The Path – February 1887


Some thirty years ago, I began a five years' residence in a foreign land. Whilst there, I was conscious of a stern conflict going on within me to keep myself from falling into some of the ways and beliefs of the people of that land. So strong was the assault in one direction upon the Idol of Right which had been set up within me by a New England training, that for fear it should topple and fall, I was constrained to withdraw myself little by little from social relations, until finally I came to be pretty much alone, living on the pampas with flocks, herds, nature generally, and a few books for company. Even after this change the fight went on, though in a less active form and on a more desultory scale.

After I went from there, reflection upon the subject brought me to this conclusion among others, viz.: that one of the most powerful forces emanating from distinct societies of mankind works by mental action upon man from the unseen atmosphere surrounding him.

It is said advisingly, "When in Rome do as the Romans do." It may be said, warningly: "When one enters upon living in Rome, he can scarce help but do as the Romans do."

In these later days, investigation of Theosophy has shown me of what nature was the obstacle against which I had been contending so stoutly.

It was of the Karma of that nation. It has shown me also the method of that unseen, unheard influence which "is in the air," ever about us, ever ready to move us, to govern us. And this method of influence, unseen and unheard, is the action upon us of forces existing on the Astral Plane. Among these forces are the thoughts of men living upon the objective plane of Earth.

After so much of preface, I come to a more particular consideration of some of the effects of those thoughts of man, which are unexpressed by speech or action, upon others and upon himself:

1st. How may we effectually resist the force of bad influence of locality operating on us from the Astral Plane?

2nd. How may we do something, otherwise than by precept and example, towards overcoming the evil Karma of Locality which may be affecting others?

3rd. How may we in individual cases help some unfortunates with whose needs we are acquainted?

An answer is — by Thoughts.

In man's advancement from darkness into light, in the "Human Soul's" departure from lower materiality to entrance into right Spiritual living, among other means to be used to attain that end are right thought, right action, right speech and right meditation. Of these, right thought, is of primary importance, for it is the foundation from which only the others can spring into life. Actions in objectivity are illusions; they are shadows of our personality created by thoughts. Thoughts are nearer, more akin to our personality than actions are, for they are primary expressions from personality, always preceding conscious speech and action. Of all the indices to our personality of which we have knowledge thoughts are the clearest; we are as our thoughts are. In compliance with that grand mandate, "Know Thyself," why scan life's page of speech and actions — shadows — when a vast volume of thoughts — realities — expressions of our personality, lies open to us for finding knowledge of self?

Though independent of speech and action, thoughts are realities. They are real, living, active forces, until their force is expended, — but the effects of right thoughts last forever. Space does not necessarily limit their reach. They are in the air, so to speak, everywhere, and can move with a rapidity that is instantaneous. They may not only be sent, but are received. It takes but the veriest morsel of time to send a thought to the Sun; at the Sun it takes as little time to receive a thought from the Earth.

To the first question — "how may we effectually resist the force of bad influence of Locality operating on us from the Astral Plane?" — one way is to search for Spiritual Truth. That truth is "in the air." It is conveyed to us by Thoughts. But a thought "from the air" is as a seed. A mustard seed planted in ice will not fructify; a spiritual thought-seed falling upon a "Human Soul" which is bound and tied to Earth by its "Animal Soul" will not fructify. The mustard seed must fall into ground properly prepared for its reception, ere by culture it can sprout, grow, and bear fruit. And so, too, must the soil of the "Human Soul," be made ready in order that it shall afford an appropriate bed upon which the ever-present Spiritual thought-seed shall alight. On such a prepared soil it will surely fall; as surely as the magnetic needle points to its pole, and once there, by our own culture it may grow into "an everlasting tree of Holiness."

How is that bed prepared? How is it that we become ready to receive Spiritual Truth? By right thought, right action, right speech and right meditation. It lies within our inner selves whether we shall advance in Spiritual knowledge and life, and nowhere else; it must be our purpose, our business. No dictum of the Schools can bring it about. No printed book on esoteric wisdom or on ethics, or on the multitudinous religions of man can give it to us; — belonging to the Theosophical Society does not necessarily lead us into Spiritual life. These, to the hungry "Human Soul," may be of immense importance, but if the "Human Soul" — principle 5, be not first prepared, if we do not look upward and build upward, all these means, — Spiritual thoughts that are "in the air," wise books, this society of yours — they are all to such a spiritually-desert soul, but as of old — "pearls before swine" — hidden light — a force shut out by ourselves from acting within us.

When we are engaged in right searching for Spiritual Truth, bad forces from the Astral Plane are inoperative upon us: Thus may we effectually resist the force of bad influence of Locality operating on ourselves from the Astral Plane.

The second question we are considering is, "How may we do something, otherwise than by precept and example, towards overcoming the evil Karma which may be affecting others?"

Surely, again, it is by right thought, and right action, speech and meditation. For, not only do they prepare the way for the reception of Spiritual Truths, but the ego, so thinking, acting, speaking and meditating, is, while so employed, disseminating Spiritual light on all sides through the Astral Plane. He is throwing out Spiritual truth-seed which is reaching far and near. Wherever a "Human Soul" is in need of it, and hungering for it, it will surely fall; for there the soil is ready for its reception. These right thoughts have gone into "the air," and are certain to strike in somewhere for good.

Thus by right thought we may do something otherwise than by precept and example, towards obliterating the evil Karma of locality which is affecting others.

Regarding the third question; it seems to me that we all know some particular individuals to whose high needs we can minister by direct intention through the power of thought.

Who, that observes and reflects, cannot gather from his own experience the fact that thought can fly to a person at a distance? How common to say "I was thinking of one and he appeared." It is not an uncommon experience for one to unexpectedly entertain serious, at any rate marked thoughts about another, and subsequently to find that the other was similarly occupied in mind with him at the same time. It is odd if there be not some among you who know that thought messages have been sent, received and acted on by the object-person when the receiver was in an abnormal condition to the sender. By these and other illustrations which doubtless will occur to you, we know that it is within the province of cause and effect that thought has power to operate on others at a distance by direct intention of the sender, by mental action alone.

Believing in the reality of thought — knowing the reality of thought — in its power to shield us from evil; in its power to affect others unknown to us; in our power to project it to special individuals, what opportunities it affords us for conferring high good.

But in order to do positive good to another by this direct thought unexpressed by speech or action, some certain conditions are necessary, which we may consider as milestones that shall indicate the progress of our own ascending path from materiality to spirituality. To be a power by thought influence, — (I do not refer now to thought sent by will power to a particular "sensitive" who is in subjective state to the sender — which condition is on a lower plane than that which we are now considering,) presupposes intensity of love born of and nurtured by Spirituality for those whose high good we thus seek to establish. There must first be born in us an enthusiasm for giving high and positive good to another unconsciously to him. According to our unselfish love in this matter will be our enthusiasm, as is our enthusiasm, shall be the energy of our missive-thought; and according to the energy of that thought will be its effect upon the object to which it is sent, — the more powerfully intense the thought the deeper it will penetrate; — the longer its effects will endure.

Right meditation will be required of us to determine what we really desired to effect. If we arrive at the position within ourselves necessary for obtaining power for affecting another for good by thought message, there will be engendered within us a portion of that grand principle on which this Society is founded, viz: Universal Brotherhood — unselfish love for others.

In making thought message to others, on the basis of lifting them to a higher plane of action, a part of our daily life, by its reaction upon ourselves we shall surely be "laying up treasures in Heaven" — and full will be our material for Devachanic life.

As in Devachan one shall live in the good he has done while in objective earth life — shall live in the true beauty he has learned to perceive — shall live in the effects of his good-life, his thoughts while here on earth can be made for the Devachanic period of his existence a vast store-house of "good-life" of purest water. But it must be of thoughts untinged by selfish considerations. It must be of thoughts evolved through love of others for their good.

Right thought being the grand power it is:

1st. To resist within ourselves the bad Karma of Locality.

2nd. By which to weaken and destroy the bad Karma of Locality, which is disastrously affecting others.

3rd. By which from a basis of spiritual love we may send light to a groping soul, — what heavy responsibility is ever over us that it shall be our purpose, our study to "think aright." — To live much in thus right thinking — we shall ever be lifting some of the heavy Karma from off the world. It is thus, that we can live in the Eternal, for right thought is of the Universal Mind, and Universal Mind is of the Eternal.

Reflect that persistent right thinking affects humanity constantly in the right direction, ever from the gross and material to the refined and Spiritual. It will ever be a constant force so long as evil exists. Let this idea sink into our consciousness. Let right thought be to us as the strong arm with which to do good to others. One need not long for wealth, for position or power that he may do good to others; the poorest in material wealth, the humblest in station, the most insignificant among men has within himself this ever open store-house of power for conferring good on which he can draw without limit; a wealth he can scatter broadcast, or can give by direct selection of object with the surety that he is bestowing benefits broadly, — knowing that he is successfully contending against Spiritual poverty — which is the sum of evil.

He who uses this wealth, can do so — must do so only by sacrifice of thought of self. He must be interested only in combating evil by helping humanity at large; of offering special help to those whom he knows are desirous of help. As his life-love for the objects in view is the only foundation upon which he can do these works, — love of self can not be a power within him.

To put it the other way. Begin the work of thought for the good of others by first forgetting self; as fast as possible get away from the dominion of materiality. Live in the love of doing enduring good to others — these conditions are the true and upward advancement of ourselves. The doing of these things is the reward; — it is the advancing into God-life. It is part of our real Eternal selves. It is living in the Eternal — the everlasting good; for the God-life — the good-life is the only eternally active one. By living thus, the gross and material now enchaining our entities will be broken down and will die and leave us — and die they must sooner or later or the "I am I" shall perish.

Brooklyn, Oct. 15, 1886

The Path