How to Think Clearly & Avoid Prejudice | Podcasts

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Today’s reading was edited and adapted from The Eight Pillars of Prosperity, by James Allen, published in 1911.

To get rid of prejudice is a great achievement. Prejudices pile obstacles in our way – obstacles to health, success, happiness, and prosperity, so that we are continually running up against imaginary enemies, who (when prejudice is removed) are seen to be friends.

Life is a sort of obstacle race to the men and women of prejudice, a race wherein the obstacles cannot be negotiated and the goal is not reached. Whereas to the impartial person, life is a day’s walk in a pleasant country, with refreshment and rest at the end of the day.

By clinging to stubborn prejudice what joys are missed, what friends are sacrificed, what happiness is destroyed, what prospects are blighted! And yet freedom from prejudice is a rare thing. There are few people who are not prejudiced partisans upon the subjects which are of interest to them. One rarely meets a person who will dispassionately discuss a subject from both sides, considering all the facts and weighing all the evidence, so as to arrive at some sort of truth on the matter.

Every partisan has their own case to make out. They are not searching for truth, for they are already convinced that their own conclusion is the truth, and that all else is error. Neither do they attempt to prove that they have the truth by a calm array of facts and evidence, but defend their position with more or less heat and agitation.

Prejudice causes you to form a conclusion (sometimes without any basis of fact or knowledge) and then to refuse to consider anything which does not support that conclusion. In this way, prejudice is a complete barrier to your attainment of knowledge. It binds you down to darkness and ignorance, and prevents the development of your mind in the highest and noblest directions. More than this, it also shuts you out from communion with the best minds, and confines you to the dark and solitary cell of your own egotism.

Prejudice is a shutting up of the mind against the entrance of new light, against the perception of more beauty, against the hearing of diviner music. The partisan clings to their little, fleeting, flimsy opinion, and thinks it the greatest thing in the world. They are so in love with their own conclusion (which is really only a form of self-love), that they think all people ought to agree with it, and they regard others as more or less stupid who do not see as they see, while they praise the good judgement of those who share their view.

Such a person cannot have knowledge, cannot have truth. They are confined to the sphere of opinion (to their own self-created illusions), which is outside the realm of reality. They move in a kind of self-infatuation which prevents them from seeing the commonest facts of life, while their own theories – usually more or less groundless – assume, in their mind, overpowering proportions.

They fondly imagine that there is but one side to everything, and that side is their own. However, there are at least two sides to everything, and the person who finds the truth of the matter is the one who carefully examines both sides, free from excitement and without any desire for the dominance of one side over another.

The partisan sees a portion of the truth, and thinks it the whole. But the impartial thinker sees the whole truth which includes all sides. It is therefore necessary that we see truth in sections, as it were, until, having gathered up all the parts, we may piece them together and form the perfect circle — the forming of such a circle is the attainment of impartiality.

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