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Chapter 27 Preventing the mistakes in thinking

If you know how to prevent your mind making mistakes, that knowledge and the use of it will aid you in your advancement, stop failures in business, prevent friction in social life, stop the offending and losing of friends, and help very greatly in making you happier. Happiness is the goal of the soul. It is the end of human endeavor, -the purpose of living and loving and serving.

How we have suffered because of the unintentional mistakes we have made! How we have made others suffer; how others have made us suffer! And not because of our intention or their intention, but because we did not know how to idealize the process of preventing mistakes. It is completeness that makes thought ideal, that makes it right, that makes it God-like. God is God because He is complete -the perfect -the All-in-All. We make mistakes only when our thought is incomplete; that is, when it is not idealized.

There are two factors in the process of thinking: (1) recognizing likenesses and (2) discriminating differences. If you idealize the process of thinking, you complete it -you use both of these. If you do not idealize the process, you use but one, or you use one almost to the exclusion of the other. And it is then that you make the mistakes that bring unhappiness.

A baby boy, reared in the tropics, was brought to New York when three years old. That winter as he looked out of the window at the first snow he had ever seen, he clapped his hands in glee and said, "Oh, mamma, look at all the sugar!" He recognized the likeness in appearance of snow and sugar -its whiteness -and he made the mistake because he had had no opportunity of distinguishing the differences.

A little girl, now a noted woman, was born in inland Peru in the nitrate section desert, an absolutely barren land where no vegetation could live. She had never seen grass; she had never seen a tree. When ten years old, she was taken by ship to Santiago and driven in a closed carriage through the city to the home of her grandfather. Out in the yard a few hours later, she saw a great tree. A breeze sprang up, the leaves rustled, the branches moved. In terror she picked up a stone to defend herself. To her, the tree was some gigantic animal making ready to attack her. She had never known a vegetable form of life that moved, for she had seen vegetables only in sacks and cans. But animals moved and since this tree moved, she judged it to be an animal. The mistake was based on the recognition of a likeness: animals move; this big thing moves; therefore it must be an animal.

Let me repeat: unintentional mistakes are caused by recognition of likenesses with insufficient discrimination of differences.

Another case -husband and wife and two young sons. The man has worked earnestly and efficiently, and his wife has helped. They are in comfortable circumstances. One son is in high school, the other in college. Oil is discovered in California west of the coast mountain ranges. The wells are gushing thousands of dollars worth of oil per day. The husband visits the desert lands east of the mountain range and, accidentally, in the crevices of a gully, he finds soaked chunks of earth that are oily. He feels of it; it feels oily. He looks at it; it looks oily. It feels and looks like the oil-soaked chunks of earth found in the oil region west of the mountains. In his mind, he sees oil gushers in this region like those west of the mountains. In his imagination he sees himself many times a millionaire like the men who discovered oil west of the mountains. As many know he is on this trip he does not confide his discovery to others. So he says nothing, but invests all his savings in this desert land. At the bank he borrows all he can borrow, to secure additional options. To this point, all his thought and action is based upon recognition of likenesses. Then the expert finds a difference. It looks like oil, but it is not oil. It feels greasy, just as petroleum feels greasy, but it is not petroleum. It is of no value.

It is so easy to see only likenesses. It is the lowest type of mind action. It is incomplete: It leads to mistakes. It brings unhappiness -so much unhappiness! To prevent mistakes in individual life, in home life, in business, in industrial and in national affairs -idealize the process of recognizing differences. Idealize your thoughts, and your plans of action; whatever you are to do -idealize the process. Sit quietly, vision the likenesses -do not omit them; but idealize the differences also. Idealize the differences again and again, to be certain you include all of them. Only the idealized process produces the ideal result -happiness!


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