The Edinburgh Lectures
Chapter 13, In Touch with Sub-Concious Mind
by Thomas Troward
The preceding pages have made the student in some measure aware of the immense importance of our dealings with the sub-conscious mind. Our relation to it, whether on the scale of the individual or the universal, is the key to all that we are or ever can be. In its unrecognized working it is the spring of all that we can call the automatic action of mind and body, and on the universal scale it is the silent power of evolution gradually working onwards to that "divine event, to which the whole creation moves"; and by our conscious recognition of it we make it, relatively to ourselves, all that we believe it to be. The closer our rapport with it becomes, the more what we have hitherto considered automatic action, whether in our bodies or our circumstances, will pass under our control, until at last we shall control our whole individual world. Since, then, this is the stupendous issue involved, the question how we are to put ourselves practically in touch with the sub-conscious mind is a very important one. Now the clue which gives us the right direction is to be found in the impersonal quality of subconscious mind of which I have spoken. Not impersonal as lacking the elements of personality; nor even, in the case of individual subjective mind, as lacking the sense of individuality; but impersonal in the sense of not recognizing the particular external relations which appear to the objective mind to constitute its personality, and having a realization of itself quite independent of them. If, then, we would come in touch with it we must meet it on its own ground. It can see things only from the deductive standpoint, and therefore cannot take note of the inductive standpoint from which we construct the idea of our external personality; and accordingly if we would put ourselves in touch with it, we cannot do so by bringing it down to the level of the external and non-essential but only by rising to its own level on the plane of the interior and essential. How can this be done? Let two well-known writers answer. Rudyard Kipling tells us in his story of "Kim" how the boy used at times to lose his sense of personality by repeating to himself the question, Who is Kim? Gradually his personality would seem to fade and he would experience a feeling of passing into a grander and a wider life, in which the boy Kim was unknown, while his own conscious individuality remained, only exalted and expanded to an inconceivable extent; and in Tennyson's life by his son we are told that at times the poet had a similar experience. We come into touch with the absolute exactly in proportion as we withdraw ourselves from the relative: they vary inversely to each other.
For the purpose, then, of getting into touch with our subconscious mind we must endeavour to think of ourselves as pure being, as that entity which interiorly supports the outward manifestation, and doing so we shall realize that the essential quality of pure being must be good. It is in itself pure Life, and as such cannot desire anything detrimental to pure Life under whatever form manifested. Consequently the purer our intentions the more readily we shall place ourself en rapport with our subjective entity; and a fortiori the same applies to that Greater Sub-conscious Mind of which our individual subjective mind is a particular manifestation. In actual practice the process consists in first forming a clear conception in the objective mind of the idea we wish to convey to the subjective mind: then, when this has been firmly grasped, endeavour to lose sight of all other facts connected with the external personality except the one in question, and then mentally address the subjective mind as though it were an independent entity and impress upon it what you want it to do or to believe. Everyone must formulate his own way of working, but one method, which is both simple and effective is to say to the subjective mind, "This is what I want you to do; you will now step into my place and do it, bringing all your powers and intelligence to bear, and considering yourself to be none other than myself." Having done this return to the realization of your own objective personality and leave the subjective mind to perform its task in full confidence that, by the law of its nature, it will do so if not hindered by a repetition of contrary messages from the objective mind. This is not a mere fancy but a truth daily proved by the experience of increasing numbers. The facts have not been fabricated to fit the theory, but the theory has been built up by careful observation of the facts; and since it has been shown both by theory and practice that such is the law of the relation between subjective and objective mind, we find ourselves face to face with a very momentous question. Is there any reason why the laws which hold good of the individual subjective mind should not hold good of the Universal Mind also?—and the answer is that there is not. As has been already shown the Universal Mind must, by its very universality, be purely subjective, and what is the law of a part must also be the law of the whole: the qualities of fire are the same whether the centres of combustion be great or small, and therefore we may well conclude these lectures by considering what will be the result if we apply what we have learnt regarding the individual subjective mind to the Universal Mind.
We have learnt that the three great facts regarding subjective mind are its creative power, its amenableness to suggestion, and its inability to work by any other than the deductive method. This last is an exceedingly important point, for it implies that the action of the subjective mind is in no way limited by precedent. The inductive method works on principles inferred from an already existing pattern, and therefore at the best only produces the old thing in a new shape. But the deductive method works according to the essence or spirit of the principle, and does not depend on any previous concrete manifestation for its apprehension of it; and this latter method of working must necessarily be that of the all-originating Mind, for since there could be no prior existing pattern from which it could learn the principles of construction, the want of a pattern would have prevented its creating anything had its method been inductive instead of deductive. Thus by the necessity of the case the Universal Mind must act deductively, that is, according to the law which has been found true of individual subjective mind. It is thus not bound by any precedent, which means that its creative power is absolutely unlimited; and since it is essentially subjective mind, and not objective mind, it is entirely amenable to suggestion. Now it is an unavoidable inference from the identity of the law governing subjective mind, whether in the individual or the universal, that just as we can by suggestion impress a certain character of personality upon the individual subjective mind, so we can, and do, upon the Universal Mind; and it is for this reason that I have drawn attention to the inherent personal quality of pure spirit when contemplated in its most interior plane.
It becomes, therefore, the most important of all considerations with what character we invest the Universal Mind; for since our relation to it is purely subjective it will infallibly bear to us exactly that character which we impress upon it; in other words it will be to us exactly what we believe it to be. This is simply a logical inference from the fact that, as subjective mind, our primary relation to it can only be on the subjective plane, and indirectly our objective relations must also spring from the same source. This is the meaning of that remarkable passage twice repeated in the Bible, "With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure, and with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward" (Ps. xviii., 26, and II. Sam. xxii., 27), for the context makes it clear that these words are addressed to the Divine Being. The spiritual kingdom is within us, and as we realize it there so it becomes to us a reality. It is the unvarying law of the subjective life that "as a man thinketh in his heart so is he," that is to say, his inward subjective states are the only true reality, and what we call external realities are only their objective correspondences. If we thoroughly realize the truth that the Universal Mind must be to us exactly according to our conception of it, and that this relation is not merely imaginary but by the law of subjective mind must be to us an actual fact and the foundation of all other facts, then it is impossible to over-estimate the importance of the conception of the Universal Mind which we adopt.
To the uninstructed there is little or no choice: they form a conception in accordance with the tradition they have received from others, and until they have learnt to think for themselves, they have to abide by the results of that tradition: for natural laws admit of no exceptions, and however faulty the traditional idea may be, its acceptance will involve a corresponding reaction upon the Universal Mind, which will in turn be reflected into the conscious mind and external life of the individual. But those who understand the law of the subject will have no one but themselves to blame if they do not derive all possible benefits from it. The greatest Teacher of Mental Science the world has ever seen has laid down sufficiently plain rules for our guidance. With a knowledge of the subject whose depth can be appreciated only by those who have themselves some practical acquaintance with it, He bids His unlearned audiences, those common people who heard Him gladly, picture to themselves the Universal Mind as a benign Father, tenderly compassionate of all and sending the commonbounties of Nature alike on the evil and the good; but He also pictured It as exercising a special and peculiar care over those who recognize Its willingness to do so—" the very hairs of your head are all numbered," and "ye are of more value than many sparrows." Prayer was to be made to the unseen Being, not with doubt or fear, but with the absolute assurance of a certain answer, and no limit was to be set to its power or willingness to work for us. But to those who did not thus realize it, the Great Mind is necessarily the adversary who casts them into prison until they have paid the uttermost farthing; and thus in all cases the Master impressed upon his hearers the exact correspondence of the attitude of this unseen Power towards them with their own attitude towards it. Such teaching was not a narrow anthropomorphism but the adaptation to the intellectual capacity of the unlettered multitude of the very deepest truths of what we now call Mental Science. And the basis of it all is the cryptic personality of spirit hidden throughout the infinite of Nature under every form of manifestation.
As unalloyed Life and Intelligence it can be no other than good, it can entertain no intention of evil, and thus all intentional evil must put us in opposition to it, and so deprive us of the consciousness of its guidance and strengthening and thus leave us to grope our own way and fight our own battle single-handed against the universe, odds which at last will surely prove too great for us. But remember that the opposition can never be on the part of the Universal Mind, for in itself it is sub-conscious mind; and to suppose any active opposition taken on its own initiative would be contrary to all we have learnt as to the nature of sub-conscious mind whether in the individual or the universal; the position of the Universal Mind towards us is always the reflection of our own attitude. Therefore although the Bible is full of threatening against those who persist in conscious opposition to the Divine Law of Good, it is on the other hand full of promises of immediate and full forgiveness to all who change their attitude and desire to co-operate with the Law of Good so far as they know it. The laws of Nature do not act vindictively; and through all theological formularies and traditional interpretations let us realize that what we are dealing with is the supreme law of our own being; and it is on the basis of this natural law that we find such declarations as that in Ezek. xviii., 22, which tells that if we forsake our evil ways our past transgressions shall never again be mentioned to us. We are dealing with the great principles of our subjective being, and our misuse of them in the past can never make them change their inherent law of action. If our method of using them in the past has brought us sorrow, fear and trouble, we have only to fall back on the law that if we reverse the cause the effects will be reversed also; and so what we have to do is simply to reverse our mental attitude and then endeavour to act up to the new one. The sincere endeavour to act up to our new mental attitude is essential, for we cannot really think in one way and act in another; but our repeated failures to fully act as we would wish must not discourage us. It is the sincere intention that is the essential thing, and this will in time release us from the bondage of habits which at present seem almost insuperable.
The initial step, then, consists in determining to picture the Universal Mind as the ideal of all we could wish it to be both to ourselves and to others, together with the endeavour to reproduce this ideal, however imperfectly, in our own life; and this step having been taken, we can then cheerfully look upon it as our ever-present Friend, providing all good, guarding from all danger, and guiding us with all counsel. Gradually as the habit of thus regarding the Universal Mind grows upon us, we shall find that in accordance with the laws we have been considering, it will become more and more personal to us, and in response to our desire its inherent intelligence will make itself more and more clearly perceptible within as a power of perceiving truth far beyond any statement of it that we could formulate by merely intellectual investigation. Similarly if we think of it as a great power devoted to supplying all our needs, we shall impress this character also upon it, and by the law of subjective mind it will proceed to enact the part of that special providence which we have credited it with being; and if, beyond the general care of our concerns, we would draw to ourselves some particular benefit, the same rule holds good of impressing our desire upon the Universal Subjective Mind. And if we realize that above and beyond all this we want something still greater and more enduring, the building-up of character and unfolding of our powers so that we may expand into fuller and yet fuller measures of joyous and joy-giving Life, still the same rule holds good: convey to the Universal Mind the suggestion of the desire, and by the law of relation between subjective and objective mind this too will be fulfilled. And thus the deepest problems of philosophy bring us back to the old statement of the Law :-- Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. This is the summing-up of the natural law of the relation between us and the Divine Mind. It is thus no vain boast that Mental Science can enable us to make our lives what we will. We must start from where we are now, and by rightly estimating our relation to the Divine Universal Mind we can gradually grow into any conditions we desire, provided we first make ourselves in habitual mental attitude the person who corresponds to those conditions: for we can never get over the law of correspondence, and the externalization will always be in accord with the internal principle that gives rise to it. And to this law there is no limit. What it can do for us to-day it can do tomorrow, and through all that procession of to-morrows that loses itself in the dim vistas of eternity. Belief in limitation is the one and only thing that causes limitation, because we thus impress limitation upon the creative principle; and in proportion as we lay that belief aside our boundaries will expand, and increasing life and more abundant blessing will be ours.
But we must not ignore our responsibilities. Trained thought is far more powerful than untrained, and therefore the more deeply we penetrate into Mental Science the more carefully we must guard against all thoughts and words expressive of even the most modified form of ill-will. Gossip, tale-bearing, sneering laughter, are not in accord with the principles of Mental Science; and similarly even our smallest thoughts of good carry with them a seed of good which will assuredly bear fruit in due time. This is not mere "goodie, goodie," but an important lesson in Mental Science, for our subjective mind takes its colour from our settled mental habits, and an occasional affirmation or denial will not be sufficient to change it; and we must therefore cultivate that tone which we wish to see reproduced in our conditions whether of body, mind, or circumstance.
In these lectures my purpose has been, not so much to give specific rules of practice as to lay down the broad general principles of Mental Science which will enable the student to form rules for himself. In every walk in life, book knowledge is only a means to an end. Books can only direct us where to look and what to look for, but we must do the finding for ourselves; therefore, if you have really grasped the principles of the science, you will frame rules of your own which will give you better results than any attempt to follow somebody else's method, which was successful in their hands precisely because it was theirs. Never fear to be yourself. If Mental Science does not teach you to be yourself it teaches you nothing. Yourself, more yourself, and yet more yourself is what you want; only with the knowledge that the-true self includes the inner and higher self which is always in immediate touch with the Great Divine Mind.
As Walt Whitman says : -- " You are not all included between your hat and your boots."