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Book Review: The Law of Success- Napoleon Hill



Orne Publishing LLC 2010

Almost everyone interested in personal development has read or at least heard about Napoleon Hill’s great classic, Think and Grow Rich.  It’s arguably the most influential personal development book of the 20th century.

What few people realize is that this little book is just a diluted, much shorter version of a far more amazing original.  And now, for the first time in generations, you can actually get your hands on that original version!

The Law of Success– the unabridged, undiluted result of Hill’s research with many of the most extraordinary personalities of his time, from Rockefeller to the Roosevelts to Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell – is finally available again in its original form.

In case you don’t know the story, Hill, working under the patronage of Andrew Carnegie,  harvested from this remarkable group their secrets of personal success.  The principles he found were remarkably consistent.  And yet, when he sent copies of this work to the subjects of his research, they demanded he water it down for public consumption.  What this edition provides is the 1925 original.  Its life lessons are still as powerful today as they were then.

Here are a few of the success principles you will find in this book:

  1. Napoleon Hill’s self-confidence formula stipulates, “I will engage in no transaction that does not benefit all whom it affects,” “I will induce others to serve me because I will first serve them,” and, “I will eliminate hatred, envy, jealousy, selfishness and cynicism by developing love for all humanity, because I know that a negative attitude toward others can never bring me success.”
  2. There are two kinds of “people of action,” what Hill calls caretakers and promoters. To find a role in line with your talents, it is important to know which you are. “One of the outstanding tragedies of the world,” he writes, “is the fact that most people never engage in the work for which they are best fitted by nature.”
  3. Desire is the foundation of self-control. Self-control, or control of the thoughts one accepts, is the foundation of success.
  4. Concentration- “the ability to control your attention and focus it on a given problem until you have solved it”- is propelled by desire to attain our definite purpose and is necessary to achieve it.
  5. A definite purpose is what we will accept as the measure of a successful life- accept nothing less.
  6. “No man can attain success in its highest form without the aid of earnest prayer.”
  7. What Napoleon Hill calls the power of auto-suggestion but which we can more simply call the power of belief gives us the ability to reorganise our thoughts on the basis of whatever beliefs we adopt, and in so doing to attract those of like mind and ultimately, to make our beliefs physical reality.
  8. The results of optimism and persistence are infinitely superior to the results of pessimism. “Skepticism is the deadly enemy of progress and self-development.”

Also found in this book, a plan to end war and the power of laughter and song in clearing negative emotions- no, seriously!

Napoleon Hill had a sign in his office with the motto, “Day by day in every way I am becoming more successful.”  A skeptic asked him if he ‘really believed that stuff,’ to which he replied, “Of course not.  All it ever did for me was to help me get out of the coal mines, where I started as a labourer, and find a place in the world in which I am serving upwards of 100,000 in whose minds I am planting the same positive thought that this sign brings out.”

Hill’s Preface quotes one of the economics professors who reviewed the book, saying, “It is a tragedy that ever boy and girl who enters high school is not efficiently drilled on the fifteen major parts of your Reading Course on The Law of Success.  It is regrettable that the great university with which I am connected, and every other university, does not include your course as part of its curriculum.”  That pretty much says it all.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Segmentation: The Resilience Challenge of Body, Mind and Society

Segmentation is how we describe what happens when one part of an organism ceases to cooperate with other parts of the same organism.  When we store emotional trauma as neural patterning and energetic blockage, and that blockage finds a home in a particular part of our energy system, causing health problems, tension and so on whenever that neural pattern is triggered, that is segmentation.  Right there, our neural, emotional and physical lives all become segmented.  In other words, some part of the system is disrupting all of the others.  Something is out of alignment.  As human beings, we are many-faceted creatures, and in order for us to live healthily and fulfill our potential, all of those facets have to find a way to pull together.  Consider the ancient Greek phalanx.  The Greeks discovered that when all of their soldiers stood and moved together in a coherent pattern, they were far more effective than if they were operating as individuals.  Segmentation is as though a small group of those soldiers decided to move in a different direction from all the others. 

Dealing with this phenomenon, clearing these segmented blockages, is the first stage in many ancient systems of health and spiritual work.  Taoist dissolving meditation is a prime example.  This kind of work is the prerequisite for everything else, because as long as the body, mind and emotions are segmented, we cannot align our whole being toward achieving the state of being we desire.  Many of you are familiar with acupuncture, acupressure and tapping techniques such as EFT and TFT used to clear energetic-emotional blockages.  In the video below, you will see a modern take on this process from B.E.S.T. (Bio-Energetic Synchronisation Technique), a method that grew out of chiropractic medicine and has gone through forty years of refinement.  B.E.S.T. is a direct and effective technique which has proved able to address many deep-seated and otherwise-intractable physical, emotional and psychological problems.


Segmenting the Organism of Humanity

Interestingly, the same word, segmentation, has been used in another, related context: as the fundamental precursor to war in human society.  Dr. Raymond C. Kelly, a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan, was dissatisfied with existing theories about the origins of war.  In his book Warless Societies and the Origin of War, he examines both archeological evidence and the anthropological studies of the warless societies which continue to exist today.  These warless societies have one thing in common: a lack of bounded groups.  A person is related to his or her parents and siblings and their families, marries into the family of his or her spouse, and has all the family relationships that implies- but there is no defined boundary, no one discrete group, no “us” that stands separate from “them.”  There is no clan group based on a specific lineage, no chief or king, no distinct unit that can organise to inflict violence on another unit.  Warless societies, then, are unsegmented. 

Wars begin when segmentation begins.  It starts with the infliction of an injury, such as the murder of a group member.  This is generalised to be an assault upon the group, and the group exacts revenge on the same principle- that killing any members of the group to which the murderer belongs is the same as killing the murderer.  And with that, we have the fundamental basis of war- that members of the same group are objectified, substitutable pawns in service of their group identity and must suffer the consequences of their leaders’ action.  There are of course many more steps of development before we reach even the sort of warfare found in the Middle Ages, but this fundamental basis of alienation between segmented groups and objectification of the group’s membership has remained up to the present day.

Many ancient traditions regard humanity collectively as a great organism.  Kelly’s findings suggest that within that organism as well, segmentation, manifested in the formation of alienated groups, constitutes disease.  This is not a call to some sort of artificial sameness, but rather to accept diversity while transcending the basis of segmentation- alienation and objectification.  By transcending the dualism of “us” and “them” and instead accepting all people on the basis of our shared humanity, we undermine the basis of war, violence and victimisation. 


Survival Mode in Macro and Microcosm

Survival Mode, the state of the traumatised individual, is fundamentally one of fear and anger at a hostile world.  In that state, we recognise only two categories of people- those who can help us and those who can hurt us.  We objectify others relative to what we can get out of them.  That is the same logic of objectification that exists in war, that exists wherever there is an “us” and “them.”  This worldview that is expressed in moments where our survival is imperiled becomes embedded in our social organisation.  It is the experience of being treated as objects that is behind the majority of human trauma.  It is a vicious cycle- trauma begets trauma. 

We segment, we form exclusive groups, as a defence against the hostility of the world.  The more we treat each other as objects, the more we are traumatised.  The more we are traumatised, the more society segments, the deeper the alienation becomes, and the more trauma we inflict.  It is a cycle that reaches from the totality of the human species to our emotional, energetic and physical health, and back again. 



By dissolving our internal segmentation, we cease to inflict that inner discord on the world, and by transcending our social segmentation, we reduce the internal segmentation of others.  Alignment begets alignment.  We align our inner state to conform to the outer world we want, and we align our thoughts and behaviours to create the inner state we want.

Ask yourself, how badly are YOU segmented inwardly?  What are you doing about it?  Do you consciously seek inner harmony on all levels?  Very few people do.  In fact, in my experience teaching Qi Gong, Hara and related disciplines, I’ve become convinced that the majority of people have become so used to unnatural tension that they don’t know what deep relaxation, deep harmony would feel like. 

As you start to search for harmony, though, a funny thing happens: tensions and segmentation appear everywhere within you!  That’s recognizing where you’re really at and, although it may not feel so good, it’s a great sign!


~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Putting it All Together!

In the coming weeks, we’ll be reintroducing the Resilient Life Code, a course that will bring together all the aspects of personal resilience we’ve talked about.  It’s easy to spend your life reading up on health, mindset, spirituality, energy work and so forth without finding any coherent body of information that will show you how they all fit together.  Finally you’ll have access to that indispensable information.


Dualism- How We Forgot

One thing that all ancient traditions have in common is the unity of all of these elements within their spiritual disciplines, elements which we far too often treat as isolated areas of concern.  In my opinion, this traces back to Western culture’s fundamental dualism- the mind and the body are placed in fundamental opposition.

One symptom of this trend historically has been the complete misunderstanding within Western Christianity of its own “external” practices- fasting, use of images, genuflection, holy water, holy oil, incense, all of the elements that Protestantism discarded as meaningless ritual- which it had, in fact, largely become.  If you grew up in a Protestant country, chances are you’ve absorbed some of Protestantism’s disgust for these “primitive,” “superstitious” practices in one form or another.

People like to make rules to replace authentic traditions- following rules, after all, is easier than struggling to transform the human person- and the “externals” are easy fodder for this sort of thing, as I am painfully aware from my own church background.  But the fundamental superstition here is not that the externals affect us internally, but that they don’t.  The body and the mind are one organism, and you simply can’t make progress in personal resilience without using each to change the state of the other.


The Full Picture

I cannot think of a single authentic tradition that does not control diet, for example, in one form or another.  From Buddhist vegetarianism to the extensive corpus of Taoist dietary advice to the fasting practiced by many faiths globally, the question is not how to alter the diet, but in what way.  This was certainly the approach of early Christianity.  They had no question that fasting could help them to put their body-mind organism in a state more receptive to the presence of God.  The only question was what it would look like.  We have the evidence to show the vastly different dietary practices they experimented with, some of which still coexist today.  The distortion occurs when this becomes an external rule or a mortification of the flesh rather than an activity with an internal purpose.

The struggle to develop our full potential as human beings is aided or hindered by the full picture of our daily life.  What is the first thing you do in the morning?  What do you think about during the day?  How do you feel?  What is your body’s physical condition?  What do you see, hear, smell, taste, touch in the course of your day?  What energetic input are you getting from the people around you?  What material are you feeding your mind with, and how does it affect you on a deeper level?  How do you respond to conflict, to stress?  All of these questions become critically important to create the conditions in which you will find it easier to flourish in the long term.


Full Immersion

Ancient traditions understood this, and that’s why so many of them embraced the most radical of solutions.  The seeker leaves his old life behind, all the possessions, friends and family, career prospects, expectations that he has ever known.  In short, he breaks every old habit, every old input except what is in his head.  Perhaps more importantly, he gives himself no alternative but total belief.  He finds a master to teach him, and slowly, he begins to rebuild himself in a new setting.  His diet, exercise, work, reading, acquaintances, surroundings are all deliberate.  His inner life begins to change as he is taught to face his own inner obstacles and transmute them.  His physical body begins to change, and his consciousness with it.

This is hardly possible for everyone, and such an approach can be quite dangerous if you don’t know what to look for.  But it is important for us, living in a disjointed and materialistic society, to understand why things were done in this holistic way.

Imagine, for a moment, a nation somewhere in the world that had dedicated itself to finding the best possible way for every human being to reach their own unique potential in everything they do, everything they are, and to realize the divine imprint within their being.  Imagine that for centuries, this nation had absorbed seekers from all nations with all of their many gifts and perspectives, considered many ways of life, and from these tried to create, not a consensus, but a way of life that reflected and facilitated that common endeavor in every facet of this society, that gave everyone scope and encouragement to find and develop their own unique talent and potential.

What might such a society look like?  We can’t know, but that’s the point- it doesn’t exist.  The next best thing for us is to become more conscious in how we live our own lives, to reclaim control of our inner state one piece at a time by understanding what affects that state.  Our purpose going forward with the Resilient Life Code is to bring together all the pieces of the puzzle in a synergistic way, to show how they intersect and how to put it all together.

More on this is coming your way very soon…

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Never Before Revealed: Resilience Secrets of the Hobbit…

[Spoiler Alert – book and movie!]

“In a hole in the ground, there lived a Hobbit…”

…and you find true resilience in the unlikeliest of places!

J.R.R. Tolkien created the hobbits to represent everything stable and ordinary and decent about rural Britain.  Hobbits tend their farms and eat too much and have fun, but are absolutely harmless and uninterested in adventures or the affairs of the Big People.

And yet, in The Hobbit, the fate of three kingdoms will hang on the actions of Bilbo Baggins, just as the fate of the entire world will hang on his nephew Frodo in Lord of the Rings.  It all comes down to a mysterious decision by Gandalf, the great wizard.  Thirteen dwarves intent on wresting their mountain kingdom from the evil dragon, Smaug, have need of the services of a burglar.  This dragon is a creation of Morgoth, a fallen higher being and the worst threat the world had ever faced; there are suggestions in the Silmarillion that dragons themselves may be spiritual creatures turned to Morgoth’s side.  Gandalf would know- he himself is a higher being, called into the world by Galadriel.  Having taken up human form, his mission is to protect the world from the next foray by the dark powers.  That means Smaug and his kind.  Gandalf’s answer?


Gandalf decides to back thirteen vagrant dwarvish warriors and their forlorn quest.  But, he emphasizes, the quest may depend on securing the services of someone even more formidable- a hobbit.  This decision to counter a fire-breathing dragon with a creature whose main concerns to that point had been eating, drinking, pipe-smoking and gardening might seem rather odd.  Even stranger, Bilbo’s role was to be The Burglar.  Not only was he no warrior, he most likely hadn’t stolen anything more than a few peeps at the neighborhood girls.

Bilbo certainly thought little of the idea: “We don’t want any adventures here- nasty, inconvenient uncomfortable things.  Make you late for dinner.”  Gandalf, however, would not take no for an answer and invited thirteen dwarves to dinner at Bilbo’s to make him listen to the whole thing.  You see, Gandalf knew that, once presented with the whole picture, Bilbo wouldn’t be able to bring himself to refuse.


But what made this hobbit ideal for his pivotal role?

Bilbo was stalled in his own personal development, so much so that he saw no need to develop.  But although stalled, he was neither corrupt nor cynical.  He had the values of an ordinary, decent person, and this is why he first embarks on and then sticks with the quest.  He doesn’t want to go- but the thought of turning down the opportunity to see the world and be part of something really significant was too much for him.  Although hardship does tempt him to abandon his friends, Bilbo chooses to stick with them when they are confronted with orcs and giant wolves, precisely because they don’t have a home to go back to as he does.  Bilbo was willing to sacrifice for his friends.

Zhuge Liang, Chinese strategist, administrator and polymath, once wrote, “Straight trees are found in remote forests; upright people come from the commons. Therefore when rulers are going to make appointments they need to look in obscure places.”  Gandalf certainly couldn’t have picked a more obscure place than the Shire and Bilbo is more “upright” – meaning he has more character and can be relied on to do the morally right thing where others would cave in to their own short-term convenience – than many of his fellow adventurers.


Bilbo’s second asset is his immensely flexible mindset.  Whatever circumstance he is dropped into, he reacts with presence of mind and does whatever needs doing to move forward.  If that means playing a game of riddles with a wizened schizophrenic cannibal in a dark cave, he goes along with it.  If it means charging a wolf to rescue his friend, he’ll do that.  If it means flattering a dragon silly to get it to delay eating him and reveal the chink in its armour he’ll do that.  If it means negotiating the dwarves’ mistrust and doubts with some hard-headed bargaining, he’ll do that.  If it means discussing the culinary vices of roast dwarf with three trolls until the sun rises, he’ll do that.  He keeps putting one foot in front of the other, and when he’s at his wits’ end, he changes the rules.  During the riddle game, Bilbo is one riddle away from being eaten and can’t think of another riddle, so he asks Gollum what he has in his pockets- breaking the rules of the game, but putting off being devoured.

Bilbo’s no great fighter, nor does he have any non-culinary talent worth mentioning other than this ability to be dropped into any situation and come back again better than he arrived.  That last bit is important, because it isn’t just ingenuity that gets Bilbo out of tight squeezes – it’s the universe rooting for him.  He’s open to what comes his way, and while it can get him into trouble, it saves his life several times.  He isn’t relying only on himself, and it is for that exact reason that he always comes out of a situation a little better than he arrived in it.


There is a rather weak scene in the film where Gandalf attempts to explain to the beautiful Galadriel exactly why a hobbit is necessary baggage on this mission.  The truth is that Gandalf does not like to, and until his transformation into Gandalf the White generally will not, rely on great power or might to do his work.  Good, as he says, is found in the little people of the world, not in armies or empires, and in order to work for the good, Gandalf will always rely on a small and unlikely band of people armed with courage, faith and sharp wits (your mileage may vary) and bound by integrity over armies or magic.  That his closest friend among his own order is the bird dropping-adorned naturalist Radagast reinforces this bent in Gandalf’s character.


On the other side, of course, there’s Bilbo, middle-aged, comfortable, not accomplishing anything in particular when Gandalf shows up.  Gandalf has faith that given the opportunity, this anonymous little scrap of hobbit will rise to the occasion.  He doesn’t force Bilbo to go, but he has faith that Bilbo will, not for the gold, not to have his name remembered or even because he particularly wants to but because the dwarves have given him something to believe in, a chance to matter, an opportunity to help their whole nation.   Without that chance, and without Gandalf’s belief and persistence, he would have remained just as he was until the end of his days.  With it, his actions lead to the downfall of the enemy of all life.

Throughout Tolkien’s work, Hobbits are the poster children for resilience and the certainty that ordinary, decent people can do surprising, amazing things when given the chance to do something that matters.


Dwarvish Brittleness


The Dwarves are an effective counterpoint to Bilbo’s form of resilience.  While on the face of it, the dwarves seem in every way tougher and more resilient than the hobbit, the reverse is true.

On the one hand, the dwarves are strong, courageous, extremely determined and have kept their cause alive throughout long years of wandering and exile.  But this limited form of resilience is offset by a rigidity that renders them extremely brittle, particularly where their leader Thorin is concerned.


Thorin sets out with twelve loyal companions to recapture his grandfather’s kingdom, showing courage and faith.  But he frequently quarrels with Gandalf, a rather powerful being and his most important ally.  When Gandalf proposes they take Bilbo, Thorin disputes the choice, and will continue to doubt and quarrel with Bilbo throughout the journey, even once Bilbo has repeatedly proven his worth.  Thorin likewise does everything possible to avoid getting any help at all from the elves, near-immortal beings of immense knowledge, at least some of whom might have been willing to assist the dwarves.  Thorin is bitter that the elves who lived near his homeland didn’t charge into certain death in a hopeless attempt to save the dwarves from Smaug, and this feeling extends to all elves, including the ones who weren’t there.  This inflexibility will continue to get Thorin into trouble, to the point where his admitted virtues will not be able to save him (I did remember to put a spoiler alert at the top, didn’t I?  Anyway, read the book.)


We hear that Thror, Thorin’s grandfather and king-under-the-mountain, was corrupted by his love of gold and of the Arkenstone, a gem found within the mountain.  Thror was deluded into believing that his kingdom was eternal, and not only ended up with few friends in the outside world, but attracted a creature even more gold-hungry than himself.  After Smaug drove him out of his kingdom, Thror spent the rest of his life fighting hopeless battles until at last, even his armour-plated beard couldn’t save him.  The dwarves united to avenge his death, and though they won in battle against the orcs, the dwarves were severely weakened.  Perhaps it is no accident that when Thorin attacks Azog, the orc who killed Thror, the theme music is the same used for the Ringwraiths in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  This pattern of rigidity, insularity, greed and general inability to get along with people who are on their side continues for the dwarves until Galadriel finally manages to get through to Gimli in Fellowship of the Ring.


Consider the Following


We all know a great many “hobbits” and a few “dwarves”.  In this world, the “hobbits” are not only looked down upon, they are taught to look down on themselves.  How many do you know that are ripe for new challenges and a more meaningful life?  What can you do to help?  How many people around you could do something extraordinary if given the chance?  How many are so far gone that they wouldn’t even believe in the possibility?  How can you help to restore their faith in themselves?

On the other hand, how many people do you know who have fallen prey to the tendencies which dog Thorin, and are suffering for it, some without even knowing it?  Chances are, a number of them are in leadership positions, and a number of others are collapsing into a state of bitterness.  What can you do to help them?


The Hobbit and the Dwarf, in fact, represent two sides of the resilience coin and both are necessary.  Another way of describing this that we’ve used before is the “Yin” and “Yang” of resilience:

The Dwarves are all too much “Yang” in their approach – they have the determination, ferocity and bravado, as well as the physical skills to match.  Yet they’re not entirely in charge of their own thinking – all too easily they’re carried away by their own prejudices, assumptions and preconceived ideas.  They allow their own eyes to deceive them.  And they don’t always have the character to do the right thing even when that’s damned inconvenient.

The average Hobbit, being much more “Yin” in his approach, does have that character and, when the moment arises, that character is what allows him to rise to the occasion in an astounding way.  He is far less the prisoner of his own limited vision and his temper seldom gets the better of him.  Now, let’s be clear; Bilbo could use a healthy dose of the Dwarves’ warrior skills, no doubt about it!  However, those skills can be taught and learned much easier than character and mastery of one’s emotions.

As we cultivate our own resilience day in and day out, we need to be conscious of precisely this “yin-yang” balance in our approach.  Some of us think resilience will come entirely from working out at the gym.  Others of us expect it to come exclusively from our meditation sessions.  In both cases we’re fooling ourselves – we need to strive for this balance in our training.

~Dr. Symeon Rodger 

“Openings: The Search for Harry” – a MUST SEE Film

As you may already know, I recently appeared in a film!  Openings is the story of Harry Reed, a man facing self-created roadblocks in his career and personal life.  It is also the story of the struggles that all of us face at one time or another.  We create our own universe, and so if we find ourselves in a world that we don’t want to be in, the only escape is to find our way out of the mazes that we have created in our own minds and the blockages that have accumulated within our energy systems.  Openings is follows Harry as he tries to find a way out of the maze.

Beset by a bitter divorce, toxic family relationships and facing unemployment, Harry must try to get his life back on track.  But he is beset with the baggage he brings to that endeavor.  There is a story from the Egyptian desert about a monk who is dissatisfied with his chosen home.  He gets ready to leave, and as he is putting on his sandals, he sees someone else also putting on a pair of sandals.  “Who are you?” the monk asked him.  “I am the one who is pushing you out of here,” the intruder replied.  “And I am making ready to precede you to where you plan to take refuge.”

Harry’s demons are the deep anger, resentment and injured self-image that his life circumstances have created.  Because of this baggage, Harry is also incredibly stiff and unnatural.  His journey is ultimately one of learning to live in the moment and react naturally to his surroundings.

A number of commentators follow Harry’s journey, and that’s where I come in.  The group that got together for this film was really quite amazing and diverse, ranging from renowned author and speaker Jack Zufelt to mystic and marketer Joe Vitale totrailblazing researchers in oncology, optometry, quantum physics and biology.  While it may seem odd to show you the story and then tell you about it, the two notes of the piece really do come together and are interdependent, as theory and application.  The story of Harry makes everything we’re talking about concrete, and the commentary makes the process of healing a comprehensible and repeatable one.

As with most people, Harry’s healing begins with a moment of openness, in which he can grasp the opportunity that will lead him in a better direction.  But the healing cannot be complete until he finds himself among people who are both healthy themselves and willing to help him find his way.

The production was fairly involved and had some unexpected twists of its own, including a total re-write at one point.  The film itself is well-written, though I have to admit that moments of the Harry story can be painful to watch, if only because he is allowed to be as painfully awkward and unnatural as people in his situation really are.   Offsetting this, the actors are wonderful and the setting is amazing!

Ultimately, Openings is a powerful film about personal transformation, and as such it does require an investment from the audience of energy and patience.  Watching Harry is “work”  because transformation is work.   However, this film more than delivers on that investment, and the feeling as Harry finally comes out of his maze is one that I think many of us identify with on a very deep level.  In fact, some friends of mine I’ve shared the film with have come back to me and said they found it better than The Secret or What the Bleep Do We Know?

And you can watch the trailer right here!  Just turn up your speakers and CLICK HERE!

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