The majority of those who read this lesson will have heard something of this subject of the power of thought, and will have doubtless had many experiences of its effect. So this lesson may come as an old story to nearly all of the members of the Class, but we will endeavor to give a brief, plain outline of the Yogi teachings upon the subject, which may help to reconcile some of the apparently conflicting theories which have been previously considered.
We shall not attempt to explain what thought is – that is too complicated a subject for elementary lessons. But we will begin by explaining some of its properties, laws, and effects. We avoid the theory for the time being, and get down to the “practical” side of the question.
You will remember what we said in our last lesson about the Aura. We explained that the Aura was projected into space by the several principles of man, just as is the light of the sun, the heat of a stove, the odor of a flower, etc. Each of these sources throws off vibrations, which we call light, heat, or odor, respectively. In one sense these emanations are minute particles of the thing which throws them off. In this connection we must also remember that the thing throwing off the emanations may be afterward withdrawn, but the emanations still remain for a greater or lesser time.
For instance, astronomy teaches that a distant star may be destroyed, and yet the light rays thrown off from it will continue on their journey, and may soon be seen by us of the Earth years and years after the star itself has been destroyed – in fact, what we really see at any time are the rays of the star which left it many years before, the time, of course, depending upon the distance of the star from the earth. In the same way a fire in a stove may be extinguished, and yet the heat will remain in the room for a long time afterward.
Likewise, a small particle of musk may be exposed in a room and then removed, and yet the odor will be perceptible for a long time. In the same way thoughts may be in active existence which have been sent out years before by some person, whose entire mental character may have changed or who, in fact, may have passed out of the body long since. Places and localities are often permeated by the thought of persons who formerly lived there, who have moved away or died many years ago.
The mind is continually throwing off emanations, which may be seen as the Aura extending a few feet from the person, and which usually becomes thinner and less easily perceived as it extends away from the sender. We are constantly sending forth thought waves (to use a favorite term) , and these waves, after the initial force of projection is expended, float along like clouds, mixing with other thought waves of the same character, and extending often to far distant parts of the earth. Some of the thought emanations remain around the place from which they were sent forth, and unless disturbed by strong thoughts of a contrary nature will remain but slightly changed for many years.
Other thoughts sent forth with a definite purpose or under a strong desire, emotion, or passion, will go forth rapidly toward the object to which they are directed. We shall see instances of this as we proceed with this lesson. The majority of persons put very little force into their thought; in fact, thinking with them becomes almost a mechanical process, and consequently their thought – waves have very little motion imparted to them and do not travel very far, unless drawn by some other person of similar thought who attracts them to him. (We are merely stating general principles as we go along, repeating them when necessary, so that the student will gradually absorb the idea.
We consider this conversational method the most effective form of teaching – far more so than the usual “cut and dried” form.) We wish the student to particularly understand that when we say “Thoughts are Things,” we are not using the words in a figurative sense or in a fanciful way, but that we are expressing a literal truth. We mean that thought is as much a “thing” as is light, heat, electricity,. or similar forms of manifestations.
Thought can be seen by the psychic sight; can be felt by the sensitive; and, if the proper instruments were in existence, could be weighed. Thought, after being sent forth, is of a cloudy appearance, bearing the color belonging to it, as de scribed in our lesson on the Aura. It is like a thin vapor (the degree of density varying) , and is just as real as the air around us or the vapor of steam or the numerous gases with which we are acquainted. And it has power, just as have all of these forms of vapor which we have just mentioned. In this place let us mention that when a thought is sent forth with strength, it usually carries with it a certain amount of Prana, which gives it additional power and strength, and often produces startling effects.
The Prana practically “vitalizes” it in some cases, and makes of it almost a living force. We will have more to say on this point a little later on. So, friends and students, please remember always that when we speak of thoughts being real things, we mean just what we say. It may be necessary for you to fix this fact in your minds by picturing the mind as sending forth thought emanations. Some find the picture of the throwing off of light-waves an easy way to fix the idea in their minds. Others prefer the illustration of the throwing off of heat by a stove. Others find it easier to think of a flower throwing off a strong perfume. And one student (now far advanced) preferred to think of thought emanations as akin to the steam being projected from a boiling tea kettle.
Take your choice or invent illustrations of your own, but get the idea fixed in your minds some way. It is much easier to work out these things by means of a material illustration than to attempt to carry an abstract idea in the mind. While, as a rule, the power of thought of a certain kind depends upon the strength with which it has been projected, there is another element of strength which enables thoughts to manifest power. We allude to the tendency of thought to attract to itself other thoughts of a similar nature and thus combine force.
Not only does thought along any lines tend to attract to the thinker corresponding thought attracted from the thought-atmosphere within the field of attraction, but thoughts have a tendency to flock together – to coalesce, to blend together. The average thought-atmosphere of a community is the composite thoughts of the people composing that community. Places, like persons, have their peculiarities, their characteristics, their strong and weak points, their prevailing atmosphere. This fact is apparent to all who have thought at all upon these lines, but the matter is usually dismissed without any attempt at explanation.
But it must be apparent that the place itself is not an entity, and that these characteristics are not inherent in them, but must have some cause or origin. The occultist knows that this thought-atmosphere of a village, town, city, or nation is the composite thought of those dwelling in it or who have previously dwelt there. Strangers coming into the community feel the changed atmosphere about it, and, unless they find it in harmony with their own mental character, they feel uncomfortable and desire to leave the place. If one, not understanding the laws operating in the thought world, remains long in a place, he is most likely to be influenced by the prevailing thought-atmosphere, and in spite of himself a change begins to be manifest in him and he sinks or rises to the level of the prevailing thought. In the older countries the characteristics of the leading cities of the nation have grown more or less alike, although there are still many points of difference which the stranger at once feels when he visits them.
But in America, where the country is larger and newer, the differences to be noticed in localities are most marked. This is true not only in different sections of the country, but in cities near each other. Let the thoughtful stranger visit in turn the leading cities of the United States, and he will be struck with the spirit of each place, each having its own personality and characteristics, the result of certain lines of thought on the part of the early settlers of the place, which in turn affected the newcomers, who added their thought emanations to the atmosphere of the place, and so on, from time to time, until the several cities have grown farther apart in their characteristics than have many different nationalities.
Let the stranger visit in turn, say Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, and San Francisco, and he will notice the greatest differences in the characteristics of each place. This difference does not appear so strongly when he talks to individual citizens, but is quite noticeable when he opens himself up to the “spirit of the place.” People often speak of these characteristics as “the air” of the place, and the real explanation has been given above – it is the thought-atmosphere of the town. These characteristics may be modified or even greatly changed by a new set of people settling in a town. A few energetic thinkers will send forth strong waves of thought in their everyday life, which will soon color the composite thought of the place. The thought of one strong thinker will overcome the weak, purposeless thought of very many people who send forth only negative thoughts.
The positive is a sure antidote to the negative. In the same way the “spirit” of the nation is a composite of the “spirit” of its several parts. If one removes to a town in which the greatest energy is being manifested, he soon feels the effect of the positive thought around him, which awakens similar thoughts within himself. If one removes to a sleepy, “dead” community, his activities will become deadened and he will gradually sink to the level of the town. Of course, the man or woman who has built up a strong, positive individuality will not be affected so easily as the one of opposite characteristics, and, in fact, he may even act as a leaven for the mass; but in a general way the average person is greatly influenced by the composite thought-atmosphere of the locality in which he spends most of his time. In the same way dwellings, business-places, buildings, etc., take on the predominant thought of those inhabiting, them or who have dwelt in them.
Some places are notoriously “unlucky,” and, although this condition may be reversed by the man or woman of strong will, the average person is affected by it. Some houses carry with them an atmosphere of sunshine, good fellowship, and good cheer, while others are cold and repellent. A place of business is very apt to reflect the prevailing thought of those at the head of the enterprise or those who direct its affairs. Certain shops inspire confidence in patrons, while others cause one to keep a tight clutch on the pocketbook and a close eye on the clerks.
Places in which crimes have been committed often carry with them an unpleasant atmosphere, which originally arose from the strong thoughts sent forth from those participating in the occurrence, both the criminal and the victim. The atmosphere of a prison is horrifying to the sensitive. The atmosphere of a place of vice or scene of low animal pleasures is suffocating to one of higher mental traits.The atmosphere of a hospital is apt to influence those visiting it. The atmosphere of an old church is apt to produce in the mind of the visitor a feeling of quiet and calm. We are speaking in generalities, of course, as there are many influences modifying and changing these tendencies.
Thus it is with, individuals. Some carry about them an atmosphere of cheer, sunniness, and courage, while others bring into a room a feeling of inharmony, distrust, and uneasiness. Many act as “killjoys” and as dampers upon enthusiasm and free expression. Hundreds of instances illustrating this fact might be cited, but the student may supply these from his own experience and observation.
The various waves of thought sent forth by people attract and are attracted by thoughts of a similar character. They form thought strata in the astral space, just as clouds fall into groups in the atmosphere. This does not mean that each stratum of thought occupies a certain portion of space to the exclusion of all other thought clouds.
On the contrary, these thought particles forming the clouds are of different degrees of vibration, and the same space may be filled with thought matter of a thousand kinds, passing freely about and interpenetrating, without interference with each other, but not assimilating except with thoughts of similar character, although temporary combinations may be formed in some cases. We cannot go into detail regarding this in this lesson, and merely wish to give the student a general idea of the subject, upon which he may build from time to time.