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Theosophy (Psychological Key To Man)

Theosophy Basics II

Rev. 1.2.2 October,1996

The Psychological Key To Man: Theosophy

Martin Euser

This article will be dedicated to a thorough analysis of the thinking faculty of man. It will also include some practical, safe, exercises for analyzing your own stream of thoughts. On the whole, it will be seen to provide the psychological master-key to spiritual growth for the individual as well as the collective, because it provides a testable model of facts of life. By applying the practical methods given, everybody can recognize or verify the stated ideas about man, life and cosmos.

Philosophers in the West have spent much time thinking about many topics. Rarely, however, did they analyze thinking itself. Now, obviously, it is a most remarkable fact that we as humans can reflect upon ourselves, ask ethical questions and make conscious decisions about our acts. So, it would seem only natural that we would ask ourselves the question: 'What is the thinking faculty?' or: 'How does this faculty work and what are its attributes or aspects?'. The fact is, that we rarely do so. Theosophy explains why this is so, by stating that we are so to speak only beginners regarding the use of the thinking faculty. This will become apparent later on in this article.

For clarity I will divide this article in five sections:

Section 1: The composite constitution of man.
A grand scheme of what man essentially is.
Section 2: The seven aspects of thinking according to Theosophy.
A brief description of these aspects is provided.
Section 3: Thoughts and the thinking process.
This section and the next two contain the psychological key for changing your life.
Section 4: Controlling the flow of thoughts.
Changing the thought-pattern.
Section 5: Socratic thinking: a question of mentality.
What is lacking in our world?

Section 1. The composite constitution of man.

The purpose of this section is to present in shorthand a 'model' of man, which can greatly enlarge our understanding about the relationship between 'us' and the Universe. If we get a feeling for this, it is easier to grasp what follows in the next sections, because 'what is above, is below' (the Hermetic axiom).

Theosophy presents a kind of spiritual-material model of man. Matter, in Theosophy, is viewed as crystallized spirit and spirit as rarefied matter. Spirit and matter are ultimately states (manifestations) of One Principle that is the One Life-force. Science recognizes the fact that matter and force are convertible into one another. The perennial wisdom adds that this fact also applies to the psychic and spiritual realm. Old forms of thought can be dissolved and the frozen energy can be liberated and used in new forms. More on this topic in a later section.

The model below is sometimes called: the egg-scheme. See figure.

World of Archetypes  ----------|-----------------------------------------
(Several planes/spheres)       |  <--------/ /       /   /   Supreme Spirit
                     ----------|----------/  | -----|   |   -------------
                               |         /   |      |   |
Vehicular aspect               |        /    |      |   |  Consciousness
of Life                        |       /     |      |   |  aspect of Life
                             ( | )    /      |      |   |
                          (    |    )/       |      |   |
                       (      *|*   / )      |      |   |
                     (     *   |   *     )   |      |   |
                    (     *    |    *     )  |      |   |
Divine             (-----------------------) |      |   |   Divine Ego
Soul              (       *    |    *       /       |   |
                 (         *   |  *        / )      |   |
                (             *|*         /   )     |   |
               (               |         /     )    |   |
               (              %|%       /       )   |   |
              (             %  |  % <--/        )   |   |
Spiritual     (----------------------------------)  /   |    Spiritual Ego
Soul          (             %  |  %              ) /    |
              (               %|%                /      |
              (                |                /)      |
              (               +|+ <-----------/  )      /
Higher         (------------ +-|-+ -------------)      /      Human ego
Human Soul     (              +|+               )     /     (individual ego)
                (              |               )     /         "I am"
                 (            -|- <----------------/           
Human Soul        (--------- - | - ----------)             Personal ego =
                   (          -|-           )             Reincarnating ego.
                    (          |           )           "I am I" (personality)
Animal Soul          (--------#|#---------)
                      (       #|#        )                    Animal ego
                       (       |        )
                        (      |       )
Physical Soul            (-----X------)                        Body
Model-body,               (    |     )
body                        (  |  )

The circles within the egg-scheme symbolize so-called 'monads': sparks of the universal life-force. These are pure spirit. The monads act as foci or knots for the stream of consciousness, that flows from the Supreme Spirit at the top of our hierarchy (= most spiritual level in our hierarchy) down to the 'grosser' states of consciousness-matter. We all have a ray of the Supreme Spirit in us, and this provides a way to find the path within, a way to get to the top of the hierarchy. See lit #1, where the topic of the Supreme Spirit or Supreme Self or Silent Watcher is treated in the context of the egg-scheme, the seven jewels of wisdom, and, initiations.

In order to manifest themselves, these monads need to make use of a dual pair of organized consciousness-matter. This dual pair is split up in the egg-scheme at the left-hand side (vehicular aspect = 'soul', carrier of consciousness) and at the right-hand side (Ego or center of consciousness).

Each ego in this scheme expresses the evolved faculties of the corresponding ego-emanating monad. The divine ego expresses far more faculties than the personal ego. Likewise, we as persons have evolved more qualities of consciousness than the animal monad, which forms a necessary part of our constitution. We need it and, of course, 'our' body in order to express ourselves in this world. The arrows pointing to the various monadic centers indicate the fact that these centers have developed self-consciousness. The animal soul has not yet done that. It follows blindly the impulses and suggestions given to it by the personality.

Our personal consciousness is centered in the personal ego. The following table shows in a nutshell some of the developed qualities of consciousness of the diverse monads. See also lit. (1,2)

Divine Monad: Inspiration, Unity-consciousness; Together with the spiritual monad: our inner god or Higher Self. The range of consciousness of this monad is said to encompass all the planes (inner & outer) of our galaxy, the Milky Way.
Spiritual Monad: Enlightenment-principle (=understanding, intuition). Also known as the (holy) Guardian Angel, the celestial Light-bringer who appears during certain initiations. Range of consciousness: entire solar system.
Human Monad: Vitality, Emotion, Desire; also higher aspects of thought, and part of the understanding faculty. The parent of the personal monad. Range of consciousness: all the planes pertaining to the earth (far more than the physical earth).
Personal Monad: Vitality, Emotion, Desire, Lower aspects of thought. This is the monad that reincarnates. The personality is like a mask that is put on during an incarnation. It is not the personality that reincarnates but the spiritual part of the personal monad that sends out a ray, forming a new vehicle in the composite stream of life-energy-substance-consciousness. Parent of the animal monad.
Animal Monad: Vitality, Emotion, Desire
Physical Soul: The physical soul consists of the model-body (a template), the formative cause of the physical body. It contains the astral senses, the necessary intermediaries between the outer senses and the mind. These senses are also involved with telepathy, clairvoyance, etc. The model-body is also a carrier of vital forces, that express themselves in the physical body.

The connection between the Human Monad and the Personal Monad will become clearer in sections 2,3 and 4.

Note that we have in the recesses of our constitution a divine core that is sometimes called: our 'Higher Self' (=Inner God). This makes the notion of theurgy in the Gnostic literature a bit more understandable. Iamblichus ("De Mysteriis") writes interesting stuff about this. The working of the Divine in man (= theurgy) is possible,

*just because there is a Divine element in man's constitution*

This requires a highly pure and selfless life as will be easily understood.

Our responsibilities towards the animal ego and the body are great but are completely unknown to our world. Yet, we can imagine that we have a great influence on this ego within our constitution whether we think negatively or positively. This influence is 'stamped' into the fabric of consciousness of the animal ego. Further elaboration of this and kindred subjects can be found in lit. (1,2, and 7,8,9).

Deeper study of this scheme and related ones will reveal many facts, like the connection of the more evolved monads with the seven sacred planets, the solar system and Milky Way.

Gnostics speak of the Aeons (Angels, Archangels,etc.), Kabbalists of the (Sephirotic) tree of life, Indian Purana's of the Prajapati's. These are all names for the same hierarchical emanations from the One Principle and are all involved in the formation of our Cosmos. Remember, the third jewel of wisdom is concerned with hierarchies (see my first article).

Also, the subject of cycles (second jewel) is heavily involved with the relations between the several monads in our constitution (and yes, so are the other jewels!). See lit.6 and the following paragraph.

If we progress in consciousness by our own and collective effort, then we will transform ourselves from being a personal soul-ego-monad to a human soul-ego-monad, taking along the animal ego towards the stage of personal ego! This example shows the karmic interconnectedness of the monads. See lit. (1,2) for further development of these thoughts.

We will not concern ourselves further with these often very metaphysical (though important) subjects and confine ourselves to something more tangible: our personality (= lower human ego) and its relation to the (higher) human ego.

This will be the subject of all the following sections.

Section 2. The seven aspects of thinking according to Theosophy.

Theosophy proceeds from a spiritual point of view. It states that consciousness is primary to form or manifestation. Everything in the universe has or better is life-consciousness that embodies itself in a suitable form according to the inherent characteristic (this is the fourth jewel of wisdom; see theosophy-basics part 1).

Thinking is a special mode of consciousness, certainly not the highest form there is, and is typical of humans. The word 'man' is derived from the Sanskrit word 'manas', meaning: thinker. So, we are unique beings in having developed the faculty of thinking, at least to some degree.

Now, we can distinguish several mental activities and qualities. To give some examples of these:

  1. We can direct our mental attention to our body and outside affairs.
  2. We can pay mental attention to our emotions.
  3. We can plan actions.
  4. We can desire to have some nice friends.
  5. We can calculate our due taxes.
  6. We can try to understand how nature works or why others act as they do.
  7. We can have some inspiration to compose beautiful music, etc.

This diverse palette of activities involve all the use of thought-energies, often converted into action of some kind.

Theosophy presents in this respect a practical, sevenfold, division of thinking:

  1. The physical aspect of thinking
  2. The emotional aspect " "
  3. The vital aspect " "
  4. The desire-aspect " "
  5. The intellectual aspect "
  6. The understanding aspect "
  7. The inspirational aspect "

A short description of these aspects will clarify their meaning. Also, we will see that each of these aspects have a lower and higher form. This can be understood as an example of the application of the sixth jewel of wisdom (the duality of all that is manifested). All these aspects or qualities of thinking are forces that are related to the diverse monads and layers in the egg-scheme. The hierarchies of our Cosmos reflect themselves in our constitution and also in our thinking faculty. See lit.(1,2,8,9).

These aspects can hardly be separated in our thinking, though usually one or two aspects are dominating. They work together comparable to a piece of music where we can hardly separate the individual notes from the whole, though key-chords can be recognized. Whether this music sounds harmonious or dissonant is up to us!

Special emphasis will be laid on the development of the sixth aspect of thinking (understanding). This will be described later.

Description of aspects.

1. The physical aspect of thinking.

This aspect is well known to us all. We say: "I'm hungry" and "I'm tired", etc. Of course, we mean to express something as:

"My body is in a state of needing food", etc. This seems trivial, but it is not. It indicates that we often identify ourselves with our body. Our thoughts are very much involved with our body.

Interestingly enough, we can experience the opposite state of consciousness when we are absorbed in doing something that really interests us, causing us temporarily to forget about the needs of the body.

Of course, we have to take care of our bodily needs. A proper question arises in this respect: how much attention and time should we spend to bodily needs and how much to other affairs? This pertinent question can only be answered by us if we are conscious of the position our body takes in the totality of life, i.e. when we are conscious of the proper position of this aspect of thinking in relation to the other aspects. We will come back to this question later on.

The higher form of this aspect can be found in dedication to the well-being of others and oneself. Some examples: medical care, care for bodily health for oneself and one's children, doing our duties regarding the world ,etc. [In fact, we see that we can hardly separate the several aspect of thinking. Vitality, emotion, aspiration, understanding, use of our body, all these aspects/forces work together.]

The lower form of this aspect finds expression in thoughts of separateness (the greatest heresy in Buddhism!). We often think that we have nothing to do with others ('mind your own business'), but this is not in accord with the spiritual point of view.

2. The emotional aspect of thinking.

This aspect of thinking is related to the reaction on sensory impressions on our mind. If we don't use our conscious thinking before reacting, then it can be said that we react instinctively, comparable to what animals do. In fact the animal ego, and our body of course, is closely involved with the lower aspects of thinking.

The emotional aspect is an important part of ourselves, as we all know.

The higher form of this aspect can be seen in emotional involvement with issues in society, e.g. when we are committed to ameliorate bad conditions in slums, stimulating others to give their best, etc.

The lower form of this aspect can be observed if someone feels hurt if a critical remark is rightly made or when a good advice is construed as a negative remark. More examples: false romance; strongly fluctuating feelings of sympathy and antipathy; egocentric feelings of 'how bad this world is' without any real concern for suffering of others and no active participation in efforts to try to change things.

3. The vital aspect of thinking.

In (Western) societies we often see that people want to organize or fix about everything you can think of. We can observe that a great deal of energy or vitality is spent in these actions. It often turns out that we didn't think properly before we acted. We didn't foresee the consequences of our actions. Also, we are lacking in understanding that we can often leave things to the wise mind of nature herself.

A positive example is using your vitality for positive ends. A negative example is the destructive use of vitality for selfish purpose. This can be literally destroying things, but also building up business by manipulation, violence, and intimidation ('maffia').

4. The desire-aspect of thinking.

The desire-aspect or force plays a major role in human thinking. The greater part of our actions arise from a desire towards something in this world. This can be anything: work, money, status, etc. but also an aspiration towards the realization of ideals. Theosophy looks at this force as a neutral force, like electricity that flows through a wire ('the body').

Often, the notion of 'sin' is associated with 'desire'. This is a very limited point of view.

Understanding the motive for our actions is of fundamental importance in the process of acquiring self-knowledge. This motive can be selfish or selfless. Rather than talking about 'good' or 'bad', which are relative terms, different in each culture and historical period, we better use the terms selfish or selfless as a criterion for judging our own acts and thoughts. We can deceive ourselves, however, by subtle motives, e.g. ambition which may be altruistic, or, on the other hand may involve quite a bit of egoism, pride, etc.

It takes a lot of sincerity to see our motives clearly for what they are. According to the degree of developed discrimination (discernment) or understanding we will recognize these subtle motives.

Are we slaves of our passions or do we control our mind's activities? This important subject is part of the discussion Krishna has with Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita.

Example of higher form: Lofty aspirations .

Example of lower form: Gross passions.

5. The intellectual aspect of thinking.

While most of us equate intellectuality with thinking, Theosophy states that this is only one aspect of thinking, and not the highest. Intellect works mostly with isolating problems out of their context. It gives fragmented, partial, knowledge. It has a limited ability to get to the core or essence of things, unless coupled with real understanding. It often leads to fighting against symptoms, solving nothing.

Higher form: use of intellect to work out practical solutions in the context of really understanding what the core of a problem is or what a situation is really about.

Lower form: blindly relying on models in science or wherever, without the necessary understanding of their inherent limits and shortcomings.

6. The understanding part of thinking.

Some people might equate understanding with intellectuality. That this is not the case, will be clear by now. Understanding is sometimes called: 'intuition'. Sometimes we 'see' at once a solution to a complicated problem. We see this with the 'mental eye', so to speak. It can take considerable time after this flash of insight occurred to us to work this out in a systematic fashion by use of one's intellectual aspect.

Understanding is involved with grasping the relationship between parts and the whole. One sees the relationship between science, spirituality and philosophy. One appreciates the fact that you cannot really separate the individual from the collective, etc. One recognizes the built-in harmony and order in man, nature, and, in the cosmos in general.

Theosophy calls this aspect of thinking: the *enlightenment* aspect. If one has fully developed this aspect, not only on the thinking level, but above that, one is technically called: a Buddha.

Example of higher form:

using one's understanding of things to help others, to improve conditions of humanity, etc.

Example of lower form:

using one's understanding of the character of others to manipulate them.

7. The inspirational part of thinking.

The influence of inspiration can be seen in great works of art. Also, mystics of all ages have witnessed great visions in a state of unity consciousness, an experience of the actual wholeness of all life. Sometimes we ourselves feel connected to all beings (to life in general), absorbed into a feeling of unity, while walking in a forest, etc.

In general terms, we can develop (identify ourselves with) this aspect only through developing our understanding or intuitive faculty.

Example of higher form:

creating masterpieces of art; bringing new concepts into science (based on genuine intuition)

Example of lower (lowest) form:

inspiring others to evil acts and thoughts. Often in charming disguise: a wolf in sheep's clothes.

If all seven aspects of thinking are completely developed, we can speak of a truly complete, harmonious, wholesome man. We have transformed ourselves from a personal ego to a human ego! Remember, the human ego type has developed all the aspects of thinking already. We, as persons, have just started to evolve some of the higher aspects a little bit.

Section 3. Thoughts and the thinking process.

The contemporary world with all its science and technology doesn't know much about the thinking faculty, thoughts, etc. Sure, scientists can register activities of the brain. A simple question however remains: what lies beyond these activities? What is the cause or, maybe, are the causes, beyond idea's, thoughts, etc. Recall the experiences of telepathy many people have had. And what about mystical experiences?

These last ones certainly point in the direction of the possibility of spiritual communion with Higher, or better, Inner worlds of silence (to most of us), worlds full of life to others.

The Old Wisdom-Religion (nowadays called Theosophy) clearly states that One Life is at the foundation of all manifestations. Theosophy denies the existence of so called dead-matter (minerals are not dead, but in a 'sleeping' state so to speak). Everything has some mode of consciousness, is consciousness, enwrapped in some form, consisting in its turn of minor consciousnesses. We see here once again an example of the principle of hierarchies. Each human being is like a cell in a body, a constituent of what the poet Emerson calls 'The Oversoul'. If cells start to grow wild, then the whole body is afflicted. See here the responsibility we all have for each other's well-being and for the environment in general!

The conclusion must be that even thoughts are living beings. Besides having a vibrational aspect they have life in themselves. We will present strong arguments for this assertion shortly.

The stream of thoughts that pass through our minds consists of hosts of living beings. Our thinking faculty is so to speak the capability of perceiving thought-forms or images. We will soon see that we do not have to passively undergo the influences of these beings.

The concept of the stream of thoughts as a host of LIVING beings provides an important key to changing our lives! By applying this knowledge (see also subsequent sections) we can open new vistas of perception and experience. Of course, we have to experience the correctness of this point of view in our own thinking, before we can apply this key.

Let's have a look at the characteristics of living beings. What is required for something to be called alive?

  1. Living beings are subject to the processes of birth and death.
  2. Living beings require food of some kind.
  3. Living beings have a character of their own.
  4. Living beings can procreate in some way.
  5. Living beings do have some consciousness of their own.

Analysis of thoughts will learn, that they conform to all of these points:

  1. Regarding history, one often talks about the 'birth of an idea' in a certain era. Many examples can be given. Not only such dramatic events as the French Revolution but many other gradually unfolding episodes like the Renaissance, the industrial revolution, the computer-era, the information super-highway, etc., can be seen in this way. After the birth of an idea, it will grow, evolve to some extent and finally die, to be replaced by another idea (thought).
  2. We all know that we often have some desires, maybe to buy something or so. If we fulfill this desire, the associated thought often quickly dies. If we can't fulfill it, one of two things can happen: we either forget about it or this desire becomes really strong, up to the point that we have to fulfill this desire. We almost drive ourselves crazy until we have got this wish fulfilled. We are constantly feeding this thought with our desire-energy (the fourth aspect of thinking), making this thought really strong and big. Many examples can be found of this process, showing that we can loose control of ourselves and get entangled in some acts resulting in a really messy situation. Oh, how do we desire that we never had done these things..
    Thoughts take form and last longer corresponding to the degree to which they are sustained. They will die sooner when we spend little attention to them.
  3. The own character of a thought can be understood as follows:
    if we recall the fact that we are sometimes confronted with strange or incomprehensible thoughts, which we soon forget, then we can understand this to be due to the deviance of the character of these thoughts from our own character. These thoughts simply cannot find a proper soil in us to root and sprout.
    Inversely, a thought or idea will strike a note in our consciousness much easier if the character of this idea conforms to the character of our personality.
    Racist ideas will easier resonate in one's mind if one has an element of or a tendency towards racism already in oneself. Art will be more appreciated if we have a sense of beauty or harmony developed in ourselves.
  4. The procreation of thought might seem a little odd at first sight. Yet, we all know about this. If a teacher tells us about something, and we 'buy' it, then these thoughts find a fertile soil in our minds, enabling them to grow, flower and come to fruition. On our turn we can transfer these ideas to others ('sow these thought-seeds'), where they can find a new life, etc.
  5. A thought has its own consciousness. We all know, that we can be quite 'obsessed' by thoughts sometimes. We have great difficulty to break out of some strong thought-influence. The thought has grown to gigantic proportions, blocking other thoughts out of our consciousness. How to deal with such a situation? We must concentrate with all our efforts on other thoughts, do some action, to break out of this iron hold. A constructive approach is given in the next section.
    A positive example of this own consciousness is when we are caught by some grand, inspirational thought, leading us into unselfish acts we normally would not do.

In order to investigate the nature of thoughts as living beings, it is advised to see oneself more as a witness of thoughts than as a creator of thoughts. Think of oneself as part of the One Life that is the essence of all. That will make it easier to get in the state of witnessing thoughts.

A good exercise to learn to recognize in what 'track' your thoughts naturally flow, is to observe your thought-flow on the moments before you fall asleep. Just observe as a witness (in this exercise). You can learn to recognize the quality or character of these thoughts, and, to recognize the several aspects of thinking. This will be a help in the process of getting to understand yourself better. You can also do this exercise on a quiet moment of the day. If you don't like what you see, then you can apply the methods in the next sections for changing your thought-pattern.

The thinking process.

Theosophy makes a division in conscious thinking and unconscious thinking. This has to be clarified.

Unconsciousness thinking is what we all do too often. We uncritically accept the dogma's of science, commercial slogans, technological innovations (are these ever being discussed worldwide or even nationwide on their ethical implications?), political propaganda, etc., etc. It's quite easy for strong personalities to force idea's into the minds of the people, as long as these last ones don't know anything about the effects of thoughts on themselves and the situation in the world. Yet, we should know better. We all know how war propaganda can drive people crazy. Propaganda, slogans, etc. can easily influence people when they are not conscious of the effects of these things.

This ignorance about the thought-process and the effects of thoughts on others and ourselves has brought many disasters to mankind. We are in the illusion that we think consciously, that we control our thoughts, while the facts point in another direction.. Fact is that we are drifting on the waves of thoughts projected and amplified by strong personalities who have clear reasons to do so (for personal gain, political power, commercial reasons, etc.). Mind, that this is all cleverly done.. We are made to believe to have so many rights (what about our duties?), made to believe that we need this or that latest object of technology (do we need it really?), made to belief almost anything. It's a scary situation.

How can we break out of this passive kind of thinking? By conscious thinking.

The recognition of thoughts as living beings is an important step towards conscious thinking, because it leaves no room for doubt about the responsibility one has for one's thoughts. Thoughts are simple, elemental beings that follow slavishly the impulse that is given to them. They mostly express their own consciousness when the thought-process gets out of control... Many psychological disturbances could be prevented if these facts were known and the knowledge of these things would be correctly applied.

In order to illustrate the process of thinking, one can think of the technique of transmitting radio or television waves. A receiver can pick up certain frequencies and by attuning to one of the channels messages are made visible and can be understood. Likewise, a person picks up thought-waves that lie within his bandwidth of thought-frequencies. The human thinking faculty can function both as a transmitter and receiver.

When we look at a child, we can observe that it has its own character already at birth. Gradually it starts expressing its character during the first years of its life. This character forms so to speak the bandwidth within which thoughts can be received or perceived. Nurture, education, and all kind of other factors influence the child and limit this bandwidth further by offering a narrow perspective on life. Not that the child doesn't resist tradition and prejudice, e.g. in puberty, but the milieu's influences are usually too strong to resist. And so another 'decent' citizen is born, neatly adapted to the utilitarian way of life.

This explains why new, refreshing, ideas have so much trouble to enter into the human mind. Our minds are just too crystallized in traditional concepts and notions of life. The receiving brain-mind can only pick up thoughts of certain frequencies and (re)transmit them. This fact is (un)consciously misused for commercial and political ends.

How to change this all? First of all, the process of change should begin with the individual himself, because he must realize in which mental situation or state he is in. Then only he can decide to change his way of thinking. He can tune in to other frequencies of thought, i.e. the higher aspects of thinking we spoke of before, finer qualities of thought. Where I write 'he' you can substitute 'she' of course.

Now, we won't book any success if we try to combat our faults of character. Why not? This is because by combat we feed our thoughts, which are living beings. So they will grow stronger instead of starve to death. Instead of combat, we should forget about the unwanted thoughts, let them die. For this we need recognition of these thoughts and give them a positive impulse by simply thinking an opposite, positive thought. By thinking and acting according to this positive thought we outweigh, out-balance the effects of the negative thought. By persisting in this practice we can change the quality of thoughts and also make our thinking faculty function on other frequencies, more brotherly, spiritual, positive, etc. After some practice we will even no longer receive these negative thoughts (we may notice them but do not allow them to upset us).

A short elaboration on this example.

The above given practice of changing one's way of thinking gives me an excellent opportunity to relate this practice to the workings of the seven jewels of wisdom. Now, obviously, when one succeeds in replacing a negative thought by a positive one, one has succeeded in establishing a new psychological equilibrium, however small the change may be. In other words, one has used the balancing force of karma in this process (second jewel). One has succeeded in changing part of the characteristic of one's thinking (fourth jewel is involved here) and one has made a little progress in spiritual respect (the fifth jewel).
When one, for example, succeeds to transform a feeling of anger into one of patience and withholding judgment (in the case that anger is arising out of a personal motive) one has certainly made an important step in rebuilding one's character along constructive lines. The other jewels are also involved in this practice:

-hierarchies, because one acts from within the spirit on the psychic part of one's constitution

-duality, because one uses psychic-spiritual energy in an opposite state of polarization, so to speak, and is able to neutralize the negative thought.
It looks analogous to two beams of light that quench each other because being in opposite phase when interacting. A bit of a crude analogy, but it may hold.

-cycles are also involved. When one carefully observes one's stream of thoughts one will notice the recurrence of negative thoughts [maybe in a different situation, in a different guise] and these thoughts will weaken over time when a constructive attitude of mind is being maintained.
They will gradually phase out after returning on a cyclical basis.

The seventh jewel is involved, because one evolves a deeper understanding of the wholeness of life and the inter-relatedness of all beings. One becomes a better channel of expression for spiritual forces in this world. From a collective point of view one could say that one adds to the collective pool of knowledge that each human can tap (unconsciously). This pool may be more or less equated with Carl Gustav Jung's 'collective unconscious'.
>From a more mystical point of view we could say that the Oversoul (common to all) is experiencing manifestation through its vehicles (the kingdoms of nature) and as we evolve It evolves too and vice versa. The human kingdom is positioned between the animal kingdom and the higher kingdoms of demi-gods (the Greeks called beings in that kingdom heroes, like the mythological figure Hercules) , gods, etc. In Theosophy the existence of an anthropomorphic (personal) God is denied as this concept is self-contradictory and philosophically speaking impossible. A manifest being can by definition have not the attributes of omnipotence, omniscience, etc.
The kingdoms of nature act as channels for transmuting matter into higher states (more refined, more spiritual). By the word 'matter' I mean all the substances (known and unknown) pertaining to the various kingdoms. Remember that matter is never devoid of consciousness in the theosophical concept of nature. The inherent tendency of nature is to gradually manifest latent potentialities of consciousness, building new faculties of perception. This process integrates different levels of consciousness. The idea is to work with nature, along the lines of the natural order process, becoming aware of the fact that there is such a thing as a natural order process!

So, all of the seven jewels - working principles in nature - are always involved in nature's processes. The jewels are like different, yet inseparable, aspects of the Life force working in and through manifestation.

------ end of elaboration-----

By using this information about thoughts and the thinking process, we can make a big step towards selfless thinking, enhancing our understanding of things and open up the road to inspirational thinking! This is a practical, feasible, testable procedure which every sincere person can apply to his or her own life!

Section 4. Controlling the flow of thoughts.

Changing our thought-pattern (habits of thinking).

The reason for the necessity of getting control over one's thought-life will be clear by now: by controlling the kind of thoughts that enter into one's mind, one can exert a powerful, positive, harmonious influence on this world and also avoid being carried away by harmful desires.

We can use the force of thoughts without any danger if we concentrate our minds on a high ideal, that aims at the well-being of humanity in general, e.g. the ideal of human brotherhood (siblinghood). Think about this ideal and eliminate all elements in your thinking that are in conflict with this, by replacing these with positive building stones (thoughts).

These thoughts will touch many minds and create a driving-force for changing conditions in this world. Persistent and purposeful thinking is necessary to achieve this. By the practice of selflessness and self-forgetfulness one will also see effective ways to help others to help themselves. Many people, but not enough, are doing this kind of things already for a long time. Do you want to join them?

Let me add a couple of practical remarks to the above procedure. To make it more effective, visualize concrete, practical steps to establish parts of this image and DO what you need to do. To give just some examples: did you ever think of helping change the flows of money in this world? Why don't invest in projects that educate people to make a living for themselves and their families (or put your savings on banks that support projects like these)?

What about consumer power: buying products that conform to certain standards of production, labor conditions, environmental conditions, etc.? What can you do for your neighbors, elderly people, homeless people, etc.? Most important of course, is to set a good example for others by living a life of love, compassion, using your talents, keeping the welfare of others in mind. Organizing groups, partaking in groups, spreading information about the reality of the spiritual world, about spirituality in daily life, writing letters to organizations and influential people (opinion-makers); a thousand possibilities exist to do useful spiritual work. Personally I like to participate in LETS-systems (Local Exchange Trading Systems). These are systems that work with local currencies and have banned the practice of charging interest. Social contacts are stimulated by participating in such a system and you can gain many new friends.

One thing is sure: it is ACTS which are important, guided by wisdom and discrimination. Use of imagination is the preparatory work, the evolving of the right mental patterns, the 'preparation of the soil'.

Mental patterns are not abstractions. They are really existing patterns of subtle matter, consisting of living beings, vibrating with life and light. They tend to materialize if only you use your spiritual will. The human psyche will certainly respond to images, dynamically hold in your mind, no doubt about that. It is a practice which is known to quite a number of people today. It takes some resoluteness of mind and some effort of concentration at first, but will soon become a habit! Real thought-currents are set in motion when you practice imagination (not your fantasy). Your ACTS will amplify the influence of these currents a thousand-fold. It will bring a healing influence into this world that so sorely needs it. Love (compassion) is the greatest healing power in the world! A true divine magic for the benefit of all, brought into manifestation by YOU and others. You can make a difference, if you WANT!

I'd like to give two references here:

Roberto Assagioli, ~The Act of Will~, Wildwood House, London, 1974.
This is a worthwhile book written by the developer of psychosynthesis, Dr. Assagioli.
This includes the concept of skillful will and Transpersonal Will.

School of the Natural Order: Writings of Vitvan
Gnosis (Wisdom tradition) in a modern form.
In this context especially see the material on the psychic nature
of man and the article on the Christos.

Changing the thought-pattern. A further investigation.

We have seen already how we can change our thought-pattern. To elucidate this process further we will look at some important issues of character.

Marcus Aurelius says in his 'Meditations' that:

"your life is what your thoughts make of it".

This truth is based upon the fact that behind each act there stands a corresponding thought and the fact that a repeated act becomes a habit. Habits form our character, i.e. our pattern of life. A critical investigation of our own thought-life will render an understanding of these facts. From this follows the conclusion that changing our habits of thinking will lead to changes in our character! Of course, we will have to exercise this practice of changing our habits of thinking. As a clarifying note I add that thoughts are in reality actions on the mental plane. The thought-currents (waves) can manifest themselves on the physical plane by certain processes (somewhat analogous to electromagnetic induction I think), but a description of these things is entirely beyond the scope of this article.

The direction of change should be towards impersonal, selfless thoughts. There are great examples in history of men and women who practiced great self-forgetfulness, worked for the benefit of all, fought against dogmatism, group-interests and injustice, created great pieces of art, etc. These were the real founders of civilizations! They can be our examples. Everybody can become a purveyor of culture and help build a society in which every human being has the opportunity to evolve and express the best qualities that are within him or her.

The only thing one has to do is to use the creative powers that are within oneself. The technique is simple: use your imaginative power by creating an image of how you want to be! You will discover the enormous power of creative imagination ( a formative power of the human soul). I'm not talking of fantasy here (that is only a relatively weak power operative in the lower astral light),but about the powers of the higher aspects of thinking on the mental plane.

On the one hand you know what your character is now, on the other hand you know how you want to be (and potentially are, deep inside: the human ego which forms a part of your constitution and which already has such a high level of awareness and spiritual development). You can make your personality transparent to the inner qualities of the human ego (a separate, but yet closely connected entity), allowing these energies to flow through your personality. This can be called "attuning to the spiritual worlds", "building the bridge to the inner worlds", "setting up spiritual vibrations", etc., greatly influencing the world for the better.

These forces work all through the astral light (higher parts thereof, in the above case), the connecting sphere or spheres for inner and outer planes of being. The astral light is a key-factor in the explanation of (for example) how a thought-impulse leads to a movement of the body, how telepathy works, etc. The lower parts of the astral light are involved with psychism, but a detailed explanation of that is beyond the scope and purpose of this article (see lit. 3,4,5,6,7,11 for more information about the astral light). Swedenborg and Boehme classify among the most famous mystics who were able to see pictures in the astral light.

By this process (see above) you will transform yourself gradually into a more complete human being. The higher aspects of thinking will be able to express themselves in you. Our personality is connected with the (higher) human ego. Our thinking faculty is derived from this last ego. It is from one perspective a kind of 'reflection' of the pure ray of thought, emanating from the higher human ego, onto the turbulent mirror of the brain-mind. You can clear this mirror and reflect this pure ray on a crystal-clear mind. More information can be found in lit.(3).

You will have to form an image of yourself of how you want to be and perfect this image. This ideal picture will grow and refine in proportion to the growth of your understanding of life. You will encounter difficulties, no doubt about that, as you will experience relapses in old modes of thinking and acting. This should be a stimulus to persist in changing your habits of thinking. A helpful exercise, sometimes ascribed to Pythagoras, consists of looking back at , evaluate, the events of the day when you go to bed. Ask yourself: "What did I do this day?", "did I do as I planned to do?", "what did I learn from this day?", "what things can I do better?", "Did I hurt somebody?", etc. This is very useful for coping with the world's affairs and will help you to profit more from deep sleep since you already 'processed' some stresses and strains from the day. Of course, this exercise should be done with a sincere attitude of mind.

Also, you will understand your weaknesses more clearly as your consciousness is raised. This is only to be expected because a clearer light comes literally to shine through your mind. These weaknesses should not be combated but forgotten by dynamically working for the benefit of humanity, so that you gain inner strength and your consciousness becomes more centered in your spiritual core.

One becomes what one thinks. One is that with what one identifies oneself with. Think about yourself as a man or woman who is capable of understanding the background of life and who is capable of realizing high ideals in practical life. Be a creator of uplifting ideas and you will become a living embodiment of these!

Section 5. Socratic thinking: a question of mentality.

Plato differentiates between Wisdom and knowledge. In his dialogues, Socrates proceeds from the point of view that he knows nothing with certainty. This enabled him to question people about their opinions, showing that their opinions were based on ignorance of the real causes of life's manifestations. It enabled him also to avoid dogmatism, as his thinking was not cloaked or veiled with personal opinions or concepts.

Thus, he was able to put himself mentally in the position of others and understand what the other meant. Seen from the perspective of the different aspects of thinking one can say that Socrates tried to use the higher aspects of his thinking, avoiding prejudice and crystallized tradition. This is a practice of the faculty of understanding and discrimination!

A careful analysis of these dialogues, e.g. Symposion and Apology, will render much food for thought as to how the Socratic method works.

What is lacking in our world.

If we apply the Socratic method of thinking to the belief-systems of people about life and to human life in this world in general, we will discover that there is quite some dogmatism involved, in religious, philosophic as well as in scientific sense. Often, the cherished visions are in conflict with observable facts. Not to mention the fact that that there are great differences of opinion between and within such radically different belief-systems as religion and science (yes, science too! - see Paul Feyerabend's "Against method"). If we think critically about this, and don't pay any attention to authorities then we end up with the question: "who is right?".

Now, obviously, this is not a question of: 'what does the majority of people believe', because truth can only be found by those who have developed the type of consciousness to perceive this truth. [Plato speaks about the existence of an organ or instrument of knowledge that can be purified and kindled afresh (by esoteric study and living the right life). See Republic,527d. A real organ indeed, according to Theosophy.]

We need a philosophy of life that can answer all pertinent questions about life, death, suffering, morality, etc. This philosophy should not conflict with the basic facts of science (but will conflict with many current mainstream theories) and should conform to the universal ideas common to all great religions and philosophies (often clothed in allegories and symbols). This philosophy should be the natural synthesis of science, religion and philosophy. It must point the way to a society in which each individual can realize his best abilities, express his higher aspects of thinking and lead to peace and understanding. Finally, it should give safe guidelines for our actions and thinking, not in a dogmatic way but as pointers to how to live a more spiritual life without falling into certain traps.

As I pointed out in my first article and corroborated in this one, Theosophy is such a synthesis.

References to Internet resources

Theosophy-WWW Site:

A discussion list on Theosophy (through E-mail) is available (theos-l). See Theosophy section on Spirit-Web.


1. Fundamentals of the esoteric philosophy. G. de Purucker.
   ISBN 0-911500-63-4
   ISBN 0-911500-64-2

   A good introduction to the Secret Doctrine
   (H.P.Blavatsky's masterwork).

2. Esoteric instructions #9: Correlations of Cosmic and Human Constitutions Purucker.
   Point Loma Publications, Inc.
   P.O. Box 6507
   San Diego, Calif. 92106

3. The key to Theosophy. H.P.Blavatsky.
   Theosophical University Press (TUP). Post-office Bin C,
   Pasadena, Cal. 91109 - 7107 USA  tel. (818) 798-3378

   An excellent intro to Theosophy.
   ISBN 0-911500-06-5  cloth
   ISBN 0-911500-07-3  soft-cover

Other useful books:

4. The ocean of Theosophy. W.Q. Judge.  TUP-press (see #1)
   ISBN 0-911500-25-1  cloth
   ISBN 0-911500-26-x  paper

   A concise intro to Theosophy.

5. Echoes of the Orient. W.Q. Judge. (3 volumes)
   Point Loma Publications, Inc.
   P.O. Box 6507
   San Diego, Calif. 92106

   Contains many excellent magazine articles (vol. 1 ,2)
   and comments & suggestions about esoteric teachings (vol.3)

6. The Secret Doctrine (2 vol's), H.P. Blavatsky. (TUP).
   ISBN 1-55700-001-8  cloth
   ISBN 1-55700-002-6  soft-cover

7. The esoteric tradition (2 volumes). G. de Purucker. (TUP)
   A thorough work on many theosophical teachings.
   Contains also comments on science in the thirties.
   ISBN 0-911500-65-0 cloth
   ISBN 0-911500-66-9 paper

8. Fountain-source of occultism. G. de Purucker. (TUP)
   An advanced book on esoteric topics.
   ISBN 0-911500-70-7 cloth
   ISBN 0-911500-71-5 soft-cover

9. The dialogues of G. de Purucker (TUP)
   Very diverse, but offers valuable insights on practical
   human problems and also profound themes of Theosophy.
   ISBN 0-911500-59-6 (3 volumes)

10. Man in evolution. G. de Purucker. (TUP)
    A book that analyzes Theosophy in relation to science.
    ISBN 0-911500-55-3

11. Isis unveiled. H.P. Blavatsky. (TUP)
    ISBN 0-911500-022

12. Beyond ego. Transpersonal dimensions in psychology.
    Ed. Roger Walsh , M.D.,Ph.D. & Frances Vaughan, Ph.D.
    J.P. Tarcher, Inc.,Los Angeles.
    ISBN: 0-87477-175-7

NOTE on the use of this text.

All non-commercial use of this text for educational purposes, discussion, etc. is freely allowed. The same applies for my first article on theosophy:

theosophy-basics part 1

The only requirement is that a reference is made to the location of these original texts, i.e. one of the WWW-sites above mentioned. The reason for this is that people should be able to lookup these original articles for purposes of reference and context. Also, interested people can get a copy from me on request through E-mail.

Martin Euser