that of looking backward, the ultimate result will be serious to the body.
In the world’s business your active, enterprising, pushing man of affairs spends little time in sad reminiscence. If he did his business would suffer. His thought is forward. That thought is the real force which pushes his business forward. If he spent it in “sad memories” of the past his business would go backward.
He works his success (so far as he does really succeed) by this spiritual law, though he may not know it.
You may be saying: “I have failed in life and shall always be a failure.” That is because you are ever looking back, living in your failure and thereby bringing to you more failure. Reverse this attitude of mind; work it the other way and live in future success.
Why do you say: “I am always sick?” Because you are looking back, living in your past ailments and thereby bringing more on you.
I have heard the expression used: “When the earth was young.” As if this planet was now in its dotage and going to decay! In the sense of freshness, increase of life, refinement and purer in every form of life, be that of man, animal, vegetable, and farther on, this earth never was so young as to‑day. Youth is life, growing and increasing in beauty and power. It is not the cruder commencement of life.
The so‑called “barren rock” contains elements which will help form the future tree and flower. Is that part of the rock which enters into tree and flower increasing or decreasing in life? It changes only into a higher and more beautiful expression of life. So do we from age to age. The rock crumbles that it may live in this higher form. The old mind must crumble and pass away to give place to the new, and make of us the newer spiritual being. As the old mind crumbles so will the old body, for the spiritual change must be accompanied by the physical change. But if you live in the understanding and spirit of this law you need not lose a physical body, but have one ever changing for the better. As you live in spiritual belief, as the old life goes out the new comes in.
Nothing in Nature—nothing in the Universe is at a standstill. Nothing goes backward. A gigantic incomprehensible Force and Wisdom moves all things forward toward greater and higher powers and possibilities. You are included in and are a part of this Force. There is of you in embryo the power of preventing the physical body your spirit uses from decaying, and the power also of using it in ways which even the fiction of to‑day would discard as too wild for the pages of the novel.
For your spirit youth and ever growing youth is an eternal heritage. If your body has “aged” that is no sign that your spirit has “aged.” The spirit cannot grow old in the material sense, no more than the sunlight can grow old. If your body has “aged” it is because that body has become the material likeness and expression of a false self or “shell” which has formed on your spirit. That false self is made up of thoughts prevalent around from an early physical age and those thoughts are untrue thoughts. A large proportion of that thought is regret. Regret is an inverted force—a turning of the mind to look backward when its natural and healthy state is to look forward, and live in the joys that are certain to come when we do look forward.
In the new life to come to our race, when we have learned to be ever looking forward to the greater joys to come and cease to look backward and drag the dead past with us, men and women are to have bodies far more beautiful and graceful than those of to‑day.
Because their bodies will image or reflect their thoughts, and their thoughts will ever be fixed on what is beautiful and symmetrical. They will know that what is to come and what is in store for them out of the richness of the Infinite Mind must exceed anything they have realized in the past.
To‑day with the great majority of people their attitude of mind is directly the reverse. Owing to the little trust that they have in that Power the theologian calls “God,” they are ever in their minds saying: “There are no joys to come for us like our past joys. Our youth has fled. Our future on earth is tame and dull. It is as dust and ashes.”
The truth that life does not end with the death of the body makes slow progress in fixing itself firmly in our minds. The kind of life a man may be living here at seventy does not end in the grave. It continues straight on.
The “old man,” as we call him here, wakes up in the other side of life after losing his body an old man still. If he is one of those old men who have “outlived their day and generation,” who live in their physical past and look back on it with regret— who have become “too old to learn,” and think they have got through with it all, he will be just such an old man in the world of spirit. There is no sudden transformation into youth on the death of a worn‑out decrepit body. As the tree falls so does it lie for a period, even in the hereafter.
But in this state he cannot stay forever. He must grow not in age but youth. To do this it is necessary not only that he should leave the old body but the old material mind which made that body. His spirit throws off that mind when he gains a new body (or is re‑incarnated), and he throws it off because he loses the recollection of all past sad memories and regrets.
The man should in mind be always the boy, the woman, the girl. You can as man or woman be always boy or girl in spirit without being silly or losing real dignity. You can have all the playfulness of youth with the wisdom of maturity. To have a clear powerful mind you need not be an owl.
There may be for a period a certain use for us in going back to our more recent past lives, and for a time living in them.
Sometimes we are pushed back temporarily into some old condition of mind, some old experience in order to make us more alive than ever to the rags and tatters of errors in belief still clinging to us.
This may come of revisiting places and people from whom we have long been separated. For a time during such visit old associations, the moods connected with them and possibly old habits we thought long since cast off, resume their sway. We may become for a time absorbed and swallowed up in the old life. We resume temporarily an old mind or mental condition that was formerly our permanent one in that place or association.
But after a little the new mind, the new self into which we have grown during the long absence, antagonizes the old. It feels aversion and disgust for the narrow life, the false beliefs and the dull, monotonous purposeless lives about it. It (the spirit) refuses to have anything to do with the old.
Then comes a conflict between our two minds, the old and the new, which may result in temporary physical sickness. Our old life or self rises as it were out of its grave and tries to fasten itself on the new and even rule the new. The new self rejects the corpse with horror. But through thus seeing the corpse, it sees also fragments of the old self which, unperceived, have all along been adhering to the new. We do not get rid of error in belief all at once, and often unconsciously retain shreds of such belief when we imagine ourselves entirely rid of them. These shreds are the remains of old thoughts and former mental conditions. Your new mind so awakened arises and pushes off what it finds left on it of the old. This pushing off is accompanied by physical disturbance, because your spirit puts all its force in rejecting these fragments of the former self, as you might put all your physical strength in pushing off a snake.
Our old errors in belief must be so pushed off before the new thoughts which come in as the old goes out, can have full sway. If your spirit was contentedly and blindly carrying any scorpion of false belief, you would tumble into the pit eventually as so many are now doing.
When you live several years in any certain house or town or locality, you make a spiritual self belonging to that locality. Every house, tree, road or other object you have long been in the habit of seeing there, has a part of that self in thought attached to it. Every person who knows you there has in his or her mind the self you make there, and puts that self out when they meet you or talk of you.
If you had years before in that place, the reputation of being weak, or vacillating, or impractical, or intemperate, and you returned to the people who knew you as such, although you may have changed for the better, you are very liable in their thought and recollection of you to have this old self pushed back on you, and as a result, you may for a period feel much like your former self.
You return to such place after a long absence. You have during that absence changed radically in belief. You bring with you a different mind. You are in reality a different person.
But the old “you,” the old self of former years will rise from every familiar object to meet you. It will come out of houses formerly inhabited by your friends, though now tenanted by strangers; you will find it in the village church, the old schoolhouse, the very rails and fence posts familiar to you long years before. More than all it will come out of the recollection of people who only knew you for what you were, say twenty years before; every such person strengthens with you this image of your former self. You talk with them on the plane of that previous life or self. For the time being you ignore yourself as it now thinks and believes; you put aside your newer self, not wishing to obtrude on your friends opinions, which to them may be unpleasant, or seem wild and visionary; you meet perhaps twenty‑five or thirty people who know you only as your former self, and with all these you act out the old self, and repress the new. This for a time makes the old dead self very strong, but you cannot keep this up; you cannot warm the old corpse of yourself into life. If you try to—if you try to be and live your former self, you will become depressed mentally, and very likely sick physically; you may find yourself going into moods of mind peculiar to your former life which you thought had gone forever; you may find yourself beset with physical ailment also peculiar to that period from which you had not suffered for years. Such ailments are not real. They are but the thoughts and wrong beliefs which your old “you” is trying to fasten on you.
I visited recently a place from which I had been absent twenty‑five years. I had spent there a portion of my physical youth, and had lived there with a mind or belief very different from which I entertain now.
I returned to find the place dead in more senses than one.
The majority of my old acquaintances had passed away. Their remains lay in the graveyards. But I realized this deadness still more among my contemporaries who were said to be living. They had lost the spur and activity of their youthful ambition. They had resigned themselves to “growing old. They lived mostly in the past, talked of the past “good old times,” and compared the present and future unfavorably with the past. They were in mind about where I left them twenty‑five years before, and about where I was in mind when I did leave them.
Drawn temporarily into their current of thought “for old acquaintance sake,” I talked with them of the past, and for some days lived in it. At every turn I met something animate or inanimate to bring back my past life to me.
Then I went to the graveyards, and in thought renewed acquaintance with those whose remains lay there. So I lived for days unconscious, that in these moods of sad reminiscence I was drawing to me elements of decay sadness.
First becoming very much depressed, I was next taken strangely sick, and became so weak I could hardly stand. I was continually in a nervous tremor and full of vague fears.
Why was this? Because in going back into my past life I had drawn on me my old mental conditions—my old mind—my own self of that period. But since that time I had grown a new mind—a new self, which thought and believed very differently from the old.
The new self into which I had grown since leaving that locality would not accept the old. It shook it off. It was the shaking off process that caused me the physical disturbance. There was a conflict between these two forces, one trying to get in, the other to keep it out. My body was the battle‑ground between the two. No battle‑ground is a serene place to live on when the battle is going on.
It was necessary in this case that I should look backward and live backward for a season to show me more clearly the evil of doing so. For no lesson can be really learned without an experience. It was not merely the evil of living backward in that particular locality that I came to see clearly. I saw also for the first time, where I had unconsciously been living in the past, and living backward in numberless ways and thereby unconsciously, using up force, which would have pushed me forward in every sense.
I understood, also, after passing through this process, why for weeks before visiting that place I had felt depressed, and experienced also a return of certain moods of mind I had not felt for years. It was because my spirit was already in that place and working through this change. The culminating point was reached when my material self touched that locality.
All changes are wrought out in spirit often before our material senses is in the least aware of them.
Let no one imagine that because I write of these Spiritual Laws that I am able to live fully in accordance with them. I am not above error or mistake. I tumble into pits occasionally, get off the main track—and get on again.
Power comes of looking forward with hope—of expecting and demanding the better things to come. That is the law of the Infinite Mind, and when we follow it we live in that mind.
Nature buries its dead as quickly as possible and gets them out of sight. It is better, however, to say that Nature changes what it has no further use for into other forms of life. The live tree produces the new leaf with each return of spring. It will have nothing to do with its dead ones. It treasures up no withered rose leaves to bring back sad remembrance. When the tree itself ceases to produce leaf and blossom, it is changed into another form and enters into other forms of vegetation.
I do not mean to imply that we should try to banish all past remembrance. Banish only the sad part. Live as much as you please in whatever of your past that has given you healthy enjoyment. There are remembrances of woodland scenes, of fields of waving grain, of blue skies and white‑capped curling billows, and many another of Nature’s expressions as connected with your individual life, that can be recalled with pleasure and profit. These are not of the decaying past. These are full of life, freshness and beauty, and are of to‑day.
But if with these any shade of sadness steals in, reject it instantly. Refuse to accept it. It is not a part of the cheerful life‑giving remembrance. It is the cloud which if you give it the least chance will overshadow the whole and turn it all to gloom.
The science of happiness lies in controlling our thought and getting thought from sources of healthy life.
When your mind is diverted from possibly the long habit of thinking and living in the gloomy side of things and admitting gloomy thought, you will find to your surprise that the very place whose sight gave you pain will give you pleasure, because you have banished a certain unhealthy mental condition, into which before you allowed yourself to drift at sight of it. You can then revisit the localities connected with your past, remember and live only in the bright and lively portion of that past, and reject all thought about “sad changes,” and “those who have passed away, never to return, etc.”
I have proven this to myself.
Is there any use or sense in admitting things to have access to you which only pain and injure you? Does God commend any self‑destroying, suicidal act? Grief does nothing but destroy the body.
I'm gonna think for myself. I'm gonna do things for myself. Follow my Dreams! What about you?
Jade Mountain (n.d.). [Image]. Retrieved July 1, 2021, from https://jademountainstlucia.com/romance/gifts.html
Mulford, P. (1886-1887). Look forward! Your forces and how to use them (pp.591-602). Hollister, Missouri: YOGeBooks by Roger L. Cole. doi: 2015:01:16:10:43:09