I love Charles Haanel’s invitation to gain power by going into the silence, into the stillness or, in other words, to meditate. The invitation is interesting because weakness, in Haanel’s words, comes from “nothing.” Therefore, silence and stillness, which yield power, are something rather than nothing.
This is easiest for me to apprehend by comparing stillness to simulation.
Stimulation is all around us, but some of us wire ourselves up to need inappropriate stimulation. Others of us cater to “meaningless” stimulation (e.g., TV playing constantly as a substitute for white noise) because true stillness or silence is unbearable. For some of us, even a few moments of silence is too much “alone time.”
Brain Chemistry & Addiction
We learn from reliable sources that our inner world is an interesting mix of thought, emotion, belief, action, results, and evaluation. It is said that by 5 years of age, the dominant programs of our lives are already firmly established. And changing those programs from the outside-in by attempting behavioral modification is all but futile. If you get more than 6 months of modified behavior, you’re well above average.
It is now known that the cycle above referenced (thought-emotion-belief-action-result-evaluation) has a neurological component that floods our bodies with a cascade of brain-based endocrine chemicals during the cycle of any habitual experience. Hence the addictive power of nicotine, cocaine, gambling, pornography and anger, which are common, negatively perceived examples. On the positively perceived side, we get similar results from regular exercise, meditation, prayer, service and accomplishment.
No matter what our habits, our bodies become accustomed to the related brain chemical cascade, and that familiarity, over time, in essence becomes an addiction. As Alcoholics Anonymous so poignantly teaches, addiction is a spiritual disorder, and attempting to conquer addiction by behavior modification alone is an exercise in futility.
Still, every dark cloud has a silver lining. Or, as Napoleon Hill gleaned from Charles Haanel, every adversity carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit. My life was blessed with a noxious, harmful stimulation addiction as part of a larger problem. I know well that the path of recovery passes through a spiritual vale of tears, at the end of which we burst forth into the sunshine of a new life.
My experience with Haanel’s Master Key System has led me back down the same path as I have been brought face to face with the more generic form of my addiction: stimulation. All that you need know about me in this context is that recourse to stimulation was a defense mechanism of the infantile mind reacting to the energetic ravages of depression. For, as with most who are similarly afflicted, depression sapped me of the energy needed to address the task-oriented needs of my life. Stimulation seemed a natural defense in that it lent energy today by borrowing against future reserves. (Insane, I know, but that’s addiction for you.)
One habitual, left-over behavior, even of late, was to turn part of my attention, sometimes even during a worship service, to an electronic device. Electronic devices with screens stimulate the reticular cortex, triggering a variety of brain chemicals. For me, these closely mirrored the cascade created by the more negative addiction for which I sought recovery.
I became aware of this similarity recently in the process of writing, reciting and implementing a new blueprint for my life. Over several weeks (weeks 6-8 of the Master Key System), it became obvious that the good work I was doing with the Master Key System and its exercises was being undermined and partially nullified by excess stimulation from electronic devices.
In case you haven’t discerned this by now, there are good reasons electronic devices are popular, and convenience isn’t the only one.
Silence and Detoxification
With any chemical addiction, a detoxification process is essential to recovery. Only by allowing the body to purge itself of the harmful, addictive chemicals can one come to a new place of beginning.
With a stimulus addiction, Haanel’s invitation to seek stillness and silence is particularly appropriate. There are huge benefits to acclimating to silence. For me, the primary benefit is enhanced spiritual communion. Haanel points out in week 10’s lesson that thought, which can only be focused in silence, is the nexus point between our physical world and the spiritual world.
This is a direct analog to the physical world, where minerals can only be enlivened by the intervention of life via the root systems of plants and other like methods. Likewise, our physical form can only be spiritually enlivened by inviting contact with the Infinite (God, our Heavenly Father, in my conception) by pondering positive, productive thought while being silent. Haanel likens this to an electrical circuit where Infinite Intelligence is the positive pole and thought is the negative pole. Without that polarity, there is no circuit.
Silence promotes or invites polarity because it creates a void space into which inspiration (or spiritual knowledge) can flow. It provides a canvas upon which creative thought can be painted. We are not responsible for the material manifestation process, but we are responsible for creating the space (i.e., the void) in which the manifestation can unfold.
And, as we create new habits by changing our dominant thoughts, a new, hopefully more positive, chemical addiction takes hold. And when it does, manifestation of the new, related reality quickly follows.