The Dynamic Power of Thought

[Reprinted from THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, January 1964.]

All that we are is the result of what we have thought: all that we are is founded on our thoughts and formed of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain pursues him, as the wheel of the wagon follows the hoof of the ox that draws it.

All that we are is the result of what we have thought: all that we are is founded on our thoughts and formed of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness pursues him like his own shadow that never leaves him.

The Dhammapada, Verses 1-2

In the life of an aspirant to spiritual living, his line of thought is of greater importance than his objective actions, for thought is the foundation, the motivating power, from which alone outer deeds can spring into life. We are as our thoughts are is a truism which is apt to be forgotten in our age of dissimulation when we judge a person not in terms of what he is but according to what he seems to be. Karmically, however, thought or intent is more responsible and dynamic than an act. Thus, for instance, one may perform a charitable act, but if he does not think charitable and is doing the act just for the sake of gain or glory, it is his thoughts that will determine the result for him.

Every thought, no matter how fleeting, leaves a seed in the mind of the thinker. These small seeds together go to make up a larger thought-seed and determine one's general character. Thought, then, is the maker of man. Every thought generated is a cause sown, and as we are always thinking, we are always sowing causes. These causes awaken the corresponding powers in the invisible worlds, powers which are magnetically and irresistibly attracted to and react upon those who produced the causes.

It has been said that "thoughts are things"; they are living, active realities. "Each thought," says H.P.B., "has a shape which borrows the appearance of the man engaged in the action of which he thought." It is important to understand what happens when we think. It is a known fact that there is a disturbance in the grey matter of the brain. Not only this, but it is also coming to be recognized that our thoughts affect the whole body, and that there is a branch of medicine known as psychosomatic medicine. Further, we are told that each thought once generated and sent out becomes independent of the brain and mind which gave it birth and will live upon its own energy. It makes a definite picture on the astral plane, a picture that is objective to the inner sense, and every clairvoyant or seer will confirm this from personal experience. The astral light is the preserver of these thought-pictures like a photographic plate, and by that means all that has been done or is being done may be known unerringly. Thoughts, therefore, while they may seem to us to be momentary and fleeting, are not so in reality but persist as seeds for good or evil in the invisible atmosphere.

We read in "A Master's Letter" (U.L.T. Pamphlet No. 29):

Every thought of man upon being evolved passes into the inner world, and becomes an active entity by associating itself, coalescing we might term it, with an elemental—that is to say, with one of the semi-intelligent forces of the kingdoms. It survives as an active intelligence—a creature of the mind's begetting—for a longer or shorter period proportionate with the original intensity of the cerebral action which generated it.

The thought, having become an active entity by its association with an elemental,

is attracted wherever there is a similar vibration, or, let us say, a suitable soil, just as the winged thistle-seed floats off and sows itself in this spot and not in that, in the soil of its natural selection. Thus the man of virtue, by admitting a material or sensual thought into his mind, even though he expel it, sends it forth to swell the evil impulses of the man of vice from whom he imagines himself separated by a wide gulf, and to whom he may have just given a fresh impulse to sin. Many men are like sponges, porous and bibulous, ready to suck up every element of the order preferred by their nature. We all have more or less of this quality: we attract what we love, and we may derive a greater strength from the vitality of thoughts infused from without than from those self-reproduced within us at a time when our nervous vitality is exhausted. It is a solemn thought, this, of our responsibility for the impulse of another....Can we, then, be too careful to guard the ground of the mind, to keep close watch over out thoughts? (Letters That Have Helped Me, pp. 18-19, 1930 Indian ed.)

Each thought, whether good or evil, as it leaves the mind, draws to itself impulses of like nature as irresistibly as the magnet attracts iron filings. This attraction is proportionate to the intensity with which the thought-impulse makes itself felt in the atmosphere. "And so it will be understood how one man may impress himself upon his own epoch so forcibly, that the influence may be carried—through the ever-interchanging currents of energy between the two worlds, the visible and the invisible—from one succeeding age to another, until it affects a large portion of mankind" (Isis Unveiled, I, 181). In the words of a great Adept:

The human brain is an exhaustless generator of the most refined quality of cosmic force out of the low, brute energy of Nature; and the complete adept has made himself a centre from which irradiate potentialities that beget correlations upon correlations through Aeons of time to come. This is the key to the mystery of his being able to project into and materialize in the visible world the forms that his imagination has constructed out of inert cosmic matter in the invisible world. (U.L.T. Pamphlet No. 29)

This is the metaphysical basis on which rests the entire structure, many-sided, of thought transference. What the Adepts do consciously and scientifically, that ordinary men and women do mechanically or automatically and unconsciously to themselves. Anyone who observes and reflects knows from his own experience the fact that thought can fly to a person at a distance. But because the ordinary mind is not trained, the result is weak, lop-sided and dispersive. This is not unmitigated evil, for unless a person has an unselfish character and altruistic tendencies it is well for him and for the world that he does not possess the power to create more clear-cut and powerful thought-images. For, have we not been told that even thinkers who brood mischief with no serious intention of carrying their malevolent thoughts into execution will not escape the bad reaction from the harm they do? In occultism, thought is the real plane of action, and a thought is far more potential in creating evil results than a physical deed.

The Secret Doctrine recognizes sinful intentions as "the only visible and objective sacrificial victims to the Presence." Not only evil thoughts but also idle thoughts stir up elementals responding to their note as surely as conscious spiritual aspiration wakens spiritual forces. One of the tasks of the aspirant is to watch his state of consciousness at all times, to purify and universalize the mind by keeping before him correct themes for meditation. A few minutes spent in quiet reading of some devotional book every morning, followed by reflection on what has been read, sounds the keynote for the entire day. Every thought, every feeling, every action that follows, should be in harmony with that keynote. That morning meditation needs to be re-energized as often as possible by reverting to it during the day in our spare moments. Thought is self-reproductive. Right thoughts planted in the mind sooner or later sprout, blossom and bear fruit, and produce seeds for future planting. But, just as a wise gardener does not dig up his seeds from day to day to watch their growth, but plants them, waters them, removes the weeds, and leaves Nature to do her work, so must we plant our good thought-seeds, water them by remembering them, weed out inharmonious thoughts, and leave the Self within, like the sun, to fructify the plant.

We can scatter the thought-seeds of right ideas, of noble and courageous aspirations, seeds that will be received, although unconsciously, by those in whose minds the soil is in any way prepared. If we believe in the power of thought, what opportunities of conferring good on others open before us! But in order to do positive good to others by thought-influence, certain conditions are necessary. We need, first, love born of and nurtured by wisdom for those whose good we thus seek to establish. According to our unselfish love will be our enthusiasm to benefit our fellow men; as is our enthusiasm, so will be the energy of our thought; and this energy will determine the effect of the thought upon those to whom it is directed. The more powerfully intense the thought, the deeper will it penetrate; the longer will its effects endure.

Right meditation will be required of us to determine what we really desire to effect. If we arrive at the position within ourselves that we live in one another and are in a true sense our brother's keepers, if we accept, even to some extent, the grand principle of Universal Brotherhood, we shall be in a position to appreciate what a heavy responsibility is ever ours to think aright. Let us reflect that all the loving, helpful thoughts we send out will bring light or hope to a groping soul and will lighten the load of the world's suffering. We in turn have likewise been helped by the thoughts sent forth by some other. One need not long for wealth, for position or power in order to do good to others; the poorest in material wealth, the humblest in station, the most insignificant among men has within him this ever open storehouse of power for conferring good on which he can draw without limit. But he who would use this wealth can only do so by sacrificing the thought of self.

For the student of Theosophy who knows that the greatest work is done not on the outer physical plane but on the thought plane, there is a wide open field for doing real work to help the Cause which is so dear to him. In his article "Each Member a Centre" Mr. Judge has indicated what the earnest, devoted and unselfish Theosophist can do, how he can become "an active centre from which would radiate unseen powerful forces able to influence men and women in the vicinity for good" when he finds himself without Theosophical companionship in the town or city where he lives. Mr. Judge reminds us of the law—one that every Theosophist ought to know:

...the mind of man is capable of bringing about results through means of other minds about him. If we sit and think that nothing can be done, then our subtle mind meets other minds within the radius of our sphere—not small—and shouts into them: "Nothing can be done." Of course then nothing is done. But if unselfishly and earnestly we think Theosophy, and desire that others should, like us, be benefited by it, then to the minds we meet in stray moments of the day and in many hours of the night we cry "Theosophy," and "Help and hope for thee." The result must be an awakening of interest upon the slightest provocative occasion. (The Heart Doctrine)

The power of thought and of imagination is mighty indeed, but people do not recognize the fact because they are not able to trace the visible effects to the invisible action. The "thinking of oneself as this, that, or the other, is the chief factor in the production of every kind of psychic or even physical phenomenon," says The Secret Doctrine (II, 59 fn.). The highest power of thought, Kriyashakti, which makes of man a creator, lies latent within each, yet in all save a few it has not been called to life and developed. This creative potency is developed as

The mysterious power of thought which enables it to produce external, perceptible, phenomenal results by its own inherent energy. The ancients held that any idea will manifest itself externally, if one's attention (and Will) is deeply concentrated upon it; similarly, an intense volition will be followed by the desired result. A Yogi generally performs his wonders by means of Itchasakti (Will-power) and Kriyasakti. (S.D., II, 173)

How truly Theosophical are these words of Gandhiji!—

I believe, and my belief has been tested repeatedly, that a thought deliberately thought and controlled is a power greater than speech or writing and any day greater than steam which is husbanded and controlled. We see the latter every day carrying incredible weights even across steep precipices. Thought power overcomes much greater obstacles and easily carries greater weights.

There is testimony of very extensive nature to the existence of Masters or Mahatmas in history and tradition, and these two again divide themselves into many sorts. There is profane as well as religious history, tradition depending on recollection solely, and also tradition which has been turned into a historical account of tradition. In religious history and tradition there are many accounts of such beings, reaching from the earliest known religious book down to the very latest date. And in the history of nations, aside from religion, there are numerous accounts of Adepts, magicians, Masters, and others of like character. In almost every country on the globe the traditions of the people are full of statements of the existence and powers and appearances of master minds, magicians, great men, who knew the secrets of nature....All this cannot be set aside as folly or useless or insufficient, unless one determines to believe nothing but what he himself has seen. If that position be assumed, then no one living today can say that they know or believe that the historical characters of the past, known to every nation, had any existence....

Turning from this department of proof we have that which depends upon argument, illustration, deduction. Here everything is as strongly in favour of the existence of the exalted beings spoken of as in the other department; for evolution demands that such beings shall exist. To this condlusion even such a doubter as Prof. Huxley has come, and in his last essays declares for the existence of beings of superior intelligence who are as much beyond us as we are beyond the black beetle, and this is more than any Theosophist has ever yet said for the Adepts.

—W. Q. Judge

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