Discovering the Laws of Life

Discovering the Laws of Life

by Sir John Templeton


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“Truly a legend in our time, John Templeton understands that the real measure of a person's success in life is not financial accomplishment but moral integrity and inner character.” —Billy Graham
“This is a book that belongs to the list of seminal publications of the twentieth century. How grateful the world will be that John Templeton has shared his secret openly, forthrightly, packed with integrity and healing powers.” —Robert Schuller
Formerly published by Continuum in1994.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781599473178
Publisher: Templeton Press
Publication date: 01/01/2009
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 277,356
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile: 1050L (what's this?)
Age Range: 3 Months to 18 Years

About the Author

As a pioneer in both financial investments and philanthropy, Sir John Templeton spent a lifetime encouraging open-mindedness. Templeton started his Wall Street career in 1937 and went on to create some of the world’s largest and most successful international investment funds, eventually earning the label of “arguably the greatest global stock picker of the century” from Money magazine. In 1972, he established the world’s largest annual award given to an individual: the £1,000,000 Templeton Prize. The Prize is intended to recognize exemplary achievement in work related to life’s spiritual dimension. Templeton also contributed a sizable amount of his fortune to the John Templeton Foundation, which he established in 1987. Templeton passed away in 2008, but the Foundation that bears his name continues to award millions of dollars in annual grants in pursuit of its mission to serve as a philanthropic catalyst for research on what scientists and philosophers call the “big questions.”

Read an Excerpt

Discovering the Laws of Life

By John Marks Templeton


Copyright © 1994 John Marks Templeton
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-59947-317-8



The golden rule.

Jesus gave his own wording to the Golden Rule and it is expressed in various forms in every major religion. Similar ideas of conduct are found in the literature of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and in the writings of Aristotle, Plato and Seneca. Confucius taught the negative form. In Jewish literature the negative form of the Rule appears in various places as "What you hate do not do to anyone." The words used by Jesus for the Golden Rule are found in Matthew 7:12 and also Luke 6:31. In five different translations of the New Testament the Golden Rule is stated in the following words:

1. King James Version:

And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

2. Revised Standard Version:

And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.

So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.

3. New English Bible:

Treat others as you would like them to treat you.

Always treat others as you would like them to treat you: that is the Law and the Prophets.

4. Phillips Modern English:

Treat men exactly as you would like them to treat you.

Treat other people exactly as you would like to be treated by them—this is the meaning of the Law and the Prophets.

5. Jerusalem Bible:

Treat others as you would like them to treat you.

So always treat others as you would like them to treat you: that is the meaning of the Law and the Prophets.


Listen to learn.

There's an old saying that God gave us two ears and one mouth so we may hear more and talk less. How well we use our ears will play an important part in determining what we learn as we go through life.

A major reason why relationships break down is that one or more of the parties involved hasn't learned to listen. Listening is a learned skill and when we develop it to the fullest, we not only increase our capacity to learn but increase our ability to maintain healthy relationships.

Ironically, deaf people are often better listeners than those of us who can hear. As those deaf people who sign communicate, they must remain focused on the movement of each other's hands. Those of you who can hear must develop that high level of concentration in order to be good listeners.

There are two kinds of listening—active and passive. Most of us are good at passive listening. We appear to be listening when, in fact, our minds have wandered off to the movie we saw last night or what we're going to wear tomorrow. We do it during lectures, we do it during sermons, we do it during television shows, and even with close friends and family members.

Active listening is difficult because it requires staying focused on what the speaker is saying. It depends on using our ears the way a photographer uses a camera. To get the best pictures, the photographer must adjust the lens until the settings are right. As active listeners, we must constantly adjust our attention to remain aware of what the speaker is telling us.

A presentation by the Sperry Corporation on effective listening quotes studies showing that students spend 60 percent to 70 percent of classroom time listening. In business, listening is cited as one of the most important skills a manager can possess. Sadly, most of us are ineffective listeners.

Have you ever played the childhood game "Gossip," in which people sit in a circle and someone whispers a story into the ear of the person next to him? That person turns and whispers the story to the next person and so on until everyone in the circle has heard and retold the story. When the last person tells the story, it's usually so far removed from the original that it bears no resemblance to it. This is the result of poor listening.

When we misunderstand or don't understand what we hear, our tendency is to blame the speaker. In fact, it could be our poor listening habits. It takes practice and concentration, but we can all become better listeners and better listeners are better learners. God not only gave us two ears and one mouth, God also gave each of us the potential to learn. The more we listen and learn, the better able we are to realize the God-given potential that each of us possesses.

One of the great laws of life tells us that we must practice being truly interested in other people if we want to know them and form a close connection with them. A wonderful way to begin is quite simply to focus our attention on who they are and what they say to us. We must practice asking them questions about themselves instead of talking solely about ourselves. It's amazing how receptive people are to our questions about them. When we truly show an interest in another person and really listen to that person without constantly referring to ourselves, we have begun a relationship that will only grow stronger over time.


It is better to love than be loved.

St. Francis

Consider the sun—a self-sustaining unit that receives energy from thermonuclear reactions near its center. The energy released in these reactions is so great that the sun could shine for billions of years with little change in its size or brightness.

Love is like the sun. It sustains itself. It needs neither thanks nor reward for it to give out its powerful and healing energy. Love is always there, even when the clouds of human emotions hide it, just as the sun is there when clouds hide it from the earth. Our lives thrive on the energy of love. But because love sustains itself and creates its own energy, we need not look for it outside ourselves. It lies deep at the center of our being.

As we release the energy of our love, a chain reaction takes place similar to the thermonuclear reactions within the sun that change hydrogen into hellium. The energy of love flows within us, changing and enlarging us. Love opens hearts once closed tightly by bitterness and, in the place of bitterness, we become flooded with acceptance and joy. Hate no longer erodes our soul; care and concern replace apathy. The changes are evidenced in our lives as we begin to love ourselves and see ourselves as love. Because we are love, we don't need to search for love outside ourselves.

The energy of love is a healing balm. Just like the sun, it has no perception of good or evil. It just is. It doesn't say, "I'll love this person because it's the right thing to do," or "I'll love this person because I will gain position and wealth in return." When we allow love to live within us, it automatically radiates out to every aspect of our environment. Just as photosynthesis is the process by which the sun and plants together make food, a similar process takes place within us as we allow the energy of love to transform us. Love becomes food for ourselves and others. But, unlike plants that receive the sun's energy as a continuing process of nature, we must allow the process to happen within us. As we allow the energy of love to fill us, we must allow that energy to flow out of us. Love is what we are all searching for because love is what our basic nature is.

Once the spark is kindled within and begins to burn brightly, we can't stop it from flowing from us to others. Some may not come close enough to feel the warmth of our love. Others may bask in the glow of our energy. Because we are love, because we sustain ourselves and bless others, it doesn't matter if we receive thanks or recognition. Like the durability of the sun, love gives and gives with no dimunition of its supply. Our lives become brighter the more we express love. We can shine like the sun and, when we are in our rightful place, we can radiate love for all persons without any exceptions.


Thanksgiving leads to having more to give thanks for.

Thanksgiving is a creative force that, if lived on a continuous basis and not just for one day each year, will create more good in your life and more to be thankful for. Perhaps we could call this the life of thanksliving. Thanksliving is an attitude of perpetual gratitude that will draw good to you. It is based on the premise that "thanksgiving leads to having more to give thanks for." We have the power to create whatever we need in our life and this power, available to each of us because it lies within us, is the power of the mind.

Let's look at three ways to practice thanksliving. The first way is to search for the good and praise it. We tend to attract that which we give our attention to. Where your attention goes, your energy flows. A good idea can get even better as its possibilities for greater good are explored. The more good you can see and praise, the more you direct creative energy to positive results. Even in situations that at first appear difficult or unpleasant, see all the good you can. And bless the good you can see. Praise the good and watch it multiply.

A second way to experience thanksliving is to give thanks ahead of time for whatever good you desire in your life. Feel as if you have already received this good. There is a law of life that can be stated in these words: "Thoughts held in mind will reproduce in the outer world after their own kind." In other words, we create our outer life according to the way we have created our inner life—with thoughts, beliefs and attitudes. Thanksliving will help us to create what we want. Thanksgiving is then seen not as an effect of something we have received, but rather the cause of some future good that will inevitably be drawn to us. Instead of postponing your good, satisfied feelings until after the fact, practice having the good feelings now. If what you desire is a more prosperous lifestyle, start feeling like a grateful, prosperous person today. Your attitude tends to draw prosperity to you like a magnet.

A third way to experience thanksliving—perhaps the most difficult, yet the most powerful of all—is to give thanks for your problems and challenges. By facing our challenges and overcoming them, we grow stronger, wiser and more compassionate. One of the best ways to learn mathematics is to be given problems to solve. One of the best ways to prepare for an athletic event is to practice with a strong, competitive opponent. Adversity, when overcome, strengthens us. So we are giving thanks not for the problem itself but for the strength and the knowledge that will come from it. Giving thanks for this growth ahead of time will help you to grow through—not just go through—your challenges.

The mind has power to cause. Thoughts and feelings have creative power. An "attitude of gratitude" (i.e., thanksliving) is attractive; it is a power that will draw more good to you.


You cannot be lonely if you help the lonely.

Few remember the days when special services were paid for by sharing what you had with the one who provided the service. A farmer could offer sacks of grain to the town doctor for setting a broken arm. Chickens might be given to the blacksmith and his family or potatoes to the village midwife for assistance in the delivery of a child.

An old friend often reminisced of his childhood days when his mother, Sarah, became very skillful at making tantalizingly delicious dishes from frequent gifts of cabbages, rutabagas, and yams. His father was a minister and the family of the town parson was held in high regard in southern Mississippi. A visit to the Reverend and his wife in their modest, frame cottage was a rare treat indeed. The moment a knock was heard at the door, Sarah bustled with a flourish to greet her guests with hugs, kisses, and warm words of welcome. Always dressed in the traditional black clerical suit with starched white collar, the round Reverend followed her to extend a warm hand and twinkling smile, saying, "The Lord blesses you, come in." Their gentle manner was the same, whether their visitor was a cherished relative, a pauper needing a meal, or the town's mayor.

As time laid to rest Sarah's best friend, she elected to move to a port city on the Texas coast to be closer to her son and daughter. As was her custom for over fifty years, she arose daily before dawn, dressed meticulously with cloak and a tiny veil, and walked to the church. She polished and prepared all the vessels and linens necessary for the priest to offer the sacrament. She tended to every menial task needed by the church personnel. Upon finishing, she went out, walking to the hospital to visit and cheer those who were ill. Afterwards, one by one, she visited the homes of the shut-ins, sharing her joy and kindness and what might be needed of her slender pension.

When news came that Sarah had left this life, a touching story was told. That day she had made her service offering at the church, as always. Returning home, she gathered a few items of hand-washed laundry from the clothes line and laid her wrap over the back of the sofa. When she was found, she was resting, eyes closed, in her favorite lounge chair, a gentle, sweet smile on her lips and the tiny net veil still in place.

No sermon or lecture could convey the essence of gratitude and joy as would spending a few hours in the presence of this special lady. To Sarah, loneliness was an ill to be tended to and abolished. She used every waking moment to instill or perpetuate a bit of happiness in someone's life.

Mother Teresa has reported in some of her television interviews that she finds the greatest poverty and desolation among the wealthy of the world today. She noted that there is a stark need for missions to offer love and nurturing to the barren of heart.

When one seeks to fill a need in humanity, the opportunities are limitless. Within three blocks of one's own home or less, anyone can find desperation and helplessness. Often those most pained cannot discern for themselves the source of their anguish. Hunger, shelter, and the need for gainful productivity are easily recognized. Emotional pain and inner desolation may require more effort and sensitivity.

Anyone looking within themselves can find valuable assets, special resources, and talents that can be shared. When thoughts are turned outward in search of usefulness, loneliness melts and disappears.

Beginning with one effort, such as spending an unselfish hour with someone less fortunate, produces a miracle for the giver and the receiver. If these two should remember another friend in need and go together to them, three or more agents of caring are now in action. This positive force multiplies in energy, which moves joy and love and sustenance into the world to dispel sorrow and lack. Sharing these priceless gifts of caring, encouragement, appreciation, and praise can fill our day with rich purpose.

"There are those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life and their coffers are never empty" (Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet).



You are sought after if you reflect love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Living is a process of learning and growing from the lessons we learn. One lesson worth learning early is that life gives back to us what we give to it. St. Paul's formula will help us give our best to the world and in the process gain friends and influence the world around us.

Each quality St. Paul mentions carries with it its own reward and, as we take the time to develop them, our lives take on a fuller dimension. When we learn to reflect love, joy, peace and patience, we benefit as well as those we come in contact with. We can't reflect something unless it's within us to reflect. When we are truly reflecting, joy, peace and patience, others are glad to be associated with us. When we reflect those qualities in our lives, others benefit because those qualities have the effect of rubbing off on them.

As we go on to develop kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness, others know they can trust us. They know they will be treated the way they deserve to be treated. When we deal with people honestly, and with kindness, faithfulness and gentleness, we send them the message that we care. In return, we are treated the same way, because what we give to others comes back to us.

When we develop self-control, we gain a balance in our lives that enables us to live the other qualities more fully and completely. Without self-control we lack the ability to be patient with ourselves and with others. Without self-control we lack the ability to love unconditionally. Self-control gives us the ability to put the ego in the correct perspective so that we don't harm ourselves or others. When we are able to do this, we realize the true value of the ego as being the vehicle for our expression and not a domineering tyrant that has to have its way. The ego that insists on having its own way is a destructive ego, both to the self and to others. It can lead to destructive habits; it can seek its good without being concerned about the welfare or good of others. Mastering self-control is a key to gaining mastery over our lives.


Excerpted from Discovering the Laws of Life by John Marks Templeton. Copyright © 1994 John Marks Templeton. Excerpted by permission of Continuum.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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