Our Mental Children
by Lily L. Allen
(Mrs. James Allen)
Order in Adobe PDF eBook or printed form for $5.95 (+ printing charge)
Published in 1917, this was the first book by Lily L.Allen, wife of the author of "As A Man Thinketh", James Allen.
OUR thoughts are our Mental Children; they come from our minds like little infants, very small, very tender, very frail, but they grow and grow, day by day, year by year, till they become a strong family around us, filling our hearts and peopling our homes, and thronging the world in which we live.
What a big family it is, and how each child differs from another!
Let us consider some of them.
There is Kind Thought. She was born many years ago. We did not think much of her when she came from our hearts, she seemed so frail, so inadequate, so helpless in compare-son to the great need; but we nursed her, and tended her, and we dressed her in the pure robes of unselfishness, and she grew, did our little Kind Thought, she grew in strength and beauty day by day, till she stood before us a lovely maiden, so fair to look upon; filling our eyes with beauty, and our hearts with joy. And oh, but we were glad that our little Kind Thought was ever born!
Time passed on, and to Kind Thought was added Purity.
Oh, but it was a fair day when she was born! Our hearts were filled with a deep abiding peace, and our souls seemed scarce large enough to contain our satisfaction. She filled our days with calmness and restfulness, and as she grew in strength, so we grew strong, for her strength entered into the very core of our being.
Blessed, thrice blessed was that day when Purity was born to us.
And then came another.
How fast they come to us, those Mind Children!
And this next one we called Mercy She was gentle and meek-eyed, but strong and vigorous withal. She took our hands in hers, and drew us after the suffering and sorrowful, that we might help and succors them. She pointed to the world of anguish in the animal creation, calling us to hearken to the sob of slaughtered beasts and birds, to the cry of the tortured and hunted, till the tears of pity fell from our eyes. And sometimes when we were prone to forget, and were wont to "mingle our pleasure or our pride with sorrow of the meanest thing that lives," she sighed so near to us, we drew back and blushed for shame. We crown the day that Mercy came to us, for she has grown so strong and beautiful, extending her grace and benevolence on all hands—on birds, and beast, and man, till her sweet influence has filled our lives with tenderness, and in every sorrow of our own hearts we too have found coming: from others to us that "quality of Mercy" that is not strained, but that "droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven" upon us.
But one day, alas! alas! we travailed in pain, weariness and anguish of spirit, and so brought forth a dark sad-eyed child, and we called it Hatred. Its swarthy face was ill-favoured, and its touch was like fire, and its eyes burned with consuming heat. We wished that it might die—this child of our brain—but we were not willing to let it die, and so it grew and grew in strength and power till it stood between us and the sunshine, and when we tried to call Mercy and Purity and Kind Thought to our aid, it pushed in between, and they shrank from its touch, so that we could not see them nor feel their sweet presence. And it came not alone to us either, for Hate has many of its own kind, so it gathered around us Envy with the dark brow, and Malice with the hard face, and Deceit—that terrible child, author of anguish untold—and in their train came Sorrow the sad-eyed, and Pain and Woe, twin children, to mock us. When we tried to drive them from us they clung to us crying, "We are thine, thou thyself hast given birth to us, we are the children of thy own mind and heart"—and we knew it was true, and, knowing it, we wept sore in our sorrow and darkness.
But one day a wondrous thing happened, so wondrous that to us the day on which it took place must ever be the day of all days, the great day of our life, for on that day Love was born to us. Dear Love, with thy wide-open eyes of beauty! Dear, dear Love, with thy tender smile and gentle voice! How sweetly thou didst come, thou Christ-Child, and how at thy coming Kind Thought, and Purity, and Mercy drew near once more, that they might gaze upon thy sweet face ; and lo! at thy presence Hate died, Envy, Deceit, and Malice fled away, and Pain and Woe were no more.
And Love it was that taught us how we had chosen those children of ours of our own free will, how they were but the offspring of our own hearts, the outcome of our own thoughts; that we alone are responsible for the birth of those Mental Children—that host that peoples the world in which we live and move day by day. By our command, and ours alone, they come forth from us—thoughts of Kindness and Tenderness, of Pity and Mercy, to call into our lives Goodness, Peace and Joy—to fill our homes with Gladness and Friendship and Love. But if we choose to have it so—thoughts of Envy, Unkindness, Suspicion, Hatred, Pride, Malice, Uncharitable ness—calling to us, after their own kind, Despair, Sickness, Loneliness, Strife, Care, Poverty, Hardship, and Sorrow.
"As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." "Finally, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
LILY L. ALLEN.
Chapter 1 - FEAR
we are constantly surrounded by our own Mental Children, just as parents are surrounded by their sons and daughters. We live in constant association with them, and according to their character and the power and strength we have endowed them with, do they add to or detract from our happiness and peace.
Fear is one of the most undesirable of all Mental Children.
Once give birth to Fear, and it will grow and grow till it becomes a demon in your life, robbing you of all joy and peace. It is like the terrible octopus with its many deadly suckers stretching out in all directions, and always ready to spurt out its black colouring matter over every effort you make, shrouding in darkness every step of your way.
There is the fear of disease, which haunts so many people.
I have met persons who were always afraid of some disease or other. One lady I knew lived in continual dread of cancer, because some ancestor had died of it. So constantly did she dwell upon this dire disease that her life became a burden, her days long agonies of apprehension, and her nights long nightmares of fear. I have not seen her for many years, but I candidly admit that I should not be surprised to hear that "the thing that she feared had come upon her," for she was constantly suggesting cancer to her body by the very force of her fear. We have not yet thoroughly grasped the great power of such a suggestion over the body, for let us not forget that mind governs matter.
We all know the power of the fear of public opinion over some minds. "What will the people say?" "What will so-and-so think?" Of all the slavish fears, perhaps this is one of the most degrading. Fear of public opinion has robbed thousands of men and women of their moral stamina and manly and womanly fibre. No man or woman that lives in constant fear of acting because the people may think this, or the people may think that, or because of what some particular person may think, ever became a strong, brave, self-reliant character. If you have given birth to this soul-destroying Mental Child, slay it now, do not give it life or room one moment longer. Rise up in all your latent God-given strength and power, and act, think, speak, regardless of the opinions of the world, or what the people may think, so long as your own heart condemns you not.
A good mental tonic for one suffering from this form of fear would be to repeat that saying of Emerson's over and over again:—
"What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think."
Fear of the future is another way in which this terrible mental child takes hold of the mind that gives life to it.
How many people live in constant fear of troubles which never come to them, of sorrows which never cross their pathway, of misfortunes which never have any existence.
I once knew a woman who lived in constant fear of poverty. Over and over again I have heard her say, "I am afraid that I shall come to the workhouse at last." Yet she had all that was needful for a simple happy life, and good kind children who loved her very tenderly; and what made it more singular, this woman was a devout Christian, living a good, pure, charitable life, and was loved by everybody that knew her. She was in the habit of reading her Bible every day, and must have read over and over again the words of the Christ, "All these things shall be added unto you," and yet she lived under the shadow of this awful fear.
If anyone who reads this book is suffering in a similar way, let me implore you to drop this foolish fear at once. Ask yourself a few searching questions, thus:— "Am I living an honest, upright, true life? Am I doing unto others, in every detail, as I would they should do unto me? Am I doing my duty in every sense of the word? Am I using the money I have today in a proper manner, neither wastefully, nor extravagantly?" If you can answer all those questions as they ought to be answered, then I assure you—and my authority is none other than the Holy Scriptures—that you need have no fear of the future.
"Say ye to the righteous that it shall be well with him."
There are people who have a great fear of work. I have met many people, perhaps women more especially than men, who live in constant fear of overworking themselves. What a foolish fear! I will go further and say, what a destroying fear! I will go further still and say, what a degrading fear! Work never killed anybody, but worry and fear have killed thousands. If people worked more, and feared less, there would be more health and less sickness in the world. How many of us go to bed really tired of a night? I doubt if many do. It is only the tired who know how sweet it is to rest. It is only the weary who know the delightful sense of refreshing sleep. The workers are the happiest, the health-iest, and the longest lived. Away with this fear of real good hard work! Find something to do, and do it with "both hands earnestly" and,
"Give every flying moment.
Something to keep in store."
And oh! the many who live in constant fear of death. Why should we fear death? It is as natural to die as to be born. No doubt the teaching of the past has had much to do with the creation of this fear—that is, the teaching of western religions, for the oriental never fears death.
The horrible teaching of hell and everlasting punishment has clothed death with many horrors, but let us rejoice that such an unreasonable doctrine, such a God-dishonouring conception has passed almost entirely away. Very, very few are they who believe it today.
We have been taught also that death was the end of life, as we know life, and so men called it "the dark angel," "the last dread monster," "the cold waters of Jordan," etc., etc., and, try to refute it as we may, the fact remains that at the root of this fear of death is the belief that this one little life was all there was of life, and. that with the death of this body came the end of all life, all hope, all love, all gladness, all progress. It is true men postulated a heaven for the good, as well as a hell for the bad, but it was all so unreal to our minds—those golden streets, the harps, the palms, the great white throne, the endless hallelujahs, that we could not realize it as life. I once heard a good man say in the pulpit, "If all that is heaven, then I don't want to go there."
How much more reasonable, how much more in keeping with our sense of justice, is the thought of reincarnation; that this life is but one of many lives; that after a period of rest we shall return again to the world, to take our place once more in the march of progress, beginning again where we left off in our former life; back again to gather in the harvest of seeds sown in this life, the bitter from the bitter, and the sweet from the sweet!
Oh, glorious thought for those who have had but small opportunity in this life! Oh, blessed thought for those whose weak hands have reluctantly laid aside the half-finished task! Oh, thrice blessed thought for some of us who yearn for greater and deeper knowledge, and to witness the grand march of science and progress in the future! Surely Tennyson must have been thinking of this when he wrote:—
"Well, were it not a pleasant thing
To fall asleep with all one's friends.
To pass with all our social ties
To silence from the paths of men;
And every hundred years to rise
And learn the world, and sleep again."
Think not, my dear reader, that this is a new thought. It is found in all the religions of the world, and in all its Scriptures. If we will take the trouble to look carefully at the writings of our own philosophers and poets, we shall find that they too thought of rebirth, and gave expression to the thought.
"Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The soul that rises with us, our life's star.
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar."
"The soul of man is like the water—
From heaven it cometh, to heaven it mounteth,
And thence at once it must back to earth,
For ever changing."
Whittier, in that beautiful poem "A Mystery," says:—
"A presence strange at once and known
Walked with me as my guide;
The skirts of some forgotten life
Trailed noiseless at my side."
Longfellow speaks of the—
From birth to death, from death to birth.
From earth to heaven, from heaven to earth."
"Souls cannot die. They leave a former home,
And in new bodies dwell and from them roam."
And Robert Browning:—
"Delayed it may be for more lives yet,
Through worlds I must traverse, not a few—
Much is to learn and much forget
Ere the time be come for taking you."
Coleridge, in "On a Homeward Journey ":—
"Oft in my brain does that strange fancy roll
Which makes the present (while the flesh does last)
Seem a mere semblance of some unknown past,
Mixed with such feelings as perplex the soul
Self-questioned in her sleep: and some have said
We lived ere yet this robe of flesh we wore."
Many more there are did space but permit us to repeat them.
Oh, how differently would those who fear death think of it did they but see it as the passage from one life to another, the doorway to another sphere of usefulness, and work, and duty, and—if we have so lived as to deserve it—a higher sphere, a greater work, and a nobler duty!
good, pure, simple, upright soul there is absolutely nothing to