Thought may be one of the most significant, yet least understood, factors in evolution. The process of thought, if people consider it at all, is generally believed to be a purely private matter having a momentary bearing on themselves alone. They are apt to be completely unaware of the complicated ramifications and consequences of even the most seemingly insignificant thoughts formed in their minds.
To illustrate the importance of thought, the Western Wisdom Teachings tell us that everything that exists in the universe was first a thought. The New Testament, originally written in Greek, uses the word “logos” to mean both “word” and the thought which precedes the word. Word may be considered the manifested form of thought — a sound which built all forms and, according to esoteric knowledge, ensouls them. Man, evolving as a potential God, has the latent faculties of creation. He is now learning to create; he has the capability of thinking and he may voice his thoughts. When he is not capable of carrying out his ideas by himself, he may secure the help of others through his speech. As evolution continues, the time eventually will come when he will be able to create directly by the word emitted from his spiritualized larynx. Schooling, through a series of physical embodiments, is necessary so that he will not make mistakes. Man is not yet spiritually developed and, if he were able to create directly by the word now, his creations would be imperfect and detrimental.
The great majority of people have formed the habit of listless thinking, which makes them incapable of holding onto any subject until it is thoroughly mastered. Although thoughts which flit through the mind may be good, bad, or indifferent — mostly the latter — the mind does not usually hold on to any one of them sufficiently long to learn its nature. Thought-control is often very difficult to attain. Once attained, however, the possessor holds within his hand the key to success in whatever line he may be engaged.
Thought force is the most powerful means of obtaining knowledge. If it is concentrated upon a subject, it will burn its way through any obstacle and solve the problem. If the requisite amount of thought force is brought to bear, there is nothing that is beyond the power of human comprehension. So long as we scatter it, thought force is of little use to us, but as soon as we are prepared to take the trouble necessary to harness it, all knowledge is ours. Since thought is our principal power, we must learn to have absolute control of it, so that what we produce is not illusion induced by outside conditions, but true imagination generated by the Spirit from within.
This is one reason why students of the Rosicrucian Teachings are urged to perform the daily exercise of concentration, regularly and with persistence. They are taught to fix their minds unwaveringly upon a single subject, becoming so absorbed in it that all else is successfully blotted out of consciousness. Once a student has learned to do this, he is able to see the spiritual side of an object or idea illuminated by spiritual light, and thus he obtains a knowledge of the inner nature of things undreamt of by a worldly man.
We speak of thoughts as being conceived by the mind, but just as both father and mother are necessary in the generation of a child, so also are both idea and mind necessary before a thought can be conceived. Ideas are generated by a human Ego in the spirit-substance of the inner worlds. This idea is projected upon the receptive mind, giving birth to a thought. Thus when each idea clothes itself in a form made of mind-stuff, it is then a thought, as visible to the inner vision of a sufficiently developed clairvoyant as a child is to its parent.
Thus we see that ideas are embryonic thoughts, nuclei of spirit-substance from the inner worlds. Improperly conceived in a diseased mind they become vagaries and delusions, but when gestated in a sound mind and formed into rational thoughts they are the basis of all material, moral, and mental progress.
At the present time, however, the mind is not focused in a way that enables it to give a clear and true picture of what the Spirit imagines. It is not one-pointed. It gives misty and clouded pictures. Hence the necessity of experiment to show the inadequacy of first conception, and of bringing about new imaginings and ideas until the image produced by the Spirit in mental substance has been reproduced in physical substance.
At best, we are able to shape through the mind only such images as have to do with form, because the human mind was not started until the present Earth Period of our evolution and, therefore, is now in its form, or “mineral,” stage. (see The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception) Hence, in our operations, we are confined to forms and minerals. We can imagine ways and means of working with the mineral forms of the three lower kingdoms, but can do little or nothing with living bodies. We may indeed graft living branch to living tree, or living part of animal or man to other living part, but it is not life with which we are working; it is form only. We are making different conditions, but the life which already inhabited the form continues to do so still. To create life is beyond man’s power until his mind has come alive.
Many people believe that all that is results from something else, and they give no considerations to the possibility of any original new building. Those who study life usually speak only of involution and evolution; those who study the form, namely, the modern scientists, are concerned with evolution only. The most advanced among them, however, are now beginning to find another factor, which they have called epigenesis, the creative impulse. As early as 1787, Caspar Wolff issued his Theorea Generationis, wherein he showed that in the development of the ovum, there are a series of new buildings not at all foreshown by what had gone before. In lower forms of life, where changes are rapid, epigenesis can be demonstrated under a microscope.
Ever since mind was given to man, this original creative impulse, epigenesis, has been the cause of all our development. It is true that we do build upon that which has already been created. There is also something new, however, due to the creativity of the Spirit. Thus it is that we become creators. If we only imitated that which had already been laid out for us by God, it would never be possible for us to become creative intelligences — we would simply be imitators. And, again, thought lies behind all that is created through epigenesis.
We have been placed in this physical world so that we may learn to think aright and develop epigenesis in constructive ways. For instance, let us take the example of an inventor who gets an idea. The idea is not yet a thought; it is a sudden insight which has not yet taken shape. Gradually, however, the inventor visualizes it in his mind. He forms a machine in his thought, and before his mental vision that machine appears with the wheels revolving this way and that, as necessary to accomplish the required work. Then he begins to draw the plans for the machine, and even at that stage it will most certainly appear that modifications are necessary. Thus we see that already the physical conditions show the inventor where his thought was not correct. When he builds the machine in appropriate material for the accomplishment of the work, more modifications usually are necessary. Perhaps he may have to discard the first machine and build an entirely different one. Thus the concrete physical conditions have enabled him to detect the flaw in his reasoning; they force him to make the necessary modifications in his original thought to bring out a machine that will do the work.
In mercantile, or philanthropic endeavors, the same principle holds good. If our ideas concerning the various matters in life are wrong, they are corrected when brought into practical use. Thus it is absolutely necessary that we dwell in this physical world and learn to wield the power of thought — a power being held in check to a great extent at the present time by our material conditions.
To illustrate the importance of thought, let us mention that all that is in this world which has been made by the hand of man is crystallized thought: the chairs upon which we sit, the houses in which we live, the various conveniences we use — all these were once a thought in the mind of man. If it had not been for that thought, the thing would never have appeared. In similar manner, the trees, flowers, mountains, and seas are the crystallized thought forms of the Nature Forces.
In this world we are compelled to investigate and study a thing before we know about it. However, esoteric investigators who have been able to function in one of the spiritual worlds, called the World of Thought, find that it is different there. When we wish to know about any particular thing there, we turn our attention to it and the thing speaks to us, as it were. The sound it emits at once gives a luminous comprehension of every phase of its nature. We attain to a realization of its past history; the whole story of its unfoldment is laid bare and we seem to have lived through all of those experiences together with the thing we are investigating. All this information, however, flows in upon us with enormous rapidity in a moment, so that it has neither beginning nor end. In the World of Thought, all is one great now, and time does not exist.
When we want to use this archetypal information in our Physical World, therefore, we must disentangle and arrange it in chronological order with beginning and ending before it becomes intelligible to beings living in a realm where time is a prime factor. That rearrangement is a most difficult task, as all words are coined with relation to the three dimensions of space and the evanescent unit of time; hence, much of that information remains unavailable.
Many people contend that we have a right to think what we will, and that wicked thoughts, if not translated into wicked deeds, are not harmful. This is far from true, and the power of wicked thoughts, just as the power of good and beneficent thoughts, is great indeed. Through the course of centuries, for instance, man’s evil thoughts of fear and hatred crystallize into what we know as bacilli. The bacilli of infectious disease are particularly the embodiments of fear and hate, and, therefore, they are also vanquished by the opposite force — courage. If we enter the presence of a person infected with contagious disease in fear and trembling, we must assuredly draw to ourselves the poisonous microbes. If, on the other hand, we approach that person in a perfectly fearless attitude, we shall escape the infection, particularly if we are prompted by love.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ Jesus tells us that “the man who has looked upon a woman with desire has, in fact, already committed adultery.” When we realize that “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he,” we shall have a much clearer conception of life than we do if we take into consideration only men’s acts. Every act is the outcome of a previous thought, but not necessarily the thought of the person committing the act.
If a tuning fork is struck and another tuning fork of the same pitch is in the vicinity, the second one will ring in concert with the first. Likewise, when we think a thought and another person in our environment has been thinking along the same line, our thoughts coalesce with his and strengthen him for good or evil, according to the nature of the thought.
When we go into a jury box and see the criminal, we behold only the act; we have no cognizance of the thought which prompted it. If we have been in the habit of thinking evil, malicious thoughts against someone, these thoughts may have been attractive to that criminal. On the principle that a saturated solution of salt will require only a single crystal to make it solidify, so also, if a man has saturated his brains with thoughts of murder, the thought of murder that another person sends out may prove to be the last straw and destroy that last barrier which would have kept the murderer from committing his evil act.
Therefore, our thoughts are of vastly more importance than our acts. If we always think right, we shall always act right. No man can think love to his fellow men, or can scheme about how to help them spiritually, mentally, or physically without also acting out these thoughts. If we cultivate such thoughts, we shall soon find sunshine spreading around us; we shall find that people will meet us in the same spirit that we send out.
If, then, we see meanness and smallness in the people whom we meet, it would be well to ascertain if we ourselves are not causing such qualities to emanate from us. The man who is mean and small himself radiates these qualities and whoever he meets will appear mean to him because his thoughts will have caused something of identical pitch in the other person to vibrate.
On the other hand, if we cultivate a serene attitude and thoughts that are free from covetousness and are frankly honest and helpful, we shall call out the best in other people. Therefore let us realize that it is not until we have cultivated the better qualities in ourselves that we can expect to find them in others. We are thus most certainly responsible for our thoughts. We are indeed our brothers keepers, for as we think when we meet them, so do we appear to them and they reflect our attitude. If we want to obtain help to cultivate better qualities, then let us seek the company of people who are already good, for their attitude of mind will be of immense help to us in calling forth our own finer qualities.
It does not always appear easy to rid ourselves of evil thoughts, and most of us cannot help but encounter people or situations which call forth negative thinking, try as we will to fight it. But there is a simple way of dismissing such unwanted thoughts which does not involve "fighting them" at all.
Both like and dislike tend to attract a thought or an idea to us, and the added thought force which we send out to fight evil thoughts will keep them alive and bring them to our mind oftener, in the same way that quarreling may cause a person we dislike to waylay us for spite. Instead of fighting, therefore, let us adopt the tactics of indifference. If we turn our heads the other way when we meet a person we dislike, he will soon grow tired of following us. On the same principle if we but turn away with indifference when thoughts of evil come into our minds, and apply our minds to something that is good and ideal, we shall find in a short time that we are rid of the evil thoughts and have only the good thoughts we desire to entertain.
Thus we see how far-reaching and powerful thought really is. All things, whether for good or ill, can be accomplished with it. Indeed, the power of thought is one of the strongest forces known to man. Only when mankind comes to an understanding of the true nature and proper use of this divine force can humanity free itself from the fetters of materiality and continue the upward path towards becoming a self-conscious Creative Being.