The Theosophical Forum – August 1937


Up and Live!" says Dorothea Brande, urging men and women to wake up to the realization of their own possibilities. Few of us live our lives in the fullness of achievement or even glimpse the hidden potentialities latent within us. Our lives, instead of being a record of success and accomplishment, more often tell an all too obvious story of frustration and disappointment, if not actual failure. Dorothea Brande tells us in her book, Wake Up and Live, that too many of us are "Victims of the Will to Fail," that unless we see this in time and take action against it, we die without accomplishing our intentions. She points out that there is a way of frustrating that Will to Fail which gives magical results. We live, she says, so far below the possible level of our lives, that when we free ourselves from our limitations and realize the potential forces within us, we seem to be an entirely different being and become entirely transfigured.

There came a moment, when, in a flash, this enthusiastic author realized the infinite possibilities for success and happy accomplishment in human life to be attained by Discipline. Before that revelation came to her, she had consulted teachers, analysts, psychologists, and physicians; she had thought and worried, but she gained only a temporary stimulus. She would work for a time with feverish activity, but her enthusiasm soon flagged. Then the revelation came to her! A sentence in a book she was reading brought her illumination, and from that moment she acquired an altered attitude towards life in its varying aspects and relationships. The passing days brought her the realization that she had found "a talisman for counteracting failure, and inertia and discouragement, and that it worked." What was that talisman? She had within herself the power to counteract this Will to Fail. She had searched without, but with no permanent success; she looked within and the revelation was hers. In her very interesting and stimulating book, she gives us a formula for a fuller and more successful life.

With the time and energy we spend in making failure a certainty we might have certain success. Failure indicates that energy has been poured into the wrong channel. It takes energy to fail.

To counteract the Will to Fail, we must put into operation the Will to Succeed.

There is no need for anyone to remain a "Victim of the Will to Fail." We can at any time use the same energy expended so lavishly on failing, and turn it into channels of growth and achievement, which lead to final success. Think success, and all the successful thoughts you have ever had will be attracted to this first successful thought of yours. Like attracts like, is an old adage, and we find it works on all planes. Think one successful thought, and soon you will have an energy-center of successful thoughts waiting to aid you in your endeavor, whatever that may be. You have formed a laya center, as it were, through which can stream from higher spheres, from your own treasure-house of stored wisdom, all the successful thoughts, yes, and actual successful achievements of your own past lives.

Long ardently enough to achieve. Work for it. March with steadfast determination and undaunted courage to your chosen goal. The more unselfish the desire, the purer the motive for success, the nearer you will be to the spiritual planes and the more nearly will you come into touch with that part of yourself wherein is stored the vast wealth of knowledge and wisdom gained through lives of effort here on earth. We are all the inheritors of our own past achievements. The Voice of the Silence assures us of this in these words, "Tell him, O Aspirant, that true devotion may bring him back the knowledge, that knowledge which was his in former births."

The trouble is that we expend so much energy and waste so much time, in futile dreaming and revery, in success-frustrating objectives, in dreams that remain merely dreams, in ideals which we are going to put into practice soon, in hours of aimless chatter, upon nothing in particular. We live so often in the backwash of our own emotional storms and in the many, many trivialities that make such subtil inroads upon our time and energy, which might better be given to work along constructive lines. "Physical inaction is no true sign that life-force is not being burned away. So even the idler is using fuel while he dreams."

Our lives should be from birth to death a gradual increase of inner powers and faculties, of ever widening horizons of growth and development. Growing older we should grow closer to those spiritual realms which are the source of our noblest ideas and aspirations. Old age can then become a spiritual awakening in ever increasing vision and loveliness. Each man is a creative center in himself, with infinite capacities for creative development. If men did but know it, they could draw upon the stored wisdom and experience of eighteen million years. Why, in all the countless lives we have lived on earth we have perfected a finished technique upon almost any line of effort. Let us then choose our objective, desire it with strength and purpose, work towards its accomplishment, doing something every day towards the attainment of our chosen goal. All great ideas originate in the mind of some living being, but they become realities only if there is someone with a will so fixed on success that he will remain undaunted in the face of the most tremendous odds, refusing to allow any obstacle, however great, to hinder him in the accomplishment of his chosen objective.

To me the keynote of Dorothea Brande's book is her injunction "Act as if it were impossible to fail." A marvelous mantra upon which to fashion our lives! In other words, have faith in yourself, faith in your infinite capacity of achievement. To make this mantra a workable reality she gives us her twelve disciplines, which she says work magic. In her introduction to these twelve disciplines, she says:

Discipline is undergoing restraint in order to develop the qualities necessary for a full life. Mental discipline should connote the equivalent in the sphere of the mind, which the athlete undertakes for perfecting his body.

Reading these words, I was reminded of Katherine Tingley's masterly little epigram, "The secret of human life in its fulness is self-directed effort." It is self-directed effort along constructive lines that brings into exercise the Spiritual Will. All discipline has as its objective the freeing of ourselves from the bonds of our own making, the learning to use our will, and to concentrate our energies in the right direction in order to get the fullest success and achievement. It is a means of making the lower elements of our complex make-up better and more responsive servants to our Spiritual Will. It is the first step in an awakening which leads eventually to Self-Knowledge. Discipline precedes the Mysteries, we are told, and it also precedes all achievement. It is the sure foundation for happiness and success in whatever we undertake. The self-disciplined man is the happy and successful one. As Tennyson has so forcefully phrased it, "Self mastery, self knowledge, self control, these three alone lead man to sovereign power."

The question is then, are we content to remain "Victims of the Will to Fail," or, directing our energies into channels which will bring into action the Will to Succeed, shall we determine to work towards a richer and fuller life, not for ourselves alone, but that others may benefit by our efforts and successes? Theosophists perhaps more than any other people should call forth the Will to Succeed, for they are pledged to work for Humanity, and in so doing become co-workers with those Great Ones whose lives and achievements and successes have served as beacon-flames in the darkness throughout the slow progression of the ages; those who, in their compassion have laid their work in love and devotion upon the altar of service to Humanity.

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