Theosophy Northwest View

The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
April 2002 Vol. 5 Issue 2

Training and Disciplining Our Thoughts

Thoughts are of fundamental significance as the origin of all things, as in the saying, "What you think, you will become." What is a thought? It is an ensouled energy, an actual being, having persistence, inner cohesion, and life. One of the Mahatma letters says:

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. Thus, a good thought is perpetuated as an active beneficent power; an evil one as a maleficent demon. And so man is continually peopling his current in space with a world of his own, crowded with the offsprings of his fancies, desires, impulses, and passions, . . . -- Combined Chronology, p. 33

The pattern of our thoughts creates our karma, which develops in this sequence: a thought or idea is followed by an action; from an action comes a habit; from habit comes a character; and from a character comes a destiny, an appropriate karma.

How shall we control -- that is, educate -- our thoughts? The Buddha gave a rule as a favorite teaching to his disciples:

When evil and unworthy thoughts arise in the mind, images of lust, hatred, and infatuation, the disciple must win from these thoughts other and worthy images. When he thus induces other and worthy images in his mind, the unworthy thoughts cease; and because he has overcome them his inner heart is made firm, tranquil, unified, and strong. -- Majjhima Nikaya

We should try, therefore, constantly to think the opposite of any negative thoughts that come to us. This is very difficult, but regular repetition of a creative thought, idea, concept, or image adds to its effectiveness -- like water drops that wear away the stone -- until it becomes a spiritual and material action. A thought, once entertained, can never be called back, but it does not have to be connected with us forever. When, after a negative impulse, we think about noble things, we to a certain extent moderate the evil which caused our wrong thoughts, because the power of thought can induce the mightiest of phenomena. -- Gerhard Fischer

Silence of Mind

Like witnessing and pondering the immensity of space and time, periods of profound personal silence seem to satisfy a certain spiritual need. Such meditation is a time to halt the obscuring effects of constant doing, acting, thinking, res-ponding. It is a time to release the tightly-focused awareness of daily concerns and partake of a peacefulness, wherein the whole natural "galaxy" of the higher self can be reflected.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali lists eight steps which can lead to the "mountains" of the mind:

Yama, niyama: Leading an honest life in moderation and harmony with natural law;
Asana: Steady, comfortable posture with relaxation of effort;
Pranayama: The breath, and the flow of energy, natur-ally subsiding;
Pratyahara: Allowing the senses to let go of their objects;
Dharana: Gently confining mental activity;
Dhyana: Still mind;
Samadhi: Mind transcended.

The steps beginning with asana are generally practiced once or twice a day, for about half an hour. With repetition, one learns to spend more time in dhyana, where the higher self has a chance to reflect. -- David O'Dowd

Monthly Discussion Group

"Thoughts: Living Energies" is our subject. We will be discussing such questions as: What are our thoughts, and where do they come from? What influence do they have on other people? Does humanity live in and share a psychological atmosphere or world, just as it does a physical one? Do "ideas rule the world," as Plato claimed? Can we choose our thoughts and feelings, or are we subject to biochemical and psychological forces beyond our control? How are brain and mind related? How can we distinguish what is living and what is not? Come and share your ideas!

Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.

Future Topics for Discussion Group

The topics for the monthly discussion group for the next few months are:

May 16: Do Heaven and Hell Exist?
June: Self-Transformation: Our Hardest Task
July: Beyond Materialism
August: Old Age, Disease, and Death

Theosophical Views

Electricity, Magnetism, and Gravity: Cosmic Vital Energies

By Marilyn O'Day

The natural phenomena of electricity, magnetism and gravity are but different types of vital fluids or vital forces emanating from a cosmic entity, such as our solar system. Our solar system, like man, is a closed system, a living entity, having consciousness and intelligence, but of celestial propor-tions. The sun is its heart and brain, the planets its organs, and electricity, gravity, and magnetism its "life-blood." G. de Purucker explains it thus:

In our solar system, which is an organic entity, there are various life streams, following well-defined paths within the structure of this cosmic entity, which may be called the "circulations of the cosmos."
What these circulations are could be illustrated by the electric and magnetic lines of forces which bind together in a closely knitted organic web planet with planet, and the planets with the sun. Electricity is universal throughout the solar system; so likewise is magnetism, its alter ego; and both are expressions on lower planes of the cosmic jiva or universal life force. -- Fountain-Source of Occultism, p. 153

These vital fluids, often called pranas, are present in all conscious beings or monads, from an atom to a human to a planet to a solar system. The vehicles of all monads are energized by and built of these vital forces, which have their source in the most spiritual part of an entity's constitution, its atman or essential self. They flow down throughout the entire constitution of the being as energizing fields or fluids. The ultimate source of this energy is the infinite, unknowable All from which all things in the universe originate.

At its most basic level, prana or life-force is composed of minute "life-atoms," tiny centers of consciousness. These are in constant motion, moving in and out of the body to build it and help give it its character. Prana is active on all planes, spiritual, astral, and physical. It can be very ethereal, but when it flows in the more material parts of an entity, such as in the astral and physical bodies, it becomes perceptibly substantial. Gravity, electricity, and magnetism, because they originate in the more material aspects of our divine parent, the sun, are in reality substances, composed of very ethereal particulate, corpuscular matter.

There are several types of prana, each serving a different function in a living being. These functions manifest themselves as the many natural forces and processes we see in both human and cosmic realms. In the human being, for instance, one type of prana controls the processes of digestion and assimilation, and thus serves to activate chemical reactions in the body. Another controls the removal of waste. A third type controls the circulation of fluids in the body and hence produces a cohesive power that holds together the constitution of the entity. In addition, an entity's prana causes it to have its own unique and individual magnetism. On the celestial scale, these multi-faceted characteristics manifest themselves as gravity and the electromagnetic fields that permeate the earth and the solar system.

Pranic forces may be controlled by the will of the entity in which they flow. Man in his current state of evolution does not have conscious command of all of his life-energies, and they thus function automatically in him. But cosmic beings, which are more evolved, have a more perfect control over their vital forces. Thus gravity, magnetism, and electricity have intelligent direction behind them. The habits of these cosmic beings we call natural laws, so regular that can be quantified and defined by mathematical equations.

Magnetism and electricity have a bipolar nature, since the vital forces that produce them are ruled by polar opposites: positive and negative, spiritual and material, attraction and repulsion. Gravity also is dual in nature, being connected with an equal and opposite power of repulsion not discovered as yet by science. This principle of duality is present through-out the universe, and is indeed one of its fundamental principles. In fact, "the universe is held in its courses and its plans of beauty and harmony because of the two great cosmic powers, love and hate, attraction and repulsion." (Studies in Occult Philosophy by G. de Purucker, p. 323)

Our universe is truly a living, breathing organism. Natural phenomena such as gravity, electricity and magnetism, like other processes that act in the cosmos, are not just inanimate, indifferent forces, working in a void. They exist because living, intelligent cosmic entities exist to produce and direct them.

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