Human beings are not the only thinkers; the cosmos itself is a divine thinker. As we use our thoughts to create, so does the universe. In the beginning when the universe brought itself into being, it did so with the marvelous use of mind. Elemental beings, brought into existence and awakened, began to construct along the pathways and plans already present through cosmic ideation. Many cycles have passed since then, and some of these original elemental beings have now reached the human stage. Not so many millions of years ago they awakened a quality of mind which has to do with choice and reflection. This is our ancestry.
Having started as elemental beings, we can bring to birth within us our spiritual nature. How? The thoughts that pass through our minds are also elemental beings. They appear to us because we attract them by what we are and the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Our entertainment of them is our choice, as well as a tremendous responsibility. A thought is an entity, an evolving being. If by our use of it we turn it in a downward direction, then when that thought passes away from us it will be used by someone else. Whom do we harm by the things that we think? Or by giving a thought an upward turn, whom do we help? Even if a person spent his whole life alone in a house and saw very few people, he could by his thoughts contact as many people as someone who went out and spoke directly to many others, because the thoughts he thinks don't belong to him alone, they belong to all mankind.
In his Yoga Aphorisms Patanjali says that man has both a soul and the inner organ of mind. The mind thinks thoughts and reacts all day to what it hears and feels — the messages of the senses. It has a fascinating way of modifying itself and being fluid, so that it takes the shape of whatever is presented to it and reflects that form to the soul. Patanjali holds that if we can still the mind and make it absolutely calm, then our spiritual aspect will reflect itself in the mind. His book is a discourse on how to achieve this.
In following such a course, a person uses his choice and all of the powers that came to him when mind was awakened — but we are more than minds. We bring desire into play, just as the universe, when it came into being, was moved by desire to do so. When we reach for and seek to unfold the spiritual side of ourselves, we do so by our aspirations and will controlling the mind. Whatever a person visions for himself he can become. It is as though the universe in the beginning had the vision of what it was to be, and the plan was cast forth. We too can use that very faculty in creating ourselves, making ourselves the fulfillment of what we are at the core of our being.
(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 2002; copyright © 2002 Theosophical University Press)
Seekers have always sought the "correct way" to enlightenment, and rightly so. It is easy to get bogged down in the mire by conflicting methods and reasoning. I find that in the search for the keys to life's dilemmas, simple solutions that appeal to the heart work better than those arrived at by hard mental slog. For me, these deceptively simple lines from William Quan Judge, in Letters That Have Helped Me, sum up what practical theosophy is all about:
"What then is the panacea finally, the royal talisman? It is DUTY, Selflessness. Duty persistently followed is the highest yoga, and is better than mantrams or any posture, or any other thing. If you can do no more than duty it will bring you to the goal." — Harry Young