Examination of mental processes

It is only by the mind that the teachings we are now giving you may be grasped and understood, and used to your advantage and benefit. We are talking direct to your mind now, and are making appeals to it, that it may be interested and may open itself to what is ready to come into it from its own higher regions. We are appealing to the Intellect to direct its attention to this great matter, that it may interpose less resistance to the truths that are waiting to be projected from the Spiritual Mind, which knows the Truth.

Place yourself in a calm, restful condition, that you may be able to meditate upon the matters that we shall place before you for consideration. Allow the matters presented to meet with a hospitable reception from you, and hold a mental attitude of willingness to receive what may be waiting for you in the higher regions of your mind.

We wish to call your attention to several mental impressions or conditions, one after another, in order that you may realize that they are merely something incident to you, and not YOU yourself–that you may set them aside and consider them, just as you might anything that you have been using. You cannot set the “I” aside and so consider it, but the various forms of the “not I” may be so set aside and considered.

In the First Lesson you gained the perception of the “I” as independent from the body, the latter merely being an instrument for use. You have now arrived at the stage when the “I” appears to you to be a mental creature–a bundle of thoughts, feelings, moods, etc. But you must go farther. You must be able to distinguish the “I” from these mental conditions, which are as much tools as is the body and its parts. Let us begin by considering the thoughts more closely connected with the body, and then work up to the higher mental states.

The sensations of the body, such as hunger; thirst; pain; pleasurable sensations; physical desires, etc., etc., are not apt to be mistaken for essential qualities of the “I” by many of the Candidates, for they have passed beyond this stage, and have learned to set aside these sensations, to a greater or lesser extent, by an effort of the Will, and are no longer slaves to them. Not that they do not experience these sensations, but they have grown to regard them as incidents of the physical life–good in their place–but useful to the advanced man only when he has mastered them to the extent that he no longer regards them as close to the “I.” And yet, to some people, these sensations are so closely identified with their conception of the “I” that when they think of themselves they think merely of a bundle of these sensations. They are not able to set them aside and consider them as things apart, to be used when necessary and proper, but as things not fastened to the “I.”

The more advanced a man becomes the farther off seem these sensations. Not that he does not feel hungry, for instance. Not at all, for he recognizes hunger, and satisfies it within reason, knowing that his physical body is making demands for attention, and that these demands should be heeded. But–mark the difference–instead of feeling that the “I” is hungry the man feels that “my body” is hungry, just as he might become conscious that his horse or dog was crying for food insistently. Do you see what we mean? It is that the man no longer identifies himself–the “I”–with the body, consequently the thoughts which are most closely allied to the physical life seem comparatively “separate” from his “I” conception.

Such a man thinks “my stomach, this,” or “my leg, that,” or “my body, thus,” instead of “‘I,’ this,” or “‘I’ that.” He is able, almost automatically, to think of the body and its sensations as things of him, and belonging to him, which require attention and care, rather than as real parts of the “I.” He is able to form a conception of the “I” as existing without any of these things–without the body and its sensations–and so he has taken the first step in the realization of the “I.”

Before going on, we ask the students to stop a few moments, and mentally run over these sensations of the body. Form a mental image of them, and realize that they are merely incidents to the present stage of growth and experience of the “I,” and that they form no real part of it. They may, and will be, left behind in the Ego’s higher planes of advancement. You may have attained this mental conception perfectly, long since, but we ask that to give yourself the mental drill at this time, in order to fasten upon your mind this first step.

In realizing that you are able to set aside, mentally, these sensations–that you are able to hold them out at arm’s length and “consider” them as an “outside” thing, you mentally determine that they are “not I” things, and you set them down in the “not I” collection–the first to be placed there. Let us try to make this still plainer, even at the risk of wearying you by repetitions (for you must get this idea firmly fixed in your mind). To be able to say that a thing is “not I,” you must realize that there are two things in question (1) the “not I” thing, and (2) the “I” who is regarding the “not I” thing just as the “I” regards a lump of sugar, or a mountain. Do you see what we mean? Keep at it until you do.

Next, consider some of the emotions, such as anger; hate; love, in its ordinary forms; jealousy; ambition; and the hundred and one other emotions that sweep through our brains. You will find that you are able to set each one of these emotions or feelings aside and study it; dissect it; analyze it; consider it. You will be able to understand the rise, progress and end of each of these feelings, as they have come to you, and as you recall them in your memory or imagination, just as readily as you would were you observing their occurrence in the mind of a friend. You will find them all stored away in some parts of your mental make-up, and you may (to use a modern American slang phrase) “make them trot before you, and show their paces.” Don’t you see that they are not “You”–that they are merely something that you carry around with you in a mental bag. You can imagine yourself as living without them, and still being “I,” can you not?

And the very fact that you are able to set them aside and examine and consider them is a proof that they are “not I” things–for there are two things in the matter (1) You who are examining and considering them, and (2) the thing itself which is the object of the examination and consideration at mental arm’s length. So into the “not I” collection go these emotions, desirable and undesirable. The collection is steadily growing, and will attain quite formidable proportions after a while.

Now, do not imagine that this is a lesson designed to teach you how to discard these emotions, although if it enables you to get rid of the undesirable ones, so much the better. This is not our object, for we bid you place the desirable (at this time) ones in with the opposite kind, the idea being to bring you to a realization that the “I” is higher, above and independent of these mental somethings, and then when you have realized the nature of the “I,” you may return and use (as a Master) the things that have been using you as a slave. So do not be afraid to throw these emotions (good and bad) into the “not I” collection. You may go back to them, and use the good ones, after the Mental Drill is over. No matter how much you may think that you are bound by any of these emotions, you will realize, by careful analysis, that it is of the “not I” kind, for the “I” existed before the emotion came into active play, and it will live long after the emotion has faded away. The principal proof is that you are able to hold it out at arm’s length and examine it–a proof that it is “not I.”

Run through the entire list of your feelings; emotions; moods; and what not, just as you would those of a well-known friend or relative, and you will see that each one–every one–is a “not I” thing, and you will lay it aside for the time, for the purpose of the scientific experiment, at least.

Then passing on to the Intellect, you will be able to hold out for examination each mental process and principle. You don’t believe it, you may say. Then read and study some good work on Psychology, and you will learn to dissect and analyze every intellectual process–and to classify it and place it in the proper pigeon-hole. Study Psychology by means of some good text-book, and you will find that one by one every intellectual process is classified, and talked about and labeled, just as you would a collection of flowers. If that does not satisfy you, turn the leaves of some work on Logic, and you will admit that you may hold these intellectual processes at arm’s length and examine them, and talk about them to others.

So that these wonderful tools of Man–the Intellectual powers may be placed in the “not I” collection, for the “I” is capable of standing aside and viewing them–it is able to detach them from itself. The most remarkable thing about this is that in admitting this fact, you realize that the “I” is using these very intellectual faculties to pass upon themselves. Who is the Master that compels these faculties to do this to themselves? The Master of the Mind–The “I.”

And reaching the higher regions of the mind–even the Spiritual Mind, you will be compelled to admit that the things that have come into consciousness from that region may be considered and studied, just as may be any other mental thing, and so even these high things must be placed in the “not I” collection. You may object that this does not prove that all the things in the Spiritual Mind may be so treated–that there may be “I” things there that can not be so treated. We will not discuss this question, for you know nothing about the Spiritual Mind except as it has revealed itself to you, and the higher regions of that mind are like the mind of a God, when compared to what you call mind.

But the evidence of the Illumined–those in whom the Spiritual Mind has wonderfully unfolded tell us that even in the highest forms of development, the Initiates, yea, even the Masters, realize that above even their highest mental states there is always that eternal “I” brooding over them, as the Sun over the lake; and that the highest conception of the “I” known even to advanced souls, is but a faint reflection of the “I” filtering through the Spiritual Mind, although that Spiritual Mind is as clear as the clearest crystal when compared with our comparatively opaque mental states. And the highest mental state is but a tool or instrument of the “I,” and is not the “I” itself.

And yet the “I” is to be found in the faintest forms of consciousness, and animates even the unconscious life. The “I” is always the same, but its apparent growth is the result of the mental unfoldment of the individual. As we described it in one of the lessons of the “Advanced Course” it is like an electric lamp that is encased in many wrappings of cloth.

As cloth after cloth is removed, the light seems to grow brighter and stronger, and yet it has changed not, the change being in the removal of the confining and bedimming coverings. We do not expect to make you realize the “I” in all its fullness–that is far beyond the highest known to man of to-day–but we do hope to bring you to a realization of the highest conception of the “I,” possible to each of you in your present stage of unfoldment, and in the process we expect to cause to drop from you some of the confining sheaths that you have about outgrown. The sheaths are ready for dropping, and all that is required is the touch of a friendly hand to cause them to fall fluttering from you. We wish to bring you to the fullest possible (to you) realization of the “I,” in order to make an Individual of you–in order that you may understand, and have courage to take up the tools and instruments lying at your hand, and do the work before you.