Had these lessons been written seventy
years ago, instead of today, it would have been a most difficult task to have
awakened the understanding of the Western public to the importance of the power of thought, its nature, its effects.
Seventy years ago but comparatively few people in the Western world knew any-thing about the subject in question, and, outside of a few occultists, the words of the teacher would have been regarded as the wildest utterances. But, during the time mentioned, the Western world has been slowly educated to at least a partial understanding of the power of thought, and echoes of the great Oriental teachings on this subject have reached the ears of nearly every thinking person in the Western world, this being particularly true of Great Britain and America.
This awakening is in accordance with natural laws, and is a part of the evolution of the race. It is true that much of the teaching has come from persons who have had but a partial awakening to the truth, and consequently the teachings have been more or less crude and imperfect and more or less colored by the personal theories and speculations of the various teachers who have been writing and speaking upon the subject. The average Western student, who has been interested in the various movements which may be roughly grouped together under the style of " The New Thought," has been more or less confused by the apparently conflicting theories and teachings which have resulted from the various speculations and theories of the numerous teachers who have sprung up, grown, and in many cases afterward "gone to seed." But a careful analysis will show that underlying all of the teachings are certain fundamental facts which the awakened mind grasps as truth. All of these teachers have done good work, and, in fact, the teachings of each have reached certain minds which needed the particular thing taught by the particular teacher, and which teaching was the very best possible, considering the particular stage of development of the student. Many students have obtained much good from certain teachers, and have then grown beyond the teacher and his teaching, and have in turn become teachers themselves, giving forth to others the truth as it came to them, more or less colored by their own personality.
The careful student who has taken the trouble to run down to fundamental principles the teachings of these new schools of thought, will have discovered that they all rest upon the Oriental teachings which reach back beyond written history, and which have been the common property of occultists of all ages and races. This " New Thought" is really the oldest thought, but the modern presentation of it comes as a new thing to those who hear it to-day, and the new movement is entitled to full credit for its work, and the advanced occultist knows that the fundamental truth lying underneath all of these conflicting theories will be gradually uncovered and brought to light, the speculations and pet theories of the various teachers being thrown aside.
The majority of those who read this lesson will have heard something of this subject of the power of thought, and will have doubtless had many experiences of its effect. So this lesson may come as an old story to nearly all of the members of the Class, but we will endeavor to give a brief, plain outline of the Yogi teachings upon the subject, which may help to reconcile some of the apparently conflicting theories which have been previously considered.
We shall not attempt to explain what thought is —that is too complicated a subject for elementary lessons. But we will begin by explaining some of its properties, laws, and effects. We avoid the theory for the time being, and get down to the "practical " side of the question.
You will remember what we said in our last lesson about the Aura. We explained that the Aura was projected into space by the several principles of man, just as is the light of the sun, the heat of a stove, the odor of a flower, etc. Each of these sources throws off vibrations, which we call light, heat, or odor, respectively. In one sense these emanations are minute particles of the thing which throws them off. In this connection we must also remember that the thing throwing off the emanations may be after-ward withdrawn, but the emanations still remain for a greater or lesser time. For instance, astronomy teaches that a distant star may be destroyed, and yet the light rays thrown off from it will continue on their journey, and may be seen by us of the Earth years and years after the star itself has been destroyed—in fact, what we really see at any time are the rays of the star which left it many years before, the time, of course, depending upon the distance of the star from the earth. In the same way a fire in a stove may be extinguished, and yet the heat will re-main in the room for a long time afterward. Like-wise, a small particle of musk may be exposed in a room and then removed, and yet the odor will be perceptible for a long time. In the same way thoughts may be in active existence which have been sent out years before by some person, whose entire mental character may have changed or who, in fact, may have passed out of the body long since. Places and localities are often permeated by the thought of persons who formerly lived there, who have moved away or died many years ago.
The mind is continually throwing off emanations, which may be seen as the Aura extending a few feet from the person, and which usually becomes thinner and less easily perceived as it extends away from the sender. We are constantly sending forth thought-waves (to use a favorite term), and these waves, after the initial force of projection is expended, float along like clouds, mixing with other thought-waves of the same character, and extending often to far distant parts of the earth. Some of the thought emanations remain around the place from which they were sent forth, and unless disturbed by strong thoughts of a contrary nature will remain but slightly changed for many years. Other thoughts sent forth with a definite purpose or under a strong desire, emotion, or passion, will go forth rapidly toward the object to whom they are directed. We shall see instances of this as we proceed with this lesson.
The majority of persons put very little force into their thought; in fact, thinking with them becomes almost a mechanical process, and consequently their thought-waves have very little motion imparted to them and do not travel very far, unless drawn by some other person of similar thought who attracts them to him. (We are merely stating general principles as we go along, repeating them when necessary, so that the student will gradually absorb the idea. We consider this conversational method the most effective form of teaching—far more so than the usual "cut, and-dried " form.)
We wish the student to particularly understand that when we say " Thoughts are Things," we are not using the words in a figurative sense or in a fanciful way, but that we are expressing a literal truth. We mean that thought is as much a " thing " as is light, heat, electricity, or similar forms of manifestations. Thought can be seen by the psychic sight; can be felt by the sensitive; and, if the proper instruments were in existence, could be weighed. Thought, after being sent forth, is of a cloudy appearance, bearing the color belonging to it, as de-scribed in our lesson on the Aura. It is like a thin vapor (the degree of density varying), and is just as real as the air around us or the vapor of steam or the numerous gases with which we are acquainted. And it has power, just as have all of these forms of vapor which we have just mentioned.
In this place let us mention that when a thought is sent forth with strength, it usually carries with it a certain amount of Prana, which gives it additional power and strength, and often produces startling effects. The Prana practically " vitalizes " it in some cases, and makes of it almost a living force. We will have more to say on this point a little later on.
So, friends and students, please remember always that when we speak of thoughts being real things, we mean just what we say. It may be necessary for you to fix this fact in your minds by picturing the mind as sending forth thought emanations. Some find the picture of the throwing off of light-waves an easy way to fix the idea in their minds. Others prefer the illustration of the throwing off of heat by a stove. Others find it easier to think of a flower throwing off a strong perfume. And one student (now far advanced) preferred to think of thought emanations as akin to the steam being projected from a boiling tea-kettle. Take your choice or invent illustrations of your own, but get the idea fixed in your minds some way. It is much easier to work out these things by means of a material illustration than to attempt to carry an abstract idea in the mind.
While, as a rule, the power of thought of a certain kind depends upon the strength with which it has been projected, there is another element of strength which enables thoughts to manifest power. We allude to the tendency of thought to attract to itself other thoughts of a similar nature and thus combine force. Not only does thought along any lines tend to attract to the thinker corresponding thought attracted from the thought-atmosphere within the field of attraction, but thoughts have a tendency to flock together—to coalesce, to blend together. The average thought-atmosphere of a community is the composite thoughts of the people composing that community. Places, like persons, have their peculiarities, their characteristics, their strong and weak points, their prevailing atmosphere. This fact is apparent to all who have thought at all upon these lines, but the matter is usually dismissed without any attempt at explanation. But it must be apparent that the place itself is not an entity, and that these characteristics are not inherent in them, but must have some cause or origin. The occultist knows that this thought-atmosphere of a village, town, city, or nation is the composite thought of those dwelling in it or who have previously dwelt there. Strangers coming into the community feel the changed atmosphere about it, and, unless they find it in harmony with their own mental character, they feel uncomfortable and desire to leave the place. If one, not under-standing the laws operating in the thought world, remains long in a place, he is most likely to be influenced by the prevailing thought-atmosphere, and in spite of himself a change begins to be manifest in him and he sinks or rises to the level of the prevailing thought.
In the older countries the characteristics of the leading cities of the nation have grown more or less alike, although there are still many points of difference which the stranger at once feels when he visits them. But in America, where the country is larger and newer, the differences to be noticed in localities are most marked. This is true not only in different sections of the country, but in cities near each other. Let the thoughtful stranger visit in turn the leading cities of the United States, and he will be struck with the spirit of each place, each having its own personality and characteristics, the result of certain lines of thought on the part of the early settlers of the place, which in turn affected the new-comers, who added their thought emanations to the atmosphere of the place, and so on, from time to time, until the several cities have grown farther apart in their characteristics than have many different nationalities. Let the stranger visit in turn, say Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, and San Francisco, and he will notice the greatest differences in the characteristics of each place. This difference does not appear so strongly when he talks to individual citizens, but is quite noticeable when he opens himself up to the "spirit of the place." People often speak of these characteristics as "the air " of the place, and the real explanation has been given above—it is the thought-atmosphere of the town. These characteristics may be modified or even greatly changed by a new set of people settling in a town. A few energetic thinkers will send forth strong waves of thought in their every-day life, which will soon color the composite thought of the place. The thought, of one strong thinker will overcome the weak, purposeless thought of very many people who send forth only negative thoughts. The positive is a sure antidote to the negative. In the same way the " spirit " of the nation is a composite of the " spirit " of its several parts. If one removes to a town in which the greatest energy is being manifested, he soon feels the effect of the positive thought around him, which awakens similar thoughts within himself. If one removes to a sleepy, " dead " community, his activities will become deadened and he will gradually sink to the level of the town. Of course, the man or woman who has built up a strong, positive individuality will not be affected so easily as the one of opposite characteristics, and, in fact, he may even act as a leaven for the mass ; but in a general way the average person is greatly influenced by the composite thought-atmosphere of the locality in which he spends most of his time.
In the same way dwellings, business-places, buildings, etc., take on the predominant thought of those inhabiting them or who have dwelt in them. Some places are notoriously " unlucky," and, although this condition may be reversed by the man or woman of strong will, the average person is affected by it. Some houses carry with them an atmosphere of sun-shine, good-fellowship, and good cheer, while others are cold and repellent. A place of business is very apt to reflect the prevailing thought of those at the head of the enterprise or those who direct its affairs. Certain shops inspire confidence in patrons, while others cause one to keep a tight clutch on the pocketbook and a close eye on the clerks.
Places in which crimes have been committed often carry with them an unpleasant atmosphere, which originally arose from the strong thoughts sent forth from those participating in the occurrence, both the criminal and the victim. The atmosphere of a prison is horrifying to the sensitive. The atmosphere of a place of vice or scene of low animal pleasures is suffocating to one of higher mental traits. The atmosphere of a hospital is apt to influence those visiting it. The atmosphere of an old church is apt to produce in the mind of the visitor a feeling of quiet and calm. We are speaking in generalities, of course, as there are many influences modifying and changing these tendencies.
Thus it is with individuals. Some carry about them an atmosphere of cheer, sunniness, and courage, while others bring into a room a feeling of inharmony, distrust, and uneasiness. Many act as "kill-joys" and as dampers upon enthusiasm and free expression. Hundreds of instances illustrating this fact might be cited, but the student may supply these from his own experience and observation.
The various waves of thought sent forth by people attract and are attracted by thoughts of a similar character. They form thought strata in the astral space, just as clouds fall into groups in the atmosphere. This does not mean that each stratum of thought occupies a certain portion of space to the exclusion of all other thought clouds. On the contrary, these thought particles forming the clouds are of different degrees of vibration, and the same space may be filled with thought matter of a thousand kinds, passing freely about and interpenetrating, without interference with each other, but not assimilating except with thoughts of similar character, although temporary combinations may be formed in some cases. We cannot go into detail regarding this in this lesson, and merely wish to give the student a general idea of the subject, upon which he may build from time to time.
Each individual draws to himself the thoughts corresponding to those produced by his own mind, and he is of course in turn influenced by these attracted thoughts. It is a case of adding fuel to the fire. Let one harbor thoughts of malice or hate for any length of time, and he will be horrified at the vile flood of thoughts which come pouring into his mind. And the longer he persists in the mental state the worse matters will get with him. He is making himself a center for thoughts of that kind. And if he keeps it up until it becomes habitual to him, he will attract to himself circumstances and conditions which will give him an opportunity to manifest these thoughts in action. Not only does a mental state attract similar thoughts to it, but it leads the thinker into circumstances and conditions calculated to enable him to make use of these thoughts and inclinations which he has been harboring. Let one's mind dwell on the animal passions, and all nature will seem to conspire to lead him into position whereby these passions may be gratified.
On the other hand, let one cultivate the habit of thinking higher and better thoughts, and he will in time be drawn into conditions in harmony with the habit of thought, and will also draw to himself other thoughts which will readily coalesce with his own. Not only is this true, but each person will draw to himself other people of similar thoughts, and will in turn be drawn to them. We really make our own surroundings and company by our thoughts of yesterday or to-day. Yesterday's thoughts influence us to a greater or lesser extent, but to-day's thought will gradually supplant and drive out the cast-off thoughts of the past if we will that such shall be so.
We have said that thought charged with Prana manifested a much stronger force than the ordinary thought. In fact, all positive thought is sent forth charged with more or less Prana. The man of strong will sending forth a vigorous positive thought unconsciously (or consciously if he understands the subject) sends with it a supply of Prana proportioned to the force with which the thought was propelled. Such thoughts are often sent like a bullet to the mark, instead of drifting along slowly like an ordinary thought emanation. Some public speakers have acquired this art, and one can fairly feel the impact of the thought behind their utterances. A strong, vigorous thinker, whose thought is charged strongly with Prana, often creates what are known as Thought-Forms—that is to say, thoughts possessing such vitality that they become almost like living forces. Such thought-forms, when they come into one's psychic atmosphere, possess almost the same power that the person sending them would possess were he present, urging his thought upon you in an earnest conversation. Those high in occult development frequently send thought-forms to aid and help their fellow-beings when in distress or need, and many of us have experienced the effect of helpful thoughts sent in this manner while we did not dream of the cause of the changed feeling which came over us, bringing with it the consciousness of renewed strength and courage.
While thought-forms are often sent out unconsciously by men of selfish desires and aims and many are affected by them, we wish to say that there need be no fear of any one being affected against his own good if he will maintain a mental atmosphere of Love and Confidence. These two conditions will repel the strongest' thought-wave which may either be directed against one or which may be encountered in the astral atmosphere. The higher the order of thought the stronger it is, and the weakest person, providing his mind is filled with Universal Love and Confidence in the One Power, is many times stronger than the person of the strongest power who would stoop to use that power for selfish ends. The highest powers of this kind can be possessed only by those of great spiritual development, who have long since left behind them the low aims and ambitions of undeveloped man. Such persons are constantly sending forth thought-waves of strength and help, which may be drawn upon by those who need such help. All that one has to do is to make the mental demand for help from those who are able to give it, and at once they attract to themselves the waves of the strong, helpful spiritual thought which is being constantly emanated from the minds of the helpers of the race, both in the flesh and out of it. Were the race at the mercy of those of selfish thoughts, it would have perished long since, but things are other-wise ordered.
The only things to be feared in the world of thought-forms are those corresponding with any base thoughts which we may be entertaining ourselves. For instance, if we entertain low, selfish thoughts, we are open to thought-forms of similar character which may be lurking in the psychic atmosphere, which may take hold of our minds and urge us on to the doing of things which we would have shrunk from doing in the beginning. We have the right to invite what mental guests we wish—let us be careful to whom we issue invitations.
Our strong desires create thought-forms which work toward the gratification of those desires, be they good or bad. We draw things toward us and are drawn toward things by these thought-forms. They become powerful helpers, and never sleep in their work. Let us be careful how we send them forth. Send forth no strong thought-desire unless it meet with the approval of the Highest Self. Other-wise you will become enmeshed in the consequences arising from it, and will suffer much in learning the lesson that psychic powers must not be used for unworthy ends. You are punished by such things, not for them. Above all, never under any circumstances send forth a strong desire-thought to injure another, for there is but one consequence of such an act and the experience will prove a bitter lesson. Such a person is usually hanged on the gallows he builds for others. Evil thought projected against a pure mind will rebound at once to the sender, and will gather force from the impact. We must apologize to our students for laying so much stress on these matters, but as there is always the chance of lessons of this kind falling into the hands of those unprepared to receive them, it is necessary for the warning to accompany anything written on the subject, in order to prevent thoughtless persons using the information improperly and thereby injuring themselves as well as others. It is the " Danger " signal displayed for the careless or thoughtless.
Those who have made a study of the dynamics of thought are aware of the wonderful possibilities open for those who wish to take advantage of the stored-up thought which has emanated from the minds of thinkers in the past and present, and which is open to the demand and attraction of the one who may wish to use it and who knows how to avail himself of it.
There has been but little written on this phase of the subject, which fact is somewhat surprising when one considers the wonderful possibilities open to those who wish to take advantage of them. Much thought has been sent forth upon all subjects, and the man who is working along any line to-day may attract to himself most helpful thoughts relating to his favorite subject. In fact, some of the greatest inventions and most wonderful plans have come to some of the world's great people in this way, al-though those to whom they came have not realized from whence their information originated. Many a man has been thinking intently upon a certain subject, and has thrown himself open to the outside thought influences which have rushed toward his receptive mind, and Io ! the desired plan—the missing link—came into the field of consciousness.
Unexpressed thought, originally sent out with considerable force of desire, constantly seeks for expression and outlet, and is easily drawn to the mind of one who will express it in action. That is to say, if an ingenious thinker evolves ideas which he has not the energy or ability to express in action, to take ad vantage of, the strong thoughts on the subject which he throws off will- for years after seek other minds as a channel of expression ; and when such thoughts are attracted by a man of sufficient energy to manifest them, they will pour into his mind like a flood until he seems to be inspired.
If one is working upon some problem which baffles him, he will do well to assume a receptive attitude toward thoughts along the same line, and it is extremely likely that when he has almost ceased to think of the matter at all the solution will flash be-fore him as if by magic. Some of the world's greatest thinkers, writers, speakers, and inventors have experienced examples of this law of the thought world, although but few of them have realized the cause behind it. The astral world is full of excellent unexpressed thoughts waiting for the one who will express them and use them up. This is merely a hint of a great truth—let those make use of it who are ready for it.
In the same way one may draw to himself strong, helpful thought, which will aid him in overcoming fits of depression and discouragement. There is an immense amount of stored-up energy in the thought world, and any one who needs it may draw to himself that which he requires. It is simply a matter of demanding your own. The world's stored-up thought is yours—why do not you take it ?
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