Tuesday, March 27, 2012
The Power of Right Thinking
It's not about thinking on the right. Or on the left. Or hitting it dead center. It's about seeing clearly and thinking clearly, for it is as Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living."
In 1922 Dr. Frank Crane, a Presbyterian minister, wrote an essay entitled "The Power of Right Thinking." He followed it up with four other essays, each published separately, and each one dealing with another aspect of living.
With very little effort you can trace a timeline from Emerson (On Self-Reliance) to Crane, from Crane to Peale (The Power of Positive Thinking), and from Peale to Napoleon Hill (Think and Grow Rich). From Hill you can go to The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.
What do all of these thinkers and their books have in common?
Dr. Crane tells us. Get rid of the enemies to right thinking and you're in the clear. Here they are, we all know them, but in the course of a day, we can easily forget them. My favorite "enemies" are --
Of course Dr. Crane doesn't stop; he goes on prophetically. He states that Mind is everything. Love is everything else. And the belief in a higher power (call it life force if you will) joins the two as one. Using wisdom instead of unbridled passion, Dr. Crane comes to the conclusion that only through lack of Mind, Love and Wisdom do we err.
Easily said, you might say. So how do we . . .
Dr. Crane lays out a four-fold, eight-fold, sixteen-fold plan. "The secret is simple," he says, "and as old as philosophy. It is that by repeating an action one can gradually induce a desire to repeat it, and by refusing a desire one can eliminate it.." So, what is the formula? Dr. Crane explains that Right Thinking is the answer. That means thinking without egotism, fear, prejudice and ignorance.
How do we accomplish this? Dr. Crane answers that we have to pay attention, we have to listen to others, we have to turn off our busy-body mind, and calmly surrender to truth.
What is truth? Truth is not what others say or what you think you say. It is not what others have told you to say or what great philosophers have said. Truth is in the center of all of these, but it stands alone. And it, alone, is pristine, unvarnished, and real. Truth stands in the middle between the arguments on either side that try to win it over to their side. Truth doesn't budge; it is what it is.
How can one live in the truth?
Dr. Crane suggests: "Eliminate the pronoun "I" as much as possible. Don't talk about yourself, what you did and what you like and what you're going to do. Encourage the other person to talk about himself."
The golden mean, the golden compass, the golden rule of Dr. Crane's amazing thinking is that it's so simple. So basic. "Watch your thought life," he advises, "and don't neglect the little things."
Please, excuse me, thank you. These expressions of grace are still useful. They still work.
"Everything counts," says Dr. Crane.
And he ends his 88 page masterpiece by saying, "You are not alone."