Control of Thought Processes

Many of us have supposed that our minds were the masters of ourselves, and we have allowed ourselves to be tormented and worried by thoughts “running away” with us, and presenting themselves at inopportune moments. The Initiate is relieved from this annoyance, for he learns to assert his mastery over the different parts of the mind, and controls and regulates his mental processes, just as one would a fine piece of machinery. He is able to control his conscious thinking faculties, and direct their work to the best advantage, and he also learns how to pass on orders to the subconscious mental region and bid it work for him while he sleeps, or even when he is using his conscious mind in other matters. These subjects will be considered by us in due time, during the course of lessons.

In this connection it may be interesting to read what Edward Carpenter says of the power of the individual to control his thought processes. In his book “From Adam’s Peak to Elephantia,” in describing his experience while visiting a Hindu Gnani Yogi, he says:

“And if we are unwilling to believe in this internal mastery over the body, we are perhaps almost equally unaccustomed to the idea of mastery over our own inner thoughts and feelings. That a man should be a prey to any thought that chances to take possession of his mind, is commonly among us assumed as unavoidable. It may be a matter of regret that he should be kept awake all night from anxiety as to the issue of a lawsuit on the morrow, but that he should have the power of determining whether he be kept awake or not seems an extravagant demand. The image of an impending calamity is no doubt odious, but its very odiousness (we say) makes it haunt the mind all the more pertinaciously and it is useless to try to expel it.

“Yet this is an absurd position–for man, the heir of all the ages: hag-ridden by the flimsy creatures of his own brain. If a pebble in our boot torments us, we expel it. We take off the boot and shake it out. And once the matter is fairly understood it is just as easy to expel an intruding and obnoxious thought from the mind. About this there ought to be no mistake, no two opinions. The thing is obvious, clear and unmistakable. It should be as easy to expel an obnoxious thought from your mind as it is to shake a stone out of your shoe; and till a man can do that it is just nonsense to talk about his ascendancy over Nature, and all the rest of it. He is a mere slave, and prey to the bat-winged phantoms that flit through the corridors of his own brain.

“Yet the weary and careworn faces that we meet by thousands, even among the affluent classes of civilization, testify only too clearly how seldom this mastery is obtained. How rare indeed to meet a man! How common rather to discover a creature hounded on by tyrant thoughts (or cares or desires), cowering, wincing under the lash–or perchance priding himself to run merrily in obedience to a driver that rattles the reins and persuades him that he is free–whom we cannot converse with in careless tete-a-tete because that alien presence is always there, on the watch.

“It is one of the most prominent doctrines of Raja Yoga that the power of expelling thoughts, or if need be, killing them dead on the spot, must be attained. Naturally the art requires practice, but like other arts, when once acquired there is no mystery or difficulty about it. And it is worth practice. It may indeed fairly be said that life only begins when this art has been acquired. For obviously when instead of being ruled by individual thoughts, the whole flock of them in their immense multitude and variety and capacity is ours to direct and dispatch and employ where we list (‘for He maketh the winds his messengers and the flaming fire His minister’), life becomes a thing so vast and grand compared with what it was before, that its former condition may well appear almost antenatal.

“If you can kill a thought dead, for the time being, you can do anything else with it that you please. And therefore it is that this power is so valuable. And it not only frees a man from mental torment (which is nine-tenths at least of the torment of life), but it gives him a concentrated power of handling mental work absolutely unknown to him before. The two things are co-relative to each other. As already said this is one of the principles of Raja Yoga.

“While at work your thought is to be absolutely concentrated in it, undistracted by anything whatever irrelevant to the matter in hand–pounding away like a great engine, with giant power and perfect economy–no wear and tear of friction, or dislocation of parts owing to the working of different forces at the same time. Then when the work is finished, if there is no more occasion for the use of the machine, it must stop equally, absolutely–stop entirely–no worrying (as if a parcel of boys were allowed to play their devilments with a locomotive as soon as it was in the shed)–and the man must retire into that region of his consciousness where his true self dwells.

“I say the power of the thought-machine itself is enormously increased by this faculty of letting it alone on the one hand, and of using it singly and with concentration on the other. It becomes a true tool, which a master-workman lays down when done with, but which only a bungler carries about with him all the time to show that he is the possessor of it.”

We ask the students to read carefully the above quotations from Mr. Carpenter’s book, for they are full of suggestions that may be taken up to advantage by those who are emancipating themselves from their slavery to the unmastered mind, and who are now bringing the mind under control of the Ego, by means of the Will.

Our next lesson will take up the subject of the relationship of the “I” to the Universal “I,” and will be called the “Expansion of the Self.” It will deal with the subject, not from a theoretical standpoint, but from the position of the teacher who is endeavoring to make his students actually aware in their consciousness of the truth of the proposition. In this course we are not trying to make our students past-masters of theory, but are endeavoring to place them in a position whereby they may know for themselves, and actually experience the things of which we teach.

Therefore we urge upon you not to merely rest content with reading this lesson, but, instead, to study and meditate upon the teachings mentioned under the head of “Mental Drill,” until the distinctions stand out clearly in your mind, and until you not only believe them to be true, but actually are conscious of the “I” and its Mental Tools. Have patience and perseverance. The task may be difficult, but the reward is great. To become conscious of the greatness, majesty, strength and power of your real being is worth years of hard study. Do you not think so? Then study and practice hopefully, diligently and earnestly.

Peace be with you.


“I” am an entity–my mind is my instrument of expression. “I” exist independent of my mind, and am not dependent upon it for existence or being. “I” am Master of my mind, not its slave. “I” can set aside my sensations, emotions, passions, desires, intellectual faculties, and all the rest of my mental collection of tools, as “not I” things–and still there remains something–and that something is “I,” which cannot be set aside by me, for it is my very self; my only self; my real self–“I.” That which remains after all that may be set aside is set aside is the “I”–Myself–eternal, constant, unchangeable.