Rosicrucian Writings Online

The Mastery of Habit

Helpful, Practical Ideas That May Be Used by
Adults for Themselves or for Their Children
By Sri. Ramatherio
[From The Mystic Triangle August 1925]
In many of the ancient teachings or rather traditional beliefs passed from generation to generation by word of mouth, habit is considered an institution of the evil spirit, or the devil, to use a more modern term for the same idea. In a rare manuscript of the ancient Parsee teachings, which I am busy translating into English, and which may some day be permitted print in America for the first time, I find this old idea expressed many times.
To an Oriental who has become accustomed to the broader and truer occidental view point, these ancient ideas are too inadequate to meet the reasoning of the mind. The most important point about the old teachings, however, is their lack of practical application. In too many instances our acts, our functionings, our thoughts, are expressed in negative terms and seldom is anything said to assist us in changing any part of our nature or thinking. In the case of habit, the ancient teachings merely stated that all evil or bad habits were the result of control over our minds or actions by an evil spirit, or one of several of them. We were impressed by many proverbs and ideas that once an evil habit became our possession, it was there to stay, unless a miracle happened, or through invocation and magic some other great spirit or god removed it for us.
The modern Occidental viewpoint of such things is unquestionably broader and more scientific. We have learned how habits are really formed; we have learned their origin and process of maturing; and we have learned how they may be changed or denied expression.
In the Christian doctrines of today we have but one personification of evil, called, as I have said, the devil, or satan. In the days of old and in most Oriental teachings, there were many evil principles or powers in existence, in some schools of thoughts, the evil powers outnumbering the good ones. In many cases these were personified. Every conceivable and inconceivable act that was destructive, unkind or mysterious, was attributed to these evil spirits or gods.
The Oriental mind can see, however, a very close relation between the ancient teachings and the more modern statements of fact. The former can be safely considered as symbolical of the facts of nature. Thus, there is in the world an actual, not speculative, god of evil, especially of evil habits and thinking, and that god, I wish to reveal, is the small god that resides within our own brain.
Habits, whether good or evil, are of our own making. In the Amorc teachings there is an axiom that "habit is the unconscious result of a law," etc., and this is true in a psychological sense. Most certainly habits, as such, are generally unconscious acts; that is, they are unconscious tendencies. We are aware of the habits, by their manifestation, but such manifestation is an outward sign of what has unconsciously gone on within our brain or mental processes.
It is safe to say, also, that habits may be modified or wiped out of our actions by the same process as brings them into existence, and this being so, we may easily, though slowly, attain real mastership of habits.
Most habits have their origin in conscious, wilful and determined practices. There are some acquired habits, that is, acquired through hereditary or unconscious action or thinking on our parts. These, too, may be mastered. Those which have been consciously developed, no matter how unconscious they may be now, are the most easily mastered because we can trace their origin and see wherein we, alone, are responsible for them.
Nothing disrobes mystery of her weirdness like revelation; and nothing will strengthen our ability to cope with a strange habit or mental process like understanding its origin. I find that the modern psycho-analysts use this very thought as a basis for their new philosophy. While their terminology and procedure is new, the basis is old, very old.
In analyzing any habit or considering it for change or elimination, the first step is to look at it as an entity, a thing apart from our daily lives. This means we should stand off from ourselves and view ourselves as being a personification of that habit. If this is difficult, we may take the habit and make it a personified thing and then stand off and view it as a living thing of separate existence.
In either case, we should look upon the personified habit and question its rightful place in the scheme of things generally, then in our lives. Very few habits will stand the scrutiny of such examination. If it is the habit of drinking intoxicating liquors, we may see plainly that the habit, of and by itself, can find no real place in the general scheme of things, and a very small place in our personal lives. The more intense, the more enslaving such a habit is, the more like an unnecessary and evil spirit it becomes in our examination of it. We cannot find one single excuse for its existence in the general scheme of things; we find little reason for its existence within our own consciousness or being.
If we take the habit of smoking and build it into a personality it will say to us: "You cannot remove me, you cannot subdue me, you can hardly reduce my power, for I am too well established in this little kingdom!" And, many are discouraged by such words in their attempts to constrict him.
Then, there is a habit of procrastination. He, too, may be personified as a god. A long, heavy body like a great sea serpent, with bulk too gross to move rapidly, with laziness and slothfulness as his nature, usually a breeder of various diseases, a despoiler of all purity of action and thinking, turning his back upon the movement of all progressive bodies about him, preferring to move backwardly or to lie down and sleep while the world moves on. As we look at him and see that as the hours, days and months go by he produces nothing, accomplishes nothing, is always in the way of every forward movement, out of harmony with nature in every sense we wonder how such a creature can truly have any place in the scheme of the world's actions. The only movement he notices about him is the placing of his big, bulky hard-to-move body in the way of another body anxious to get forward. We feel like casting him out of our sight as an annoyance, a hinderance, in the world. And, then as we picture him as a part of our own existence, we shudder at the power he possesses to hold us back and ruin our careers.
But, he too, has the right of our tolerance as the law for his existence in our lives. Great, bulky, enormous and monstrous as he is, he can be slain and cast out of existence completely, by the exercise of that same mind-power within us that created him.
Likewise, there is the god of smoking. A foul, ill-smelling, unkempt, cruel creature, scowling, spitting fire, mad with rage, fighting, and, according to its grip upon us, its indulgence, etc., we may have a small god or a great one, in size and power. Let us think of a great one; all made of tobacco leaves, charged with nicotine, chemicals for preservation, flavoring, etc., and small insect life hidden in every crevice of the body of the god, with ashes, volumes of smoke, dirt, and heat issuing from all parts of its body. It is a horrible sight, and typical of some heathenish idol. As we view that personified habit with its power, its temptation and its possibility of injury, we can hardly say that it has a very real place in nature's scheme of things. At least we cannot say that it has a truly constructive place. And, if we view it as something that we have voluntarily put into the scheme of our personal lives, we find very little excuse for its existence. We may see it as a god who at all times grants us a little pleasure, or quiets our nerves; but when we note at the same time the filth, the inconvenience and the injury that come from him, we must agree that he is not as beneficent with his goodness as he is evil with his badness.
And, bear in mind, that like unto the heathens, we have created this god, great or small, endowed him with all the power and allurements he has, blinded ourselves to his disagreeable and evil parts, and then accepted him into our own bodies as one of the rulers of our lives. All this we have done in the past voluntarily and now he whips us with his leash and rules us with the power we granted unto him.
The god of profanity, like all such gods, exists in our consciousness, in our personal lives, by our own toleration. Whenever we think of dethroning him and casting him out or even reducing him in position to a place of moderation or humility, he has the brazen temerity to rise up before us and threaten us even to the extent of using some of his delightful language in a most significant way; and when fear does not weaken our intention to dethrone him, he laughs at us and with wonderful sarcasm belittles us with the thought that perhaps we are becoming "esthetic" or feminine. He tantalizes us one moment, falsely exalts us the next, then degrades us in the presence of those whose love and respect we cherish the most and all the while weakens a growth of normal and efficient vocabulary to the defeat of our success and advancement in life. He is truly a monster,--foul and unfair. But, how we tolerate him to some degree in our lives!
There are so many such gods; the god of selfishness, mean, narrow, bloodless and poisonous; the god of money, cunning, deceitful, cheating, defaming, maddening and tyranizing; the god of indulgence, boastful, alluring, smiling, fleet of foot, most enslaving and destructive of all!
Each of these stands as conqueror over us at critical times but deserts us utterly when whatever help we believe they possess is most needed. Each trembles in secrecy with fear that we may discover its true nature and cast them down as false idols of our worship, and each is prepared with a most impressive plea of self defense for the hour when the true God within us may awaken and demand a cleansing of the Temple.
Whether we believe with the Orientals or not in their many and long periods of self-contemplation, at least we can indulge in some self-examination and array before us as in a true Court of Justice, all the villainous beings that reside within our sacred minds, and with fearlessness indict them, challenge them to defend themselves against the scrutiny of Goodness, and cast them out with the condemnation of the damned forever and ever.
Do it today, this very night! Make your temple pure; gain the strength and power that is your natural birthright. It is within possibility,--you alone are the Master!

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