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Leadbeater on Thought
An Extract from the
Good thoughts produce vibrations of the finer matter of the body, which by its specific gravity tends to float in the upper part of the ovoid; whereas bad thoughts, such as selfishness and avarice, are always oscillations of the grosser matter, which tends to gravitate towards the lower part of the ovoid.
Consequently the ordinary man, who yields himself not infrequently to selfish thoughts to various kinds, usually expands the lower part of his mental body, and presents roughly the appearance of an egg with its larger end downwards. The man who has repressed those lower thoughts, and devoted himself
to higher ones, tends to expand the upper part of his mental body and therefore presents the appearance of an egg standing on its smaller end. From a study of the colors and striations of a man’s mental body the clairvoyant can perceive his character and the progress he has made in his present life. From similar features of the causal body he can see what progress the ego has made since its original formation, when the man left the animal kingdom.
When a man thinks of any concrete object – a book, a house, a landscape – he builds a tiny image of the object in the matter of his mental body. This image floats in the upper part of that body, usually in front of the face of the man and at about the level of the eyes. It remains there as long as the man is contemplating the object, and usually for a little time afterwards, the length of time depending upon the intensity and the clearness of the thought. This form is quite objective, and can be seen by another person, if that other has developed the sight of his own mental body. If a man thinks of another, he
creates a tiny portrait in just the same way. If his thought is merely contemplative and involves no feeling (such as affection or dislike) or desires (such as a wish to see the person) the thought does not usually perceptibly affect the man of whom he thinks.
If coupled with the thought of the person there is a feeling, as for example of affection, another phenomenon occurs besides the forming of the image. The thought of affection takes a definite form, which it builds out of the matter of the thinker’s mental body. Because of the emotion involved, it draws round it also matter of his astral body, and thus we have an astro-mental form which leaps out of the body in which it has been generated, and moves through space towards the object of the feeling of affection. If the thought is sufficiently strong, distance makes absolutely no difference to it; but the thought of an ordinary person is usually weak and diffused, and is therefore not effective outside a limited area.
When this thought-form reaches its object it discharges itself into his astral and mental bodies, communicating to them its own rate of vibration. Putting this in another way, a thought of love sent from one person to another involves the actual transference of a certain amount both of force and of matter from the sender to the recipient, and its effect upon the recipient is to arouse the feeling of affection in him, and slightly but permanently to increase his power of loving. But such a thought also strengthens the power of affection in the thinker, and therefore it does good simultaneously to both.
Every thought builds a form; if the thought be directed to another person it travels to him; if it be distinctly selfish it remains in the immediate neighbourhood of the thinker; if it belongs to neither of these categories it floats for awhile in space and then slowly disintegrates.
Every man therefore is leaving behind him wherever he goes a trail of thought-forms; as we go along the street we are walking all the same amidst a sea of other men’s thoughts. If a man leaves his mind blank for a time, these residual thoughts of others drifts through it, making in most cases but little impression upon him.
Sometimes one arrives which attracts his attention, so that his mind seizes upon it and makes it its own, strengthens it by the addition of its force, and then casts it out again to affect somebody else. A man, therefore, is not responsible for a thought which floats into his mind, because it may be not his, but someone else’s, but he is responsible if he takes it up, dwells upon it and then sends it out strengthened.
Self-centered thought of any kind hangs about the thinker, and most men surround their mental bodies with a shell of such thoughts. Such a shell obscures the mental vision and facilitates the formation of prejudice.
Each thought-form is a temporary entity. It resembles a charged battery, awaiting an opportunity to discharge itself. Its tendency is always to reproduce its own rate of vibration in the mental body upon which it fastens itself, and so to arouse in it a like thought. If the person at whom it is aimed happens to be busy, or already engaged in some definite train of thought, the particles of his mental body are already swinging at a certain determinate rate, and cannot for the moment be affected from without. In that case the thought-form bides its time, hanging about its object until he is sufficiently at rest to permit its entrance; then it discharges itself upon him, and in the act ceases to exist.
The self-centered thought behaves in exactly the same way with regard to its generator, and discharges itself upon him when opportunity offers. If it be an evil thought he generally regards it as the suggestion of a tempting demon, whereas in truth he tempts himself. Usually each definite thought creates a new thought-form; but if a thought-form of the same nature is already hovering round the thinker, under certain circumstances a new thought on the same subject, instead of creating a new form, coalesces with and strengthens the old one, so that by long brooding over the same subject a man may sometimes create a thought-form of tremendous power. If the thought be a wicked one, such a thought-form may become a veritable evil influence, lasting perhaps for many years, and having for a time all the appearance and powers of a real living entity.
All these which have been described are the ordinary unpremeditated thoughts of
man. A man can make a thought-form intentionally, and aim it at another with the
object of helping him. This is one of the lines of activity adopted by those who desire to serve humanity. A steady stream of powerful thought directed intelligently upon another person may be of the greatest assistance to him. A strong thought-form may be a real guardian angel, and protect its object from impurity, from irritability or from fear.
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