The living practice
Lack of a correct world view, and of the capacity to think logically and reason soundly from it, may easily be hidden when the aspirant has only to talk about his beliefs to his fellow aspirants, but it will become apparent when he has to apply himself to dealing with the necessary problems and everyday situations that arise in the course of human experience. In the face of such demands on his practical qualities, his theoretical shortcomings will then show themselves. If it is difficult to judge the truth of a system or a doctrine by intellectual means alone, it is much easier to do so by observance of its visible results in living.
Because Mind has always and universally existed so has its associated aspect, Energy, or Life-Force. And because Mind connotes meaning and creates purpose, my life has a meaning and a purpose linked with the Universe's: it is neither empty nor alone. Hope, prayer, truth, and Presence are my birthright. I am entitled to them. But I must claim the right, make it my own through faith at first, and possibly through knowledge later.
This invariable truth, that man does not exist in matter but in mind, blesses those who receive it. For it helps to console them in affliction, to guide them in meditation, and to illumine them in reflection.
Perceive these two things now: the dreamlike character of life in the world, and the illusory character of the personal ego. Hence the need of the "What am I?" enquiry, that the illusion of the ego may be dispelled. When you can see these things clearly, then you may be still and undisturbed, unentangled, and unillusioned amid the struggle of life. You will be wise, free, impervious to the petty persecution of men--their lies, malice, and injuries--for being no longer identified with the personality, you are no longer their target.
The doctrine will be his when feeling confirms what reason inculcates, when the figure and history of this world seem no more than a vivid thought in his mind.
Why does time take the sharp edge from our griefs? The answer usually includes at least three factors--the subsistence of emotional reaction to it, its placing in the long-range perspective, and the press of new experience upon our attention. But there is a fourth factor whose existence is generally unnoticed and whose importance is equally unknown. This is the fact that the grief tends more and more to become a past memory, more and more recognized for what it really always was, that is, a thought.
When we are free from the illusion that things are outside the mind, the way is prepared for an easier conquest over the desire for them--that is, for equanimity. "From desire of happiness men, enemies to themselves, blindly slay their own happiness," said Shanti Deva hundreds of years ago.
The practical value of grasping that the world is an idea is not only in the spirit of calm detachment which it gives but also in the liberation which it gives from various fears.
The value to the seeker after wisdom of comprehending the world's mentalistic nature is that it assists him to lose his fear of it as well as his attachments to it.
However much a Mentalist I may be by conviction and experience, I do not let it blot out the kind of world in which my body is living and active. The need for practicality, the keeping of both feet on the ground, is still there.
There is no reason why a mentalist should fail to regard the actual world as practically as any materialist. He is neither a fool nor a dreamer. He calls on both the scientific attitude and the mystical experience to support his view.
Through the disappearance of the world during mystical meditation he finds out its non-materiality. This is the Glimpse. But with his return to the world his glimpse changes into a memory only. How to establish it permanently, this harmony between inner vision and outer world, is discoverable only when living and active in the world yet thoroughly understanding the mentalistic nature of the world.
Such development comes only after many births. And since this truth has to be lived, it must be in practice and not only in theory. Before a man comes to this truth, this mentalism, much time is needed to enable his mind to develop and receive it.
The practical message of mentalism is not only to warn us of the creative value of our thought but also to bid us seek out the source of thought. For there lies our real home, and there we must learn to dwell habitually.(P)
The mental character of the world of our experience, once accepted, changes our religious, metaphysical, scientific, moral, and practical attitudes. Much in it does not need much thought for us to realize how grave is the importance of this fact, how momentous the results to which it leads!(P)
Inwardly and daily he returns to this idea that all is Idea, that the familiar world--its places and people, its city life seething with activity, its vaunted civilization and polished culture--has no other existence than in his consciousness and takes its reality from that. So to become conscious of Consciousness detached from its productions--thoughts--is his task, draws his strength and devotion.
Because mentalism is to become a vivid fact for him and not remain a mere theory, the advanced disciple will have to convert his joys and agonies into real-seeming dream-stuff. And he will have to achieve this conversion by the power of his own hard will and his own keen understanding. The higher self may help him do this, for he may find that some of the deepest sorrows which befall him are of a special kind. They may be extremely subtle or strikingly paradoxical or tremendous in vicissitudes. For instance, he may be estranged in the most poignant way from those dearest to him, from the master he reveres, the friends he needs, the woman he loves. He may be permitted to meet them in the flesh only briefly and only rarely, so that he will seek compensation by learning the art of meeting them often and long in thought. If these inner experiences can utterly absorb his imaginative attention, they will come to seem as actual as outer ones. If the capacity to introspect be united with the capacity to visualize in this intense way, the result will be astonishingly effectual. Thus he comes in time to see the Mental as Real. Thus he lifts himself from a lower point of view to a higher one. Thus he thoroughly overcomes the extroverted materialism of ordinary human perception.(P)
The way out is constantly to remember to think and to affirm that the world and all one sees and experiences in it has no other substance than Mind and gets its brief appearance of reality from Mind. When this is thoroughly understood and applied, its truth will one day stay permanently with him.(P)
Even though he knows it is like a dream, he must live, work and act, love, strive and suffer as if the dream were true.
The realization of the mentalistic character of our daily life need not curtail its interest, efficiency, or vividness. But there inevitably arises little by little an inward detachment from all things and all creatures, situations, and environments, which is the preliminary sacrifice required of the ego before the Overself's Grace can be shed down upon it.
The effect of a full and proper absorption of these ideas is to strengthen a man and invigorate his purpose, to make him feel that what is behind the universe is behind him too.
The illusion of materialism, of a world external to consciousness, could not be preserved if this practice of referring all objects to their source were faithfully and perseveringly followed. The truth of mentalism then becomes solidly implanted.
Confronted by the full meaning of mentalism, we are startled into discoveries of the highest importance. The world becomes a deception of the mind, its reality no longer a certainty. But the corollary is that the deception can be stopped, the truth revealed, the authentic reality recovered. This requires the corrective work first of the Quest and finally of the mentalistic techniques.
The illuminate sees objects as other persons do, only his sense of materiality is destroyed, for he sees them too as ideas, unreal. The illuminate's viewpoint is not the yogi's viewpoint. The illuminate finds all the world in himself, says the Gita. This means he feels sympathetically at one with all creatures, even mosquitoes or snakes.
Our pleasures and pains are not different when we realize them to be mentalistic, but our attitude toward them is different.
The constant practice of identifying himself with the mind rather than with the body-idea which inheres in it, leads in time to a certain freeing of himself from himself.
Just as a writer would convert imagined or lived experience into written work, so an instructed person would convert his vicissitudes into mentalist knowledge.
One need not seek out those unscalable heights for which the saints thirst, however much the purification of thought, feeling, and deed the philosophers welcome. Whoever understands Mentalism will also understand why.
The body is there but he is not present in it. Activity goes on but he does not seem to be the actor. It is as if he were not present at all, except as an observer. Somehow he is in society, for they see and hear him, but he does not belong to society. Now at last he understands perfectly dying Socrates' celebrated phrase: "Yes, if you can catch me." For he understands the "I," comprehends mentalism. Now at last Reason governs him and truth is revealed plainly to him.
The Oriental notion that escape from life is escape from bondage is an opinion which admittedly has its point, but is not cared for in the mentalist outlook. Instead, a divine order, a meaning-purpose, replaces it.
There are great possibilities open to the man who believes in and applies mentalism. This is indirectly evident by the history and state of the Christian Science movement, for it will be found that many Christian Scientists, if they have really understood and constantly applied their doctrine, have risen to high executive positions. Why is this? It is partly because they have obeyed the higher moral law and partly because they have used the creative power of meditation. They have tried to run their businesses on the Golden Rule, and they have positively affirmed ideals in their business and work. Thus they have made good karma for themselves not only by acting morally but also by acting creatively through using their thoughts in a constructive, healthy manner. They do not believe that business is a struggle of wolves but an opportunity to serve and to profit by such service. They do not believe that it is an opportunity to get the best of others unscrupulously but that it is an opportunity to practise ideals and to express ethics. They do not believe in depending solely on their own little selves for results but they also look up to a higher power, God, in prayer and thought. They increase their openness and receptivity to this higher power by trying to purify their characters and to ennoble their personalities.
To the degree that we are able to transcend the world-thought within our consciousness, to that degree we are able to transcend the gravitational force of worldly desire itself. But this presupposes a knowledge of the mentalistic doctrine. Therefore, even in the sphere of ethics can be seen the usefulness of such knowledge.
Mentalism does not teach us to ignore the world and to dismiss the body. It does not tell us to cease from activity and to deny life's utility. It simply gives us a new and truer way of looking at these things.
Those who can lay proper hold of its knowledge will find that it carries power instead of depriving them of it as superficial critics believe.
We begin to be about our Father's business when we begin to seek life in Mind, not in matter.
What is the hidden meaning of Saint Paul's words which are so often quoted but so little understood: "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace"? Do they refer only to sexual morality? Do they refer to pious feelings? For those who are children in the quest of truth, the answer is obviously in the affirmative. But for the mentally mature and philosophically enlightened, there is a totally different meaning in this statement. To be carnally minded means to apprehend the flesh, that is, matter, as reality. To be spiritually minded means to take nothing else than the egoless Mind as reality. Whoever does this and seeks beyond both matter and ego, obtains the result which Paul indicates--that is, true life and unbroken peace.
At this level he becomes a spectator who sees the actions and notes the thoughts of body and intellect. He registers the emotions too but does not join with them.
He begins to perceive for the first time the inner nature of people and the inner purpose of events.
When we begin to realize the mentalist nature of our whole life-experience we begin to take its varied impressions like water on a duck's back.
We are in part fleeting pictures in each others' minds. Every night the canvas is rolled up, the show comes to an end, the cinema screen is left blank, and we vanish as though we never were. Is it worthwhile being too solemn about this brief business of living?
He now sees what he did not see earlier, that the outer happenings of his life are often connected with the inner trends of his thought and that a change in the latter will often produce a change in the former.
The mentalist view of man is neither a romantic approach to life nor a neurotic escape from it.
The impact of this discovery that the mind is merely dreaming the world around him and that the senses are merely contributing to this dream, may be quite unsettling for a long while afterwards. Our life may be deprived of purpose, our existence of reality, our will of its power, and our desires of their vitality. For those who have been too attached to earthly things, such a mental state may be useful medicine to cure them of their excessive attachments. But man does not live by medicine alone; he needs bread. Therefore, we must put this discovery eventually in its proper place along with all the rest of philosophic truth. If we succeed in doing this we shall recover our balance, we shall live in the world but not be of it, we shall be adequate to our responsibilities but not be enslaved by them, we shall be active but not let activity destroy our inward peace.
The powerful knowledge
Power, whether it be worldly or spiritual, always brings responsibility with it.
Our existence as human beings is conditioned, and at times even dominated, by circumstances. Often we should like to remold these, but to do so requires control, and control indicates the need for power, and power depends upon knowledge. This is the justification of philosophy. When we understand its doctrines aright, that mind constructs its experience, its environment, its world, we understand the implication that an amendment in our environment can come only through amendment in our thinking. Thought is creative, and we are continually building both ourselves and our environment by the characteristics and qualities of our thoughts.
What to do with the spiritual force current when you feel it--it should be mentally directed into any channel you think advisable or towards any person you wish to help. It will not, however, be wasted if you fail to do so because it will be drawn upon without your conscious knowledge by those who look to you and think of you when they need the inner help. If, however, you deliberately direct it, it will naturally have much more possibility of reaching this objective successfully and effectively.
When the mind is fully withdrawn from the physical body and turned in on itself, the thoughts which are then entertained become creative and dynamic on their own plane. What is desired or expected immediately manifests itself. It is a wonderful dream-world where imagination rules supreme and assumes the fullest reality, externalizing itself instantaneously and bringing the man face to face with his own thought as though it were some thing outside himself.
While the senses are in abeyance, the deeper level of mind where lie its creative roots can become more easily active.
Thus thinking is used as a means of going beyond it, and imagination as a means of suspending it. These two faculties, which hinder the ordinary man from attaining spiritual awareness, actually help the philosophically instructed aspirant to attain it.
It was not Jesus' thorn-crowned corpse that was resurrected but the man himself, not his transient body but his immortal consciousness. For mentalism teaches us that a mental form can be seen by others so vividly, so objectively, that it can easily be taken--or mistaken--for a physical one.
You triumph over conditions in the moment that you triumph over the thought of them.
Remember that Emerson said of Napoleon: "He never blundered into a victory. He gained his battles in his head before he won them in the field."
Whoever can understand that substance is inseparable from life and that life is inseparable from mind, whoever can intellectually perceive that the whole universe itself is nothing less than Mind in its different phases, has found the theoretical basis for an appreciation of the wonderful possibilites which dwell behind human experience. The mind's powers can indeed be extended far beyond their present puny evolutionary range. He who reflects constantly upon the true and immaterial nature of Mind and upon its magically creative powers tends to develop these powers. When he becomes capable of successful and ego-free concentration, these powers of mind and will come to him spontaneously. It is natural that when his will becomes self-abnegated, his emotion purified, his thought concentrated, and his knowledge perfected higher mental or so-called occult powers arise of their own accord. It is equally natural that he should remain silent about them, even if only because they do not really belong to the named personality which others see. They belong to the Overself.(P)
Telepathy is possible not because thought can travel in space but because space is actually in thought.(P)
The human body is a part of consciousness, indeed a major part, but consciousness itself is only a part of a larger and deeper consciousness of which we are normally unaware. Yet it is in this mysterious region that the creative origin of the body-idea lies. If the ordinary "I" cannot make the body keep well by merely holding the thought, this is because the creative power lies in an "I" which transcends it. The ego which identifies itself with the body thereby stultifies its latent powers. But as soon as it begins to identify itself with pure Mind, certain powers may begin to unfold. Many cases of mystic phenomena, such as the stigmata of Catholic saints, confirm this.(P)
Whoever develops these powers of the Overself must develop a strong sense of responsibility with them, an awareness that they have been entrusted to him as to a custodian. The grace which allows them can also disallow them.
A thought will annihilate distance and reach here or elsewhere provided it is sufficiently concentrated and provided there is attention to its reception. This naturally results from the universality of Mind. But it is much easier for telepathy to operate after there has been a single meeting on this material plane. Even a letter which has been read and signed by one person acts to some extent, vicariously, in place of such a meeting.
It is not easy to authenticate the belief that the violent emotion--that is, the strong ideas--of a pregnant mother may influence the form of her unborn child. It is much easier to authenticate, however, the appearance of stigmata on the physical body in the historic cases of nuns immersed in empathic contemplation of the crucifixion of Jesus. Once we understand something of the secret of the concentrated mind we understand something of the secret of the magic.
If a man does not use his mystical gifts in a disinterested way, if he exploits them for selfish or immoral purposes, then the inescapable divine law is that he shall slowly or suddenly lose them.
If abnormal powers appear in a person who is still without philosophical readiness for them, they will prove themselves unreliable, either for accuracy or permanency.
It is better to be over-cautious than over-dogmatic when considering the miraculous and the supernatural. It is useless for people to set up limits for what is or is not possible in Nature. To do so would mean that they have got a full knowledge of Nature's laws--a claim nobody dare make in these days and expect any sensible person to accept it. We have lived to see several nineteenth-century so-called laws of Nature abrogated by man himself, not to speak of earlier ones like the "laws of gravity."
He knows now that his life-experience can be as boundless or as confined as his own thought.
It lies in your mind whether or not you shall make something worthwhile of your life. What you have learned from the past, what you think of the present, and what you seek from the future--all these ideas combine and influence the achieved result.
We sin in thought first and then only in the body.
That which we experience inwardly as thought must, if it be strong and sustained enough, manifest itself outwardly in events or environment or both.
We are nearly (but not quite) as much in the dark about these higher worlds of being as an infant in the womb is about our own natal world.
There are extraordinary capacities in the human mind which are occult only in the sense that they are untapped and uncultivated. If we take the trouble to discover their existence by means of mystical concentration and to utilize them by constant experiment, we may obtain surprising results.
Just as the galvanometer will detect surrounding forces which escape man's own senses and which are both invisible and intangible to him, so one who is trained in the art of mental quiet becomes able in time to detect, through the activity of the mind's powers, things which are beyond the range of those to whom the art is unfamiliar and who lack the sensitivity it affords. He finds himself in a mental world of extraordinary manifestations. Mental images which appear to the mental touch, sight, or hearing will manifest themselves first because, being based on the senses, they reach the ordinary consciousness more easily.
It is said that power corrupts men--but this may be also true on the spiritual plane. Few men can develop occult power and not be corrupted by it.
When these telepathic incidents keep on happening with regularity, the connection between them and the higher power now at work is impossible to miss.
The creative artist achieves inspiration when he forgets himself and lives in his created forms--that is, when he accepts his thoughts as realities.
He who can arrive at the standpoint of realizing his own body as a thought structure can work wonders with it. He who can realize that things in space are ideas can annihilate space at will. And he who can regard present time as he regards past time can work marvels now.
He will discover how much his environment, even his work, is a projection of his personality and of the thoughts that go to make it.
The true meeting of individuals does not occur in the daily world, but in the world within thought--nay, deeper than thoughts. This world has become real for many and will become increasingly so for others.
The creative power of mind was evidenced at the beginning of the nineteenth century by the case of Joanna Southcott. She was a prophetess and also the founder of a Christian sect in England. In one of her visions Jesus appeared and promised she would bear a child, in which he himself would reincarnate. For some months her body showed all the outward signs of pregnancy, both to examining matrons and to inspecting medical men. She herself felt something moving and growing within her. Then she died, exactly nine months after her supposed conception. Surgeons conducted a post-mortem examination but could find no cause whatever for the previous appearance of pregnancy. Her fervent wish, ardent faith, and continuous concentration on the idea had released subconscious forces which materialized it.
A man's face becomes white when a strong thought of fear enters his mind; another time it becomes red when a strong thought of shame enters it. Thus mind changes the expression on his face and reveals its influence on the body.
Once we perceive the truth and implications of mentalism, the tremendous practical and persuasive value of good suggestions and creative imaginations will also be perceived.
No man knows how deep is the reservoir of forces--mental, volitional, or psychical--within him untapped and unused.
The idea which a man has of himself is important to his inner life and growth.
In Jerome K. Jerome's play The Passing of the Third Floor Back, when the part of "The Stranger" was played in London by Forbes-Robertson, the latter was so overcome by the lofty spirituality of the principal role that he had to cancel a long-standing arrangement with fellow-actors to go out after work in the theatre for a glass of wine at a tavern and thence to a restaurant for dinner. During the run of the play, F-R could not bring himself to do anything so material while his mind was still so exalted with the afterglow of "The Stranger's" character. A lady with long experience as an actress, both on the theatrical stage and in radio broadcasting, once told me that she had found the work of acting could become a path to spiritual self-realization. She said that she found it necessary to act so intensely on the stage in order to be thoroughly convincing that she lost herself in the part she played. It was a complete concentration. She became so absorbed in it that she really did identify herself with it, become one with it. In other words, she lost her own personal identity for the time. She projected herself so fully into her characters that there was no room for her own familiar ego. She concluded that acting was a yoga-path because the same capacities for self-absorbed thought, if sufficiently directed in spiritual aspiration towards the higher self and not towards some weak human character, could one day turn an actor into an adept. Henry Daniell denied all these assertions and told me his own experience refuted them. A point of view which partially reconciles these two conflicting ones is that his theory is correct for the great mass of actors, whereas the lady's theory is correct only for the geniuses among them. The first are always conscious of being witnesses of their own performances, being too egotistic to do otherwise; but the others are not, being able, like all true geniuses, to rise during creative moments above themselves. In confirmation of this point of view is the fact, noted by Charles Lamb and confirmed by the actress herself, that Mrs. Siddons, one of Britain's supreme theatrical geniuses, used to shed real tears (not fakes) when she played the part of "Constance" at Drury Lane. Henry Daniell's belief that the actor always remains apart in his inner consciousness is thus refuted. He may do so but the perfect actor, the genius, does not and cannot. He must live his assumed character perfectly if he is to succeed in completely putting it over to the audience.
This lady said further that it is well known in the theatrical world that certain actors become what is technically called "typed." That is, in their personal character they tend to become more and more like the kind of part they have mostly played during their career. If a man has been cast as a villain year after year throughout his life, he actually begins to develop villainous traits in his moral character as a result. This, she said, was the effect of his intense concentration while upon the stage reacting later on his off-stage mentality. Another extremely interesting thing which, she said, helped to convince her of the truth of mentalism, was that when she had given herself with the utmost intensity to certain situations in which she played on the stage, and played repeatedly over a long period of time, situations somewhat similar would enact themselves in her own personal life later on. The discovery startled her for it revealed the creative power of concentrated thought.
Finally, she told me it was common knowledge in her profession that the most effective way to learn the words for a part is to learn them at night in bed just before sleep. No matter how tired she was at that time the lines would sink into the subconscious with a couple of readings and emerge next morning into the conscious with little effort. Critical comment on the above: E.Y. says that it is true that most actors do lose themselves utterly in their roles. Nevertheless, this happens only if they are mediocre artists or unevolved spiritually. The supreme artists, as well as those who are highly developed spiritually, do feel perfectly able to play the observer to their acting part, to stand aside from the role even in the very midst of playing it.
Where these mental powers are used for evil purposes, such as to suborn the free will of another person to make him act against that person's own interests, the results will act like a boomerang one day to punish the evildoer.
There is such a thing as telepathy. A fine concentrated thought, a strong emotion, once born, will float through the air and pass into some kindred mind which will discover and use it, just as the etheric waves which carry wireless speeches are flung around the world and picked up by receiving sets which are able to tune in, under appropriate conditions and within certain limitations.
Why do stigmata not appear among Hindu Yogis, Chinese Taoists, and Persian Sufis? Why do they not even appear among Protestant Christians and the Greek-Russian-Syrian Eastern Church? Why do they appear only in the Catholic Church which alone puts strong emphasis on meditation upon Christ's wounds? How perfectly this illustrates and vindicates the truth of the Lord's declaration, in the Bhagavad Gita, that "By whatever path a man approaches Me, by that path I receive him."
We are influencing the coming years by our thoughts. The importance of thought in forming external environment, the value of imagination in ultimately creating circumstances, and the use of visualizing the sort of life we aspire to have, are to be impressed and re-impressed on a generation which has to escape from the materialistic outlook. By this twofold process of rising to our divine source and controlling our intellectual ideas, we can begin to control our outward life in an extraordinary manner.
The mystic experience
If students can understand the way the mind and the senses really work, what the results of this working are, and what direction they point to . . . if they can break through that barrier between flesh and thought which favours materialism and agnosticism and even atheism, then the perception actually becomes a spiritual experience. It is the key opening the way to mentalism's discovery and acceptance.
Those who have had the profounder kind of spiritual experience and have understood it, not only can not interpret life in terms of dead matter or mechanical dynamics, but must interpret it in terms of mind.
Kept down to his little cares and petty interests, confined within his own ego held under delusion that this is all there is of him, of his being and consciousness, and finally stupefied by the power of sexuality, what wonder that he is ignorant of his higher nature, his connection with the divine? He can come into this knowledge by correct deep thought or by purified cleansed faith or by the influence of someone else who has discovered it. Whatever the way, he has the practical possibility of lifting himself up to a new awareness.
The enigma of what we are can get its first convincing answer by mentalistic study and practice: it brings a man into awareness of his soul.
Until he acquires firm possession of the truth of mentalism, the mysteries which lie beyond it can be only hazily grasped.
If they would only stop to think over the meaning and the importance of self-consciousness, they might get at the Great Secret.
The doctrine of mentalism is understood personally or confirmed practically by an advanced mystical experience, provided the experience itself is not misunderstood through overstrong preconceived notions which are brought to it.
We do not dream the waking world as we dream during sleep. For the latter is spun out of the individual mind alone, whereas the former is spun out of the cosmic mind and presented to the individual mind. However, ultimately, and on realization, both minds are found to be one and the same, just as a sun ray is found to be the same as the sun ultimately. The difference which exists is fleeting and really illusory but so long as there is bodily experience it is observable. It is correct to note that the present birth-dream is caused by past tendencies; we are hypnotized by the past and our work is to dehypnotize ourselves, that is, to create new thought-habits until the flash comes of itself. But the flash itself comes during a kind of trance state, which may last for a moment or longer. It comes during the higher meditation of supramysticism.(P)
In one of those apocryphal books which was rejected by those men who formed the canonical collection called the New Testament--a rejection in which they were sometimes wrong, and certainly in this instance--there occurred a saying of Jesus which runs, "When the outside becomes the inside, then the kingdom of heaven is come." Can we expand this mystical phrase into non-mystical language? Yes, here it is: "When the outside world is known and felt to be what it really is--an idea--it becomes a part of the inside world of thought and feeling. When its joys and griefs are known to be nothing more than states of mind, and when all thoughts and feelings and desires are brought from the false ego into the true Self at their centre, they automatically dissolve--and the kingdom of heaven is come."(P)
When you stop putting borders around your consciousness by holding it to bodily and mental experiences, you give it a chance to show itself for what it is--infinite--and you give the world which plays the role of object to consciousness's subject a chance to show its own mentalist character as idea.
Think of yourself as the individual and you are sure to die; think of yourself as the universal and you enter deathlessness, for the universal is always and eternally there. We know no beginning and no ending to the cosmic process. Its being IS: we can say no more. Be that rather than this--that which is as infinite and homeless as space, that which is timeless and unbroken. Take the whole of life as your own being. Do not divorce, do not separate yourself from it. It is the hardest of tasks for it demands that we see our own relative insignificance amid this infinite and vast process. The change that is needed is entirely a mental one. Change your outlook and with it "heaven will be added unto you."(P)
To arrive at the understanding that the universe is non-material and is mental, is to be liberated from materialism. It produces a sensation like that felt by a prisoner who has spent half a lifetime cooped up in a dark and dingy fetid dungeon and who is suddenly liberated, set free, put out of doors in the bright sunshine and fresh clean air. For to be a materialist means to be one imprisoned in the false belief that the matter-world is the real world; to become spiritual is to perceive that all objects are mental ones; the revelation of the mental nature of the universe is so stupendous that it actually sets mind and feeling free from their materialistic prison and brings the whole inner being into the dazzling sunshine of truth, the fresh atmosphere of Reality. All those who believe in the materiality of the material world and not in its mental nature, are really materialists--even if they call themselves religious, Christians, spiritualists, occultists, or Anthroposophists. The only way to escape materialism is not to become a follower of any psychic cult or religious faith, but to enquire with the mind into the truth of matter and to be rewarded at length by the abiding perception of its mental Nature. All other methods are futile, or at best are but preparatory and preliminary steps.(P)
Reality is inaccessible to thought so long as we regard the latter as separate from it. The moment this illusion is dropped, the truth is revealed.(P)
Whoever understands that every object and every person he sees around him is separate only in appearance, and appears so only through the unexamined working of his mind, is becoming ripe for realization. But very few are those who have come to such advanced understanding.(P)
There are strange uncommon moments when we seems to be lifted out of ourselves, when the whole of the past and present existences seems but a picture in a fitful dream and when the entire stuff of the universe seems nothing other than momentary thought. At such moments we may understand by an act of intuition rather than of reflection that the world is a product of Mind, not of Matter.
If a materialist would stop to think about this mystery of the ultimate observer and if his thinking faculties were sufficiently sharpened, purified, and made capable of dealing with such an abstract subject, he would lose his materialism and become a mentalist. Let him ask himself who it is that speaks when he speaks about himself, what is this "I," this thing that bears his name? Since that which speaks and that which is spoken of cannot be the same but must be separate, then he would have to admit a further "I" behind the one that speaks about himself. He could go on analysing backwards in a never-ending series in this way. Each time the "I" would seem to have some other "I" to which it was an object and to which it could refer as the subject. The existence of his ego would be established in relativity, for it would seem he could move infinitely and indefinitely through this mystery of what is meant by "I." This is because the instrument which he is using for such analysis is the logical intellect, which would thus reveal to him its strict limitations.
Observing these limitations he would then have to ask himself whether or not it were possible to use a subtler instrument, and then mystical metaphysics would tell him: Yes, such a subtler instrument is available--it is your intuition. Cultivate this rightly, shun its counterfeit, subject your feelings to the philosophic discipline, and then practise meditation. You will find that your intuition will lead you back and back to the one element which is the final "I" and which directs every operation of the subconscious functions of the body, and which gives your personality its consciousness of existence. This "I" is non-physical; it is the inmost part of your mind. Understand this and you will necessarily have to give up materialism. You will become a votary of mentalism. Even more, the realization of this truth in actual experience makes you aware that the universe is friendly to you because you are intimately related to it. Your own mind grows out of the World-Mind. It is this relation which enables your mental nature to think and to know, your emotional nature to feel, and your physical body to act. Without it you would be dead in the fullest sense of the term. Everything inside of you, like everything outside you, changes; but this real Self never changes for it dwells in the kingdom of the World-Mind, the kingdom of heaven which is an everlasting one.
It is a phenomenal feat to understand Einstein's law of relativity as it applies to the physical world; but, after all, this understanding does not bring peace of mind or strength of life. It is quite another thing to understand the law of relativity as it applies to the inner Self and such understanding does bring these things. Our knowledge of physical relativity has led us to control of the atom, whose reward seems to be the likelihood that we shall destroy ourselves, but our knowledge of spiritual relativity leads us to control of the mind, whose reward is to save ourselves.
If mentalism turns our universe upside down for us, further comprehension of it brings the universe back again into position, but transformed, divinized, and divinely supported.
We have the authority of Indian texts for our assertions. Thus: "Through the mind alone It is to be realized," says Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (IV.4.19). And in Shankara's Commentary on the Gita (II.21) we read, "The mind refined by subjugation of body and senses, and equipped with the teachings of scripture and the teacher, constitutes the sense by which the Self may be seen." Finally, Mundaka Upanishad (III.1.8) says, "When a man's mind has become purified by the serene Light of knowledge, then he sees Him."
The word gnana means "knowledge" and is generally translated as such. But it has a secondary and allied meaning: "that which reveals." When the truth of mentalism finally dawns on a man, not only as an idea thought out, an emotion strongly felt, and an experience shattering the last remnants of materialism for him, what happens is the greatest revelation of his life--as sacred as any gospel.
How mentalism lights up those deeper and darker sayings of Jesus! "The kingdom of heaven is within you" is then seen to be both a joyful proclamation of spiritual hope and a statement revealing a little-known fact. It proclaims a heavenly existence as being within reach of the mind that is the real man and it tells of such existence being hidden within the mind itself. Heaven is then no far-off place or no post-mortem condition but a state attainable in this life.
With this progressive deepening of consciousness, the body will come to seem only a part of himself and the physical life only a part of his true life. If he perforce feels that he is the flesh, he also feels that he is much more the spirit. If in the one he is aware of the evanescence of existence here, in the other he is aware of its eternity there.
When this truth of mentalism strikes our mind with vivid lightning-flash, we have gone a long way on the quest.
He discovers the nothingness (no-thing-ness) of matter.
From these mysterious layers of the mind, he may draw up supernal knowledge and divine love.
Our knowledge of the meaning of life ascends progressively with our knowledge of the nature of our own minds.
Hitherto he has accepted the interpretation of his world experience which the lower self has thrust upon him with overwhelming force and great immediacy. Now he must reinterpret it mentalistically under the gentler and slower influence of the higher self.
We not only know that there is a world, with objects and creatures, but also that we ourselves exist. But unless we analyse psychologically and physiologically the "me"-thought and the objects, the consciousness which tells us all this is confined with them and its prior existence is never discovered. The "me"-thought appears simultaneously with the world. We identify with the "me" and with its physical senses, never pausing between one thought and the next to learn what consciousness in itself unmixed with one or the other really is. For here is the basic "I," the holy Spirit, the God-particle within us. Here too thinking as a process slips into contemplation as a stillness.
The mind which is aware is a distinct and separate thing from the things which appear in the field of awareness. That mind is the true self, but those things--which we know only as thoughts--are not. The emotions and thoughts that we commonly experience are outside the ring of the real "I," yet are always taken--or rather mistaken--for it.
Outside of the mystical experience wherein the whole universe rolls up and vanishes away, leaving the man "conscious only of consciousness," the next overwhelming realization of mentalism comes to dying persons.
Why is it that during our most exalted and purest emotional happiness, such as that which comes from listening to fine music or looking at a landscape of wild grandeur or giving ourselves up to, mystical rapture, time seems to be blotted out and we remember its existence only when we are recalled to our ordinary prosaic state? Consider that this strange feeling never arises during our more worldly or more painful episodes. The explanation lies in mentalism. All human experience, including the physical, takes place in the mind. Each episode must be thought into consciousness before it can ever exist for us. If the episode is a happy one, we love to dwell on it, to linger in it, and to become absorbed by it. Such intense concentration greatly slows down the tempo of our thoughts and brings us nearer the utter thought-free stillness wherein our spiritual self forever dwells outside time and space.
This kind of experience demonstrates vividly to those who have not yet been able to practise the meditation required for, and leading up to mystical rapture, what mystics find during such rapture--that man in his true being, in his Overself, is not only timeless but also sorrowless.
The truth of mentalism may become intellectually convincing, but it will be subject to doubts so long as it is not carried into the heart and deeply felt like a living thing. It should attain the force of personal experience.
For those of an intellectual inclination, Mentalism, well-absorbed, can become the forerunner of spiritual awakening.
Mentalism makes it possible for each man to understand why there must be a god. And what is more, it also makes it possible for each man to transcend his intellectual discovery by the mystical experience of the presence of God within himself.
The mystic penetrates the level of ordinary consciousness and thus becomes aware that it has a sacred source.
The faculty of memory is valuable only to the extent that it enables us to remember the Higher Power.
The fact is that the mere awakening to the truth of mentalism is itself a joyous event, while the final realization of it establishes him in a great calm and a decisive insight. It will set him free from leaning on outside supports, on books, however sacred, or men, however respected--if life and development have not already done so.
Whoever continues to regard the world as a material thing continues to obstruct his own efforts to attain the higher mystical experience. This obstruction is only reduced but not removed if he believes the Universal Mind to be behind the material world. Only when he resolutely discards all materialistic and semi-materialistic standpoints, only when the world ceases to be something outside the mind and becomes directly present to it as a thought, can he end this groping in the dark and begin to move successfully forward.
Another truth which follows from the truth of mentalism is likely to be an unexpected one. To materialist atheists and their kind, it will also be an unpalatable one. Because all our human existence, including even our outward experience, is ultimately mental, there is no other way to a genuine and durable human happiness than that which is for all human beings the ultimate one, that irradiation of the thought-bereft mind, that inner peace which passeth (intellectual) understanding which Saint Paul called entry into the kingdom of heaven.
The impact of this truth, coming at the right time to the proper person, has the force of a revelation.
He may go as far as thought can carry him, limited only by the limits of imagination and logic, conjecture and clairvoyance, but in the end his mind must return to the exclusive consideration of itself.
When we understand this truth, we shall understand that the Overself is forever present with us and that this presence is more immediate and intimate than anything else in life.
Thought acquires a right knowledge of itself when it turns back all its attention from the thought-series and seeks its own being.
Mind as man is largely self-ignorant, but Mind as Mind is wholly self-illumined. For man is shut up by the body, imprisoned by the very senses to which he is so grateful for sight, hearing, and feeling. But when he comes into self-awareness he is liberated.
If you believe that the world of material things is outside you, that matter is a separate and solid entity, experience will confirm your belief. You will be a materialist, no matter how pious your life. If, however, by profound thought, deep meditation, and other preliminaries, you have removed some of the obstacles which surround and entrap most people, then you may be more likely to let light dawn within you. You may get the shattering experience of the mentalist revelation: many many discoveries will then be made. You will discover that the world is a form taken by consciousness. You will learn the meaning of the void.
Consciousness as world
If we could reflect profoundly enough about the nature of the I, or the activity of the body, or the composition of the ground upon which we stand, we could arrive at a preliminary but immensely significant solution of the mystery of existence. Gotama did this during a single sitting under a tree and became a Buddha, an enlightened one.
The mystery of Mind is undoubtedly the biggest mystery of all, for when he understands that he will have the key which unlocks the door to all the other problems. However, it is necessary to grasp the following: there are two phases of Mind. The first is Consciousness in its everyday form, that is, the consciousness of this time-space-matter world. He has the illusion that this consciousness is a continuous and unified whole, but actually it is like a stream of machine-gun bullets, being made up of an incessant series of disconnected thoughts. Because these thoughts arise and disappear with extraordinary rapidity, the illusion of continuous consciousness, the illusion of an unchangeable, solid world, and the illusion of a separate ego are born. The word "illusion" used here must not be misunderstood. The existence of this amazing trio is not denied for a single moment, because they are there staring him in the face. But this existence is purely relative. It is not absolutely permanent and therefore not real in the Oriental definition of that much-abused word. He must not confine the notion of Mind to that fragment of it which is used in everyday consciousness. What is called Consciousness is merely a portion of what is called Mind, or, functionally regarded, merely one of its faculties. It is the transient and relatively less important portion too. Whether consciousness lives or dies, Mind will always go on because it is the hidden source. Now this Mind in its own pure stage (i.e., unexpressed through everyday human consciousness) is utterly beyond the range of human thinking because it is Absolute, timeless, spaceless, idea-less, and matterless. It has no shape to be seen, no sound to be heard. Consequently from the average human standpoint it is a great Nothing and as a matter of fact some of the Tibetan sages did call it a Great Void. As he cannot pull it down to the grasp of his little human mind and therefore is not ordinarily aware of it, it has sometimes been referred to as the Unconscious Mind, for want of a better term. But such a description is not a good one, as it may lead to dangerous misunderstandings. A better descriptive term must be found. To quote a phrase from one of Disraeli's novels: "The conscious cannot be derived from the unconscious. Man is divine."
It is this Infinite Mind which has been called God, Spirit, Brahman, and so forth. He has to get the knowledge that his own little individual stream of consciousness has flowed out of this great source and will eventually return to it and disappear into it. This is Truth. This universal, impersonal Being is what all are after. The ones who seek it consciously are the people who have taken up the Quest. Those who are after it unconsciously take to drink and other sensual enjoyments and pursue the allurements of this most alluring world.
Thoughts could never come into existence if Mind were not also here primarily. Nor could we humans become aware of the universe without Mind's priority.
Mind is governed by its own laws and conjures up its own creations. The universe, at any particular moment of its history, is formed by the action and reaction of these creations.(P)
Mental activity need not be conscious.(P)
The ideas pass, the Mind remains. But while they exist they are included in and share the Mind's reality. The world's appearance is therefore and in this sense real enough to the conscious beings within it while it lasts. Thus the distinction between inner reality and outer appearance, while not effaced, is nevertheless reduced to secondary status.
Chandrakirti, a Mahayana Buddhist guru, said, "We teach the illusion of existence only as an antidote to the obstinate belief of common mankind in the existence of this world." What he means by this is that the world is only relatively existent in relation to the physical senses and the physical brain. The senses report its existence quite correctly and Mentalism agrees with mankind in the factuality of this experience. But it says this is only a relative truth, that the basic or real truth is that both world and self exist in consciousness, that they are nothing else than Consciousness itself.
It is a large error to take, as so many do take, consciousness as being the total sum of personal states known in experience, and nothing more, to regard it as so many separate pieces of awareness put together.
You live in consciousness; your body merely moves about; but few persons will pause long enough to perceive who they really are and what they are really doing.
Not only is the world an appearance-in-Consciousness, but so is the ego. It is in the end a thought, perhaps the strongest of all; and only the Consciousness-in-Itself is the Reality from which it draws sustenance, existence, life.
So long as there is something, whether it be a physical object or a mental idea, which forms an object of our thinking and is, therefore, still not the power that thinks, so long do we prevent ourselves from knowing mind as it is in its own naked purity.
The mysterious question "Who Am I?" is certainly deeply important, which is why it was put forward from the very beginning of his career by Ramana Maharshi. There is also another question which one may venture to state: "Where Am I?" Am I here in the fleshly body or in the invisible mind?
The ego's world of experience is ultimately due to the Overself, present at its base, limiting and determining a fragment of its own consciousness by its all-imagining power. Both the ego and its world are mentally created.
The world looks just as it did before; being understood for what it is--a thought-series--does not alter its appearance. The sage's perception of it is like other men's; his senses function like theirs; but he knows that his experience of it depends on the ever-presence of Consciousness; he is never without this awareness. This is the large first difference.
Every human being is first conscious of his own consciousness. If he traces out its implication, he may see that this is the best proof of the mind's reality as a separate existence.
We may note the fact of being conscious, but we can never ordinarily note the fact that we are conscious of being conscious in the same way that we are conscious of everything else.
The ordinary man thinks he is the ego because he identifies with his thoughts and his body. The awakened man knows that he is the Consciousness behind both.
Philosophy does not limit mind to mean the outer behaviour or inner consciousness, although it must necessarily include them. No, mind is that primal element which manifests to us through behaviour-patterns and conscious states.
When I say that I am my own mental existence then I imply I am also the whole universe. Nature exists within me, for Nature is but my idea. The world is my creation. This is no empty vagary but the veritable truth, the grandest which ever entered the half-taught mind of men.
Consciousness produces the experienced world and gives or deprives it of reality.
What else does anyone really own except his consciousness, of which his ordinary self is only a changing product? What else can he take with him unfailingly to any part of the world, and perhaps--if the seers know what they assert--even to that other world beyond?
If the ego-mind is that which knows the objective world, it is itself that which is known by a transcendental Mind.
Scientifically, it would seem that each human being is just a collection of various physical sense-perceptions which quickly change and flow, and that he is nothing more. The religious person would protest and add his spiritual self, or soul, to this collection. Here the philosopher would come along and ask both persons, "What about a consciousness which tells you all this?"
So long as he does not comprehend that he himself is the real seer and that all these objects are seen within the consciousness, so long will he commit the error of taking the ego for the "I."
"In the beginning was the Word" is the New Testament's way of expressing that the universe is a mental one. The whole cosmos was, from the very beginning, a thought, a word in God's mind.
It is true that the knower of the outside world is within man's mind, and that this element is also the Knower of himself, and that the knowledge of the self is the key to the knowledge of the world--as even an occultist like Rudolf Steiner concedes. But this does not exempt man from using that key. It does not mean that it is enough to know the self, that we may stop with that. The key must still be used because the self does not exist in a vacuum; the body is there, and the world is there. Memo to PB: Add here the notes about the two paths and the necessity of combining them. The Who Am I? path and the What is the World? path.)
The two analyses must come together now, simultaneously: the "What Am I?" and the "What is the World?" Then only can they be unified by mentalism, reappearing in, and as, the One Consciousness; the duality of self and non-self vanishes.
Consciousness came first: all thoughts came into being later. It made their existence possible. It is the permanent principle in man whereas they appear and vanish.
Consciousness is more important than doctrine.
The body observes the world outside it and the ego-mind observes the body. That which stands apart from both, as the third observer, is the Overself.
When we look for the last explanation of the universal phenomenon, we find one persistent and ultimate reality . . . Consciousness.
Mind as we humans now know it is but the frothy tossing wave on the surface of a mile-deep ocean.
The conventional definition of consciousness, which makes it the total of all the mental states of a person, is satisfactory only as far as it goes, but it is unsatisfactory because it misses the most important element--awareness--which is not a state at all, and not even an item in it.
The awareness of the thought series itself bespeaks a prior existence of consciousness.
That which is most important to us, in us, and for us, is consciousness. Yet it is the one thing about ourselves of which we know least and ignore most.
The human entity is not only the thoughts and images found in his consciousness; he is also and much more that consciousness itself.
In the last analysis, the only thing that he really knows is consciousness. It is that which he regards as self, though it may assume different patterns at different times.
Consciousness and pure Mind
Our own mind is a human analogue of the Universal Mind. Thus in its character and working, Nature provides an easy lesson in divine metaphysics. If we wish to obtain some slight hint as to the nature of the highest kind of mental existence, that is, of God, we must examine the nature of our own individual mind, limited and imperfect though it be. Now philosophy is not afraid to admit pantheism but does not limit itself to pantheism. It also affirms transcendentalism but does not stop with it. It declares that the Unique Reality could never become transformed into the cosmos in the sense of losing its own uniqueness. But at the same time it declares that the cosmos is nevertheless one with and not apart from the Reality. The easiest way to grasp this is to symbolize the cosmos as human thoughts and the Reality as human mind. Our thoughts are nothing other than a form of mind, yet our mind loses nothing of itself when thoughts arise. The World-Mind is immanent in but not confined by the universe in the same way that a man's mind may be said to be immanent in but not confined by his thoughts. Furthermore, not only may we find it helpful in the effort to understand the relation which the cosmos bears to the World-Mind, to compare it with the relation which a thought bears to its thinker or his speech to a speaker, but when we consider how our own mind is able to generate thoughts of the most multivaried kind, we need not be surprised that the Universal Mind is able to generate the inexhaustibly varied host of thought-forms which constitute the cosmos.(P)
The word "Consciousness" is ordinarily taken to mean the totality of thoughts and feelings and knowledge held by anyone at any time: all his perceptions, ideas, remembrances, imaginations--in brief, his total awarenesses. But in this philosophy, by capitalizing the initial "C," the term is given a fresh and deeper, still more abstract and subtler meaning. It then becomes the self-contained being or entity which is aware. This is the profound sense in which the word was used by Brahmin thinkers and mystics thousands of years ago, speaking and writing in the Sanskrit language. The man who introduced it into the English language in 1690 was John Locke when he wrote: "Consciousness is the perception of what passes in a man's own mind." This definition shows how long is the distance between those profounder Indians and the less metaphysically minded Europeans.
That we know this awareness exists means only that we have an idea of awareness. We do not see that awareness as itself an object, nor can we ever do so. If we are to know the awareness by itself, first we would have to drop knowing its objects, its reflections in thought, including the ego-thought, and then be it, not see it.
Mind must be distinguished from the states of mind, as the object must be separated from knowing it, the act of knowledge. Spinoza opposed the phenomenal world to the substantial, phenomena to substance; what others call relative to absolute; what the Hindus call illusion to reality; and what the religionists call matter to spirit. But all these statements can only be made because the mind originally makes them, for the mind is the witness of both. We must give the primacy to mind, for it Is. Whether illusion exists or not, whether the absolute exists or not, Mind IS. If the world is constantly present to me, it is a mind which is making it present, for awareness is a power of mind. It is mind which makes the thought of material objects possible for us; and to make mind a by-product of an alleged matter is a contradiction in itself.
The mind can know as a second thing, as an object, that which is outside itself. This applies to thoughts also. If it is to know anything as it really is in itself, it must unite with that object and become it, in which case the distinction of duality disappears. For instance, to know a person, one must temporarily become that person by uniting with him. Otherwise, all one knows of that person is the mental picture, which may not be similar to the real person. Similarly, the Ultimate Consciousness is not something to be known as a second being apart from oneself. If he knows it in that way he really knows only his mental picture of it. To know it in truth he has to enter into union with it and then the little ego disappears as a separate being but remains as part of the larger self. The wave then knows itself not only as a little wave dancing on the surface of the ocean, but also as the ocean itself. But as all the water of the ocean is ONE, it can no longer regard the millions of other waves as being, from the standpoint of ultimate truth, different from itself. To render this clearer still, during a dream he sees living men, houses, animals, and streets. Each is seen as a separate entity. But after he awakens, he understands that all these individual entities issued forth from a single source--his own mind. Therefore they were all made of the same stuff as his mind, they were non-different from it, they were not other than the mind itself. Similarly when he completes the Ultimate Path he will awaken from the illusion of world-existence and know that the entire experience was and is a fragmentation of his own essential being, which he now will no longer limit to the personal self, but will expand to its true nature as the universal mind. The dream will go on all the same because he is still in the flesh, but he will dream consciously and know exactly what is happening and what underlies it all. When this happens he cannot go on living just for purely personal aims but will have to enlarge them to include the welfare of all beings. This does not mean he will neglect his own individual welfare, but only that he will keep it in its place side by side with the welfare of others.
Human existence cannot have its goal in meditation alone, however rich the experiences may be which such meditation brings. For the deepest possible experience of meditation is to empty consciousness of the world-experience and thus to point out its unreality. But That which does the pointing, and that which is having the experience, and the experience itself--all, in the end, originate from the Real. The discovery of the unreality of the world is useful, for it offers the needed complete detachment from our bonds. But this cannot be the unique, the sole highest purpose of our existence, for then there would be no need to continue existence in the body after the discovery. A mystic must move on and seek the still farther realization which shows the world under a new light and offers an entirely new standpoint for understanding it. And this is that the uniquely real is not less present in the world than in his meditation, only it is present in a different way. It is like the dreamer who wakens to the fact that he is dreaming and who continues to dream but knows all the time that it is a dream experience. In just the same way the highest realization is that the Real is Consciousness--the pure, the ultimate Consciousness--but this consciousness can take different forms and yet still remain what it really is.
"The universe is my mind; my mind is the universe," said Lu Hsiang-shan. There is no end to the number of things to be learned about the universe, he argued. Learn therefore to know the one great principle--the mind--behind it.
It is a pity that one word is used for opposite methods. We separate drsyam from drik only in preliminary stages, only temporarily in order to be able to point out later that this drsyam is Brahman (as every dream object can be pointed out to be only mind) and thus the ALL is explained as Brahman. The final stage of Yoga (asparsa) is emphatically not to get rid of drsyam (thought objects) but to recognize all of them as Brahman. The lower yogi suppresses them, but our aim is entirely different. We do not kill the thought but examine it. To carry out this examination we must have concentrated sustained thinking, and this is the use of lower yoga; then we have first to separate it--this is preliminary. Afterwards we discover all thoughts to be as waves of one ocean, to have Brahman as their real essence or nature.
There is no other conclusion for the profound thinker than that mind must come out of Mind.
What is the reality behind all our experiences? Since they are thoughts, and since thoughts are made possible by Consciousness, it must be the Consciousness. This remains true even when the "I" is unaware and unconscious, because limited and little, being only a thought itself, an object known like other objects; the Real is still there but hidden.
The Vedantin tells you, "Your experience of the world is illusory; you take it to be existent; you see a snake when there is only a rope." But the philosopher comments: "It is misleading only if while you are in the body you take it to be utterly and ultimately real. The world is actually there, but what is it that makes it there for you? Consciousness! That is the reality. But what you call consciousness is only a fragment, a very small confined thing, compared with its source."
Materialism is strongly repudiated by those who understand that Consciousness at its highest is itself the Supreme Reality, and not merely a by-product of the material body.
When we come at last to perceive that all this vast universe is a thought-form and when we can feel our own source to be the single and supreme principle in and through which it arises, then our knowledge has become final and perfect.(P)
To man's physical senses the Real offers no evidence of its existence. Therefore, to him it is as Nothing.
We never know Consciousness. We can claim to know objects and thoughts, impressions and feelings, because each being separate from the other they can only be known by a person, an individual, a separate and distinct knower. But Consciousness, being the light behind all thoughts, cannot be reduced to an ego-thought, confined with a little "I."
The mind which forms such a multitude of images of the things outside the body, can nevertheless form no image of itself.
In the ordinary man's cosmic picture any one object is separate from any other object. In the scientist's cosmic picture they are also separate, but intellectually he may have arrived at the point of holding them together in the idea that they are all different forms of one and the same ultimate Energy. But this remains only an idea. In the philosopher's picture, the ordinary man's and the scientist's are both included, but there is an addition, namely, he knows by his transcendental experience that these two are projections of Consciousness and that this Consciousness is the reality.
Thinking man needs the concept of pure Mind, infinite formless consciousness, timeless being, as absolutely necessary to complete and perfect his thinking. Everything in the end points to it, from his own existence to the universal existence. The religionist and the mystic may call it God, satisfied with faith; and even if he himself cannot enter into it, he knows it must be there and has always been there.
Those who make consciousness a physical product or effect, to vanish forever long before its physical originator vanishes, need to try the Art of Mental Quiet with the specific object of going in quest of Consciousness itself, separated from all mythology, whether religious, scientific, or esoteric. They then discover that the forms taken by consciousness may change or pass into dissolution but THAT out of which they originate cannot.
Whatever becomes an object to consciousness cannot be the conscious self which notes it as an object. Every thought, therefore, even the thought of the person, is such an object. The real self must consequently inhere in a consciousness which transcends the person and which can be nothing other than pure consciousness itself. The keen insight of the Chinese sages perceived this and hence they used the term Ko, which means "to be aware," as representing the transcendental knowledge of real being, and the same term, which also means "he who is aware," as representing a man like the Buddha who is possessed of such knowledge.
The personal consciousness has no more reality than that of a reflection in a glass mirror, for it is Mind which illuminates it. The personal life may be as transient as foam.
Where does this Consciousness come from? This will never be discovered, because it is itself both the asker and the answer; it was there before the question arose, it made the question possible, it will be there when all else has passed away. This thin ray of conscious being which is the questioner's known self contains in itself the ultimate solution of all his self-made riddles.
The element of consciousness, Vijnana, is not subject to death: this is asserted in an old Buddhist text, The Saddha-tu-Sutta.
That which is always in the background of all thoughts is Consciousness. Without it they could never appear nor exist, whereas Consciousness exists in its own self-sufficiency.
The form of consciousness may change, the fact of consciousness may be temporarily obscured, but the reality behind consciousness can never be annihilated.
The true being, World-Mind, was there before men's thoughts began.
In ordinary experience consciousness is not found by itself, independent of what it holds, separate from what it perceives and experiences, distinct from the things given to it by the world outside. That is to say, it is not isolated from its contents but always inclusive of them. And not only is it connected together with physical objects but also with different ideas that are merely thought about, with reasonings and imaginings. There is further evidence of this relationship to be found when we turn from the waking state to the sleeping one. When this is really deep, without dreams, there is no world and there are no imaginings. At such a time consciousness does not exist. When thoughts come into being within a man, the world comes into being for him. When they die down, he loses his consciousness and his world too. But the opening of this paragraph was qualified by the three words "In ordinary experience." For a few men, consciousness without thoughts has become a practical realization: for the whole race of men, it remains in the future as an evolutionary possibility. These adepts find Consciousness-in-itself is the reality out of which thoughts rise, including the world-thought. It is not easy to adduce evidence for this since these are events in private personal biography, not scientifically verifiable.
There are two ways of knowing, and two kinds of things to be known: the first is on the ordinary level, and deals with physical and intellectual things: this is metaphysically called conventional knowledge; the second is on the deepest possible level, and deals solely with the essence of all things whence they unfold, the divine Mystery, where knower dissolves into the known. This is metaphysically known as the ultimate level.
What is energy? Its transformations are known as sound, light, heat, and so on. But these are only appearances of something else. One never catches an isolated pure energy-in-itself. It is about as detectable as pure matter. There is therefore something behind energy and behind intellect, or shall it be said, behind life and behind thought. Energy cannot be reconciled with an eternal state. But if energy itself springs up as an emanation from the deeper level of mind it may be possible to effect such a reconciliation. Neither intellect nor energy can be the eternal soul but both could be ever-changing emanations of something which might itself be relatively changeless. Light is the highest of the energies; the Sun is the father of all things. Matter is scientifically reducible to light. In the depths of some mystical experiences one may find oneself surrounded by an ocean of light. Light is then the manifestation of this deeper mind but it is still only a manifestation. Consciousness must be interiorized so deeply that even a thought or an idea, a psychic image or a clairvoyant vision must be recognized as something outside the true being, something objective, separate, and away from the true self. Many mystics do not feel such a need, but all philosophic mystics ought to do so if they are to attain a pure spiritual experience in its perfect integrity.
It is absolutely certain and quite unquestionable that consciousness is primary, the beginning of all things, the only God there could be and the only one there has ever been. If anyone doubts it, it is because he is blinded, so does not see; he is befogged, so does not understand. From what or from whom else did he derive his own consciousness, his knowing power, and his thinking capacity?
The teaching divides consciousness-in-itself from consciousness of the self. Such a division would, of course, be totally rejected by the materialists.
Anterior to all things is Mind. Electronic energy and material being are but its aspects.
It is not possible for consciousness to know anything greater than consciousness.
Mind offers its own certitude. It is completely self-posited.
Consciousness runs deeper than its contents, subtler than its thinking activities, and serener than its surface agitations.
Who is it who becomes aware of all these things which make up his world? What is it that perceives objects? What gives its attention to thoughts and things? Wherefrom does consciousness arise, or is it there first, thus making the known world knowable?
Because it is known directly--and not through the medium of thoughts or words--it is called immediate knowledge.
The world-thought holds in a kind of spell; every possible state of consciousness short of the Overself is still an idea in the human mind.
To the extent that any man discovers this for himself, to that extent he is said to be enlightened. Outside of this enlightenment, what he gets or produces is his own mental creation: it may be entirely false or quite correct, but it still remains no more than a mental creation.
Every kind of experience, whether it be wakeful, dream, hypnotic, or hallucinatory, is utterly and vividly real to the ego at the time its perceptions are operating on that particular level. Why, then, amidst such bewildering relativity, do we talk of divine experience as being the ultimate reality? We speak this way because it is concerned with what bestows the sense of reality to all the other forms of experience. And that is nothing else than the central core of pure Mind within us, the unique mysterious source of all possible kinds of our consciousness. This, if we can find it, is what philosophy calls the truly real world.(P)
The mental images which make up the universe of our experience repeat themselves innumerable times in a single minute. They give an impression of continuity and permanency and stability only because of this, in the same way that a cinema picture does. If we could efface them and yet keep our consciousness undiminished, we would know for the first time their source, the reality behind their appearances. That is, we would know Mind-in-itself. Such effacement is effected by yoga. Here then is the importance of the connection between mentalism and mysticism.(P)