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The Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science
The Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science, by Thomas Troward online
Having now obtained a glimpse of the adaptation of the physical organism to the action of the mind we must next realize that the mind itself is an organism which is in like manner adapted to the action of a still higher power, only here the adaptation is one of mental faculty. As with other invisible forces all we can know of the mind is by observing what it does, but with this difference, that since we ourselves _are_ this mind, our observation is an interior observation of states of consciousness. In this way we recognize certain faculties of our mind, the working order of which I have considered at page 84; but the point to which I would now draw attention is that these faculties always work under the influence of something which stimulates them, and this stimulus may come either from without through the external senses, or from within by the consciousness of something not perceptible on the physical plane. Now the recognition of these interior sources of stimulus to our mental faculties, is an important branch of Mental Science, because the mental action thus set up works just as accurately through the physical correspondences as those which start from the recognition of external facts, and therefore the control and right direction of these inner perceptions is a matter of the first moment.
The faculties most immediately concerned are the intuition and the imagination, but it is at first difficult to see how the intuition, which is entirely spontaneous, can be brought under the control of the will. Of course, the spontaneousness of the intuition cannot in any way be interfered with, for if it ceased to act spontaneously it would cease to be the intuition. Its province is, as it were, to capture ideas from the infinite and present them to the mind to be dealt with at its discretion. In our mental constitution the intuition is the point of origination and, therefore, for it to cease to act spontaneously would be for it to cease to act at all. But the experience of a long succession of observers shows that the intuition can be trained so as to acquire increased sensitiveness in some, particular direction, and the choice of the _general direction_ is determined by the will of the individual.
It will be found that the intuition works most readily in respect to those subjects which most habitually occupy our thought; and according to the physiological correspondences which we have been considering this might be accounted for on the physical plane by the formation of brain-channels specially adapted for the induction in the molecular system of vibrations corresponding to the particular class of ideas in question. But of course we must remember that the ideas themselves are not caused by the molecular changes but on the contrary are the cause of them; and it is in this translation of thought action into physical action that we are brought face to face with the eternal mystery of the descent of spirit into matter; and that though we may trace matter through successive degrees of refinement till it becomes what, in comparison with those denser modes that are most familiar, we might call a spiritual substance, yet at the end of it it is not the intelligent thinking principle itself. The criterion is in the word "vibrations." However delicately etheric the substance its movement commences by the vibration of its particles, and a vibration is a wave having a certain length, amplitude, and periodicity, that is to say, something which can exist only in terms of space and time; and as soon as we are dealing with anything capable of the conception of measurement we may be quite certain that we are not dealing with Spirit but only with one of its vehicles. Therefore although we may push our analysis of matter further and ever further back--and on this line there is a great deal of knowledge to be gained--we shall find that the point at which spiritual power or thought-force is translated into etheric or atomic vibration will always elude us. Therefore we must not attribute the origination of ideas to molecular displacement in the brain, though, by the reaction of the physical upon the mental which I have spoken of above, the formation of thought-channels in the grey matter of the brain may tend to facilitate the reception of certain ideas. Some people are actually conscious of the action of the upper portion of the brain during the influx of an intuition, the sensation being that of a sort of expansion in that brain area, which might be compared to the opening of a valve or door; but all attempts to induce the inflow of intuitive ideas by the physiological expedient of trying to open this valve by the exercise of the will should be discouraged as likely to prove injurious to the brain. I believe some Oriental systems advocate this method, but we may well trust the mind to regulate the action of its physical channels in a manner suitable to its own requirements, instead of trying to manipulate the mind by the unnatural forcing of its mechanical instrument. In all our studies on these lines we must remember that development is always by perfectly natural growth and is not brought about by unduly straining any portion of the system.