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The Hill of Discernment

By Alfred Trevor Barker

The Creative Power of Thought

The subject of the Creative Power of Thought is intimately related with the first principle in which our Theosophical Movement is rooted. You cannot consider the dynamic and creative effects of the thinking power of the human mind without immediately being struck by the fact that all nations and all men are in reality interconnected to such an extent that they are affected morally and physically by the thoughts and actions of each other. In other words, if there is a nation which is bent upon a vicious, destructive, downward and degenerate course, that nation will inevitably poison the very thought atmosphere of this Globe; and then by means of the inner constitution of the planet upon which we live, there is conveyed to all other nations of the earth that main current of thought and destructive energy that such a nation — or if we choose to make the application, such an individual — chooses to generate.

If that is true, there is fortunately a more cheerful side to the picture, and that is, that just as we are affected morally and physically to our detriment if we are negative and weak enough to be so affected, so also, even unconsciously and against our will, we benefit by those nations and men of goodwill, those individuals of high spiritual nature, who are pouring forth their beneficent thought upon the world; and because of the inescapable unity in which we are all rooted, it benefits with its creative power in the same way that the other, destructive kind of energy pulls the whole fabric of universal life downward — or shall I say retards it somewhat in its upward progress.

This is a very fundamental thought, as I see it, from which to commence our whole study of the subject. In that rather famous book called The Idyll of the White Lotus, there are stated three great Truths, and one of them is to the effect that man has it in his own hands to create his own weal or woe, his own future life and future destiny; and it is done without any doubt at all by means of the dynamic, creative force of his own desire, his aspirations, his thought, and his will. These are the tools which the Theosophist, the occultist, the disciple, the Mahatma, and the man of the world, have at their disposal.

The Theosophical philosophy, therefore, at the very outset of our study ennobles man, and shows him that he has within a godlike and creative power to make for himself the very conditions for which his heart most yearns, most secretly aspires towards. We have all, I have no doubt, tried to experiment with these laws in greater or less degree, in an endeavor to apply them to ourselves. But as a practical example: what should we do if we find ourselves surrounded by conditions we do not want? First of all it is necessary to create the clear mental picture of that which you individually want to achieve, the particular objective that you have set yourself; and immediately very powerful forces are set in motion, for which you individually have a great responsibility. Everything that we desire, especially when the desire is very strong, immediately sets up a current along magnetic lines of force to those layers of space which contain that which we seek; thus creating lines of magnetic attraction with other human beings or spiritual entities who have the capacity to bring to it that which we have set our minds upon. Directly you begin to desire a thing, immediately you are beginning to create for yourself opportunity, and the opportunity will come inevitably to work out that which you yourself, for good or ill, have set your creative forces in motion to bring about. Therefore is it necessary to emphasize the tremendous importance of submitting every such determination, aspiration, desire, to the dictates of the Higher Self in each one of us, to the Silent Witness of all our endeavors. For otherwise, if we are not willing to take the position that was taken two thousand years ago by those who created for us the New Testament; if we have not the point of view "Not my will but Thine," then we may risk to create something of a personal effect or result which will hang around our necks like mill-stones: for the forces that we set in motion are real — they will bring to us that which we want them to bring. Fix your mind, and your will, and your desire to bring evil to another, and you will be destroyed yourself by the reaction that such kind of work brings about.

These forces — we are talking about occultism — are creative and destructive: hence the very thorough drilling that those who study the genuine teachings of Theosophy receive in the moral and ethical basis of the Theosophical philosophy. For if that is not rooted in the student's and aspirant's mind, it is more than likely he will make an application of these laws, when he begins to understand them, that will not only wreck or bring evil (and untold evil) to others with whom he is associated, but still more will he wreck himself.

Now a word as to the means by which the thoughts of other individuals and other nations affect us. It is by means of that which Eliphas Levi called the Astral Light, that part of the Cosmic Ether which is actually the lowest part of that universal Cosmic principle which in the East they call Akasa. That astral light interpenetrates our whole Globe just as it does every other planet in the Solar system. It is imponderable, tenuous, and contains the picture, the impress, the record, and therefore the memory, of every thought and every act that has ever been performed on this Globe. It is because thought travels, that when we emit or permit to pass through our minds a thought, which is a living intelligence, a thing full of life, we are setting in motion a force which goes to the farthest confines of space. Think of all the creative ideas for good along constructive and healthy lines: great inventions, wonderful ideas dreamed by inventors, by poets, by Adepts, by Mahatmas, which are stored up as it were in the Akasa, in the Astral Light, waiting for that man or woman who is high-minded enough to give them expression in action. This is the explanation why, when an inventive mind is concentrated upon a particular problem, the complete solution will often come into his mind, although he has not worked out all the logical steps to the solution that is eventually arrived at. In other words it is possible, if we learn how to do it, to call to our aid the thoughts of the past, and those of the mighty spiritual thinkers of our own era, to help us, to encourage us, in any worthy purpose that we may have, or may be engaged upon. Conversely, to the extent that we are living under the control of the sense life, of the personality, of negative states of mind and thought — to that extent we are calling to — I won't say our aid, but we are attracting, setting in motion, a reinforcement of the very negative, sensual, destructive or evil states of mind in which we may be at any moment of time.

So what does it amount to? It amounts to this: since our mind and consciousness are always busy with something, even when we are almost in a state of inertia, there is some thought, some idea, some aspiration, and some desire, coloring the whole kama-manasic consciousness. Whatever it is that is in our mind is being reinforced, strengthened, by all past thinking along the same line that is stored in the astral light. See how important this is. Without any volition on our part, if we are living at a consistently low level we are inviting all the same forces of a low level to strengthen us in that negative and weak attitude that we are adopting. See, therefore, what tremendous powers and implication and hope the spreading of the Theosophical philosophy and teaching has for mankind. Why? Because you are giving them something in the way of food for their minds that lets the whole Inner Soul of the man rise and take in its comprehension the vast sweep of the Universal Mind, letting in the sunlight of the spiritual life, giving it food, attracting the human soul and the human mind upward.

Directly you link to these teachings on the Creative Power of Thought the doctrine of Karma, and the doctrine of Reincarnation, you begin to see where we are being led: what happens to a man before birth, and what happens to him after death. What he believes about those two stages — ante-natal and after-death — will necessarily govern his thinking here and now. Therefore, these great subjects which have occupied the greatest minds and intellects that the world has ever known, and on which we have a very rich collection of teaching, are necessarily of the greatest importance, just because they do influence our thought, and therefore our action.

There is a very telling page in William Q. Judge's Epitome of Theosophy, which deals with the mechanism by which thought really works, and it shows how, if we fix our mind in disapproval or judgment upon another human being, we attract to ourselves elemental entities of the very nature of the fault that we are condemning, and then we proceed to build into ourselves the very condition that we wish to eradicate in somebody else; and so the fault goes backwards and forwards, intensifying the characteristics in both. The obligation and the remedy are obvious in this case. Exactly the reverse is true if we dwell upon thoughts of beautiful qualities that we would like to see, and do see around us in many cases; for then we are strengthening by our approval, and our goodwill, these characteristics in ourselves and others.

I would like, in connexion with this subject of thought, just to touch very briefly upon the relation of the Theosophical classification of man's constitution, with that of modern psychology. What is the connexion between the conscious mind of the modern psychologist and the Theosophical classification? What is meant by the modern psychologist's subjective mind, and where does it fit into the scheme of occult science?

I venture to suggest that the objective, or conscious mind of the modern psychologist is the lower manas, which is responsible for our ordinary every-day objective thinking; but the unconscious or subjective mind is another matter. The psychologists mix up, from lack of knowledge, the two parts of the mind — the Spiritual, that which inheres in Buddhi: that power of direct cognition and discrimination: the higher part of man; and the force inherent in what we may term the instinctive mind, the mind that is connected with kama-manas. We share this instinctive mind with all kingdoms of nature below us, and in particular the animal kingdom. Here we have nascent thought in the higher exemplars of the animal kingdom; and in that instinctive mind are many of the characteristics that modern psychologists attribute to the subjective mind. But they leave out of account, or are unable to account for, the source of all those higher, nobler ideas of the human mind, which really come from the Divine part of his nature, and which they just classify as the unconscious. These things are very important for us because the Theosophical classification gives a clue as to what we must do in order to use our mental and creative faculties to the highest end.

There is one aspect of this problem that is particularly interesting and very helpful. I have no doubt that many of us have at times been — afflicted, shall I say, with a problem which seems at times beyond our individual capacity to solve: a problem of such difficulty that the advantages and disadvantages of each course are almost equally balanced; and the mind becomes weary, the capacity to think and to solve apparently so inefficient that the person is in a very difficult position. It happens every day for many people. If we apply the laws that are behind this practical application of occult and scientific principles, it is quite possible to relegate the solution of the problem to the right department of the mind, and cease to worry. What do you think is the origin of the useful old practice of not making a decision until you have slept on it, until you have given time for this higher part of what the psychologist calls the Unconscious, or subjective mind, to get to work? It is capable of providing the solution of any problem. Read what H. P. B. has to say in Isis Unveiled about the power of the Adept to rise into the higher consciousness, and know all that ever was, is, or can be known about any subject in the Universe. Why? Simply because the higher part of us, the Divine part of us, is actually omniscient: therefore all we have to do is to find the means of opening ourselves to the inflow of this knowledge — and it can be done by asking for it, by aspiring towards it, by opening our minds to it, by presenting the problem in a good and orderly fashion, and leaving it to that higher part of the mind to find the solution; and if you have a sufficiently strong desire, and a sufficiently developed will, and enough confident expectation (which you may, if you wish, call faith), the result is quite certain, and you find within the requisite time the solution of the problem. This, of course, is a law which is constantly used by all of us all the time — generally perhaps more or less unconsciously; but nevertheless it is a law which works, and it is an extremely creative law. There are many illustrations of the working of it which you have probably read about and know very well.

QUESTION: Can thoughts be seen in the Astral Light?

ANSWER: Yes, if we have the necessary power of psychic vision, of course they are very easy to see; but if you have not this psychic vision opened you won't see them — you will see just what is before your eyes as usual.

QUESTION: In what form would they be seen or colored?

ANSWER: It just depends upon the person who has created the thought — whether he is able to think with precision and clarity, in which case the thought will achieve a very definite form, and will be embued with pranic life and color in accordance with the quality of thought, emotion, aspiration, desire, that the person injected into it at the time the thought was emitted. It might be said that the kind of thought which is sent forth with the most powerful type of will is usually the most evil and material. Thoughts that are sent out with passion and hatred are very powerful, because they are energized with a tremendous amount of pranic vitality. Stronger still, of course, are thoughts sent out by a highly spiritual entity. Such a thought will actually have the power, when projected into the aura of an individual, or into a room full of people such as this, of producing a peaceful and beneficent influence almost as great as if a Mahatma were present in the very room. These are some of the different effects of thought, but of course the subject is a big one.

QUESTION: The laws of desire and thought — ought they to be used for any practical purpose in one's own life, or used merely for spiritual purposes?

ANSWER: I have been trying to give illustrations of the way we can use them in our daily lives. It just depends: if our lives are selfish then our desires and thoughts will necessarily be selfish; but probably you are attaching too low a value, and too much significance, and at the same time too little significance, to our personal and everyday needs. I think it is a profound mistake to try to divorce the everyday demands of life that we all experience from the spiritual part of our being. Man should be looked upon, and we should look upon ourselves, as complete entities, not chopped up into little parts. If we have spiritual ideals and objectives we shall also have personal duties in life to perform, and thus the laws that we learn and study in Theosophical teaching are properly applied to the regeneration of our personal lives, desires, thoughts, feelings and all the rest. Certainly we should use them.

QUESTION: In what sense did you use the words 'creation of a thought'?

ANSWER: The thought itself is not created, but we are janitors of the temple so to speak, and we can permit or refuse the entrance into the temple of the mind whatever thought we like. In that sense I have been using the idea of creative thought, because we are arbiters of our destiny, and therefore in a true sense creators. Though we do not create thought we nevertheless create those causes for which we are responsible for good or ill.

QUESTION: How is thought affected by Karma? If a man's thoughts are negative and evil and he suddenly changes.

ANSWER: If people have for years or lives thought negatively, that is because that is the state of their own inner being; and once the reaction, which must be extremely painful, as all negative states are not only painful but also destructive — when the suffering caused by such reaction has reached sufficient intensity, and gone on long enough, the man will be compelled by nature's beneficent and compassionate law, to turn inward upon himself and seek the cause of this negative condition, and then he will realize that he has placed himself in a prison of his own making. You will find that his course has been downward into matter all these years or lives, and he will say, "Well, I have put myself in this box, I will get out of it"; and by aspiring upwards and making a good strong effort of his spiritual will, he begins to create real thoughts, living messengers of good for himself and his fellows. Certainly he can begin right now. He has no need to wait. We have it in our hands to do these things.

QUESTION: Would you say that the thoughts fade out of the Astral Light as the effects of them are worked out, or do they remain just as evident?

ANSWER: They tend to dissipate as they are translated into action. Assuming that powerful thoughts are generated, they are not necessarily translated into action. There are plenty of people who are very good at dreaming and inventing clever things, but who are not really men of action; and these thoughts will remain in the astral light until eventually they find a responsive mind, and their energy is dissipated by being worked out in action; but then they are created thereby still more powerful. For example, you think of an invention that nobody knows anything about except the inventor; then somebody takes it up, translates it, and all the world knows about this new invention. Well then the Astral Light is more impregnated by this idea than it was before. If the thoughts are weak then they tend to dissipate more quickly, but if spiritually vital or destructively powerful they last quite a long time.

QUESTION: At that rate there may be cases where there is no record left at all of certain thoughts?

ANSWER: There is actually a record, permanent and indelible, in the higher parts of Akasa. It is so for thought in the same way as there is a permanent and indelible record of all past history. It is there, but there is this difference: that a record may be there, but there is no dynamic force in a record per se. It is like a page of a book, which is nothing unless someone reads it and is affected by it; but thought force, creative thought, energy, which is of course an elemental creature — actually comes into being around an idea or a powerful desire, and is a creative energy in the Universe; and then, when it has worked out its destiny — fulfilled its karmic destiny — then only the record remains as distinct from the undischarged and vital energy. It is like the record that we leave behind us when we depart from this earth. It is not the same thing as having the man here in life. He is the vital entity who can do things the record can do nothing.



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