James Lane Allen had long been impressed by the ancient philosophy that a man becomes what he thinks, that a man’s character is the outward expression of his inner thought.
He has traced it back to the Upanishads, sacred literature of the Hindus: “Man becomes that of which he thinks.”
He had found it eloquently expressed in the writings of Buddha: “The mind is everything; what you think you become”… and in the Meditations of Marcus Auralius: “Your life is what your thoughts make it.”
He had found the same basic idea in the writings of Confucius, Mohammed, Aristotle, Socrates, scores of others.
And he knew it, of course, in its most familiar form – as millions did – from the Bible: “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs, 23.7).
All the great teachers of every age had declared this simple truth: that a man’s life and character are the result of his own foremost thoughts and ideals. It was a philosophy as old as civilization, but ever fresh and new.
Surely, he had proved the truth of it in his own life, James Allen reflected. He had been very poor in his youth, had known none of the advantages so many young men count essential. He had started out with nothing to build on except what was within himself. But he had known what he wanted to do and be; he had kept his dream, his ideal, everlastingly before him; he had tried to live the life he imagined – and in the end his dream became a reality.
As a man thinketh, so is he.
– Lillian Eichler Watson