Skip to main content

Emmet Fox: The Mental Equivalent

Universal Polarity

The law of polarity is of course a cosmic law. Everything is produced by two other things. Anything that is ever produced anywhere in the universe is produced by two other things. That is the law of polarity. In the organic world we see it as parenthood. In the inorganic world, the world of physics and chemistry, we see it as the protons and electrons. That is how the material universe is built up; it always takes two things to produce a third. And that is the real ultimate meaning back of the Trinity.

There were Trinitarian doctrines before the time of Christ. They had trinities in ancient Egypt and India and in Chaldea and Babylonia—always there is the trinity: father, mother, child: activity, material, production. Go where you like, seek where you will, you find the Trinity.

In the building up of thought the two poles are clarity of thought and warmth of feeling; the knowledge and the feeling. Ninety-nine times in a hundred the reason why metaphysical students do not demonstrate is that they lack the feeling in their treatments. They speak the Truth, oh, yes! "I am divine Spirit. I am one with God." But they do not feel it. The second pole is missing. When they talk about their troubles they are full of feeling, but when they speak of Truth they are about as cold as a dead fish; and I cannot think of anything chillier than a cold fish unless it is a metaphysician who has lost his contact with God. They say, "I am divine Spirit," and they say it with no feeling; but when they say, "I have a terrible pain!" it is loaded with feeling, and so the pain they get and the pain they keep.

A man is out of work and he says: "God is my infinite supply. Man is always in his true place." It is said perfunctorily, with no feeling. But if someone asks him whether he has found work, he says: "I have been out of work two years. I wrote letters. I went after that job, but they were prejudiced against me. They wouldn't give me a chance." As soon as he gets on the negative side, the feeling comes in, and he demonstrates that he remains unemployed. To think clearly and with feeling leads to demonstration, because you have then built a mental equivalent.

Think of the conditions you want to produce. If you want to be healthy, happy, prosperous, doing a constructive work, having a continuous understanding of God, you do not picture it necessarily, but you think it, feel it, and get interested in it. What we call "feeling" in connection with thought is really interest. Feeling is not excitement. Did you ever hear of anything coming from excitement except apoplexy? True "feeling" in thought is interest.

You cannot show me any man or woman who is successful in his field, from president down to shoeblack, who is not interested in his work; nor can you show me any man who has his heart in his work who is not successful. The most successful shoeblack you have in town here is vitally interested in his work. He has his heart in it. He is a colored boy, and he loves his work. He did such good work that I gave him an extra tip when he finished polishing my shoes, but no money could really pay him for his work. He was so tickled as he did his work, he loved it so much, that I did not really pay him. He paid himself. He enjoyed it. And he had a line of people waiting for him.

You build a mental equivalent for what you want by getting interested in it. That is the way you create feeling. If you want health, get interested in health. If you want the right place, get interested in service, doing something that is really serving your fellow man.

The reason people do not get ahead in business is that they try to think up schemes to get their fellow men's money instead of thinking up opportunities for service. The successful man gets interested in what he wants to do, and gets rid of things he is not interested in.

How are you going to expunge the wrong mental equivalents? Suppose you have a mental equivalent of resentment, or unemployment, or criticism, or not understanding God. "When somebody talks about God, it does not interest you much, you get sleepy or bored. Perhaps you do not get along with people — not that you quarrel with them, but they quarrel with you — the quarrel happens! What is to be done!

The only way to expunge a wrong mental equivalent is to supply the opposite. Think the right thing. The right thought automatically expunges the wrong thought. If you say: "I am not going to think resentment any more. I don't believe in it. There is nothing to it. I am not going to think of it any more," what are you thinking about except resentment? You are still thinking resentment all the time and strengthening the mental equivalent of resentment. Forget it! Think of health and bodily ease and peace and harmony and speak the word for it. Then you are building up a mental equivalent of health. If you want your true place — if your problem is unemployment, no job, the wrong job, or a job you do not like — if you say, "I am not going to think unemployment any more," you are wrong. That is thinking "unemployment," is it not? Think "true place."

If I say to you, "Don't think of the Statue of Liberty in New York," you know what you are thinking about. You are not thinking of anything except the Statue of Liberty. There she is, complete with torch in her hand! I said, "Don't think of her," but you do.

Now I am going to say that some time ago I visited, near Springfield, Illinois, a perfect reproduction of the village of New Salem as it was in the days of Abraham Lincoln. Even the log cabin is furnished as it was in his day. The National Park Commission has done it all.

Now you have forgotten the Statue of Liberty for a few seconds, haven't you? You have been thinking of New Salem. I gave you a different idea. That is the key to the management of your mind, the management of your thinking, and therefore the key to the management of your destiny.

Do not dwell on negative things but replace them, supplant them, with the right, constructive things. The law of mind is that you can only get rid of one thought by substituting another. If a carpenter drives a nail into a wooden wall or into a beam, there it is. Now if he takes a second nail and drives it against the first, the first is driven out and falls on the floor and the second one takes the place of the first one. That is what happens in the mind when you substitute one image for another. For everything in life there has to be a mental equivalent.

If you will start in this very day and refuse to think of your mistakes — and of course that includes the mistakes of other people — if you will cease to think of mistakes and hold the right concepts instead, cease to think fear and think of divine love instead, cease to think lack and think prosperity and the presence of God's abundance instead — and then if you will think as clearly as possible and get interested; you will be building a mental equivalent of happiness and prosperity.

If your thought is very vague, you do not build a mental equivalent. If your thought is lacking in interest, you do not build a mental equivalent. So make your thoughts as clear and definite as possible. Never strain. As soon as you start straining, taking the clenching-the-first attitude, saying, "I am going to get what I want; I am going to get it if it kills me," all mental building stops.

We have all been told to relax. I have seen people tense up as soon as they were told to relax. They were going to relax if it killed them; and of course they missed the whole point.

Get the thought of what you want as clear as you can. Be definite but not too specific. If you live in an apartment and say, "I want a house in the country or in the suburbs, and I want it to have a porch and a large yard with trees and flowers," that is all right. But do not say, "I must have a certain house—the one at 257 Ninth Street or 21 Fifth Avenue."

Suppose you go shopping. Well, you should know what you are shopping for. You should have some definite idea. If you say, "I want something, I don't know what — I will leave it to God"; if you say, "I want a business, it may be a farm or a shop I want — I will leave it to Divine Mind," you are foolish. What are you here for? You must have some desires and wishes, because you represent God here. So you must say, "Yes, I want a shop; and I know the kind of shop I want."

I know a woman who demonstrated a hat shop. She had no capital, but she wanted to go into business. She wanted a hat shop. She loves to make hats. She has a natural flair for it. She can make hats that look well on the homeliest people; and this is the art of millinery, isn't it? She was a good businesswoman, so she built the mental equivalent of a hat shop. She did not say, "I must be in a certain block on a certain street." She did not say, "I am going to get a hat shop if it kills me" or "I am going to get a hat shop, and I want Jane Smith's hat shop." She built a definite mental equivalent, and that is the right way. If you say, "I want a strong, healthy body," and build up a mental equivalent for it by constantly thinking of your body as perfect, that is fine. Do not think of details very much. Do not say, "First of all I'm going to get my teeth fixed up with right thought, and I'll let my bald head wait" or "Maybe I should get my bald head fixed up first, because my teeth can wait." It is the details that are wrong. The evil of outlining lies in going into small details and in saying, "I want it in my time, in my way, whether God wants it or not." Apart from that (going too much into small details) you must have definite ideas.

Do not strain to get your ideas clear. They will be clearer the second day or the fifty-second day. If you have a pair of field glasses and you look at something and want the focus clearer, you slowly turn the wheel until the focus is clear.

Getting your mental equivalent may take you a week or a month or a year. Charge it with interest, like an electric charge, or it is dead. Love is the only way. You cannot be interested in a thing unless you love it. If you love it, it is filled with interest, it is filled with energy and life, and it comes true.

There is an interesting story about Napoleon. He thought a big nose was a sign of strong character. He said, "Give me a man with plenty of nose." If someone came to him and said that a certain officer ought to be promoted, he would say: "Has he got plenty of nose? Give me a man with a big nose." If an officer was killed, he replaced him with someone with a big nose. You know what happened. The law sent him Wellington, and Wellington destroyed him. Wellington had the largest nose in English history. He said himself it was more of a handle than a nose. Take that as a joke if you like, but it does carry an important lesson.

The doctrine of the mental equivalent is the essence of the metaphysical teaching; the doctrine that you will get whatever you provide the mental equivalent for.

I have known some very, very remarkable cases where people furnished the mental equivalent and out of the blue came things they never could have hoped for in the ordinary way. I know many men and women in London and New York and other places who seemingly had not human chance to attain success; but they got hold of this knowledge of mental equivalents, they quietly and faithfully applied this knowledge; and sometime sooner or later the thing they wanted came to them, without any help from anything outside; and it stayed with them and brought a blessing.

arrow-left arrow-right