Self-Conquest and Character

“A man’s own character is the arbiter of his own fortune.”


An old Hindu Proverb says, “There is nothing noble in being superior to another man. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self.”

Most of us are aware of this and are forever striving to improve ourselves, to correct our faults, control our habits, make the most of our abilities. In this context Robert Browning, very truly said, “When a man’s fight begins within himself, he is worth something.”

But self-discipline is not easy. Self-conquest, as every philosopher from Plato to William James has emphasized, is the greatest victory of all. “I have had more trouble with myself than with any other man I have ever met!”, said Dwight Moody, the famous evangelist. Something similar is also said in the Bhagavad Gita, “A man’s own self is his friend, a man’s own self is his foe.”

The greatest test of a man’s character is how he takes charge of his own life. “NO man need stay the way he is,” says Harry E. Fosdick. The mould of a man’s fortune, the shape of his life and destiny, are in his own hands.

“Every man is the builder of a temple called his body . . . . . . We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones. Any nobleness begins at once to refine a man’s features, any meanness or sensuality to imbrute them.

                                                                                    ———Henry David Thoreau

References from the book “Light from Many Lamps” by Lillian Eichler Watson

Author: Aumtara