« السابقةمتابعة »
majority at the present stage of evolution, as it remains unaffected by the mental activities directed to external objects, and we may, therefore, leave it aside, at any rate for the present. It is, in fact, the organ for abstract thought.
The second aspect is called the mental body, and is composed of thought-stuff belonging to the four lower subdivisions of the mental plane corresponding to the lowest ether, and the gaseous, liquid, and solid states of matter on the physical plane. It might indeed be termed the dense mental body. Mental bodies show seven great fundamental types, each of which includes forms at every stage of development, and all evolve and grow under the same laws. To understand and apply these laws is to change the slow evolution by nature to the rapid growth by the self-determining intelligence. Hence the profound importance of their study.
THE BUILDING AND EVOLUTION OF THE
MENTAL BODY. The method by which consciousness builds up its vehicle is one which should be clearly grasped, for every day and hour of life gives opportunity for its application to high ends. Waking or sleeping, we are ever building our mental bodies ; for when consciousness vibrates it affects the mindstuff surrounding it, and every quiver of consciousness, though it be due only to a passing thought, draws into the mental body some particles of mindstuff, and shakes out other particles from it. So far as the vehicle—the body-is concerned, this is due to the vibration; but it should not be forgotten that the very essence of consciousness is to constantly identify itself with the Not-Self, and as constantly to re-assert itself by rejecting the Not-Self; consciousness consists of the alternating assertion and negation, “I am this,” “I am not this "; hence its motion is and causes, in matter, the attracting and repelling that we call a vibration. The surrounding matter is also thrown into waves, thus serving as a medium for affecting other consciousnesses.
Now, the fineness or coarseness of the matter thus appropriated depends on the quality of the vibrations set up by the consciousness. Pure and lofty thoughts are composed of rapid vibrations, and can only affect the rare and subtle grades of mind-stuff. The coarser grades remain unaffected, being unable to vibrate at the necessary speed. When such a thought causes the mental body to vibrate, particles of the coarser matter are shaken out of the body, and their place is taken by
particles of the finer grades, and thus better materials are built into the mental body. Similarly, base and evil thoughts draw into the mental body the coarser materials suitable for their own expression, and these materials repel and drive out the finer kinds.
Thus these vibrations of consciousness are ever shaking out one kind of matter and building in another. And it follows, as a necessary consequence, that according to the kind of matter we have built into our mental bodies in the past, will be our power of responding to the thoughts which now reach us from outside. If our mental bodies are composed of fine materials, coarse and evil thoughts will meet with no response, and hence can inflict no injury; whereas if they are built up with gross materials, they will be affected by every evil passer-by, and will remain irresponsive to and unbenefited by the good.
When we come into touch with one whose thoughts are lofty, his thought-vibrations, playing on us, arouse vibrations of such matter in our mental bodies as is capable of responding, and these vibrations disturb and even shake out some of that which is too coarse to vibrate at his high rate of activity. The benefit we receive from him is thus largely dependent on our own past thinking, and our "understanding” of him, our responsiveness, is conditioned by these. We cannot think for each other; he can only think his own thoughts, thus causing corresponding vibrations in the mindstuff around him, and these play upon us, setting up in our mental bodies sympathetic vibrations. These affect the consciousness. A thinker external to ourselves can only affect our consciousness by arousing these vibrations in our mental bodies.
But immediate understanding does not always follow on the production of such vibrations, caused from outside. Sometimes the effect resembles that of the sun and the rain and the earth on the seed that lies buried in the ground. There is no visible answer at first to the vibrations playing on the seed; but within there is a tiny quiver of the ensouling life, and that quiver will grow stronger and stronger day by day, till the evolving life bursts the seed-shell and sends forth rootlet and growing point. So with the mind. The consciousness thrills faintly within itself, ere it is able to give any external answer to the impacts upon it; and when we are not yet capable of understanding a noble thinker, there is yet in us an unconscious quivering which is the forerunner of the conscious answer. We go away from a great presence a little nearer to the rich thought-life flowing from
it than we were ere we entered it, and germs of thought have been quickened in us, and our minds helped in their evolution.
Something, then, in the building and evolution of our minds may be done from outside, but most must result from the activities of our own consciousness; and if we would have mental bodies which should be strong, well-vitalised, active, able to grasp the loftier thoughts presented to us, then we must steadily work at right thinking; for we are our own builders, and fashion our minds for ourselves.
Many people are great readers. Now, reading does not build the mind; thought alone builds it. Reading is only valuable as it furnishes materials for thought. A man may read much, but his mental growth will be in proportion to the amount of thought that he expends in his reading. The value to him of the thought which he reads depends on the use he makes of it. Unless he takes up the thought and works on it himself, its value to him will be small and passing. “Reading makes a full man,” said Lord Bacon, and it is with the mind as with the body. Eating fills the stomach, but as the meal is useless to the body unless it is digested and assimilated, so also the mind may be filled by reading, but unless there is thought, there