Everybody looks out for some thing; most people look around them as far as their eyes carry them and then stop; some look within, into that unlimited space, where, when vision ceases, the real begins. Internal vision has to go into Pralaya, (1) too, but the real will stand when beyond inverted sight there is unfathomable darkness; in that darkness sound yet prevails. But internal vision is more real than external vision and it lasts as long as the Monad (2) lasts as such, during a Mahamanvantara. (3) What the seeds of sound are in the Absolute is beyond creatures to know; we stop and bow down in deepest reverence. But on the road which lies in this direction there are many things and real things, as far as real may mean "lasting through one great age of Brahma." Let us call this real and the sheaths unreal, of which the physical is the utmost illusion of all, than which there is no greater illusion. So we have to work up from the very bottom of the ladder to which we have descended. We had to descend, we had to believe it to be real, or we should never have known it. We cannot investigate that which we do not believe to be really existing, and inasmuch as we will never know the soul if we deny its existence, we could never have known the physical world without believing it to be real through the power of Maya. (4)
We know the methods of investigation of the physical, because we have evolved senses and faculties which respond to it and take it in. These senses and faculties however, do not hold good for investigating other planes of consciousness, and if we want to do this we must evolve others, each set responding to the plane to which it belongs. Much that we do and think however, belongs already to other planes and only appears physical. All men think, sometimes very little, but the thought-plane is that of the conscious performance of thinking as such, and not as a physical disturbance. Unless we do that we do not think self-consciously, but automatically. Doing a thing consciously means to master it, and we do not really think consciously as long as we do not master by will and knowledge every thought of ours. Thinking is doing work on the thought plane, and as a carpenter builds a house and not the house builds itself by the carpenter's hands, so we must perform thinking as we will it, and think such thoughts only as we have willed to think. But, oh, how long it takes a man, even with the best intention to do this. Two difficulties obstruct the way: The habit of doing otherwise, and the obligation to still act on the physical plane in order to work out past karma. If we try to do our best to overcome the first of these obstructions, we do all we can and must leave the rest to karma.
So now the first thing to do is to find out our habit of not thinking, which is but entering extraneous thought-currents. Truly H. P. Blavatsky calls this earth the "Hall of Ignorance"; in the physical we can only learn that we are ignorant, we can only find out that our pretended knowledge here is not knowledge but ignorance; form and name as the Hindu philosophy says. Thinking from a physical, earthly aspect is ignorance and illusion. We have to learn this first, but at the same time we must learn the real thinking; we cannot unlearn unless we learn, and we cannot learn unless we unlearn. H. P. Blavatsky calls the next hall the "Hall of Learning," and the third, the "Hall of Wisdom." The first of those two appears like a critical state between ignorance and wisdom, as the critical state of water before turning into steam. The forces of both states act on it, and it does not know which way to go. Learning in fact means the taking of a decision, one way or the other, for an entity having freedom of choice; it is no advancement in itself, but may lead to advancement. Thus a man as a thinker is in ignorance, learning, or wisdom, at each moment of his mental activity. If he understands this well, he may begin to learn to do his own thinking and finish by dispelling all ignorance by the mastery over his whole thinking system.
But even this is not introspection, it is only what any reasonable man should do in order to be really somebody. Beyond the "Hall of Wisdom" stretch the "Waters of Akshara" the infinite, the beyond-thought, but thought has to be mastered first before it can be left, or else it will always be a disturbing element. Thoughts on the thought-plane are like objective things on the physical plane; as we build up our physical worlds around us by the power of representation and will, so we build up our thought world by thought representation and mastery of same.
There are always two ways of viewing a thing, looking at it, and seeing by it. You see a beetle crawl in the dust, that is you see its movements; then you ob-serve where the insect wants to go and for what purpose, and thus entering into the insect's mind you see by it. With our thoughts it is the same. We know our habit of thought and we can feel habitual thoughts creeping up to us, trying to enter into our consciousness; we see them but we do not as yet enter into them. When we enter them, then we formulate the thoughts and so to say use them, give them strength and allow them to get hold of us more easily the next time. If we do not formulate them but oppose them, then there ensues a fight between our will and the acquired force of habit.
It is only when we have vanquished the latter that we can do our own thinking with less difficulty, and at last mastery will give us freedom of thinking.
It is only after we have gained this freedom that we may begin to try what Patanjali calls the arrest of the "modifications of the thinking principle." By giving form to thought the thinking principle is modified, and by arresting the latter no more mind-pictures are produced and the consciousness may go beyond. This is so different from our every-day habit, and we know so little of it, that, as we are told, unguided we shall fail. We may study the books on Yoga, but, as H. P. Blavatsky says, we have to look out for our teacher in the Hall of Wisdom and on no lower plane. Happy he who reaches his teacher, who does not look out for him in the physical, who is not deceived by the astral, but who masters himself so as to reach the pure mind plane where the Master is ready whenever the pupil is ready.
1. Pralaya, a cyclic period of rest alternating with a Manvantara, a period of activity; night alternating with day. — Editor. (return to text)
2. Monad, the unit life, the persisting unit of consciousness. — Editor. (return to text)
3. Mahamanvantara, a great period of manifestation. — Editor. (return to text)
4. Maya, illusion. — Editor. (return to text)
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