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This lecture was written by Dr Sharib following a near fatal illness, requiring major surgery and a period of
Praise be to God, Who has enabled me to talk to you once again. I feel
better, happier, and stronger after my recent illness, which was described
by some as very serious, and by others as a fatal malady that threatened to
cut short my days of life.
I find myself filled once again with an abundant supply of life's creative
forces. I have renewed vigour, vitality, force and enthusiasm, - and may I
say that I have a desire to meet you, to talk to you, to exchange ideas and
greetings with you.
I assure you that, during all this time, I was with you. It is true that I was
not with you physically. But it is equally true that I was with you in
thought. Thought often took me to distant lands and far-off countries,
where some of you live and work.
Thought travels at a tremendous speed, which no jet can compete with.
It was a pleasure for me, indeed, that thought took me to your doorstep. As
soon as I entered in I found some of you sitting by the fireside, engaged in
talk, and I found some of you watching the TV and enjoying a cricket
match, or some feature or documentary film. I met some of you in a
scented garden where you had gone for a stroll.
I met some of you returning home after the day's toil and trial - narrating
with some sense of satisfaction the short and simple triumphs of the day.
When you were narrating these tales of wonder and excitement it you
appeared to me like a hero, or may I say a conqueror, just returned from
the battlefield after winning a victory over odds, just for a day.
I assure you that each day is a life in itself, and, if you make right use of
the day, you make right use of life.
But I am a little sorry to say that I found some of you appeared to be
dismayed, downcast, and desperate. Why are they desperate? Why have
they lost interest in life? Why have they lost zest for life? Why does life
seem to be endless agony, like a dark night to them? The answer is not hard
to find. Their negative thoughts, like scorpions, are tormenting them. If
they change the trend of their thinking I am sure they will be able to
change their mode of life.
The fact is that we have an outward life, and we have an inward life. Our
outward life is dependent upon our inward life. The saints and the mystics
have emphasised the importance of a better type of inward life.
There can be no doubt that outward life is a reflection of inward life.
The saints and the mystics first cleaned and purified their thought in order
to get a better and more positive type of inward life, and they thus renewed
a right spirit within.
"As you sow so shall you reap" is an old adage. Likewise, we can say that
as you think, so you become. If you sow the seed of positive thought you
will reap the rich harvest of a better and nobler life.
The dominating thought habits of the mystics constitute the spirit of
What modern man has forgotten to his own detriment is the value of the art
of positive thinking.
To a mystic his positive thoughts are his best equipment. They are, in fact,
a cause of inspiration and strength to him.
The principle of cause and effect governs our thinking also. If we think
positively, we live happily. If we think positively we live successfully. Our
thinking makes us conqueror or conquered. Positive thinking gives added
energy, stamina, and strength.
In other words, positive thinking will make our personality positive, giving
us the joy of living, and at the same time giving others the benefit of our
positive suggestions. If, on the other hand, we have unfortunately allowed
ourselves to be besieged by negative thoughts, we are not the only person
to suffer. Others who come in contact with us also suffer.
Negative thoughts lend a negative complex and colour to our life. They
make our life a burden, and a source of private nuisance to others.
From what I have said above it is evident that thought control is of vital
Thought control implies self-control. Self-control implies self- discipline.
Self-discipline means a trained mind, disciplined habits, self-respect,
mutual respect, self-knowledge, self-reverence, balanced judgement,
harmony, and the spirit of toleration.
Self-discipline points to the desire of an individual to rule over himself and
to govern himself. Which means that he comes to assume the power of a
sovereign, and now, at last, he wears the crown, studied, not with diamonds
and precious stones, but with the invaluable virtue of self-mastery.
Self mastery, let me tell you, implies a positive mental attitude, which is of
great use and consequence. It is a trusted friend, a good companion, and a
A positive mental attitude is the creation of positive thoughts. Thought is
important. It is said that thought rules the world. Such being the case, it is
necessary then that we should cultivate positive thoughts.
Our positive thought is our humble contribution to the welfare,
advancement, peace, prosperity and happiness of mankind.
The way to get a good life is to be armed with good thought. By good life is
meant a life of virtue and happiness. Good thoughts imply positive thoughts.
Spiritual life is not merely the practice of penance and asceticism, but the
cultivation of positive thoughts - thoughts of love, kindness, sympathy, and
Right thinking precedes right action. Right action precedes right living.
Right living exhibits the spirit of compromise, thankfulness, gratitude,
contentment, and, above all, the spirit of self control.
To give a good thought to someone is better than to offer a precious gem.
A good thought is like the fragrance of a flower. It is capable of giving new
dimension to our life.
A good thought is a grace and a blessing. We should welcome a good
thought as we welcome a guest.
Man is responsible for his own misfortune. He himself invites trials and
tribulations. He gets what he thinks. He reaps as he sows. His outward life
is determined by, and planned for him by, his inward life. Inward life is the
result of his thoughts. If he holds the positive thoughts of courage,
determination, cheerfulness, mercy, generosity, patience, perseverance,
love, forgiveness and hope, he will exhibit the same qualities in his outward
On the other hand if a person holds the negative thoughts of hatred,
revenge, and malice, he exhibits the same traits in his outward life.
The fact is that an individual becomes that upon which he concentrates
An individual's self-image is carved out by his thoughts.
The thoughts of fear and of illness, and in fact all negative thoughts are
more dangerous than snakes and scorpions. They are like wild beasts, and
as you know, we should keep ourselves at a safe distance from them.
People have fear of death, of loss of livelihood, of loss in business, of being
criticised, of failure and above all the fear of losing popularity and
affluence. Such fears are imaginary fears. They have no leg to stand on.
Once the thought of these fears is magnified and concentrated upon for
long they become a reality. Such abnormal fears should be resisted.
Thought of illness is suicidal and dangerous. Health implies harmony. The
negative thoughts disturb harmony, and bring about ill-health and physical
trouble. Those who cherish and nourish negative thoughts for long become
peevish and are deprived of hope - hope of a better life, better living, better
business, and a better time. Sometimes it so happens that they meet a
Negative thoughts create excitement. The excitement, so caused, has a
great bearing on life. Besides other things, like indigestion, insomnia, and
rheumatism, the breathing becomes swift, with the result that life becomes
Health depends upon positive thoughts. What is health after all? Health is a
delicate fabric. Health is harmony and adjustment. When the mind, body,
spirit and soul work coherently, the result is health. Once the harmony is
disturbed, the result is illness.
Inner conflict brings diseases. Our mind rules our body. Disease and health
derive their source from our thoughts. Thought of disease leads to disease.
Thought of health keeps us healthy. High blood pressure is a common
disease that is a creation of the Age of Anxiety. Those who live in
confrontation and tension suffer from high blood pressure.
Tension is brought about by thought. Thoughts of resentment, revenge,
malice, and envy affect the body in such a way that it is deprived of the
power of resistance.
Thoughts of anxiety and worry sap the energy and render the body weak.
Thoughts of fear are enough to shoot a man down. He does not require any
bullet or sword to be wounded or killed.
Negative thoughts, impure thoughts, and selfish thoughts create blood
Thoughts of fear, of doubt, of diffidence, and indecision do not give
anything except pessimism and loss of hope.
Hence to be healthy and successful, it is necessary that we first conquer
fear, doubt and diffidence.
Positive thoughts give coherence and fundamental unity to life, with the
result that an individual entertaining positive thoughts leads a placid, calm
and serene life. His life is not disturbed by outer distractions. He enjoys
peace and tranquillity of mind.
When the procession of life is orderly, marked by serenity and tranquillity,
then the powers which lie dormant and passive in an individual, become
awakened and alive. He then receives intuition, inspiration, and welcome
[spiritual] manifestation. He begins to lead a creative life, living in such a
way that not only is he benefited, but others too derive benefit from his
A person of positive thinking is like a bright lamp, shedding light all around.
If we have positive thoughts we may not stop the tempest or avert the
storm, but we can at least save the boat from being sunk.
Failure and success are the result of thought. Our thought pattern
determines the pattern of our life. In other words the pattern of our life is
carved out for us by our thoughts.
Achievement is the reward of concentrated positive thought. A well
directed thought, coupled with resolution, determination, and perspiration
can secure for us the object we want to achieve.
If we sincerely desire a thing we shall get it. If we aspire for a thing, we
shall achieve it.
Happiness is an achievement. A good life is an achievement. But they
cannot be achieved without good and intense positive thoughts.
Our thoughts spin and weave the garment of our outer life. Outward life is
a reflection of our inward life, and inward life is what it has been made by
our thought pattern.
A man's character is manifested in his thoughts. What his thoughts are, that
is his character. What his character is, that he is in fact.
Thus, thought is destiny.
The mystics had their thoughts and attention ever fixed upon higher aims
and objects, and better ideas and ideals.
It has been said, "Resist not evil". If we concentrate our thoughts on evil,
then evil will be actualised, and made real. So, as Tennyson says:-
"Think well! Do well will follow thought,
And in the fatal sequence of this world,
An evil thought may soil thy children's blood;
But curb the beast would keep thee in the mire,
And leave the hot swamp of voluptuousness,
A cloud between the Nameless and thyself."
Our mind is a garden and we are the gardener. Our life is a little Joint-stock
Company and we are the Managing Director.
The thought forces mould and shape character.
Man is a creative force and a power. Out of our thoughts grow
circumstances. Our thought forces attract the things we most love and
With every good positive thought, there comes the seed of opportunity.
Opportunity changes circumstances.
The fact is that an individual attracts only that which he is. He does not
attract that which he wants.
You may have read Macbeth written by Shakespeare. It is a famous
Macbeth asks the question:-
"Canst thou not minister to a mind diseas'd,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart?"
And do you know what the reply is? It is:-
. .........."Therein the patient
Must administer to himself."
People in modern times are asking the same question:-
"Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased?"
The answer is the same. It is obvious and simple. You must look to
yourself. You, yourself, are your physician. You, yourself, are the architect
of the edifice of your life. Do not look to external help. Help yourself. You
alone can reform yourself. You alone can shake off your negative thoughts
and replace them by positive thoughts.
Thereby you can have calm thoughts. Your positive thoughts will give you
faith and a radiant personality.
They will stimulate your will, kindle your imagination, and inspire you with
new ideas. They will give you a new hope and a reborn assurance. They
will kindle new aspirations.
Intelligence should be rightly used. That intelligence is best which teaches
us to avoid failures. Once we have learnt to rise above failures, we have
unfolded a great mystery. Let us learn to avoid the things that lead to the
narrow and deep pit of failure. You must not allow, then, the loss of hope.
Feelings of loneliness, uncertainty, insecurity, anger, resentment,
inferiority, and indecision, should be resisted and overcome.
"Let each man learn to know himself,
To gain that knowledge let him labour.
Correct those failings in himself
Which he condemns so in his neighbour."
It has been said that a man is known by the company he keeps. If a person
keeps company with feelings which do more harm than good, he will be
known as an embodiment and an emblem of those feelings. Thus he will be
known by his enemies, more than by his friends who are the feelings of
love, tolerance, disinterested service, and optimism.
The eminent French philosopher Montaigne has very aptly said that:-
"A man is not hurt so much by what happens as by his opinions of what
We may form any opinion that we like, but before we do so we should
realise our responsibility and the consequences.
Pure thoughts are necessary for self-awareness. Self-awareness is the
hallmark of a trained mind and a cultured man.
Confrontation, in whatever shape, form, or guise it may appear, is sure to
deprive an individual of the sense of proportion and perspective. But
self-confrontation will be a dismal failure, if it is not factual and not backed
Help comes from various sources, and it comes in different guises. It may
assume the form of advice or sympathy, guidance and encouragement.
Advice and guidance date from time immemorial. The doctor and the
lawyer gives professional advice to their patient and their client
respectively. The spiritual guide extends specific advice to his disciples.
The priest gives advice from the pulpit, and the politician exhorts the
people from the platform. The expert in any field is also liberal in his
But the fact is that no amount of exhortation and advice, counselling and
guidance, and encouragement and sympathy, will do you any good
permanently, unless you yourself are willing and prepared to change your
thought pattern and your feelings.
The mystics have controlled their thoughts. They do not allow their mind to
wander. They do not allow the thoughts that they do not like, to enter their
mind. You can do the same.
Perhaps you want to know how you can change your thoughts. How you
can have vibrating, illuminating, and inspiring positive thoughts, which will
serve as a soothing balm, protecting you from confrontation and shielding
you from tension, and the thoughts which will give you the wings to fly.
The first and foremost thing is that you must know the method that I prefer
to call the Law of Substitution. Substitution is as important as discretion.
Discretion means that out of two things one must choose one and leave the
other. It also means that out of two situations in which a person finds
himself, he may prefer one to the other. Substitution means that, out of two
things, one thing should be taken and be replaced by the other.
Acting on the Law of Substitution, we should transmute any negative
thought into its opposite, positive, thought. Thus thoughts of hate and
dislike should be transmuted into the thoughts of love and good-will.
Thoughts of fear should be replaced by the thoughts of confident trust, and
that of poverty [changed] to abundance, and that of evil into good.
Thoughts of egoism should be transmuted into thoughts of altruism.
Thoughts of selfishness should be replaced by the thought of kindness, and
thought of revenge should be transmuted into thoughts of forgiveness.
Thoughts of indecision and infatuation can be overcome by the exercise of
discretion. Thought of vanity should be replaced by the thought of
Once you have learnt to change the thought pattern, you have, indeed,
discovered the fountain of happiness, bliss, and peace, flowing within you.
It requires an effort. Thus you should try to transmute the thought of gloom
into cheerfulness. Thoughts of anxiety and worry should be replaced by the
inspiring thoughts of inner satisfaction and inner certainty.
The thought of anger should be replaced by the thought of self-control. The
thought of cruelty should give place to the thought of mercy.
In short, negative thoughts and negative feelings should be replaced,
dislocated, or displaced, by substituting their opposite.
The Law of Substitution helps us to entertain counter thoughts. When you
are seized, or besieged by tormenting thoughts, negative thoughts, negative
feelings, and by the thoughts you do not want to entertain, then leave your
bed, or your table, or your room and go out to some garden, or to some
park or fountain, or to some place offering natural beauty. Enjoy the fresh
air and see the flowers smiling, and hear the birds singing in the trees. Walk
or sit on the carpet of green grass.
You may also, on such occasions, engage yourself in some hobby in which
you feel deeply interested. You may play games or you may go out boating.
You may start reading a book of poetry, or some other book, or you may
read some religious book. You may also begin to pray.
You may sing some beautiful song or you may hear music.
Meditation is another way of driving out bad thoughts.
Do one thing at a time and have one thought at a time.
Relax your body and mind.
Have a compartmentalised mind - open the cupboard of the mind that
contains good thoughts, and close the cupboard of the mind giving you bad
thoughts, at your own sweet will.
Take the Universe as your own, and love it, and also love the animals and
the birds, and love also the plants and the shrubs.
Do not be over ambitious. Curtail your desires. Try to have good company,
good friends, and good associates. Ignore the trifles of life. Do not be over
sensitive. Do not feel too much. If you do not feel you will feel that nothing
Avoid arguments and discussions. Concentrate your thoughts on lofty aims
and ideals and higher pursuits. Be by yourself everyday for some time. Be
interested in people and in the environment in which you live and work.
Let thoughts of happiness, prosperity and progress, Divine Grace,
thankfulness and gratitude, be your constant companions.
Do not concentrate on an undesirable thought too long, and the thought
will die out of itself. Do not allow wandering thoughts to enter your mind,
and if they have entered, do not allow them to stay in your mind. For this it
is necessary that you should practice concentration. You may also have
recourse to meditation.
Latent power lies hidden within us. Let us find it and seize it. We are
capable of making our life interesting, successful, happy and useful. The
saints and the mystics, by their precept and practice, have shown that lofty,
noble, illuminating and inspiring thoughts can give peace of mind - so very
necessary for a good life.
There flowed powerful waves of positive thoughts from the convent,
monastery, and retreat of the saints and the mystics, giving to, and
conferring on, the people a positive approach to life, and inner peace. Let
the same flow from you, from your bedchamber, ante-chamber, and from
your drawing room and dining room - rendering people better and richer,
and making the world a happy haven of repose.
Do not carry a heavy burden upon your shoulders. It will do you no good.
Forget the burden of the worries of Yesterday. Ignore the cares of
Tomorrow. Just learn to live in the Present.
In the interest of better living, in the interest of world peace, in the interest
of social harmony, in the interest of universal brotherhood and fellow
feeling, in the interest of world solidarity, and in the interest of national
integration and friendly international relations, we should try to mould and
shape our life in accordance with the pattern of life and thought of the
saints and mystics.
Of course we can. And we must.
Zahurul Hassan Sharib
first published on the world wide web 31.7.00
|The Thought Patterns
of The Mystics
(First published in August 1981)