The Process of Thought.
The Theory of Metaphysical Healing presents three distinct statements: (a) Mind antedates and is superior to body.
(b) Each mind governs its own body through definite laws of mental action.
(c) By certain erroneous lines of thought conditions of disease are generated, which may be removed, and health restored, by establishing different modes of action.
These statements differ somewhat from those generally entertained in regard to the nature, the probable causes and possible cures of sickness, and in order to understand them fully it will be necessary to examine the thinking process of mind.
What is the process of Thought? How does Mind think? These are questions which invariably arise at the outset of investigation of this subject. They are not difficult to answer, if certain facts concerning thought are taken into consideration.
Thought is mental action. The intelligent individual thinks. Conscious activity of the mental faculties results in the formation of a thoughtimage in mind; the individual has intelligently conceived something - that Something is an Idea.
Ideas are entities composed of spiritual substance - spiritual things. In substance, they are real; in activity, living; in endurance, eternal. Each is a permanent reality. Living Principle is the essence of every true Idea.
Thought is the process of forming, among the conscious activities of mind, a mental image or picture of the Idea which at that moment is the object of consciousness. There is no other method or means of thought - no different thoughtactivity. The mental process of conscious thought consists in clearly seeing and intelligently understanding the form, shape, size, color, qualities and other characteristics of ideas which already exist in universal mind, on the spiritual plane of Being. The detail of the process is mental; but the final intelligent comprehension is a spiritual act of high degree, in which physical sense takes no part.
A true Thought is an Idea individually recognized. Ideas are founded upon fundamental principles of truth. To become conscious of a real Idea is to recognize a fundamental truth - a permanent principle of the universe.
When the character and quality of an Idea are fully recognized, a picture of that Idea is instantaneously impressed upon the living substance of mind. Conscious recognition of the Idea, and impression of the are simultaneous in action. The Idea is a permanent, unchanging reality, perfect in every detail. The mental picture will correspond exactly to the interpretation of the Idea. It may be either perfect or imperfect, complete or incomplete, correct or incorrect, true or false, according to the quality of the thought. Imperfection in the thought, however, does not change the nature of the Idea - it affects only the thinker, in his relation to that Idea.
Through exercise of true thought the real Idea is recognized in its native purity and perfection. In this process the thinker, acting through pure intelligence, mounts upward to the spiritual plane and recognizes truth itself. Through incorrect thought one sees darkly, interprets imperfectly, and forms a temporary picture correspondingly inaccurate, based upon an appearance which does not correspond .to any real Idea. Yielding to the illusions of sense, man withdraws from the uplifting influence of intelligence and retrogrades to the material plane where mere appearances seem real and illusions becloud the intellect.
This form of thought possesses no principle or real quality; has therefore no permanence and cannot endure. It is a seeming, which passes away - a falsity, an illusion. It seems to possess power, but the seeming exists on the senseplane only, and always bears relation to some object of senserecognition. It is a sensation rather than a thought.
In either act of thought, mind forms a picture which is a copy of its own comprehension of the subject. Clearness in the picture depends upon the purity with which the qualities of the Idea are recognized.
Words do not necessarily bear direct relation either to Ideas or to Thoughts; at best they are imperfect, incomplete, only crude symbols of thoughts, and frequently inadequate to express the Idea conceived.
Mind recognizes Ideas, thinks about them by forming mental pictures, and explains what it thinks in words. To think, therefore, is to recognize an Idea; and to think rightly is to form in mind a correct picture of the Idea, intelligently comprehending all its subjective details. If the Idea is not consciously recognized, no mental picture is formed; in which Case there can be no mental action, no thought on that subject, and no information gained.
True knowledge cannot be acquired in conscious thought on the plane of this life, without the purely mental act of picturing in mind the qualifications of some real, subjective Idea; this act can not take place without spiritual comprehension of the principles involved in that Idea.
To one familiar with the English language the sound of the word apple instantly arouses in mind a more or less complete and perfect picture of that fruit. Each mind, however, adds to its first impression of the Idea the detailed characteristics of size, color, flavor, etc., with which previous experience in conscious recognition of apples has made it familiar. If several persons hear the word apple, each, perhaps, sees in mind somewhat different characteristics of the Idea: - to one, the apple seems red, to another yellow, while still another thinks of it as variegated in color, large or small, sweet or sour, according to his previous conceptions. Though the correct idea, apple, be aroused in the mind of each by hearing the same sound, yet each mind in its own thinking process is at work supplying with lightning rapidity those qualifications which go to make up some special kind of apple. This detailed thoughtprocess does not take place, however, unless the Idea is aroused in consciousness, and a mental picture of the idea enters the activity of that mind. If no Idea is comprehended no picture is seen, and no conscious thought occurs.
Suppose the word apple to be spoken for the first time in the hearing of one unacquainted with the English language. It makes no conscious impression upon his mind; therefore, it arouses no conscious thought with reference to any object. He does not recognize the word as associated with any Idea. To him it is not even a word, but only a meaningless disturbance of atmospheric vibrations. No Idea is aroused in his intelligent understanding by the sound vibration, therefore he sees no mental picture; but speak the word which, in his native tongue, is associated with that Idea, and he will instantly proceed in conscious thought to picture the idea with every quality of which he had previously gained an understanding.
Mind thinks, both by seeing mental pictures of Ideas previously comprehended, and by consciously picturing ideas newly acquired.
True mental pictures are correct copies of ideas. If the ideas are clearly comprehended the pictures will be rightly interpreted. Ideas are seen directly through the sense of spiritual perception, and comprehended through the faculty of spiritual understanding. The physical senses are not essential to this process - indeed, they are entirely inadequate for any degree of its activity. Intelligence and Sensation are opposite in character.
Ideas are spiritual. Pictures are mental and sensations are sensuous, while objective things are physical, both in character and construction.
The process of understanding an Idea is a purely spiritual act, performed through a clear comprehension of the principles upon which that Idea is founded. Intelligence is the Instrument employed.
The process of apprehending, interpreting and imaging a correct understanding of Spiritual Ideas, is metaphysical, and the Spiritual Intellect is the active Instrument. Intellect apprehends, Reason interprets and Imagination images, or pictures in mind, the degree of intelligent comprehension of the Idea which is under examination.
Seeing mental pictures held in other minds, without conscious effort to interpret or understand on the part of the thinker, is psychical: the Imaging Faculty abnormally exercised, through inverted reflection of the original Image, is the Instrument employed in psychical action. In the process of reflection every Image is inverted; therefore, the information gained through psychical process will be misleading, unless interpreted through Intelligence by comparison with the true Idea.
The process of examining objective things is sensuous, and sensation is the instrument employed. Sensation is limited in power to examination of the coarsest of physical phenomena, and never gives accurate information concerning the qualities and character of any element. Reality is entirely beyond its pale, and never seems to have existence while the evidences of sensation are relied upon in investigation.
If the individual exercises no intellectual faculty above the senseplane, he remains, in action, a mere animal; for even the brute creation shares with him every kind and every degree of power contained in the five senses. But if he rises a step higher, thus becoming open to the influence of pictures of better things, active in thinking minds, he gains an impetus upward, through right exercise of the Imagination, and begins to think and to reason on a higher plane, which leads to deeper understanding.
Even in psychical action he is not entirely above the animal plane, and his impulses require careful attention. Intelligent animals have the faculty of seeing mental pictures, and are susceptible to similar influence in either direction, both from their own kind and from the minds of men. The intelligent dog knows the thought of his master, and frequently acts on his suggestion without a word or any outward sign. The picture in the mind of his master is a law unto him. The average horse of good spirit knows immediately if the driver lacks selfconfidence (sometimes before he is seen), and is quick to take advantage of it. Animals seldom attack one who remains firm and absolutely fearless, particularly if a thought of universal sympathy with, and appreciation of the good qualities inhering in all forms of life be extended to each in reasonable proportion.
The power of the human eye to subdue passion in the savage beast is universally recognized, though not generally understood. The human mind, acting through its thoughtpicture which is projected outward from the eye, in reflection of the image of thought, is the force which, with the irresistible power of spiritual intelligence, overpowers the brute impulse in the beast. If perfectly exercised through pure intelligence, it would conquer in every instance. Intelligence is greater than animal impulse, in either man or beast, and mind is more powerful than any form of matter.
If properly guarded and rightly exercised, psychic development may be a means of at least humanizing the animal tendencies in man, eventually leading him to give due attention to his higher faculties.
Metaphysical understanding leads one to cease depending on the influence of pictures reflected from the minds of others, and to think for himself - to form his own mental pictures, so far as possible, through independent, conscious thought regarding the real ideas with which he comes in contact.
Reasoning upwards from first impressions of ideas - first, by psychic help from minds that have consciously thought in advance of us, and second, through metaphysical reasoning, with regard to powers, causes and laws - we learn to form pictures of Ideas by thoughtaction; we receive, digest and assimilate facts with which sensation alone never can bring us face to face; we gain understanding of principles, and spiritually see real Ideas. Such growth in understanding may be attained through right exercise of the mental faculties.
Through conscious thought, by means of its imaging faculty, Mind is under the guidance and control of intelligent understanding, from which it receives its impulses.
Mind images - pictures ideas, by means of the Imagination, which, when understood in its true sense, is the most powerful instrument of the human mind. This faculty of imaging ideas is a marvelous faculty; indeed, the imagination is the most wonderful of all human instruments. It is the intelligent activity of the spiritual side of human nature, and the only faculty through which the thinker can gain pure understanding of any subject; because it is the only faculty of conscious, intellectual action, and the only instrument with which principles may be examined. It is the least understood, because least studied, being considered by superficial thinkers a distorted rather than a real faculty.
The Imagination, using the word in its true sense, is of first importance, and should be thoroughly mastered by every individual. When rightly used it will prove the most efficient instrument for analyzing the evidence of the physical senses, and deducing actual facts from the evidences presented; 7 then principles will be recognized and laws discovered, giving knowledge of life as it was intended to be, and as it really is, on the spiritual plane of existence, and also as it will be on the mental plane when the imaging faculty of mind is thoroughly understood. Healthy conditions and harmonious sensations are inevitable results of the acquirement of this knowledge.
Imagination is the active instrument of that invisible but real operator, the spiritual Individual who acts through understanding of principles. If not allured into wrong channels through the seemingly accurate evidence of the physical senses, it will help to rightly interpret the activities of real life as expressed in the fundamental principles of human existence on all planes physical, mental and spiritual.
The Spiritual is a permanent plane of real, intelligent principle.
The Mental is a progressive plane of actual intellectual comprehension..
The physical is a temporary and constantly changing plane of seeming, material, reflection.
On the physical plane the thinker's mental interpretations of the spiritual facts of eternal reality are outwardly reenacted in material copy.
The steps in the process may be classified as follows: 1. The fundamental Principles which are involved.
2. The Idea which is founded upon those principles.
3. Spiritual comprehension of the idea, including an understanding of its principles.
4. The mental Image of that particular comprehension of the idea.
5. The objective copy in Physical element of that mental image.
Spiritual Principles are the real entities of the universe. Spiritual Ideas are the developed activities of those principles. Metaphysical thoughtconcepts of those Ideas and Principles are the active Realities of human existence. These concepts vary in degree of accuracy according to the conscious recognition of each individual mind; therefore, human experience varies in accordance with the changing of the mental pictures formed during experience.
Intelligence recognizes spiritual activities. Imagination pictures (images) the recognition. Intellect interprets the picture.
Reason determines its qualities.
Thought brings all together in comprehension of the entire subject; therefore, Thought is a process of reason through intellectual interpretation of the mental pictures reflecting from spiritual Ideas. Thought is an active, intelligent power - Imagination its living instrument.