Expanding Mental Horizons


The seeds of wisdom cannot sprout and grow in airless space. To live and reap experience, the mind needs breadth and depth and points to draw it towards the Diamond Soul.

The Voice of the Silence

There is a good deal of discussion these days about the need to liberate the mind from all the factors which condition it. While much is but idle talk, some there are who show genuine concern; and to these the following remarks may be of some value.

It is true that most people today have minds which are conditioned to such an extent that they have become incapable of thinking independently. A conditioned mind is prejudiced and limited, narrow and sectarian.

The mind needs breadth. Its horizon must expand; its frontiers must be enlarged. The mind must be liberalized. But the mind also needs depth. A shallow mind thinks on the surface and is incapable of probing below the appearance of things. It lacks understanding altogether.

Madame Blavatsky in her exposition on the true objects of education states that children should be taught "more than anything else to think and reason for themselves." Alas! the art of independent thinking is a lost one in our civilization, and many there are who are content to have their thinking done by proxy. Their opinions are borrowed from their background, their environment, the party they belong to, the newspaper they read.

A school of thought has arisen which prescribes a drastic remedy: namely, no reading, no political views, no cultural or religious traditions. These are all factors which condition the mind. Reject them and be free! Have no ideals, no ideas!

Apart from the utter impracticability of following such a course—for how can one break away from all associations, when life in the body is itself conditioned existence!—would it be desirable, would it be conducive to the real freedom of the mind? Or would such a course lead to self-delusion and ultimately to insanity?

Must then the mind be void of all ideas? Is it the ideas per se which condition the mind, or the content of any idea? Small and narrow ideas, selfish and petty thoughts, do condition the mind. But the reverse is equally true: great and liberal ideas, generous and noble thoughts, enable it to soar higher and yet higher and thus to free itself. The secret of a free mind lies in the quality of one's ideation, and the remedy is, therefore, not the rejection of all associations but a discriminative and deliberate rejection of all those that are narrow, superficial, and ugly and the simultaneous cultivation of high, universal and great ideas.

To breadth and depth of mind must be added the high ideas and the true ideals which provide the "points to draw it towards the Diamond Soul."

It is those "points" that give meaning to life itself. But if you have ideals, argues the advocate of freedom through the rejection of all ideals, you are a hypocrite; for you know you cannot live up to them. This is sheer sophistry. If you are striving towards your ideal you are not a hypocrite; you are an honest person trying to reach up to the highest you can perceive and formulate. How well did Gandhiji understand this! To him "life was an aspiration and life's mission to strive after perfection of our weaknesses or imperfections." And again: "This faith in one's ideals constitutes true life, in fact it is man's all in all."

How misguided is the one who attempts to decondition his mind by ceasing to have ideals and even trying to do without ideas at all! The very nature of human consciousness demands that we should think, and so the problem lies in learning to think well. "Thought makes the whole dignity of man," exclaims Pascal; "therefore endeavour to think well, that is the only morality."




Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,
Stains the white radiance of Eternity.

—Shelley


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