THE CULTURE OF THE MIND
by Manly P. Hall
Excerpts are selected by Mage Gary and reprinted by permission
of the University of Philosophical Research.
RHYTHM AS A FACTOR IN THOUGHT
We are indebted to the ethics of Lao-tse for our most notable concept of the theory and practice of rhythm. To a certain degree, rhythm is the natural flow of things from their own source; rhythm is therefore the natural and irresistible expression of a causal agency. Opposed to natural rhythm as exemplified in the breaking of the waves upon the shore, the sighing of the wind through the tree tops, or that endless song which is the voice of nature, there is a false standard of rhythm created by man which is all too often devoid of aesthetic sense.
It has been said that nature thinks and moves in curves, while man thinks and moves in angles. Angles are abrupt; curves are gradual. In this respect, man thus differs from nature. The Greeks and Orientals attempted to express the rhythm of nature through the medium of the dance; for as Havelock Ellis so well realized, the ancients considered life itself as comparable to a dance. Compare the rhythm and flow of Greek aesthetics with the antics of the modern devotees of Terpsichore, and you will see in the dance an expression of the most profound sensibilities of our race, a very key to the rhythm of our soul. While the rhythm of antiquity is best expressed by the curve because of the grace and dignity attendant upon its expression, every action of modern dancing is angular. Consider likewise the rhythm of thought. In the simple, graceful dignity of true intelligence can be seen what may be termed the aesthetics of the curve, while in the disorganization characteristic of the modern mind we find the false and angular culture we have substituted for ancient ideals. - (P 19)
Several eminent Greek thinkers considered the dance as indispensable to philosophy. There are many accounts of Pythagoras leading his disciples in rhythmic dancing. He did not teach certain arbitrary steps, but rather that when some ennobling harmony was played upon the lyre, there was a natural impulse of the body to follow the rhythm suggested by the music. This was a form of bodily expression which signified that the soul was not only capable of receiving that which was beautiful and true, but was also capable of expressing, through the medium of the body, those rhythmic and harmonious impulses which the agency of music had raised from a latent state to conscious expression.
Mere training of the intellect will no more produce a philosopher than a box of paints will make an artist. A philosopher is one whose life is so thoroughly in harmony with natural rhythm—so permeated with the realization and understanding of that natural order of which he is a part—that involuntarily his thoughts are true and his logic sound.
It is very difficult to picture a modern scientist dancing on some hill-top in the early morning hours. Yet if he would try the experiment, he might possibly discover that one of the surest and quickest ways of understanding nature is to permit it to flow through himself.
An ancient philosopher once said that there are some things which can be known only by going into their presence and remaining silent. After a time, the thing you desire to know will flow into you and become a part of you. When you and the thing you desire to know are thus blended into one, then—and then only—is its real nature revealed.
- (P 20)
LOVE AS A FACTOR IN SCIENTIFIC THOUGHT
Only when the mind approaches its problem with humility, reverence, and love will it accomplish the perfect solution of the problem. Modern science does not realize that the attitude of the investigator profoundly influences the result of his investigation. Sympathy must never be confused with understanding. Sympathy is a surface emotion; understanding is the deepest feeling of which man is capable. All nature opens its heart to the understanding soul. The deepest secrets of the universe will be revealed to the kindly, comprehending intellect; but to the cynic, the materialist, or the matter-of-fact intellectual, the arcane issues of life must forever remain concealed.
In some mysterious fashion, sticks and stones and blades of grass sense the one who loves and serves them, and to such a one they will reveal their hidden natures. Within the last few years, a great Hindu scientist has discovered that plants actually feel and suffer and love. We will yet realize that all nature is alive and that her secrets must be coaxed from her by the conjuring of love and not pried loose by the crassness of materialism.
Wisdom is greater than intellectualism, because wisdom has seen through the veil while intellect is only capable of analyzing the warp and woof of the outer garment. Luther Burbank accomplished seeming miracles with his plants because he did not look upon them as inanimate things but as living entities with whom he could converse. As a father pleads with his child, so he pleaded with his flowers; they knew his voice and obeyed him.
Every problem should be approached with reverence, for as man solves mysteries he unveils the Master of the Mysteries. Each time his mind pierces the shell of ignorance and finds a golden truth concealed within, he has opened one more door leading to the throne of Deity. To think successfully, love the things you think about—not with a selfish love because they are your thoughts or your things, but with an unselfish love because every thought is a divine thought and every thing a divine thing.
Armed with telescope and microscope, science seeks to wrest the secrets of creation from both the height of heaven and the depth of earth. But age after age, the secrets of heaven and earth remain inviolate. The soul of nature calls to the scientist, but he does not hear, for only the soul can hear the voice of the soul. Therefore, if man would discover the invisible side of nature, he must invoke the aid of the invisible part of himself. The visible discerns the visible; the invisible, the invisible.
If you seek that illumination of the faculties of the mind which perceives with greater clarity the supreme secrets of human origin and destiny, first make sure that your heart harbors only the worthiest of motives, the most unselfish of aspirations. Do not fail to approach each labor with an open mind as well as an open eye. If you have pet notions of your own, the tiny voice of the blade of grass will be inaudible. However, if you keep very quiet inside, listen very closely, call very softly, and request very humbly, you will receive an answer—an answer that must forever elude the discernment of the dogmatic scientist who cannot "become as a little child" and listen to the voice of nature as it speaks through the legion of parts which together make up the life of the universe. - (Pgs 20 - 22)
THE MATERIALISTIC ATTITUDE TOWARD THOUGHT
Today the scientific world is profoundly concerned with mental phenomena and function. Too abstract to be susceptible of examination by the instruments of the physicist, the mind remains a fascinating but tantalizing subject for scientific research. Some scientists maintain the mind to be a chemical product, the result of certain chemical reactions in the physical body. Most materialistic thinkers believe the mind to be a definite part of the physical organism, not surviving dissolution of the body. A few, more daring, maintain that the intellect is something super-physical, antedating the body and also surviving its destruction.
When its functional activity is under discussion, the general consensus of opinion is that the mind is man's most powerful vehicle of expression. Our entire civilization is obviously an expression rather, objectification—of powers existing potentially in the mind. It is also almost universally accepted that the intellectual equipment of the individual is still comparatively imperfect and that, under proper direction the mind is capable of producing vastly more than has yet issued out of it.
The materialist is in a quandary: he is not certain whether the mind itself knows how to think, or whether it must be taught how to think before it is capable of producing anything. The efforts thus far made to analyze mental processes, however, have been productive of negative results.
The mind may be considered as a level or graduation of Universal Substance. It permeates all structure and form, but only those creatures are called thinking beings who have in their own natures a brain sensitive enough to respond to the subtle impulses of this mental plane. Ac- cording to philosophy, the spiritual nature of man is enthroned in the mental plane. The substance of the mind is also the link between spirit and matter; for mind partakes of the activity and consciousness of spirit, as well as the inertia and unconsciousness of matter. All physical substance is under the control of mental substance, for the contour of physical form follows the mold fashioned by the imagery of thought activity.
The world is but an objectification of the level of man's mind, and every evil in the world is actually the reflection of some mental deformity. Thought is the causal agency behind a legion of diversified effects. Consequently, in the reformation of an institution, nation, or race, it is first necessary to become attuned to the mental keynote of that institution, nation, or race. Multitudinous effects are often referable to a single cause, and he who remodels causal agencies thereby achieves results far more remedial in scope than he who deals with effects.
Science has failed thus far to give its votaries a moral or ethical code. It has sought to increase mental capacity and improve mental quality, but it has failed to recognize that as the mind becomes greater, it also becomes more dangerous, unless attended by corresponding moral and ethical growth. With its culture of the mind, it is not at all unlikely that science may produce a Frankenstein monster which will destroy its creator. That culture is not sufficient which merely confers upon man a superior mental equipment; it is also vitally necessary that the qualities of the soul be unfolded.
The soul is something the intellect cannot bestow. There is nothing more inconceivably terrible than a soulless world in which everything has been reduced to a cold intellectual calculation. Only when the evolution of mind and soul parallel each other—each offsetting the excess of its opposite—can we really have a world safe for evolving humanity. - (Pgs 27 - 29)
MIND AS RELATED TO CONSCIOUSNESS
The indivisible spark of the One Life resident in every creature always expresses itself through three phases or aspects—namely, consciousness, intelligence, and force. These "Three Witnesses" of the One are known to Christianity as the Trinity. These three centers of power are common to all life, and every physical (human) form has built three tabernacles to shelter them. Graphically, they may be shown as follows:
2 1 3
Intelligence Consciousness Force
No. 1 represents consciousness, which is always in the center—that is, at the point of equilibrium. Consciousness dwells in the heart where it can be seen [with the inner vision] as a tiny blue flame. Consciousness has two poles positive and negative.
No. 2 represents the brain. which is the dwelling place of intelligence--the positive expression of consciousness.
No. 3 represents the negative pole of consciousness which we know as force, or the power that is responsible for the agitation of the atoms and granules of space, the integration of bodies, and the building of worlds.
It is accordingly posited in the generative system where it controls the reproduction, perpetuation, and later the destruction of form.
The mind per se is therefore not synonymous with consciousness. The an expression of consciousness or the vehicle by which mind is merely consciousness controls both the physical and vital elements of its nature. Mind may pass away but consciousness remains, for in order to manifest in this world, spirit (consciousness) must operate through its polarities of intelligence and force. Hence, mind is the mirror that reflects Divinity into nature.
By consciousness the heavens were formed; by force the earth was differentiated; by intelligence the two are linked together in one harmonious unit. In the ancient Mysteries, we are told that man is the incarnation of the Principle of Mind, thus forming a link between God and nature. Since it is a blending of spirit and matter, the mind constantly reminds man of both his divinity and his humanity. So within, there ceaselessly rages the battle of Armageddon, wherein divinity and humanity struggle for, and alternately wrest from each other, control of the organism. When divinity is the victor, the disciple begins the ascent of the golden stairs of Wisdom; when humanity triumphs, the individual grovels in the muck and mire of unenlightened materialism.
Consciousness is accordingly symbolized by the high priest, intelligence by the philosopher, and force by the warrior. The triple scepters of the Egyptian kings, the three nails of the Crucifixion, and the Papal tiara or triple crown are also symbolic of this trinity of consciousness, intelligence, and force which the individual must learn to employ wisely if he is to regain his lost estate. This relationship is again unmistakably indicated by the symbolism of the Crucifixion where Christ (consciousness) hangs suspended between two thieves (mind and body). Once the existence and interdependence of this Trinity are definitely recognized by the individual, it is then possible to develop the nature symmetrically and use each part and function in conformity with the intentions of God and nature. - (Pgs 30 -31)
THE ATTAINMENT OF CONSCIOUS IMMORTALITY
He who is ignorant is dead already. He who has achieved philosophic supremacy is alive forever, though his body be burned and his ashes cast into the sea. When Socrates was drinking the hemlock, Crito said to him: "Master, what would you have us do with you after you are dead?" And Socrates answered: "You may do anything you will with me, if you can catch me; but, beware, lest I slip through your fingers."
The individual living only a physical life has not evolved the qualities of his higher nature and is incapable of functioning consciously in those subtler worlds beyond the grave. When he drops this mortal coil, he therefore sinks into unconsciousness, for he has not built the faculties to remain conscious upon a higher plane. When, however, the illumined philosopher evolves the soul faculties and awakens his transcendental powers, death becomes an illusion; for though his physical body may die, his consciousness is not impaired. Because he has separated his consciousness from his body, he continues to live, think, and feel. Once having come into the light, he is ever in the light.
Conscious immortality is the eternal reward for the attainment of the higher forms of mental and spiritual understanding. The Greeks taught that if the soul is centered in the desire nature, it is held prisoner by the body and, hence, dies with the body. If, however, the soul is lifted during life above physical and illusory things, it then survives disintegration of its body and continues the search for ultimate Reality. - (Pgs 39 - 40)
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