Beyond Positive thinking
There is an old adage in yoga psychology which is at the heart of the phenomenon of positive thinking.
‘The mind takes the shape of its object’.
When you pour water into a container, it will take the shape of the container. Our mind stuff, that most subtle of all substances, acts in a similar way. If you think of a camel then there is a portion of your mind that takes the shape of a camel, which is another way of saying that the mind forms an image of a camel. Now as we learned earlier, each and every expression of the universe is vibrational in character. A thought is a mental wave composed of psychic energy or mind-stuff. Because it is vibrational in character that mental wave has a particular wavelength. The wavelength of the thought-image of a camel will not be the same as the wavelength of the thought of a vast ocean or a feeling of compassion. Some thoughts are subtle in character and some are less so. Subtle or expansive thoughts, as you might suspect, have a long, steady wavelength while crude thoughts have a much shorter, erratic wavelength. Our mind as a whole has its own characteristic wavelength which is the composite of all the waves active in the mind at any one time. While our mind’s wavelength is constantly changing as different thought-waves rise and fall in our mental ocean, it never changes very much because we each have our own habitual style of thinking, our personality, which determines the nature of those recurring individual waves.
Now what happens in nature when two interact? There is a clash between the two waves and each is influenced to some extent by the other. The stronger the wave is, the greater the influence it exerts, and the less it is affected by the other wave. When two waves are similar in character then there is very little clash. They vibrate sympathetically. On the practical level we experience this as a natural affinity or dislike for the people and things we come into contact with. Our feeling of like or dislike depends on the degree of sympathetic or non-sympathetic vibration between our mental wavelength and that of the object we come in contact with. ‘Good vibes’ is exactly that, the good vibrations that come when we experience a parallelism between the wavelength of our mind and that of the person or object or environment we are in contact with.
As the mind stuff gathers to take the shape of the mental object the wavelength of that thought-form is going to affect the overall character of mind. To some small degree it will influence or alter the characteristic wavelength of that mind. If the thought object is very subtle then the mind will be benefited. If the wavelength of the thought is cruder than the mind is accustomed to then the mind will be affected for the worse. Over time the constant repetition of a thought of either a crude or subtle nature will either degrade or elevate the mind. It is for this reason that the yogis teach that excessive preoccupation with crude physical objects such as money gradually crudifies the mind. Our mental power diminishes, and our capacity for happiness, enjoyment of life, and Self-expression is decreased. But if we fill our minds with expansive, more subtle ideas, it will stretch and expand and grow to accommodate these new lofty ideas.
Changing the mind from crude to subtle is the task of meditation. In order to accomplish this we think about the subtlest object possible, consciousness, with the help of the mantra. By raising subtler and subtler waves in the mind through the constant and concentrated repetition of mantra, the mind gradually expands and becomes more subtle. It gains the capacity to transmit and perceive subtler vibrations. The regular practice of meditation opens the mind up the higher realms of experience — the awakening of intuition, a deep appreciation for art and aesthetics, profound emotions of love and compassion, feelings of sympathy and oneness with nature, and a yearning to realise the inner Self. The world around you changes from a world of fixed and immovable boundaries to one of infinite possibility.
Looking at it from this perspective underscores once again the importance of what we meditate on. History is full of examples of individuals who developed psychic powers through the practice of concentration techniques, but who eventually became degraded by that same practice because they allowed their minds to become crudified.