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Social Gathekas

The Power of Thought

Social Gatheka Number 34

There are some who by life's experience have learned that thought has some power, and there are others who wonder sometimes if thought really has some power. But there are many who listen to this subject with a preconceived idea that if ever thought had a power it has its limits. But if I were to give my candid opinion on the subject I would consider that it is no exaggeration if I said the thought has a power which is unimaginable. And in order to find proof of this idea we do not have to go very far. All that we see in this world is but a phenomena of thought. We live in it and we see it, morning till evening, and the very thing we doubt of it is so. The less a person believes in the power of thought the more positive he thinks, he stands on the earth. Nevertheless, he, consciously or unconsciously is feeling his limitation, and he is searching for something that will give him strength in his belief in thought.

Thought can be divided into five different aspects: imagination, thought, dream, vision, and materialization:

Imagination is that action of mind which is automatic. From morning till evening either a person is working, or if he is resting his mind he is working just the same on imagination. It is the automatic thinking, what it produces is called imagination.

And then we come to the word thought. Thought is that thinking which is thought with a will power behind it. And in this way we distinguish between the imaginative and the thoughtful. And therefore these two persons cannot be confused, for one is imaginative, which means a powerless thinking, automatic thinking, the other is thoughtful, whose thinking is powerful.

And then this automatic action which takes place in the state of sleep, it is that which is called dream. No doubt this is distinct and different from imagination, because while a person is imagining his senses are open to this objective world, and therefore his imagination does not take a concrete form. But when in a dream it is the same automatic action of mind, when it goes on there is no objective world to compare it with. Therefore to see the condition of mind the mystic always finds it by hearing the dream of the person, by knowing about how a person dreams.

Because in the dream the automatic working of the person's mind is much more concrete than in his imagination. There are some who tell perhaps character, who know how to read the character, and there are some who can read what they call the future, by knowing what a person imagines. They always ask a person: give me a name of a flower, of a fruit, of something you love, you like, that they can find the stream of imagination where it goes. From that stream of imagination they find out something about the character of that person and about his life.

And it is not necessary that a person be character reader or fortune teller to know that any wise and thoughtful person can understand by the way a person dresses, or by the way his environments are. A thoughtful person can understand what way his thoughts go, what are his imaginations. Since the state of dream give mind that possibility to express itself more concrete therefore dream is the best thing to understand from what state of mind a person is. And when once that is understood there is little reason to doubt if dream has not any effect upon a person's life, and upon a person's future. For I would repeat the same thing again which I have said in the commencement of my lecture that man does not know, man cannot imagine to what extent thought works upon life.

And now coming to the question of what we call vision. In order to make it simple I would explain vision that state of dream which once experiences in the wakeful state. A person who is imaginative or a person who is capable to imagine is capable of making a thought. And when this thought which he has created becomes an object upon which his mind is focused then all else becomes hidden to him, only that particular imagination that stands before him as a picture. No doubt the effect of this vision is greater than the effect of dream. The reason is that this imagination which can stand before one's mind in one's wakeful state is naturally more strong than the imagination which was working in one's state of sleep. For the reason is that souls become confused when there are only words and there is no feeling behind it.

But then the fifth aspect is materialization of thought, and it is in the study of this subject that we find the greatest secret of life. No doubt you can make a person convinced by telling him that: is it not by the architect's imagination that the beautiful building is built? Is it not by the gardener's imagination that a beautiful garden is made? But when it comes to matter, and all things that spring from matter then man begins to wonder how far imagination or thought has a power upon it. Nowadays, as psychology is beginning to spread throughout the Western world people would at least patiently listen to what it is. But otherwise there are many who would with a great belief take a medicine, but if they are told that a thought can cure you, they will smile at it. And this shows that with all the progress that humanity seems to have made it has gone back in one direction, and that direction is the higher thought, the elevated thought.

For man today generally disbelieves in thought, and still less believes in what he calls emotion. And in the point of fact if there is a soul to be found in the thought that soul is the feeling which is at the back of it. What convinces a thought is the power behind it, and that power consists of feeling. The general tendency is to wave off what is called imagination; that person imagines means that person amuses himself. When a person says, oh, you think it, but it does not exist in reality, you think it, but in reality when one has imagined, that imagination is created and what is once created exists. And what is thought that exists and that lives longer because thought is more powerful than imagination.

 And what man today calls sentimentality, which means nothing, in this way he ignores that power which is the only power and the greatest power that exists. It is with this power that the heroes have conquered battles, and it is with this power that if anyone has accomplished a great thing in the world it is with the power of heart that he has accomplished it, not with the power of brain. The music of the most beautiful composers, and the poetry of the greatest poets of the world it has come from the bottom of their heart. It has not come from their brain. And if we close the doors for sentimentality, for imagination, and for thought, that only means that we close the doors for life to come in.

And now coming to the fancies and fantasies. Perhaps if not all, some of you have read the stories of Faqirs, and Dervishes in the East. Perhaps you have read them as a novel, or perhaps they have been exaggerated in some way in order to make the book more beautiful. Nevertheless, it asks your attention to study the matter a little more and to understand something of a race, a nation who has for so many thousands of years has devoted itself at the sacrifice of the whole life for thought. There exists perhaps in every little district, in every little village a man who is called the healer of the scorpion sting. And in the heat, as it is in India, in every house a scorpion is found, especially in the time of summer.

And it is not seldom that a child or grownup person is stung by a scorpion, and the sting is something very poisonous and very painful. But despite of all that there are healers, and several of them. And sometimes there is a healer who says, 'you are cured, it is gone.' And immediately the person is well. And then we come to the sting of the snakebites. That the poison of the serpent is such that hardly a person lives after a serpent bite. There are some who by the passing of their hands have cured it. There are some, by saying, it is cured, they have cured.

And then I will tell you my own experience once: that there was a Dervish to whom a person came and said, 'there is a case going to be in the court next week.' And he said, 'I am so poor that I cannot even have a lawyer to speak for me. And the other person being rich, he will use every influence and I am without it.' And that Dervish said, 'tell me what is the condition.' And after hearing it he said, 'as you are not found guilty in this, I dismiss the case.' He told him to go, simply all will be well. When the man went to the court and he was asked by the judge everything, at the end the judge wrote exactly the same words that the Dervish said.

If I were to give any explanation, words fail to speak about it. Only this can be said, that the heart of the judge for this Dervish was just like a receptive machine of the wireless telegraphy. The great seer and mystic of Persia, Jalaluddin Rumi, says that fire, water, earth, and ether are dead things to those who see in them no person. But before the creator they are all living beings. They are his obedient servants. (Mathnawi I, 838) And the great thinker of the Hindus says in Sanskrit language that, this whole creation is the dream of Brahma, which means the creator.

And now I come to Sufism. What a Sufi thinks of the idea of the creator and the creation. The Sufi sees both the creator and the creation both in man. The limited part of man's being is the creation, and the innermost part of his being is the creator. And if that is true, then man is limited and man is unlimited both. If he wished to be limited he can be more and more limited. If he wished to be unlimited he can be more and more unlimited. If he cultivated in himself the illusion of being a creation he can be more and more that; but if he cultivated in himself the knowledge of the creator he can be more and more that.

Every kind of weakness, every kind of illness, every kind of misery, the more one gives in to it the more it comes upon one's back. And one goes into it even to such an extent sometimes the whole world falls on his back, and he is buried under it. And there is another person who gets out of it. It may be difficult, but at the same time is possible. Little by little, gradually, but with courage and patience he can get out of it, and stand upon the same world which would have otherwise crushed him under it. The former thing is going down, the latter thing is coming up.

Both things depend upon the attitude of our mind, and it is to change this attitude that is the principal thing in life, from a material point of view from a spiritual point of view. All that is taught in the Sufi esoteric studies and practices is to gain that mastery little by little, gradually, in order to arrive at that fulfillment which is called mastery. But you will say, it is a great struggle. But I will answer, the struggle is in both ways, in coming down and in going up, in both ways there is a struggle. It is just as well to struggle and come up instead of struggling and going down. And whenever a person goes down it only means that he is feeble in his thought. And why is he feeble in his thought? Because he is weak in his feeling. If feeling protects thought, and if thought stands firm, whatever be the difficulty in the life of man, it will be surmounted.