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Studies in the thought world : or, Practical mind art online

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native pigments of imaginations and ideals.

The bewildering array of statues in the halls of
the Vatican are not comparable in number and per-
fection to those hosts of living figures that are
ranged in the mental corridors. The busy chisel of
the unknown sculptor is ever carving animated
statues with exquisite pose and finish, and placing
them on pedestals where they are convenient for
inspection. These are more enduring than marble
because they are formed of a less perishable material.

The power of thought as a creator has, until
recently, received but slight recognition. It has gen-
erally been left to care for itself, to roam at it&own
sweet will, and to sketch at random. It is true that
pictures, unbidden, and sometimes very unwelcome,
flash themselves upon the living canvas ; but there is
nothing to compel us to sit and gaze upon them. They
soon dissolve if we turn our eyes towards a higher
order of art, or stand face to face with the ideal.

The pure and matchless art of the devout monk


Fra Angelico, by which he was able to depict angelic
beings with such beauty and delicacy, was the nat-
ural outcome of the spiritual atmosphere of love,
joy, and harmony in which his consciousness made
its abode. He created the world in which he lived,
and the base and false had no place in it.
Tennyson thus sings of an inner ideal art : —

" O all things fair to sate my various eyes !
O shapes and hues that please me well !
O silent faces of the Great and Wise,
My gods, with whom I dwell."

Any one of a thousand acquaintances can only be
recognized and identified by comparison with the por-
trait of him that is already hanging — perhaps for
years — in our invisible gallery. A single mental
photograph lying undisturbed for twenty years in
the " dark room " is suddenly called for, snatched
from its hiding-place, and found to exactly corre-
spond with its material duplicate now presented.
But personal portraits form but an infinitesimal part
of the varied innumerable shapes that make up the
resources of the immaterial palace of art. Still
beyond the domain of the more sensuous pictures of
external objects there is a deeper skill and vision
which produces and dwells among moral and spirit-
ual entities. Its keen, penetrating glance is focused
upon delineations of love, faith, purity, and good-
ness, and include glimpses of the Great Reality.
"The pure in heart shall see God."


Thought, the imaging artist, is perpetually design-
ing and executing new works, and consciousness is
untiring in the inspection of its stock on hand. It,
however, lingers longest in those corridors where its
loves and affinities are most profusely represented.

Down in its gloomy basement there is a great
illusive network of hidden passage-ways, the walls
of which are covered with unseemly outlines, and the
arches and ceilings with indistinct and smoky fres-
coes of hate, envy, lust, and selfishness. The bats
and vampires of evil imaginings are flying to and
fro, and the atmosphere is clammy and morbid. But
for a delusive earthy gravitation the mistaken con-
sciousness would not explore these deeps, much less
remain to inspect and analyze their contents. There
are also in this basement more inviting doors, open-
ing into corridors that seem flooded with rosy light,
which shines out at the entrances, making their
figures appear artistically beautiful. But upon a
closer and an internal inspection, the forms are found
to be hollow, repulsive, and to crumble at the touch.
Every niche is occupied by some suggestive and fas-
cinating statue which enchants the senses and invites
intimacy, but a more thorough acquaintance reveals
its deceitful and ugly features.

Other unlooked-for portals admit the unsuspecting
consciousness into dark, damp corridors hung with
pictures of disease and deformity. Pale and ghastly
forms abound, and lenses of fear and expectation are


ingeniously placed so as to multiply them. The
Pale Horse, with his Eider, occupies the most con-
spicuous position in the collection. On every hand
are found brushes, pigments, and fresh canvases for
the production of new and more complicated abnor-
mal designs. The very atmosphere is offensive and
charged with miasma and mortality.

Consciousness ! grasp the hand of Idealism, and
leave this false and unwholesome domain, and ascend
to the sunlit apartments of the Real. Behold what
harmonious and delightful scenes, done in enduring
colors, here meet the gaze ! Every statue is erect
and graceful in pose, pure in form, and divine in
expression. The realm of shadows has been , ex-
changed for the kingdom of realities. To linger
here is to gain the artistic ability to execute more
and better, and thus beautiful forms are multiplied.

Mount still higher to the Supreme Ideal. In the
most lofty sanctum to which the Consciousness can
aspire, stands a figure of typical perfection. Love,
purity, peace, and beauty are eloquent in every
feature, and from it is radiated a celestial halo, soft
and harmonious. Thought, the artist, has carved
this statue during the highest nights of its inspira-
tion, and left it upon its pedestal as its supreme
effort. No other sculptor has aided in its execution,
for each subjective artist designs and executes only
its own. This is the Christ within, and no external
power can remove or disturb it.


Linger in this Presence, Consciousness, for it
will at length transform thee into its own glorious
likeness. Come up often from the lower and baser
domains ; sit in the silence, and be at home in the
divine auditorium of your nature.



Every living thing has an inherent potential force
which may be said to be the mainspring of its organ-
ism. This energy is so strong and constant that it
not only holds in check all corruptive and disintegra-
tive tendencies, but it has positive and formative
power. Under normal conditions it is a veritable
"dynamo" which transmutes and moulds material
into new and characteristic form and expression.
This force we call life, but a better definition would
be mind.

When mind has laid hold of matter, and erected
it into a symmetrical animated statue, so long as
this mastery continues, we say, " Here is life."
When this mysterious union ceases, or, in other
words, the mind lets go of its material, we call the
change " death." The matter which has been re-
leased from the grasp of the living entity disinte-
grates. But nothing has died. There has been no
forfeiture except simply that of a peculiar form of
expression. The essence or mind has discontinued
its use of that particular material which it for a
time employed for out-picturing or objective mani-


Every living form is an external index of some
kind of mind. In every detail it is a result, and
never a cause. For instance, the tiger-mind picks
up material, and moulds it in every particular to
express exactly the mental propensities and charac-
teristics of that animal. Feline cunning, ferocity,
strength, and adaptation to environment are all men-
tal qualities. Body is passive material, being only
acted upon.

The life (or even here we may say the mind) of
a beech-tree gathers up matter and erects it into a
shape, but never makes a mistake regarding the exact
form of visible expression. The grain of the wood,
bark, every branch, twig, and leaf, all articulate beech,
and nothing else.

The human mind, or life, erects its own animate
form with exactitude, though the identical material
may have been used for other grades of mind a hun-
dred times before.

We have thus concisely stated a few basic prin-
ciples of being, to note by contrast the baselessness
of prevailing materialism. Without intending to be
materialistic, we unconsciously become so, judging
as we do by outside appearances. We fall into the
superficial current, and gauge everything by sensuous
measurement. Careful reflection will show us that
we are always dealing with surface symptoms and
effects, and fail to get down- to the depths of pri-
mary causation. We drop into the error of regard-


ing mind only as a quality of body, while in reality
the latter is merely its instrument. The mind is the
substance or entity, as is a number, rather than the
figure or character by which it is represented.

Any other philosophy of being than the above
makes man a mere bundle of animated matter, and
presents him as dependent for his very existence
upon a fortuitous concourse of organized material.
If mind be only a function or attenuated quality of
co-operative dust, what becomes of it when disorgani-
zation takes place ? We will do well to dismiss such
a deadly pessimistic philosophy.

Have not therapeutics, philosophy, science, and
theology all together become materialistic ? Man
regards himself as a material being. He practically
thinks of himself as body. This state of conscious-
ness degrades and puts him upon the plane of innu-
merable limitations.

Metaphysical science and experience show that so
far as one holds as a positive principle that he is
soul, and that it is normal for him to rule his physi-
cal instrument, thus far he gains a growing power
and control over it. This thought, firmly and con-
tinuously held, so moulds and influences the body,
that at length it not only renders a useful and nar-
monious ministry to its lord and master, but also
becomes increasingly impervious to disorder and in-
harmony. This doctrine exactly fits the constitution
of man. It is in accord with law in its deepest and
broadest interpretation.


Bearing these points in mind, let us inquire what
are life and health ? Life is that condition in which
the real man, ego, or mind, rules and also receives nor-
mal tribute from his sensuous organism. Health is
that state of relationship when there is no insurrec-
tion or obstacle, and peace and co-operation prevail.
The man rules his household, and receives rightful
service and respect. The divine established order is
recognized and complied with.

Illness is that condition in which the rule of mind
is enfeebled, or when the grasp of the ego is weaken-
ing upon its legitimate kingdom ; and death is the
entire loss of its executive hold and authority.

- To successfully reign in his lawful domain, • man
needs added vitality, and a felt connection with the
universal exuberant Energy. He must regard him-
self as a conduit, and be in constant receipt of sup-
plies from the great supersensuous Fountain of

It is not the passive clay which needs manipula-
tion, but the ruler who must have added executive
authority. His weakened grasp must be tightened;
and this is not possible by visible food only, for
"man shall not live by bread alone/' If the ego
firmly assert its positive supremacy as a matter of
divine right, its demands will be complied with.
The " divine right of kings " is as nothing in com-

We patch the body from the outside, hoping there-


by to make it mentally tenable a little longer. But
it is built from within. From the inner to the outer
is the universal established order.

Mental causation is always primary, but it is too
deep for sensuous observation. The draft may occa-
sion a cold, but the cause is more subtle, — suscepti-

Every one has long been aware that fear, grief, sin,
anxiety, pessimism, and all their train, pull down
bodily tissue ; but we have unwittingly failed to
observe that their positive opposites would surely
build it up. But this is logical and reasonable.
Harmony, joy, optimism, idealism, love, and courage
will surely invigorate. Under the now well-under-
stood law of auto-suggestion and thought-concentra-
tion, each mental condition can be positively culti-
vated and made dominant in the consciousness. It
is possible to entirely change the mental habit. A
daily exercise of immaterial gymnastics, involving
systematic thought concentration, is as practicable
as any system of muscular and physicaMevelopment.

What, then, is the remedy for mental or physical
infelicity ? Change the subjective standpoint. Ee-
construct the consciousness. It may not be done in
a moment, for all growth is gradual. But the same
pains and persistence that we give to a thousand
things of far less importance will work a wonderful
change in a short time.

We must consciously enter into our possession, and


claim that we are living souls rather than poor,
weak, material creatures. Dwell not in mere physi-
cal sensation, upon the animal plane, but in an
affirmed and cultivated conscious superiority over
conditions, until they fall into line and serve us.
Enthrone the real ego, which is spirit, created in
the image of the Infinite, and utilize something of
that divine potency which has been hidden by ages
of self-imposed limitation.

But man, having lost his spiritual self-conscious-
ness, mistakes the handful of dust which he has for
a while utilized, for himself. By immutable law he
manifests and outpictures this concept which he has
held and carelessly actualized. So long as he re-
gards himself as a poor, weak, material creature he
will fill the measure of his own outline.

" As a man thinketh in his heart so is he." This
is not a mere moral or religious platitude, but a
scientific statement. It has been said that " a man
is the architect of his own fortune ; " but this is more
true of mind and body than of worldly place and
possessions. The creative power of thought is his
divine instrument; but he has not learned its use,
and so, as has till recently been the case with elec-
trical energy, its force has been squandered, or, even
worse, turned in the wrong direction.

Man searches the objective world over for balms,
specifics, and panaceas, and experiments with every
known external thing, but fails to interpret the


nearest and grandest of all things, — his own consti-
tution. He goes abroad for congenial environment,
sunny skies, and favoring climates, but fails to get
away from his own perverted thoughts concerning
himself. He must learn that through ideals he may
displace his spectres. By compliance with this
great law he may transform seeming adverse con-
ditions. The " Philosopher's Stone " is within his
own being. Through the spiritual alembic of his
inner nature he may rightfully call for all things to
pay him tribute.



We are so accustomed to deal directly and almost
solely with the objective, that any attempt to read-
just our own end of a line of relationship is uncon-
ventional, and by many is regarded as irregular, if
not unscientific. The great obstacle to the appre-
hension of truth is not so much in its complexity or
occultism, as in the lack of perception that is conse-
quent upon predisposition, bias, authority, and even
upon what is often regarded as learning itself.

Not long since a prominent clergyman, whose dog-
matism is most pronounced, preache'd from the text,
"Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God
as a little child, shall in no wise enter therein."
But to whom is it more difficult to become childlike,
in the reception of truth, than to one whose creed
is positive, whose opinions are fixed, and to whom
" revelation " is fully completed ?

The dogmatism of theology is often paralleled by
that of so-called science. To venture beyond the
conventional limits of the regular materialistic
schools, or to question their traditional methods,
subjects one to the charge of being eccentic, and


often requires more courage than is needed for a
new departure in the realm of theology. In other
words, the scientist is often quite as punctilious re-
garding " orthodoxy " in his own domain as is the
dogmatic theologian in his. To approach a subject
in such a way as to get a view of its true outline
often necessitates the brushing away of much sub-
jective rubbish which unconsciously hides the very
object sought. True insight is often gained only at
the expense of some preliminary imlearning. With
a proposed effort to search for truth is often linked a
strong, even though unconscious, desire for evidence
to confirm existing opinions. Authority, traditional-
ism, and unsymmetrical education are often, one or
all, fatal to the openness, plasticity, and intuitive
transparency which are indispensable to the discov-
ery and reception of things which are deep and veri-
table. Prevailing systems of education are scholastic
rather than educive. That conventional cramming
of unrelated objective facts, termed learning, is the
rival, if not the enemy, of a delicate and impartial
inner perception through which truth comes into the
consciousness. The excessive intellectuality of the
age, being entirely objective, has dulled and obscured
the keenness of the intuitional faculty, which nor-
mally is of higher rank.

Coming to a more specific application of these
principles as related to psychical investigation, it is
evident that a higher point of view would greatly


facilitate progress. Disregarding, therefore, not only
the traditions of the regular materialistic scientists,
but also the methods of many other earnest explo-
rers, well intentioned, but almost wholly objective,
we propose a brief introspective study among foun-
dation principles.

If we look at mind and spirit from the plane of
materiality, we find ourselves m a valley which lacks
breadth of outlook. While practically regarding our-
selves as bodies, we naturally begin to speculate
whether or not it be scientifically possible for that
airy, intangible something called mind to act, live,
and be conscious when its physical " basis " is laid
aside. Our prevailing objective materialism gives
us the feeling — from careless habits of thought —
that mind depends upon material organism rather
than the reverse. Does body build life and mind, or
do they build body for the purpose of outward and
correspondential expression ? Manifestly the latter.
The former would logically end in pure materialism ;
but it is remarkable that thousands are practically
thorough materialists without being aware of the fact.

The real man (ego) is mind, soul, spirit. He is
soul, pnd has a body. Nearly all will agree to this
proposition in the abstract ; but so soon as they be-
gin to reason in any direction, they unconsciously
abandon their premises, and practically regard them-
selves as material beings. With daily consciousness
centred exclusively upon the sensuous and objective,


it becomes almost impossible, from force of habit, to
maintain a correct standpoint and perspective. How
greatly it would simplify all psychological research
to squarely hold the position, not that we have souls,
but that we are souls — yes, spirits — now, as much
as we ever shall be. The physical organism is no
part of us, but it is expression made visible — noth-
ing more and no less. To be sure, it is educational ;
for it is in accordance with law that soul must have
an experience in matter. But it is important that
we educate our thought to regard the body only as
an instrument belonging to the man, entirely secon-
dary and resultant.

If soul be only a function or exercise of body, as
conventional " science " and materia medica have
practically assumed, then immortality is illogical ;
for when a thing perishes, its functions, which de-
pend upon it, perish also.

The body, being but a sensuous form or plane of
expression for the real man, bears a similar relation
to him to that of his clothing. He is not merely its
tenant, however, but its architect and builder. Its
construction is from within through the force of
mind, conscious and unconscious. Thought- — mind
in action — is creative. It is the universal motor
and the fountain of primary causation. There are
molecular changes in the "gray matter'' of the brain,
but they are the material correspondence or result,
and not the cause of thinking.


While many physical processes take place invol-
untarily, or below the surface of consciousness, they
are nevertheless all directed by mind. But a small
part of mentality is upon the plane of consciousness.
The key to the interpretation of a large part of the
phenomena of hypnotism, psychology, and mental
therapeutics is found in a proper discrimination be-
tween the objective and subjective mind. The latter,
which is so responsive to suggestion, and which so
directly moulds and directs all bodily activity, till
quite recently has hardly been considered.

The atom, or theoretical unit of matter, has not
yet been discovered, and therefore is, to this day,
only an intellectual abstraction ; but although scal-
pel has never touched it, nor microscope revealed it,
we need not question its existence. But whatever it
be, its use is to objectively express different grades,
qualities, and operations of life, or organized mind.
The same material is picked up and used in one
form after another, to temporarily manifest the
special peculiarities of the life that is then using
it, in exact correspondence. , At length disintegra-
tion follows, and leaves it free to be again seized
upon as before. It logically follows that life, or
organized mind, is more deeply real than matter,
and the immaterial than the material. The former
is . true substance, the latter more properly shadow.
Taking the evidence of the real, intuitional self or
ego against the objective or sensuous self, we con-


elude that reality, permanency, and solidity are
terms which, can only be properly applied to mind
and spirit. As in the case of the apparent revolu-
tion of the sun around the earth, sensuous appear-
ances are misleading. The world for so long a time
has had its consciousness filled with forms and ex-
pressions, that it has almost become incapable of
beholding the immaterial. Any faculty long unused
gradually decays.

The evolutionary philosophy, from the changed
standpoint, becomes simplified and intelligible. If
matter be passive, and the same material be re-
peatedly used in integration and disintegration, it
is plain that the progression is only in the advan-
cing qualities of organized life and mind ; and these
successively embody and express themselves in suit-
able and corresponding shapes. After full expres-
sion, each of these external correspondences dissolves,
and the plastic material of which it was composed
is again utilized and built up anew. The matter
which composes a human form to-day may be found,
a few decades hence, built up into plant or animal
form, to manifest the particular quality of life which
then possesses it. It is over and over again erected
into living statues, sometimes of higher and again of
lower plane, demonstrating that evolution is entirely
and solely of the organized immaterial life, and not
of its passive material.

Look which way we may, we are brought back to


the fact that, in any deep and exhaustive sense,
reality can only be predicated of the unseen and
immaterial. Iron, steel, and gold are unreal and
unsubstantial, as compared with mind and spirit.
Material science all through the ages has been deal-
ing with shadows, and it has not only insisted that
they were solids, but has denied solidity to every-
thing else. The recent conclusion of science that
the* universal interplanetary ether has a solidity
vastly greater than steel, is one of many significant
hints of the coming emphasis that will everywhere
be placed upon unseen entities and forces. If life
and mind are the supreme realities, they, instead
of matter, constitute the substance of things, sensuous
testimony to the contrary notwithstanding. The
oak-tree life picks up plastic material, but it never
makes the mistake of erecting it into a birch or
maple expression. The same principles hold good
on the animal and human planes. The law is
uniform and universal. We find that all sequential
expression is uniformly exact to the most minute
detail, not only in species, but in quality, amongst
its own class.

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Online LibraryHenry WoodStudies in the thought world : or, Practical mind art → online text (page 3 of 15)