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As with the natural scientist, so with the divine scientist; he must pursue,
with the same self-sacrificing diligence, five progressive steps in the attainment
of self-knowledge, self-control.

These five steps are the same as with the natural scientist, but the process is
reversed, the mind, instead of being centered upon external things, is turned
back upon itself, and the investigations are pursued in the realm of mind (of
one’ s own mind) instead of in that of matter.

At first, the searcher for divine knowledge is confronted with that mass of
desires, passions, emotions, ideas, and intellections which he calls himself,
which is the basis of all his actions, and from which his life proceeds. This
combination of invisible, yet powerful, forces appears confusedly; some of
them stand, apparently, in direct conflict with each other, without any
appearance or hope of reconciliation; his mind in its entirety, too, with his
life which proceeds from that mind, does not seem to have any equitable
relation to many other minds and lives about him, and altogether there is a
condition of pain and confusion from which he would fain escape.

Thus, he begins by keenly realizing his state of ignorance, for no one could
acquire either natural or divine knowledge, if he were convinced that without
study or labor he already possessed it. With such perception of one’s
ignorance, there comes the desire for knowledge, and the novice in selfcontrol
enters upon the ascending pathway, in which are the following five

1. Introspection. This coincides with the observation of the natural scientist.
The mental eye is turned like a searchlight upon the inner things of the mind,
and its subtle and ever varying processes are observed and carefully noted.
This stepping aside from selfish gratifications, from the excitements of
worldly pleasures and ambitions, in order to observe, with the object of
understanding, one’s nature, is the beginning of self-control. Hitherto, the
man has been blindly and impotently borne along by the impulses of his
nature, the mere creature of things and circumstances, but now he puts a
check upon his impulses and, instead of being controlled, begins to control.

2. Self-analysis. Having observed the tendencies of the mind, they are then
closely examined, and are put through a rigid process of analysis. The evil
tendencies (those that produce painful effects) are separated from the good
tendencies (those that produce peaceful effects); and the various tendencies,
with the particular actions they produce, and the definite results which
invariably spring from these actions, are gradually grasped by the
understanding, which is at last enabled to follow them in their swift and
subtle interplay and profound ramifications. It is a process of testing and
proving, and, for the searcher, a period of being tested and proved.

3. Adjustment. By this time, the practical student of things divine has
clearly before him every tendency and aspect of his nature, down to the
profoundest promptings of his mind, and the most subtle motives of his
heart. There is not a spot or corner left, which he has not explored and
illuminated with the light of self-examination. He is familiar with every
weak and selfish point, every strong and virtuous quality. It is considered the
height of wisdom to be able to see ourselves as others see us, but the
practitioner of self-control goes far beyond this: he not only sees himself as
others see him, he sees himself as he is. Thus, standing face to face with
himself, not striving to hide away from any secret fault; no longer defending
himself with pleasant flatteries; neither underrating nor overrating himself or
his powers, and no more cursed with self-praise or self-pity, he sees the full
magnitude of the task which lies before him; sees dearly ahead the heights of
self-control, and knows what work he has to do to reach them. He is no
longer in a state of confusion, but has gained a glimpse of the laws which
operate in the world of thought, and he now begins to adjust his mind in
accordance with those laws. This is a process of weeding, sifting, cleansing.
As the farmer weeds, cleans, and prepares the ground for his crops, so the
student removes the weeds of evil from his mind, cleanses and purifies it
preparatory to sowing the seeds of righteous actions which shall produce the
harvest of a well ordered life.

4. Righteousness. Having adjusted his thoughts and deeds to those minor
laws which operate in mental activities in the production of pain and
pleasure, unrest and peace, sorrow and bliss, he now perceives that there is
involved in those laws one Great Central Law which, like the law of
gravitation in the natural world, is supreme in the world of mind; a law to
which all thoughts and deeds are subservient, and by which they are
regulated and kept in their proper sphere. This is the law of Justice or
Righteousness, which is universal and supreme. To this law he now
conforms. Instead of thinking and acting blindly, as the nature is stimulated
and appealed to by outward things, he subordinates his thoughts and deeds to
this central principle. He no longer acts from self, but does what is right –
what is universally and eternally right. He is no longer the abject slave of his
nature and circumstances, he is the master of his nature and circumstances.
He is no longer carried hither and thither on the forces of his mind; be
controls and guides those forces to the accomplishment of his purposes.
Thus, having his nature in control and subjection, not thinking thoughts nor
doing deeds which oppose the righteous law, and which, therefore, that law
annuls with suffering and defeat, he rises above the dominion of sin and
sorrow, ignorance and doubt, and is strong, calm, and peaceful.

5. Pure Knowledge. By thinking right and acting right, he proves, by
experience, the existence of the divine law on which the mind is framed, and
which is the guiding and unifying principle in all human affairs and events,
whether individual or national. Thus, by perfecting himself in self-control,
he acquires divine knowledge; he reaches the point where it may be said of
him, as of the natural scientist, that he knows. He has mastered the science
of self-control, and has brought knowledge out of ignorance, order out of
confusion. He has acquired that knowledge of self which includes
knowledge of all men; that knowledge of one’s own life which embraces
knowledge of all lives – for all minds are the same in essence (differing only
in degree), are framed upon the same law; and the same thoughts and acts,
by whatsoever individual they are wrought, will always produce the same

But this divine and peace bestowing knowledge, as in the case of the natural
scientist, is not gained for one’s self alone; for if this were so, the aim of
evolution would be frustrated, and it is not in the nature of things to fall
short of ripening and accomplishment; and, indeed, he who thought to gain
this knowledge solely for his own happiness would most surely fail. So,
beyond the fifth step of Pure Knowledge, there is a still further one of
Wisdom, which is the right application of the knowledge acquired; the
pouring out upon the world, unselfishly and without stint, the result of one’s
labors, thus accelerating progress and uplifting humanity.

It may be said of men who have not gone back into their own nature to
control and purify it, that they cannot clearly distinguish between good and
evil, right and wrong. They reach after those things which they think will
give them pleasure, and try to avoid those things which they believe will
cause them pain.

The source of their actions is self, and they only discover right painfully and
in a fragmentary way, by periodically passing through severe sufferings, and
lashings of conscience. But he who practices self-control, passing through
the five processes, which are five stages of growth, gains that knowledge
which enables him to act from the moral law which sustains the universe. He
knows good and evil, right and wrong, and, thus knowing them, lives in
accordance with good and right. He no longer needs to consider what is
pleasant or what is unpleasant, but does what is right; his nature is in
harmony with his conscience, and there is no remorse; his mind is in unison
with the Great Law, and there is no more suffering and sin; for him evil is
ended, and good is all in all.

excerpt from: The Mastery of Destiny, James Allen

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