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of himself the shaper and author of environment. Even at birth the soul comes to its own and through 
every step of its earthly pilgrimage it attracts those combinations of conditions which reveal itself, 

which are the reflections of its own purity and, impurity, its strength and weakness.


Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are. Their whims, fancies, and ambitions 
are thwarted at every step, but their inmost thoughts and desires are fed with their own food, be it foul 

or clean. The "divinity that shapes our ends" is in ourselves; it is our very self. Only himself manacles 

man: thought and action are the gaolers of Fate—they imprison, being base; they are also the angels of 

Freedom—they liberate, being noble. Not what he wishes and prays for does a man get, but what he 
justly earns. His wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with his 

thoughts and actions.


In the light of this truth, what, then, is the meaning of "fighting against circumstances?" It means that a 
man is continually revolting against an effect without, while all the time he is nourishing and preserving 

its cause in his heart. That cause may take the form of a conscious vice or an unconscious weakness; 

but whatever it is, it stubbornly retards the efforts of its possessor, and thus calls aloud for remedy.

Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they 

therefore remain bound. The man who does not shrink from self-crucifixion can never fail to 

accomplish the object upon which his heart is set. This is as true of earthly as of heavenly things. Even 

the man whose sole object is to acquire wealth must be prepared to make great personal sacrifices 
before he can accomplish his object; and how much more so he who would realize a strong and well- 

poised life?


Here is a man who is wretchedly poor. He is extremely anxious that his surroundings and home 
comforts should be improved, yet all the time he shirks his work, and considers he is justified in trying 

to deceive his employer on the ground of the insufficiency of his wages. Such a man does not 

understand the simplest rudiments of those principles which are the basis of true prosperity, and is not 

only totally unfitted to rise out of his wretchedness, but is actually attracting to himself a still deeper 
wretchedness by dwelling in, and acting out, indolent, deceptive, and unmanly thoughts.


Here is a rich man who is the victim of a painful and persistent disease as the result of gluttony. He is 

willing to give large sums of money to get rid of it, but he will not sacrifice his gluttonous desires. He 
wants to gratify his taste for rich and unnatural viands and have his health as well. Such a man is totally 

unfit to have health, because he has not yet learned the first principles of a healthy life.

Here is an employer of labour who adopts crooked measures to avoid paying the regulation wage, and, 

in the hope of making larger profits, reduces the wages of his workpeople. Such a man is altogether 

unfitted for prosperity, and when he finds himself bankrupt, both as regards reputation and riches, he 

blames circumstances, not knowing that he is the sole author of his condition.

I have introduced these three cases merely as illustrative of the truth that man is the causer (though 

nearly always is unconsciously) of his circumstances, and that, whilst aiming at a good end, he is 

continually frustrating its accomplishment by encouraging thoughts and desires which cannot possibly 
harmonize with that end. Such cases could be multiplied and varied almost indefinitely, but this is not 

necessary, as the reader can, if he so resolves, trace the action of the laws of thought in his own mind 

and life, and until this is done, mere external facts cannot serve as a ground of reasoning.

Circumstances, however, are so complicated, thought is so deeply rooted, and the conditions of 

happiness vary so, vastly with individuals, that a man‘s entire soul-condition (although it may be 

known to himself) cannot be judged by another from the external aspect of his life alone. A man may be 

honest in certain directions, yet suffer privations; a man may be dishonest in certain directions, yet 
acquire wealth; but the conclusion usually formed that the one man fails because of his particular









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