NEW! Manly Hall: How Dynamic Conviction Changes Life and Living

NEW! Manly Hall: How Dynamic Conviction Changes Life and Living

MPH 580112
How Dynamic Conviction Changes Life and Living As we watch people down through the years,
it is astonishing how much energy the average person wastes in defending his own negative
attitudes. We are so willing and ready to protect our right to be wrong, and at the
same time, so slow to advance the cause of our right to be right. Nearly always, life
begins and unfolds through a series of negative reactions to circumstances. There’s an old
saying that we all know is true, that bad news travels more rapidly than good news. We are more responsive to our instinct to
criticize than to commend; we are quicker to condemn than we are to praise; and we are
more likely to observe the faults in others than to seek out their good points. All these
tendencies seem to rise in deep sources within our own natures. We are not even aware of
our own critical tendencies in many instances, and when we are reminded of them, we take
it for granted that we have a right to them, that we must have the privilege of objection,
that we must claim our birthright of individual thinking because of a tendency to analysis
which means simply to take things apart. And by the time we get through taking our friends
neighbors relatives and world apart, the collective result results in this kind of a disjointed
situation in which we now find ourselves. So many people have taken the world apart,
and so few have attempted to put it together, but we cannot be surprised if it is not the
kind of a world we wish it was. If then, this tendency to negative attitude lies at the
root of our trouble, is there no way in which we can remedy it? One of the things that perhaps
points this up more than anything else, is our personal reaction to situations beyond
our personal control. There is hardly anyone who does not become indignant, dismayed, astonished,
offended when he picks up his daily newspaper. Yet it would be difficult to prove that any
of these emotions contribute to the solution of the problems which the paper unfolds. There
is no actual indication that indignation is solutional. Now some can say that it can be solutional
to this degree: that it can cause persons to unite, to rise above personal opinions
and attitudes, and can create a kind of aggressive action in some direction or other; that it
forms a valuable criticism by which things can be changed, for most leadership is sensitive
to the indignation of its following. Actually however, it is not the indignation
that causes this reaction which we hope to achieve, because the problem finally settles
down to a simple issue: what is right and what is wrong? And the individual attempting
to solve this coming to valid conclusion, and clinging to that which is right, develops
a strong natural defensive and offensive organism. He will support the things he believes, he
will attempt to correct the faults that are around him, he will unite his resources with
groups or movements which are accomplishing ends which he regards as right. But none of these things are accomplished,
actually, by fretting, by fussing, by becoming angry or disturbed. The disturbance is merely
a loss of energy. The solution is achieved by the individual’s clearly defining what
is necessary and doing it. Now one of the reasons I think why we have a tendency to
dissolve in conflicts within ourselves and with others, is because conflict is our only
outlet. We do not have any clear concept of solution. The individual confronted with a
problem does not see how he can solve it. He does not see any pattern through the application
of which the problem can be corrected. Therefore, he can only stew, he can fuss,
he can fume, he can become disturbed, in this way letting off steam, but this is only a
manifestation of frustration. It does not lead to the answer. The reason why we do not
have more answers is because we do let off too much steam without purposeful meaning
or viewpoint. And also, because in most instances, we are untrained to find the answer. There is an answer to every problem. This
answer does not lie in excitement, it does not rest in righteous or unrighteous indignation.
It lies in skill, it lies in a disciplined method by which certain ills can be corrected.
The application of the proper methodology to a problem must ultimately be solutional. When we look around us we see the problem
and we recognize that we are unfitted to cope with it. Why are we unfitted? Because the
sources of our instruction have generally ignored the need for the correction of existing
problem. This does not mean that these sources are entirely sterile of constructive ideality,
they are not, but like most of our thinking, our educational and cultural perspective jumps
over the immediate, passes or bypasses the simple thing that is needed now, and escapes
into generalities dealing with large issues but failing to meet the challenge of an immediate
problem. Thus, we may have a strong training on what
would be the theoretical course of our political, cultural or economic life, but we are not
trained to meet the daily emergencies of our own existence. We are not equipped to do so.
We are not given the resources necessary to solve our problem. Nearly everyone who is
out trying to solve other people’s problems has problems of his own, which require immediate
attention, but he is not able to cope with them, he is not able to meet them with necessary
resource ability. If then, being frustrated, he sees no other
clear course of procedure, we find him settle down into the cultivation of negative, fatalistic,
and essentially detrimental personal attitudes. He becomes a fusser, he becomes a conscientious
objector to everything, he becomes disillusioned cynical, skeptical, and particularly among
the intellectual group, he loses faith in the possibility of solution. We see this around
us every day where the individual is no longer attempting to plan in terms of solution, but
is simply allowing himself to live from day to day in a world that is entirely unsatisfactory
to him. This also of course, brings us to one of the
most important considerations that we have, namely, the relative inability of any individual
to change the collective pattern of society around him. A few powerful individuals may
have considerable spheres of social influence, but even these spheres are strangely circumscribed.
The moment an individual in high position attempts an action contrary to the general
opinion of his time, he finds himself almost as limited as the private citizen. What is
not supported by the average person cannot be attained by his leaders, and the average
person today is not supporting. He is so much more against what he does not like than he
is for what he does like, that practically every progressive effort of society runs into
argument, discord, and confusion. The individual then, being forced to live
any world essentially unsatisfactory to him, but a world which he has not the dynamic to
change, a world in which perhaps his own attitudes are minority attitudes, and there is not sufficient
support from others to make his projects possible. This individual falls back into hopelessness.
He falls back into frustration, he gives up and takes various escape mechanisms as the
only possible way to adjust to the pressures of living. These defeat-isms are evident everywhere today,
and we find an increasing tendency to ignore problems, or to regard them as hopeless, or
to attempt to adjust to some compromise solution. We have often pointed out that if it is true,
that the individual must be the victim of collective pressures, then there cannot be
any basic integrity in the universe. We are also reminded constantly of an increasing
number of persons who do not believe that there is any essential integrity in the universe.
They do not believe this because they cannot demonstrate it from their own experience.
The philosophy by which we live is derived from our own observation and participation
in living problems. If therefore, we are unable to perceive law and order in the patterns
which particularly affect us, we are not likely to acknowledge law and order in larger patterns
more remote. So today, there is an increasing, constantly
increasing intensity of negation. The individual doubts, he no longer holds it to be essentially
true that there is a patterned purpose behind life. If this negation continues to develop
we are bound to drift into an almost hopeless skepticism. But man himself finds his own
drifting increasingly uncomfortable. He discovers that actually, the kind of a universe he lives
in is not nearly as important to him as what he thinks about the kind of universe he lives
in. It is his own adjustment that must to a large measure determine his relationships
with life. He learns also, of course, that there is only
one essential contribution that he can make as a private citizen. And that is, the contribution
of a well-ordered conduct of his own. He cannot give to others what he does not have. He cannot
demand anything from others with an assurance that he will receive it, but he can bestow
of what he is, or of what he has, according to his own insight and understanding. It therefore, becomes important to the average
person to enrich his own potential of interpretation and understanding. Unless he can do this,
he cannot hope to maintain a creditable place in the life pattern of which he is a part.
We must admit, and we know it is true from continually increasing evidence, that all
negative attitudes are essentially destructive to the person who holds them and to those
around that person. Negative attitudes must be compensated for in terms of unhappiness,
sickness. and premature death. There can be no possible way in which a negative attitude,
or a destructive attitude, can essentially and directly contribute to our security. The
only way that it can contribute is because we ultimately discover the wrongness of it,
and are thereby perhaps impelled to search a better attitude. Actually, anything that is wrong in our own
emotional and mental life will be interpreted ultimately in terms of misery and sickness.
We cannot win with negation. We cannot criticize ourselves into health, but we can criticize
ourselves into sickness. We cannot hate ourselves into peace of mind, but we can destroy mind
and its peace with hate. Every negative attitude, no matter how much we defend our right to
it, or how justified it seems to be, must end in a negation in our own natures. Thus, the person who is a critic gradually
destroys his social bridges. He becomes an outcast, and in loneliness and sorrow, watches
his life disintegrate. He will insist that his criticisms are valid, that what he says
is true, but if it is negative, it does not help. And the individual whose discrimination,
whose thoughtfulness, continually lead him into negative discovery, or to the discovery
of error, this individual ultimately becomes habit ridden with negation, and loses their
power and the incentives to constructive thought. Nearly all of our psychological trouble today
rests with unadjusted persons who have permitted themselves to develop negative mental and
emotional habits. And as it is estimated now that within the next generation, at least
1 out of every 5 persons born in the United States will at some time be an occupant of
a mental hospital. It begins to be a rather serious situation. And most of these persons
– and I have worked with hundreds and thousands of them – who are in these hospitals are persons
who have permitted bad habits of mind and emotion to come in and control their lives. Many of these persons have excellent explanations
for why they are as they are. But such explanation do not help. The only explanation that is
of any value to us is the explanation of how we stayed sane. The rest of it is not profitable.
These individuals who are mentally and emotionally sick can prove to our satisfaction, perhaps,
to their own satisfaction, certainly, that they are misunderstood, neglected, afflicted
human beings born in calamity and misery, and therefore, fully entitled to fall to pieces.
All this however, does not solve anything. And the perpetuation of a philosophy of this
kind cannot possibly bring any satisfaction, security, or health to anyone. The answer
lies in a positive relationship with life. Now, in going back over a good many of these
horrible characteristic problems, we find that the individual, who has come to these
melancholy and morbid conclusions, actually did not have a particularly difficult life.
The individual who breaks under pressure is one of a community of persons, most of whom
have had equal pressures with himself. It is not the individual who has gone through
the most that falls to pieces, it is the individual with the least resource in himself. It is
not the person who has gone through the greatest tragedy who is tragedy ridden, it is the individual,
perhaps, whose only tragedy has been his own selfishness. But the person who has the wrong basic perspective
gradually cultivates a philosophy of negation. He rationalizes, develops logical and reasonable
sequences, to prove to himself that he is a suffering soul. And when his proof is conclusive,
he is completely miserable. And this complete misery has about it a nostalgic kind of uniqueness,
and we have a competitive attitude in which human beings actually vie with each other
as to which one can be the most miserable, gaining a certain distinction from having
suffered tremendously. Years ago, we had a group form, in fact it
was created quite a time ago but became prominent about 20-25 years ago, a group dedicated to
public confession. These members would rise up in the meeting and tell all their sins.
It was a little confusing, and a bit embarrassing, and did lead to a few lawsuits for slander
and defamation of character. But the real cause of consternation, was, you would think
persons would be reticent to get up and admit the most intimate delinquencies. Instead of
this, we found that many of these persons got up and proudly confessed delinquencies
which they never had. The only problem came from the competitive instinct to be more delinquent
than the previous testifier. Each person who got up had to top all who had gone before
him, and took a strange morbid pride in confessing faults that he did not possess. This tendency is part of the same pattern
that we mentioned before: the idea that we cultivate negation far more enthusiastically
than we do virtues. But this problem of competitive testimony of misery makes a certain importance
in life. It causes the individual to feel a kind of significance, and it nearly always
arises in a life not adequately occupied with other and more constructive activities. The
complainer is nearly always a person whose life is not actively dedicated to some practical
purpose. This endless complaining, this constant emphasis
upon the evils of things, can be defended – lots of persons have tried to defend it,
making quite an exhibition – but all of these individuals, defending or not defending, but
clinging to this attitude, are less effective as persons than those with other attitudes.
And we must assume in nature, that there is a pattern of rewards and punishments which
lie within the psychological and biological structure of man. Instead of assuming that he is punished by
some arbitrary penalty in the universe by some god of compensations, we observe that
man is constantly rewarded and punished by the chemical consequences of his own conduct.
It therefore has to follow, that where nature punishes the individual for an attitude – and
it would seem to me that loneliness, sickness, despair, sorrow, and frustration must be regarded
as some kinds of punishments – that they are the consequences of actions which nature does
not wish to see perpetuated. We have to assume that nature rewards obedience
with security, that is a maximum security under existing conditions, and punishes disobedience
with insecurity. As our entire generation is lacking in security, as the average individual
is insecure, we must assume that what he is doing, how he is thinking, what he is feeling,
these things must be wrong or they could not be punished by a just, natural pattern. And each person must ultimately make an accounting
to his own biology. He must face the result of his thinking and his feelings upon the
cell structure of his own body, upon the circulation of the blood, upon the vital organs of his
body, and upon his nervous system. If these are whipped by his actions and attitudes,
then these actions and attitudes cannot be correct. Now, underneath all of this, perhaps, lies
a deeper problem: namely, that biology and physiology may not have been originally conceived
or devised for the purposes to which man has dedicated his life. The individual has gradually
become a highly complicated mental, emotional creature. And nature, apparently, regards
complication as a fault. Nature does not reward any form of complication. The natural processes
are direct and simple, and while we may not understand them all, when we discover a new
phase, we are always amazed at its simplicity. Truth is usually overlooked because of its
simplicity. So man was created apparently for a rather
simple kind of life. Now this does not mean that it was intended that he should be an
agrarian to the end of his days, or that his entire psychology was built for the time when
he lived in a hut the forest. This is not true, but it is essentially true that man
was not created to sustain the degree of wear and tear which he imposes upon himself. Man
was not created with an equipment to maintain him against World Wars, atomic bombs, crime
waves, and the ambitions of leaders, and the tribulations and antagonisms of nations and
states. He was not created for such an intensive, negative way of life. Thus his very so-called advancement, with
its continuous emphasis upon tension, pressure and stress, this so-called advancement is
resulting in a serious biological complaint which arises out of the bodies of those persons
who have exceeded their own resources and their efforts to live. Thus, the answer must
lie in simplification, and the conservation of resources, the integration of life upon
patterns less intensive, less destructive, than those with which we are daily confronted
now, Nature is again telling us that our ways of
life are subject to penalty because they are wrong. Now a great group of persons arises
in a culture such as ours, proudly proclaiming the things we do, telling us that these various
activities, useful or useless, are indications of progress. That if it was not for this dynamic
with which we are constantly rattling ourselves to pieces, we would not be the prominent progressive
up-and-coming people that we are. But are we prominent, progressive, and up-and-coming?
As we look around us, it looks more as though we were down and departing in many things.
It looks as though we are constantly more concerned as to whether or not our progress
can survive, and we wake up with consternation to discover that somebody else discovered
the Sputnik! A very grave shock to our egos. And we begin to question whether our present
way of life is protecting and preserving the leadership we thought we had. Because in the
long run, a world, or a generation, or a nation, or a race of sick people cannot preserve leadership.
We cannot rule the world if our own psychic natures are in a state of constant uproar
and disintegration. In our own daily and immediate problems, these
same rules hold true. We live in a constant tension. We live in an intensity almost beyond
our conception. We think we’re getting used to it. We are firmly convinced that man can
adjust to anything. To a degree, man can adjust to anything that is real. Man can adapt himself
to all inevitables, because inevitables arise in nature. But man cannot always adjust himself
to his own stupidity. This has no valid source in nature and is merely an expression of his
own ignorance. An individual who adjusts himself to ignorance will remain ignorant. To adjust
ourselves to wrong, leaves us where we were, producing no result that is of any tangible
value to anyone. In then thinking about these problems, we
turn and seek resources with which to meet them, to try to understand what constitutes
a constructive, active, positive, idealistic pattern for life. How are we going to maintain
it against so many difficulties? One of the things we have to begin to estimate
is the nature of difficulty. Most of the difficulties that we are in are directly due to the person
we are. Man makes his own difficulties. He doesn’t realize this, and to a degree, he
appears to be able to escape the implication. He can sit down and prove, almost to the satisfaction
of anyone’s logic, that he is not the cause of his troubles, that his neighbors are the
cause, that his world is the cause, that high taxes are the cause. But actually, the individual is responsible
for his own total degree of integration. Actually, taxes are not the cause of his worries or
his fears. World conditions are not the causes. The real cause is in the bridge of his own
mind. The cause of his trouble is his own attitude toward these problems. If he hates
them, he is in trouble. Now, he may say that the thing he hates deserves hate. It may,
theoretically, but he cannot afford to hate. It is too dangerous, and nearly always, hatred
rises from shallow, inadequate estimation of facts. It is very difficult to understand things
and hate them. We may understand them and regret them. We may understand them and hope
that we can change them. We may understand them and realize that they arise from a condition
of human collective consciousness which is not adequate. We may observe that too much
of our living is from the level of childishness, rather than from the level of maturity. These
things may become obvious to us, and we may find certain individuals to be particularly
and devastatingly ignorant. We may also observe that the untutored and untrained person lacks
the capacity for judgment and kindness and thoughtfulness. But out of the entire thoughtfulness which
we have used, it comes no longer an attitude of hate, but almost a sense of compassion,
a great sympathy, a constructive sorrow, for the misfortune of another person whose limitations
make it impossible for him to see more correctly than he does. We gain from this a desire to
help rather than a desire to condemn, and the moment the instinct to criticize is transmuted
into the instinct to help, we are beginning to move on to a positive foundation. Anything
that deserves criticism needs help. As long as we approach it on the level of criticism,
we will not help. Some people, of course, insist that criticism is a help. But unless
it is an essentially constructive approach, unless this criticism is backed by a tremendous
depth of understanding and a practical solution to the problem, it merely compounds the dilemma.
And to criticize things for which we have no solution cannot be regarded as a good vocational
activity. Thus in the understanding which we develop,
our tremendous hatreds, our intensities, gradually disappear. And in their places, we have a
thoughtful, perhaps sadness, but most of all, a deep realization that behind and through
things that appear to be wrong, our motions which are essentially right, and which will
come to their own in due time. In any way that we can help these motions to come true,
we are available. But mostly, these constructive motions require a very great degree of personal
composure. And when this is lost, the constructive motions are also lost. To then approach this problem, we have to
build a philosophy of living, a concept of life, that relieves us from the need to condemn.
We must find a way of internal adjustment that permits us to recognize error and regret
it, but not to be confused by it. Also, we must reach a degree in which every misfortune
that approaches us becomes a challenge to greater adequacy on our own part. So-called
reverse is not dilemma, it is challenge. It is an opportunity to be bigger than we are
in order to meet a problem greater than we have previously known. Every problem is an opportunity for the individual
to release solutional power from within himself. Locked within each of us is a potential we
know very little about. With every faculty that we now know alert, we are using only
a small fraction of our potential life availability. We have at hand countless resources which
we do not even know exist, because we have never directly required them to exhibit themselves,
we’ve never called upon them. If then, instead of blocking the mind with
negations, we permit a challenge to release its own solution from ourselves, we shall
observe that we have much greater solutional power than we have ever known. Once, however,
we have admitted a kind of defeatism, the moment we have set ourselves in a crystallized
pattern of negation, we lock our lives from the solutional energies within ourselves.
Once we have closed our minds to good, or to optimism, or to adjustments, once we have
admitted defeat, once we have become cynical and critical, we are no longer concerned with
doing anything well. The only thing we are concerned with is how
badly someone else is doing it. We have no sense of being able to step into the situation
and solve it. We have, perhaps, no incentive to. If we happen to dislike the individual
in trouble, we hope his trouble gets worse, and when everyone’s troubles get worse, the
whole world becomes more confused, and our probabilities of happiness are further diminished. If then, we are confronted, as each of us
is today, with a problem almost involving our own sanity, it is very important that
we recognize the possibility of further solutional resources within ourselves. We have to realize
that man is equipped to meet any natural emergency. He is able to solve the problem of his own
survival if he will cooperate with the patterns of energy and consciousness which exist in
his own life. It is only when he refuses to cooperate, or fails to do so, that the problems
continue to grow and the solutions to become less and less obvious. When we speak, then, of an of a positive or
active attitude toward life, we do not mean the Pollyanna concept of looking at something
that is no good and proclaiming it as beautiful. Such is not the attitude at all. The attitude
is one of accepting growth as natural, reasonable, and proper, and also recognizing that the
principal instrument of growth is challenge. The individual can never become better unless
he needs to become better. And whenever a problem is bigger than we are, it reveals
the need within ourselves to increase or enlarge our own resources. A problem then is not a
dilemma, or a disaster, until we fail to meet it. And our own poor adjustment to it, then,
sets in motion consequences which we term: afflictions. A problem is not an affliction until we have
misunderstood it, resented it, rejected it, denied it, or perverted the energies involved
in it. Now, we can say that this is hard to accept, because everything in life is constantly
presenting us with loss, with disturbance, with perhaps irritation, crisis, responsibilities,
worry, all of these things are true. We do have these problems, continuously pounding
in upon us, but these are not the problems. The problems are our own acceptances, our
own rejections, and our own available resources. If we are overly selfish, we create a whole
circle of problems. If we are vain, we create a circle of problems; if we are egotistic,
another circle of problems; if we are jealous, we get into further trouble. It is our own attitude, primarily, which results
in a challenge becoming a tragedy. It is only a tragedy when we have misunderstood or confused
it or rejected the lesson which it contains for ourselves. To say this means nothing,
except perhaps to stimulate a little thinking along these lines. Behind the saying of it,
there has to be a total philosophy to sustain it. And that is why philosophy is important.
It is a way in which we convince ourselves of our own needs. It is a way in which we
rationally sell the truth to ourselves. It is not a substitute for conduct, but it can
be a tremendous incentive to conduct. And it also can give us the courage to make decisions
that are more wise, more practical, more useful, to all concerned. Under those conditions, philosophy begins
to unfold to us the idea of a universe, in which, what we call good and bad actually
have no existence, except in man himself. A universe that is ruled by facts, by truths,
by realities, everything is as it is. And if man will accept everything as it is, and
understand it as it is, he will find that in this, he has a clue to the directing of
his own conduct. Now we can take the negative attitude, by
simply falling into words, that such acceptance would interfere with progress. Man is not
supposed to accept, he’s supposed to roll up his sleeves go out and make a considerable
amount of excitement, whether it means anything or not. Actually, however, by acceptance we
do not mean to sit back and do nothing. What we really mean, is, that by acceptance,
we acknowledge facts and work from those, rather than from prejudices. We have to have
some kind of a basic acceptance of value. We have to say to ourselves, either this world
in which we live is meaningful, or it is not. Either the universe is honest, or it is not.
Either there is a basic integrity at the root of life, or there is not. We cannot carry
water on both shoulders in these matters. We cannot affirm one thing one day and deny
it the next. We must either believe that this universe
is a planned thing, and that behind it is a creating intelligence and consciousness,
able to administer, and administering this vast unfoldment according to lawful means,
or, there is not any of these factors. A man is simply a creature of accident, circumstance,
and incident. If we take the second position, then we must live by that. Which means, that
we must live with total purposelessness, because then nothing is important, and nothing is
less important in a meaningless universe than our own rebellion. So that there is no reason
why even the purposeless viewpoint should result in pressure. If nothing means anything,
anyway, why should we spend all of our time being angry about something, pleased about
something else, and miserable in anticipation of a third thing? If nothing is important,
then life becomes something so completely ludicrous, ridiculous, that there is no sense
in any sense, whatever. If, on the other hand, there is a purposed
existence, then we must begin to accept certain moral values. We must affirm or assume that
this world is an unfolding sphere, and that within this unfolding sphere, man is precariously
suspended. Largely problemed and burdened by his own inability to understand the greater
values of the world, his inability to grasp the total picture of his own existence, and
thereby unable to know with certainty the courses of action which he should pursue.
He is therefore under the pressure of a continuous doubt, a lack of available certainty. Lacking available certainty, he turns to the
inner part of his own life, supporting it, sustaining it, and enriching it to the greatest
degree possible, by recourse to and reference to, the great achievements of other times
and other ages. He uses the great philosophies and religions of life as guides and aids to
understanding. He seeks to know better and to live according to the teachings of Buddha,
Jesus, or Confucius, or Lao-Tze, because he believes these persons have lived well. He
tries to draw upon the spiritual experience of his race for courage, conviction, for understanding,
for sustaining faith. And gradually, out of his conviction, he integrates a constructive
attitude which he must then put to work, proving or disproving it. It’s interesting, perhaps, to realize that
there is a reason why certain great systems of thinking have lived. They have not lived
because the Creator was proud of them, that is the human creator. These systems have not
survived because of the mere pressure of personality. They have survived only for one reason: that
in common experience, they have proven true. That individuals have found in these teachings,
religious, philosophical principles, which when applied, are ever true. Which when lived,
produce results which are commendable, constructive, and secure. That these teachings are better
than the absence of them. That they have given us a stronger personal way of life, a way
of life more likely to produce happiness than a way without these teachings and this level
of understanding. Thus, humanity has created its own Saints
by recognizing and rewarding those whose ideas have become an imperishable part of human
good. And in this way, we begin to sense that man is forever experimenting with value. All
of these great teachers have united in certain positive concepts. They have pointed out the
importance of a dynamic failure. They have recognized the tremendous importance of a
non-aggressive attitude toward life, a completely different perspective from ours. We live in an economic and political world,
continuously aggressive. And yet, we live with religions, churches, on every street
corner, practically. Two-thirds of our population is nominally religious. We live in a tremendous
religious atmosphere of renunciation, of unselfishness, of impersonality, of the acceptance of evil
but not the doing of it, and of the tremendous importance of returning good for evil. These
things we affirm, we believe, but we cannot operate them in our daily life because they
run headlong into the small, personal prejudices which are more important to us than principles. Yet therapy lies directly in this level. No
one wants to be sick. Very few people can afford to be safe under the existing conditions.
And socialized medicine is no solution, in the sense that it will not give back to the
individual his proper energies, even if it helps him to pay the bill for his mistakes.
In the sense of paying the bill, it does help but it does not solve the problem. The problems
lies not in getting well, but in staying well in the first place. And these great philosophies
that we have known as Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Muslimism, Taoism, Confucianism,
Hinduism, these great philosophies have been in common agreement. And millions of human
beings, hundreds of millions, living under them for the last twenty five hundred years,
have discovered as factual experience within themselves, when they have been able to be
big enough and strong enough to live these principles, that in the recognition of a non-combative,
non-competitive code lies the health and security of the people. That we are not ever going to attain peace,
happiness, serenity, or security by a constant psychic pressure, by constant irritation and
agitation. We are going to find the solution to our problems in the integration of our
own resources. Assuming for a moment that we will acknowledge with Western man, even
though where Eastern man is not entirely of the same opinion, that there are many problems
that can be solved with good thinking. That real thoughtfulness and real regard, friendship,
thoughtfulness, and affection – simple, direct, sincere – these will solve many problems. But how are we going to have any of these
qualities, simple and sincere, while we remain totally complicated? The victims of pressures
from within our own psychic natures, eternally destructive of simplicity, and sincerity,
and affection, and regard. How are we going to dislike people often enough and long enough
to attain this serenity we talk about? How are we going to complain our way into peace
of mind? Or how are we going to scandalize our way into security? We cannot. And to achieve our ends, we have to begin
to reintegrate our own basic standard of values. Before we can permit any positive value to
grow, we must, to a measure at least, escape from the pressure of negative value. If we
are going to have a beautiful garden, we must first clear the land, for if we leave all
the weeds on the stumps there our flowers will not grow well. And after we have planted
the garden, if we wish it to become a beautiful garden, we must take care of it. We must see
that the plants receive nourishment, and water, and that they are planted according to their
own nature, some in the Sun and some in the shade, so that each is given the opportunity
to be itself. If we do not use this care and this thoughtfulness, we have no right to resent
the universe if our garden does not grow well. And in our own thinking, in our own living,
before we can create a constructive philosophy of life, we’ve got to get the weeds out of
our own consciousness. And these weeds are hate, and fear, and doubt, and jealousy, suspicion,
egotism, over-possessiveness, over-ambition, envy, and such attitudes as must always reap
a whirlwind. All of these actions and attitudes must end in trouble. If we want to be out
of trouble, therefore, we must prevent the continuance of these attitudes. Now, we can’t just simply say to ourselves,
let’s stop being jealous. Unfortunately, we have nursed these negatives so long that we
can no longer control them. They control us. We are the victim of habits and these habits
are those of negation. The only way we can escape from these habits is to understand
through them, by giving ourselves a point of view or a perspective acceptable to ourselves.
We must sell ourselves something better in order to un-sell ourselves about something
worse. Our new attitude must arise because we have
a new and better conviction about value. The moment the conviction is established, that
which is inconsistent with it falls away. The only reason we’re in trouble is because
our conviction is on a level which causes trouble. When this center of conviction changes
to another and better level, the trouble falls away. We cannot escape jealousy and fear and
all these pressures simply by denying them, or by attempting to frustrate them violently
in our own natures. But we can gradually become educated, we can gradually find out what true
learning means. And that learning is really helping to build higher levels of conviction,
giving us better instruments with which to estimate values, giving us stronger inducements
to see and think straight, and through the straightening out of our own crooked thoughts,
relieving ourselves of the pressure of convictions that are essentially wrong. Thus by degrees, we can create a new level
of action, and this new level of action must precede any change in our living. As long
as we remain the same, our condition will remain the same. No individual, simply by
wishing without doing, will change the pattern of his life. If, then, we wish to get a truly
secure position, we have several possibilities. We all know, for example, the peculiar effect
of intelligence upon audacity. It has been observed and noted for a long time that, to
get a person who is really a man of action, you’ve got to get a stupid one. When you want
to get a real world conqueror like Adolph Hitler, you must get a little man who has
never left home. You must get an individual with a closed mind and a comparative lack
of capacity to think. The moment the individual begins to think
seriously, he is less sure of himself. Thinking, in other words, does not create egotism, primarily.
It has a tendency to create fear. The reason being, that the more we think, the bigger
the world looks and the smaller we look. The individual who hasn’t thought at all has a
solution for everything and will never know whether it will work or not because he has
no way of applying it and no instrument suitable to experiment with his own ideas. But the
moment we study humanity, we suddenly realized that the universal panacea is extremely difficult.
The more we know about people, the less certain we are what will help them. Thus we pass intellectually into a kind of
uncertainty, an uncertainty which causes the contemplative person to be accused of being
non-active. Actually, he may become so, but not necessarily as the result of contemplation
because contemplation has, as its real end, the conservation of energy. Its purpose is
to recognize that you cannot attack ten thousand problems like Don Quixote de la Mancha lancing
windmills, that you cannot go out on a knight-errantry of reforms, simply attacking this evil and
that evil and finding that, for every head of evil you cut off, seven more grow as in
the Greek myth. The contemplative person is looking to find
the root. He realizes that if he can discover the basic common denominator of trouble, and
can attack that, that with one clear decision, one clear discovery, he can uproot 10,000
evils. That behind all of the mistakes we make, there is one basic tendency to make
mistakes, that behind all of the wrong thoughts, wrong emotions, and wrong actions that exist
in the world, there is a fallacy. And that this one fallacy must be attacked in some
way. That the only answer lies not in tearing the leaves off of the tree, one by one, for
they will grow again next year. If the tree is a poisonous or injurious, the only way
to get at it is to chop it down at the root. Otherwise, you cannot remove it, you cannot
end it. So the contemplative life turns away from a non-valid action that we are all guilty
of, this action of trying desperately to fight particulars, and causes us to turn to the
contemplation of those great general principles which are responsible for all the particulars
we do not like. And as we go further and further into these
problems, we realize that error, as we know it, stems from a wrong concept, a wrong premise,
a wrong attitude basically toward life. And this wrong attitude, whether we want to admit
it or not, is an attitude of aggressiveness, based upon ego, by means of which, man is
attempting to dominate something that he should obey. He is trying to be free from law when
his only hope is to be free under law. He is attempting to impose himself upon the world,
refusing to recognize the fact that he’s totally incapable of wisely administering this world
he is attempting to conquer. He is trying desperately to cause the universe to be under
the guidance of his mentation, when up to the present time he has been unable to demonstrate
that with his own mind he can govern even himself. So there are basic errors and most of these
basic errors root in aggressive egoism, root in this concept that we are right and that
we are born to command, when we are probably actually wrong and are born to command only
our own resources, which to us is not a glamorous perspective. Out of this, then, man has to
reintegrate his way of life. What he is doing is destroying him and he knows it. Therefore,
he cannot sustain it and he cannot defend it. He can only tolerate it, and as it becomes
more intolerable, he will have more difficulty tolerating it. What he must have is a way of life, rooted
in nature’s purpose in the universal dynamic itself, not in his concept of things. But
he says, I can’t do this because I don’t know what it is. The reason he doesn’t know what
it is, is, because he has done so much agitating of himself that he has never been receptive
to value. Man possesses, of all creatures, the only group of truly reflective powers
that we know. Man alone is a contemplative animal. And because he is a contemplative
creature, he has a power greater than any other animal that we know. But he doesn’t
contemplate. And because in the production of his contemplative
nature, certain other faculties, and certain other propensities were limited. Man finds
that he is weaker than the animal in many ways, less intuitive than the animal, less
able to depend upon integrity of instinct than the animal, and at the same time, not
using the contemplative faculties by means of which his own peculiar existence can be
preserved. To meet this emergency, the individual must
reverse certain procedures. One of the things he’s got to do, somewhere along the line,
is to break down this aggressive negation, with which he occupies himself morning noon
and night. This endless fault-finding, this endless cycle of trying to impose his own
ways upon others, and also this tremendous effort to keep up with the silly momentums
of his time. If he doesn’t do these things, if he doesn’t make these changes, he will
simply go into oblivion with the rest of a foolish generation. He will not win, he cannot,
because the final criterion is in his own body, in his own emotional construction which
is falling to pieces because of abuse. And this abuse will never be acceptable and will
never be the basis of health. And, as man tries desperately to adjust to one group of
errors, he develops another, keeping his entire structure in an endless state of tension. So, an open, constructive or positive attitude
in this situation consists in the individual attaining a detachment from negation first,
a relaxation, away from criticism away from suspicion and doubt. Not the acceptance of
things that are wrong, but the recognition that his power to solve what is wrong lies
in the active use of his contemplative faculties. Man’s solutions to his problems must be on
the level of man, not on the level of beasts. War is an effort to solve human problems on
the level of beasts and it cannot succeed. Each human being has within himself a contemplative
power where he must solve his problems by arbitration, rather than by violence. When
he neglects the power to arbitrate, when he neglects the contemplation of solution, he
destroys his humanity, destroys the uniqueness by means of which he has a reason and justification
for survival. So we say that the person in these problems,
in his daily living, must begin to relax away as far as he possibly can from these intensities,
recognizing them not as virtues but as hidden vices. Perhaps we would have a tendency to
correct some of these difficulties if we recognize them as false, but we do not. We have grown
so accustomed custom to them we think of them as virtues, as indispensable parts of ourselves.
Our right to criticize is a sacred right, our right to condemn is something that we
will fight and die for, and yet neither of these, criticism nor condemnation, solve anything.
They merely magnify and complicate the problems of living. If we can ease down on this a little, and
give ourselves a chance to relax and allow the contemplative level to come through, we
will find that in a more impersonal attitude, less dominated by destructive intensity, we
are in a position to discover workable solution. Intensity destroys our power to solve, anger
destroys our power to think, hate destroys our power to love, fear destroys our power
of faith. All things needed to solution are destroyed by their opposites, and the individual
who has the negative qualities, cannot at the same time sustain the positive ones. He
must decide between them, and the amazing thing that he doesn’t realize and has never
been able to realize, is that love is a kindlier, happier thing than hate. We have never seemed to find as much satisfaction
in the development of our virtues as we have in catering to our vices. Yet actually, our
thoughtfulness, our kindliness, our friendliness, these are the sources of happiness. These
are the things which bring us contentment, these are the very conditions we dream about,
these are the things men go out in war and fight and die for. Yet in decision, we do
not choose to cultivate them. The moment some temptation to be unhappy comes along, we are
perfectly willing to sacrifice our birthright of happiness. Out of the recognition of this situation,
we do have the right, if we wish to apply it, of choosing positive and constructive
attitudes. We can choose not to gossip, we can choose not to criticize, and we can choose
to seek the good in things, realizing always that there is something of good. And furthermore,
that the acceptance of the fact of good is the greatest stimulation toward the growth
of good. Henry Ford proved, in his work with ex-convicts, that when you have a faith in
a man, you have a greater probability of that man maintaining his own self-respect than
when you suspect him. The moment you doubt him, you destroy his faith in himself. The
moment we suspect, we create suspicion. Whereas, if we have a strong and constructive attitude,
we have the greatest and most powerful defense against betrayal. But someone will say, “I did have that attitude
once, twice, three times and I was betrayed. Now I’m a hopeless skeptic. I have done things
for people, they’ve turned around and stabbed me in the back.” There are a large number
of cliches bearing on this point, but we don’t need to repeat them all. But the answer again
lies in man’s ability to detach himself from the things he does. Almost always, when we are so-called betrayed,
we are offended. First, because we feel that our own judgement has been wrong, and that’s
an intolerable situation in itself. We can never forgive the individual who has proved
that we are wrong, if it is only by failing us in some emergency. Furthermore, we become
attached to the things we are doing, we expect results, we demand results. But we live within
so small a reference frame, that the only results that we can see must be almost immediate
ones. It is difficult for us to imagine that something, the results of which we cannot
see, has results. And nor can we be satisfied with the belief that those results may only
reach their harvest long after we have gone. We must have the proof of it right now. All of this, again, being the imposing of
our own mind and our own attitudes upon things. We do not do things well, generously, lovingly,
and finely because we expect reward. We do these things because they are the law, and
we either keep the law, or die from breaking it. The other person’s reaction to what we
do is according to his own understanding. We are not responsible for his understanding,
but we are responsible totally for our own. And if 5,000 persons fail us every day of
our lives, that is no excuse for any human being to become cynical. Let’s face it. Because
we must live with ourselves, and if we do not believe in cynicism, then the failure
of other persons cannot make us do that which we know is not right. The moment we permit
ourselves to fall into this error, this error of being discouraged, it means that our faith
in value is not great enough. This evidence, by the way, is not so remarkable
as we might first assume. There are very few persons who have not been given indications
of gratitude. There are very few persons who have done great things over a continuous period
of time without recognition. There are very few persons whose kind deeds have always gone
awry. What we generally again do, is promptly forget the kindnesses that have been done
to us, the gentlenesses which have returned to us, and when 50 persons are grateful and
one is not, that one is the only one we remember. If we look back over our lives, we will realize
that we have not been the continuous victims of ingratitude. We have been the continuous
victims of our own attitude toward it. We have willingly and willfully rejected the
kindnesses, which we should have appreciated, in order to nurse the grudges we should have
forgotten. Thus regardless of how we approach it, as Henry Ford found out, again, with the
criminals or ex-criminals that he took on parole and employed and placed in positions
of responsibility. Every one of them did not live up to it, but the majority did. And it
would be quite possible to build a philosophy of life upon the one who didn’t, but that
philosophy of life would be wrong, because it would forget the dozens and hundreds who
proved themselves trustworthy in every way. The same way, if we are negative and recognize
and remember only negation, we can prove it but the proof is not valid, because it is
a proof based upon a minority incident. It is the magnification of a particular, whereas
the men who did respond and did come through represented a generality, a larger group.
And their testimony, 99 to one perhaps, is the more valid. And in life, the hundreds
of good things that have come to us are more valid than the few unpleasant remembrances
that we cannot get out of our systems. So, if we take our attitudes and examine life
fairly, we will discover grounds for optimism. We will find that this world is not nearly
as bad as we have forced it to be by our own thinking. And building a more generous, contemplative
relationship with life, we will begin to see that we have been wonderfully blessed and
protected through countless emergencies. And that also, if we could maintain and preserve
the gentleness of spirit which is our birthright as human beings, we could live victoriously
through this span of life, creating good for others and strengthening the integrities in
ourselves. So our positive attitudes must arise from
a total picture of our own living. When we shall discover that actually, we have enjoyed
much more than we have suffered. And if we have suffered, it has usually been because
we were not big enough and not deep enough to find the value, the basic beauty, the deep
meaning, the important instruction, in certain experiences. These we have resented. We’ve
resented them because we rejected them, and in so doing, have created negation. If we
understand these things, we can begin to build a more constructive attitude and a better
philosophy. And we will find that the proof of it will lie in its effect upon our total
economy as persons. When the facial expression begins to relax,
when the tightness leaves the corners of the mouth, when the nervous, angular motions of
the body begin to soften, when we can begin to enjoy the good that comes to others, when
we can actually feel a little better when we get up, a little better through the day,
as the result of trying, of striving, we will realize that a good attitude is our only protection
in life. That without it we cannot survive. Nature tells us this and if we are wise, we
will obey nature, and watching nature’s way, will probably discover that we can save ourselves
many sorrowful hours, many years of reverse, and many misunderstandings, which are due
only to our own lack of perspective. So beginning to take responsibility for our
own condition, and living according to it, we can slowly integrate a really purposeful
point of view, one that will help us and strengthen us and give us courage to face the future. Well, time is up. [Applause]

16 thoughts on “NEW! Manly Hall: How Dynamic Conviction Changes Life and Living”

  1. Until now, i have never heard anyone that has knowledge that's close to the magnitude of that of manly p. Hall.. He is truly a sage if i ever heard one..

  2. This world is a world of duality, it is both beatiful and ugly. There is good and evil. I find it best to be neutral.

  3. Every sentence was a gem, I’ll be replaying this back for the remainder of the week. Thanks for the vid guy

  4. Manly P. Hall
    Saving life's LIFE. Making it possible to see that it is TRULY WORTH LIVING!
    Imagine GOD smiling 🤔😃😊💖

  5. 36:32 The moment the instinct to criticize is transmuted into the instinct to help, we are beginning to move onto a positive foundation. Anything that deserves criticism needs help. As long as we approach it on the level of criticism we will not help. Some people of course insist that criticism is a help but unless it is a essentially constructive approach, unless this criticism is backed by a tremendous depth of understanding and a practical solution to the problem it merely compounds the dilemma and to criticize things for which we have no solution can not be regarded as a good vocational activity.

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